Feb 6, 2020
6
9
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
My review of Altius:



Time Spent: 2 months


Program: Gold w/MCAT One-on-One Tutoring


Mcat Date: May 31st


Start of Course : December


End of Course: February (early termination * reasons explained below)


Location: Southeast - new location, was part of first group of students to enrolled




Quick review:

Materials: 4/10

Tutoring: 9/10

Structure/Plan: 7/10

Customer Service: 0/10

Note at end: They did some illegal stuff*

Details:


On Materials:


The Altius course comes with:


  1. The Student Study Manual (1 physical book, they provide a pdf for you as well)
  2. CARS Manual 1 and CARS Manual 2 (online only, pdfs available)
  3. Italicized Answers (pdf, answers to review questions in the chapter content material)
  4. Answer Keys to Question Sets (pdf, answers to the question sets at the end of each chapter)
  5. Links - Altius encourages you to google answers and they provide a list of links that they think are helpful. As of last year (feb 2019), half these links did not work (404 error, broken link, etc…)
  6. Group Session Videos (if you sign up for the option that allows for group sessions and reviews, you’ll get access to these vids)
  7. All 11 Practice Exams and Section Question Sets

A note: The only physical thing you get in the manual. If you’re like me and you prefer paper copies to perhaps, say, check your answers side by side - this is not what you’ll get. You get a multitude of separated keys, answers, and content in different pdfs. I found it annoying having to search so much for what I needed to find. I appreciate the Kaplan layout where they have the answers to Concept Checks and Question sets at the end of each chapter - much more efficient (despite Altius claiming it’s more efficient and “laser-like”)

Pros:

The Manual does a great job of condensing, highlighting, and reiterating key points of the material you’ll find in Kaplan books. It’s quite similar to MCAT Review . I’ve followed them side-by-side and found them to be very similar as well. Definitions were equally good. Altius has more depth in their notes for some of the scientific material but not incredibly so.

Note: That being said, Altius discourages students from using any other outside materials. DO IT. I found it much more helpful to use various resources like Khan Academy, Kaplan, Jack Westin, Mcatreview.org, and so much more WITH the Altius Manual. (Tip: The "note like" structure Altius uses in its chapters are VERY similar to Mcatreview.org so if y'all wanna get the Altius experience, you could try that. The question banks are just like any other - get Uworld for WAY more practice questions. )

The practice exams are decent and if you wanna get anything from Altius, I recommend getting a couple of their tests just to have a different variety of exams to practice with.

Cons:
  1. The website is outdated and the material is hard to navigate since they’re so separated
  2. The videos are VERY outdated. They are filmed in what looks like an early 2000’s level quality. It’s a group of students sitting around a wooden table with a tutor writing on a whiteboard with a faded marker. Low sound and video quality.
  3. You can get the “notes” section of each chapter from MCAT Review to much the same effect. (As I keep mentioning lol)
  4. Everything is in pdf format so you go in, download, and open up. It's not a more advanced site like Kaplan or Princeton that have better user interfaces.
  5. The language of the Study Manual is a little annoying and at times, very judgemental and petty. For example

From the Student Study Manual:

We very strongly discourage you from utilizing prep books from other MCAT companies as reference material. First of all, they are NOT reference material. They are themselves a review book.

Second, one of the greatest benefits of the Altius program is our proven ability to give you a laser-like focus on only those topics you need to know, ignoring those that are superfluous. If you venture into these other books, you will be negating that benefit and are likely to be confused by conflicting messages and strategies. If for any reason you feel another prep company is a more trusted resource for what you do or do not need to know for the MCAT, please ask for a refund so you can go take their course instead.”


I do not think a reputable company should be so blatant in ordering students to not use competitors’ materials. The Student Study Manual follows Kaplan’s order of material too, so they kind of take a LOT from Kaplan while telling students not to use Kaplan?

