bpoole9925

I will be a doctor!!!
5+ Year Member
Jul 21, 2013
21
25
Status
Pre-Medical
Hey everyone,

So, I have noticed a lot of people asking about the differences and comparisons of Altius, NextStep (NS), and AAMC Full Length’s (FL's) but there has not been anyone who I have found that has experienced with all of them. Until now. This was my second time taking the MCAT and I wanted to make sure that I had enough resources to carry me to the finish line. Long story short, I bought all 10 Altius exams, all 10 NS exams and the entire AAMC practice package.

I studied for the MCAT a few hours a day over the course of about a year. I initially did content review by just doing old questions from pre2015 Berkeley Review Material and Princeton Review Workbook for a few months. I then wanted to take an MCAT every week to train myself for the grueling 6 hours it takes for the MCAT these days. I did not complete all of the MCAT's that I bought for numerous reasons. Family stuff. Work stuff. And honestly just didn't feel like taking one that week, was kind of feeling burned out.


The following are my Altius scores:

Test 1 = (C/P = 122)(CARS = 125)(B/B = 122)(P/S = 123) Scaled Score = 492
Test 2 = (C/P = 126)(CARS = 124)(B/B = 125)(P/S = 124) Scaled Score = 499
Test 3 = (C/P = 125)(CARS = 123)(B/B = 125)(P/S = 123) Scaled Score = 496
Test 4 = (C/P = 124)(CARS = 127)(B/B = 125)(P/S = 124) Scaled Score = 500
Test 5 = (C/P = 124)(CARS = 124)(B/B = 126)(P/S = 124) Scaled Score = 498
Test 6 = (C/P = 125)(CARS = 125)(B/B = 125)(P/S = 123) Scaled Score = 498

As you can tell the Altius scores were very defeating to me, but here are my assessments of them.

The C/P sections were a good representation of the real MCAT some tests were orgo heavy, some were gen chem heavy while others were physics heavy. They hit hard the SN1, SN2 reactions for orgo. They hit hard the redox reactions and acid/base rxn for gen chem. The physics didn't seem too bad, of course I like physics so maybe that is why it didn't seem so to me. The usual suspects where light, thermodynamics, etc. Defiantly make sure you know your formulas inside and out!!! Know your amino acids inside and out!!! Know galvanic and electrolytic cells!!

The CARS section was easier than the real thing. Not a lot of convoluted passages. Straight forward with the exception of a few, but not bad at all. The reading section is the worst section for me. I don't really know why either. I read all the time whether it be the newspaper, books, online articles, etc. I also did at least a passage a day for months leading up to my exam but I still kept the same score. I always would miss at least one question for each passage.

The B/B section is VERY and I mean VERY experimental oriented/dense. Which is good if you ask me. If you were like me and had ZERO experience with experimental data then these tests were very helpful. I never did research or anything in college, so I was completely blind to passages that were experimental heavy. I know biology content forward and backwards. I scored a 13 on the biology section of the old MCAT, but this new MCAT is not just a biology test. It wants you to decipher all of the experiments and then answer some theoretical question about the data. To say the least it was hard. The MCAT I took was just like this. It was very experimentally dense. I know what you’re thinking, "Oh you must have killed it then?" Well, I haven't gotten my score back yet but as I sit here today I don't feel like it. No matter how much I looked at graphs and data points I simply couldn't breakdown the information quick enough for the allotted time given. If I had, I don’t know 10 to 20 minutes to read it a couple of times, then sure I would have no problem answer questions, but this is not the case sadly.

The P/S section was all terms related along with experimental data. You must know all the terms associated with Psychology and Sociology. If you learn all the terms and how they are applied to data then you will do fine in this section. I never once took a Psychology or Sociology course in college so this to was all new. The MCAT was very similar to this. Learn what the terms mean and you will be fine.

