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30+ MCAT Study Habits- The CBT Version

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by omegaxx, Feb 18, 2007.

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  1. omegaxx

    omegaxx New Member

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS=14 VR=13 WS=Q BS=14 Composite=41Q

    2) The study method used for each section
    PS&BS: Reviewed all the materials (except Organic Chem, because I just finished a year long O. Chem course and knew it like the back of my hand). Practiced.
    VR: Practice, practice, practice.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    Princeton Review all the way.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    Princeton Review all the way.
    I also bought AAMC 4-6 for building confidence two weeks before the actual exam.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Pharmacology & English, although I took the exam after sophomore year so I just had the prereq sciences and five English courses under my belt.

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    Read smartly, and read a lot, not just textbooks and scientific papers and newspaper, but also materials in the humanities department.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    2.5 months (~10 weeks), averaging ~3 hrs/day.
    Caliber and Chimichica like this.
  2. League54

    League54

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    11, 10, 10, 31O

    2) The study method used for each section
    TPR class, Supplemented with EK

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    Physics: TPR & EK 1001; G Chem: TPR & EK 1001; O Chem: TPR and EK; Bio: TPR and HEAVY EK bio(+101); VR: Entirely EK

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    TPR diags (w.o. verbal), EK 101 Verbal, AAMC 8 & 10

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Biology

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?

    Take AAMC's over prep company's full-lengths, especially for your last five before the exam


    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    6 weeks
  3. ladoo007

    ladoo007

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    13 p, 11 v, 13 b: 37Q

    2) The study method used for each section

    I took the test twice so I will break it up into how I studied before each time:

    Round 1.

    TPR class in spring of 2006 (from jan-april), studied TPR material over summer (did all of the readings, all of the verbal hw, and most of the bio and physical hw from the class), took 5 AAMC practice tests and scored from 31-36 and ended up getting a 31O in the August 2006 MCAT (12 p, 8 v, 11 b)

    Round 2.

    Got scores back in oct and immediately afterwards started focusing on verbal by reading EK verbal and doing 3 passages a day from EK 101 passages. By november, I supplemented my verbal studying by reading the Kaplan Bio and O. Chem sections and finished both of those and then breezed through Kaplan G. Chem and Physics sections over winter break. Finally, three weeks before the test I read EK bio and o. chem while taking a kaplan diag, a TPR diag, and 4 AAMC tests where I scored in the range of 35-40. Two of the AAMC tests I had taken before, so obviously i did better on those (40 and 39) and two that I had not done before I got a 36 and 35 (the 35 was the AAMC 10 and was the last test I took before the real one).

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)

    As you can tell, I used a lot of different stuff. Here is what I used and what I recommend for each setion:

    Physical - TPR, Kaplan (recommend TPR only... it is much better than Kaplan)
    Verbal - TPR, Kaplan, and EK (recommend EK only... by far the best technique available for verbal and also the EK 101 is by far the closest thing to real verbal passages... however, towards the end of studying stick with only real AAMC verbal passages)
    Bio - TPR, Kaplan, EK (recommend EK only or EK with Kaplan... EK for the bio section in particular is amazing compared to either Kaplan or TPR)

    AAMC practice materials were used for all three sections and are the only practice problems and tests you should be taking within the last two or three weeks of studying

    Oh yea, and for writing, I used the TPR review method and didn't study or practice at all (especially the second time) yet still got a Q so...

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    TPR, Kaplan, AAMC, and more.

    AAMC are the only recommended ones (do every single one)... however, if you have time, I would recommend the New Kaplan FL Diag Tests (they were pretty realistic) and TPR if you want material that is much harder and more detail oriented than the real thing


    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Biochemistry and Health Administration

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?

    I went through a lot and did a lot more stuff than was probably necessary. The big thing for me was verbal, and I would try out all three methods (TPR, Kaplan, and EK) to see what works best for you... but in my opinion, the EK method is by far the best and is what took me up from an 8 to an 11 on my verbal scores. The EK 101 passage book is amazing, and I also think TPR verbal is good for practice passages that are harder than the real thing (Kaplan is easier so I stayed away from them... but if you are really bad at verbal, do as many passages as you can regardless of the company, just save the AAMC ones for last).

    For the sciences, I really think TPR book is best for physical and EK is best for bio. Those, combined with tons of practice problems, and then at the end at least 5 AAMC practice tests under realistic conditions should easily get a 30 or above for anyone... also, if you take it again, you can improve significantly, just make sure to put the right amount of work and effort and it will pay off.

    Last word of advice, the little things really do matter when it comes to preparing yourself the day before the MCAT and your mindset as you are taking the test, etc. The first time I was studying up until the evening before the test (even reviewed a bit the morning of), I was nervous, and I had no confidence in verbal, and ended up scoring on the bottom of my range of practice tests (and doing terrible on verbal... the thing I had no confidence in). For the second time around, I had the most amazing day before the test with absolutely no studying (I watched a suns game, played basketball, played some video games, and got lots of sleep because the test was not until noon)... I listened to my favorite and most inspirational CD on the way to the test and pretty much all day before (Make Yourself by Incubus), and I was confident throughout the test even thought I knew I didn't know all the answers and wasn't doing "perfect." I didn't feel great at any point during or after the test, but that is natural even for people who score in the 40s. During the verbal I found myself starting to slip, lose confidence and concentration, and starting to zone out and all of a sudden I yelled at myself internally, sat up straight, took a deep breath, told myself that "this is it! time to do my best and rock this section!" and then ended my weakest section strong. This confidence carried on to writing and bio, and overall, I had a significant improvement over my first score and scored right in the middle of my range of practice tests!

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    5-6 months
    DocAH and Chimichica like this.
  4. hollabackgrl4

    hollabackgrl4

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    1) 40 O - 14 PS, 12 V, 14 BS

    2) Read Kaplan and Examkrackers books. Took tons of practice tests, especially for verbal which was my weakest section. I used Examkracker's verbal strategy - Kaplan's is bs. For sciences, I kind of used my intuition and did not really use a strategy.

    3) Kaplan prep course, Kaplan books, Examkracker books. I highly recommend the Examkracker books - they were short and to the point. I only studied from them during the last 2 weeks leading up to the test.

    4) I took all of the Kaplan course tests and about 6 of the most recent AAMC tests at the Kaplan center. This was the paper test though so I don't know for the cbt.

    5) Biology

    6) Just take a lot of practice tests. I took one every Saturday at 9 am for about 4 weeks before the test. It really gets you used to waking up early and taking the test so that you are less stressed on test day. Try to think of the test like a game that you need to beat - that worked for me. Oh, and for motivation I listened to some good rap songs - Moment of Clarity was my mcat jam. And I think every science course you take helps for the science sections. Like I work in a lab, and I had a question that I could answer just from knowing my research. Taking genetics also made bio easier. So take those upper level classes!

    7) May - Aug, but I did not really start studying hardcore until June, and I was still working at a full time job. I took off 4 weeks in July/Aug to really focus (and take a vacation!)

    Good luck!
  5. Critical Mass

    Critical Mass Guest

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score. 32R, 10V-11P-11B

    2) The study method used for each section. I read the EK verbal passage book. That was it.

    3) What materials you used for each section. I read the EK verbal passage book. That was it. I HATE prep courses!

    4) Which practice tests did you use? Just those in EK verbal.

    5) What was your undergraduate major? Justice Studies

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us? Learn the material well when you take the prereq classes.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT? I only went through the EK verbal passages book. That was my entire preparation.
  6. Fistibun

    Fistibun

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    12 PS, 12 VR, 11 BS - 35R

    2) The study method used for each section

    ~50% time on PS, 10% VR, 35% Biology, 5% Orgo (gave up on it, hate it)

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)

    EK for everything

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    AAMC and EK

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Biology and Psychology with a minor in Economics.

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?

    The MCAT does NOT test knowledge beyond all the 101s and orgo, don't go into it recalling physiology, anatomy, pharmacology, etc. It's practically useless.

    Also, FINISH all the sections...no matter what you think you know or don't know, if you're not finishing each section with at least 5 minutes to spare you need to hit those prep books much harder or change your approach to the questions. They're designed to be answered relatively quickly.

    I finished every section with at least 5-10 minutes to look over everything, even with the very first AAMC Practice MCAT I took when I knew nothing (Pre-Prep courses, post graduation). I scored a 28 on that one.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    February-April, everyday.


