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3rd Party FL Tests

blackroses

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Apr 24, 2014
568
876
  1. Pre-Medical
    Hi all,

    I'm thinking about buying some 3rd party FL tests for practice before I move onto AAMC FL 1&2. I've read that NS tests and Altius are good. What ones would y'all recommend??


    Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
    Personally I would recommend NS. For the most part, I think that they capture the feel of the MCAT fairly well. Their C/P section is definitely more calculation based than AAMC materials, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, since that tends to be a weaker point for many people.

    I was less than thrilled with my Altius experience - despite their claim that they focus on experimental passages, I saw relatively few of them. I also found out after I purchased one of their tests that they recycle questions and passages between their tests - so you could (for example) take test 4, then come across one of the exact same passages with the exact same questions in test 8. That makes them a huge no-go for me.
     

    NarutoMD

    Full Member
    2+ Year Member
    Jan 5, 2017
    174
    177
      After taking the MCAT today, I would say that Altius FLs are worth taking. I love that their practice tests are experimental heavy, which prepared me well for today's test; it was even more experimental heavy than Altius! However, I wish that their tests have more physics passages since the ones that I have taken (1-5) seemed to be rather Orgo heavy. I think it is best to take a variety of FLs since each company has its pros and cons.
       
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      Dr. Stalker

      Full Member
      7+ Year Member
      Sep 11, 2014
      1,609
      1,745
      Itchy and Scratchy Land
      1. Medical Student
        Copying this from another thread I commented on; I just don't feel like typing it all out again. Please, I insist you quote me, or DM me if you do have questions. I don't work for altius or any other company, just a bum pre-med applying lol.

        Altius is a hidden gem. That's why nobody mentions it. I too was a bit doubtful of them, so I went with EK and NS. Halfway through studying, I decided to go for Altius (big driver was the fact that they had an awesome promo/sick deal for the exams to be honest). It was the best way I've ever spent my money. I tend to comment a lot on altius and how great they are with this generic message. I've written this on other threads, so it is a copy and a paste.

        I personally enjoyed Altius FL's the most. They tended to be the most AAMC like in style, difficulty, and overall feel. The questions and passages were all from peer reviewed journals just like how the AAMC does it. Unlike other companies, you also get the most for your money, because you can take the exams an unlimited number of times.

        I'd strongly suggest you purchase the altius exams. You can find them here.

        DO NOT waste your time or money on Kaplan or Princeton. Their exams are just not representative of the AAMC. The question style, overall difficulty, test format, and passage length are sporadic and not useful.

        A lot of people (including me) used EK, NS, and Altius. EK is alright, but you don't get a score at the end of it which sucks. NS gives you a score and has decent exams (only exams 1 - 5 though - anything beyond is poor quality).

        Altius excels cause they mirror the MCAT style perfectly. They only use scientific journal articles for all of their science passages which gets you used to the AAMC style entirely. The questions themselves are phenomenal and really hit home when talking about MCAT style. They have a nice diversity in difficulty and topic per exam as well as per test. For example, the AAMC likes to occasionally throw in some biochemistry here and there in the physics/chemistry part of the exam; Altius does it just as well. The altius exams ALSO give you a score which is great. One of the best parts of Altius is also you get the most for your money. By that, I mean the exams are unlimited attempts. EK and NS only give you 4 or 5 attempts, respectively. Altius lets you take any of their full lengths as many times as you care to. I (personally) like to do a FL per week, on Fridays. M-Th, I take another full length, divided into quarters. I can't do that using NS or EK.

        Lastly, I believe one of the best parts about Altius FL exams is the detailed answer keys. Here's a popular type of MCAT Question.

        The protein sequence discussed in the passage has a D residue in the catalytic core domain. When the scientists blocked the D residue, no enzymatic function was observed. If the scientists were to switch D with another Amino Acid, which one of the following would most likely retain activity in the catalytic core domain?
        A) Lysine
        B) Asparagine
        C) Glutamate
        D) Glycine

        Most testtaking companies will say the following: "The answer is C, glutamate, because it is acidic."

        That doesn't tell me squat. What the heck does acidity have to do with the D mentioned in the catalytic core domain?!

        Altius explanations are very thorough and clear. The altius explanation would be something like "Notice how the scientists discussed D, which is the one letter abbreviation for Aspartate, one of the acidic amino acids. Remember the sidechain for aspartate is R-CH2-COOH. The passage and question are implying that this acidic residue, aspartate, is vital for protein function. This is known because the question stem states when the scientists blocked D, there was no enzymatic function at all, so this D residue is VITAL. Now, let's go back and read the question. We're being asked what amino acid substitution, in place of D (Aspartate, an acidic amino acid) will most likely retain activity. This implies you need another acidic amino acid. What is another acidic amino acid? Glutamate! Lysine is a basic amino acid, so in place of D, it most likely won't retain activity. Asparagine is polar uncharged amino acid with no acid activity, so it most likely won't retain activity either. Glycine is an achiral non-polar amino acid, so it certainly won't mimic the acidic properties of D. Thus, Glutamate, the other acidic amino acid, in place of D, should most likely retain enzymatic activity."

