So you are ready to start studying for the MCAT, or maybe you have been studying, and you discovered that there are a bunch of companies that make practice tests for it.
Which MCAT practice tests should you take? Which ones are actually accurate? Which ones are the best?
These are important questions to ask because your time is precious and you do not want to waste time on cruddy practice tests.
A bad practice exam is not only a waste of time but it can also harm you in the long run.
At Med School Pursuit, our MCAT strategy is largely focused on taking lots of MCAT practice tests. Therefore, we focus a lot on making sure you know what the best MCAT practice tests are.
Our research is from a premed perspective. We have actually taken these tests and are not simply promoting companies who will pay us for clicks.
With that out of the way, let’s dive right in.
The Importance Of MCAT Practice Tests
If you’ve been on our website before, you are probably familiar with our practice test-oriented philosophy.
If not, the best place to start is with our free MCAT study guide:
MCAT practice tests are important for a lot of reasons but here are the biggest reasons:
- They will hyper-pinpoint the subject areas you struggle with so that you can focus your studying there.
- They put you in the MCAT mindset. The real MCAT is designed to test your ability to think on your feet. This means that you will be given passages and questions that will test your knowledge of the sciences in ways you have never seen before.
One can see that the more practice you do, the better prepared you will be given these two important reasons.
Of course, you don’t want to overdo it. Too much practice without proper follow-up review is harmful as well. More on that later.
Are MCAT Practice Tests Accurate?
The reality is that some MCAT practice tests are accurate while others are not. It is very important that you pick the right companies because an MCAT practice test that resembles the real thing can make or break your score.
The MCAT is an extremely unique exam. If you are practicing using inaccurate MCAT tests, you will just be wasting your time instead of learning to think like the MCAT test makers want you to think.
Luckily there are practice tests out there that are very accurate and will help you improve your score. We included those exams on top.
Then there are tests that are less accurate but still okay to take after you have exhausted the rest of the resources.
List Of The Best MCAT Practice Tests
Without further ado, here are our recommendations for MCAT practice tests:
I think this is no surprise. The AAMC is the creator of the MCAT and they have the most accurate practice tests available on the market. These are the gold standard.
Any website that tells you otherwise knows nothing about studying for the MCAT.
When you purchase the entire AAMC prep work bundle, this is what you get:
- MCAT Official Prep Practice Exam 1
- MCAT Official Prep Practice Exam 2
- MCAT Official Prep Practice Exam 3
- MCAT Official Prep Practice Exam 4
- MCAT Official Prep Section Bank
- This contains 3 sections for each section of the MCAT besides CARS. Each section has 100 questions.
- Online Practice Questions from The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam
- MCAT Official Prep Biology Question Pack, Volume 1
- MCAT Official Prep Biology Question Pack, Volume 2
- MCAT Official Prep Chemistry Question Pack
- MCAT Official Prep CARS Diagnostic Tool
- MCAT Official Prep Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Question Pack, Volume 1
- MCAT Official Prep Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Question Pack, Volume 2
- MCAT Official Prep Physics Question Pack
- MCAT Official Prep Online Flashcards
The only material they have which are not as good as other MCAT prep companies is their question packs. These are essentially recycled questions from the old MCAT (Which is a lot different than the new one).
Yes, they are worth doing for content review but they are definitely not a priority.
Question packs aside, everything on this list is amazing and must be taken. But unfortunately, it’s not that much. You will need to look at other companies for additional practice tests.
#2 Blueprint (Formally NextStep)
The next three companies on the list are what I like to call the tier 2 companies. Not quite as good as the AAMC but a good alternative for when you run out of the AAMC.
My favorite of the 3 is Blueprint (Formally NextStep).
I’m not the only one either. A lot of premed students and other influencers in this space recommend Blueprint.
When taking the MCAT the second time (The time I improved my score tremendously) I used Blueprint’s practice tests. They are very accurate to the actual MCAT, although a bit harder in my opinion.
They have up to 10 exams. You can purchase just a few if you want.
#3 Exam Krackers
ExamKrackers are a close second to Blueprint. Again, these are good alternatives when you run out of the AAMC’s material.
One common complaint is their difficulty.
One Reddit user compared them to the difficulty of the AAMC’s section banks:
“No score is one drawback but their questions felt a lot like the AAMC section bank in difficulty. So don’t get discouraged by low percentages.”
Also mentioned is the lack of scoring. You can either live without the accurate score or find a conversion online like this one.
Altius makes really good quality MCAT tests and therefore I’m considering them a tier 2. Based on other premed students who have used their tests, they are good for just about everything except CARS.
One Reddit user said:
“CARS isn’t the best from them, but the other sections are on the money. B/B is great and their C/P is pretty similar to AAMC. P/S is very specific (like all review companies). CARS isn’t the best from them so definitely practice with AAMC resources (I scored a 129-130 on all CARS for Altius and can barely break 128 on AAMC FLs, other sections have correlated very well with practice FLs from AAMC).”
Another Reddit user said:
“They are really good and really difficult, I’d say they are somewhat similar to aamc and worth it.”
Again, if you need extra practice material after the AAMC’s material, you can’t go wrong with Altius.
#5 The Berkeley Review, Kaplan, and The Princeton Review
I lumped these companies together because in my mind they are about equal in quality. That quality level is so-so.
