“Do I need an MCAT tutor?” is a question we hear often from our students. The MCAT is a notoriously hard and grueling exam, and students are glad to get information and advice that will help them ace this test. There are hundreds of free resources and MCAT prep courses that can help you get ready for the exam, but do you need personalized feedback and tailored advice to get the MCAT score you need to get into medical school?

Some students thrive on the additional guidance and confidence provided by tutoring, but no two students are the same. We are here to help you determine if an MCAT tutor is right for you, and if so, how to find one that suits your needs. 

Disclaimer: MCAT is a registered trademark of AAMC. BeMo and AAMC do not endorse or affiliate with one another.


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What Kind of MCAT Tutor Do You Need?

The answer to this question may seem obvious, but it’s important to emphasize what you should expect from an MCAT tutor, what an MCAT tutor can do for you, and how they can help you get the score that you need. Right off the bat, we want to say that not everybody needs an MCAT tutor. Some students are perfectly comfortable studying on their own, finding the right resources, and applying study strategies they find online to their own learning styles. However, many students struggle with devising an MCAT prep strategy that’s right for them. MCAT prep is time-consuming, expensive, and daunting. Many students simply do not know where to begin! This is where an MCAT tutor can really help.

MCAT tutors are experts not only in MCAT content, but also in organizing and devising personalized study strategies and MCAT study schedules for every single student they work with. A good MCAT tutor will be able to see your strengths and weaknesses and prepare a study plan that will address those weaknesses and solidify your strengths. They can help you with content, critical thinking skills, MCAT timing, stress management, test-taking stamina, and so much more! With the help of a good tutor, you will be able to develop skills that last you a lifetime, including analytical skills, organizational skills, research skills, and a deeper understanding of the MCAT content.

An MCAT tutor can be especially valuable for students who are looking to retake the MCAT. It’s often hard to assess why you did not get the score you needed to be a competitive candidate, and a great tutor can help you find your weak spots and provide guidance on how to overcome them. Working with the right tutor can literally mean the difference between another medical school rejection and an acceptance offer from you top-choice med school.

This is why finding a great MCAT tutor is an investment and a commitment, which you should not take lightly. In this blog, we will further investigate whether you need an MCAT tutor, and if you do, how to choose the best one.

Are you considering an MCAT tutor or an MCAT prep course? Check out some tips below:

How to Decide Whether You Need an MCAT Tutor: A Step-By-Step Guide

For everyone preparing to write the MCAT, it’s important to evaluate how much MCAT prep you will need and whether you will need additional help. In order to assess whether you need an MCAT tutor, follow our step-by-step guide below. These are the steps we advise all our students to go through before they begin the search for a tutor.

Step 1: Take a Diagnostic Test

Whether you've already taken the MCAT or you're preparing for your first sitting, you'll want to begin by establishing your baseline knowledge with an MCAT diagnostic test. The goal with a diagnostic test is to understand your specific strengths and weaknesses before you embark on your MCAT preparations. For your diagnostic, we recommend using a full-length exam from the AAMC.

Complete your practice exam in one sitting and in an environment that mimics test-day conditions. This means a quiet setting with a timer. Additionally, only allow yourself the resources you’ll be provided on testing day, which includes a copy of the periodic table, a dry-erase notepad with graph paper, a non-permanent pen, and foam earplugs if you so desire. If you have any medical conditions that require additional resources like food, water, or medical devices like an insulin pump then keep those on hand too, but be sure to apply for MCAT accommodation with the AAMC at least three months ahead of when you’d like to take the test. Accommodations are generally granted, but they must be proven to be medically necessary.

Learn more about the MCAT diagnostic test in our video:

Step 2: Review Your Diagnostic Test Results

As you review the results of your diagnostic, identify your strengths and areas that need improvement. Carefully examine the content and sections that will need your close attention. For instance, you might bomb the biology section, in which case the focus of your preparation is obvious. Remember, biology is a huge part of the MCAT exam, not just the 3rd section of the exam, so knowledge of biology is vital to acing this test. If you notice that you lack basic knowledge in majority of MCAT content areas, you may want to brush up on your sciences. However, the knowledge of disciplines is often not the main issue for students – it’s the ability to apply their knowledge to passage-based questions that they struggle with. This is something a tutor can definitely help with, along with content brush up.

