While preparing for my MCAT, I initially took a disorganized self-study route that included reading materials from various MCAT preparation providers. Kaplan, ExamKrackers, The Princeton Review, MCAT-Prep.com, etc. I would pick up one book, use it and then pick up another text and begin using that. It was a mess.
Eventually, I decided to select a more structured method and went with the Kaplan MCAT Advantage On-site course.
What is the Kaplan MCAT Advantage?
The Kaplan MCAT Advantage is a MCAT prep course that is offered in two formats: Anywhere and On Site. The MCAT Advantage – Anywhere program is accelerated and completed online. All lectures are presented online with opportunity for you to communicate with your instructor via a chatroom and your computer’s microphone. This format might be useful to the student that does not want the lecture room environment or prefers the convenience of an online lectures and interaction with the program’s material.
The MCAT Advantage – On Site program is the format that I selected after watching a free preview of the “Anywhere” format. I did not enjoy the online-based lectures partially because I was never satisfied with online courses in the past. I preferred the On-Site program which included lectures at any Kaplan Test Center with a very knowledgeable instructor as well as an online portion to the course. The course was approximately three months long, twice a week, for three hours each session. It is possible to select any duration, session meetings per week, location, etc.
The on site lectures also provided me with the opportunity to communicate with other students not only on the topic of the MCAT but plans for medical school. You can develop an impression of the students who are basically your competition. Some students studied together and met on the weekends to complete practice exams, some shared tips about studying and it was interesting talking about different experiences or lack thereof for some students.
What Do You Get in the Kaplan Package?
After dishing out the first installment of the three, Kaplan ships out your MCAT Advantage package with:
The “Lesson Book”; contains all the material required for review during each lecture
Review Notes Textbooks: Physics, General Chemistry, Verbal Reasoning/Writing Samples, Organic Chemistry, and Biology (The NEW MCAT has different books located here)
Flashcards: Physics, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Biology
“Quicksheet” study guide with equations, example problems, and the need to know info for all subjects on the MCAT
Access to the hundreds of online resources: Question banks, Chapter Review Quizzes, Workshops, Kaplan Full Length MCAT Exams, AAMC Exams, Section Tests, Topical Tests, etc.
I found that the review notes textbooks, flashcards, and the online resources were the most useful. If you complete all of the online assignments and review the material consistently, you can improve your chances of performing well on the MCAT. The flashcards were perfect to flip through while on my lunch break, sitting in the waiting room or on-call room, traveling, etc.
Kaplan Mobile for iPad & iPhone
My favorite but occasionally the most annoying aspect of enrolling in Kaplan was the access to the Kaplan Mobile App. The application is available for FREE download in the iTunes store for the iPhone and the iPad.
The best part about having a mobile version of the books on the iPad was the luxury of having all of the books with me at once. Unfortunately, the iPhone version was awful. The pages were small and only three or four sentences per page would show up with a distorted diagram of whatever you were attempting to view (i.e. the fetal circulatory system or digestive system). Quite honestly, reading anything on an iPhone can be a pain but when it comes to studying, I wanted to eliminate annoyances and stick with the actual book or the iPad.
Depending on your budget for MCAT prep, the program does cost a bit ($1999 or three installments of $666.33) and discounts are available! For example, I received an alumni discount (registered in person at the center on my college campus) and some other discount for registering in the summer. The price is, however, understandable because of the number of available resources and accessibility to a knowledgeable instructor.
Different Formats for Different Learning Styles: Online or Lecture Setting
Including the Kaplan MCAT Advantage “Anywhere” and “On Site” programs, there are several formats of the Kaplan MCAT program. Your selection is dependent upon many factors including your preferred learning style, motivation, budget, and time before your expected test date.
The Resources & Study Materials
The textbooks are great and can be purchased individually at places like Target, Amazon, and eBay.
However, the access to all of the online resources including but not limited to: Kaplan Full Length Exams (More than 10), Actual AAMC MCAT Exams (same as what is available on AAMC site), Section Tests, Subject Tests, and more] is unique to Kaplan.
iPad & iPhone Kaplan Apps
The Kaplan MCAT prep programs allow you to access your textbooks and resources on their iPhone/iPad apps. Remember, the books look fine on the iPad but awful on the iPhone/iPod Touch.
This review was not written as per request of Kaplan. There are affiliate links located throughout the post and the earnings keep this site running. My opinions and photographs are my own and not a reflection of the test-preparation provider. This review was written for the MCAT before 2015.
Disclosure: Compensated Affiliate.