Explaining the Official AAMC Prep Material for the MCAT

The MCAT is more than pure content memorization. It requires knowing the “language” of the exam — how questions are asked, how to interpret data, and the logic used to reach each answer. For this reason, many of my students question how their content knowledge will translate on the actual exam. After working with hundreds of students, we’ve found that the MCAT prep materials created by the AAMC are one of the greatest tools in preparing students for the real deal.

The AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) creates each MCAT exam, so working through the official AAMC practice questions and full-length exams gives my students the most accurate benchmark of their MCAT knowledge and skills. The MCAT Self Prep Course also includes assignments from these resources throughout students’ study plans. This FREE eCourse seamlessly integrates all of the official prep material released by the AAMC. And since there are so many resources available through the AAMC, I’ve compiled a list and brief description of each AAMC product in this article.

Free Resources

1. What’s on the MCAT Exam? This webpage provides an extensive overview of the MCAT and its subsections.

2. Create a Study Plan This downloadable pdf provides instructions and tips for creating a personalized MCAT study plan. However, it doesn’t walk you through your own personal timeline or adjust the hours that you will need to study on the improvement that you are looking for. Although this AAMC resource can be a helpful supplement to MCAT Self Prep, I would highly recommend using the Create-Your-Own Study Plan Course instead. This course allows for seamless integration of your progress with other MCAT Self Prep resources.

 3. MCAT Official Prep Sample Test This full-length practice exam is a valuable study tool, and best of all — it’s free! Most of my students use this resource in conjunction with MCAT Self Prep resources in their last month of studying.

4. More Free Planning and Study Resources

Low-Cost Resources

1. MCAT Official Prep Practice Exams  (Online Only): In my opinion, these four online practice exams are absolutely essential. They accurately reflect the timing, material, and language used by the AAMC on the actual MCAT. My students’ scores often skyrocket after implementing these practice exams into their study plans and increases their self-confidence as test day approaches. In general, most students will score within 2 points of their last AAMC test if they take it within a few weeks of the actual test day. So needless to say these tests are the best barometer of where you will stand on test day.

2. MCAT Official Prep Question Packs (Online Only): The MCAT Question Packs are also a valuable resource provided by the AAMC. These online practice questions feature both passage-based and discrete items that represent the language and logic of the actual MCAT. Each question pack contains 120 questions, all of which are utilized in the MCAT Self Prep Course.

3. MCAT Official Prep Section Bank (Online Only): The MCAT Section Bank is similar to the question packs — it contains online questions that accurately reflect the MCAT. The Section Bank contains 300 questions, focused heavily on the fields of biochemistry, psychology, and sociology. These questions are representative of the most difficult passages on the MCAT and so they are good practice for learning how to read and decipher passages. The Section Bank is also used extensively in the MCAT Self Prep Course.

4. MCAT Official Prep CARS Diagnostic Tool (Online Only): The CARS Diagnostic Tool is a new feature that includes extra CARS practice passages, strategy guides, and thorough answer explanations.

5. The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam (Print Only): The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam is a physical guidebook that includes everything you need to know about the MCAT. It also contains 120 practice questions, which can also be purchased separately in an online-only format. Most of my students use these questions as their first diagnostic exam.

6. MCAT Official Prep Flashcards (Online or Print): These flashcards include 150 discrete questions on MCAT topics. Most of my students purchase these flashcards in conjunction with other AAMC resources as part of their MCAT Self Prep studying.

So… What Should I Get?

With so many products available, you may be wondering where to start. The MCAT Self Prep Course assigns questions from the AAMC’s Section Bank, Question Packs, and Flashcards at the end of each content module, allowing you to accurately assess and track your progress. Our program also encourages students to use the AAMC full-length practice exams as part of MCAT Boot Camp, the final month of studying.

For these reasons, most students decide to purchase the Online-Only Bundle or the Complete Bundle. Both of these options include everything you need to implement AAMC materials into your MCAT Self Prep study plan. There is nothing more valuable than the source itself, and I highly encourage you to consider purchasing these AAMC products! If you need help deciding on which MCAT materials to purchase, consider signing up for a FREE consultation with the tutor of your choice!

Warm regards,

Jess Hack

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How we Matched up the Khan Academy Passages with the eCourse Lessons

Each lesson of the eCourse contains links to 1 to 5 Khan Academy science passages for the purpose of providing you with non-AAMC material to practice your science passage reading skills on. By completing all the linked passages within every lesson, you will have finished all the freely available Khan Academy science passages.

To match up the Khan Academy Science Passages with the eCourse lessons, we carefully examined the passage and question content of each one. Then we decided which lesson of the eCourse best correlated with that content. You may notice that some passages don’t match up perfectly with the current lesson. If they don’t match up with the current lesson, they should match up with one of the previous lessons in the module. We did this carefully so that you could practice your science passage reading skills on passages that contain the content you’ve already learned.

Why we don’t recommend non-AAMC CARS practice questions

We recommend practicing CARS by reading non-AAMC CARS passages but not doing the associated practice problems. The reason we don’t recommend doing the practice problems is because the MCAT is written by the AAMC. They have a very unique style in which they write CARS practice questions that third-party companies (try as they might) are unable to replicate. When students spend time on non-AAMC CARS practice problems, they get familiar with the wrong style of questioning, leading them to overthink and incorrectly respond to the questions written by the AAMC. Thus, it is in your best interest to solely practice on AAMC CARS practice questions.

That said, we highly recommend practicing your reading skills on non-AAMC CARS passages. In our Ultimate CARS Strategy Course, we provide you with 1,000 free CARS passages and 100+ homework assignments, giving you ample material to practice on. Reading countless passages while practicing the proper reading habits and strategies will prepare you well to conquer the CARS section as it was written by the AAMC.

Which books do the lessons match up with?

The books we use in each lesson are linked below. We plan to stick with these older editions of the books since very little has changed and the older editions are much more affordable:

First Edition of the Kaplan 7-book Series
First Edition of the Princeton 7-book Series

Do the chapters match up perfectly?

The Kaplan Books, Princeton Books, and Khan Academy Videos were all produced by different authors. For this reason, there are some chapters in the Kaplan Book or Princeton Book that are not even found in the Khan Academy Videos and vice versa. For instance, the Kaplan and Princeton Books have chapters that cover certain experimental procedures that the Khan Academy Videos do not cover.

Our goal in matching up the books with the videos was to correlate the content as best as possible while also covering ALL the content from every resource. For this reason, when nothing in the Kaplan Books matched up with one of the video playlists, instead of leaving the reading assignment for Kaplan blank, we inserted material that did not fit in anywhere else (i.e. one of those chapters on an experimental procedure that was not covered by Khan Academy). So, when the assignment doesn’t appear to match up right, please know that this was intentional.

*If you follow the reading assignments outlined, you will finish the entire Kaplan 7-book series and/or Princeton 7-book series by the time you finish all 10 content modules.

Do the sections match up perfectly?

If the sections assigned in our eCourse do not match up with the sections contained in your content review book, you may have a different edition. The sections should still match up the large majority of the time, but in the rare instance that they don’t, I’d recommend simply reading sections that do match up and saving the ones that do not for a future lesson.

MCAT Launchpad Required!

Before jumping into our free eCourse, you’ll need to complete orientation by watching MCAT Launchpad. During this free 35-minute intro session with Head Tutor Andrew, you’ll learn 6 Keys to Earning a Top MCAT Score, the 5 Essential Elements of an Effective Study Plan, 12 Tips for Taking the Best MCAT Study Notes, and more! Andrew will also provide you with a detailed overview of the Free MCAT Prep Course, teaching you how to get started.

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