So you just got back your first, second, maybe fifth Princeton Review MCAT practice test score back and….
Well, it sucks.
Turns out, A LOT of premed students are in this same boat.
Before you freak out and think you are going to bomb the MCAT, read this post. Because it turns out there is something fishy going on with The Princeton Review MCAT practice tests.
Are The Princeton Review MCAT Practice Tests Harder Than The Actual MCAT
The Princeton Review tends to be much harder than the real MCAT. I personally took their tests and can say with 100% certainty that they make the most difficult MCAT practice tests out there.
There are three factors that make these tests harder:
- Complex passages: Their passages are more technical and advanced than you would even expect on the real MCAT.
- Lots of direct recall: They tend to ask questions that require straight-up memory recall from content you learned without any clues. The real MCAT does include this but not nearly as much.
- Asking you to remember niche things: TPR wants you to recall really niche concepts that have a very low probability of being asked on the real deal.
All in all, these Princeton exams are a lot tougher than they need to be. However, even though they are hard, they really challenge you on the content which can help you develop a better grasp.
Was Your Actual MCAT Score Higher, Similar, Or Lower Than Your Princeton Review Test scores? (Survey)
We surveyed 25 students to see how their actual MCAT scores compared to their Princeton Review MCAT scores. We didn’t have to look into it anymore because literally, every single student stated that their actual MCAT score was higher.
Based on everyone’s score submissions, the average student scored about 10 points higher on the real MCAT than on The Princeton Review practice tests! That’s a huge difference (In some cases students were scoring up to 20 points higher).
Just to put it in perspective, most students who reported scores were scoring around 500 to 505 on The Princeton Review tests. This is a pretty mediocre score.
However, on the actual MCAT, they were scoring 510 to 515! That’s really good!
Also, students reported that their scores on average were about 10 points less on The Princeton Review practice tests than on the AAMC practice tests. The AAMC practice tests tend to be pretty accurate.
How Accurate Are The Princeton Reviews Practice MCAT Tests?
People say that the CARS section on The Princeton Review’s MCAT tests was much different than what they saw on the real MCAT.
Also, as I mentioned earlier, The Princeton Review tends to ask you a lot of questions that require recalling specific details and facts. Some of the information they have you recall can seem downright nitpicky.
The real MCAT doesn’t really ask you specific recall questions very often. They rely a lot more on understanding concepts and pulling information from the passages.
To summarize, The Princeton Review’s practice MCAT tests are not very accurate to the real MCAT. This doesn’t mean they are a waste of time. They still have some resemblance to the actual MCAT and students who practiced with their exams have succeeded.
Even though this isn’t very accurate, this does help students figure out where their weak points are in regards to MCAT study content.
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Are The Princeton Review Practice Test Scores Deflated?
So The Princeton Review’s MCAT tests are harder than the actual MCAT which results in lower scores. But is there score deflation on top of this?
Based on evidence from many premed students, yes, The Princeton Review deflates their MCAT practice test scores.
Why do they do this?
Nobody can know for certain but it’s possible this is a marketing technique to get the student to buy more expensive material for more in-depth studying.
It’s also possible they don’t want to give students a false sense of security before the MCAT.
Either way, one thing is for certain, these exam scores are deflated.
Which MCAT Practice Exams Are Most Accurate?
I’ve talked about this plenty of times in the past, but here I go again.
You can’t beat AAMC’s MCAT practice material.
The AAMC is the creator of the MCAT so it only makes sense that their tests are the most accurate.
Unfortunately, they don’t have enough for you to really prepare. It is important that you find some good 3rd party options too. The Princeton Review is just fine when it comes to supplementing your practice material.
However, in my opinion, NextStep (Now Blueprint) is a close second to the AAMC material.
By the way, it's important to properly review MCAT practice tests after you take them. Here's a guide on how to properly review MCAT practice tests.
How Many MCAT Practice Tests Should You Take?
We covered this topic thoroughly in this post here.
But to summarize, you should take about 12-15 practice tests.
Conclusion: Are Princeton MCAT exams good?
So we determined that The Princeton Review MCAT tests are harder than the real MCAT and their scores are deflated.
Does this mean their exams are not good?
No. Even though it’s not as good as the AAMC’s practice material, TPR still does a great job of producing high-quality tests. You just can’t rely on it completely.
At the end of the day, you will need more MCAT practice tests than the AAMC provides and these are a great addition. They will challenge your MCAT content understanding which is only a good thing.