Another thing to keep in mind as you assess your diagnostic results is that the passage-based questions on the MCAT incorporate multiple bodies of knowledge and it may be unclear exactly where or why you faltered. Yes, there are standalone discrete questions on pure chemistry or psychology, but in many cases, you may be asked to utilize knowledge of biochemistry, research design, and even sociology in a single question. Getting complex questions wrong may make it difficult to do the actual work of diagnosing your baseline knowledge. If this is the case, and you need help sorting out exactly which points are weakest for you, then consulting a tutor can greatly benefit you. An MCAT expert or a medical school advisor will help you to pinpoint exactly where you are going wrong, so you can successfully move past those hurdles with a specialized study program.

Based on your assessment of your diagnostic, reflect on whether you can tackle MCAT prep on your own. If you did well and did not struggle with the format of the exam, you might just need to brush up on your chemistry formulas or MCAT physics equations and external help might not be necessary. But if you are struggling with the content, applying your knowledge, timing, and dealing with stress, then you might want to reach out to an MCAT tutor. 

Searching for the MCAT physics equations you must know for the test? Check out this video:

Step 3: Assess the Importance of Your MCAT Score

Before you start your search for a tutor, stop and reflect on how important your MCAT score is. The simple answer here is "Very!" but there are some students for whom achieving a stellar MCAT score will play an especially pivotal role in their medical school applications. For example, if you have a below-average GPA—that is, below the average medical school GPA requirements of your chosen schools—you may be relying on the MCAT to make up for this. A high MCAT score can't overshadow a 1.5 GPA, but it can offset a few decimals if the rest of your application is strong. If your GPA is on the lower scale, you will want to make sure that your MCAT score is outstanding.

Some medical schools weigh individual sections of the MCAT higher when they rank their applicants, so you would want to do everything possible to maximize your score on these. A few schools will even disregard all but specific sections, such as McMaster which only considers the CARS section. This is exceptionally rare however, and most schools will still prefer applicants who do well on all 4 sections of the test. Nonetheless, it's vital to study the schools to which you're applying and try to determine how they'll consider the various parts of your application and MCAT. If this feels like burdensome task, a good tutor will be able to help, and may even have additional insight into schools' admissions policies that aren't otherwise publicly available.

If you’re applying to medical schools that don’t require the MCAT at all, then you’ve already got your answer on whether you need an MCAT tutor. However, try to evaluate your acceptance chances using the MD Chance predictor to see if you should also consider applying to additional schools that might require your MCAT score.

Reflecting on the importance of the MCAT for your application is an important step in deciding whether you should invest your money and time into an MCAT tutor. If your MCAT score is a factor that can determine acceptance vs rejection, then getting a tutor is a great investment in your future.

Step 4: Reflect on How Much Time You Have Before Your MCAT Test Date

Time, as ever, is a vital factor to consider. If you're considering retaking the MCAT within a given testing year, then your timeline may be considerably more restricted. Alternately, perhaps you're so pressed for time that you only have one opportunity to take the MCAT, and need to ensure that you ace it on the first attempt. If you find yourself in a situation like these, the pressure to do well can become overwhelming, and going it alone could result in burning out. The bottom line is that if everything’s riding on your next MCAT attempt, then utilizing a tutor is almost assuredly the right call. If nothing else, it takes some of the pressure off of you to personally create and navigate your preparation plan, and can give you a number of additional tools as well. The more tools you have at your disposal, the better your chances are for success!

However, keep in mind that hiring an MCAT tutor 1 day before your exam is also not going to result in any progress! MCAT skills need to be developed over time, so make sure to give yourself time for at least a few sessions with a tutor. 

Are you wondering whether you should retake the MCAT? Check out our tips below:

Step 5: Reflect on Your Learning Style

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 form of preparation. If you have trouble motivating yourself for the months of MCAT prep 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.

