The MCAT is used by nearly every graduate medical program in the nation to assess students’ readiness to tackle the challenging medical school curriculum. It’s a difficult exam, and many students turn to MCAT prep courses to give themselves the best chance at a high score. New York residents have plenty of options, but the choice can be a little overwhelming if you’re not sure what to look for. That’s why we put together this guide to the best MCAT prep courses in New York City.
Our team of experts researched 17 of the most popular MCAT prep courses in the New York City metropolitan area to determine which do the best job of preparing students for the test. We evaluated each company based on its course formats and schedules, study materials, student support, options for personalized learning and overall comprehensiveness. We also took student opinion into account to learn about any unexpected pros or cons.
After analyzing all of our data, we narrowed our list down to three finalists worth considering. Each of them offers in-person MCAT prep courses or private tutoring in New York. Kaplan was our overall favorite because of its comprehensive lesson plans and unique study materials, including the MCAT Channel, which contains dozens of hours of optional instruction. If you’re interested in a shorter course or private tutoring, however, you may have better luck with one of our other top picks. We recommend exploring all of your options before you make a decision in order to find the one that’s best for you.
A Full List of Every MCAT Prep Course in New York City Worth Considering
Our three finalists are listed below, followed by the other 15 companies we considered. Click on the links to visit the company websites and to see what we had to say about our top picks.
The 3 Best MCAT Prep Courses in New York City
|Kaplan Test Prep||$299 - $9,499|
|The Princeton Review||$499 - $9,000|
|Doctor MCAT||Contact Company|
The Other 14 MCAT Prep Courses in New York City We Reviewed
|Cambridge Coaching||Visit Site|
|Manhattan Elite Prep||Visit Site|
|MCAT King||Visit Site|
|Next Step Test Prep||Visit Site|
|Signet Education||Visit Site|
|Suprex Learning||Visit Site|
|Test Prep New York||Visit Site|
|Transformation Tutoring||Visit Site|
|Tutor the People||Visit Site|
|Tutors of Oxford NYC||Visit Site|
|Varsity Tutors||Visit Site|
The Most Important Features: Accessibility, Study Materials, Student Support and Personalization
We looked at dozens of features in our search for the best MCAT prep courses in New York City. They fell into four main categories: accessibility, study materials, student support and personalization.
Each of our finalists runs in-person MCAT prep courses or private tutoring sessions in one or more locations in New York City. Kaplan and The Princeton Review also offer self-paced and live online courses to students who prefer to study at home. When comparing each company, we looked at the number of locations and the frequency of new classes. We made sure each of our top picks offered night and weekend options to suit those who have work or school during the week. Kaplan outdid all the competition here with more than 20 locations in the New York City area and new MCAT prep courses starting every couple of days.
Each MCAT prep course comes with a series of study materials, including a textbook, question bank and full-length practice tests. The best programs will incorporate proctored practice exams into their curriculum to give students an idea of what to expect on test day. Kaplan takes this to the next level with its Official Test-Day Experience, which enables you to take a proctored practice exam at a real MCAT testing facility under conditions identical to those you’ll face on the day of the exam. It also stands out for its impressive MCAT Channel, a growing webinar library containing dozens of hours of additional MCAT instruction on everything from general MCAT strategy to complex organic chemistry.
Students in live MCAT prep courses can ask questions during class, but the best companies also provide a means of support outside of the scheduled class sessions. Usually, this is limited to email or a forum, though there may be a support hotline for more immediate assistance. Score improvement guarantees, like the ones offered by Kaplan and The Princeton Review, are another popular way that companies demonstrate support for their students. If your score doesn’t improve after taking the prep course, you’re eligible for a free course retake or a full refund. There are usually rules you must follow in order to be eligible for the guarantee, however, so read the fine print closely before signing up.