    Good luck!
  7. Critical Mass

    Critical Mass Guest

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    I should also throw in that I was taking it several years removed from my undergrad classes in organic chemistry and physics. I probably would have done better if the material was fresher in my mind. I have always sucked at verbal, but practicing with EK in the month before the exam helped me out.

    Most on SDN would say that 32R isn't that wonderful anyhow, and truth be told, I knew that it was really only good enough for my state school. Most prep course instructors in my area barely cracked a 30 themselves.

    My .02--the MCAT science tests are mostly passage-based, and they test your understanding and ability to apply what you know more than rote memory (unlike med school in my experience). As such, the prep courses and so forth will not take you from a 6 to a 10 (more like 6 to 8, still usually too low for admission).

    Your best preparation it to treat your prerequisite courses like you are actually in med school (i.e. as if the people sitting on your left and right will be getting high A's on the exams). If you master the material when you actually learn it, you won't need to study for the MCAT.
  8. arcana

    arcana

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    39 S: 13-13-13 (August 2006)

    2) The study method used for each section

    I did the Princeton Review classroom course. I highly recommend it if you need someone to keep you focussed. I had a full time research job that ended the day before the MCAT, so if I didn't have the TPR to keep me on track, I probably wouldn't have done as well. I did all the assigned homework and went to every diagnostic exam. You get what you put in for these prep courses.

    Biological sciences - did all the practice questions from the TPR workbooks, memorized the book they gave me, and in the final weeks I went over the stuff I was weak on.

    Physical sciences - same thing. Understand and memorize!

    Verbal - I did a lot of passages. I bought the EK 101 Verbal passages book about a month before the exam to supplement TPR verbal passages, which I found were so different from real AAMC passages. The EK passages *are* somewhat ambiguous, but they were an excellent way to build stamina and annotation efficiency. During the week before the MCAT I did one EK verbal section a day, during my lunch break. I was also working full time in a lab.

    Writing - TPR gave us a list of the categories of topics, eg. Government, Ethics, Justic, etc. I started a notebook of examples for each topic. I got a trial subscription to The Economist and Time (free 6 mths with TPR course) and read it for example ideas. If I found one relevant to a past essay prompt or topic, I would search the details on the internet. Wikipedia became my god. I found a good strategy for the writing sample was to think of your examples for thesis and antithesis first, then looking for the difference between those examples (and voila, a synthesis). The other way would be to think of the differences first, then find examples to fit it. But this was harder. In the August MCAT, I got extremely lucky with my prompts and didn't blank on the essays at all (I would've if I had gotten something related to politics or justice...boo!). I ended up using examples I mostly knew off the top of my head already and didn't really need my example book! And just to show that you don't need spectacular examples: I talked about Sex and the City on my first essay. :laugh: It's all about how you say it, not what you say!

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)

    TPR textbooks and review material, supplemented with EK 101 Verbal passages in the last month.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    AAMC practice tests 3 to 9, as well as TPR tests A-D and the 5 diagnostic tests. I passingly glanced at some Kaplan Gold standard tests too, but I didn't find them very similar to real AAMC tests.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Physiology, minor in Psychology.

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    There's nothing glamourous about it... the more you study, the better you'll do. If you choose to have a social life while studying, just know your score will suffer. :p The key is to study *effectively*. Practise tests by TPR or Kaplan are good up to a point, but during the final weeks leading up to the MCAT, I switched over to AAMC practise tests to put myself in the right mindset. I did two AAMC tests a week, on Sat and Sun, during the last two weeks.
    The MCAT will break you and it will destroy your soul. I was very discouraged the whole summer. It didn't help that I couldn't score higher than 33P on my TPR diagnostics either... but I did a lot better on the AAMC tests which really boosted my confidence.
    I set myself a goal and you should do the same. At first I put "45T" on a post-it above my desk and aimed high... the next month I put up "39Q" over the post-it... and the next month I replaced it with something like "30P". Lol.
    I came out of the real MCAT shell-shocked and not feeling I did that well... IGNORE THESE VOICES. There's nothing you can do after the MCAT, and how you felt about it is no indication of how well you did!
    No matter how discouraged you feel during the preparation process, don't give up! (This is easy to say in hindsight, I know.)

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    May to August. 8 hours of classroom time a week. I forget how many hours per week I was studying, but when I wasn't working or in the TPR classroom, I was studying. Obviously I was less intense at the beginning of the summer.
  9. dochoov

    dochoov Intercalating Death Disk

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    Nice post, and nice VR score, also.

    I just ordered examkrackers VR 101, and I'm writing april 7th, so I'll have about a month, too. Would you say that learning the EK method was helpful? Would it be easy to apply it to the CBT that I will be taking? Or should I just use their passages as practice?
  10. League54

    League54

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    :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
  11. gujuDoc

    gujuDoc NOT A DUDE!! ME = FEMALE!

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    I would like to emphasize something Crtical mass has stated....

    One of the biggest things I can stress to new undergrads is to learn your material well from the start. If you know your stuff well and by well I don't mean do what it takes to get an A even if you aren't learning anything but rather doing what it takes to actually retain the material and do well!!

    But to get back on track, if you do well from the get go and understand your material well enough, you may only need a good 2-3 weeks of studying and practice exams to get used to format.

    I'd also suggest that outside reading if you are not an avid reader, and taking some philosopy/logic courses to help your critical reading skills is a good thing too. But that will only help if you try to analyze what you read. I've heard from someone that reading like you are debating with the author is a good method to learning to evaluate what is being said and help with verbal to some degree.

    A test prep is by no means needed. A lot of people make the assumption that its the prep company itself that makes the difference but rather its the practice tests they give and even those aren't necessarily always needed. If you can do well and understand the material conceptually enough to apply it you'll only need maybe a month or so to prep.
  12. arcana

    arcana

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    I don't remember what the "EK method" was exactly, but TPR advised us to identify and skip the "killer" passage and do a good job on the other 8. Eventually I just annotated the way I felt best, which was just circling (not underlining) the important points. Some ppl also scan the answers before reading the passage (I don't think I did). I always did all 9 passages, but clearly that's an individual matter. I did the EK passage more for practise, as the TPR verbal questions weren't as similar to real MCAT passages.
    I'm not sure how verbal would be like on the CBT... I guess having a "highlight" option would make it a lot easier to go back to the passage and locate the info!
  13. brandnewsaves

    brandnewsaves

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    ) Your individual scores and composite score.
    32 (Does the letter really matter :hungover: ), 11V-10P-11B

    2) The study method used for each section.
    Did as many questions as I could, and then reviewed why I got them
    right or wrong

    3) What materials you used for each section.
    Used the Kaplan Online Class and Comprehensive book

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    8,9,10 on e-mcat, ones from Kaplan's Online Class, and FL Kaplan
    and Barron exams from old books

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Biology and Chemistry

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    Do as many practice problems/test as possible then evaluate why
    why you got questions wrong or write. Don't spend too much time
    studying the material. Doing the PTs will get you familiar with
    what areas you need to know, what you know, and what you
    don't know or have a tought time with

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    I studied over a 4-6 month peroid just taking practice exams when I
    had time. I went through the Online Kaplan Course. I also took
    somewhere between 18-24 practice test, and about 8 of those were
    FL.


    I would strongly recommend taking as many practice tests as possible and then studying what areas you stuggle with on the test. I didn't spend much time "studying", instead I spent more reviewing questions from PTs. I also would recommend some general studying if you have a hard time with a certain area, such as SN1vsSN2. I did not study for my first MCAT and got a 23, 7p, 10v, 6b. So I would strongly recommend studying and by studying I mean taking practice test and practice with conditions similar to the realy thing.
  14. dochoov

    dochoov Intercalating Death Disk

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    Thank you. If there's an EK method, it's not in 101 verbal. It's just straight questions/answers, no BS... I love it, although the first little sample section of two passages slapped me around. I'll just do the entire passages to build stamina, because so far, by the middle of my aamc full lengths, verbal has drained the life from me.
  15. OB1

    OB1 For All Seasons

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score:
    PS: 11, V:10, B:9, WS: P
    Composite: 30P

    2) The study method used for each section
    Basically reviewed my old notes and textbooks for everything, then looked stuff up on wikipedia for further clarification whenever necessary. Studied about 4/5 hours a day broken down as follows: 4 hours spent reading during the day, then 1 hour watching goldstandard dvd's just before going to bed at night. Listened to audiolearn CD's when not reading (i.e. commuting to and from work, fixing dinner, etc) then watched Visual Aid dvd's on the weekends. I did this 24 days in a row just before taking the MCAT on January 27 and achieved the above scores.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    Relied mostly on my old notes and textbooks (see above). Purchased Visual Aid and goldstandard dvd's on eBay at a cost of ~ $250.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    I looked briefly at the one you can take for free on the AAMC website but never actually sat down to finish it.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Business Management, minor in Chemistry.

