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Taking the medical college admission test (MCAT) is a huge deal. It’s your ticket into medical school, and ideally, you’ll only have to take it once. An MCAT preparation course can help you get a good score on the MCAT on your first try by reinforcing the medical knowledge you need to know to get into med school.
The best MCAT prep courses cover both content and strategy, offer fully online learning options, and allow students to customize their studies to meet their needs and exam timeline. To help you determine which MCAT prep course is the best for you, we scoured the details of the most popular courses available.
Best MCAT Prep Courses of 2023
- Best Overall: Kaplan
- Best In-Person Option: Altius Summer Immersion
- Best Personalized MCAT Prep Courses: MCAT Self Prep
- Best Value: Magoosh
- Best One-on-One Tutoring: Varsity Tutors
- Best for Live-Online Course: Blueprint
- Best Intensive Option: The Princeton Review
Best Overall : Kaplan
Kaplan is one of the most well-known names in test prep, thanks to its robust course offerings, student support, financing options, and test score guarantees.
Multiple course formats cater to different learning styles
Free consultations and a score higher, money-back guarantee
Limited course access time frame
No all-inclusive free trial
Kaplan has been around since 1938, so it’s had a long time to research and monitor the MCAT, resulting in a suite of test prep options that cover the medical knowledge and test-taking skills prospective medical school students need to know.
Kaplan offers a variety of different MCAT prep courses, as well as a la carte study options. For example, if you need intensive study for several months before taking the MCAT, you can choose one of the comprehensive live online or on-demand courses. But, if you feel confident and just want a refresher leading up to your exam, you could purchase a practice test bundle or the quiz bank, a library of dynamic online quizzes.
Kaplan’s flagship Live Online course, which includes 14 scheduled three-hour sessions and more than 90 hours of recorded content, costs $2,499. The Live Online Plus course includes all of that, plus one-on-one tutoring, admissions help, and focus area preparation for $3,099.
There are two other options which last less time. These courses cost $1,999 for 6 months and $2,299 for 9 months. You can add online tutoring for any of these option for an extra $600.
If you’re not sure about the live online or on-demand courses, you can try a class for free on the Kaplan website. Or, consider one of the a la carte study options, such as the Gold Practice Bundle, which, for $329, includes over 3,000 practice questions and three full-length practice tests with six months of access.
Notably, Kaplan offers prospective students free consultations to help determine which prep course is right. Students can also opt to apply for interest-free financing with Affirm, which makes the price tag a bit less overwhelming.
Best In-Person Option : Altius Summer Immersion
Altius offers a range of in-person and online MCAT prep course options, but the real win is its summer immersion program, which requires full-time studying for 10 weeks straight.
One-on-one and small group tutoring
All-inclusive 14-day free trial
90th percentile score promise
No financing options
Online platform is clunky
If you prefer in-person learning over online learning, consider Altius which provides the best in-person MCAT prep course. Altius offers several MCAT prep course options, but the Platinum Summer Immersion program is the one to attend for in-person learning. According to Altius, students travel from all over the U.S. and Canada for summer immersion MCAT prep course at the Utah and Oregon campuses.
If you enroll in this program, prepare yourself for an ultra-intense 10 weeks: This Altius MCAT prep course includes 50-plus hours of MCAT study for 10 weeks straight, and you’ll be studying with some of the most dedicated pre-med students around.
You’ll meet with your individual tutor six times per week, attend 20 office hour sessions, receive 220-plus hours of face-to-face instruction, attend 70 live classroom sessions, and participate in 40 hours of small-group tutoring. By the end of the program, you’ll have received more than 500 hours of MCAT instruction and tutoring in just 10 weeks.
With a price tag of $9,999, in-person MCAT prep is out of reach for many people. However, Altius does have a scholarship program that can help you save a couple hundred dollars. There’s also a Gold Summer Immersion program for $8,499 with fewer total hours of instruction and tutoring.
The benefit to in-person test prep is that there isn’t any time for distractions. If you struggle to stay motivated or disciplined with your studies, the Altius Summer Immersion program could be your ticket to the medical school of your dreams.
Another great thing about Altius is its 3X guarantee: Altius promises to offer the lowest price on individual MCAT tutoring, a 90th percentile score guarantee, and a two-week trial/money-back guarantee.
Best Personalized MCAT Prep Courses : MCAT Self Prep
MCAT Self Prep offers a wide range of different MCAT prep course options, and students can tailor their study plans to their specific learning needs.