Preface: I know that MCAT material will all sound the same because you’re covering the same material. The official AAMC posts “Content Categories” which provide an outline of all the things the MCAT will test on so this is all out there. However, Altius does more and actually follows the order that Kaplan follows in introducing material. The Content Categories do not match the order of Kaplan, but Altius follows Kaplan.


On Copying Content (Example):

In Kaplan Biochemistry page 22:
“Because of its rigid cyclic structure, proline will introduce a kink in the peptide chain when it is found in the middle of an alpha helix. Proline residues are thus rarely found in alpha helices, except in helices that cross the cell membrane. Similarly, it is rarely found in the middle of pleated sheets. On the other hand, proline is often found in the turns between the chains of a B-pleated sheet, and it is often found as a residue at the start of an alpha helix”

In Altius Student Study Manual page 316:

“Proline Turns: However, proline residues are often found at the beginning of alpha helices and are very common in the sharp turns at the end of two adjacent rows in a B-sheet


On Tutoring:

The tutors try their best and are well informed. Mine was incredibly friendly and helpful in addressing my questions. They’re supportive and I totally recommend them. Now, do you need the price tag to get this level of tutoring? Maybe not.


Pros:

Well informed and seasoned tutors - they follow up with you on whether you’re following the schedule and help address any questions. They teach you short-cuts and clarify complex material very well (at least, my tutor did) and are so accommodating to your personal needs.

Cons:

The burden fell on me to find locations to meet for tutoring and maybe this was because they did not have a location set up yet.


On Structure/Plan:
Altius is a babysitting plan. They are really good in outlining what you have to do each week, set goals and deadlines, and enforce it. The tutors really push you and when you slip up, they tell you you need to work harder. There’s a level of pressure Altius applies to you that makes you stressed enough to study. They don’t “baby” you like tell you you’re amazing, they really hit home all your weaknesses. In this way, the plan is really good. It’s an expensive babysitting service but it can push you if you’re not motivated enough yourself.

On Customer Service:

Lol you guys this is where I had the hardest time and decided to terminate my course with them. It’s a lot of drama and ends with me reporting them to AAMC for illegal activities. Full story below:

How did it start?

First, I met the Altius rep through leadership in a pre-health club on my campus. They contacted us and wanted to have reach in our university. I didn’t know much about them at first but we wanted to be fair to all test prep companies and welcomed them to our campus.


I talked to the rep as VP of my club to get to know what they were looking for. The rep mentioned they were starting a location in Atlanta and wanted to offer benefits to our club including a free practice MCAT and classes. I thought this was fine. I have been in leadership for 3+ years in my club at the time and knew all the rules VERY well. One rule is that no outside company is allowed to use campus space through students (students get “free” access bc of our tuition) or student organisations. They must go through the “outside vendor” process where they pay to use campus space. As a club, when Altius offered the practice MCAT and free resources to our campus, we could book space for them to do that just like we give med school reps chances to talk to students and test prep courses chances to advertise what they offer to pre-meds. I mentioned this to the rep that if they wanted to offer free MCAT practice FLs or free classes to our members/general campus audience, we may be able to arrange that. During that conversation, he kept saying "It would be great if [club] could get us free space" and I kept trying to emphasize it would have to be open to all students and he kept saying "Yes, for Altius students." We’ve had companies offer free practice MCATs before and worked to arrange that, I thought the rep was just confused. There was no way they would try to use campus space for free through a club like that (totally illegal. If Altius takes MONEY from any student, they must pay for the location they use. That is a rule. If it is FREE and OPEN TO EVERYONE then we can have them on campus through our club. The scummy rep, then, twisted by words and lashed out against me over a phone call when I tried getting a refund later down the road. (Note: I helped them as best I could. I gave them contacts at my campus they could talk to for locations and recommended free local spaces in our town they could try, like those large tables at Starbucks for small group sessions or something. Maybe even the public library. I actually apologized to them when they were having a hard time getting a space in budget.)


