Kaplan MCAT review course is the cadallac of review courses. I'm not sure that analogy does it justice. It is more like the Rolls-Royce of MCAT review courses. It is the most widespread, comprehensive, and expensive. What we need to figure out is if all that expense is worth while, and I'll help you decide if it is worthwhile for you. A word of caution about this, don't dismiss or buy a program based on other people's opinions. Get an idea of what the program IS and what it TEACHES but not opinions. Any program could be good or bad for any single person. But you need to know if it is good for you. If you have not already done so, make sure you know what you get on a MCAT practice test and how to interpret it to make a personalized study plan.
As I said, Kaplan MCAT is HUGE. There are so many different options that they don't even do a very good job of helping you know what they have available on their site. (note: one of the major weaknesses of Kaplan right now is their fairly incompetent technology department. You will likely run into problems, just focus on the fantastic atributes of the content and don't let it frustrate you.) So let me take you through their site so you know what you are looking at. Here is the website, open it and divide this screen with the one that opens so I can show you. Ignore all the stuff on top, those are tools you may use someday but you can ignore them right now. Go about half way down until you see "prep your way." This offers 3 basic ways to study. Either on your own at your own pace - MCAT on demand. Through MCAT online classes - MCAT classroom anywhere, or through actual on site classes - MCAT classrom on site.
When you open this you get many options. Comprehensive option, and many supplemental options. Using your personalized study plan you should be able to understand if you need help in one or two area's or if you need more comprehensive help. If you need comprehensive help, this is one of three options available to you. Take a look at these options. If you got a high score on the diagnostic and don't plan to take a course, than you should seriously consider the Qbank available here for practice in addition to the practice tests (link above), that you can get your hands on to just get used to the exam.
Here you see 2 options of the same price. The normal class, which is online classes and a comprehensive review. As well as the advanced class. If you fall into the category of someone who scored high on the MCAT practice test and still want to score much higher, the advanced class may be for you. It skips the basics and only fills the gaps of what those who are top 10% miss. From the feedback I've gotten on this, I've heard it is EXTREMELY helpful for those who are 33+ and who want quite a bit better, 38+. Both are $1800. Remember what I said when we were talking about practice tests. Pay more attention to how well things fit you then how much they are. You want to invest your money intellegently in medical school preparation, do not be cheap.
Here again are two options. The normal on site classes. These are the same as the online classes but in a physical classroom in one of the Kaplan centers around the country. If you are close enough to one of these to make it possible to attend, I would consider doing that. There is some evidence that actually being present at a lecture is more beneficial than watching it online. And more importantly, you will have the chance to interact a bit more with the professors, giving you a couple of extra minutes to ask questions and get clarity. The online live classes do have Q&A of course, but you'll get just a few extra minutes if you are physically with them.
The second option in interesting. It is a VERY intensive course at either Boston University or UC San Diego. It is very expensive and very comprehensive. I have not yet met someone that did this course and would be very interested to see what it was like. As of now, I only recommend that class for people who have studied for and taken the MCAT, and need to retake it either because it was very low or just too low for the school you are interested it. The timing of it being in the summer means that you will be late on all your application if you are taking the MCAT for the first time after this course and that will hurt you for you application process. So ONLY take this if you need to RETAKE the MCAT because then your application will be moving forward and you can show the schools you are applying to how committed you are. Also, you will have studied already for the MCAT so you'll get the most out of this course if you are not trying to memorize a bunch of material day in and day out.
I've thought a lot about how I want to talk about these programs in a way that doesn't put too much emphasis on any one program. However, yes, Kaplan is for you. No matter what position you are in as an applicant you can find a situation at Kaplan that fits your needs. Really, no matter what. From only needing very basic help...get the Qbank and any single subject you need. Or if you need a TON of help, get the comprehensive online classes. Or if you need to retake the exam making sure you do better this time, do the summer intensive course. They really do have it all, no other system or program can even come close the variety that Kaplan has.
That said, please remember that a low score on your MCAT practice exam is indicative of one of two things. It is either 1. A lacking of knowledge base or 2. A lacking of critical thinking. Kaplan doesn't do a great job of separating out these two things in their products. They teach both in every product. If you really need one or the other, other programs can help you more with that. Take a look at examkrackers MCAT and also other mcat courses, maybe there is a better fit out there than Kaplan MCAT.
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