Hey there, future doctor! Gearing up to take your MCAT soon? Well, you’ve come to the right place!
Here at TheMDJourney where we empathize with pre-med students and try our best to help you in your pursuits, we know just how overwhelming it is to prepare for the MCAT. Perhaps the most overwhelming part of all is finding out where to start.
It’s important to set foot on the right track, specifically with the right and best MCAT practice tests.
In this post, we’ll be giving you a list of the 10 best MCAT practice tests out there that will enable you to score high on probably one of the most difficult tests you will ever take in your life.
How Difficult Is The MCAT?
Okay, I may have set off an uncomfortable tone here but how difficult is the MCAT, really?
Well for starters, it’s hard, long, and challenging. It won’t be anything like you encounter in your regular classes that’s for sure. Let me first give you a background on what the MCAT is all about.
The MCAT is created and developed by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). This exam is administered in testing centers all across the United States and Canada.
It is a computer-based examination comprised of a total of 230 multiple choice questions divided into four sections which are as follows:
- Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (59 items, 95 minutes)
- Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems (59 items, 95 minutes)
- Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior (59 items, 95 minutes)
- Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (53 items, 90 minutes)
It is heavily science-based which requires you to analyze questions carefully and utilize your critical thinking skills rather than just remembering ideas and concepts you have learned in your pre-med courses. The MCAT tests your proficiency and mastery of the covered subjects which are essential before you step foot into medical school.
Plus, you won’t see questions asking you to simply identify something. Most of the questions will be passage-based with a minority of stand-alone questions. This complexity sets the MCAT apart from the rest as it requires you to synthesize information and come up with answers based on your knowledge and the passage itself.
Of course, a large part of the challenge comes from this fact alone but see, the MCAT is longer than most of the standardized tests out there.
The total seated time is over 7 hours and a half whereas testing time takes 6 hours and 15 minutes. As one could imagine, this is physically and mentally draining. Despite being this long, it’s not even enough. Most students struggle to complete sections in the allotted time, especially the CARS section.
Imagine having 4 years of your pre-med years summed up in 7 hours and a half. It would feel like your entire life is dependent on this one score. That’s why tens of thousands of students prepare their minds intensively by reviewing content and conditioning their minds under test-like conditions.
Acing the MCAT is not just all about sitting down almost every day reviewing everything you have learned in the past 4 years. You also have to be smart about it. This is the reason why MCAT practice tests exist.
Are MCAT Practice Tests Accurate?
Source: Med School Coach
I have said before how important it is to set foot on the right track, especially when it comes to practice tests. You need to be smart in choosing which MCAT practice tests to utilize because while some sufficiently reflect the content of the MCAT, some can be inaccurate.
Choosing which MCAT practice tests to utilize could make or break your score. I’m not kidding on this one. Later on, we’ll be talking about the best MCAT practice tests out there for you to utilize.
You may feel confident in yourself and take the MCAT without taking practice tests but please don’t. First of all, taking the MCAT costs you a lot. Initial registration for the MCAT would cost you from $315 to $370.
I don’t see the point of going in there unprepared paying more than 300 bucks just to fail. There’s a reason why medical schools require you to take the MCAT. This is to assess your knowledge of the basic sciences and see if you’re capable enough to be a matriculant. Naturally, it’s going to be hard.
Not taking practice tests only incapacitates you to condition your mind to take the MCAT. Knowing and understanding what you have learned is one thing but practicing how to apply your knowledge on the test makes all the difference.
You also have to remember that the MCAT contains more passage-based questions rather than standalone questions which means that you have no second to waste. Taking MCAT practice tests train you to think fast under pressure. You don’t want to be wasting points that could be on the table just because there wasn’t enough time, do you?
How Do I Review MCAT Practice Tests?
Source: The Princeton Review
More so than choosing the right and best MCAT practice tests to utilize, how you use it also plays a huge role. So, how are you ought to review MCAT practice tests?
Your preparation for the MCAT must at least be comprised of these 3 phases: (1) reviewing content, (2) taking practice tests, (3) and reviewing questions on the practice tests.
Okay, it seems simple, right? You review content and then take practice tests afterward. This is good and probably the most optimal way to prepare for the MCAT.
Still, my tutors before would advise me to do 2 rounds (even better if 3) of these rather than just doing 1 pass of these 3 phases. Why, you ask?
