The MCAT is one of the most competitive exams in the US. Preparing for it without any assistance can be quite stressful and time-consuming. Hence, you might be looking around to subscribe to the best MCAT prep course that works for you.
However, with the sheer number of options available in the market, it can become quite difficult to separate the good from the bad. To help you out, here are a few characteristics of what you can expect from a good, well-rounded prep course.
Accessibility and Flexibility
When shopping around for a prep course, the first thing that you should consider is its accessibility features, especially if they apply to you. It can include:
- Screen Reader-friendly web pages for the visually impaired.
- Wheelchair-friendly facilities for in-person classes.
- In-built colorblindness filters in web pages. It includes the most common forms of color blindness in the red-green and blue-yellow spectrum.
Even if they don’t apply to you, the mere inclusion of a robust set of accessibility features shows that much care and thought have been taken to design the course.
Since prep courses are designed to supplement regular academics, flexibility is the second most important feature that you should consider. It is especially important now since the pandemic restrictions may distort your regular schedule.
Furthermore, if you’re a non-traditional student, flexibility becomes more a necessity than a luxury. Ideally, you’d want a course that allows you to choose between a wide range of time slots—be it for in-person classes or the online mode.
Feedback and Support
A prep course without direct teacher-student interaction is like preparing for a driving exam by watching YouTube videos. Feedback from your course teachers will allow you to have a thorough idea of where you stand regarding your preparation level. On the other hand, support from them will help you overcome your shortcomings, should you have any.
Studies have shown that consistent feedback from teachers helps students remain motivated and encourage self-introspection. Thus, a good prep course should have designated feedback and doing clearing sessions before, on, or after regular classes. Some of them might even help you connect with a path advisor who can assist you through your pre-med journey.
Accountability and Community
Accountability forms the basis of self-evaluation. If no student is held accountable for completing their classwork/assignments, they will lose much of the incentive to follow along with the course. Regular feedback, timely assessments, and compliance with institutional rules are ways to ensure student accountability.
Another, often overlooked, factor to consider while choosing the right prep course for yourself is the student community that it harbors. Pre-med is a long and arduous journey. Having a strong support structure throughout it all will ensure that you always remain motivated and focused on your goal. This support structure can come from your prep course community, where you are very likely to come across other like-minded pre-med students with whom you can form a study group together. Study groups are highly effective because of the following reasons:
- It helps you have an idea of how well prepared your peers are and thus avoid procrastination.
- It makes it easy to compare notes and fill gaps if they should arise.
- Simply knowing that your friends will be there to support you can help mitigate exam jitters to a large extent.
- It is a great platform to exchange information about the MCAT, resources, and prep strategies.
You don’t want a course that works at the moment. For example, you may answer all the regular questions in class, but that isn’t very helpful when every second MCAT aspirant can do the same. You can determine the quality of a course by the kind of insider information it provides. It includes overarching study and test-taking strategies like:
- Understanding the important and not-so-important sections of a chapter and highlighting keywords.
- Utilizing the process of elimination when unsure about a certain answer.
- Time management includes attempting the easier questions first and leaving out the unknown answers for the last.
- The use of easy-to-remember mnemonics to help you memorize quicker.
Choose What’s Right For You There are many prep courses available in the market, with each claiming to be the best that there is. However, it is very important to note that a prep course is only as good as its benefits. Therefore, while suggestions never hurt, the decision to join a prep course should be yours and yours alone.