by Yash S., 525 scorer and MCAT coach
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Some of the most common questions MCAT students have are around the accuracy and predictiveness of MCAT practice exams. I totally understand the confusion. Many of my students will take different exams within the span of a few days and get scores that are far apart from each other. This can be quite frustrating, as all students want to know whether they’re ready, and what their progress is looking like.
As such, I decided to review the accuracy of the most common exams. The summary of the reviews is first, then full reviews follow, including a review of UWorld. Don’t miss the link to the study plan at the bottom!
|AAMC||Blueprint/ Next Step||Kaplan||Princeton Review|
|Score Predictivity||Very accurate||Accurate, 1-2 points lower||5-7 points lower||8-10 points lower|
|Major Cons||N/A||Marginally more difficult than MCAT, but CARS can be quite different from the real MCAT||Tests include some complex content or formulas that you do not need to memorize||Overly detailed and difficult, lots of content that is not tested on the MCAT|
|My Advice||Use during the final weeks||Use these before using AAMC, depending on how much time you have||Take the free ones as your first exams, but ignore the paid ones||Avoid these unless you need some free resources to review content|
|Cost||$35 each||$25 each||Free with books||Free with books|
How accurate are AAMC full lengths?
As expected, no third-party company offers an exam as accurate or useful as the 4 MCAT full lengths offered by the AAMC. As the authors and administrators of the exam, the AAMC offers the most representative and accurate exams. You can expect your score to be very close to what you would have scored on test day.
This makes the 4 paid exams highly valuable, and so I advise my students to save them until the end of their study periods. However, with such a limited number of tests available, it is important to identify other exams which can also be used.
How accurate are Kaplan MCAT exams?
Kaplan, which is the author of one of the most popular MCAT content review book sets, offers 4 free practice exams when you purchase their books, along with several other paid exams. Although their books are highly rated, their exams are not as great. The sections are notably more difficult than the real deal, and you can expect your score to be 5-7 points lower than it would’ve been on an AAMC test.
Moreover, the tests tend to ask about some especially detailed concepts, which aren’t necessarily tested on the real MCAT. In the Chemistry and Physics section, you may find some obscure and complicated formulas that you likely won’t need to know. The Psychology and Sociology section is also a bit lacking, especially with respect to the sociology theories tested by AAMC. Overall, I recommend taking the 4 free tests as your first exams, but not bothering to pay for any additional Kaplan resources.
How accurate are Princeton Review MCAT exams?
Similar to Kaplan, Princeton Review also offers 4 free practice exams if you purchase their book set, which is also a quite popular resource for content review. Although it’s possible to debate whether the Kaplan or Princeton Review books are better, Kaplan’s practice exams are undoubtedly better than Princeton Review’s.
The Princeton Review exams are unbelievably hard, and you can expect your score to easily be 8-10 points higher on the real deal. Additionally, the Princeton Review exams tend to test extraneous details and complicated concepts that won’t necessarily appear on the real thing. If you happen to take any exams written by Princeton Review, be sure to keep this in mind. Don’t get discouraged if your score is much lower than you had hoped! In summary, I would not recommend taking these exams unless it is early in your study period, and you are looking for free resources that will test your recall of the content.
How accurate are Blueprint/ Next Step MCAT exams?
Blueprint offers up to 10 practice exams on a paid basis. These exams are fairly accurate, and probably more representative than either Kaplan or Princeton Review. The biggest complaint that comes up with these tests is that some CARS passages tend to be quite different from the typical AAMC style. However, the science passages are representative, and, overall, Blueprint comes closest to representing the difficulty of the actual MCAT of all the third-party exams.
You can expect your score on a Blueprint exam to be just a couple points lower than on the real thing. The array of content tested on these exams is fairly similar to the real MCAT, and the difficult level is also quite similar. Overall, I would recommend purchasing a few of these exams and using them after finishing your free resources, such as the Kaplan tests, but before using the AAMC tests.
How accurate or representative are UWorld MCAT questions?
UWorld offers over 2,000 practice questions in an online format that closely resembles the MCAT on test day. Although you won’t get a scaled MCAT score through UWorld, the questions are highly representative of the real deal. Doing practice questions on UWorld is extremely helpful, as the content covered is extremely similar to what the AAMC tests.
Additionally, the passages and questions are very similarly worded, and the answer explanations serve as an excellent review of content and concepts. UWorld will help you get acclimated to the style of MCAT questioning while allowing you to develop a deeper understanding of content and become better at applying your knowledge.
Why not check out our MCAT study plan?
Or, for more information on practice exam predictivity, check out this page. They took 844 user- submitted scores from Reddit and Student Doctor Network from 2017 in order to create a model of representativeness and score deflation for each exam company. Remember that there is plenty of bias in this analysis, but it is still useful to get an idea of how accurate your full length score really is!