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Should I use AAMC Practice Exams or Shorter COVID MCAT Practice Exams?

Written By: Caeley Gullett, MCAT Content Developer and Senior MCAT Tutor

A couple of weeks ago, Blueprint released shortened versions of all ten of our MCAT practice exams to match the new 5 hours and 45 minutes format for the remainder of the 2020 testing cycle, which extends through the end of September. However, it is highly unlikely that AAMC will be releasing shortened versions of their four full-length MCAT exams for students to prepare with. Who can blame them? They have bigger issues to deal with this summer, such as figuring out altered application timelines and ensuring that the shortened exam administrations abide by the public health regulations in different locations.  No MCAT study plan is complete without AAMC practice exams—which is why Blueprint MCAT Self-Paced Course students receive our ten full-length practice exams and all the AAMC exams. However, if they no longer give you an accurate test day experience, you might be wondering if you should even use the AAMC exams.

First, some good news – your study schedule won’t actually need to change that much. You’ll want to incorporate both shortened full-lengths and AAMC exams as usual; only the order will change a little bit. Normally, we recommend students take MCAT practice exams in their study plan, and spend the few weeks leading up to their MCAT doing the AAMC exams. This allows you to be as close to the minds of the test writers as possible in the weeks leading up to your test day. However, for those testing between now and September 2020, you’ll want to make some changes to this order. 

First, take a shortened practice MCAT exam as soon as possible—get a free practice MCAT here. You want to get a feel for the new timing, especially the 10-minute lunch break. Then, disperse the remaining practice exams and AAMC exams throughout your schedule. We usually recommend that students take all four AAMC practice exams in addition to as many Blueprint (Next Step) MCAT exams as possible, no more than once per week. Ideally, you should be taking a practice test every other week, and then increasing that frequency to every week in the final weeks before your test. 

Now here’s the important part – try to make sure that the last MCAT practice exam you take before test day (usually about a week before your MCAT) is a shortened exam, not an AAMC exam. You want to make sure your final round of MCAT prep isn’t only helping you review content, but also ensuring that your endurance and timing are on par for the shortened exam. Your final round of practice should be as representative of your actual test day as possible, and that’s why we recommend making this change.

As a final note, when you do take the AAMC exams, make sure you take the whole thing. A major benefit of these exams is seeing how close you are to your goal score. If you artificially shorten them to try to mimic the new shortened exam, the score you receive will not be representative of your actual progress. Blueprint has recalibrated our scaling scores just for the shortened exams so your score will be consistent.

Now, to summarize: between reading this post and the day of your MCAT, try to take all of the AAMC exams and as many shortened MCAT practice exams as possible, never exceeding more than one exam per week. Take a shortened Blueprint exam as soon as you can, and also make one of these your last practice test before test day. Use the AAMC exams in the in-between time to assess where your score is at, review content, and build endurance.

Finally, congratulations to everyone preparing to test during this cycle for handling so many curve balls thrown your way, and good luck!

MCAT is a registered trademark of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), which is not affiliated with Blueprint.