Nearly all American medical schools require students to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT®), and many students will elect to prepare using professional MCAT® courses. Choosing the best MCAT® courses will depend on several factors, including course structure, time required, and cost. These courses are available online or in classrooms, and are taught in a variety of different formats. There are many different test preparation companies that offer these courses.
MCAT® courses vary greatly in their setup and overall structure. Some classes involve a large degree of self-guided study and few class meetings, and others are heavily lecture-based and require participants to attend class several times per week. Those studying for the test should consider how they study best. Self-study courses might be the best option for individuals who work better alone, while those who enjoy more structured classes might benefit more from a lecture-based prep class.
Some have found that courses with heavy lecture and workshop components are better since they force students to stay on top of the material, give presentations, and submit homework assignments. Others enjoy the freedom to customize their studying experience that goes along with self-study schedules. Instead of reviewing all topics equally, self-study students can spend more time on topics that they feel unsure about.
The amount of time required is another important factor to consider when choosing the best MCAT® courses. Classes will range from entirely self-study, with no visible time commitment, to intensive prep that requires a time commitment similar to a full-time job. Most individuals studying for the MCAT® will generally dedicate between five and 20 hours per week to studying. It’s important to consider other time commitments and how frequently you are able to attend class, complete assignments, or take practice exams, because courses that offer too much or not enough class time will not be an ideal fit.
Cost is the main determining factor in choosing the best MCAT® prep class for many students. Various MCAT® courses will range in price according to the method of instruction, the length of the course, and the number of practice MCAT® exams available. Self-study classes are generally the least expensive and include costs for study books, CDs, and practice exams, usually totaling well under $1,000 US Dollars (USD). Online self-study classes will generally be slightly more expensive. Lecture-based classes, however, can range from around $1,500 USD to upwards of $7,500 USD for intensive seasonal prep classes.