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    Set up a plan and stick to it-no matter what.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    Made a New Year's resolution to begin my review the following day (January 1st). I would study from 8am to 11am, then again from 1pm to 2. Worked from 3-11:30pm, then watched my goldstandard dvd's for about an hour just before going to bed. I spent my weekends getting chores done (laundry, oil change, groceries, etc) then watched my Visual Aid dvd's afterwards.

    The good thing about the Visual Aid (and goldstandard) dvd's is that they are broken down into different subjects. There are about 14-16 disks in each. My strategy was to watch 1 goldstandard dvd every night of the week, then an entire Visual Aid subject on the weekends (i.e. Bio on Saturday, then Physics on Sunday. The next weekend, Chem on Saturday, then O-Chem on Sunday, etc). Just like that, I did my review in 24 days straight then took the last 2 days off to relax.

    One more thing about the reading; I didn't just read through every single chapter in my textbooks. On parts that were familiar to me, I simply skimmed over then focused on the ones that weren't as clear. The dvd's were great because they basically summarized what I've already learned (or what I'm supposed to know, anyway). Plus, I was too tired after work so sitting back to watch the material was a little easier than reading it. While watching, I wrote down stuff that was a little fuzzy, then spent the first 30 minutes or so of my morning for clarification.
  16. RunningScared

    RunningScared

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    Hello:

    I am new here and I am having trouble finding where to post this. I am taking TPR. I got a 20(7,6,5)Q, 22(7,8,7)Q, and 26(BS8, PS8, VR10)? on the first three diags. Can anyone give me an idea of what I am looking to make on the actual exam? I am scheduled for the April 16th date. Right now I am not feeling good about this whole thing at all and I think I should postpone and transfer to a later date and allow for more study time. Should I switch dates? Any assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated. Thank you in advance. If this is the wrong place to post this, I would be very greatful for a point in the right direction.

    God bless,
    RS
  17. sesil

    sesil

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    1) 40Q (14-Phys. 12-Verb. 14-Bio.)


    Phys and Bio - Used kaplan and EK (3rd edition) for review. Kaplan tests from their Full length, sectional, and topic tests

    Verbal - didnt really use a strategy. Just took a lot of EK Verbal tests and AAMC ones. I took some kaplan but they seemed "different" from the AAMC and weren't really helping. Their question style (yea i know im ambiguos but I really cant explain this) weren't like the AAMC. To each his own I guess.

    Major: History

    Be diligent when taking your practice tests like make sure the timing is right and stuff like that. All the studyin in world won't do you any good if you can't think/run out of time on test day. Also please don't freak out on test day cause I know I was anxious as hell. You have to be calm when u take the beast because I guarantee you will come out thinking that it was harder than it actually was. Also as above posters have said keep up with some sort of schedule. I studied haphazardly up until the last 4 weeks before the test. Makin a schedule up then was a MUST, especially since it was during school.

    Kap course from june to august. Voided aug 06 exam, felt like crap..studied from end of december to january test date.
  18. dsh

    dsh

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    13P 11V 13B Q Aug 2004

    2) The study method used for each section

    Same for all: do questions, mark everyone I get wrong (not putting the right answer choice there, just marking it wrong), figure out why I got them wrong, use answer key to verify my reasoning, try to identify common mistakes and specific subjects I'm deficient in, rinse and repeat, focusing on whatever I sucked at most

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)

    I didn't take a class.

    AAMC and Kaplan practice tests and EK 101 Verbal. I used my textbooks to get my basic knowledge down. I also read through specific sections of MCAT review books at my local Borders for some things (E&M, optics, physiology).

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    AAMC, Kaplan

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Biology, I took the exam the summer after my 2nd year so I had finished all of bio, gchem, physics, and just the first bit of ochem.

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?

    Study smart and hard. Try not to stress, either. Prepare well enough that you only have to take it once. Paying attention in your basic sciences and retaining the information pays off when it comes to the MCAT. I had to review very little content because I learned it well my first two years.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    3.5 weeks. I did a practice test almost every morning with no breaks and no writing sample. I corrected put the test down, and came back to it after dinner and did all the junk I mentioned above.
  19. killinsound

    killinsound

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    I guess I'll go first...


    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    36 S VR:10 / BS: 13/ PS: 13

    2) The study method used for each section

    VR: solely EK101, but it didnt move at all (i got a 10 on my kaplan diag for verbal).

    PS: Princeton review helped me get up there.... I just went over the chemistry and physics sections that I was shaky on

    BS: EK1001 and EK bio book i think are the best for this section.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)

    see above...

    I took a kaplan course. i wouldn't recommend it if you can get the practice material some other way

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    AAMC, Kaplan

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Biology with Management science double

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?

    don't over study. only study how much you would for a regular class.
    if you don't know something, figure it out right away! don't save it for later.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    3 months.
  20. ParvatiP

    ParvatiP Senior Member

    Joined:
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    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    34R VR:10 / BS: 13/ PS: 11

    2) The study method used for each section

    VR: Honestly, I didn't really study specifically for this section, I just took lots of practice tests. I happen to be an avid reader anyway, so that helped. I'm not really sure if reading just for MCAT practice is worth it, although some people think so...just take lots of practice tests!

    PS: EK (the set of 5 books)

    BS: EK also

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)

    EK


    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    AAMC, Kaplan
    (These were all paper btw, and I took the free AAMC 3R CBT)

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Chemistry

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    If you feel you have retained most of the material from your pre-reqs, you do NOT need to take a prep course!! Take a diagnostic test early to see where you stand. Btw, I got a 24 on my diagnostic (with only 1/2 a semester of bio). Also if you are a self-studier you do not need a prep course--just make sure you can motivate yourself to study! I knew that I would be totally bored taking a prep course because I remembered the material and understood it very well, so I studied on my own. Don't listen to people who say you can't do well without a prep course!

    Also, I did not spend much time re-learning the pre req material. I did read over the EK books initially. I'm not sure if this was a mistake, but my main form of studying was practice tests. I took 15 practice tests (Kaplan 1-7) and AAMC 3-9. Basically, every Saturday morning, I would take a practice test. The next couple days I would go over the exam in DEPTH, understanding what I got wrong. If I missed a concept, I would look it up in EK and write it down in a notebook I kept. During the week I would sometimes take mini practice tests (Kaplan I think). I did a few of the questions in EK, but didn't find them to be representative of actual MCAT questions. I did worry initially that I was spending too much time on practice tests when I maybe should have been reviewing basic concepts, but I think it worked out!

    Also, I think taking lots of practice tests helps to calm your nerves. I had taken so many that when I went to take the actual test, it was (almost) just like any other Saturday. Amazingly I was not very nervous at all, so I'm attributing it to my practice. I also just felt very ready and prepared for it, which gave me additional confidence.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    4 months
  21. Retro Virus

    Retro Virus

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    38T: VR 15 / PS 11 / BS 12

    2) The study method used for each section

    Verbal: started out scoring well, didn't devote time to studying for this section (but I did take the verbal sections of the AAMC practice MCATs)

    Physical and Biological Sciences:

    I. Read through all of Barron's MCAT and took practice tests A-D (I do not recommend this text as I found the science reviews too sparse and the tests seemed out of date)
    II. Took a practice AAMC MCAT and reviewed all incorrect answers
    III. Got out my old textbooks for the relevant classes (Gen and O-chem, Physics, Bio) and reviewed all topics in which I'd missed questions, with emphasis on particularly poor-performing topics or, later on, topics on which I was consistently missing one or more questions.
    IV. Repeated steps II and III seven more times with seven more practice tests
    V. Bought the Kaplan New MCAT and Kaplan MCAT 45 at the last minute, studied my identified ''problem topics' from them briefly

    Writing: Didn't study/practice, but I had written a lot of debate and argumentation papers in the past (national policy, ethics and philosophy, etcetera) and felt I was prepared. I would strongly recommend writing and reading opinion pieces, editorials, or letters to the editor about medical and political policy issues on a regular basis, as I think this was probably a great source of preparation for me.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)

    VR: AAMC practice tests
    PS: AAMC practice tests, Barron's MCAT, Kaplan's NEW MCAT and MCAT 45
    BR: AAMC practice tests, Barron's MCAT, Kaplan's NEW MCAT and MCAT 45
    WS: Nothing

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    Barron's A,B,C,D
    AAMC 3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Microbiology

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?