Why was I trying to get a refund? I paid for the course online where I selected theo option where the course was going to be held on my university’s campus. When it came time for classes, they announced a location change to a nearby university. The commute and parking would have been too difficult to accommodate with my full course load, research, and club activities so I expressed my inability to make it to classes. They changed the location AFTER the period where I could have asked for a refund and I had already starting my tutoring with the company since I bought the course in November, started stuff in December, and the classes would start in January.

My receipt showed that I payed for my university campus location, NOT the new location, so that would void my contract with them since they changed it up. I consulted with a lawyer family friend about this so I wasn’t making up stuff. Now, any respectable company would acknowledge this as their fault, but not Altius.

When I first called up the rep and asked for a refund, he gaslighted me. He said I would “not get into medical school” and that I was “not committed enough” if I wasn’t willing to make the drive over (I already commuted 2+ hours a day to get to school and expressed I could not spend another 1-2 hours in traffic to get to the new location and back). When I tried to explain this, calmly and nicely, he then began to get upset. He yelled at me and said in a very sassy tone that I had PROMISED him that I could get Altius free space on campus for them to hold their classes. I was shocked because this is nowhere near what I had said. I tried to clarify by saying I could definitely arrange for a free practice MCAT hosted by Altius or a free review class if it was offered to all our university students, not just Altius students. The rep got mad and implied that I lied to him and made false promises and their difficulty in getting cheap space on our campus was in part due to me. He implied that the reason they switched out locations was because of me and my unwillingness to help their poor test prep company just try to help students.


At this point, I was really upset because a grown adult, a professional rep from a test prep company, was berating me for my valid reasons to not go with his prep company. I explained that I was able to ask for a refund because they changed the terms of the contract that I signed with them. They yelled back that I didn’t know what I was talking about and that there was no contract and hung up on me several times.

Then, with the help of a friend who was in the same boat as I was, we called back. My friend called first and was yelled at and insulted (called a slur based on his identity) but was able to secure a refund. I called a few days afterwards using that argument. I did not expect that the rep would not only yell at me, but that the Altius reps on the phone would hang up on me or keep me on the line for hours with no response, and that even the CEO would get on the phone and yell at me.

I was just a student and even when I got emotionally upset, almost felt like crying, they did not back down. Instead, they stepped up. The CEO then told me that what I was doing was “not right” and tried to tell me he couldn’t get me a refund. I told them I knew they could do refunds because they gave my friend his refund back. At one point, I even begged them to please just give me a refund because I really really didn’t want to use their course and I was drained, tired, and really done with the whole fiasco. I asked them why they were what they were doing, dragging me around on the phone and saying the things they were saying, but it didn’t resonate with them. They did everything possible to ignore me, gaslight me, and ridicule me. It only kept me going because I knew that if I didn’t do this, if I had to take their course, I would see these people in person and it made me very uncomfortable. Most of the course was in-person tutoring and classes like, I could not do this.

After 4+ hours of calling, them hanging up and refusing to answer my calls (I had to switch numbers when I called back), yelling at me, and so on they finally gave in and accepted giving me a refund. The entire time they were hostile to me, even when I was polite, and only gave me a receipt of the refund after I asked them to please email it to me.

Then the rep did something I thought was very petty. He called me up later and expressed “regret” that I wouldn’t be able to get all the benefits and a high score that Altius promised. He sounded much calmer and I think the call was damage control. He said that IN ORDER TO GET THE REFUND, I would have to return their materials. They only gave me their Student Study Manual. It was just a book that I hadn’t even opened for 2 months since they had a digital copy I could use on my iPad. I agreed to do it because I felt the rep needed to get a “win” and returned the book to one of their tutors. I felt like this demand was done in poor taste and they really should’ve just let it go but I was glad to wipe my hands clean of the matter. I thanked him and he hung up on me.