After each test, I would review each question as if I had missed it. I would use AK Lectures, Khan Academy, Moof University, and just general Google searches. I used Khan Academy a lot for the gen chem review and orgo review. I used AK Lectures for all the biology and biochem review, very helpful I thought. I had to do a lot of Google searches to learn what some of the symbols were for experiments. A good example is "knockout" genes. (Anv -/-) Had no idea what that was. In case you were wondering the gene Anv is missing within a particular cell/organism.


The following are my NextStep results:

Test 1 = (C/P = 127)(CARS = 125)(B/B = 126)(P/S = 125) Scaled Score = 503
Test 2 = (C/P = 126)(CARS = 126)(B/B = 126)(P/S = 125) Scaled Score = 503
Test 3 = (C/P = 126)(CARS = 125)(B/B = 125)(P/S = 125) Scaled Score = 501
Test 4 = (C/P = 125)(CARS = 125)(B/B = 125)(P/S = 125) Scaled Score = 500
Test 5 = (C/P = 126)(CARS = 125)(B/B = 127)(P/S = 127) Scaled Score = 505
Test 6 = (C/P = 125)(CARS = 125)(B/B = 127)(P/S = 124) Scaled Score = 501
Test 7 = (C/P = 124)(CARS = 125)(B/B = 126)(P/S = 125) Scaled Score = 500
Test 8 = (C/P = 126)(CARS = 125)(B/B = 126)(P/S = 125) Scaled Score = 502

So, these were a little better. Still not what I wanted. I wanted a high 20's on the MCAT if not maybe a 30 which is 505 to 509 on this new MCAT. But here are my thoughts.

The C/P were hit and miss as far as difficulty. It goes without saying that areas I am weak in seemed harder to me than areas I am strong in. So, low scores represent areas I am weak in (orgo) and good scores represent areas I am strong in (biochem). These were good a representation of the real MCAT i thought. Had a little of everything in there.

The CARS section... whew!! Man, oh man was it hard!! I have never seen such a collection of God Awful, kill myself passages in all my life. These passages were of Greek art, romanticism, and even the passages, about say politics, that appear to be interesting were as convoluted as they could possibly be. My God if lawmakers write this kind of stuff then no wonder nothing ever gets done. Nobody knows what the hell they are talking about!!! The real MCAT was not this hard IMO.

The B/B sections were not as experimentally heavy compared to Altius. A lot of the NS stuff was straight forward questions asking stuff about the mitochondria, Krebs cycle, glycolysis, gluconeogenesis, etc. It did not compare to B/B section I had for the real MCAT.

The P/S section was the same as Altius. Know what the terms mean such as variable ratio, interval ratio, fixed ratio, etc. These are just a couple of examples.


The following are my AAMC Full Length's 1 and 2, the Section Banks, and Sample Test:

FL 1 = (C/P = 127)(CARS = 124)(B/B = 127)(P/S = 127) Scaled Score = 505
FL 2 = (C/P = 127)(CARS = 125)(B/B = 127)(P/S = 127) Scaled Score = 506

C/P Section Bank = 60 out of 100 correct
B/B Section Bank = 51 out of 100 correct
P/S Section Bank = 62 out of 100 correct

Sample Test = (C/P = 41 of 59)(CARS = 42 of 53)(B/B = 47 of 59)(P/S = 42 of 59) "No Scaled Score Given"

The full lengths were much easier than the Altius tests and NS tests in every way except the CARS section. The CARS section for the full lengths was on par with NextStep I thought. The full lengths are IN NO WAY representative of the real MCAT!!! The real MCAT completely blew these tests out of the water hands down!!! The Section Banks and Online Official Guide Questions were a better representation of the real MCAT for sure. Mainly because they are harder! LOL!

Conclusion/Summary:

If I had to do it all over again I would pass on the AAMC FL's 1 and 2. They are too easy and are not representative of the MCAT in my opinion. Buy the Section Bank for sure lots of good practice here and very similar to the real thing. Buy the Online Official Guide Questions they are also very similar to the real thing. Pass on the Sample Test, it is too easy as well. Pass on the Question Packs too. AAMC tried to be slick and repackage their old content from the old MCAT. That is what the Question Packs are just old MCAT questions from AAMC's old practice exams (pre2015). They are in no way helpful in preparing to take the MCAT IMO. They would be good for content review, but AAMC's answer descriptions are so ****ty it is not worth the time. AAMC's answer response is literally "A is right because B, C, and D are wrong." It’s that ****ty!! You spend all this extra time looking up stuff to figure out why A is right when you could be on to the next question.