    Careful time management is your greatest ally. Don't avoid what you don't know or aren't comfortable with - go straight for that topic and turn it into the thing you know best.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    About 6-8 weeks. That said, while I'm happy with my result I was still steadily improving my science scores the week of the exam, and if I could do it again I'd start studying a month or two earlier. Don't be like me and underestimate how long it will take you to reach your personal best: give yourself plenty of time to prepare.
  22. akinf

    akinf Senior Member

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    MCAT 1: 13PS 6VR 12BS S (31S)
    MCAT 2: 13PS 9VR 12BS T (34T)

    2) The study method used for each section

    PS: learned the material and concepts well enough to apply to multiple situations (always tried to look for the concept being tested when doing passages, then worked from there)

    VR: practice, practice, practice (this tends to require at least a decade of lots of reading to do well...at least that's what it seems)

    BS: did practice EK bio passages (wish I could have found the motivation to study physiology more...just couldn't bring myself to do it, however, i was very confident in my genetics/organic chemistry/biochemistry/experimental passages...that's probably why i was still able to manage a 12 twice but peaked at that score very quickly)

    WS: kaplan mock exams

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)

    PS: Kaplan, EK, AAMC
    VR: Kaplan, mostly EK, AAMC
    BS: Kaplan, EK, AAMC
    WS: AAMC practice prompts...and the kaplan method

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    AAMC/Kaplan

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Genetics (however, all my options/electives are in biochemistry so it might as well be biochemistry)

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?

    Concepts/skills will trump rote memorization when it comes to the MCAT.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    1st time - moderately for 3 months...then intensely for 2-3 weeks
    2nd time - did a 2 AAMC exams
  23. K2theG

    K2theG

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    This might seem like a stupid question but what do the initials TPR stand for .. I am in the midst of looking for good MCAT prep materials. i will be taking my test July. Thanks for any advice ...
  24. EECStoMed

    EECStoMed Persistence > Intel

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    Stands for The Princeton Review. = TPR.
  25. AggieSean

    AggieSean Coffee is for closers

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    ) Your individual scores and composite score

    MCAT: 11PS 11VR 11BS P (33P)

    2) The study method used for each section

    PS: Being a physics major helped tremendously. For anyone who can, take a class in optics, it'll help a lot, and will help develop the kind of problem solving skills necessary for the MCAT. As far as study materials:
    1. Kaplan's material review was great, but their practice materials (the online quizzes, full-lengths, subject tests) sucked. I didn't like them at all and thought they were way too involved.
    2. For practice problems, I had hand-me-down Princeton Review stuff, and used their science workbook. For me, my weakpoints were fluid mechanics, electrochemistry, and acids/bases. So I would study all the material in the Kaplan books, and then do ALL of the passages in Princeton's book.
    3. The week before the MCAT, I never really had time to sit down and take more full lengths, so I took 5 AAMC old PS sections (Kaplan gave us access to ALL AAMC practice tests as part of our course) just to get a feel for what the real thing would be like.

    VR: Honestly, didn't study a whole lot for this. I had EK101, Kaplan's workbook, and TPR's workbook, but didn't use them too much. I maybe did 7 passages from EK, and 30 passages out of the TPR book (Kaplan's verbal stuff is kinda worthless, in my opinion). Verbal has always been a strong point for me (740 Verbal SAT), so I devoted more time to....

    BS: Eek! My weakest section. I had AP credit for Bio 101 and 102, and the only other bio. classes I took were a year of physiology and organic chemistry. Needless to say, I had to hit this one hard. I read and took notes on every chapter in the Kaplan book, used all of the Kaplan flashcards, read and took notes on many of the Kaplan chapters AGAIN, did practice EK bio passages and for my weakest areas (Micro, Molec. Bio, Biochem, and some Organic stuff), I read the TPR review books and took notes. By the way, for each chapter I read and took notes on, I pasted helpful pictures into the 5-subject notebook where I was taking notes. It helped a lot just to be able to flip through it when I needed a visual aid (I'm a very visual person).
    So, as far as practice passages, again I pretty much didn't do any Kaplan stuff, and I did just about EVERY biology and organic chemistry passage and standalone question in the TPR science workbook. And again, the week before the MCAT, I did AMCAS BS sections. I made an 8 on the first one (which wigged me out, seeing as it was the thursday before the test and had been making 12-13), but settled down and things got better.


    WS: Didn't even study. All I knew is that if I did exactly what the prompt told me, I'd get a P. And that's just fine with me.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)


    PS: TPR, AAMC
    VR: TPR, EK, AAMC
    BS: TPR, EK, AAMC
    WS: None

    4) Which practice tests did you use?


    Kaplan and AAMC

    5) What was your undergraduate major?


    Physics with a math minor

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?

    Kaplan full lengths are good indicators of how you'll score on the real deal (you are scored according to how everyone else does, just like the real thing), but AAMC tests are probably more indicative of the kind of content and weirdness (haha) you'll see on the MCAT.

    Also, this is very important, if you take away anything from this post, get this:

    When/if you walk out on test day feeling like you just got owned, DON'T WORRY ABOUT IT, I walked out feeling like I'd made a 20. Believe me, ignore the voices and just relax (easier said than done, I know). It is completely normal to leave the center feeling like you'll never get into med. school with the score you'll probably get. I dealt with this doubt for over a month and it really screwed me up. Don't let post-test shock take you over like I did, it seriously affected me. I'm not exaggerating or being over-dramatic. Just CHILL when you're done, and trust in your preparation (if you've been serious).

    Also, there is a sweet median to hitting it hard on your weaknesses and playing to your strengths. For me, my strengths were Verbal and Physical, but my weakness was Bio, so for example, if it came between taking another hour to do physics problems or organic reactions, I went with organic. It isn't always easy because doing the things you're good at is a great confidence booster, but it can also impart a false sense of security. However, I knew also that a great score on physical sciences was definitely possible b/c it's graded easier and because of my background, so every now and then I'd be hardcore with physics and chemistry to do whatever I could to push the range of what I could possibly score. It didn't quite pan out for me like that on test day, but that's fine. I'm completely happy with my score and wouldn't retake for the world.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    3 months. Also, don't take 7 classes the same semester of your MCAT. Not cool. Not cool at all. If I had to do it over again, I would have taken a minimal load and been extra hardcore about everything. But that's okay. Honestly, I had been scoring 34-35 range on my practice tests, but I'm not gonna complain about my score, ESPECIALLY after the April 7th MCAT Nightmare. :scared:
  26. dobbysamosa

    dobbysamosa

    Joined:
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    SDN 5+ Year Member
    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    April 7, 2007 MCAT: 13PS 11VR 15BS R (39R)

    2) The study method used for each section

    PS:
    Taking calculus-based physics for engineers definitely helped. I'm a molecular bio major, so only conceptual physics would have been required, but I took the calculus-based course and it definitely paid off. Taking other random bioengineering courses also helped develop physical intuition for solving PS problems.

    I used Berkeley Review's test prep materials for reviewing Physics and General Chemistry. (http://berkeley-review.com). Their books are very thorough and well-written (I think the main author studied chemistry at UC Berkeley). The material seemed more in depth than necessary for the exam, but that helped give me a solid understanding of the fundamental physical principles being tested...and it paid off with a 13 in PS =)

    VR:
    I put off studying for this until a few weeks before the exam. For me, studying verbal strategies didn't help nearly as much as doing LOTS of practice passages. The Berkeley Review material was pretty weak in their verbal prep, so I bought the EK 101 passages and did a bunch of those. I improved from an 8 to an 11, but then days before the exam, I plummeted back down to a 9. That kinda freaked me out and made me realize that maybe I was trying too hard and screwing myself up. So I decided to chill out, and not look at verbal again til the real exam. On the exam, VR felt really good, and for me at least, my performance on verbal depends mostly on both how relaxed and how alert I am.