Free course available
Create your own study plan
Books and other materials sold separately
Basic plans not best for students who need structure
Picky about how you study? Head over to MCAT Self Prep and completely customize your MCAT prep course to maximize your time and effort.
Not only does MCAT Self Prep offer a completely free MCAT prep course as well as a fully customizable option, but its range of prebuilt paid courses starts at $29.99 and covers the same content you would expect to see in a Kaplan or Princeton Review MCAT prep course.
Of course, you can’t expect the same level of instruction for free or for $9.99—that is, there’s no one-on-one tutoring or in-person lessons. But the free course alone includes 10 study modules, a video library, study tips, MCAT questions of the day, a Meta study group, and 24/7 messaging support.
If you’re a self-starter and a disciplined student, the free MCAT Self Prep course could skyrocket your score. If you need a bit more structure, consider Self Prep’s Basic Pro ($19.99), Advanced Pro ($199.99), or Deluxe Pro ($1,399.99) courses. These are all one-time payments, and the content becomes more comprehensive and you get more perks as the prices increase.
You can also completely customize your study plan with MCAT Self Prep. You’ll start with a diagnostic exam to determine your current knowledge and test-taking skills. Then, you’ll set goals, determine action items, establish a timeline, track your progress, and, finally, take the MCAT.
MCAT Self Prep also offers one-on-one tutoring for an additional cost of $149, $249, or $399 per session depending on the tutor’s level of experience and knowledge. Finally, with MCAT Self Prep, you can also opt to purchase flashcard sets or focused subject matter courses called Mastery Courses.
Ultimately, MCAT Self Prep provides students with a way to pay for everything they need, but nothing they don’t.
Best Value : Magoosh
Magoosh offers very affordable MCAT prep course options, including eight hours of live class time with MCAT expert tutors.
Free seven-day trial
Choose from monthly and annual pricing
Targeted study schedules
Score guarantee only for premium members
No textbooks included in price
No one-on-one tutoring options
Magoosh is the best value you can find in an MCAT prep course: It offers the most comprehensive program you can get on a budget. For $399, you get yearlong access to customizable study plans, nearly 400 content review videos, more than 700 practice questions, three full-length practice exams, detailed question explanations, and email support from MCAT tutors. You can also pause your account at any time if you have to reschedule your exam for any reason.
If you prefer to learn via live classes, you can get everything in the basic package plus eight hours of live online class time on a flexible schedule for just $100 more.
To try it out, you can sign up for a free seven-day trial. Just keep in mind that the trial is limited, with just 16 MCAT practice questions and 60 lessons.
Although Magoosh is relatively new to the test prep scene (founded in 2009), it has a great track record of helping students improve their scores and get into top medical schools around the country. Magoosh offers a 10-point score improvement guarantee or you get your full tuition back, so if you’re a retaker, the investment is risk-free.
Best One-on-One Tutoring : Varsity Tutors
For MCAT prep, Varsity Tutors focuses solely on individual tutoring, establishing itself as the best place to go for one-on-one lessons.
Flexible one-on-one tutoring
In person and online options
Great for tackling specific problem areas
No standardized pricing
No financial aid options
Must buy books and materials separately
The best one-on-one MCAT lessons come from Varsity Tutors. It’s the only type of MCAT prep this company offers, which means its sole focus is on matching students with the best MCAT tutors possible.
There are many benefits to self-paced and group MCAT test prep, but nothing beats face-to-face (online or in-person), individualized tutoring. If you believe you need significant prep before taking the MCAT, definitely consider Varsity Tutors.
You can browse a list of MCAT tutors and select one right off the bat, or take a quiz, and Varsity Tutors will match you with a smaller selection of tutors based on your answers. The quiz asks whether you’ve taken the MCAT before, what prompted you to seek MCAT tutoring, and which sections of the exam you think are the most challenging.
You choose when you want to get started and then get matched with your tutor. Once you sign up, you meet with your tutor, and after the initial consultation, work out your study plan. One major benefit is that there’s flexibility in the schedule and frequency of sessions; you can have as many or as few sessions as you want each week.
Also, one-on-one tutoring allows you to focus on the areas you need help with and skip over the ones you don’t. This is a major benefit for students who only need to boost their score on one of the four MCAT sections.
Tutors at Varsity Tutors set their own rates, so the cost of sessions varies. For instance, someone seeking a last-minute cram session the day before their exam can expect to pay a different rate than somebody who meets their instructor more regularly.
Best for Live-Online Course : Blueprint
Blueprint’s live-online course combines the flexibility of distance learning with a unique lecturing style into one seamless and effective MCAT prep course.
