How to Choose the Best MCAT Course
As a premedical student, you might ask, “What are the best MCAT courses?” The answer might seem relatively easy. The best MCAT courses are those that help you get the score you want. And although this is true, the real question is: how can a prep course accomplish this? There are countless MCAT prep courses that provide various services and claim to guarantee outstanding outcomes. But how can you decide which one is the best option? Better yet, how do you know what to look for in an MCAT course?
It is essential to recognize that no two students are identical. Each student has a distinct learning style. Therefore, a one-on-one MCAT preparation program may be the ideal alternative for people who wish to increase their MCAT scores. Whether it’s your MCAT CARS score, timing skills, or MCAT subject understanding, personalized feedback can significantly enhance your MCAT skills.
If you want to know which course will be the most helpful in getting you the score you want, then it’s safe to say that a one-on-one MCAT prep course is the best option. Such preparation sessions are not necessary for everyone, but they have proven very useful.
Before you sign up for a course, you should think about whether you really need one, your learning style, and how much a course will cost. The information below will help you weigh the pros and cons of learning in a course vs. studying on your own so that you can make a good choice.
First, Think of Your Schedule
MCAT preparation courses most certainly save you the time you would have otherwise spent on research, material collection, preparing practice tests, and other logistical MCAT preparation tasks. Preparing for the MCAT and sticking to a study plan feels like an impossible task for many students. However, when you sign up for a prep course, the instructor will offer you a timetable to follow, so you won’t have to worry about missing any crucial parts of the preparation process.
Find Out Where You Currently Stand
Even the brightest and most academically accomplished students need to devote at least 300 hours of their time to MCAT preparation. However, each student has their own unique strengths and limitations, and it is essential to be aware of where you stand prior to your preparation for the MCAT.
Taking our Jack Westin MCAT Diagnostic Test is the most effective approach to gain insight into your current skill level and determine which aspects of your MCAT preparation require improvement. This mock exam will clearly show your strengths and weaknesses.
What’s the Focus of the Course?
This is one of the most crucial factors to consider while selecting a particular prep course. Is the MCAT the company’s specialty, or do they offer prep courses for other exams as well? A course provider that concentrates only on MCAT knows the complexities of the exam and will be better able to help students through its tricky sections. Their whole curriculum will be devoted to a single exam, providing students the highest chance of succeeding.
Consider an example from medicine to better understand the importance of a course provider that specializes in MCAT preparation. A general practitioner can be consulted for routine health checks, aches and pains, and mild diseases. What happens, though, when a patient exhibits indications of a specific, dangerous illness? Yes, they are recommended to see a specialist. This is exactly how it works for the MCAT. You don’t need someone who can only give you general advice. It would be best if you had detailed instruction and guidance.
Are the Course Instructors Professional?
Students naturally want to ensure that they are receiving the most comprehensive instruction. In order to meet the diverse needs of the premeds, teachers need to have the necessary qualifications and resources. Is the course instructed by graduate students or by genuine professionals who have both academic and practical experience in the medical field? This will have a considerable impact on how much the instructors are able to convey a thorough understanding of the important content to the students.
Consider all the previous classes you’ve had during the course of your education, from your early days all the way through college. When you were in elementary school, you possibly had the same instructor for many classes, or perhaps for all of your classes. This is because back then, you were only taught basic concepts. When they were merely teaching you multiplication tables, your teacher was not expected to have expert-level knowledge of arithmetic. The capacity of the instructor to connect and interact with the students, particularly the younger ones, was the most crucial thing. But by the time you were in high school, you had undoubtedly already been exposed to a number of different teachers, each of whom specialized in a different topic, right? When you were in college, it is pretty unlikely that the same instructor handled both your biology classes and your course in Elizabethan literature.
Likewise, an MCAT course should be advanced. It should cover highly specialized material with a specific goal in mind. An MCAT prep course must be taught by an expert, just like any other advanced course. An amateur instructor might be able to teach you basic techniques for taking standardized tests, but if they are not knowledgeable enough in the medical field, they simply wouldn’t be able to help you really understand the advanced content you need to know to do well on the MCAT.
Should the Course Include Lectures?
Even if you have fantastic instructors, it is unlikely that you will make significant progress if there is no direct instruction. An MCAT course that only provides students with a variety of study resources charges them, and then leaves them to study on their own cannot be called a “course.” This strategy might work for some premed students, but most probably, if you’re thinking about enrolling in an MCAT prep course in the first place, it’s because you believe you’re the kind of student who does better with guided, individualized instruction. You need to find a course that can give you regular lecture sessions in the form of a traditional classroom (whether in-person or online) instead of merely selling you a huge pile of study materials and expecting you to figure them out on your own.
If the course you have in mind includes lecture sessions, you must check the curriculum to see the topics they intend to cover. For example, a completely new section on behavioral and psychological aspects of medical practice was added to the MCAT exam in 2015, so you need to make sure that the course you are about to choose is updated. The material that premedical students need to learn covers a wide range of topics, and course providers need to make sure they can cover all the necessary aspects of those topics and, at the same time, consider the needs of their students. Some students might benefit from reviewing a topic that they struggled with in the past, or they might need to take a look at the content they learned during their first year of college. Look for an MCAT preparation course that reviews the test’s content and teaches test-taking strategies.
Are Practice Tests Included in the Course?
Regardless of how well you believe you are learning the MCAT’s major concepts during your MCAT preparation, the only way to take the exam confidently is to take practice tests. Generally, the most effective approach toward practice tests is to first take them under stress-free conditions, even open-book and without a time restriction. As test day approaches, begin taking practice tests under actual test conditions.
Is the Course within Your Budget Range?
With MCAT prep programs ranging in price from tens of dollars to thousands of dollars, it’s crucial to think about how much money you are able to spend. The exact cost varies from person to person and according to each student’s unique needs. However, check whether you can receive special discounts via your college or university.
It’s impossible to give an exact price for an ideal MCAT prep course because everyone’s objectives and financial circumstances are different. Even so, there are a few factors to remember when putting together your budget plan.
A truly practical MCAT prep course should be viewed as an investment in your future because your MCAT score significantly impacts whether you are accepted into medical school and which colleges you can enter. Therefore, choosing a course based on its low price is not advisable. Make sure you have considered all the other quality factors as well.
At the same time, you need to know and accept your own financial situation. You need to know that the cost of a program does not necessarily guarantee its quality. A course that either wastes your time by reviewing topics that you are already familiar with or tires you with its unengaging content will be less beneficial to you than one that costs less money but provides more information in areas where you are weaker. The bottom line is an ideal course is taught in a manner that is tailored to your learning style. Before making a choice, it is absolutely necessary to get as much information as possible about the options provided by each of the programs that you are thinking about. Aside from the impact that your MCAT score has on your hopes of becoming a doctor, you could be spending a considerable amount of money, and you should feel like you’re getting the best value for what you have paid.
Jack Westin’s Approach to the MCAT
At Jack Westin we believe that every students deserves the best, most up-to-date, and intuitive MCAT preparation course. Because of this belief we’ve focused our entire course on overcoming the MCAT through detailed lectures, accessible office hours, streamlined preparation tools, and so much more.
If you’re not sure where to start with Jack Westin, we encourage you to check out our free one-on-one Academic Advising. Speak with a qualified and helpful advisor that will help you navigate where you need to go in your MCAT prep and what resources are available to you. CLICK HERE TO GET STARTED.
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