Each student has their own strengths and weaknesses and a cookie-cutter prep course that teaches everyone the same way isn’t very useful. Many popular prep courses today employ analytics to track your answers to practice tests and questions to help you see exactly where you need to improve, and some will even make suggestions on how to study. Private tutoring is another option for those interested in an individualized approach to MCAT prep, though it is more expensive than a traditional prep course. The Princeton Review stood out the most in this category because it offers several unique programs, like its shorter Strategy course and its CARS Accelerator, that you can’t find anywhere else. They’re not ideal for a full review of the test, but they’re great if you only need help in a single area.
Choosing the Right New York City MCAT Course Delivery Type for You
MCAT prep courses come in five main formats. Each has its own pros and cons, and we’ve outlined each of them below.
- Self-Paced: You buy the study materials and review them on your own schedule.
- Live Online: You join a virtual classroom at scheduled times and learn from the comfort of your home.
- Live In-Person: You travel to a physical location and learn in a traditional classroom setting.
- Private Tutoring: A private tutor helps you to build a custom study plan around your schedule and goals.
- Bootcamps: You attend an intensive one- or two-week program that covers all the same material as a traditional MCAT prep course in a much shorter timeframe.
- Cheapest courses
- Choose your own schedule
- Work as fast or as slow as you want
- Requires discipline
- Less personalized instruction
- Little instructor support
Who It’s Best For
A self-paced MCAT prep course is a good fit for independent learners who like to move at their own pace and those with busy schedules that can’t attend a live class.
- Attend from anywhere
- Individualized attention when needed
- Schedule keeps you on track
- Less interactive than in-person courses
- Technical problems could arise
Who It’s Best For
A live online course is a good fit for those who want some structure to keep them on track, but also enjoy the flexibility of being able to learn from home.
- Full immersement
- Familiar environment
- Highly interactive
- Travel involved
- Can’t adjust schedule
- More expensive than online-only courses
Who It’s Best For
A live in-person class is ideal for students who want an engaging, highly interactive learning environment where they can get immediate personal attention when they need it.
- Personalized instruction
- Tailored study plans
- Available online or in-person
- Very expensive
Who It’s Best For
Private tutoring is best for students who are trying to bring their MCAT scores up significantly and those who are looking to retake the test.
- Short duration
- Covers content quickly
- Can attend online or in-person
- Classes run all day
Who It’s Best For
MCAT bootcamps are a nice alternative to a traditional MCAT prep course if your test date is rapidly approaching and you need to get up to speed quickly.
Full Reviews of the Best MCAT Prep Courses in New York City
Kaplan Test Prep MCAT Review
Best for comprehensive instruction.
Kaplan’s comprehensive programs and innovative study materials have helped it to grow into the largest MCAT prep company in the nation. It has over 20 locations in the New York City area alone, and new courses starting every couple of days. In addition to the class sessions, students can view hours of additional instruction through the MCAT Channel and review with thousands of practice questions and full-length practice tests. Private tutoring is available through Kaplan as well, but its packages are inflexible and you must purchase at least 15 hours upfront.
What to Expect
Kaplan has more than 20 locations in and around New York City, and many have courses starting every few days. Most meet twice per week, usually on weekday evenings, but there are some weekend classes and classes that only meet once a week as well. You meet for 12 three-hour sessions where your instructor will go over important information and test-taking strategies and show you how those concepts apply to practice questions. You’ll also be assigned regular homework to reinforce the material learned in class.
In addition to the classroom sessions, live course students also get access to the online materials that make up the self-paced course. These include textbooks, a question bank with over 10,000 practice questions and 15 full-length practice tests, one of which is taken at an actual MCAT testing facility under proctored conditions. Kaplan’s most interesting resource is its MCAT Channel. This is a growing library of webinars covering everything from biochemistry to medical school admissions advice. You can sort through the old videos by instructor, topic and difficulty, and if you join the new webinars live, you’ll be able to participate just as you would in an online classroom.
