You may be wondering if you need an MCAT tutor, or if an MCAT tutor is worth your time. The MCAT is a grueling multidisciplinary exam that is a challenge even for the brightest of students. So, does this mean that everyone should get an MCAT tutor? On the one hand, a tutor can help you gain confidence as they guide you through the MCAT preparation process, but on the other, no two students are the same and tutoring is not for everyone. In this blog, we take a look at how you can determine if an MCAT tutor is right for you and how to find an MCAT tutor if you decide that you need one.
Here's what you'll learn:
There are many ways to successfully prepare for the MCAT and getting an MCAT tutor is one of them, but many students also successfully tackle the MCAT on their own. So, which type of student are you? How do you know if you need an MCAT tutor? To determine if a tutor is the right approach for you, you will need to ask yourself the following questions first:
As you begin studying for the MCAT, do you know where to start?
If you are questioning whether you need an MCAT tutor because you feel like you don’t know where to start, remember that before you can begin studying for the MCAT in earnest, you will need to determine your baseline. Whether you are preparing alone or with a tutor, this must be your first step! To do this, you need to take a full-length MCAT diagnostic test. The goal of this test is to understand exactly where you stand as you embark on your MCAT preparations. For your diagnostic, we recommend using a full-length exam from the AAMC website. Complete your practice exam in one sitting in an environment that mimics test-day conditions. This means in a quiet (but not silent) setting, with a timer. In looking at your diagnostic score, if you are not sure what is a good MCAT score, check out our blog to help you analyze where you stand. As you review the results of your diagnostic, identify your strengths and areas that need improvement, then design your own MCAT study schedule. If you do not know how to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, the help of a tutor can greatly benefit you. An MCAT expert will help you to pinpoint exactly where you are going wrong, so you can successfully move past those hurdles.
Learn more about the MCAT diagnostic test in our video:
How important is your MCAT score?
Wait, isn’t the MCAT score important to every student? Yes, but there are some students for whom achieving a stellar MCAT score will play a bigger role in their medical school applications. For example, if you have a below-average GPA, you may be relying on the MCAT to make up for this. Some medical schools weigh sections of the MCAT highly when they rank their applicants, so you would need to maximize your score to get an interview. Additionally, if you need to retake the MCAT, you may be pressured by the little time you have to bring up your MCAT score. Or maybe you only have one opportunity to take the MCAT, and you need to ensure that you ace it the first time! If you find yourself in a situation where there is a lot riding on your MCAT score, the pressure to do well can become overwhelming. If the MCAT means more to you than the average student, utilizing a tutor will mean that you are putting more tools in your belt when it comes to your MCAT preparation. The more tools you have at your disposal, the better your chances are for success!
Does studying with a tutor suit you?
Some students prefer to study alone and are actually more productive that way. Other students struggle to study alone, so having someone there to guide them is the best course of action. If you have trouble motivating yourself for the months of MCAT preparation that lie ahead of you, a tutor can help to motivate you and keep you on track. If you made a study schedule but are having trouble sticking to it, a tutor can hold you to deadlines and set the pace for your MCAT preparation. Many students enjoy being able to talk through concepts tested on the MCAT with another person while receiving targeted advice for their particular strengths and weaknesses, while others find that they are not really that receptive to outside help. Think about who you are as a student – how receptive you are to help and what you actually need help with – in order to determine if enlisting the help of a tutor is right for you. If you need someone to hold you accountable as you study, a tutor is an excellent option.
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If you have decided that an MCAT tutor is the best fit for you, you’ll want to invest some time into finding the best tutor. How exactly should you go about this? If you search for MCAT tutors online, thousands of options will appear on your screen. You must ensure that your MCAT tutor is qualified and that they have extensive training and experience with this particular type of tutoring.