Another consideration, going on your diagnostic test results, is how readily you can access and review the information you're weak on. For example, if you finished your undergraduate degree in physics then you may only need to review practice questions, your course notes, and textbooks to pick up your score in that section. But if your experience is limited to a single intro physics course in your first year, you may feel a bit overwhelmed trying to figure out where to start your studying. In this case, hiring an expert to tailor your study plan to your specific needs is almost assuredly a good idea. Even if you prefer studying alone, having someone available to help you structure that studying can save you tons of time and prevent your anxiety from getting the better of you.

Step 6: Are You a Non-traditional Medical School Applicant?

Working with an MCAT tutor can be especially helpful if you're a non-traditional applicant. By non-traditional we simply mean someone who hasn't maintained an unbroken path to med school; so, someone who's taken a gap year, someone with a background in the humanities, someone turning to a career in medicine later in life, or someone leaving the military among many other possibilities. MCAT tutors can be a great help to those who took their intro science courses a decade ago, or who have limited recent academic experience in the sciences.

Step 7: Deciding Whether You Need a Tutor

After you have gone through all these steps, it’s time to decide whether you need an MCAT tutor. We want you to keep some things in mind as you ponder this decision. Many students are scared to sign up for a full, comprehensive study plan with a tutor, and rightfully so. You must find a tutor who will be able to tailor the study plan to your needs – you should not settle for just anything that’s thrown at you. Be mindful of your needs, your learning style, and your progress. To choose the right MCAT tutor, please follow the steps we outline below. 

Check out our infographic to learn how to get a good MCAT score:

How to Find the Best MCAT Tutor for You

If you have decided that an MCAT tutor is the best fit for you, or you are still just entertaining the idea, you’ll want to invest some time and care into finding the best one for your needs. But this task can be quite daunting. There are hundreds of MCAT tutors online, offering their services via premed forums like MCAT Reddit and Premed Reddit. Simply searching for MCAT tutors online will flood you with thousands of options that often feel indistinguishable from one another, so what can you do to find the one that fits your needs? Check out our failproof method of finding the MCAT tutor for you below!

Go With Experience

It’s crucial to have someone with MCAT-specific tutoring experience to guide you in your preparations. A good tutor will know the MCAT inside and out, so be sure to do your research and don’t settle for just anyone. An especially crucial but easy to overlook detail is that your potential tutor needs to have recent experience with the current version of the MCAT, rather than the old style of the exam.

Specifically, you’d want to determine that a tutor has helped students in the last 5-6 years. Don’t just take their word for it—be sure to do your homework and interview them for the position. Discuss your diagnostic results, study plans, concerns, and don’t assume anything without them proving their claims. Ask if they’ve taken the new MCAT, how they scored, how long they have been tutoring for the MCAT, how many students they’ve successfully prepped since 2015, and have them explain the current MCAT format to you.

If you go with a prep company, they should be able to match you with an MCAT expert that has been tutoring for years and knows the test’s format and effective preparation strategies like the back of their hand. Always check their reviews for MCAT preparation on an independent website such as Trustpilot to see if they’ve helped past students succeed. It is important to ensure that you are placing your trust in a trained and tested MCAT expert.

It can be especially important to get an excellent MCAT score for non-traditional applicants. Check out what else you can do to stand out!

Find a Teacher, Not Just a Student Who Aced Their Own MCAT

Despite what some MCAT reddit forums might lead you to think, just because someone has done well on the MCAT doesn’t automatically mean that they can teach you how to do the same. A tutor is only as good as their ability to teach, so ensure that your tutor has teaching experience and has undergone extensive training. As anyone who’s made the transition from student to teacher will attest, the ability to effectively direct knowledge to others and guide them toward understanding it is different than simply absorbing information and using it on a test or paper. 

Additionally, you’ve undoubtedly found that each teacher has a different teaching style. Some teachers’ approaches may be harmonious with your learning style, while others seem to speak a different language entirely. 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 a concept 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 with your specific variables. And for this point especially, you’ll want to see proof of their ability to match their teaching style to your unique needs. Anyone can claim to help you ace the MCAT, but not everyone can verify it with a positive history with other students. If a prep company or tutor doesn’t have much of a track record to point to, consider it a huge red flag and start looking elsewhere.

