With so many resources available to test-takers, students are often wondering what is worth their time and money. Generally, resources should help you study and do your best on the MCAT, and should give you an idea of how you stand and how well you are doing before you take the actual exam. Diagnostic tests are one resource that is available in many shapes and forms. Students often ask, “should I take an MCAT diagnostic test?”
Should I Take an MCAT Diagnostic Test?
The general answer to this question is: yes–with some caveats. An MCAT diagnostic test requires a good amount of time and sometimes money as well. The single best MCAT diagnostic test I would recommend is the one put out by the AAMC itself. It costs $35 and provides a simulated score. This is an “official” diagnostic test and, in my opinion, provides the best indication of what your score range will be. The AAMC used to put out many more practice tests. When I took the MCAT, my actual score was the average of the last two official AAMC diagnostic exams. Unfortunately, there is only one official MCAT diagnostic now.
How Should I Use an MCAT Diagnostic Test
Diagnostic tests can provide a lot of information, but are not study tools per se. They let you know areas of strength and weakness, as well as an estimated score for the real exam. They do not teach you much about how to improve your areas of weakness and this really requires time and effort on the test-taker’s part. My advice on how to use diagnostic tests is to use them after the very beginning of your study time and at the very end. I personally would use a free MCAT diagnostic that can be found from various test companies at the beginning of my study time. Though not as accurate as the real AAMC diagnostics, they will provide you with an indication of where your weaknesses are. Create a plan using the information from this first diagnostic. Then, right before your actual exam after you’ve studied all that you can, I would take the real AAMC diagnostic MCAT. This will let you know if you are reaching your target score range. If you are way off from where you want to be, this can perhaps be helpful in a decision to postpone your test date. If you’re at target, then you can enter exam day with confidence!