It’s not a complete waste of time to take these exams, but there are definitely better options out there for 3rd party exams.
That being said, there might be circumstances where it would make sense to use these resources.
For example, maybe you are already enrolled in one of their courses and the practice tests are free.
The Berkeley Review, on the other hand, is probably the best out of these options. I almost put them in tier 2 but then I remembered taking their exams and they just didn’t feel right.
They have too many recall-specific questions for my taste.
How Many MCAT Practice Tests Should I Take?
We recommend you do 12 to 15 MCAT practice tests. This number is a little bit higher than what the average student does but we believe so strongly in practice tests we increased that number.
One caveat though, this only works if you are properly reviewing each MCAT exam. If you are cutting review time to fit more tests in, you are not helping yourself.
If you plan on studying for the MCAT in 3 months, hitting this number with the proper review is no problem. However, if you are only studying for a month, 12 tests will require a lot of work.
Is it possible? Yes. I’ve done it.
Check out my post on how I increased my MCAT score by 12 points in just one month of studying.
Which MCAT Practice Tests Are Most Accurate?
I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, the AAMC’s full-length practice tests are the most accurate to the actual MCAT.
Most students will score higher or about the same as their AAMC practice tests.
But let’s get even more specific, which AAMC full length is the most accurate?
Most students say that AAMC full-length number 3 is the most accurate score predictor of your MCAT. However, most people end up taking this exam later in their studying and therefore score better due to more practice.
Because the AAMC’s practice tests are the most accurate, we recommend spreading these tests evenly throughout your study plan. This will give you “checkpoints” to make sure you are increasing your score as you continue to practice.
List Of Tests I Would Buy If I Was Taking The MCAT Again
Well, I think it goes without saying that I would purchase everything the AAMC has to offer. But I would need more than that.
In my opinion, after the AAMC variety is key.
Variety is good because all the tests outside of the AAMC are going to be lacking in some shape or form. Therefore you shouldn’t rely on one brand in particular.
The way I would approach purchasing MCAT practice tests is by putting the above companies into tiers:
- Tier 1: AAMC
- This is the best out there and you must tackle all of their practice material.
- Tier 2: Blueprint (Formally NextStep), Exam Krackers, and Altius.
- These are not as good as the AAMC but the best in terms of third-party MCAT test prep.
- Tier 3: The Princeton Review, Kaplan, The Berkeley Review
- These are still good practice tests but the lowest on the list in terms of quality and accuracy.
After this, I would plan on how many tests I needed to take.
Once I have that number in mind, I would put together a schedule with evenly spaced out practice exams from tiers 1 and 2 (Unlikely that I would hit any of the tier 3 tests because there are more than plenty in tiers 1 and 2).
Some words of advice: Sprinkle AAMC practice tests throughout your study period so that you are never losing that feel of the real MCAT throughout.
How You Review Your MCAT Practice Tests Is Extremely Important
Simply taking a bunch of tests is not enough, you need to properly review them and have a clear plan moving forward. You need to see improvement as you take each test.
This means going over questions that you missed AND questions that you got correct.
Then you want to be referring back to your textbooks whenever you encounter a topic in the passages that you didn’t have a complete understanding of.
We wrote an entire post on how to properly review your MCAT practice tests!
When Should You Start Taking MCAT Practice Tests?
Our teaching methods recommend taking MCAT practice tests right away. And we mean literally right away with a diagnostic test.
Now I know, the concept of taking a practice test before you are “prepared” seems foreign to most premed students.
But here’s the thing, you can’t be “prepared” for the MCAT.
At least not in the traditional sense. You can be prepared for the MCAT by immersing yourself in MCAT passages and problems. What I mean is that you can’t simply nail down 8 semesters’ worth of premed courses.
MCAT full-lengths are there to help you discover your weak points. After properly reviewing an exam, you can focus on studying topics you struggle with and avoid the ones you are confident in.
What MCAT practice test should I take first?
Consider taking the AAMC half test first first. This is a good way to ease yourself into taking MCAT tests plus it’s an AAMC test which means it’s questions will resemble the real deal.
Is Blueprint or Altius better?
We believe Blueprint (Formally NextStep) is better. However, Altius has been growing in popularaity so we may re-evaluate this position in the future. For now, you can’t go wrong with either choice.
Is the real mcat harder than the practice tests?
This depends on the prep company you take. Most of the time, practice tests are harder than the real deal.
You will also need to factor in exam nerves. We surveyed premed students who took the MCAT and most of them said that the real test was harder. However, most students also scored higher on the actual MCAT.
Which MCAT practice test is best for predicting your score?
As mentioned earlier in this post, AAMC’s full length test #3 is often referred to as the best score predictor.
Is 3 months enough time to study for the MCAT?
3 months is plenty of time as long as you are studying at least 20 hours per week (Ideally 30+). We recommend students study for the MCAT over the summer so that the distraction of school is not a factor and you can devote a full time schedule to studying.
Is 8 MCAT practice tests enough?
8 MCAT practice tests is a solid number that most people studying for the MCAT would be happy to achieve. We recommend at least 12 but if you are short on time, stick to the lower number instead of compromising quality when you review the exams.