There comes a time in your premed journey when you need to decide how you are going to prepare for the MCAT.
It can be overwhelming at first. The exam covers almost all your premed courses in a 7 hour period. How do you prepare for this exam?
Well, you can always purchase a self-prep book set and start reading. For some people this works, however, a lot of students need a more structured curriculum to really succeed.
You can also invest upwards of $2000+ for a full-blown in-person course with The Princeton Review or Kaplan. But if you are living on a college budget, this might not be an option!
What about something like Magoosh’s MCAT course?
Is this a cheap alternative to traditional MCAT courses? Can you get the same quality instruction?
Well, I’m here to answer these questions for you. I purchased the entire Magoosh MCAT course so that I could give you a 100% thorough and unbiased review.
First, a little information on Magoosh as a test prep company. To ease your mind upfront, yes, Magoosh is a legit MCAT test prep company. They are not a scam.
The company started in 2009 as a simple test prep company for the GMAT.
Magoosh is not as well known as the major test prep companies but they are quickly growing in popularity. In fact, in 2016 Magoosh ranked number 186 on the prestigious Inc. 5000, a list of the 5000 fastest-growing companies in the United States.
Now they cater to all the major standardized tests including yours truly, the MCAT.
Their approach to the MCAT is unique. They have prefixed schedules but these schedules are very flexible. You go at your own pace and tailor the schedule to your needs.
They give you all the resources you need to succeed but do not hold your hand through the process. In a way, this is the perfect course for a busy student or working professional.
Now let’s dig deep into how this MCAT course is structured.
Basic Overview Magoosh’s MCAT Course
When you first log in to your Magoosh account, they will ask you a couple of questions regarding your MCAT and experience. They do this so they can recommend a schedule for you.
On day one, they explain how the course will work.
Magoosh recommends that you go over all the AAMC material (practice tests)
They also recommend you spend 60% of your time studying MCAT-specific things but also 40% studying college textbooks. They suggest going back to your college books for sections you struggle with.
So needless to say, you will need to purchase extra material. It’s not much, but you want to factor in that cost. And trust me, you DO NOT want to skimp on the AAMC’s official prep material.
The Magoosh MCAT course has a very simple design. Here is the dashboard:
You basically have the 4 MCAT sections with an option to access all their practice questions and videos for each one and a daily planner that gives you an objective for the day.
If you decide to use their schedule, you can go day by day and eventually get through all the coursework and questions.
You can also clearly see that they have a CARS passage of the day. This is extremely important because anyone who has done well in CARS will tell you that daily practice is key.
Finally, on the top bar, you can see that you have access to all of Magoosh’s MCAT content at any time for your studying needs.
As mentioned earlier, Magoosh’s MCAT course offers a set curriculum but is also very flexible to your schedule.
You can follow each day religiously as they plan out. Or, you can rearrange it to fit into your daily life. They even mention in the first lesson that you should tailor the course to your calendar right off the bat.
I signed up and they gave me the 3-month schedule. They broke the schedule up into 13 weeks. Each week had a variety of lessons, practice problems, outside sources, and one rest day.
The outside sources I thought were a unique addition. They are basically blog posts and other practice questions online. These 3rd party sources were definitely in line with their philosophy of successful test-takers studying non-MCAT-focused study material.
Magoosh also throws in a variety of other tasks such as making flashcards, reviewing science articles, reminders to research things you have a weaker grasp of.
And of course, there is a CARS passage that you do every single day. I can’t stress enough how important this is.
In general, it’s a great course layout for the cost. If you follow their instructions, you will definitely have a well-rounded understanding of the MCAT material before you take the exam!
Video Lesson Quality
Let’s go over how good the video lessons are at teaching us difficult premed concepts.
I’ll use the example of the video on torque in physics. Why? Because for the life of me I can’t get a good grasp on this concept. I don’t know what it is about torque, but every time I learn about it I seem to forget it in about a month.
So if they can teach me torque they pass the test.
Here is what I have to say about Magoosh’s MCAT video lessons:
They are better than free sources like Khan Academy but not quite as good as the lesson’s I received during my in-class MCAT review.
But that in-class course was like thousands of dollars and this is much less.
Honestly, after watching the torque video, I had a really solid grasp of the concept. Their videos are essentially slide shows with some markups. However, they don’t just read the slides, they’ll actually teach and provide examples.
I watched a bunch of different videos and I felt pretty much the same about them.
Here’s another screenshot.
The Verdict: Not the best teaching available on the market but definitely worth the cost.
After reviewing practice passages from all sections, here is what I have to say.
The passages tend to be previous knowledge-heavy. More so than the actual MCAT. This means you need to simply know a formula/random science fact to answer a lot of questions.
While the real MCAT does do this too, it is not uncommon to find lots of questions answerable simply with information from the passage and a general understanding of the subject matter.
That being said, they are still great practice. They do test your knowledge of the material which is important for preparation. From what I could tell, there really weren’t any major mistakes either.
One thing I really liked about the explanations in the science passages is that they link to the video lesson that covers the topic. This makes it really easy to go back and review the material you struggle with.
In my opinion, the CARS passages were more accurate to the real MCAT than anything else.
One problem I find with 3rd party CARS passages is the length. They tend to be too short. Magoosh’s CARS passages are the perfect length.
Let’s talk quickly about the Psychology/Sociology section because that is a unique beast. I found that the real MCAT focuses a lot on interpreting different figures like graphs. Magoosh’s psychology/sociology section seems to have a lot of graph interpretation too.