Keep these five tips in mind when selecting an MCAT tutor:
1. Go with experience
It is crucial to have someone with MCAT and tutoring experience to guide you in your MCAT preparations. A good tutor will know the MCAT inside and out. Be sure to do your research and don’t settle for just any tutor. Your tutor needs to have experience with the most recent version of the MCAT, rather than the old style of the exam. Don’t just take their word for it though – be sure to do your homework and interview them for the position. Ask if they have taken the new MCAT, how long they have been tutoring for the MCAT, and have them explain the MCAT format to you. If you go with a prep company, they will be able to match you with an MCAT expert that has been tutoring for years and knows the MCAT format and effective preparation strategies like the back of their hand. Regardless, always check their reviews for MCAT preparation on an independent website such as Trustpilot to see if they have helped other students succeed. It is important to ensure that you are placing your time, money, and trust in a trained and tested MCAT expert.
2. Find a teacher
Just because someone has taken the MCAT and has done well on it, does not automatically mean that they can teach you how to do the same. A tutor is only as good as their ability to teach. Ensure that your tutor has teaching experience and has undergone extensive training. Throughout your academic career, you have undoubtably found that each teacher has a different teaching style. Some teachers’ approaches have fit really well with your learning style, and others have not. When researching tutors, be sure to investigate their teaching style and share details about your learning style with them. For example, let them know if you prefer to attempt problems on your own after they explain the concepts to you, or if you need more hands-on guidance and would prefer them to walk through problems with you. By having this conversation, you can ensure that your MCAT tutor’s teaching style is a match for the way that you learn. If you have a learning difference or require testing accommodations, it is worth the extra digging to find an MCAT tutor that has experience in these specific areas. It is important to do your research to find out if a potential MCAT tutor can prove their successes. Have you conducted research to verify that using their services results in tangible improvements? Anyone can say that they will help you to ace the MCAT, but not everyone can verify it. If there is no proven indication of a prep company or tutor’s success rate, consider this a major red flag.
3. Ensure that you will get personalized feedback
When choosing an MCAT tutor, it is important to find an expert that will be able to give you personalized feedback. A tutor that will just provide you with practice problems and the correct answers will not be effective. As opposed to giving generic feedback, a good tutor will identify the types of MCAT questions that you are struggling with and address your particular challenges. They will critically analyze your study plan in order to maximize your approach, and they will possess the skills and knowledge needed to find and address weak areas in your knowledge. Be sure to check online reviews or ask for a student reference to determine if your MCAT tutor is effective in this regard. Do they have positive reviews that show you will receive personalized feedback and advice during your MCAT preparation? An MCAT tutor will work with you one-on-one to increase your chances of success through proven strategies, techniques, and practice methods. The best MCAT tutor will use their past experience helping thousands of applicants and will have already done the legwork to figure out what works, and what does not, through meticulous research. This means that you will be able to utilize their expertise, rather than doing this research yourself – allowing you to focus your time and energy on studying for the MCAT!
4. Ask for recommendations
Many excellent tutors work by word of mouth. If you are preparing for the MCAT, chances are you know several students that have taken the MCAT and have done well on the exam. Did any of them utilize a tutor or an MCAT preparation company? Seeking a friend or family member’s advice can be invaluable in narrowing down an MCAT tutor that will work for you. If your friend has a similar learning style to you and their tutor helped them to achieve a competitive MCAT score, then this is a great place to start your search. However, don’t just take their word for it – interview them for the position! Speak with the recommended tutor or an MCAT expert at the recommended preparation company to see if they resonate with you and can meet your needs.
5. Test Drive Their Services to Ensure a Good Fit
An excellent MCAT tutor will not only be able to help you improve your scores, but they will also truly care about your success and will allow you to test drive their services. Many tutoring companies will have success rates posted on their website regarding how many of their students achieve their MCAT goals and get accepted into medical school. Look for a tutor that will provide you with a free initial lesson or consultation to test drive their teaching style and expertise, as well as to ensure that they are able to provide you with personalized feedback. You wouldn't apply to a medical school without doing your research first, so don't spend money on an MCAT tutor without testing them out. Your MCAT tutor should stand behind their services by holding themselves accountable for your success. Before committing to an MCAT tutor, ask about their satisfaction guarantee. If your tutor is not committed to doing everything possible to personalize your tutoring to ensure your success, they are not the right tutor for you. In addition, look for a company that is upfront about their costs and provides this information in an easy to find location on their website. The best MCAT tutoring services will be transparent in all regards.
