Doing well on the MCAT is crucial to enroll in your chosen med school. And it all depends on how well you prepare for the test.
Preparing for the MCAT takes months in most cases. Many test-takers spend thousands of dollars on study materials, tutor fees, and practice tests. A big part of the preparation is the practice tests.
Because of this, you surely want to have a good idea of how the practice tests compare to the actual exam. Today, I’ll be reviewing the Blueprint (formerly the Next Step) practice test.
Here’s everything you should know about it, including my experience.
Next Step has rebranded to Blueprint.
Blueprint MCAT Practice Tests
Blueprint, formerly now known as Next Step, offers several practice test exam bundles:
- 4 — $99
- 6 — $149
- 10 — $249
- 10 + QBank — $399
Practice tests come with 1,600 MCAT flashcards.
Blueprint claims this is the most representative MCAT practice test after the AAMC.
You have the option to try it out before buying the packages.
Blueprint MCAT Free Practice Account includes:
- Half-length diagnostic MCAT that gives you a performance baseline
- One full-length exam with answers
- Seven learning modules
- Access to their study planner so you can make your own study plan.
Blueprint provides full answers as well as answer explanations for every problem on the practice material.
Blueprint Vs. MCAT
Blueprint makes some impressive claims, and they offer comprehensive packages.
But, how does it compare to the AAMC practice exams?
So far, I’ve tried Kaplan, Princeton, and AAMC practice exams.
I found Blueprint to be the most representative of the actual MCAT.
Blueprint is the closest thing to the AAMC full-length practice exams.
Here’s how it compares:
- The Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Section (CP) and the Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems (BB) are fairly similar to the actual test.
- The wording, content, and figures on the Blueprint are similar to AAMC practice tests.
- Chemistry and physics sections are representative of the actual full-length exams, but the CARS section is different and not predictive.
- The Blueprint practice test follows the time limits and formats of the official test.
- The color scheme, highlighting, and strikeout functionality match the AMMC interface.
Apart from the CARS section, one important part where the Blueprint differs from the AAMC practice tests is the difficulty level and the MCAT scores.
Blueprint practice exams are harder than the AAMC MCAT prep.
Usually, students’ score on the Blueprint is five to seven points lower than their actual MCAT score.
I consider this a good thing. You’ll be more prepared for the MCAT if you can do the harder questions on the practice exams.
In reality, you likely won’t need all ten full-length practice tests. If you want to do them, go ahead.
But, if you’re short on time, do the Blueprint practice tests after you finish with the AAMC practice materials.
Practice Tests Deflation
I’ve mentioned how the Blueprint practice test is more difficult than the actual MCAT, so your practice test scores will be lower as well.
This is the case with most practice exams out there, such as Kaplan tests and Princeton Review.
You can expect almost every third-party full-length exam to be deflated compared to the AAMC tests.
Many test-takers speculate online that this is a marketing technique.
If you don’t do well on the first practice test, there’s a big chance you’ll buy more tests and additional practice materials to improve your MCAT scores.
Since practice exams are deflated, test-takers feel like they did worse than they actually did.
In most cases, they do better at the testing center than when taking a practice exam from third-party test companies.
My advice is to use AAMC materials and AAMC full-length tests in combination with third-party practice exams, as they are the most similar to the real MCAT official tests.
AAMC practice questions will help you get a feel for how the questions are worded.
That way, you will know what to expect on the real MCAT, and when the test day comes, you’ll be prepared.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do practice exams from other companies.
You definitely should, but make sure your MCAT preparation has a good combination of both third-party and AAMC practice tests.
How to Take a Practice Test?
What practice exam you take isn’t the only factor to think about. How you take the practice exam is equally important.
For best MCAT score results, you should simulate the conditions on the MCAT test day.
Here’s what to do:
- Your test environment should mimic that of the testing center. It means you should have the same routine as on the test day. Wake up at the same time as you would on the exam day, go to the library or some other quiet place you won’t be disturbed at.
- Use a mouse to simulate the real test, as you’ll also use one at the testing center.
- If you don’t have a desktop computer with a monitor, stack books to raise your laptop so it’s at eye level. This will help your posture and help your neck get used to being in this position.
- Pack a lunch, and take the same breaks as you’ll do on the real MCAT exam day.
It’s important to do the content review after the exam. Take as much time as you need to do the review.
Use the MCAT practice test as a diagnostic tool, and make sure you understand why you got other answers wrong and how to do them right the next time.
“The Blueprint gives you an explanation as to why you got a problem wrong, so you can see did I just get logic and reasoning wrong and I actually knew the content behind it, or did I not know the content behind it, and I need to go back to it and review to correct the mistakes.” Samuel Smith Med, Youtube Channel
Also, reviewing your results will help you keep track of your progress if you’re taking exams from the same company.
When to Take an MCAT Practice Test?
For success on the MCAT, the timing of taking the practice test is also important.
Many students wait until they’ve covered all or most of the high-yield content, and then they take a few exams.
I recommend taking AAMC full-lengths in the early stages of getting ready for the exam or even before you start studying. It will help you determine your weak areas and develop a study plan.
The practice exam won’t be beneficial unless you know the material being tested fairly well.
Then, I recommend focusing on the review of all the content on the MCAT.
Once you’re pretty confident you've covered the material enough, it’s time to do some more tests.
When you’re in your final month of preparation, it’s a good idea to take one practice test a week, and when you’re two weeks away from the actual MCAT, take two AAMC full-lengths a week.
If you’re taking exams from other MCAT companies, start with Blueprint, as these are some of the most challenging MCAT tests out there.
How Blueprint Compares to the Real MCAT: Final Thoughts
Blueprint MCAT exams are a reasonably good representation of what you’ll see on the real MCAT. But, if you're looking for top-notch MCAT prep, my recommendation is Magoosh.
Magoosh has one of the most affordable MCAT courses you'll find, and you'll get the best value for your money.
You can choose a study plan that works best for you - from one to twelve months. Magoosh has more than 380 content review videos, 740 practice questions, and 3 full-length practice tests. Together with a high score guarantee, this may be the best MCAT prep you'll find.
Check out Magoosh MCAT courses, and start your prep today.