But they again also rely on a lot of memorization recall answers which strays a bit from the real deal.
The last thing I’ll say about the practice problems is that they don’t imitate the AAMC’s style. I’m talking about the interface itself. I know that this doesn’t affect the quality of the passages but we should be practicing an interface that looks like the real deal.
The Verdict: Not the best MCAT practice questions available (Nothing beats the AAMC’s material) but definitely worth it.
Supplemental MCAT Resources
Magoosh’s MCAT program offers additional resources to help you prepare for the exam. Here is a screenshot:
There isn’t a whole lot here and some of it is already free, but still helpful!
Compared to other MCAT prep companies, Magoosh’s MCAT course is very cheap.
They offer 2 plans. A 1-month premium plan for $379 and a 12-month premium plan for $399. However, you can get started with a free 7-day trial!
These plans both include the following:
- 380+ content review videos covering high yield topics
- 740+ questions including up to 3 full-length practice tests with detailed explanations
- Customizable study plans
- +10 total score guarantee
- Email support from the MCAT tutors 24/7
- And the ability to pause your account at any time
Again, this is surprisingly cheap for a full-fledged MCAT study plan.
Other MCAT Materials You Should Use In Addition To Magoosh
The most important material you can purchase for the MCAT is the AAMC’s official prep work.
Their MCAT practice tests are very close to the real deal and no other company that I am aware of has done better. They are the creators of the exam after all.
The Magoosh’s MCAT course has you purchase them anyway.
Should you be looking at any other resources aside from Magoosh and the AAMC? Not really.
With this amount of work, you will have plenty of MCAT prep to score well.
That being said, if you still feel like you need more, there are some other sources I recommend.
For extra content review, check out Khan Academies’ free MCAT videos. Some difficult topics just need another perspective.
For more practice tests, I recommend Blueprint (formally Next Step). Their MCAT practice tests might not be as good as the AAMC’s, but they are pretty dang close. It’s rather inexpensive when you only purchase the practice tests.
Pros And Cons
Let’s summarize all the pros and cons of Magoosh’s MCAT course so that you can make a well-informed decision.
- Cheap compared to the other MCAT companies
- Tailored study plans that are also flexible
- Easy to navigate dashboard
- Score Guarantee
- 24/7 email support from MCAT tutors
- Lots of difficult practice problems
- Great explanations on practice problems
- Ability to make custom practice tests
- Mobile access
- Additional resources
- 7-day free trial
- 7-day money back guarantee
- Video lessons could be more engaging
- Practice problems don’t imitate the AAMC’s style
- Fewer questions than other MCAT courses
- No one-on-one tutoring
- No live or online classes
Who is the Magoosh MCAT Course For?
This is for the student that needs organization and a plan for MCAT study but also needs something that will work with their schedule.
This is also good for students that recognize they need a structured course but can’t afford the Kaplan or Princeton Review courses.
Magoosh’s MCAT course is not the same kind of handholding as you will receive in an in-person course or online classroom course. The student who purchases this course should have enough discipline to keep on track.
If you have this discipline, this course will help you succeed!
All in all, I recommend Magoosh’s MCAT course for most premed students. It’s comprehensive, structured, and effective. Again, if you need handholding with your studies, this is not the course for you.
Can you get by just doing self-studying and saving the $300-$400?
But you will need to do a lot of research on your own. Whether you purchase a full-fledged MCAT course or self prep, you need direction.
Purchasing something like Magoosh’s MCAT course is essentially compiling all the research on how to prep for the MCAT. If saving all that time figuring out HOW to study for the MCAT is worth it to you, then purchase this course!
If you would rather self prep and make your own study plan from ground zero, then start here and I’ll be happy to help.
Are Magoosh practice tests harder MCAT?
They are pretty much on par with the real MCAT, maybe a little more difficult. This is my opinion, I have heard a variety of opinions on the web.
Are Magoosh MCAT flashcards good?
Yes, they are. They cover virtually every topic on the MCAT and they are just as good as about any other MCAT flashcard deck out there.
I still recommend you make your own. Part of learning the material is actually making the cards yourself.
How Are Magoosh’s MCAT Video Lessons?
They are very informative but a little bland. They are pretty much a presentation with some on-screen annotation. Much like a college science class!
I will say that some of the teachers on there do a great job with examples in order to really help you understand the material.
Is Magoosh MCAT free?
Magoosh does offer a lot of free resources on its blog. However, aside from the 7 day free trial, Magoosh’s MCAT course is not free.
Is Magoosh MCAT good for students retaking the MCAT?
This depends on the student. If the student struggled with content review, then yes. The Magoosh MCAT course will give them the structure they need to master all the information needed.
If the issue was not doing enough practice tests, then no. It would be better to focus solely on doing practice test after practice test. In our 1 month MCAT study guide, this is exactly what we recommend.
Why is Magoosh So Cheap?
This is just my opinion, but here are the reasons why I believe they are so cheap.
#1 Everything is prerecorded and there are no live classrooms that require manpower
#2 To compete with the big names and offer students an alternative that does not break the bank.
Does Magoosh Have A Money Back Guarantee?
Yes, they have a 7-day money back guarantee.
How Does Magoosh’s Score Guarantee Work?
They go over this here.
But to summarize, you need to have taken the MCAT exam before and this exam has to be the new 2015 version.
When you sign up, make sure you upload a screenshot from your official AAMC MCAT dashboard!