At BeMo, we have helped thousands of students around the world prepare for their MCAT and the subsequent steps you will need to take to secure your spot in medical school. Our experts have a combined 53 years of experience and have completed rigorous, standardized training to ensure that we are providing the same expert advice, tools, and recommendations to our students that are proven to work. We absolutely believe in our products and services, which is why we are the only prep company you will find that provides both a 100% satisfaction guarantee and a Get In or Your Money Back® guarantee.
While most MCAT tutors cannot prove that their methods work, here at BeMo we have conducted research on our approach and can scientifically back up the efficacy of our products and services. Medical school admissions have become very competitive over the past several years with the chance of admission as low as 1%! We are proud of our 93.5% success rate for students working in our Platinum or Titanium programs. BeMo has over one thousand independent reviews on Trustpilot. In fact, we have a 4.8/5 rating, which is the highest rating of all medical school advising companies.
Not sure if BeMo is right for your MCAT tutoring? BeMo provides every student with a free initial consultation, giving you the opportunity to speak with us face-to-face and to learn about how we can best help you in your journey. Check out our blog to find out if BeMo Academic Consulting is worth it.
If you are ready to jump into your MCAT preparation, check out BeMo’s guides to each section of the MCAT. Delve deeper into what is covered section-by-section, read our top tips for how to prepare for each section, and complete practice questions with expert answers.
Here is a summary of BeMo’s MCAT study materials:
MCAT Chemistry Questions: The Ultimate Guide in 2020
YouTube Video: MCAT CARS Practice Passage, Questions and Answers
MCAT Biology Questions Ultimate Guide & Sample Questions in 2020
MCAT Psychology Ultimate Guide & Sample Questions in 2020
The MCAT Physics Equations You Must Know in 2020
For a look at mean scores and percentile ranks for each section of the MCAT, take a look at our blog "How Hard is the MCAT?"
How Hard is the MCAT?
1. Should I start with an MCAT tutor on day one of my MCAT preparation?
If you are just beginning to prepare for the MCAT and it is your first time taking the exam, this may not be the best time to get a tutor. If you have sufficient time to prepare, i.e. between 3-6 months, why not see how studying on your own goes first? When to start studying for the MCAT will depend, in part, on how much knowledge you have retained from your introductory pre-med courses. As you study, if you see consistent improvement in your MCAT score, and are able to work towards your goal score without a tutor, then you can just carry on! If you have started studying and you are not seeing improvement in your practice exams, or your score is still below your target, continuing to study in the same way for several more months may not be an effective approach. If you are stuck in a rut, this is a great time to look into getting an MCAT tutor.
2. If I am retaking the MCAT, should I get a tutor?
If you have taken the MCAT already and you are having trouble identifying why your score is not where you want it to be or why your score is not improving, a tutor can be helpful. If you have previously spent months preparing for the MCAT and have already given it your all, repeating the same study strategies for several more months and expecting different results is not the best use of your time. Take the initiative to get a different perspective through an MCAT tutor, which will be helpful in revealing weaknesses that you have not previously considered. In addition, a tutor can provide new study techniques to take your score to the next level. If you are retaking the MCAT and are not happy with your previous scores, this is the time to use every resource at your disposal.
3. Should non-traditional applicants get an MCAT tutor?
If you have been out of school for a while or did not take the traditional medical school prerequisites, you may be feeling behind in your MCAT preparation – and possibly overwhelmed. If you are a non-traditional medical school applicant, you may also have a busy schedule with family and work commitments and limited time to study. In this case, getting personalized MCAT guidance can be extremely beneficial. Seek out custom guidance for your unique situation with an expert MCAT tutor who can help you make the most of your MCAT preparation and help you feel like you are not tackling your preparation alone!