    BS:
    So the material that showed up on my BS section on the real exam was TOTALLY different from what I had prepared for. I used Berkeley Review to study o-chem; it was very in depth but good preparation. They mention some more obscure lab techniques (like Tollen's test), which actually ended up on my exam.

    Berkeley Review's anatomy materials were also supplemented with TPR's anatomy (which I think is better written). And since I'd never taken an anatomy class in my life, I also borrowed my friend's anatomy textbook.

    The AAMC practice tests I used had a balanced amount of anatomy/physiology and o-chem in addition to cell/molecular bio. But on the real thing, my actual test form was almost 80% MCB. It wasn't quite what I was expecting, but it worked out well for me because I'm an MCB/biochemistry major. So a lot of the test questions reflected topics my professors had been talking about lately (ie mechanisms of viral transduction, Koch's postulates, establishing whether something is "necessary AND sufficient," etc.). Got a 15 on this section, so ultimately, it worked out well.

    WS:
    Didn't really look at this section until the week of the exam. I used my friend Princeton Review Hyperlearning verbal book, which was pretty useful. Their essays seemed much better written than what I wrote on the exam, but I still got an R (I was expecting more like a P). It makes me wonder whether test companies purposely make exam sections seem harder than they are, just to scare us into paying $2000 to take their courses.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)

    PS: Berkeley Review
    VR: EK 101
    BS: Berkeley Review, TPR (anatomy), Anatomy textbook
    WS: TPR

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    AAMC

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Molecular and Cell Bio (emphasis in Biochemistry), BioE minor

    This combo of biochem and bioE coursework ended up providing pretty balanced preparation for the MCAT (gave a solid foundation in physics, chemistry, and molecular/cell bio)...but I definitely would NOT recommend choosing a major just because you think it will help you on the MCAT. Study the topics you enjoy for your major, and your MCAT preparation will fall into place later.

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?

    Do well in your classes, even ones only peripherally related to the MCAT. Anything that helps hone your logical abilities and physical intuition will help you out.

    I didn't take a prep course (felt it was too much $$). I just bought the Berkeley Review books (GREAT for reviewing science material) and borrowed my friends old TPR and anatomy books. I was studying during the semester, so like most people, I had ~20 hours of class per week, not to mention a bf and a life outside school to balance with this. Self-discipline was definitely hard sometimes, so I decided to look up the course schedule for one of the Berkeley Review classroom courses, and just followed that everyday. This way, I could go at the same pace as the classroom courses, without shelling out $2000!

    Also, this is very important, if you take away anything from this post, get this:

    1. Again, do well in your classes! (or at least understand the material well, even if you don't get a great grade)

    2. Memorizing is not the key (well, for me at least). I've heard about people memorizing o-chem reactions and kinematics equations, etc for this exam, but I think that's unnecessary. What's more important is have an intuitive understanding of the phenomenal being tested. For instance, it'll benefit you more to have an intuitive grasp of (a) in o-chem, how electrophiles and nucleophiles interact with each other and (b) in physics, how moving bodies and forces interact. Also, a lot of times, all the information you need is contained within the passage; rather than have certain trivia memorized, you just need to logically piece together points already stated in the passage to answer some of the questions.

    3. Don't let this test take over your life! There's a lot of stories about premeds falling off the face of the planet for 6 months at a time, just to prepare for this exam. This may work for *some* people, but I'm definitely not one of them. For me, all the studying in the world won't help my score if I'm miserable. Balancing study time with hanging out with my bf on a regular basis and going out with my friends really helped maintain my mental sanity...which in turn boosted my score if anything.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    2.5 months. (With 2 weeks of gap for midterms and recovering from strep throat).

    I came out of that exam feeling like I got hit by a truck (especially on PS). I was dreading finding out my score, and practically crapped my pants when I saw it was >33P (about what I was expecting). I'm still pretty shocked with how well I did compared to how crappy it felt, but I guess that's just how it is with this test.
  27. jochi1543

    jochi1543 President, Gunner Central

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    Someone PMed me asking for my info, so here it goes::)


    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    12 PS 10 BS 10 VR T 32T

    2) The study method used for each section

    BS and PS - read the material twice, 3x for weak areas, take practice tests - I did not have an extensive science background and thus needed to focus on learning all the material.

    VR - take practice tests

    WS - wrote one essay, gave it to a friend, he said "you'll get an R at least, don't bother studying" - he was right!



    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)


    AAMC - 3R and 9R

    Kaplan for Bio, Gen Chem, Orgo, Physics, and VR (just the Big Book - mine was a 2003, btw, so I just skipped the alkene/alkyne/aromatics in the Orgo section)

    Examkrackers -
    did 3 tests from 101 verbal passages,
    read the Orgo book (LIFESAVER - if you're clueless in orgo or will not have taken both parts of the course by the test, I would HIGHLY recommend this), read the Physics book (some sections great, some not so much, but it did add onto Kaplan nicely as it was more concept-focused)
    Did a few problems from 1001 Gen Chem and Physics books, but didn't like them much

    Barrons - the New 2007 MCAT book. Helped me out with bio a bit, and I liked the mini-tests after every bio section to help you evaluate the material, but the book has LOTS of mistakes and the Orgo/Physics sections are very poor. Don't get this book unless you can get it for free (say, from the library).

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    AAMC 3R (29, 10, 10, 9 PS) and 9 R (30, 10, 10, 10). Did a Kaplan, got 30 or something.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?


    Japanese Language and Culture :hardy:
    The first 2 years I was in Economics, so a bit more quantitative than my eventual major


    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?


    Well, first off, YES, your score on the real thing MAY be higher! As I mentioned elsewhere, I never got above a 30 on my tests - however, I only got below 30 once, and it was 29, so still not a terrible score by any means.

    Secondly, if you didn't do too hot on 3R, don't despair - I had a 29 on that one, and 32 on the real thing, so while you may hear people saying it's the easiest one out there, my scores obviously illustrate the opposite - and I was nowhere under near as much stress during 3 R as during the real thing, obviously. Also, I had a 9 PS on 3R and 12 on the real thing. So don't beat yourself up if your 3R is not as high as you hoped.

    Third, don't go in there thinking "I will rock this section, but this other one is gonna slaughter me." I was very anxious about PS and chill about VR and BS before I went into that little room, and the outcome was the exact opposite.

    Fourth - for those who have written and are waiting for scores - while you can't accurately predict the numerical scores, I found that my feelings after the exam were an accurate predictor of how my scores stacked relative to each other. I walked out of there ass-raped by BS and VR and feeling pretty good about PS and WS, and my scores reflected that.

    Fifth - don't just study the material, work on your test-taking skills. Learn to pick the right answer (or a 50-50 guess) on a question you know NOTHING about. It's reasonable to expect a question like that on discretes. I walked in feeling pretty confident about evolution, but had a discrete that asked me for a definition of a term - which I had NEVER heard before. I looked at the answers and noted that 3 of them had similarities between them, so I knew the 4th one was the correct answer because it differed from the rest - even though I had no clue about the meaning of the term in question.

    Sixth - make sure to take at least one full day off weekly. I was able to avoid burnout despite studying quite a bit (see below). Also, stay healthy - exercise and not drinking/avoiding junk food does wonders for your ability to concentrate.

    Seventh - just because you are not a science major doesn't mean you'll blow PS and BS (see my scores). Nor does it mean that you'll get a 13+ in VR (same). For the WS, make sure to ALWAYS address all 3 tasks. As far as examples, they need not be concrete historical things or quotes from literal works. Both of my essays were based on hypothetical examples - I don't think I referred to something that *actually* happened once in my 2 essays.

    Eighth and last - while a poor science background is not a death sentence, I found that having taken Cell Bio and Genetics helped me a lot during the prep, so I do recommend taking some bio before going into the test. I think that the high yield courses would be Genetics and Cell Bio as mentioned above, and I really wish I had taken anatomy and physiology - the memorization of facts would've been easier that way.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    4.5 months. I started easy - 1-2 hours a day 5-6 days a week. A month into it, it became 2-6 hours daily 6 days a week. I would say I averaged 3-4 hours a day. Other than that 1 day off every 6 days, I only took time off once (for 3 days) - I had an important trip to make and couldn't really study. Note that I had little science background. I had only taken Genetics and Cell Bio for biology (A-, B+ respectively, though this is relative because I had health problems at the time that limited my ability to attend class and study), took Gen Chem I (A), but withdrew halfway through Gen Chem II because I was sick AND was doing badly mostly because of the illness. I did terribly in Orgo I and never took Orgo II. I got a B+ in physics I and withdrew from Physics II because of illness/doing terribly. So yes, you can have a crappy science background and still do above average in the science sections.