        Notice how thorough the answer explanation is. It not only tells you what the correct answer is, it tells you why, how to get there, what key details from the passage and question stem you should have picked up on, and finally, why all the other choices are wrong.

        I'm relatively unbiased because I don't work for any MCAT company or represent anything. I'm just another pre-med that studied. Having been around the block and carefully analyzing which MCAT exams to use for tests, what books for content, etc., I really did my homework on the non-AAMC best FLs. I'm a big fan of Altius, ask me any questions you have about their exams and other companies exams and I'll be happy to elaborate.
         
        • Like
        Reactions: 1 user

        sh.h

        Full Member
        Feb 25, 2016
        43
        11
        1. Pre-Medical
          Copying this from another thread I commented on; I just don't feel like typing it all out again. Please, I insist you quote me, or DM me if you do have questions. I don't work for altius or any other company, just a bum pre-med applying lol.

          Altius is a hidden gem. That's why nobody mentions it. I too was a bit doubtful of them, so I went with EK and NS. Halfway through studying, I decided to go for Altius (big driver was the fact that they had an awesome promo/sick deal for the exams to be honest). It was the best way I've ever spent my money. I tend to comment a lot on altius and how great they are with this generic message. I've written this on other threads, so it is a copy and a paste.

          I personally enjoyed Altius FL's the most. They tended to be the most AAMC like in style, difficulty, and overall feel. The questions and passages were all from peer reviewed journals just like how the AAMC does it. Unlike other companies, you also get the most for your money, because you can take the exams an unlimited number of times.

          I'd strongly suggest you purchase the altius exams. You can find them here.

          DO NOT waste your time or money on Kaplan or Princeton. Their exams are just not representative of the AAMC. The question style, overall difficulty, test format, and passage length are sporadic and not useful.

          A lot of people (including me) used EK, NS, and Altius. EK is alright, but you don't get a score at the end of it which sucks. NS gives you a score and has decent exams (only exams 1 - 5 though - anything beyond is poor quality).

          Altius excels cause they mirror the MCAT style perfectly. They only use scientific journal articles for all of their science passages which gets you used to the AAMC style entirely. The questions themselves are phenomenal and really hit home when talking about MCAT style. They have a nice diversity in difficulty and topic per exam as well as per test. For example, the AAMC likes to occasionally throw in some biochemistry here and there in the physics/chemistry part of the exam; Altius does it just as well. The altius exams ALSO give you a score which is great. One of the best parts of Altius is also you get the most for your money. By that, I mean the exams are unlimited attempts. EK and NS only give you 4 or 5 attempts, respectively. Altius lets you take any of their full lengths as many times as you care to. I (personally) like to do a FL per week, on Fridays. M-Th, I take another full length, divided into quarters. I can't do that using NS or EK.

          Lastly, I believe one of the best parts about Altius FL exams is the detailed answer keys. Here's a popular type of MCAT Question.

          The protein sequence discussed in the passage has a D residue in the catalytic core domain. When the scientists blocked the D residue, no enzymatic function was observed. If the scientists were to switch D with another Amino Acid, which one of the following would most likely retain activity in the catalytic core domain?
          A) Lysine
          B) Asparagine
          C) Glutamate
          D) Glycine

          Most testtaking companies will say the following: "The answer is C, glutamate, because it is acidic."

          That doesn't tell me squat. What the heck does acidity have to do with the D mentioned in the catalytic core domain?!

          Altius explanations are very thorough and clear. The altius explanation would be something like "Notice how the scientists discussed D, which is the one letter abbreviation for Aspartate, one of the acidic amino acids. Remember the sidechain for aspartate is R-CH2-COOH. The passage and question are implying that this acidic residue, aspartate, is vital for protein function. This is known because the question stem states when the scientists blocked D, there was no enzymatic function at all, so this D residue is VITAL. Now, let's go back and read the question. We're being asked what amino acid substitution, in place of D (Aspartate, an acidic amino acid) will most likely retain activity. This implies you need another acidic amino acid. What is another acidic amino acid? Glutamate! Lysine is a basic amino acid, so in place of D, it most likely won't retain activity. Asparagine is polar uncharged amino acid with no acid activity, so it most likely won't retain activity either. Glycine is an achiral non-polar amino acid, so it certainly won't mimic the acidic properties of D. Thus, Glutamate, the other acidic amino acid, in place of D, should most likely retain enzymatic activity."

          Notice how thorough the answer explanation is. It not only tells you what the correct answer is, it tells you why, how to get there, what key details from the passage and question stem you should have picked up on, and finally, why all the other choices are wrong.

          I'm relatively unbiased because I don't work for any MCAT company or represent anything. I'm just another pre-med that studied. Having been around the block and carefully analyzing which MCAT exams to use for tests, what books for content, etc., I really did my homework on the non-AAMC best FLs. I'm a big fan of Altius, ask me any questions you have about their exams and other companies exams and I'll be happy to elaborate.


          thank you for your post. do you recommend taking their 5-tests package or 10? I think there is consensus that NS 1-5 are worth purchasing but not the rest. I was wondering if all 10 tests from altius are worth it
           
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