Mix of flexibility and structure
Financing available through Affirm
No full-access free trial
Score increase/money back guarantee doesn’t include some fees
Blueprint offers the best live-online course, complete with 40-plus hours of live class instruction (and unlimited class retakes for complicated content). In addition to the live classes, you’ll have access to a study planner tool, 160 learning modules, videos and animations, advanced analytics and explanations on questions you answered incorrectly, several full-length exams, question banks, six MCAT books, and over 4,000 total MCAT practice questions.
The Blueprint live-online course offers unlimited class rescheduling, so you can essentially have as much flexibility as you need. Your study planner tool automatically adjusts to your new schedule when you change a class time.
Another key factor that makes the Blueprint course better than other live-online courses is its unique double lecturer feature. During each live class, two MCAT expert instructors lead the way, conversing rather than lecturing.
This program covers everything you’d expect to see in an MCAT prep course, but it blends live instruction with online resources in a way that keeps students engaged from day one until exam day.
Blueprint says its courses increase MCAT scores by an average of 15 points, and the company offers a score increase guarantee or you can get your money back, minus the cost of some fees.
Best Intensive Option : The Princeton Review
Use promo code Dotdash15 to receive 15% off for classroom and self-paced programs.
Princeton Review is known for its rigorous test prep options, and the premise of its MCAT prep courses is to help you achieve better results in less time.
Multiple courses to choose from
Reasonably priced one-on-one online tutoring
High volume of good reviews
Score guarantee isn’t for all course options
Expensive compared to other courses
The Princeton Review offers the best intensive and thorough MCAT prep courses to help prospective medical school students stay focused. Like Kaplan, The Princeton Review is a well-known name when it comes to test prep.
The four course options include:
- Self-paced, an online-only course that includes a library of 500-plus videos, 10 MCAT books, thousands of practice questions, and 16 full-length practice tests. The cost is $1,999.
- Ultimate, which includes everything in the self-paced course, but also 123 hours of live instruction, either online or in the classroom, with MCAT subject matter experts. The Ultimate costs $2,799.
- MCAT 510+, which includes 11 MCAT books, one-on-one study managers, live instruction, all official AMCC materials, access to MCAT focus topic materials, and more. This course option costs $3,399.
- MCAT 515+ Summer Immersion, which is a bootcamp-style course with nearly 1,000 hours of instruction, unlimited 24/7 on-demand tutoring, strategy lessons, and much more. At $6,999, this is The Princeton Review’s most expensive course option.
The Princeton Review also offers one-on-one tutoring for an additional cost.
While all of The Princeton Review MCAT prep courses are intensive, the MCAT 515+ Summer Immersion is the place to be if you need a hardcore, focused prep course. This 12-week course includes section-specific practice, as well as strategy-driven techniques, because The Princeton Review knows that acing the MCAT is about more than just memorization.
The Princeton Review’s MCAT prep courses are by no means inexpensive, but they can definitely be worth it for students who need intensive study. The high volume of outstanding reviews from former students, as well as The Princeton Review’s longstanding and favorable track record, justifies the cost of these MCAT prep courses.
Plus, The Princeton Review offers score guarantees for all of its programs. For the self-paced and Ultimate courses, the company guarantees you’ll score higher. If you don’t, you can get a full refund. For the MCAT 510+ and MCAT 515+ courses, The Princeton Review guarantees you’ll score a 510 or 515, although you only qualify for the guarantee if your former score was a 500 or 505, respectively.
There is no shortage of MCAT prep courses, so it’s important to do your research and weigh the pros and cons of each option as it relates to your particular study needs. Our review reveals that Kaplan offers the best variety of MCAT prep courses with reasonable prices, a solid guarantee, thorough course content, phenomenal reviews, ample student support, and a la carte options for students who don’t want an entire course.
