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Hi all,

I am looking for some feedback from those who took Altius exams - I have taken 6 of them so far and I would like to see if it's worth the risk to take the test next week based on my scores. I will be taking another one on Monday before the test.

Altius 2: 505 (128/122/128/127)
Altius 3: 508 (127 all sections)
Altius 4: 510 (125/129/128/128)
Altius 5: 506 127/126/127/126)
Altius 6: 512 (130, 126, 129, 127)
Altius 7: 505 (128/124/127/126)

I'm aiming for a 512+. To give more background, this will be my third attempt at the MCAT. I took my second test at the end of June and essentially didn't improve from my first attempt last year (got a 505 in June). Obviously, I'm taking this test without much turnaround, around 7 weeks, which is why it's risky. I've heard Altius exams are a little harder but I'm nervous that my average is below 510 across these exams. Feedback would be appreciated. Thanks!

Edit: for more background, I don't have any AAMC material left to gauge accurately how I may do, but before my June exam, I scored a 511 on FL4.
Don't worry!!! I can't guarantee you a score, but all 3rd party tests are deflated to a greater or lesser degree, so you just can't use them to gauge how you're going to do. They're good to practice timing, build stamina, and go over content, but they suck at predicting a score. I scored lower on EVERY Altius, Kaplan and Princeton Review test I took than on every AAMC test, including the real thing.

I obviously can't speak to why you scored so much lower on the real thing than on FL 4, but your Altius average is indicative of nothing with respect to the real thing. If you think the June test was an aberration, go for it. Otherwise, I don't know what to tell you.

The test has a confidence band of +/- 2 points, but plenty of people on reddit have been reporting large increases on retakes, some within a short time period. It all depends on why you received the 505. If you were nervous or something else caused you to under perform, you might do better on a retake. If not, not. I wish I could be more help, but I don't know you or what you're capable of. I only know that Altius tests are not accurate predictors. Good luck.
 

CL91

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Don't worry!!! I can't guarantee you a score, but all 3rd party tests are deflated to a greater or lesser degree, so you just can't use them to gauge how you're going to do. They're good to practice timing, build stamina, and go over content, but they suck at predicting a score. I scored lower on EVERY Altius, Kaplan and Princeton Review test I took than on every AAMC test, including the real thing.

I obviously can't speak to why you scored so much lower on the real thing than on FL 4, but your Altius average is indicative of nothing with respect to the real thing. If you think the June test was an aberration, go for it. Otherwise, I don't know what to tell you.

The test has a confidence band of +/- 2 points, but plenty of people on reddit have been reporting large increases on retakes, some within a short time period. It all depends on why you received the 505. If you were nervous or something else caused you to under perform, you might do better on a retake. If not, not. I wish I could be more help, but I don't know you or what you're capable of. I only know that Altius tests are not accurate predictors. Good luck.


,
 
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GreenDuck12

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What are your prior MCAT scores and most recent AAMC practice exam scores?

knightdoc is correct that most 3rd party tests are somewhat deflated but you must know that none of the 3rd party exams can really be predictive. The question stems, answers, and passage difficulty/clarity is totally different.
 
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What are your prior MCAT scores and most recent AAMC practice exam scores?

knightdoc is correct that most 3rd party tests are somewhat deflated but you must know that none of the 3rd party exams can really be predictive. The question stems, answers, and passage difficulty/clarity is totally different.
Prior score was 505 -- last AAMC FL was 511 in June before the 505! Thus, the dilemma!
 
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Thanks @KnightDoc - for reference, that 511 was (129/125/129/128). The other AAMC full lengths I've taken 2-3x now so I can't put much weight on them. I feel that I've had enough experience with AAMC material as I've gone through them multiple times, so I don't think my most recent score was a result of being unfamiliar with the AAMC (and more a result of nerves/fatigue). I was able to get a 128 in C/P for my 505 test (even though I remember it being the hardest section for me on that exam), which means I know I am capable of getting a decent section score in the sciences. But my B/B section didn't move from a 125 which makes me concerned since I know I made strides with that section as I was studying. I don't think it reflects well on me to have such a low B/B section which is why I'm more inclined to re-test (I am currently in the cycle).
All I can advise is to not beat yourself up over one section. 125 is good enough at just about every school (some screen at 126). Your B/B not moving might have been nerves, or, as on my test, it might have been that you had a slightly easier version of the test, which would equate to needing to have fewer answers wrong to achieve a given scaled score.