That was the end. I do not believe any respectable MCAT tutoring company should behave this way and what they did felt very shady. They called me demeaning things and even laughed at me on the line. I heard them talking when a rep forgot to hang up on me once and I realised they were all in the same room and were transferring me around different phones. They got annoyed when I kept calling back and told me that me calling them was “disrupting their business” and that I “could not do that.” I thought at least when the CEO was on the line, I could reason with him. But he was the same. They implied that I was being rude and unreasonable. Their customer service is ****.


Why did I report them to AAMC?

When I was talking to the rep, I heard him mention that their tutors all need to score a certain high percentile to become tutors and they’ve had tutors retake the MCAT to make that score. Now, when I signed up to take the MCAT, there was a clause that said that Tutors or people that taught for the MCAT were NOT Allowed to take the MCAT because this would of course, mess with the grading of our MCAT scores. The scores, as we all know, are based off of everyone that takes the MCAT that same day (a cohort of peers). If a tutor takes it with no intention of using it for admissions, it deflates everyone else’s scores and can harm us in the application cycle. I knew, from conversation with the rude rep, that they were expecting some of their “teachers” to retake the MCAT to become “tutors” (and get slightly higher pay from it). The “tutors” are ones that score the minimum percentile (90th percentile). Teachers don’t have to meet that requirement.

Let that sink in.

They were violating the terms of contract for taking the MCAT in which you have to check a specific box confirming you are not a tutor or teacher. I realized what Altius had done wrong when I saw that box when registering for my exam. I contacted AAMC and gave them more details (they told me they were aware of Altius's practices) so I believe that situation was handled, worry not my friends. I think it was important to get this bit out there because a company’s reputation and message needs to be upheld in their actions and practices. It was clear to me that they were not respectable. I’m glad I didn’t give them a dime.


Conclusion
I hope I’ve given a good comprehensive review of the Altius course. I’ll say that my experience was a new one based off a new location that hadn’t been fully set-up or organised before they started to take payments from students promising a course that should’ve been well established and set up. They were booking rooms like, the week before classes were set to start. They were wildly unprepared to start and rushed to put things together which led me to have to cancel - I just couldn’t do it. That being said, their other locations are probably more established and reputable (its probably where they get such good reviews) so the decision to go with Altius is up to you. I recommend you search reddit or try to talk to students that have taken it at your particular location. I don’t want to tell y’all that you absolutely MUST not buy Altius. I’m taking the MCAT a second time around since I wasn’t happy with my first score and I decided to keep using the Altius Manual for their notes in each chapter which I think are really helpful. They are not a horrible test prep company because they have some good stuff. I think the reason they do so well is bc they’ve taken all the things successful students do and have incorporated that into their course. So you can go to MCAT Review and get the Kaplan books and do what Altius does on your own without having to pay thousands. You’ll have a harder time finding group classes or tutors, in which case you might just think - let’s just get everything with Altius. Whatever you decide, I highly advise you to make an informed and educated choice. This was why I felt it was necessary to write this post. I’ve been thinking about doing it for a year now and I think this info is something other pre-meds need





Good luck with your MCAT prep! Let’s get into medical school guys :)

Feel free to ask me any questions, I’m happy to answer!
Kurt
 
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PlsLetMeIn21

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Dec 5, 2017
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Thank you for a great writeup. This was really needed. This company got banned for a while from SDN, and there are often a flurry of posts from brand new members with less than 5 previous posts to their name who write about how great this company. There are never any messages from people with longevity and credibility at SDN about them.

I used them for their practice exams and found them to be good. I chose to mix and match sections from three different resources when it came time to do FLs. While I don't think they were quite as good as the other two resources, they were still helpful and the price is more palatable than other vendors. I have nothing bad to say about their customer service, but I get an uneasy feeling about them like you get from the cellular hustler in the booths at the mall.
 
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Feb 6, 2020
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Thank you for a great writeup. This was really needed. This company got banned for a while from SDN, and there are often a flurry of posts from brand new members with less than 5 previous posts to their name who write about how great this company. There are never any messages from people with longevity and credibility at SDN about them.

