If you are familiar with our content you know that we are big fans of Blueprint’s (formally NextStep) MCAT practice tests.
Honestly, you could stop reading right here and just go buy a couple of their exams. They get our official stamp of approval.
But you are probably wondering exactly how accurate they are compared to the official MCAT.
Well, the only way to find out is to ask actual MCAT test-takers what they thought. And that’s exactly what we did.
We think it’s important to deep dive into how Blueprint compares to the real MCAT. It’s nice to know how your Blueprint scores will predict your actual score.
Are Blueprint’s (Formally NextStep) Exams Harder Than The Actual MCAT?
Generally speaking, yes, Bluprint’s exams are harder than the actual MCAT. Honestly, this seems to be the case with all 3rd party MCAT exams.
In my opinion, they are only low to moderately more difficult. Not a problem. If I’m being frank, I would rather have a practice test be slightly harder than easier.
The last thing you want to do is build false confidence.
Specifically, students found the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section to be challenging. They tend to rely on formulas and calculations. If this is something you struggle with, the extra challenge will help.
Was Your Actual MCAT Score Higher, Similar, Or Lower Than Your Blueprint Test scores?
The general consensus is that Blueprint’s test scores are deflated. Not terribly but to some degree. Students said they scored on average 5-7 points higher on the actual MCAT.
One premed on Student Doctor Network said:
“I consistently scored 5-7 points lower on NS exams than the real thing (or any of my AAMC practice materials). I think B/B my score was closest, and the rest it was usually a few points lower on NS for each section. N=1, obviously. I took the MCAT in January, so I was using NS tests relatively recently.”
Some people say that when you start to score higher on a Blueprint test (above 505) the score becomes more deflated when compared to the actual MCAT.
On the other hand, if you are scoring low 500s, you might be in trouble since those scores have been reported to resemble students’ actual scores on the AAMC full-lengths and the real MCAT.
The general consensus is that if you can hit a 515 on Blueprint’s tests, you can score above a 520 on the actual MCAT which is excellent.
One Reddit user said:
“Highest BP was 514 and like 2 or 3 weeks later I hit 524 on AAMC”
Another user said:
“Yea they’re typically more difficult.. when it comes to taking a guess at what you’ll score on the MCAT, just take the average of your AAMC exams and that’s a decent estimate. my AAMC practice exam average was the exact score that I actually got (5 points above my blueprint average)”
There is one last point I want to make about score deflation on Blueprint’s tests.
There’s a theory going around the internet that third-party MCAT prep companies will purposefully deflate their scores. Supposedly this is a marketing technique to get students to purchase more tests and practice material due to a fear of being unprepared.
I can’t confirm whether this is true or not, but it is certainly plausible.
Are Blueprint’s Practice Tests Accurate?
Section by section, here is how accurate Blueprint’s MCAT practice tests are.
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems:
They are very experiment heavy which is great practice for the MCAT. The real MCAT involves a lot of interpreting experiments
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems:
Blueprint’s chemistry and physics section tends to be rather formula and calculation-heavy.
Personally, I felt that I needed this. My physics and chemistry were always suffering so it was good to have a particularly difficult C/P section and then perform a lot better on the AAMC’s tests.
This is probably where Blueprint falls short.
Yes, their CARS practice is great and still worth it. However, they just don’t quite match the style of the AAMC’s full-lengths and the actual MCAT.
Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior:
Blueprint’s psychology and sociology sections are pretty good. This section has always been a wild card on the MCAT. Sometimes they focus solely on graphs and studies, other times they are asking for specific terminology.
I think Blueprint hits enough terminology and graph/study reasoning to give you solid preparation for the actual MCAT.
Conclusion: Are Blueprint’s (Formally NextStep) Practice Tests Good For The MCAT?
Blueprint is the best option out there for third-party MCAT practice tests. When you run out of what the AAMC has to offer you should supplement your studies with these tests.
Blueprint’s tests are accurate to the actual MCAT both in content and in format. In addition to this, they offer great explanations to each question which is important when it comes to learning everything for the exam.
Yes, their tests are a little bit harder than the actual MCAT and their scores are deflated. However, this is almost always the case with third-party MCAT prep companies.