Altius vs. NextStep Opinion:

C/P = Very similar with difficulty going to Altius. You want harder passages then go with Altius. It is not a large margin but for sure harder.
CARS = NextStep is the harder of the two by a large margin. NS passages pretty hard.
B/B = Depends... You need experimental practice Altius is the way to go. NextStep has a good mix of experimental with straight up Bio/Biochem questions.
P/S = No different. Maybe more experimental stuff in Altius but not by much. Learn the terms and how they are applied and you will be fine.

If I have to retake I am going to buy the following:

1. AAMC's Section Bank Questions
2. Online Official Guide Questions
3. Altius 10 Tests
4. NextStep 10 Tests

I might look into Berkeley Review or the Gold Standard MCAT prep.

I will let everyone know how I did on the MCAT so we can all compare notes. I get a score back Friday or Saturday. Prayer’s to God and fingers crossed!

I hope this thread helps. Thanks.

**UPDATE****UPDATE****UPDATE****UPDATE****UPDATE****UPDATE**

Hey Guys,

So, I got my MCAT test results and they are the following:

Important Note: AAMC puts out a couple of different tests per test day. Meaning that just because you took the MCAT the same day as I did does not necessarily mean you took the same exam. The exam I took had a particular standalone question within the C/P section about the amino acid Tryptophan and it’s ring structure. I literally stared at this question for what seemed like forever trying to eliminate one other answer. Damn You AAMC!!!

So, when I say know everything there is to know about amino acids, these are the types of things I am talking about. Random factoids that come back to bite you!!!

MCAT for 7-21-2017

C/P = 126 (Percentile Rank of 67%)
CARS = 124 (Percentile Rank of 49%)
B/B = 125 (Percentile Rank of 54%)
P/S = 127 (Percentile Rank of 75%)

Total Score = 502 (Percentile Rank of 57%)

Thoughts/Opinions:

The following is a bit of a rant so please bear with me. The CARS section can go straight to hell! After taking this test (old and new) a couple of times I have concluded that I personally am incapable of doing well of this part of the test. To prepare for this section I did at least one passage per day for about 4 months straight along with my practice tests, even on days that I didn’t study anything else. I watched all the Khan Academy videos on how to break down passages and try to get a hold on what the author is talking about and still I can’t seem to do any better. So, for those of you who are like me hammer the other subjects hard to make up for an inevitable sh!tty CARS score.

As I said before, the AAMC Full Lengths 1 and 2 were not representative of the real thing at all. Others may have had a different experience but in my opinion, I shouldn’t have even bothered with them. The NextStep scores I had was pretty indicative of my final score, so it appears that whatever you are scoring on these is a pretty good indication of what you will score on the real thing.

Overall, I am not thrilled about my score. I was really hoping to get at least a 505 but I am not surprised by it at all. Gonna apply to DO schools and a few private MD schools. It should be enough so I never have to take this God awful, life sucking, eat my ass test again!!

Hope this helps and Good Luck everyone!
 
Last edited:

elitehacker1337

2+ Year Member
Jun 5, 2017
96
32
Thanks for the writeup man. May I ask how much the NS and Altius or total cost was?

Did you use actual content review books or just KA and AK?
Interesting approach. I'm interested to see how you did.

Thanks again.
 
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bpoole9925

bpoole9925

I will be a doctor!!!
5+ Year Member
Jul 21, 2013
21
25
Status
Pre-Medical
Thanks for the writeup man. May I ask how much the NS and Altius or total cost was?

Did you use actual content review books or just KA and AK?
Interesting approach. I'm interested to see how you did.

