An Honest Review of Magoosh’s MCAT Review Materials

Magoosh is one of the newer test prep companies, but it brings innovative preparation methods at a lower price.

Intro to Magoosh MCAT

Compared to Kaplan and Princeton Review, Magoosh is new—less than 10 years old. Magoosh’s “shtick” is being technology-focused and extremely inexpensive compared to its competitors. Magoosh has suggested study plans, but it is, overall, less structured than the courses from other test prep companies. It also does not offer various course packages like some of its competitors do.

Magoosh boasts a 10-point Score Improvement Guarantee. Those who have taken the MCAT prior to studying with Magoosh can receive a full refund if their score does not improve by 10 or more points. Those who have never taken an official MCAT before studying with Magoosh are ineligible for this refund.

Of all the MCAT prep companies I have reviewed, this is the most generous guarantee.

Magoosh’s Materials

Magoosh’s resources are entirely online and lack organized classes. However, Magoosh fully embraces its technologically derived nature, which can be beneficial for those unable to commit to an MCAT prep class.

Content Videos

What I Loved

Magoosh’s videos are well-organized and relatively concise. They also have the option to watch at varying speeds (from 0.75x to 2x), which is helpful to allocate more time to tougher, less elementary topics.

To help manage the past videos watched, Magoosh’s videos have a very clear indication of whether they are watched and unwatched–a little eye icon appears next to “watched” videos. The videos also have features to keep notes underneath each video and denote hard to understand lessons.

Overall the videos break material down to a good level and move at a decent pace. Though, if they are moving too slowly for you, try watching them at 1.5x or 2x speed. Some people may like that there are almost 400 videos for this particular MCAT test prep, but this is actually a little overwhelming to me.

It’s a bit unclear if Magoosh expects you to watch all of the videos or just those on unfamiliar topics. Kaplan communicates the same amount of information in 130 videos, which is more efficient for studying. However, Magoosh’s price of $99 per year makes me favor it over the more expensive alternative of Kaplan.

The videos also have an option to view a transcript of each video’s audio. This can be helpful for breaking down more complicated concepts. However, there is no indication of key ideas, vocabulary or formulas (i.e. by bolding or highlighting), so this stunts the transcripts’ effectiveness.

What’s Missing

The biggest issue of Magoosh is that there are no printed materials with lists of key information. For example, with Kaplan, you can look at the chapter summaries in the backs of books for key ideas, vocabulary, and formulas. Because it only has videos available, Magoosh forces the student to sift through hundreds of videos for baseline information, an expectation that I think harms students more than helps them.

Practice Tests

A Magoosh account only grants access to 3 full-length practice tests. I would recommend taking at least 5 full-length practice tests over your time preparing for the MCAT. You can surpass this threshold by completing Magoosh’s tests in addition to the AAMC’s 3 official Practice MCAT Exams.

What I Loved

Magoosh’s explanations of correct and incorrect answers are very complete. The explanations cover every single answer choice in detail to justify their correctness, or incorrectness. This feature will be extremely helpful for answers you get wrong but are not 100% certain why you did.

I was also impressed with the practice exams’ “CARS” (Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills) portions, which were at a similar level to the real test (compared to Kaplan’s CARS sections, which are often much tougher than those on the real test).

Differences From the Actual Test

The practice tests’ interface does not mirror that of the official MCAT, limiting its usefulness in fully preparing you for test day. Here are some of the ways Magoosh’s tests differ from the actual MCAT:

  • On the official MCAT, you can scroll on the passage while the question remains immobile, which is not true of Magoosh
  • Magoosh also allows you to use your computer’s Control-F function to find keywords
  • The interface lacks keyboard controls for highlighting
  • There is no option to view a periodic table in a pop-up window
  • Magoosh puts all the discrete questions at the beginning of each section. On the official test, clusters of 3-4 discrete questions will occur between every 2-3 passages

App

Magoosh’s (free) app only focuses on vocab terms from the science sections of the MCAT. The app is clean, and the definitions are concise. However, there are only 40 (give or take) vocab terms for each of the science sections, which is far less than you would be expected to know for test day. The app is good for getting in a little extra practice while waiting in line for coffee, but other than that, it provides very little utility to actually master important ideas.

It should also be noted that the flashcards on the app are identical to the flashcards Magoosh presents on its website.

Lecture Workbook

In lieu of a textbook, Magoosh has a “Lecture Workbook” available to its subscribers. Magoosh created the workbook 3 years ago, so it no longer aligns perfectly with the content videos. The workbook is for students to fill out as they watch the review videos. This can help students get more out of the videos, but I would hardly say it is a replacement for a textbook.

Magoosh’s Test-Taking Strategies

Magoosh’s videos give good advice on how to study for each section and how to approach “CARS” passages. Videos also go into detail on statistical reasoning. However, there are no videos on test-taking advice specific to the MCAT, like how to identify and eliminate incorrect answers.

Including more test-taking strategies would help Magoosh round out their video repertoire. However, with almost 400 videos already, adding more may be overkill.

Magoosh’s Materials List

Unlike other MCAT prep companies, Magoosh only has one package option, with subscriptions options being for either a single month or 12 months. The package includes:

  • More than 380 content review videos
  • 3 full-length practice exams
  • Over 740 practice questions
  • Detailed explanations to each practice exam
  • Access to the “Help” button to call upon a tutor

Magoosh charges $79 for a month’s subscription and $99 for a year-long package. This tactic reminds me of drink sales at a movie theatre, where a 16-ounce drink costs $4.95 and a 40-ounce drink costs $5.95—you may as well buy the larger one, even if you don’t need it. 

Regardless, the $99 per year subscription price is such a great deal, and I would recommend strongly considering Magoosh (or even testing out its free trial) before settling on an MCAT prep plan.

While it does not have a set curriculum, Magoosh does provide suggested study schedules on its blog.

Recommendations to Supplement Magoosh’s Materials

Magoosh lacks a question bank. However, I did not get much out of question banks when I was studying for my own MCAT. I would say question banks help the most with CARS, and Magoosh partially accounts for this by having an additional CARS practice section aside from the 3 full-length tests.

If you are eager for a question bank, the best place to turn would be AAMC’s official Question Pack bundle, which is cheap compared to other MCAT materials.

Magoosh has Psychology/Sociology vocabulary terms that vary from Kaplan’s, making them good compliments. Honestly, Kaplan’s set of review textbooks would be a near-perfect compliment to Magoosh’s services. The textbooks list out key ideas, terms, and formulas in their chapter summaries, offering the necessary structure that Magoosh lacks.

Magoosh MCAT: Conclusion

Magoosh is a powerful MCAT preparation tool. Although its practice tests are imperfect, they do have a good amount of merit. I would just recommend taking AAMC’s official practice tests closer to your actual test date, as AAMC’s tests would be more reflective of the real thing.

While Magoosh’s videos are detailed, organized, and effective, their extensiveness can be overwhelming. I would recommend using Magoosh’s videos as a supplement to textbook learning, rather than using them as the backbone of your study regimen. Without a textbook providing organization for the information on the MCAT, you could easily get lost in all of the materials and potentially overlook key ideas needed for test day.

Magoosh’s role as a supplement corresponds excellently with its price. $99 per year is an exceptionally reasonable deal. If you are looking for some extra practice tests and review videos, I cannot imagine a better fit than Magoosh.