Kaplan vs AMCAS practice tests difficulty

I am enrolled in the Kaplan study program; due to my work schedule and the inability to attend a traditional class, I am doing the self-paced online program.

I have taken a handful of both the Kaplan-written and AMCAS practice tests and percieve a significant difference in the difficulty of the questions. It seems that the Kaplan tests, passages, and info are MUCH more difficult than the AMCAS tests. Kinda surprised, as I would have thought it would be the other way around. I’m consistently scoring 5-6 points higher on the AMCAS than the Kaplan.

Is anyone else seeing the same thing? I’m expecting expect the real thing to be harder, but how do these practice tests compare to the real deal? (Is the real thing closer to the Kaplan or AAMC practice tests?) It’s quite demoralizing to take the Kaplan test, think I have done fairly well on int, only to realize that I didn’t… A good score on a practice test goes a long way towards making me think that my efforts are paying off and keeping my morale up…

The real MCAT is much more like Kaplan as far as level of difficulty. The AMCAS practice are really only useful for getting used to the style of questions, not for the difficulty. This is the one thing I wish I had been told in advance - would have saved me from taking it a second time. I took the classroom Kaplan and found it to be useless - I think you’ll make out much better with the self-paced course. Make sure you take all the Kaplan practice exams since that’s a large part of what you’re paying for.

According to Kaplan, the AAMC tests are easier but graded more harshly while the Kaplan tests are harder but graded easier. They also tend to focus on specific areas where the Kaplan ones are more broad so that you can get a better idea of what you need to study.

Personally my Kaplan scores were always a few points higher than my AAMC ones…but my first shot at the actual MCAT came in well below both, so who knows how accurate either of them are?

From my own experience, I agree with Switz regarding the difficulty of AAMC practice tests. These are much easier than the actual MCATs. It seems that over the years, the MCAT has changed, and you can see that when comparing practice to real.

As for Kaplan, my feeling was that, yes, they were difficult, but they didn’t really ask questions in the same way the MCAT does. I wouldn’t recommend doing all Kaplan or only Kaplan.

For sure, on the real deal, there is this feeling of uncertainty. More guessing, more thinking, more hesitation at times. It is just not as clear cut, even in the wording. It then creates this uneasy feeling that I have not experienced when taking practice tests. During practice tests, I either knew the stuff or I didn’t and that was it. On the real deal, although you know the basics, you are not sure of the answer, there some guessing involved and that’s painful.

At least I am happy to be done with it…

I found the Kaplan online material to be very good, much better than my classroom experience. However, I would strongly recommend you do all the practice quizzes, etc. Kaplan practice tests seem to go into a lot of Orgo which may or may not reflect your actual AAMC test. I agree with redo and Switz that the actual test was much more difficult than the AAMC practice tests in both level and difficulty and time. For instance, the BS passages for the actual test I found to be much longer than the practice ones.

As for me, I found that my AAMC practice tests aligned pretty close to my actual exam. Don’t get discouraged though. When I started studying, my first Kaplan practice test was 19 and for my actual, I ended up with a 32. I would recommend that if you have enough time, structure your schedule so you’re taking a practice test every week.

I’m taking lots of tests. I work a rotating shift (24 hours on, 48 hours off) and am taking a practice test on each morning of my two days off (both Kaplan and AMCAS in about a 2:1 ratio), followed by reviewing the test in the afternoon. Even though it seems like it’s not sinking in, I guess the proof is in the pudding, as my pre-class diagnostic test was 17, and my latest was a 29.

You’re looking good! At this point, you’re probably able to spot some weaknesses. I hit a plateau at 30 for awhile until I beefed up some of my studying in BS. Good luck!

That’s what’s frustrating the daylights out of me… I can’t find a pattern!

I’ll take one test and bomb the Ochem but do great on the rest of BS, then the next one I’ll hit Ochem out of the park and tank the BS. Same story with PS and VR. I’m good with patterns… I like them, that way I can isolate them and whip them one at a time. There’s NO freakin’ pattern here…

Oh well, I’m about 40 hours out, and coasting at this point so I that don’t have pent-up frustration on D-day. I’m taking an 8am test, and I told my wife that by about 4pm she should probably expect a call from the bartender at our favorite restaurant saying “hey, you need to come get your husband, his face is stuck to our floor…”

Well that hurdle is over…

I thought it was line with the AAMC practice test MUCH more so than the Kaplan tests… or at least, it wasn’t as obscure as some of the Kaplan tests.

So, now we wait…

I thought it felt quite similar to the one I took in April for the most part. Physical wasn’t too crazy, the Verbal I thought was actually fairly easy, but Bio was the hardest I’d ever seen between the 12 AAMC/Kaplan practice tests I took and now having done the real thing twice. Considering I felt like I walked out with a 34 the first time, and ended up with a 26…that means I’m getting a 24 or a 37 this go around.

What’s really odd is on practice tests I’ll think a particular section was really hard and do really well on it, and another time it will have felt quite easy and I’ll have bombed it. Physical is especially that way for me…my practice tests ranged from 8 to 12 there.