4. Should I do one-on-one tutoring or find a study group instead?
If you are considering a study group instead of a tutor, you need to be honest with yourself as to what type of environment will allow you to focus and learn best. If you enjoy studying with others and can stay productive within a study group, this may be a good option for you. While study groups may be fun, they are often less efficient. Group members tend to have different levels of understanding, may study at different speeds, and typically have different learning styles. If you want some outside help for your MCAT prep, but you find that you cannot stay focused in a group setting, a tutor is a better option for you. An MCAT tutor will ensure that the entire study session is productive and focused on your specific needs.
5. Is it worth it to get a tutor for just one MCAT section, such as CARS?
It is important to remember that each section of the MCAT makes up ¼ of your overall MCAT score. If you are preparing for the MCAT and you find that your score is lower for a particular section, you may be wondering if it is worth it to get a tutor to bring up your score for just that section. Some medical schools put an emphasis on certain MCAT sections, such as CARS, but in general, all medical schools will view a balanced score more highly than an imbalanced score. Therefore, it is important to aim to do equally well in every section. If you feel that you need a tutor to help you achieve this, don’t ignore that feeling. Consistency across every section of the MCAT shows your ability to think critically and to reason in many different content areas. You want to guarantee that you have done all that you can to demonstrate this ability when you sit down to take the MCAT. Everyone is good at something or even a few things, but it is rare to be good at everything. For this reason, if you feel you need help with a section in order to improve, work with an MCAT tutor to reach your goal.
6. I’ve always done well on my own, why should I get help now?
Sometimes we are hesitant to seek help because we fear it means that we are not good enough. The MCAT will be unlike any other exam you have ever taken. Our “How long is the MCAT?” blog will break down exactly why this test is unique and why it is a challenge even for the best students. This exam is designed to test exceptional students. If you have done well on exams in the past, but feel yourself struggling to prepare for the MCAT, be honest with yourself and consider if a tutor is needed. Remember, it is OK to ask for help!
7. Will an MCAT tutor save me time?
If you are someone who is aiming for a top MCAT score, you are also likely someone who places a great deal of importance on your time. Being unprepared for an MCAT test and needing to retake it is not the best use of your time. Although it may become necessary to do so, you should aim to use your time more effectively by avoiding a retake at all costs. After acing your MCAT, you can then focus your time on other aspects of your medical school applications, such as your medical school personal statement, your AMCAS Work and Activities or OMSAS sketch, and medical school recommendation letters, rather than having to spend your time studying to retake the MCAT. If you use a tutor to achieve success on the MCAT on your first try, then you are setting yourself up to use the months after your MCAT to the fullest!
8. When should I take the MCAT?
The simple answer is that you should take the MCAT when you feel 100% ready to do so. How can you gauge if you are ready? As you study, take note of how you are scoring on full-length practice tests. Continue to study as long as your scores continue to improve. If your MCAT score stabilizes, it is a good idea to take the exam, as long as that score range is acceptable to you. Alternatively, when you consistently score in the 90th percentile or above at least 3 times in a row, you can be confident that you are ready for the real thing! For further insights, review our blog "When should I take the MCAT?" and use our list of MCAT test dates and release dates to set a goal test date.
9. Should I retake the MCAT?
This will depend on how much time you have before applying to medical school. You should also consider if you have been improving on your practice tests or whether your score has plateaued. You should also reflect on what could be the cause of the unsatisfactory score. Perhaps you need to improve only one or two of the MCAT sections, or you need to work on your test-taking abilities. If you cannot pinpoint the source of your struggle, perhaps it would be a good idea to turn to a tutor.
No two students are the same, so you will need to consider whether you need help getting started with your MCAT preparations, if studying with a tutor fits your learning style, and how much is riding on your MCAT score. If you decide that an MCAT tutor is the best path for you, follow our tips to help you find a tutor that will best suit your needs. Whether you choose to prepare with or without an MCAT tutor, you will need to make sure that you put your best foot forward in studying for the MCAT. Whether you decide to use a tutor or not, be sure to take advantage of our wonderful MCAT resources, blogs, and sample questions, or schedule a one-on-one session with one of our MCAT experts! We are passionate about your success and we are here to help you ace your MCAT!
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To your success,
Your friends at BeMo