MCAT practice tests often are and should be a cornerstone of your MCAT preparation plan. When coming up with a timeline and study schedule, you may wonder how often should you take MCAT practice tests.
Not All Practice Tests Are Created Equal
There are many different kinds of practice tests out there, and most test prep companies will offer a number of practice exams. The gold standard of practice exams is the AAMC Official MCAT Practice Test. This test is made by the AAMC, the same group that makes the real MCAT. In addition to being the closest in content to the real MCAT, the practice test is also online, which helps you better simulate the test taking conditions on your actual test date. In general, it does not hurt to take any kind of practice exams for the MCAT. The better ones should be computer versions and should have the same (or at least similar) number of questions in each section as the actual MCAT. AAMC Question Packs on topics are also great resources, but not actual practice exams.
How Often Should You Take MCAT Practice Tests
There are two times where an MCAT practice test should probably be taken: one is at the very beginning of your studies and one is at the very end. The practice test at the beginning provides an overview of your strengths and weaknesses as well as topics and areas to focus your studying. The one at the end will give you a sense of how well you should expect to do on the actual exam. If you’re well below your goal, it might be a good indicator to postpone your date. If you’re at your goal, then you can feel confident going into test day. Saving the AAMC practice test for this last one is probably a good idea.
In between the one at the beginning and the one at the end, it’s hard to say exactly how often you should take practice exams. They should be taken after you’ve done a chunk of studying so you can assess how much you’ve improved. Doing it more often than once a week is probably too often, but if you’re doing a lot of intensive studying in a short time, it might be appropriate. At a minimum, taking one at the halfway point will be helpful before taking the last one before your test date. The total number you take will depend on your timing and how how many tests you have access to. Three is probably a minimum and weekly is probably as often as it would be helpful to take practice tests.