MCAT Preparation Advice

MCAT Preparation Advice and Guide to AAMC and Gold Standard MCAT Materials

MCAT Practice Tests

AAMC Materials | Gold Standard MCAT Prep Materials
What college classes do you need to take to prepare for the MCAT exam?

Know Thyself . . . and Make a Schedule!

Ideally, following the Gold Standard MCAT Schedule would lead you to set aside at least 3-6 hours per day for 3-6 months for your MCAT preparation. You may require more or less time depending on whether you have completed all the courses mentioned in the table below, when they were completed, and of course, also depending on your performance in those courses. There is another issue that students do not often use in this calculation: an honest assessment of the MCAT score required for the desired medical school. The truth is that, historically, many medical schools require average or just above average MCAT scores. If that is your objective but then you chase the preparation regime of a student applying to Harvard, you may lose your grasp of the fundamentals while chasing salient details that are rarely seen on the new MCAT. Aiming for the stars is laudable, but knowing yourself is even more important and it will permit you to set reasonable goals that you can attain with sufficient effort.

For guidance in planning all your premed activities including taking the MCAT, click here: AAMC’s Medical School Application Timeline

The next issue is regarding how best you should divide your time. Traditionally, students spend too much time reviewing and too little time practicing. We believe that the best preparation is one where you spend 1/3 of your time completing your review; 1/3 of your time completing practice questions to confirm your understanding; and finally, 1/3 of your time completing full-length MCAT practice tests to integrate and apply your learning under timed conditions. Each stage must include time to take very brief notes which you review several times each week.

New MCAT Practice Tests and Preparation Materials (Official - AAMC) with Release Dates

AAMC New MCAT Preparation Materials Description Date of release
The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam (MCAT), Fourth Edition $30
The Official Guide to the MCAT Exam (MCAT), Fourth Edition

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Overview of the new MCAT exam with 120 practice questions

Available now

Complete Official MCAT Prep Bundle (Print and Online) $238
Complete Official MCAT Prep Bundle (Print and Online)

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MCAT prep package includes the current AAMC MCAT products mentioned below plus official MCAT question packs, for a total of 2,000 unique questions. As with all paid AAMC online products, you are permitted up to 20 “starts” so you can re-take practice questions up to 20 times.

Available now

Complete Official MCAT Prep Bundle (Online) $204
online only official mcat prep bundle

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MCAT prep package includes the current online-only AAMC MCAT products for a total of 1,600 unique questions.

Available now

Official MCAT Practice Exam 1 (Scored, Online) ($35)
AAMC Official MCAT Practice Exam

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The first official full-length practice test from the AAMC has 230 questions and scaled scoring information for the new MCAT.

Available now

Official MCAT Practice Exam 2 (Scored, Online) ($35)
aamc mcat practice exam two
The second official full-length practice test from the AAMC has 230 questions and scaled scoring information for the new MCAT.

Available now

Official MCAT Section Bank (Online) $45
aamc mcat section bank

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300 MCAT practice questions in three section packs - natural, behavioral, and social sciences.

Available now

Official MCAT Sample Test (Online) $25
official mcat sample test

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Test has 230 questions, but since it was written before the new MCAT was first administered, you will not get an estimated MCAT score. But, you will get feedback on how you did on the exam.

Available now

Official MCAT Question Packs (Online) $72
Official MCAT Question Packs

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This six-pack bundle has 720 questions that came from past prep products but geared for the new MCAT exam content.

Available now


Gold Standard new MCAT Practice Tests (simulated exams) and Preparation Materials with Release Dates

Gold Standard (GS) new MCAT Practice Test and Preparation Materials Description Date of release
GS-Free MCAT Practice Test (Free)
GS-Free MCAT Practice Test

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New MCAT practice test with all 4 exam sections. 78 questions (1/3 length) with answers and helpful explanations. One hour of free related science review videos.

Available now

GS-1 to GS-7 MCAT Practice Tests
($20 each/month; unlimited submissions)
Gold Standard GS-1 to GS-7 MCAT Practice Tests

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7 full-length MCAT practice tests (simulated exams): different content from GS-Free; follows the new AAMC format, timing and scoring, but with different questions and helpful explanations. Full-length MCAT practice tests GS-6 and GS-7 are currently only available as a component of our Gold Standard MCAT Question Bank (all 7 exams plus content review questions) or the Platinum Package which is described below.

Available now

Online MCAT Courses:
MCAT Crash Course ($49.95/mo.)
vs. MCAT University ($79.95/mo.)
MCAT prep online courses with videos, online chapters and over 4000 review questions. MCAT Crash Course has 2 full-length MCAT practice tests while MCAT University has 4. Both are available as a monthly subscription.

Available now

Gold Standard MCAT Biology and Biochemistry Textbook with 350+ Practice Questions ($49.95)
Gold Standard MCAT Biology and Biochemistry Textbook with Practice Questions

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New MCAT Biology and Biochemistry comprehensive review from amino acids to Systems Biology in color. Includes online access card and hundreds of practice questions with answers and helpful explanations.

Available now

Gold Standard Complete Home Study MCAT Course ($599)
Gold Standard Complete Homestudy MCAT Course

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A complete multimedia home study package for the new MCAT: Books (The Official MCAT Guide by AAMC, the Examkrackers MCAT Reasoning Skills: Verbal, Research & Math, and the new Gold Standard MCAT BIO book); high yield e-books (Psychology, Sociology, Physics, General and Organic Chemistry), apps, science summary MP3s, MCAT CARS program with 5+ tests (different content from our full-length exams), 5 full-length MCAT practice tests and access to our 30+hours of science videos. Online access for 6 months.

