MCAT Prep courses

I have looked through the archives for information on MCAT prep courses. Perhaps I am not wording my query correctly. Anyway I am not finding what I am looking for.
I am planning to take the MCAT in April '05. I am looking at the Princeton Review , Kaplan and the Berkeley Review. Any insight on courses members have taken? Any suggestions? I am leaning towards Princeton, as I used their book to prepare for the SAT’s. It helped me. Then again the SAT isn’t the MCAT. Thank you.

I took Princeton, and was very happy with it. I also did the ‘Early Start’ - meaning you start in October as opposed to January. This is a big help coming down the stretch. ES only takes 2 classes a week, but regular start does 4 classes a weeks starting in January all the way to the end.
As far as the difference between Kaplan and Princeton - I think Princeton has more class time, and goes through the actual material as opposed to Kaplan, which has fewer classes and focuses more on test taking strategy. Not that you don’t get than in PR.
It looks like practice tests are about the same, but Kaplan never uses the AMCAS practice tests as part of their diagnostic series (PR uses 5R and 6R as the last two). I talked with many of my Kaplan friends, and they were very frustrated near the end b/c Kaplan practice tests kept getting harder (and no bump in their score), while PR folks were getting nice bumps with the AAMC tests. Only a mental thing, but something to think about when it is early April and you are freaking out.
I don’t mean to sound like I am rah rah for PR, but it worked for me, and I’d recommend it. Instructors were generally good, about what I would expect. We had one AWESOME guy, a couple above average, and a below average.

I took the Kaplan course because I wasn’t certain how to handle the MCAT in terms of test taking skills. VS was my low score. There test taking skills helped me out a bunch and VS ended up being my highest score of the 3.
The classes on the material were ok I guess. The person doing physics was an idiot and didn’t know hardly anything either that or she didn’t know how to teach. I quit going to those classes even though Physics was my weakess subject. I ended up getting my lowest score in the PS section.
The VS was taught by a lawyer and he was great. The chem was taught by an adjunct from my university and he was great and biology was taught by, again, someone who shouldn’t have been teaching. Their practice tests were hard and made me frustrated and made me feel like I shouldn’t even take the MCAT.
If you have no trouble with the material but your trouble lies with test taking skills and you really don’t know how to approach the beast, then Kaplan can help you.
However, you may be better off buying the prep course books from the bookstore and doing it on your own.
Links to the books I would highly recommend through
Here is the kaplan one, it is this year’s. They have next year’s addition but it isn’t ready for release yet.
Princeton Review’s book that I would recommend. Also new and will be released on June 1st.
Actually I would recommend doing it on your own and saving the money the prep courses cost. I don’t feel they are worth the cost.
Another VERY good thing to do is buy the actual, previously given tests from the people that make up the MCAT. The AAMC offers, for $80, all the tests they have. I would highly recommend buying the online membership so you can do all their tests. My kaplan scores were no where near my actual scores, whereas my AAMC scores were only 1 point away from my actual score. Here is the link, although you can buy today because they are updating their system. When it comes back up, just click on the part that says AAMC publications.
My advice for MCAT prep. Set aside a time of day where you know you will have uninterupted study time on both weekdays and weekends.
1. purchase the AAMC $80 practice test membership. Take their free practice test to see where you are lacking. Then do the paid for ones as you go through the material, saving one for the final practice.
2. purchase the kaplan big comprehensive book (by the way it has all of the same information, except mini quizzes, that my kaplan course books that I paid $1300 for.) and purchase the Princeton review Cracking the MCAT book.
3. work through both of those books section by section. Do VS section in kaplan and then in PR.
4. take your final aamc test and you should be ready.
Good luck!!!

Just saw this advertisement on SDN. I don’t know anything about it, but it looked interesting. The complet package is too much money but it has a number of different options to buy.

Kaplan’s MCAT prep course is the most popular one by far.
That having been said, I think that they spent too much time focusing on test taking techniques and too little time focusing on foundational science review.
The Examkrackers Audio Osmosis CD’s were, in my opinion, a more valuable prep tool than the Kaplan course.
Of course, your mileage may vary.