I used them for their practice exams and found them to be good. I chose to mix and match sections from three different resources when it came time to do FLs. While I don't think they were quite as good as the other two resources, they were still helpful and the price is more palatable than other vendors. I have nothing bad to say about their customer service, but I get an uneasy feeling about them like you get from the cellular hustler in the booths at the mall.

Thanks so much! I forgot to mention the practice exams (added a bit to my review just now). I was really suspicious when I looked them up after they contacted my club because we'd never heard of Altius before. They had 5 star ratings all over their FB page and I could not find a SINGLE negative review. The reviews themselves read like tutors wrote them, seemed really scripted. Should've gone with my gut instinct back then hahaha

Yeah, I think their 5 practice exam bundle for $175 ($35 per test) was pretty decently priced.

LOL yeah that describes the customer service experience exactly.
 
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ArteryStudyPainting

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Loved their practice exams. Probably a good chunk of why I got into med school.
 
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Davidfromcali

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Their exams are solid. Can’t knock that. They do seem like overly pushy sales man when you talk to them over the phone. At least that’s the vibe I got
 
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Jan 1, 2020
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Thank you so much for your review!! I literally just read an email from our pre-med advisors on campus and was filling out their information page to try to get a scholarship. I decided to login here and check for reviews. I'm so glad I did. Thank you again!!
 

AnatomyGrey12

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Sep 8, 2015
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As someone who did Altius back in the day I'll admit that they definitely have some shady sales tactics. However I don't think I would have gotten the score I got without the course, especially their practice tests. I know for a fact my tutor is the reason I was 100th percentile on CARS and I felt the group class sessions really helped me. Personally with the advent of Khan academy I would just use that, UWorld (obviously never did this since it was before my time but have heard it's good), and then buy the Altius practice tests.

The scores, as we all know, are based off of everyone that takes the MCAT that same day (a cohort of peers).
One thing I do want to point out is that this isn't how the MCAT is scored. It's a scaled test based off of historical averages. You aren't being scored directly against the people you're taking it with. In theory on any given day everyone could get the exact same score.
 
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Feb 6, 2020
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As someone who did Altius back in the day I'll admit that they definitely have some shady sales tactics. However I don't think I would have gotten the score I got without the course, especially their practice tests. I know for a fact my tutor is the reason I was 100th percentile on CARS and I felt the group class sessions really helped me. Personally with the advent of Khan academy I would just use that, UWorld (obviously never did this since it was before my time but have heard it's good), and then buy the Altius practice tests.


One thing I do want to point out is that this isn't how the MCAT is scored. It's a scaled test based off of historical averages. You aren't being scored directly against the people you're taking it with. In theory on any given day everyone could get the exact same score.

Omg you're right. i totally misread the AAMC explanation on how MCAT scores are scaled. Thanks so much! Either way, the Altius tutor was not allowed to take the MCAT due to his job.
 

AdductorMagnus

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Nov 22, 2018
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I can't speak on their sales tactics, as I never experienced anything shady on my end. But regarding the rest of the program, I really have to disagree with this post. There are some kinks they need to work out- as with any company, but all in all I thought that Altius prepared me very well for the MCAT and at my school I know dozens of people who had the same or better results. From what I know, everyone in my pre-med circle who gave a half decent effort at studying for the MCAT through Altius, got scores from 513-522+. Maybe it was an unfair sample of people, as we are all pretty good students, but yeah. This review seems more likely to be biased as he was a disgruntled customer who ended up quitting the program anyways.
 

Princeton Medical Student

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A big issue with their practice tests is the absolute abhorrent CARS section and general pacing/timing of certain sections. It's solid for CP/BB and somewhat less PS practice though.
 