All Kaplan MCAT students get 24/7 access to instructors and analytics to help them optimize their study time, but if you’re looking for something more, you should check out its private tutoring. Its plans are reasonably priced, but unfortunately, you must commit to at least 15 hours upfront. That’s not ideal if you only need help on a single section or question type. In that case, we recommend looking at a company like Doctor MCAT or checking out Kaplan’s PLUS plans. These include three hours of private tutoring as well as two bonus self-paced courses, and that could be enough if you only need a little extra help.
Kaplan Test Prep MCAT Details
|Practice Test Pack||$179|
|MCAT Prep - Self-Paced||$1,799|
|MCAT Prep - Self-Paced PLUS||$2,299|
|MCAT Prep - Live Online||$2,499|
|MCAT Prep - Live Online PLUS||$2,999|
|MCAT Prep - In Person||$2,499|
|MCAT Prep - In Person PLUS||$2,999|
|Private Tutoring - 10 hours||$3,699|
|Private Tutoring - 20 hours||$4,799|
|Private Tutoring - 30 hours||$5,899|
|Private Tutoring - 30 hours||$5,899|
|Private Tutoring - 40 hours||$6,899|
The Princeton Review MCAT Review
Best for flexibility.
The Princeton Review is your best option if you’re short on time and need to prepare quickly. It has bootcamps and short strategy courses that cover the key information in a much shorter timeframe than a traditional prep course, and there’s also a CARS Accelerator program if you only need help on that section. There’s more comprehensive MCAT prep programs as well for those who want to do a full review and private tutoring if you prefer a more personalized approach. Its rates are affordable, and you can start with as little as three hours.
What to Expect
The Princeton Review has nine locations in the New York City area. New courses start every couple of weeks and usually meet anywhere from three to five days per week. Sessions meet for three hours at a time for a total of 123 hours of in-class instruction. If your schedule doesn’t permit attending one of its Ultimate courses, you can also opt for the winter bootcamp or the shorter Strategy course that covers all the key material and test-taking strategies in 44 hours. And if you only need help on CARS, there’s the CARS Accelerator program that focuses on this section alone.
The self-paced online course materials are also included with the live course instruction. These include 11 MCAT books, 15 full-length practice tests and over 500 Medflix review videos covering important scientific concepts. Your progress is tracked in your online account, so you can see which areas you are struggling in. Once you know what you need to work on, you can practice with hundreds of drills and sample questions until you feel confident that you’ve mastered the material.
Each Princeton Review MCAT course is taught by four to six subject-matter experts who you can also reach out to outside of class if need be. But if you prefer a one-on-one approach to MCAT prep, check out the company’s private tutoring packages. You can start out with as little as three hours and pay hourly from there. But if you’re planning on doing a comprehensive review of a section or the entire test, you’re better off paying for more hours upfront because you’ll get a discounted rate.
The Princeton Review MCAT Details
|MCAT Topic Focus||$399|
|MCAT Targeted Private Tutoring - 10 hours||$2,000|
|MCAT Comprehensive Private Tutoring - 60 hours||$11,000|
|Comprehensive Admission Counseling Program||$3,500|
Doctor MCAT Review
Best for private tutoring.
Dr. Stuart Donnelly, a.k.a. Doctor MCAT, is known throughout New York City for his novel approach to MCAT prep and sincere interest in helping students succeed. He works with you either online or in his New York office to come up with a study plan that focuses on your unique needs, and according to former students, his strategies work. If you’re not sure if the program is right for you, you can sign up for a free 30-minute consultation to talk through your options.
What to Expect
During your consultation, Dr. Donnelly will administer a short diagnostic assessment to see what you already know and where you might need some improvement. He will use your results to determine how many tutoring sessions you will likely need in order to achieve your target score. If you decide to move forward, Dr. Donnelly will help you plan an entire study schedule and set up regular tutoring sessions with you to check on your progress. And if for any reason you decide you’re not interested, you can walk away, no questions asked.