    Good luck! But not so much that you score way higher than I did and steal my spot, haha.:laugh:
  28. SketchLazy

    SketchLazy

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    1)VR 11 PS 12 BS 13 WS Q Total 36
    2)VR: spent time on wiki just reading, practiced passages
    BS: my major preparation was a huge factor in my score, worked in a developmental biology lab and tried my best to understand the reasoning behind experiments, practiced passages
    PS: focused the most on PS by doing at least 15-20 passages a day.
    3) The Princeton Review and Baron's MCAT prep
    4) Kaplan MCAT question bank: Did not really reflect MCAT questions in terms of concept and format. Depended heavily on calculations which I couldn't do off the top of my head rather than the concepts behind the passages. Timed questions just became frustrating and demoralizing. Scored only 40-50% of the questions right because I ran out of time. It didn't help me.
    MCAT-Prep.com: Tests on this website better reflected the actual test that I took.
    Ironically, never got around to my free AAMC test. Damn it.
    5) Major: Biochemistry and cell biology.
    6) I think doing practice tests is the most important way of studying for the MCAT. I didn't use most of the memorization material in the TPR and Baron's review books. As I did the practice tests, looking up the information as I went along helped far more than trying to memorize all the material presented in those books. Also, I think it really helps if you do tests that are on the computer itself. Even though those pen and paper practice tests in the back of self-study aids have the same material, I feel the experience of taking a CBT is so different that it could affect performance. I'm no stranger to using the computer, but I was so disoriented during the exam that I was thrown by the format. One last thing with the CBT is you only get a 10-minute break between sections with no lunch break. I knew this ahead of time and brought food and water, but it was hard to clear the head between sections in order to prepare for the next one and snack at the same time. Get used to transitioning between sections in less time than it takes to take a crap.

    7) One and a half months - 3-4 hours a day about 5 days a week. (quit my job just to study)
  29. mundungus

    mundungus

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    VR: 10
    PS: 13
    BS: 13
    Writing: S

    VR: I took a Kaplan course and I really thought they were completely useless. I bought a EC 101 book, and that was a lot more useful. Unfortunately I decomposed during the verbal section, and was hella nervous.

    PS: I studied with the kaplan course, and found it to be useful for content review. However, they're questions were kind of simple, so the AAMC tests were a lot more accurate.

    BS: Again, kaplan was a decent content review, but the questions were still easier, especially in Organic Chemistry. The AAMC tests were a lot better too.

    Overall, I wouldn't recommend the Kaplan course, mainly because the questions were WAY easier than the AAMC tests or the real test. I feel that a much better way to prepare would have just been using the EC books, so I recommend that people invest in the books and the online exams. You have to pay for the online tests, but the net is cheaper than the Kaplan course.

    Good luck everybody.
  30. hazel16

    hazel16

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    37S: PS 12, VR 12, BS 13

    2) The study method used for each section

    For PS and BS, see (4)

    VR - Just kept taking practice tests and checking wrong answers.

    WS - Wrote a few sample essays in 3 weeks before test. Helped to realize that I could blatantly make up information -- they just wanted to see how well I could argue it.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)

    • Kaplan MCAT 45 (I went through this book a few weeks before the MCAT -- really helpful in identifying my weaknesses so I could shore them up)
    • Kaplan MCAT Comprehensive Review (all beaten up and dog-eared now since I used it so much -- definitely recommend)
    • Kaplan MCAT Practice Tests
    • Princeton Review Practice MCATs
    • Gold Standard MCAT (the style of the review didn't work for me so I really just used it for its practice tests)

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    In addition to the above, in order:

    AAMC 3R: PS 11, VR 11, BS 10
    AAMC 10: PS 10, VR 13, BS 11
    AAMC 9: PS 12, VR 13, BS 12
    AAMC 3: PS 12, BS 13 (re-take because I'm cheap)
    AAMC 10: PS 12, BS 12 (re-take because I'm cheap)
    AAMC 8: PS 13, VR 12, PS 12

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Biology

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?

    I had two strategies:

    1. I started off really unconfident and with a low initial practice test score, so I allowed myself a lot of crutches when doing daily practice passages (I did about one passage from each section a day). Untimed and I let myself look up the formulas, etc. Gradually, I got rid of the crutches, but they really helped with my initial confidence and taught me how to get the right answers. Memorising facts I did later.

    2. The Kaplan MCAT 45 book had a succinct list of topics tested on the MCAT for each section. I made a flashcard for each topic and memorised them all in the few weeks before the test. You do have to know a lot for the MCAT but it's a finite amount of information. Knowing all the flash cards helped my confidence since I could approach the science sections knowing that I knew everything I needed to know to get the answers right, it was just a matter of thinking about them in the right way.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    I'm 25 so I've been out of college for a few years and had forgotten just about all the science I needed, so I started almost a year early, reading through some old textbooks and reading through the Kaplan book. I took my first practice test and started studying in earnest in January (took the exam April 12). I took the practice test (Princeton Review) under completely non-standard conditions and still only got a 25. Don't be discouraged if you're starting low!

    Hope this helps somebody. Good luck! :)
  31. tartrate

    tartrate

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    Alright, since this thread has helped me a lot to prepare, here's my input:

    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    35Q: PS 13, VR 10, BS 12

    2) The study method used for each section

    PS - EK books and a few chapters from Nova book for specific trouble I had with EM stuff. Initially this was actually my lowest section, but everything fell into place later on.

    BS - EK books, though I didn't pay too much attention to this area having a strong biology background. EK books actually covered in enough detail everything needed for organic portions.

    VR - My toughest section to raise, though also the most stable. Used EK 101 book. Most of my scores ranged 10-12 area. Really tricky since even with a "feeling" of having done well, this yielded only a 10 overall...some passages you may have been flawless, while you have too many mistakes in others. Practice helps to stabilize your score, and especially your timing, but only up to a certain extent.

    WS - Knowing this section was not too important, I didn't prepare for this section much. If you know how to structure an essay and make a good argument, I think that's fine.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)

    Examkrackers
    Nova Physics (few chapters)

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    In addition to the above, in order:

    AAMC 3R, 8R, 9R, 10R scores ranging from 33-38

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Molecular and Cell Biology

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?

    Finding and addressing weaknesses seemed to be the highest yield for me. Studying independently without any prep-course is just fine. Keep everything in perspective, and don't freak out too much.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    For about two months, I studied whenever I had blocks of free time. This equals about 2-10 hours a week. So overall I didn't study nearly as much as most people. During this time I just read over the review books and did the provided questions. Then in the final few weeks I started taking practice tests.
  32. Whoozit

    Whoozit

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    1) Scores14PS, 15VR, 12BS----41T

    I used all of the Examkrackers books (complete package and 1001 questions series), studied a lot with flashcards, and took all of the AAMC practice tests as well as three PR practice tests, 1 EK practice test, and about one and a half Kaplan practice tests (stopped in the middle of one because of a real life problem that demanded my attention)). My Kaplan score (about a month before the real test)) was a 27,, so I don''t really trust Kaplan scores, but my AAMC practice scores averaged around 37.5. I studied for three months, most heavily weighted in the middle month (I had to cool it a little the third month because my grades had gone down from focusing so much more on the MCAT than on school). In using the Examkrackers complete package, I went through each book once, doing the review questions, then again writing everything on flashcards and taking the end of chapter quizzes. Then I used 1001 questions (and occasionally some Kaplan subject tests) to work on problem areas. Then I went through each entire book again. Then I worked on problem areas again. I didn't study for or practice the writing section because I didn''t feel like I had time.. For that,, I just tried to focus on answering each question in order,, in about a paragraph each.
  33. 12thandSouth

    12thandSouth Junior Member

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    37Q: PS 11, VR 13, BS 13

    2) The study method used for each section

    PS - I used the Kaplan online materials -- physics and gen chem subject tests, etc. Doing 50 physics problems in one sitting will toughen you up.