Feb 6, 2020
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Which third party has the best CARS practice in your view?
I took the MCAT 7/23/20 and I really think U---world was pretty good with their CARS sections in terms of accuracy of length and the types of convoluted questions you'll see on the real test. I found the AAMC Qbanks to be WAY easier than what I actually got on test day so I don't think AAMC is the most realistic as previously mentioned by another user. I kind of wish I started the Uworld CARS passages earlier!
 
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Feb 6, 2020
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I can't speak on their sales tactics, as I never experienced anything shady on my end. But regarding the rest of the program, I really have to disagree with this post. There are some kinks they need to work out- as with any company, but all in all I thought that Altius prepared me very well for the MCAT and at my school I know dozens of people who had the same or better results. From what I know, everyone in my pre-med circle who gave a half decent effort at studying for the MCAT through Altius, got scores from 513-522+. Maybe it was an unfair sample of people, as we are all pretty good students, but yeah. This review seems more likely to be biased as he was a disgruntled customer who ended up quitting the program anyways.

I completely understand how you're getting this impression. I wanted to put this out there since, when I was deciding what test prep to use, I found little information on the details and specifics of the program. In my self-study, I did use the principles Altius went with like timing for CARS and trying not to go back and re-read passages. I thought I mentioned that these tips were good and the structure really pushes you to study more and their tips/tricks to remember things are good. The tutors also did amazing in teaching me those tips as well, they are so 10/10. I really just decided against the program for the reasons I mentioned but also because I think my location was new and not as established as I'm sure yours must've been. I found out I wasn't going to be taught by the people they promised, the location was further away than originally planned for, and the quality of their resources made things more time consuming in ways I didn't have time to work around. I found this out after I paid going off their original promises. They were changing up plans every week and with my schedule, I was genuinely worried I wouldn't be able to get what I paid for. I expressed this concern and they told me to be understanding since I was in the "first batch" of students they had at this location and that they would for SURE have everything settled as promised.

I was also trying to take it during the busiest semester of my entire undergrad like there just wasn't enough time in my day and I wanted to have some flexibility. I even asked about being able to video call in for classes but was told I'd only have access to the videos they have on their site which, as I mentioned, were really outdated, hard to follow, and just bad quality. The package I paid for and my class schedule meant I would have to miss some classes (mind you, they also kept changing this schedule even AFTER my school's registration closed so I made my entire schedule to be able to make the Altius classes and then found out I'd be missing some every week). I could've stuck with it and made a "half decent" effort like you mentioned but I didn't stay long enough to find out. The way everything was being handled led me to believe this program wasn't as great their reviews from more established locations and I'd pay thousands I didn't have to get something I wouldn't get. It was my first time taking the MCAT and I had no idea what to do and all the stress and uncertainty gave me bad vibes about Altius. These bad vibes were, naturally, confirmed by that phone call I talked about lol.

Anyway, if I had the chance to take Altius, I would probably try to go to their established locations to be able to get the full experience if I actually had the time. I'll be honest, I took Kaplan's prep course and it was SO bad like I would choose Altius >> Kaplan any day. Like I said, my experience was just particularly bad for a lot of other reasons. I wrote the review I would've liked to read before choosing the program. Like I said in my OG post, I am sure that all the positive reviews aren't entirely fake and that other people had great experiences with the program like your friends. I just wanted to put my experience out there to inform others about potential downsides that I have not seen written anywhere on the internet. My friend who took Altius wrote a bad review on their FB and they called him a liar and told him to remove his "false post" so I was inspired to also write this because I believed the company might've been censoring negative press.

In conclusion, you're right I am a "disgruntled customer" lol. I took the program for 2 months but you're right, I did quit early so I can't really get a full and open review about the entirety of the program. This is totally fair and I own it.
 