Take it if you are confident you can get 510+ (I know you want a 512+, but 510 will be a big enough improvement to help you). If not, you'll just be torturing yourself for nothing. Based on what you are saying, I'd focus on B/B rather than taking more practice tests -- you've taken enough tests by now, and whatever score Altius generates for you really won't have any predictive value anyway. Focus on what you need to focus on -- B/B!!!!

Also, the way you are reporting your scores is confusing if BB is your 125! I just assumed you low scores were CARS, because they are for most people, and that's the second subsection reported in the score report. Most people follow the AAMC format - CP/CARS/BB/PS.
 

MyOdyssey

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Don't worry!!! I can't guarantee you a score, but all 3rd party tests are deflated to a greater or lesser degree, so you just can't use them to gauge how you're going to do. They're good to practice timing, build stamina, and go over content, but they suck at predicting a score. I scored lower on EVERY Altius, Kaplan and Princeton Review test I took than on every AAMC test, including the real thing.

I obviously can't speak to why you scored so much lower on the real thing than on FL 4, but your Altius average is indicative of nothing with respect to the real thing. If you think the June test was an aberration, go for it. Otherwise, I don't know what to tell you.

The test has a confidence band of +/- 2 points, but plenty of people on reddit have been reporting large increases on retakes, some within a short time period. It all depends on why you received the 505. If you were nervous or something else caused you to under perform, you might do better on a retake. If not, not. I wish I could be more help, but I don't know you or what you're capable of. I only know that Altius tests are not accurate predictors. Good luck.

Which third party tests did you like the best and why?
 
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Which third party tests did you like the best and why?
I didn't like any the best. As I said in my other post, they have value just as practice in taking an exam, plus whatever content you pick up in going over them, but they are useless as barometers of how you are doing, and I knew that going in.

Kaplan provides one as part of any content book you buy. All their books have the same link to the same test. I also had the entire set of TPR books (they weren't especially awesome, but they were cheap on Amazon!) and they had links to 3 or 4 tests. Altius ran a special last March (10 tests for $100) so I picked that up, not because they were awesome, but because they were cheap. Altius apparently uses it as a loss leader to try to upsell you, because I keep getting e-mails from them. :) I hear NextStep (now Blueprint) is really good, but they weren't $10 a piece, so I didn't get them!

As everyone says, nothing compares to AAMC, so just use the others for practice. Kaplan is difficult, Altius less so, but it's all just practice.
 

MyOdyssey

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I didn't like any the best. As I said in my other post, they have value just as practice in taking an exam, plus whatever content you pick up in going over them, but they are useless as barometers of how you are doing, and I knew that going in.

Kaplan provides one as part of any content book you buy. All their books have the same link to the same test. I also had the entire set of TPR books (they weren't especially awesome, but they were cheap on Amazon!) and they had links to 3 or 4 tests. Altius ran a special last March (10 tests for $100) so I picked that up, not because they were awesome, but because they were cheap. Altius apparently uses it as a loss leader to try to upsell you, because I keep getting e-mails from them. :) I hear NextStep (now Blueprint) is really good, but they weren't $10 a piece, so I didn't get them!

As everyone says, nothing compares to AAMC, so just use the others for practice. Kaplan is difficult, Altius less so, but it's all just practice.

Which ones are the most similar to the most recent MCAT, which I understand you've already taken? For example, whose B/B is closest to the real deal? Whose C/P is closest to the real deal? etc.
 
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Which ones are the most similar to the most recent MCAT, which I understand you've already taken? For example, whose B/B is closest to the real deal? Whose C/P is closest to the real deal? etc.
Nothing is really the same other than AAMC. So, I'd say "close" is in the eye of the beholder. Kaplan was really dense, Princeton Review less so, but, again, I didn't pay for them -- they came free with review books. So I only used Altius for stand alone third party tests. They are okay, but just not the same as AAMC. Okay for having something to use to practice, and you do pick up some content when going over the answers. But really no substitute for AAMC.

I've heard NextStep is decent, so I assume it's similar, but I don't have first hand knowledge. If you are taking the shortened exam, my biggest piece of advice is to be careful with timing. I had absolutely no issues with timing on the AAMC FLs, but cut it close on the real deal. Plenty of people on reddit are reporting actually running out of time. I don't know exactly why this is, and can only speculate it's because, even though the time per question is the same, if you get hung up on a few questions on the shortened exam, you have fewer questions over which to make the time up.

Altius now offers shortened exams, but they didn't back in March, so I didn't have them. Word on the street, though, is that they didn't prepare people for the timing issue, probably because there was no science to how they just cut the full length down. No way to know for sure, and AAMC did not release any shortened FLs, so just beware of this.

Bottom line -- just use the 4 FLs (plus the sample, plus the section banks and CARS Q-Packs) judiciously, because there really is nothing else that adequately replicates the real deal.
 