    BS - Same as above. Really, if you're taking a Kaplan course, make use of the online material as much as possible.

    VR - Nothing in particular. I was a humanities major as an undergrad, and I read constantly, so I guess you could say that my whole life has been prep for the verbal section.

    WS - I didn't take this section very seriously, and so I didn't prepare for it much either.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)

    Kaplan for PS and BS.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    Kaplan 1-4 (30, 33, 35, 37)
    AAMC 3-6 (33, 37, 35, 38), as well as the PS and BS sections of test 10 (13 for both)

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    History and Religion (double major)

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?

    I found that taking practice tests -- particularly the AAMC practice tests -- was the best way to prepare. I think that the key to doing well on the MCAT is knowing how to take the test. After all, there really isn't that much content they expect you to know. Once you've mastered the material (or most of it, anyway), move on to the practice tests so that you get used to applying that science knowledge to the unfamiliar situations presented in the passages.

    While taking the practice tests, learn to pace yourself. I can't stress this enough. Try to move through each section quickly, marking the toughest questions as you go, but not wasting time on them the first time around. Then, if you've moved quickly enough, you should have about 10 minutes at the end of each section to go back to the marked questions and give them more patient, serious thought.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    I specifically studied for the MCAT for about a month and a half or two months. But, since I was a postbacc student (and finished all of my prereq's in this past year) you could really say that I had been prepping for the MCAT all year.
  34. CATallergy

    CATallergy

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score: 36O - PS 12, VR 11, BS 13

    2) The study method used for each section: I've always been good at math/science, so I just read through the EK 1001 problem books for chem/phys as a refresher. For Bio, I read the Campbell/Reece textbook (6th edition) cover to cover. I've never taken organic chem, but really fell in love with it after picking up Organic Chemistry for Dummies at Borders over Christmas, and subsequently bought a graduate level physical organic textbook (Anslyn) to try and get a deeper idea of reactions at the MO level. I also looked through the EK book, which seemed pretty good. Verbal - I did 3 sets from the EK practice book.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc): I bought the EK books, but really relied most on textbooks.

    4) Which practice tests did you use? AAMCs (P,V,B) - 3 (13,10,12), 8 (12,11,13), 9 (12,11,13), 10 (12,8,12). [note: I started 10 at 9pm after starting my workday at 5am - this was intentionally to simulate feeling stressed out during the test]

    5) What was your undergraduate major? economics (bs in 2001) and work in non-science field. my last science class was in high school in the 90's (and ochem, never!)

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us? (1) really try to learn the material in your classes - this test would have killed me if I had just crammed through hs. (2) Spend time reviewing terms - the MCAT is mainly just reading charts and diagrams, but even if you can figure out an entire set-up, you will not know if Rf is +/- if you don't know what Rf stands for (real example). (3) Cycle through multiple subjects when studying - this might help you tie everything together. (4) try not to memorize anything. all the equations in PS can be derived from maybe 10 equations - spend a couple of hours trying see how many you can eliminate by deriving from others - this exercise will pay off in spades (btw, it is incredibly annoying that there is no overnight delivery option on those spades - be prepared for a long wait after your test) (5) when I was waiting for the test to start, I was sitting in the parking lot watching the leaves rustling in the wind, and I thought "this test is really just a celebration of our beautiful universe," and this thought was nice to remember throughout the exam.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT? casually for a couple months, seriously for one - almost exclusively on weekends, due to hectic job, but I always tried to squeeze in 20 minutes each morning for problems. Also, forget about going cold turkey on the day before the test - I agree that you shouldn't cram or burn yourself out with problems, but definitely keep thinking about science and keep the new synapses forming!
  35. strive01

    strive01

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    Hi Nero,

    I had a couple of questions for you if that is cool. I am just starting out my mcat prep and it takes me about 4-5 mins to read a verbal passage.. how much time should it take to read a passage? How can I improve this? Also, what were the scores you got on each section when you first started out?

    Thanks for the help
    take care
  36. strive01

    strive01

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    Hi Nero,

    I am just starting my mcat prep and it takes me about 4 -5 mins to read a verbal passage.. being a slow reader, i know that is not good enough.. how long should it take me to read a verbal passage? also, what scores did you get on each section when you first started out? How many hours a day did you do for the mcat?

    thank you for your help
    take care
  37. strive01

    strive01

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    Hi,

    I was wondering what did you find the most helpful in getting your verbal up from a 6 to a 9? I am kind of worried about my verbal as i am starting out my mcat prep. I only got a 600 on my SATs on verbal so im kind of worried. Thank you so much, take care
  38. hj7korp

    hj7korp

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    I was wondering what did you find the most helpful in getting your verbal up from a 6 to a 9? I am kind of worried about my verbal as i am starting out my mcat prep. I only got a 600 on my SATs on verbal so im kind of worried. Thank you so much, take care[/quote]


    Dude, I had a 380 on my SAT verbal and got an 8 on verbal for the MCAT. I know an 8 is actually below average and nothing to write home about, but I still improved upon the previous MCAT, in which I had a 6. I'm not a native speaker of English, so that didn't help much either. I did around 40-50 verbal practice exams, and it really helped me a bunch. Just practice, practice, and practice.
  39. strive01

    strive01

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    Dude, I had a 380 on my SAT verbal and got an 8 on verbal for the MCAT. I know an 8 is actually below average and nothing to write home about, but I still improved upon the previous MCAT, in which I had a 6. I'm not a native speaker of English, so that didn't help much either. I did around 40-50 verbal practice exams, and it really helped me a bunch. Just practice, practice, and practice.[/quote]

    wow, that is really inspiring! congrats on how far you have come!! what did you do for the other sections? were you always good at physics?
  40. mhwetsch

    mhwetsch

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    I might be forward to post before actually taking the real test but it frustrates me to hear people getting high scores attribute there success to "reading a lot as a child." Ok, some innate reading skill helps but the reality is that the verbal exam is not like any casual reading scenario, it demands a specific strategy and ultimately the use of techniques and skills that are not used in an average reading context.
    So this post is for those that are not innately brilliant but have the grit to put in some hard work to get that score where they want it. A disclaimer, I'm not an authority nor do I claim to be, this is merely what worked for me and it was born only out of personal experimentation but my scores so far are proving that this can work.

    Before....
    Kaplan Diagnostic: 28 (7 VR)
    Bunch of Kaplan Tests: 28-31 Range (7-11 in VR, very scary range)

    After self imposed practice schedule....
    AAMC 3 : 36 (11 in VR)
    AAMC 4: 38 (12 in VR)
    AAMC 5: 39 (14 in VR)
    AAMC 6: 40 (13 in VR)

    To be honest I can't believe the scores popping up....but I figure, if I can do this than most should be able to as well. So here is how I got those VR scores.

    General Philosophy: My thought is that VR success is about achieving a good test taking process. I found that trying to focus on why exactly I missed problem X was a waste of time because for the most part the final conclusion was I hadn't understood what was going on. So all of my effort went into the TECHNIQUE of passage reading and absolutely no focus on what my results were. I completed 10 full VR sections without scoring them (honestly because when I did the results were depressing). Instead of harping on missed questions I got down on myself for going over time, glazing or bogging. Think means not ends, technique not scores, positive results grow naturally from positive habits.

    The Grind: I do a VR section first thing in the morning every day without fail. For this I have found Kaplan to be an excellent source of endless practice sections. For those enrolled in the Kaplan course, I used the VR workbook to practice steps one and two and then moved to the online resources to practice full sections. For those of you flying solo, remember that the real thing is 7 passages and each resource has its own flavor, my experience here is limited so I’m not going to make any suggestions. I will report how the AAMC practice tests compare to the actual exam but from what I have read AAMC is most analogous to the actual exam and if that is the case expect longer passages but less ambiguous questions.

    STEP 1: Passage Mapping and Micro-Timing.
    -I completely agree with Kaplan's passage mapping suggestion. Though I don't use it while answering the question it keeps me processing and integrating the passage as I go and most of all keeps me from glazing over.

