There’s no denying that Kaplan MCAT prep is an extremely popular option among students. It’s hard to find hopeful test-takers who haven’t at least considered it!
But is it any good?
This review of the Kaplan MCAT prep courses will help you understand what the product has to offer, and if it’s a good choice for you.
Table of Contents
About Kaplan MCAT Prep
Kaplan is one of the most recognizable names in MCAT test preparation. Compared to some newer prep courses, Kaplan has a solid reputation that goes back several decades. The company has been around since 1938 and continues to evolve as it meets the needs of medical student hopefuls.
The program is robust and feature-rich. Kaplan clearly fine-tuned the course material over years of evolution and adaptation. It appeals to the masses and includes impressive technology to help you make the most out of your preparation efforts.
That said, it’s also flexible enough to meet your style of study. Kaplan is a multi-billion dollar company with tons of resources that it can invest back into the course. One of the company’s most substantial assets is its ability to provide both digital and in-person classes.
You’re free to study for the MCAT at your own pace or follow a more structured lesson plan with a skilled instructor. Kaplan even has the means to offer one-on-one tutoring for those who prefer a more customized approach. No matter your preferred learning method, Kaplan likely has a package that works for you.
Kaplan understands that MCAT prep is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. As a result, there are several prep review courses available. They vary dramatically in price.
However, all programs come with substantial costs. Kaplan is one of the pricier MCAT review options out there, so be prepared for the investment ahead.
Kaplan splits the MCAT review packages into a few different categories. These include On-Demand, Live Online, In-Person, and Bootcamp courses. Within those categories, Kaplan also separates things further by providing two price points.
The On-Demand course is the most affordable of the bunch. It’s entirely self-paced, making it ideal for those who want ultimate flexibility in how they study. There are no live sessions in a digital or physical classroom.
However, you do get full access to all of the online course material. You’re free to check out the prerecorded, teach-led lessons on Kaplan’s MCAT channel video platform. It also includes over 150 hours of standard video instruction, over 2,900 practice questions on Kaplan’s Qbank system, and 16 full-length practice exams.
This base-level course will set you back $1,799 for six months of access. Kaplan also offers an On-Demand Plus course, which costs $2,299. It has the same features as the standard On-Demand options, but it includes a few extra study materials and three hours of one-on-one tutoring.
Next up, we have the Live Online courses. This category is ideal for those who do best with interpersonal connection and real-time instruction. The Live Online plan includes 12 scheduled online classes. Each course is led by an experienced instructor who can provide more personal guidance and assistance.
The classes are about three hours long and include interactive elements between you, the instructor, and other students taking the same course. On top of all that, you have six months of access to all of Kaplan’s course material. It’s the best of both worlds, giving you the chance to combine self-paced study with more structured learning.
The Live Online Course plan will cost you $2,499. Like before, Kaplan also offers a Live Online Plus package. In addition to the base material, you get extra content and three hours of one-on-one tutoring.
Prefer to study in an actual classroom? Kaplan offers an in-person MCAT prep course as well. Availability will largely depend on where you live and how far you’re willing to travel.
However, Kaplan offers courses in many locations across most states. It includes up to 700 hours of guided prep. Classes follow a strict schedule to stay on track, but you also have access to all standard Kaplan online content like previous plans.
To attend the in-person classes, you’ll have to pay $2,899.
The final Kaplan MCAT prep review package is the intensive Bootcamp course. This option isn’t for everyone, as it’s pretty challenging compared to the other plans. However, those who are limited on time can get the most bang for their buck.
It’s a rigorous course that lasts only five to six weeks. To get through all the material, you must follow a strict daily schedule that combines small group study, private one-on-one tutoring, and content review. You also gain access to all Kaplan prep material.
The Bootcamp course is the most expensive, costing $6,999. Because of its shorter time frame, Kaplan offers multiple Bootcamp sessions during the Spring and Summer.
Beyond the core MCAT prep plans, Kaplan does offer additional services. You can purchase one-on-one MCAT tutoring separately to supplement your studies. During the tutor sessions, you’ll work with an instructor to develop a study plan that works for your unique needs.