Princeton Medical Student

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Altius exams are good at preparing you for the difficult CP and BB questions, but imho their stand alone questions are not as good, and non experimental questions are far less representative. Their PS section is okay, but also not very representative. Their CARS section is outright useless. These have been my scores for Altius 2-10. My only AAMC exam was AAMC 1 with a 515 (130/129/127/129). They are definetly good for timing on CP and BB, as well as getting ready to take the test under COVID-19 conditions, but take your scores with a dump truck full of salt. Do not be discouraged by the CARS and PS sections. They really aren't... good.
1598762413474.png
 
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MyOdyssey

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Altius exams are good at preparing you for the difficult CP and BB questions, but imho their stand alone questions are not as good, and non experimental questions are far less representative. Their PS section is okay, but also not very representative. Their CARS section is outright useless. These have been my scores for Altius 2-10. My only AAMC exam was AAMC 1 with a 515 (130/129/127/129). They are definetly good for timing on CP and BB, as well as getting ready to take the test under COVID-19 conditions, but take your scores with a dump truck full of salt. Do not be discouraged by the CARS and PS sections. They really aren't... good.
View attachment 317280
In what way are the CARS and P/S sections poor?
 
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In what way are the CARS and P/S sections poor?
With respect to CARS, it's hard to put your finger on, but there is just something about the structure of the passages and the way the questions are phrased that third parties don't accurately replicate. Third parties also end up being way too easy or way too difficult, with no consistency!

With P/S, the AAMC trend has more towards passage based questions (people refer to it as CARS 2.0), and third parties haven't picked up on that yet, so third party questions tend to be discrete definition based questions, which are fine to the extent you see them on the real test, but they are becoming less and less the rule.
 

MyOdyssey

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With respect to CARS, it's hard to put your finger on, but there is just something about the structure of the passages and the way the questions are phrased that third parties don't accurately replicate. Third parties also end up being way too easy or way too difficult, with no consistency!

With P/S, the AAMC trend has more towards passage based questions (people refer to it as CARS 2.0), and third parties haven't picked up on that yet, so third party questions tend to be discrete definition based questions, which are fine to the extent you see them on the real test, but they are becoming less and less the rule.

Regarding P/S, do you mean the trend is toward more experimental/data driven passages on the real deal?
 
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Regarding P/S, do you mean the trend is toward more experimental/data driven passages on the real deal?
When are you taking the test, and where are you in your prep? I only used third party tests to the extent I had time before the final stretch (the last few weeks) when I exclusively used the AAMC material. They are not that valuable other than for supplemental exam taking practice, and are the first thing I would drop if pressed for time.
 

MyOdyssey

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When are you taking the test, and where are you in your prep? I only used third party tests to the extent I had time before the final stretch (the last few weeks) when I exclusively used the AAMC material. They are not that valuable other than for supplemental exam taking practice, and are the first thing I would drop if pressed for time.

Jan 2020. Fairly far along but my P/S practice is mostly UWorld.
 
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Jan 2020. Fairly far along but my P/S practice is mostly UWorld.
Oh, you have a long ways to go!!! Good news/bad news -- going back to the regular test will mean the AAMC FLs will be more accurate predictors, but you will lose whatever advantage we had from taking a shorter test. This far out, I was first starting content review. (Actually, I started in January for an April test. Stopped in March, picked up again in April for June, which got pushed again to August. The delays didn't help, but they didn't really hurt because I had enough warning, other than June, which WAS last minute, but I was already on edge, so I wasn't shocked. I was more surprised August wasn't cancelled! :)) You are going to have lots of time.

I used the KA document for P/S and didn't really like it. Just find whatever works for you. Kaplan? TPR? KA? UWorld? Just save the AAMC material for the last month or so, depending on how much time you are going to be able to spend each day then.
 
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In what way are the CARS and P/S sections poor?
CARS is just... very different and the logic isn't the same. It's hard to precisely say, but uworld passages are a bit closer to what AAMC CARS looks like (even though UWorld is harder). You'll see what I mean once you take Altius CARS and UWorld cars passages.

PS focuses a bit too much on memorizing some very silly minutae and some of the logic is wrong. There have been a couple of questions that after sitting down with others and referencing books that we agreed were wrong. That's not very common but it still kinda ****s the whole thing up.
 

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The other issue is that they are very inconsistent. Altius 2 CARS is a lot harder than other Altius CARS passages. Altius 10 PS was pure BS compared to Altius 2-9 PS. It's not me being salty about seeing a score drop, rather it legitimately was a very different section in terms of difficulty.
 

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