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How Good is the Princeton Review MCAT Prep Courses?
Princeton Review is one of the most famous brands in the prep course industry. Find out what MCAT Prep Courses they offer, to see if one of them can help you do well on your MCAT.
Since 1981, the Princeton Review brand has been around offering a guided prep course for various standardized tests. One of these tests is the MCAT, and Princeton Review is famed for offering terrific MCAT Prep Courses that have helped thousands of would-be doctors over the years.
So, just how good is it? Let’s take a closer look.
Study Plan Options
Princeton Review doesn’t offer a fixed “one size fits all” study plan for everyone. Instead, they offer a wide range of options so that you can suit your particular needs and study preferences. Here are some of the options available.
This online option costs $1,499 and this gives an extremely flexible schedule to follow. There are no fixed classroom schedules, and instead, you have more than 500 video lessons you can play at any time.
You can then test your knowledge with thousands of passage-based questions, to make sure you’ve learned the lessons you were concentrating on. If you get the question wrong, then you get a detailed explanation so you can get it right the next time.
You also have all the available AAMC practice materials here, plus 16 full-length practice tests. These include 2 shortened versions that last 5 hours and 45 minutes long. These tests familiarize you with the real MCAT, while you’re also regularly gauging your study progress. The tests also indicate which areas still need some work, so you can adjust your study focus accordingly.
Lots of future doctors like to learn from books, and this option gives you 10 MCAT books to check out. These include 3 exclusive books that you can only get from Princeton Review.
Here you also get a guarantee that you’ll score higher on the MCAT than you did before. If you don’t, you get a refund. In fact, you can repeat the whole program if you’re not fully satisfied.
This costs $2,399 and you also get all the study materials available in the Self-Paced program. These include the 500 video lessons, thousands of practice questions, 16 practice tests, and all the AAMC stuff.
The extra money you pay gets you 123 hours of live online classroom instruction, with a team of 4 to 6 carefully chosen MCAT instructors.
- 33 hours for Biology and Biochemistry
- 12 hours for Organic Chemistry
- 18 hours for General Chemistry
- 18 hours for Physics
- 21 hours for Psychology/Sociology
- 21 hours for Critical Analysis and Reasoning Section (CARS)
After every lecture, you get a customized homework assignment designed to improve your deficiencies.
There’s an in-person option for this as well, though in light of the pandemic that’s rather iffy at the moment. For your safety, you’ll want to go with exclusively online options.
This Ultimate package also gives you an extra exclusive book, so you get 11 MCAT books in total.
You also get access to the MCAT Topic Focus. You have at least 12 sessions meant to shore up all of your MCAT weaknesses so that you’re prepared for every part of the test.
The guarantee here is also quite impressive, as it assures you that you’ll either score at least 510 or that you will increase your previous score by a minimum of 10 points.
This is the most popular option, according to Princeton Review. It’s easy enough to see why, as it promises a score of at least 510 on the MCAT. An MCAT score of 500 only has an average med school acceptance rate of 20.6%. Increase that by 10 points to 510, and the average acceptance rate skyrockets to 62.4%.
This course is very similar to the Ultimate package, though the cost increases by $500 so the total cost is $2,899. The main difference here is that the $500 pays for the addition of the 1-on-1 study manager.
The job of the study manager is to closely monitor your efforts and progress, to make sure that you’re utilizing your MCAT preparation time wisely. The key purpose of this overwatch is to focus on your current weaknesses so that they can be improved.
That way, you get the 510 points you’re aiming for. This guarantee does require you to have a starting score of at least 500, though. If you have a lower starting score, then the guarantee is about increasing your MCAT score by at least 10 points.
MCAT 515+ Immersion
This is perhaps the most intense option. This guarantee specifically states that you will either get a score of 515, or you will increase your previous score by 10 points. Since a score of 515 puts you in the 92nd percentile, you may think that it’s worth the huge $6,499 price tag.
This will drown you with lessons, as the package involves at least 860 of instruction. These include 195 hours of live instruction. The package also offers strategy lessons for taking each specific section of the MCAT.
Comprehensive Admission Counseling Program
This program sees the forest and the trees, so you don’t get the tunnel vision of thinking that the MCAT is the only thing you have to worry about to get into the med school you want. For $3,500, this program improves your MCAT score and helps you with the other factors that may determine your med school admission.
You’ll get a coach that looks at the big picture, so you get a more accurate assessment of how you really are viewed as a med school applicant. Then you get help with your letters of recommendation and even with the med schools you should apply for.
You’ll know how to write your own application letter, and you’ll get coaching on how to do well during the interview.
- Private tutoring. $2,000. This can be in-person, but there’s also an online option.
- CARS Accelerator. $499. The Critical Analysis and Reasoning section is generally regarded as the most difficult section of the MCAT, and this program focuses on that.
Here are some compelling reasons why you’d want to consider Princeton Review:
- As you may have noticed, you do have lots of options to choose from. You can go with a self-paced program to a program where you get lots of guidance on just about every MCAT-related topic. Basically, if you need help with something, you’ll get it. All your questions are answered.
- You also won’t run out of study materials. With hundreds of video lessons and thousands of practice questions, you won’t have to go over the same thing again and again.
- You also have lots and lots of realistic, full-length practice tests. These tests are terrific since they help you identify the areas for which you still need help. At the same time, you become very familiar with the whole MCAT test, so you won’t be surprised by anything when you face the real thing.
- Princeton Review is also famous for how much care they exert in choosing the instructors and preparing the study materials. They only go with real MCAT experts, meaning these instructors did very well on the MCAT themselves. These guys have walked the walk, and they just don’t talk the talk.
- You have lots of books as well. Many future doctors like learning by reading actual books, so here you get at least 10 books. You even get MCAT books that you won’t get anywhere else.
- The guarantees are terrific. Basically, you’re assured of getting an increase of at least 10 points, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. You do have to work for it and you can’t slack off, but then again, these habits will do you well when you actually get into med school.
There are some potential issues, however.
- The most obvious drawback to the Princeton Review MCAT Prep Course options is that they’re all rather pricey. For lots of students these days, the prices may be a bit too much. These prices can really tempt some people to just study by themselves or go with a cheaper option, thereby saving themselves thousands of dollars.
- Some say that the Self-Paced program is too DIY. It would have been nice if the program helps students in building an effective study plan or schedule.
- Quite a few people also say that the textbooks are too dry and boring.
Comparison between Kaplan and Princeton Review
It makes sense if you compare the Princeton Review MCAT options with the Kaplan MCAT prep courses. They’re very similar to each other, as Kaplan also offers a self-paced program with extra options for live online classes and tutoring.
The quality is basically the same, as you have the same number of fans on both sides. In fact, you might say that Princeton Review offers a better deal. The prices are somewhat lower, and you get 12 months of access. Kaplan costs a bit more and you only get 6 months of access.
Is Princeton Review worth the money? Thousands of satisfied customers over the years say yes. Sure, any prep course here is pricey. But when you become a doctor, you’ll look back and think that it was all worth the price—especially if you’re earning big bucks!