When you sign up, you receive a number of course books and practice tests, including those used by Kaplan and The Princeton Review. You also get several Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) practice tests. These are your best bet for practicing for the exam because AAMC creates the MCAT and its practice questions are going to be very similar to those on the real exam. Dr. Donnelly also includes a number of proprietary course materials, like equation summary sheets and test-taking tips.
Former students have had a lot of positive feedback about Dr. Donnelly and his teaching methods. They report that he is kind and knowledgeable, and his unique approach to passage-based questions helped them rapidly bring up their MCAT scores. Many of his students have scored in the 90th percentile or better, so this is a good option to consider if you’re trying to get into an elite school.
Doctor MCAT Details
|Private Tutoring||Contact Company|
Frequently Asked Questions About the MCAT
If you’re thinking about taking the MCAT, chances are, you have some questions about the test. We’ve answered some of the most common questions about the MCAT below to help you understand more about the exam, how to prepare for it and how it fits into your medical school application. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, feel free to reach out to us.
What are the most important things to know prior to taking the MCAT?
Before you sign up for the MCAT, you should know your chosen school’s requirements, the test format and the rules you’ll be expected to follow on exam day.
Every medical school has its own standards regarding MCAT scores. Do some research on the schools you’re applying to to figure out what score you should be aiming for. Many programs won’t list a minimum cutoff. Instead, they’ll have an average score for their student body or a range of scores they’re willing to accept. Make a note of whatever numbers you find and keep studying and taking practice tests until you feel confident that you can meet your goal.
You should also keep track of application deadlines. If the school you’re applying to has a rolling deadline, you have some flexibility in when you submit your scores, but if not, it’s paramount that you get everything submitted on time. Keep in mind that it takes between 30 and 35 days after the test for your official score reports to be released.
The MCAT is a computer-based multiple-choice exam containing 230 questions. It’s broken into four sections that measure your critical thinking skills and basic scientific knowledge: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Critical Analysis and Reasoning (CARS); Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; and Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior. CARS is the shortest section with just 53 questions that you must answer in 90 minutes. The other three sections are all 95 minutes and contain 59 questions each.
Know how to get to the testing facility nearest you and be sure to arrive at least a half hour early. When you arrive, you must check in with the exam proctor and present a government-issued photo ID. You’ll also be asked to scan your fingerprint, and you’ll use it to scan in and out of the testing room. There may be additional security checks as well, like a metal detector scan to ensure you aren’t bringing any prohibited items with you into the exam.
You can’t take anything with you except your ID into the testing room. You’ll be given a locker where you can store your other belongings during the exam. Apart from food, drinks and medicine, none of these items can be taken out of the locker during breaks. If you need scratch paper during the test, the exam proctor will provide it to you. For a full list of the rules and procedures you’ll be expected to follow on exam day, visit the Association of American Medical Colleges website.
How much time should I spend studying for the MCAT?
There is no magic number of studying hours that will lead to a high MCAT score. The right study plan for you depends on what you already know, your application deadlines and your schedule.
Your Current Knowledge
Take a timed practice test under conditions as close to the real exam as possible. Use your results to determine what you need to review. If you only struggled in the CARS section, for example, you could probably get by with a CARS-only course. Unless you’re short on time, though, we recommend doing a comprehensive review of the test. You may want to set aside some extra time for the more difficult sections just to be safe.
Your Application Deadline
Once you know your application deadline, you can choose a test date. If possible, you should take the test several months in advance of the deadline in case you don’t score as high as you’d like to on your first attempt. Don’t forget to account for the month delay in your official reports being released. And when you know when your first test date is, you can begin working backwards to figure out how much material you need to cover each week in order to be ready in time.
Someone who has to juggle work, school and other commitments is going to have to start studying earlier than someone with a more flexible schedule. If you’re enrolled in an MCAT prep course, there might be a study program for you to follow along with, otherwise, you’ll have to create your own. You should set aside at least a few hours of dedicated studying time each week to keep yourself on track. You may want to leave some extra time at the end, too, in case there’s something you want to go back and review again.
How is the MCAT scored?