See, some of my students I notice would study their way throughout all content possible in a span of a few months and save the practice tests for later because they feel like they’re not ready.
However, what happens in this scenario is after taking and bombing the practice exams when there is not much time left before the MCAT, they realize that they’re not yet ready for the real thing. This renders all those late nights and cups of coffee wasted.
Doing your MCAT prep in 2 or 3 rounds provides you a room for improvement. You can take full-length practice exams after your 1st pass on the content and be unsatisfied with your score, and that’s okay. It’s normal to feel a bit of disappointment. Please don’t be discouraged because of this and give up so easily. That’s what the two-round strategy is for in the first place.
Your MCAT preparation will probably be a long period and you want to study efficiently without a second to waste. Thus, I have crafted a video for you on how to study whilst improving your retention easily. Enjoyed this content? Subscribe to our channel! It means a lot to us. Thank you!
Now that we got that out of the way, when should you start taking practice tests? And for how long?
Start taking practice tests halfway your first and second rounds. So, for example, you have allotted 6 months to prepare for the MCAT, and you have allotted 3 months for each round. Thus, start taking practice tests right after 1 month and a half of reviewing content.
It’s the most optimal for every student to start preparing for the MCAT and taking practice tests as early as possible. I have seen students who have tried to cram in practice tests within just 1 month and let me tell you it had not worked out for them the way they anticipated it to be.
Take different approaches to study for different subjects. I mean, you wouldn’t review for the Biological Sciences portion the same way you would for the CARS, right? Be especially mindful of this because the MCAT assesses your analysis skills and critical thinking altogether.
How Many Practice MCAT Tests Should I Take?
Take at least five full-length exams under test-like conditions. Take these full-length practice exams seriously as if you’re taking the MCAT itself. Start at 8 A.M, take breaks in between exam sections, read and analyze the passages carefully, and answer the questions with every bit of your brainpower as you would on the actual exam.
I would also advise you to add some half tests on top of your full-lengths.
I have observed from my students that most of them would want to get their hands on 10 practice exams of varying lengths coming from different companies. This is great because you never want all your practice exams to come from a single company.
Why is this? See, you want diversity in your practice exams. Every company makes their practice exams differently.
Some practice exams excel in the CARS section, some provide more high-yield passages and questions, while some reflect the contents of the actual MCAT more so than others.
Remember how I said that the practice exams you choose to optimize can make or break your final MCAT score? Every practice exam you will ever encounter will have their own set of strengths and flaws. You want to make sure to utilize the best aspects of the practice exams as much as possible.
10 Best MCAT Practice Tests in 2021
In this section, we’ll finally be talking about the top 10 best MCAT practice tests in 2021 that you must have on your study table right now. These are ranked based on my personal preferences and based on what I have seen has worked the best for my students.
If in any case you’re also wondering if MCAT prep courses work, you may check out our article here!
The AAMC practice exams definitely have to best among the lot. If we would have to rank all of these best MCAT practice exams into tiers, AAMC would be the only one belonging in the first tier. The other practice exams just can never come equal.
I mean, AAMC is the body that facilitates and takes over the MCAT in all aspects. Naturally, their official practice tests would reflect the contents of the MCAT the most.
I can never overemphasize enough how important it is for you to use these AAMC practice exams religiously. Use it like gold and don’t let it go to waste.
Review the AAMCs thoroughly. Analyze how they compose their passages and questions. Pick up fast and carefully on all the concepts, visuals, and how they relate the items to the passage in subject.
The only downside with AAMC is that they do not release many practice exams. They have not yet released many practice exams for as long as I could remember. It is for this reason that I advise you to pace out the AAMCs throughout your preparation for the MCAT. Don’t take them in sequence.
The idea here is to constantly provide you a feel of the actual material throughout your preparation period until the exam date. Take note that you’re using the practice exams other than AAMC just to get a diversity of questions and to have more experience answering questions.
You still want to absorb every ounce of substance you can get from the official material provided by the AAMC since they are after all the body in supervision of the MCAT.
While AAMC has only released a few practice exams, they do have however other products that I think are nice for you to have as well.
- Sample Test
- Online Flashcards
- Section Banks
- Question Packs
- Official Prep Questions
Check out my article on how to use the AAMC products for the MCAT!