Kaplan requires you to take an evaluation test beforehand to gauge your academic background, study preferences, and MCAT goals. Using the results, Kaplan can match you with an online tutor that’s right for you.
Pricing varies based on how many hours of tutoring you require. On the lower end of the price spectrum, you can pay $3,699 for ten hours of private tutoring. On the high end, 40 hours of tutoring will set you back $6,899.
Curriculum & Coursework
Now that you have a better idea of Kaplan’s pricing structure and plans, let’s go over the content itself.
Kaplan uses a mix of interactive, video-based lessons, traditional reading material, and practice questions to help you prepare for the MCAT. The video lessons are where Kaplan shines brightest. Every plan includes access to over 150 hours.
These video lessons are not instructor-led. We’ll get into that aspect of the course in a bit. The interactive lessons focus on providing factual information about the subject material you need to know.
Think of them as refresher videos to help you remember what you’ve already learned during your undergraduate studies. The videos are well-designed, featuring voice-over audio, helpful graphics, and more. They look like a digital whiteboard with illustrations to help drive core concepts.
The videos are easy to follow and do a fantastic job conveying the main points you need to know.
As a whole, the curriculum is well-organized. Kaplan doesn’t have a linear structure to follow, but it does separate the material into units and modules. You’re free to jump around, focus on the units you need help with, or skip over parts of the course entirely! Unless you’re doing an instructor-led course, Kaplan doesn’t require you to follow any structured routine if you don’t want to.
No matter how you approach the course, Kaplan makes sure that you’re getting as much opportunity to learn. Every interactive video has matching book assignments and practice quizzes to test what you learned.
Speaking of test questions, Kaplan has a decent number of them available! The Qbank system is an intuitive feature that complements the course units well. They’re separate from the full-length AAMC practice tests, acting instead like short quizzes you can take as you make your way through the curriculum.
Qbank continually adapts to your skill level, making it a valuable tool for gauging your progress. It changes to create just the right amount of challenge while focusing on the knowledge gaps that need the most work.
Another unique feature of Kaplan is the MCAT Channel. Here, you can sit in on live lessons. The topic of the presentation varies, but they’re always relevant to your MCAT preparation journey.
Instructors go live six days a week, and you’re free to watch regardless of the plan you have. If you missed one, you could always watch the recorded event. Kaplan has over 90 hours of recorded lessons that are free to review.
All in all, there’s no denying that Kaplan offers a wealth of study content to consume. Thanks to its many types of material to go through, there’s plenty of ways to learn and prepare.
With most of the MCAT prep plans, Kaplan includes 16 full-length practice tests. That’s many opportunities to familiarize yourself with the MCAT’s structure and get used to the time crunch involved. Most course providers only provide a couple of MCAT practice tests, so Kaplan is already above the pack in this regard.
When it comes to quality, the practice exams are serviceable. They’re nothing to write home about, but they’re undoubtedly well-designed enough to help you adequately prepare. The exams are no-frills, which perfectly replicates the real thing.
As you would expect, each exam includes the four sections of the MCAT and similar question styles. The passage-based questions are just as complex and challenging as the questions from the AAMC, making it a solid prep tool.
How The Content Is Delivered
Kaplan delivers the MCAT coursework in a couple of different ways.
If you prefer a more traditional approach, you can use the included hardcopy books. Each plan comes with eight books. Seven of them cover the subjects you’ll encounter on the MCAT, while the final textbook has individual lessons to follow.
MCAT prep books can be a helpful physical tool as you study. However, some might find that relying on the text alone is monotonous and non-effective.
Luckily, Kaplan MCAT has a robust online platform to take advantage of as you study. It’s impeccably designed and has excellent functionality across the board. Best of all, it’s easy to navigate and features sleek design elements that look professional.
Up top, you’ll see a banner that you can use to access the study material, Qbank practice questions, and more. As you go through the interactive lessons, the videos will load in a separate tab. That could be a little cumbersome, but it does ensure that the central platform is always available if you want to navigate away.
The live class platform is intuitive, too. Instructors are visible through a small window in the corner. Most of the screen is a digital whiteboard that the instructor can use to display graphics, make illustrations, and more.
