The MCAT is a tough test; arguably the biggest single barrier to becoming a physician. That said, the average MCAT score of students accepted into medical has been going higher over the past 10 years, so the competition is getting tougher. It is important to know the role of MCAT scores in the admissions process.
Some estimates are that upwards of around 75 percent of premeds take a prep course. It is also the case, though, that despite these courses not everyone scores well on the exam.
In these cases, an MCAT tutor should be a serious consideration.
What makes a good MCAT tutor
The MCAT, at least in its current form, is testing two different things. First its asking how well you've mastered the material: F=ma, Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, buffering, etc. An MCAT tutor needs to know the material well and should be well versed in common ways the material can be tested. But the exam also tests your reading comprehension in every question. That means an MCAT tutor needs to work with you not just on content knowledge but also on reading comprehension and test-taking skills.
How to work with an MCAT tutor
Tutors can be great, but they can't take the test for you. That means they can't do your studying either. Your job is to come to tutoring sessions prepared, studying the material and working questions. When you're prepared the time you spend with an MCAT tutor can really make a difference.
When you start working with a tutor, start with a plan. This means an early diagnostic test (or a recent MCAT score) to identify your weaknesses. Then make a plan with a schedule.
When to look for a tutor
If you know you'll need help preparing, get a tutor from the beginning. If you've taken the MCAT twice and aren't satisfied with your score, get an MCAT tutor. If you have already taken a prep course and not fared well on the real exam, get a tutor.
Our famous MCAT scores analysis lets you see how your scores would fare at US medical schools.
Want an idea of how you might do if you retake the MCAT? We've gathered data from the AAMC on retake statistics and put it into an easy-to-use tool.
You can find similar advice on USMLE tutors as well.