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Aug 19, 2020
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Hello, I took Altius Virtually last year which I think they call “MCAT Everywhere” and it was a great experience. At first, I wanted to do classes in person but found that doing it virtually saved me so much time with travel and everything else. I even applied for a tutoring position with them this year and got the job! I’m not on here trying to give a sales pitch like I’ve seen in the past on here and on reddit...merely voicing the positive experience that I had with their program. I decided to become a tutor not so much for the money but because of how much my tutor helped me out. Not only did he help me immensely with content, but also with the application process and just general life advise as I transversed through such a difficult time. I can confidently say that each and every one of the tutors for Altius genuinely cares about your success and are invested in you. The biggest upside to the one on one tutoring with Altius in my opinion is the insight that the tutors give you about how specific topics are tested with examples and also their personal techniques for taking the test.
Overall, I think I’m rambling but I read your post and think you got caught up in a pretty awful situation with a location that wasn’t ready yet. I would highly recommend the MCAT everywhere program that they have going on...it really has opened up a lot of doors in my life moving forward and I’m grateful for it.
 
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indigoturtle5223

2+ Year Member
Oct 25, 2018
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Hi everyone! I just wanted to put in my two cents if you don't mind. I also took the MCAT everywhere program this year during the COVID-19, the pandemic made studying interesting in and of itself. I was happy with my experience and my score, and I felt that the program tried to support their students as much as possible while the exams were being canceled. It only took them 2 days to put out shortened full length exams after
AAMC made their decision.

Program: Gold

Pros:
1) I agree with everyone that the full-length exams and the mini exams are super helpful!
2) The tutors. I had a great personal tutor, and both my study hall tutor and group session tutors were terrific! Theey had lots of tricks and insights that were very helpful. (Vincent - study hall, Thomas - group session, and Taylor - group session; for anyone taking the program I would request them, they are SUPER knowledgeable)
3)The study manual --> good at making you learn topics conceptually, which is what you need for the MCAT. The physics section is by far the best approach I have seen to this content. It minimizes the amount of formula you have to learn.
4) CARS --> I also really benefited from their CARS practice, I am double deficient dyslexic and I have lways struggled with being able to read fast and comprehend what I'm reading but I was able to get a 95% score in CARs.

Cons:
1) I do think the study manual could use some updating in terms of the science content.
2) The program is challenging, and they do ask you to do a lot, and it takes up a lot of time. You will probably spend as much time studying and in MCAT prep classes as you would for a semester at in school.


@KurtRamsay I'm really sorry to hear that is how the program turned out for you, and I would have been frustrated and angrey to if that happened to me. I hope you were able to get your money back, find a program that worked better for you, and it didn't mess up your timeline for applying to medical school. Like @educatedguesser100, I also think having everything online saved me a lot of time. Ultimately, I do believe it is worth it if you are looking for a score in the 95% and up range. Overall, I would also recommend the course.
 
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Princeton Medical Student

2+ Year Member
Jul 4, 2016
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2,386
I am not gonna definitively say that the above two posters are shills, but the post numbers make me doubt their authenticity, especially with how bad Altius CARS practice are on their full lengths.
 
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Aug 19, 2020
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  1. Pre-Medical
I am not gonna definitively say that the above two posters are shills, but the post numbers make me doubt their authenticity, especially with how bad Altius CARS practice are on their full lengths.
Fair enough. I just made my account as I’m in the application process and found the necessity to ask questions on app threads. I see your point
 

indigoturtle5223

2+ Year Member
Oct 25, 2018
5
3
I am not gonna definitively say that the above two posters are shills, but the post numbers make me doubt their authenticity, especially with how bad Altius CARS practice are on their full lengths.
Like @educatedguesser100, I just wanted to share my opinion and my experience with Altius. I am also currently applying for MD and MD/PhD programs. Everyone has different opinions and experiences, and @Princeton Medical Student I see your point. For me, their CAR practice helped. Before studying for the MCAT, my last English class had been in high school since I took AP and AICE courses, and I was seriously out of practice when it came to looking at non-science passages critically. The drills helped me get back into the swing of things and taught me how to do so under the time constraints of the MCAT.
 