Thanks so much. I appreciate the info.

I took Kaplan. I just took the MCAT, so I have no idea how it will all shake down as far as my score. But I have mixed feelings about the prep courses.
On the one hand, any prep course is a good thing in terms of getting you to structure your MCAT studying. Another benefit is that they can help you identify which details from science you need to memorize, and which things you can safely assume will be explained on the test, or not asked at all. If it weren’t for the Kaplan class, I’m sure I would have focused my studying on much more quantitative things, whereas the actual MCAT is more qualitative. For example, it is really important going into the MCAT to know Boyle’s Law and Archimedes’ Principle and things like that. But the point is to understand the concepts more than to calculate complicated outcomes based on them. I wouldn’t have known that without the Kaplan class.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t even have wanted them to go into more subject matter detail than they did during class. All of my teachers were competent, but they were med students, not science professors. The person teaching our organic section made some mistakes, and didn’t seem to know that subject beyond what was summarized in the Kaplan review materials. If you are looking for a thorough review that will set you way ahead of the curve in any of the sciences, I think studying on your own from books might be the way to go. I referred to my science textbooks A LOT, because I found the Kaplan review stuff kind of shallow in certain areas. (We’ll see if it paid off for me, but regardless, there is more to the sciences than what is summarized by Kaplan, and some of it does turn up in actual MCATs). That said, when I was going over textbook stuff, because of Kaplan I knew better than to get too bogged down in any one thing.
Kaplan tries to emphasize test-taking strategies too, but I was not horribly impressed with their “method”, and anyway, I found the practice tests to be far more helpful in developing that skill. In the end I felt like I was basically paying Kaplan for a) the practice tests and b) to be told how to look at a watch. The tests were worth it, but the rest, I’m not so sure. Also, a big part of what the teachers were doing, it seemed to me, was consoling and/or encouraging the students. (In my class a lot of them were pretty young, and I think they appreciated the encouragement. I’m way too jaded for that, so I found it rather annoying!)
Definitely take the AAMC practice tests. The Kaplan tests are infuriatingly difficult, but the AAMC ones are a better estimator of where you stand, I’m told.

I also took Kaplan last semester. I thought it was pretty well organized and structured, but in the end, it did not feel worthwhile for $$. I didn’t take the MCAT largely because I got discouraged about their tests. I was scoring 22-25s on them, I couldn’t get past that hump. The last test broke my will for test – I got a 20 and I was like ugh… I am not ready.
In hindsight, I feel that the subject matter isn’t covered that great, but the test strategy itself is excellent. If you have a pretty adequate knowledge of the material overall and just need review, I would say it is worthwhile. But if you are like me, and need some time and need more work in particular subjects, I don’t feel that Kaplan is that great of fit – just my experience.
Especially in a few areas like genetics and biochem, I felt the class was weak.
Your experience may be different, but that is my opinion – take the class if you need just a refresher/review for the MCAT subjects. If you need a more thorough review, you may want to consider alternatives.
Wow, I had to write a lot about that, must be all of that pent up frustration from not making the April test this year .

I took the Kaplan course from October thru April. I found the test taking skills that they taught helpful. I also liked the review materials. I felt like they were pretty thorough. I didn’t however find the topical reviews very helpful. Part of the problem may have been that I had not completed the physics and Organic classes. I big part of the reason was multiple incorrect statements made by one of the instructors who happend to “teach” multiple sections. Such statements included that the atrioventricular node lies at the bottom of the left ventricle and some advice to the girls in class that they shouldn’t weigh themselves in heels because they will weigh more because the heels place more pressure on the scale. . I don’t mind a person not knowing something but I abhor when a person will just make crap up to cover it. As a whole I do not feel the class was worth the money. Please take in to consideration that I had a nearly fifty percent discount on the fee.
I also purchased the AudioOsmosis CD’s and do think that they are worth it. In retrospect if I knew then what I know now I would have bought the AudioOsmosis disks and some review books plus the AAMC practice tests and done it on my own. Those are my thoughts. ope it helps!