Down below, you’ll see a chat box for students and a small window for asking questions.
One area in which Kaplan MCAT falls short is the mobile app. It’s limited in features and doesn’t provide full access to the course on the go. Most students only use it for digital flashcards and nothing more.
The mobile app aside, Kaplan does a fine job of delivering content smoothly and efficiently. The online platform is well-made and provides easy access to all the course material you need to succeed.
When you consider all of the things that Kaplan does well, it’s not hard to see why it’s a favorite among prospective medical students.
Kaplan MCAT offers an intuitive platform with tons of versatile content to go through. It excels most with practice questions and exams.
The Qbank is one of the biggest perks of using Kaplan. It’s an adaptable feature that continually changes as you improve. There are over 2,900 questions available, and Qbank makes them more challenging as you go.
It can also highlight weaknesses and help you focus on areas that need the most work. Most online prep courses don’t have that level of customization, making Kaplan stand out among the fierce competition.
The practice exams are excellent, too. While they’re pretty straightforward in terms of structure and features, that’s the whole point! The Kaplan practice tests are meant to simulate the authentic MCAT experience, making it easy to get comfortable before test day. The fact that you get up to 16 opportunities to complete full-length practice exams is a massive boon for Kaplan.
Finally, we can’t talk about Kaplan’s advantages without mentioning the guarantee and refund policy. Kaplan offers a Higher Score Guarantee. Most of the MCAT prep review courses are eligible. The only exception is the Bootcamp option.
Kaplan starts your prep journey with a proctored diagnostic evaluation exam. It provides a baseline score and gives Kaplan a better idea of your needs.
After you complete the course and take the official MCAT, you can send in your scores and compare them to the baseline. If you didn’t score higher than the diagnostic evaluation, you can request your money back or reactivate your account to try again. Kaplan even considers reactivation requests if you scored higher but aren’t happy with the level of improvement.
Guarantees like this are pretty rare in the prep course industry. It provides peace of mind, which is a must for courses that cost as much as Kaplan does. This will give you confidence that your money is well-spent and you’ll be able to get a good MCAT score.
Like any other test prep course, Kaplan isn’t perfect. There are some notable shortcomings you need to consider before investing in an MCAT review package.
The most pressing issue we see with Kaplan is the content review. Kaplan has a pretty solid curriculum that covers every topic you need. The content is delivered efficiently and in a way that caters to most learning styles.
So what’s the problem? Well, Kaplan is about refreshing your mind and providing high-yield lessons about specific topics. However, it doesn’t delve into the nitty-gritty.
You’re not going to get a ton of in-depth information about every single topic. Kaplan focuses on core concepts rather than teaching you the details to fill knowledge gaps. You must already know about the material to get the most out of these courses.
Another issue we have is the quality of the practice review explanations. Qbank provides a brief description of correct answers when you get a question wrong. However, the explanations are super short and not very helpful.
It would be nice if these explanations went a little further into helping you understand why you were wrong. It all comes back to the content review. It’s as if Kaplan assumes that you already know this material, so it doesn’t get into the details to address any weaknesses you might have.
Despite those two issues, the most glaring disadvantage of Kaplan is the price. MCAT preparation isn’t cheap, but signing up for a Kaplan review package is a significant investment! Even the self-paced options cost a pretty penny.
That’s not to say that you’re not getting a decent amount of content for the money. However, there are other resources out there. Some are even free.
For the amount of money you’re paying for Kaplan, you could likely find a personal tutor. Whether or not Kaplan is worth the price depends entirely on your needs and what you feel you can get out of the courses.
Kaplan is a solid choice if you have the means to pay for one of its many packages. We like the versatility and the well-designed content delivery platform.
That said, there are better options out there. Competitors like Princeton Review have more to offer (see our Kaplan vs. The Princeton Review comparison here). Even better is paying for a private tutor.
Despite all its strengths and inherent flexibility, nothing beats the personalized experience you get from working with a private tutor. Kaplan attempts to mimic that custom touch, and there are even ways to get one-on-one tutoring. But at the end of the day, it simply can’t compete with having an instructor guide your studies based on your particular needs.