Thanks again.
Altius costed $235 and NextStep costed $225. I have old Berkeley Review books that I used for the old MCAT. I found that videos and just grinding out questions is what help me the most. Sitting down and just reading about content never helped. I never did buy any new content review books. I mainly depended on AK and Khan Academy for content and reviewing questions. Yeah, I am hoping for an OK score. I never was able to get in the 80% percentile on my practice tests. DO school and a few private MD schools is what I am looking at.
 
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Nov 6, 2013
102
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Hey @bpoole9925!

Taking the MCAT this month and my FL scores (#1-4) for Next Step were in the range of a 495-498. When I took the AAMC #2 Exam I scored 10-12 points LOWER than Next Step FL exams. I tested all five practice exams identically and under standard testing conditions. Do you know why this is?
 
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bpoole9925

bpoole9925

I will be a doctor!!!
5+ Year Member
Jul 21, 2013
21
25
Status
Pre-Medical
Hey @bpoole9925!

Taking the MCAT this month and my FL scores (#1-4) for Next Step were in the range of a 495-498. When I took the AAMC #2 Exam I scored 10-12 points LOWER than Next Step FL exams. I tested all five practice exams identically and under standard testing conditions. Do you know why this is?
If you are scoring that low I am thinking you are lacking in content knowledge. I found the FL's were much easier than NS, so if you scored even lower on the Full Length you need to hammer on the basics. You gotta go back and brush up on content. Watch AK Lectures videos and go over all the questions for each exam you took. Learn all there is to every question asked in the exams. Hope this helps. Good luck!
 

Vertu

2+ Year Member
Dec 20, 2015
61
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Status
Pre-Medical, Pre-Optometry, Pre-Pharmacy
Thank you for this post. Lots of useful information here.
 
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Vertu

2+ Year Member
Dec 20, 2015
61
11
Status
Pre-Medical, Pre-Optometry, Pre-Pharmacy
Update us on your score when you get a chance! I'm scoring around where you are on Altius/NextStep and am anxious of how I'll actually perform on test day
 
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bpoole9925

bpoole9925

I will be a doctor!!!
5+ Year Member
Jul 21, 2013
21
25
Status
Pre-Medical
Update us on your score when you get a chance! I'm scoring around where you are on Altius/NextStep and am anxious of how I'll actually perform on test day
Thank you for this post. Lots of useful information here.
Will do. Should get my score back tomorrow. I will update in the following days after. Thanks
 
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Mar 7, 2018
46
12
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Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
I commend all of your hard work, I almost 20 practice exam is pretty impressive. Im in the same boat kinda with working on my retake now an making a school list. What schools did you end up applying to?
 
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bpoole9925

bpoole9925

I will be a doctor!!!
5+ Year Member
Jul 21, 2013
21
25
Status
Pre-Medical
I commend all of your hard work, I almost 20 practice exam is pretty impressive. Im in the same boat kinda with working on my retake now an making a school list. What schools did you end up applying to?
So, I applied to MD and DO schools. MD schools were MCG, Mercer, USC, USC Greenville. DO schools were PCOM GA, VCOM Spartanburg, ACOM, LECOM, and VCOM Auburn.

I got a lot of love from DO schools and almost no love from MD schools, but in the end I actually did get into MD school which was Mercer. God is good!!
 
Mar 7, 2018
46
12
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
So, I applied to MD and DO schools. MD schools were MCG, Mercer, USC, USC Greenville. DO schools were PCOM GA, VCOM Spartanburg, ACOM, LECOM, and VCOM Auburn.

I got a lot of love from DO schools and almost no love from MD schools, but in the end I actually did get into MD school which was Mercer. God is good!!
Congratulations! Mercer is actually a school I was looking at but haven't decided if I'm going to apply yet. Do you like it there?
 
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bpoole9925

bpoole9925

I will be a doctor!!!
5+ Year Member
Jul 21, 2013
21
25
Status
Pre-Medical
Congratulations! Mercer is actually a school I was looking at but haven't decided if I'm going to apply yet. Do you like it there?
Love it!!! I'm at Macon and it's awesome. It's only an hour from my house so I really have been blessed.
 
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