I will only be diving into the question packs from this lot as I deem it the most valuable for its CARS section. Essentially, the question packs are comprised of 4 sections: two biology, two CARS, one chem, and one physics.
I honestly believe that most students tend to overlook improving their critical reasoning skills when reviewing for their classes. The problem is MCAT heavily considers this. It’s a good thing that the question packs offered by the AAMC provide a very substantial and comprehensive CARS practice.
See more of AAMC practice exams on Amazon!
Next Step (Blueprint)
But don’t take these for granted because though not as remarkable as the AAMC, they provide you substantial science questions. The only downside here is that it almost feels like overkill because the questions are even more difficult than the actual exam itself.
I’m not kidding. The Next Step practice exams underestimate your actual MCAT score as most students would even score 5-8 points higher. Nevertheless, it’s still good practice.
The psychology sections are also not the worst, but not also the best.
While their interface is decent, I just find it a bummer that the right answers to the questions after taking it are nowhere to be found. Thus, forcing you to open your references and do a double-check. It’s not so bad, but still, it’s a double-edged sword.
Another aspect I would appreciate for NSTP to work on is their verbal sections. It feels convoluted and cluttered to me. Blueprint just tends to pay attention to the finest details that shouldn’t even matter.
Another contender as a great material in practicing your critical reasoning skills for the CARS section of the MCAT. Some may just find it difficult and ambiguous, but it’s good practice, still. ExamKrackers also tend to excel in their experimental passages and concepts.
Take note that ExamKrackers are heavily reliant on their textbooks. Thus, you will encounter explanations that are citations from their own books.
I would advise you to do their 3rd and 4th full-lengths. The EK 3 and 4 are good enough for you to use since one only has a limited amount of time preparing for the MCAT.
However, if you really aim for more practice and if your budget also permits, then no one’s stopping you from buying more full-lengths. You could still use all the practice you could get. Just don’t purchase everything from the bundle.
Remember that you don’t want to invest all your time and attention to the practice exams of just one company. Diversity is a priority.
Okay, Berkeley Review. Where to start with this one? Let’s start with the positive aspects as we’re going to go down and dirty with its flaws.
Well, the science sections are not the most phenomenal among the rest, but it stands out in the case of Berkeley Review. The same goes for their experimental passages.
Similar to ExamKrackers, Berkeley Review uses verbatim from their own prep books as explanations to the questions. Sadly, they don’t have prep books concerning the psychology and sociology sections of the MCAT.
It is because of this reason that the sociology and psychology sections are not that great in my opinion. Other practice exams can do better in these aspects.
I just find Berkeley Review probably the most inconvenient to purchase and use. It’s a very tedious process of faxing and mailing. Something that no other company does anymore. This can be a pain because you’re already dealing with the stress of your academic load and anxiety over MCAT preparations.
Plus, your account is only activated for 40 days. I mean, who wants to go through all that trouble for a 40-day deadline? The Berkeley Review is not something I would recommend to you unless you prefer this process.
Sadly, these are not on Amazon but you can purchase their practice exam bundles on their official website.
Altius is not anything special. I don’t find their CARS section decent, but the experimental passages are a good start.
Their practice tests cost $40 if bought on their own. They do, however, offer a free half test. I advise you to take this free practice test since I believe you don’t need every single test from all the companies I am mentioning here.
Unfortunately, these are also not on Amazon. You can learn more about how to register for it on their official website.
This company has released 8 full-length practice exams, and they retail it for a much cheaper than most of the options here at $10-$20 each. Though I could understand why some students would want to cut down on costs, I would not highly recommend for you to choose The Gold Standard more so than the companies I have already mentioned. There’s a reason why it retails cheaper than the rest of the lot.
The passages don’t really stand out and the only reason it’s not last in this list is that their online interface is slightly better than the Princeton Review.
Considering everything else, they don’t really live up to their name.
You can purchase 5 full-lengths online exams on Amazon. Click here to learn more!
This company offers you 3 full-lengths which I think is awesome and sufficient for you if you’re not looking into buying large bundles that you probably won’t need. Their interface is not stellar, but it works for me, nonetheless.
My problem with Kaplan is that most of the passages are informational rather than experimental. Take note that the AAMC and even the non-AAMC practice tests are moving forward utilizing experimental passages.