Your MCAT scores are recorded in three different ways: your raw scores, scaled scores and percentile rank. Only your scaled scores and percentile rank appear on your score reports.
Your raw score is the number of questions you answered correctly. The MCAT has 230 multiple-choice questions, and you get points for each one that you answer right. There are no penalties for incorrect answers, so if you’re not sure, you should make an educated guess. Your raw scores are then converted into scaled scores through a process known as equating.
Each section receives its own scaled score ranging from 118 to 132, and these four scores are added together to reach the total score, which can be anywhere from 472 to 528. Scaled scores are used instead of raw scores because they enable the test makers to account for variances in difficulty between different versions of the exam. So a more difficult section is graded more loosely than an easy section. The result is that the scaled scores demonstrate a similar level of knowledge across all versions of the MCAT.
Your percentile rank ranges from 1 to 99 and shows how you measure up to other students who have taken the MCAT in recent years. You get an overall percentile rank as well as a ranking for each of the four sections. The Association of American Medical Colleges periodically updates the percentile ranks to incorporate more recent data, but they remain pretty consistent over time.
How important is the MCAT to medical school admissions?
The MCAT has become so popular among medical schools because it gives admissions departments an easy way to compare potential applicants and to measure their readiness for graduate-level work. But it’s only one component of your application. Schools also look at your undergraduate transcripts, work history, letters of recommendation, essay and interview. Doing well on these other parts of your application is just as important as studying for the MCAT.
Every medical school weighs these elements a little differently, so there’s no way to know how much your MCAT score will affect your chance of acceptance. You should try to shoot for the school’s average MCAT score if you can. Do some research online to figure out what this is. If the school lists a range of acceptable scores instead, aim for the high end.
It’s okay if you fall a little short of your goal. Universities know that test scores can’t tell them everything they want to know, which is why they also look at your undergraduate transcripts and work history. This gives them a different measure of your academic ability and your work ethic. They also try to get a sense of your personality and values through your interview, essay and letters of recommendation to make sure that you are a good fit for their culture. You should put just as much effort into preparing these other components of your application as you do into studying for the MCAT because they could be the difference between acceptance and rejection.
How do I send my MCAT scores to schools?
Your official scores are sent to the American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) as soon as they are available. This is an online application processing service that enables you to apply to multiple medical schools from a single form. Any school that participates in AMCAS will automatically be sent a copy of your MCAT scores with your application. If you’re applying to a school that doesn’t participate, you can manually send out your scores by signing into your online account and selecting which schools you would like to send reports to.
If you take the test more than once, your score report will show a record of all previous attempts, so you can’t hide a bad test score. Fortunately, most medical schools will only look at your highest score when considering your application. MCAT scores are usually valid for two to three years, but this varies by school. If you took the test a few years ago and you’re not sure if your scores still count, reach out to the school’s admissions department to find out.
The MCAT is one of the few standardized tests that doesn’t give you the option to cancel your test scores, though you can void them. Unlike canceling, voiding leaves no indication on future score reports that you ever sat for the test at all. But unless you have a very good reason for doing so, voiding isn’t a smart move. You’ll forfeit your $310 exam fee, and the attempt will still count toward your yearly and lifetime attempts. You can only take the MCAT up to three times per year and seven times overall.
Key Statistics of the MCAT
MCAT total scores range from 472 to 528, and section scores range from 118 to 132. In order to give you some idea of how your scores compare to other test takers, we’ve gathered some data on percentile rank and listed it below. Total score data is rounded up to the closest percentile listed.
90th Percentile: 514
80th Percentile: 509
70th Percentile: 506
60th Percentile: 503
50th Percentile: 500
40th Percentile: 497
30th Percentile: 494
20th Percentile: 491
10th Percentile: 486
Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
|Scaled Score||Percentile Rank|
Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
|Scaled Score||Percentile Rank|
Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
|Scaled Score||Percentile Rank|
Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behavior
|Scaled Score||Percentile Rank|