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Sep 23, 2020
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  1. Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Hi everyone! I just wanted to put in my two cents if you don't mind. I also took the MCAT everywhere program this year during the COVID-19, the pandemic made studying interesting in and of itself. I was happy with my experience and my score, and I felt that the program tried to support their students as much as possible while the exams were being canceled. It only took them 2 days to put out shortened full length exams after
AAMC made their decision.

Program: Gold

Pros:
1) I agree with everyone that the full-length exams and the mini exams are super helpful!
2) The tutors. I had a great personal tutor, and both my study hall tutor and group session tutors were terrific! Theey had lots of tricks and insights that were very helpful. (Vincent - study hall, Thomas - group session, and Taylor - group session; for anyone taking the program I would request them, they are SUPER knowledgeable)
3)The study manual --> good at making you learn topics conceptually, which is what you need for the MCAT. The physics section is by far the best approach I have seen to this content. It minimizes the amount of formula you have to learn.
4) CARS --> I also really benefited from their CARS practice, I am double deficient dyslexic and I have lways struggled with being able to read fast and comprehend what I'm reading but I was able to get a 95% score in CARs.

Cons:
1) I do think the study manual could use some updating in terms of the science content.
2) The program is challenging, and they do ask you to do a lot, and it takes up a lot of time. You will probably spend as much time studying and in MCAT prep classes as you would for a semester at in school.


@KurtRamsay I'm really sorry to hear that is how the program turned out for you, and I would have been frustrated and angrey to if that happened to me. I hope you were able to get your money back, find a program that worked better for you, and it didn't mess up your timeline for applying to medical school. Like @educatedguesser100, I also think having everything online saved me a lot of time. Ultimately, I do believe it is worth it if you are looking for a score in the 95% and up range. Overall, I would also recommend the course.

1. The shortened COVID exams from Altius are 3-points inflated, returning a 475 instead of a 472 when they are zeroed completely out. They have been aware of this problem since last summer and have chosen not to fix it. I truly feel sorry for the students that took their shortened COVID practice exams with Altius in confidence and getting a lower score than they may have anticipated.
2. At least one of those tutors you mentioned did not get a 90th percentile or better on the MCAT-2015 exam (would be happy to verify with an administrator or individual with significant post numbers). I know of at least 3 active tutors in the company that either did not get a 90th percentile or better, despite the company advertising otherwise. To add insult to injury, their tutor coordinator in the company never earned a 90th percentile or better, yet often claims otherwise. The company often hires non-90th percentile tutors based on a flawed benchmark of a 512-513 score and turns around without shame to tell students they'll be paired with a tutor who earned a 95th percentile or better.
3. The study manual is decent, but, it continues to have errors in it. It took them years to fix a simple genetics problem. The scapegoat they used to justify not fixing the mistake was in effect, "the fact that students can point it out means the program is working." Unfortunately, the study manual and exam materials are laden with errors.
4. As someone who took their program and was a regional tutor/supervisor for the company, I will say that their CARS breakdown is decent. However, often poorly executed by most tutors. We were advised to place a large emphasis on the Main Idea of the passage, stating that it represents over 40-60% of the questions you'll see. Meanwhile, their study manual states otherwise and a glossary review of any CAR section shows that Main Idea question stems represent less than 10% of all questions you'll find on CARS.
5. Most recently the company asked its own tutors to take pay cuts in order to fund their slush fund for pet projects like updating their website. I find it unfortunate that the company preys on their tutors, violating their own tutor contract or bullying their tutors to sign pay cut contracts for their financial mismanagement and lack of foresight. One of their VPs, essentially threatened tutors to sign the new contract or risk not being employed in the future. Altius already has one of the lowest pay scales for tutors in the industry.

I'll be honest - I'm also concerned that the posts in favor of Altius are from employees themselves. The company is known to engage in deceptive marketing practices. For instance, they often reward tutors with up to $40 in gift cards for their review.
 
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