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Breaking Down The AAMC Benchprep Updates vs. Next Step Test Prep MCAT Updates

  • by Fehbe Meza
  • Dec 06, 2018
  • MCAT Blog, MCAT Info, MCAT Prep, Uncategorized

With such a large amount of pressure hanging over the shoulders of every MCAT student, it can be such a relief to hear that the makers of the exam also write their own test prep for it. Many students use the resources the AAMC provides to prep for this reason. Next Step Test Prep understands the value in this, which is why Next Step MCAT course students are provided access to the AAMC resources. However, with the AAMC’s new partnership with BenchPrep and the latest updates to the Next Step MCAT course, there’s a lot to unpack before you decide how you’re going to study for the MCAT.

The Switch to Benchprep

The AAMC migrated their practice materials from their old system to the Benchprep learning platform in Fall 2018. Slight changes were seen in the testing interfaces for the full-lengths, but the review interface and non-FL aspects (including QPacks, Section Bank, etc.) saw significant changes. However, it’s still uncertain if the official MCAT interface will also change to reflect the Benchprep look and feel, if it will remain the same as it was in 2018, or if it’ll have an entirely new aesthetic.

Benchprep MCAT Updates

    • Unlimited Attempts – Students were previously only allowed 5 attempts on all resources (except the Section Bank). Now, students can reset the test they took and retake it as many times as needed.
    • Timing Accommodations – Students can now choose from 5 timing accommodation options.
    • New [limited] Analytics – Students will be able to see their percentage correct segmented by foundational concept, content category, subject area, and reasoning skill. However, these analytics are deleted if a student resets an attempt.
    • Review Features – Prep resources now include the ability to jump straight to the question to review, click to expand to view the full question in score report, and view the number of flagged questions answered correctly and incorrectly.
    • FL Exam Review Interface – The FL exam review interface is now the same style as the interface for the QPacks and Section Bank. Before, this review interface looked very similar to the interface used while taking the FL exam.
    • Minor Aesthetic FL Exam Testing Interface – Minor changes to colors and icons.

Next Step Test Prep’s Commitment to Representativeness

Years before the integration of BenchPrep, Next Step committed ourselves to have the most up-to-date MCAT prep on the market. We review our materials constantly, with major updates at least every year to ensure our materials and exams are the most representative. In fact, our testing platform now fully resembles the AAMC’s 2018 interface. Some of our updates below are similar to the Benchprep features above, but collectively all our features and interface are designed to be the most representative to the real MCAT.

Next Step Test Prep MCAT Course Updates

    • New Question Flagging – Students have always been able to flag questions, but now it will be much easier to review them. All questions will now have their flagged status displayed while taking the exam and even after the exam/diag/QBank/etc. is completed. Flagged questions will also appear in Answers Mode, allowing the student to quickly jump between all questions or just move between flagged questions.
    • New Answers Mode Navigation – During review, in addition to jumping between questions as described above, students will now be able to view an easily clickable, descriptive list of their questions. This navigation will show the student’s performance on the question (correct/incorrect/incomplete/unseen) and the flagged status of the question. The AAMC has always allowed navigation between 1) incorrect, 2) incomplete, and 3) flagged questions, but that navigation limited students to seeing questions of that type. Our navigation will provide all the functionality students want while also giving them the flexibility to click to any question in the resource.
    • Timing Accommodations – Students can now choose from 5 timing accommodation options.
    • Solutions Mode – At certain points in MCAT prep, it’s most productive to be able to review questions immediately, rather than waiting until the entire section or exam is complete. We are introducing a more powerful solution that will allow students to opt to view an explanation at any time when they are in the science diag or in the QBanks. With our solution, students have the option to use the “view explanation” button for all questions, some questions, or no questions. This allows them to drive how they want to use the interface and meet their needs in the moment. It also enables them to have variety to their study methods not just between sets, but within a set.
    • Reviewing the Exam Directly From the Score Report – When reviewing a score report, students will now be able to click on any question, which opens the exam to that question in the same window. From there, the student can navigate through the exam normally. This enhances students’ ability to analyze the score report and tie their performance to the details of certain questions.

Many students trust the AAMC test prep materials because they’re written by the people who create the MCAT. That said, their prep resources already weren’t enough for most students, and these recent updates mean they’re less representative of the real exam experience. It essentially becomes a question of how prepared you want to be. The MCAT is not a walk in the park, so there’s no reason to limit yourself to one prepping strategy.

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