You can purchase their practice tests here.
Princeton Review does not offer free practice tests. However, if you do manage to purchase their prep book, you gain access to 4 full-lengths.
Talking about substance and content, most of the passages are also information based similar to the Kaplan practice tests. Looking at how AAMC is transitioning into more experimental passages, I wouldn’t highly recommend this.
My main problem with Princeton Review has got something to do with its interface. Long story short, it’s not user-friendly. I don’t know why or how but it seems as if Princeton Review decided it to be a consensus for their interface to be difficult for everyone.
If you’re tech-savvy, it might work for you if you just try hard enough. However, it’s alright for you to pass up on this one if you just don’t have time to waste.
You can purchase Princeton Review’s practice exams on Amazon.
A cheaper option than the rest, Sterling Test may or may not be a great choice for some. Well, for starters, it is noted that this company just reuses and recycles questions from their old MCAT prep books for the sake of having content. Still consider the options above if you still haven’t exhausted all of them.
More on the unpopular side of MCAT practice tests, McGraw-Hill also retails cheap. The reason for this is because the questions tend to lack its element of needing to be analyzed. It’s easier which tends to overestimate your score.
Other than using the best MCAT practice tests, I have compiled in this article all the best MCAT prep courses for you to utilize in your preparation period.
Best Predictor of MCAT Score
If we’re talking about the best MCAT score predictor, my best bet would definitely have to be AAMC. Some of the MCAT practice tests I have presented to you may tend to over or underestimate your actual MCAT score than on your highest full-length.
Though, I am not in any way implying that whatever score you will get on your AAMCs necessarily equates to your actual. What I’m trying to say is out of the whole lot, AAMC hits home the most.
FAQs About The Best MCAT Practice Tests
Is The MCAT Harder Than AAMC Practice Tests?
I can still remember walking out of the room after I took my MCAT. I had that heavy feeling in my heart that I bombed the exams because I had the impression that it was harder than what I have encountered during my preparations. Everyone else felt the same.
Could it be because of the weight of wanting to score high and the aftershock of the exam itself all stacked upon each other making exam takers feel like they have not prepared enough?
It’s honestly just unpredictable and subjective but I would advise you to trust your average FL scores on the AAMC practice tests while also allotting some room for deviation.
FYI. Find answers to FAQs about the MCAT Diagnostic test here.
How Good Is UWorld For MCAT?
UWorld didn’t make it to the list of the 10 best MCAT practice tests, but I think it deserves its own spotlight here in the FAQs section.
I wouldn’t say that UWorld alone would be sufficient preparation for the MCAT, but their question banks contain high-quality passages. It has some difficulty to it and is consistent across different subjects. UWorld pays particular attention to the sciences, as well.
What Is A Good Diagnostic MCAT Score?
There’s no such thing as a good diagnostic MCAT score. A low or high diagnostic MCAT score is just what it is.
The purpose of a diagnostic MCAT practice test is to just determine your strengths and subject areas that need more improvement. This is where you’ll be deriving strategies for your preparation.
Will you be needing more preparation for the biological section? Or do you need to work on your critical reasoning skills? You will never know until you have taken a diagnostic test.
How Many Hours A Day Should You Study For MCAT?
This is subject to variations and highly dependent on how much time you have based on your occupation and situation. You can learn more about it here.
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Is 3 Months Enough Time To Study For The MCAT?
It depends. Earlier on in the article, I have mentioned how it is optimal for you to conduct a two-round study strategy. I don’t think 3 months would be sufficient for you to review content and take practice tests for two rounds.
It is possible, but only if you opt to just conduct one round. But then again, we have discussed how this is not the way to go as you want another round to improve your scores.
I would also not encourage you to cram everything in such a short amount of time because obviously you’re not just reviewing for the MCAT but you also have some personal commitments to tend to.
The MCAT is not something to cram for. You’re not just working on trying to gain a high score but you are also developing resiliency for the actual test. Cramming may just be detrimental to your mental health.
So, that’s a wrap on this blog post regarding the best MCAT practice tests that money has to offer. I hope this article has provided you great insights on which MCAT practice tests to purchase and how to utilize them efficiently and properly to get you that score you have always dreamt of.
And if you’re curious to know what is a good GPA for med school, click here.
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Until next time, my friend!