5+ Year Member
Jan 12, 2012
anyone have success studying for the MCAT without taking a kaplan class? I kind of feel like I should be able to do well on the MCAT without a $2000 class but if it will help me do better I'm going to take it.


10+ Year Member
Aug 19, 2008
You will find MANY people posting here that have had great success without taking any class. I can almost guarantee that I would not have done as well as I did had I taken a class. This all comes down to knowing yourself and how you best learn. For me, the decision was easy as I had never was able to absorb much from class lectures and found that the majority of my learning was always done at home. But do realize that to succeed without a class does require a significant amount of self-discipline and motivation, otherwise you'll find yourself in trouble. If you are thinking about going with study, I would highly recommend SN2ed's schedule found here: It should be all you need.

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5+ Year Member
Feb 10, 2012
I didn't take a class, and I'm pretty sure I did well (I'll know for sure in 2 weeks...). I was averaging 35+ on the AAMC practice tests under my own schedule, so I never considered taking a class.

I'd suggest you take AAMC #3 and use that as a good measure of where you stand at the moment. After you have some idea of your "current" score, you can decide if you can self-study, or if you need a little help from Kaplan.


7+ Year Member
Jul 13, 2010
Eastern US
Resident [Any Field]
I didn't take a prep course, have no science courses beyond the bare minimum, and got a reasonably good score (over 30, less than 35). I used the McGraw-Hill book since that was the one they were selling in the bookstore when I checked. In retrospect I should've shopped around more but it turned out okay.

I also took three AAMC practice tests in addition to the practice problems from the book. I scored in the 30-32 range on those so they were within a very reasonable distance from my actual score.

The AAMC practice tests are your friends.

My humble opinion is that people tend to study poorly for the MCAT by getting too much in the nitty-gritty details of sciences beyond the basic requirements for admission to medical school.


7+ Year Member
Jan 21, 2012
Resident [Any Field]
No need for the class if you are self-motivated to stay on task and keep up with your schedule.


life of leisure
7+ Year Member
Jun 24, 2011
Resident [Any Field]
You'll see many self-study success stories using SN2ed's plan. But ultimately much of the onus is on you to put in the time on practice passages - not even a class can do that for you.

Either way, you get out of it what you put in.


Company Rep & Bad Singer
10+ Year Member
May 25, 2007
I have written extensively about how I prepared for the MCAT. Perhaps you'll find it useful.
First off, "WOW" to your blog. That is really well written and one of the most thorough breakdowns of the MCAT preparation experience. Great job MDO!

anyone have success studying for the MCAT without taking a class? I kind of feel like I should be able to do well on the MCAT without a class but if it will help me do better I'm going to take it.
As to whether a prep course is necessary, the answer is the same as it is with any other question of how to prepare for an event. Should you sign up for a running group to prepare for a 10K? For some the answer is yes, because they need the motivation and more so the immersion into an environment aimed at preparing for their event. For others, a running group can stymie their growth, not use their time efficiently (waste time commuting for instance), and actually lessen their self-motivation.

No matter what, you need to do the training, but whether you need a group (or in the case of the MCAT, a class) is an individual question. I've seen people take our class that would have been better suited to have studied on their own. They knew their material really well, and the pace of the class slowed them down. About the only utility they got that they couldn't have gotten by simply buying the books was the office hours and some test tricks. I've also seen people that without our class would have floundered and bombed, because they would have never learned to think about the exam the right way. They needed the structure and the insights of the lectures. So the best answer to your quesion is "maybe."

Only you truly know what you need. Everyone is different, so there is no universal answer. Try sitting in on a class and see what you think. Choose the absolute hardest topic for you, so you can get the best possible assessment of how the teacher will help you during the time you spend in class. After that, you'll have a better answer.