Compare the Best MCAT Prep Courses
|Company||Price||Personalization||Time to Complete||Type of Plans||Score Guarantee|
|Kaplan Best Overall||$1,999 to $4,000+||Yes, many plans to choose from||Varies depending on plan||Online, live-online, in-person, one-on-one||Score higher or money back|
|Altius Best In-Person Option||$500 to $10,000||Yes, many plans to choose from||Varies depending on plan||Online and in-person||90th percentile score or higher|
|MCAT Self Prep Best Personalized MCAT Prep Courses||Varies by plan type||Yes, completely customizable||Lifetime access||Online, live-online, online one-on-one||Score higher or money back|
|Magoosh Best Value||Free to $999||Yes, many plans to choose from||Self-paced||Online and live-online||Money back if you don’t like it|
|Varsity Tutors Best One-on-One Tutoring||Varies by tutor||Somewhat; can choose tutor and times||As many sessions as you schedule||Online one-on-one||None|
|Blueprint Best Live-Online Course||$2,499||No, but it’s time-flexible||12 months||Live-online and online||Score higher or money back|
|The Princeton Review Best Intensive Option||$1,499 to $6,699||Can choose from four plans||Varies depending on plan||Online, live-online, in person||510 or above (for certain courses)|
How to Choose the Best MCAT Prep Courses
Ultimately, the best MCAT prep course comes down to your unique goals, learning style, timeline, and budget. Here’s what to consider when looking for an MCAT prep course:
- Budget: How much can you realistically spend on a prep course?
- Timeline: How long do you have to study for the MCAT? In-person, more intensive courses might be best if you don’t have very long.
- Learning style: Are you self-directed enough to learn well online? If not, an in-person course or one-on-one tutoring is probably a better choice.
- Guarantee: You’ll want to protect your investment in the event that you don’t score as well as you thought you might. Choosing a course with a score and money-back guarantee is a smart move.
- Materials: Are you comfortable using online materials, such as books and quizzes? If you prefer hard-copy textbooks and like to write by hand, look for a course that includes books in the tuition price.
Online MCAT Prep Courses vs. In-Person MCAT Prep Courses
It’s very common to take MCAT prep courses online. Distance learning allows for additional flexibility and for you to study at the times that work best for you—and your brain. However, online prep courses won’t be the right choice for all students, and many people learn best in person.
Online MCAT prep courses might be right for you if:
- You’re self-directed and can commit to your studies without external motivation.
- You prefer to learn through reading and writing.
- You don’t struggle with your attention span.
- You have a family, a job, or other obligations to tend to during the day.
On the flip side, you may want to pursue in-person MCAT prep if:
- You’re not great at sticking to the task at hand.
- You learn best through audio and visual presentations.
- You desire the presence of an instructor for quick questions.
- You learn through collaborating with other students.
- You have the time and flexibility to commit to attending all of your in-person classes.
Aside from flexibility, the other main benefit to online MCAT prep courses is that they’re generally less expensive. Since the cost of paying an in-person instructor is eliminated, self-paced, online courses typically come at a cheaper price.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Do MCAT Prep Courses Help You Prepare for the Test?
A good MCAT prep course will include a variety of study content and encourage you to hone your knowledge through many modalities of study. Take the subject of anatomy and physiology, for example. A good MCAT prep course will ensure you have complete memorization of anatomy and physiology terms and concepts needed for the MCAT, as well as ensure you know how to actually apply that knowledge. The MCAT is about more than just memorization—it also tests students on their ability to deductively reason and make the best decisions for various scenarios. You should expect to take quizzes along with full-length practice exams, listen to or watch lectures, read, and take many notes.
How Much Do MCAT Prep Courses Cost?
MCAT prep courses vary widely in cost. On this list alone, there are courses available for free and those that cost thousands of dollars. In general, students can expect to spend several hundred on a self-paced, online course and a few thousand for an in-person course or one with individual tutoring.
Are MCAT Prep Courses Worth It?
MCAT prep courses are worth pursuing for many students, especially those who have already taken the MCAT and didn’t earn a desirable score. Unlike your undergraduate studies, MCAT prep courses are geared specifically toward this one test. So, in addition to covering important topic areas such as physiology and pharmacology, MCAT prep courses also cover test-taking skills like time management and the process of elimination. MCAT prep courses are especially helpful for students who tend to need a guiding mentor or tutor. For people who study well alone and can commit to the process, prep courses may not be worth it.
When Is the Best Time to Take an MCAT Prep Course?
There’s no ideal time to take an MCAT prep course, as the timing will work out differently for each student. You should start an MCAT prep course with enough time to complete it before taking the exam. The American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), the administer of the MCAT, recommends that all students spend 300 or more hours preparing for the exam.
To research the best MCAT prep courses, we looked for a number of factors, a primary one being score guarantee. All of the certification courses in this review offer some type of guarantee, with the best guarantee stating that your score improves or you get your money back.
We also only chose programs that offer an online learning format, knowing that many students prefer to learn remotely or must do so due to location restrictions or other obligations.
Finally, we considered the cost of MCAT prep courses and ultimately chose companies that offer several course options to accommodate different budgets.