Available now

Gold Standard Platinum Package ($1600)
Gold Standard Complete MCAT Course Platinum Package

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All features of the Gold Standard Complete Home Study MCAT Course as described above, PLUS: 1) all AAMC practice materials; 2) new Gold Standard tests GS-6 and GS-7, Next Step Prep tests NS 1-4 and Examkrackers tests EK 1-2 for a total of 16 full-length practice tests + GS-Free; 3) over 7000 practice questions with helpful explanations; 4) the Gold Standard MCAT Score Guarantee. Online access is for 12 months.

Available now


Khan Academy MCAT Resources

Khan Academy Resources Description Date of Release
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Practice passage questions for the chemical and physical sciences

Available now

MCAT Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (MCAT CARS) Passage-based questions and videos: MCAT CARS

Available now

Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Practice passage questions for the biological sciences

Available now

Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behaviors Practice passage questions for the social sciences

Available now

Putting it All Together

gold standard mcat preparation: a problem based learning


There will be many options for the review part of your new MCAT preparation: college textbooks, YouTube or Khan MCAT Academy videos, and many others. Gold Standard has been teaching MCAT for over 20 years and you can bet that we will be able to continue to provide you the option of top quality review ebooks, online videos with clear teaching, MP3s, flashcards, iPhone/Android apps and more. Our focus will continue to be problem-based learning.

You can sign up to practice with our free online MCAT practice test and/or try some new MCAT sample questions. The AAMC has a free study guide (interactive online program) which provides some sample questions for each section as well as a description of the new exam in detail: new MCAT Interactive Program.

And finally, for the full-length practice test part of your new MCAT preparation: The AAMC released one full-length new MCAT practice test in 2014. A 2nd exam and a question bank were released in November 2015. Gold Standard has already released 7 full-length online MCAT practice tests. Spending one day immersed in a timed exam followed by a very careful question-by-question review for 1-2 days is the best way to improve your score over time. Of course, each post-exam period should include the taking of brief notes which are reviewed several times per week.

Your undergraduate studies have probably taught you to focus on developing knowledge. If you want your new MCAT experience to be successful, then your MCAT preparation must be focused on developing your reasoning skills. We understand the new MCAT and we can assert that the Gold Standard MCAT will continue to aim to optimize your performance. Click here: Ten Common Myths of the New MCAT


What college classes do you need to take to prepare for the MCAT exam?

It is natural to wonder what college classes you would need to best prepare for the new MCAT. However, it is important to recognize that there are no prerequisite courses for the new MCAT. In other words, depending on the prerequisite courses required by the specific medical schools to which you intend to submit an application, you may decide to engage in independent study instead of taking one or more of the college courses that are recommended. This is an individual choice. Nonetheless, we will outline the college courses which would simplify your exam preparation.

The first two sections of the new MCAT - namely the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems and the Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems - would benefit from a 2 semester introductory-level college course in biology, physics, organic and inorganic chemistry and a 1 semester introductory-level college course in biochemistry. Though it is true that some biochemistry courses string out basic metabolism over 2 semesters, you should not take a 2nd semester of biochemistry solely for your MCAT preparation. This is generally a case where independent study is more practical and efficient. Consider discussing these issues with your premed advisor.

In addition, the section on Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior would benefit from a 1 semester introductory-level college course in both psychology and sociology.

The section on Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills does not require any specific college courses. A student who reads widely, from novels to reputable sources of opinionated news (i.e. The Economist, New York Times editorial pages), would have a distinct advantage for the exam in general, and this section in particular.

In all these four sections of the new MCAT you will also need to have a working knowledge of basic concepts in research and statistics. Preparation for this can be obtained in classes on research and statistics, which are offered as part of a science or social science curriculum in most colleges. However, no specific college course is required. The rationale is that it is expected that you would have been exposed to the level of understanding in research and statistics required for the new MCAT by having completed the recommended college courses in the sciences and social sciences. Also note that no specific college math course (neither algebra nor calculus) is required.

Below is a table that gives you a guide as to the different classes to take while in college so as to ably prepare for the new MCAT. A thorough and in depth preparation means two things: you have studied these concepts and understood them; you have grasped relationships between these concepts and how they apply to living organisms.

MCAT Sections Concepts which will be tested College classes that are most helpful for MCAT preparation Focus of the questions
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems Processes unique to living organisms such as:
  • growing
  • reproducing
  • maintaining a constant internal environment
  • acquiring materials and energy
  • sensing and responding to environmental changes
  • adapting
  • two-semester sequence of introductory biology
  • two-semester sequence of general chemistry
  • two-semester sequence of organic chemistry
  • two-semester sequence of introductory physics
  • first-semester biochemistry
How cells and organs in living organisms act independently and interdependently;

Processes at different levels of biological organization within a living system
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Mechanical, physical and biochemical functions of tissues, organs and organ systems in living organisms
  • first semester of biochemistry
  • two-semester sequence of introductory biology
  • two-semester sequence of general chemistry
  • two-semester sequence of organic chemistry
  • two-semester sequence of introductory physics
Mechanisms operating in the human body

Basic chemical and physical principles which are the foundations of mechanisms operating in the human body
Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior Psychological, sociological and biological factors that influence human perceptions and reactions as well as behavior and changes in behavior
  • one semester of introductory psychology
  • one semester of introductory sociology
  • two-semester sequence of introductory biology
How people think and feel about themselves and others

How socio-cultural differences influence well-being

Relationships between social stratification, access to resources and well-being
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Principles in the humanities and social sciences Ethics, Philosophy, Cultural studies (example: History, Anthropology), Popular Health Focus is on critically evaluating information given in a passage

Gold Standard MCAT Guide