Ensure That You'll Get Personalized Feedback

Connected to the last point somewhat, it’s important to make sure that a tutor or prep company’s program will be tailored to your needs both before and after diagnostics/practice. An important but sometimes overlooked part of this is finding an expert that will be able to give you personalized feedback.

 A tutor that only provides answers to practice problems in chemistry or physics will not be effective—you need your preparation to address you and your specific needs as an individual. Rather than giving generic or limited feedback, a good tutor will identify the types of MCAT questions that stump you and give you feedback based on these specific weaknesses. The exact structure of this kind of feedback will inevitably vary, but the point is that your tutor should be able to analyze your studying and work together and give you an exact and constructive path forward, without relying too much on generalities or cookie-cutter programming. 

For instance, your CARS strategy demands that your tutor be able to critically assess your comprehension of literary passages, and this is a skillset quite distinct from solving physics equations or unpacking patterns in statistics. So in addition to needing personal feedback, you again want to make sure your tutor has the necessary experience to provide this feedback based on your section-specific performance. 

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 already taken it and done well. 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—always interview them for the position! 

You can also ask for a student reference to determine if an MCAT tutor you’re considering is effective and suited to your needs. This may ruffle the feathers of some tutors, but anyone worth their fees should be able to point you toward reviews or feedback from students they’ve helped in the past. Asking for recommendations to initially find a tutor is important, but so is asking for student reviews from the tutor themselves.  

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 before committing to a lengthier relationship. 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 get a feel for 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 as well. 

Your MCAT tutor should stand behind their services by holding themselves accountable for your success. With individual tutors and larger prep companies alike, a satisfaction guarantee is another good sign to see. The best tutors will be personally committed and accountable to ensuring your success. Lastly, look for a company or tutor that’s 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, and if the financial data seems cagey or hard to find, odds are that’s because they’re only in it for money or simply overcharge for their services. Transparency in all regards is a huge positive sign for academic prep services, and if you are confused about something as basic as fee structures, odds are your experiences further down the line won’t be much better.

Want to see some of our top tips for selcting the best MCAT tutor for you? This infographic is for you:

Consider the Cost vs Value Ratio

It is totally understandable to want to minimize your MCAT costs. However, do not start celebrating right away when you find a cheap MCAT tutor that seems to meet your needs. Make sure to go through all the steps of finding the right MCAT tutor for you that we outlined above. Do your due diligence and make sure that the tutor you are about to hire is legitimately helpful. If you go only by price, you risk getting a tutor that is not helpful and therefore wasteful of your time and money! So not only will you not get the score you need, you will also waste finances that could have been used to hire a slightly more expensive, but competent tutor.

Price is an important consideration, but it should not be the number one guiding principle when you are looking for a tutor. Most legitimate prep companies and established tutors can negotiate installments and payment plans to fit your needs.

Tips for How to Find an MCAT Tutor:

The BeMo Difference

The BeMo Difference At BeMo, we’ve helped thousands of students around the world prepare for their MCAT and subsequent steps needed to secure your spot and success in medical school. Our experts have a combined 53 years of experience and have completed rigorous, standardized training to ensure that we provide the same expert advice, tools, and recommendations to our students that are proven to work—while still tailoring them to each individual’s needs. We absolutely believe in our products and services, which is why we’re the only prep company 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 4.9/5 rating, which is the highest rating of all medical school advising companies.

Not sure if BeMo is right for your MCAT tutoring? We provide 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 at no cost. Check out our blog to find out if BeMo Academic Consulting is worth it. 

Would you rather watch a video? Check out a recap of the article here:

Conclusion

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!

FAQs

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’re 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?".

9. Should I retake the MCAT?

This will depend on your current score and 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.

10. Can I get into medical school with a low MCAT?

It is possible. If you decide that retaking the test is not an option, you should review our blog "How to get into medical school with a low MCAT" to learn tips and strategies for getting accepted with a low score.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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