    -Do a section one passage at a time with a break between passages and then break each passage down further into the reading section and the the question section. Time each component of the passage separately and shoot for 6 min per passage. So for clarity:

    Reading (3 min)
    Pause
    Questions (3 min)
    Pause

    6 min!?!?! But why?
    Before I had been having trouble staying under 10 min per passage so I wanted to essentially beat my brain into submission. After about three full-length sections taken in this manner I was hitting those times pretty consistently (occasionally going over). The focus is figuring out how much to write, when you can cut corners on an easy(er) passage, etc. Its all about experimenting….a lot. Breaking up the sections allows you to collect yourself, establish a goal for the passage then implement it, if it feels good, keep doing it, if not try another idea.

    What I found: I write short hand sentences, at least one per paragraph, and when the paragraphs are long, I write something down when my brain feels full. Like I said I rarely refer to my notes afterwards, I just use it as a tool to keep myself engaged.

    STEP 2: Full Passages

    -Do sections timing both the reading and questions as one piece and bump the time up to 7 min a passage. Now the routine is passage, break, passage, break, etc. Again, focus on time and understanding as much as possible. You should really have refined your passage mapping to just the perfect amount of writing. Too little and you aren’t retaining enough, too much and you go over time, experiment and find that balance.

    STEP 3: The Real Deal

    -The line between step two and three isn’t very clear. I found that I was hitting my times better and taking shorter breaks between passages. For a full section my routine is as follows…

    1. 8 min a passage – After struggling to hit 6 min/passage this should feel pretty roomy for normal passages and a little tight on the long ones. This creates checkpoints that you should use for pacing [52 min, 44 min, 36 min, 28 min, 20 min, 12 min and 4 min.] I actually write these numbers in the top corner of my scratch paper just so I don’t need to figure it out while I’m doing the passage.

    2. One deep breath between passages while looking at a distant point. The ciliary muscles are contracted while looking at objects close (such as a computer with a horrific VR section) focusing on a distant point relaxes those muscles. I have also found that the short single breath break makes the whole thing a little more emotionally palatable. It retains the feel of doing 7 separate, manageable passages rather than one big scary section. Also if a passage doesn’t go well it gives a moment of space to mentally reset your mind to dominate the next passage. Furthermore, I have found that I actually finish faster giving myself that small break. Make the breath really count, the whole process should take about 10 seconds. Don’t let yourself see the break as slacking, it is as essential as passage mapping, convince yourself of that so you can let your mind totally relax instead of maintaining the stress of feeling like you are behind.

    3. The four min buffer. For those math whizzes, you have probably figured out that 8 min x 7 passages = 56 min giving a 4 min buffer at the end. I don’t use this as review time. Rather, I treat it as my breathing space for that inevitably evil passage. I think of it as paying out a little slack that I plan to get back later. Knowing that you have the breathing room subdues the panic attack when you get a little stuck on a passage and don’t hit your times. For the most part if I only get behind by a minute I have always found a passage that I can get the time back. If I am down by four min that is really bad and I know that I will probably have to sacrifice the quality of one passage to catch up. Ultimately using the buffer during practice is not desirable. Remember, the real thing is supposed to have longer passages so train accordingly.

    4. Go back? The final question…do we review in attempt to make those last minute heroic changes? My personal conclusion, no. Over the last three tests I have stayed firm in resisting my desire to go back and change answers and my scores have been the best yet (I’m not saying it is the cause of my good scores but it certainly isn’t detrimental). I answer while reading the passage and stick to it, at the very worst I may bypass a question in a series and then answer it last before moving on to the next section. At the end of the day, a guess is a guess, its lousy but they happen so don’t fret over it; just focus on your passage mapping/reading technique and eventually the guesses will be minimized and your instincts will become more reliable. I’m getting 13’s and 14’s and I still feel like some of my answers are nothing better than educated guesses or gut feelings. Use your time checkpoints to keep you on track and to force a choice on those agonizingly ambiguous questions (I would say the roman numeral ones are the most exquisitely painful).


    The End: That was a lot, I’m sorry if I have overstepped my bounds and for those of you who have actually read this whole thing, congrats. Feel free to use or not use any part of this towards your own success. I think that, in the end, the right way of going about taking this section is very personal and must be found through a lot of trial and error. At the very least this can act as a stepping-stone into your own ideas and experiments on what works. If anyone decides to implement any of these concepts into her own routine, please let me know in what way and if you made any progress utilizing it. Again, I don’t think you need to be a genius that has been reading the Encyclopedia since birth to get good scores. Rather it’s the tenacity and intensity with which you practice that will determine your success. How bad do you want it? All the best!
    Matt
    Sauce Boss likes this.
  41. Ironslave

    Ironslave

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    I'm new here too, but you have not overstepped anything! I sincerely appreciate your taking the time to share, and I'm sure many more will as well. :thumbup:
  42. strive01

    strive01

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    Thank you so much! Your advice is very motivating! Just a quick question, how did you pace yourself doing all these practice exams? I know you said you did one every morning, but when did you start?
  43. mhwetsch

    mhwetsch

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    I wish that question was easier to answer. I had started about three months ago trying the pure Kaplan method and I was getting a wild range of scores that scared the living daylights out of me. I would have to say it was about a month ago that I really started the once a day verbal reasoning section. Just start with the micro-timing. Whats great about that is you can fit in a few any time during the day. I would sit down randomly and run through a bunch if I had a random 20 min. Whats so good is that doing 6 min a passage means that you finish a section FAST!

    MAJOR POINT THAT I FORGOT....if you get cut off by time in the question section....just move on. Remember, you aren't doing this for a score, you are trying to perfect a process. If you consistently let yourself cheat by 30 seconds you are merely reinforcing a habit you don't want. I would recommend using old material, or even going over full length sections that you have already done before. Save the most realistic sections for when you are linking passages together near the end of the progression.

    As far as when you should move to the next step...thats your call entirely. If you feel ready or want to see, just try....time a passage as a whole, or try a full section. If it didn't go as well as you wanted, take a step back and hammer away for a while more then try again. Personally, I did at least three, if not five full VR sections, just micro-timing. Then I did another 5 timing individual passages. Now I do a full section every morning before my other studying and I have probably done about 10 of those. I probably gave a much longer answer than expected, I'm sorry....its a bad habit of mine to take the long way to get to a point. Hope some of this helps. Good luck!
    Matt
  44. benjjang751

    benjjang751

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    Hey,
    Thank you so much for the inspiring strategy.
    English is my second language, so I like to try new strategy to improve my MCAT verbal scores.
    I noticed you stating that MCAT verbal is more about technique than knowing how to read fast. I am very glad to hear that because most people told me that I need to read faster, I always miss the main idea and ending up missing most of questions.
    Well, I was wondering if you could share some tips on actual MCAT verbal test taking skills. What I mean is that if you focus more on the main idea? (I do not know if you have read EK's strategy, but they emphasize on using main idea of the passage to solve the problems). What do you usually write down when you map? (name? main idea? simple facts?) How do you deal with those hard passages that you don't understand or questions that is confusing. How do you choose your answer when it goes down to 50:50? Something like that I guess.
    I know it is not easy to answer, but I am now getting about 7~8, and I really want pull it up to 9~11.
    Thanks
  45. benjjang751

    benjjang751

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    Hey,
    Thank you so much for the inspiring strategy.
    English is my second language, so I like to try new strategy to improve my MCAT verbal scores.
    I noticed you stating that MCAT verbal is more about technique than knowing how to read fast. I am very glad to hear that because most people told me that I need to read faster, I always miss the main idea and ending up missing most of questions.
    Well, I was wondering if you could share some tips on actual MCAT verbal test taking skills. What I mean is that if you focus more on the main idea? (I do not know if you have read EK's strategy, but they emphasize on using main idea of the passage to solve the problems). What do you usually write down when you map? (name? main idea? simple facts?) How do you deal with those hard passages that you don't understand or questions that is confusing. How do you choose your answer when it goes down to 50:50? Something like that I guess.
    I know it is not easy to answer, but I am now getting about 7~8, and I really want pull it up to 9~11.
    Thanks
  46. wongb18c

    wongb18c Lucky dumb med student

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    Quick newbie med school question....

    Roughly, what MCAT score do I need in order to be considered competitive at a "lower-tier" med school if my GPA is only 3.45?
  47. nshams

    nshams

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    Matt, this is awesome!! Thank you so much!! I was trying the glance @ the questions before starting out the passages but that wastes time I don't have. I'm going to try the 8min/passage thing & see how it works out :)
  48. hj7korp

    hj7korp

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    I did pretty much the same for other sections as well. Reviewed materials, and practiced questions. I never went to my physics class, so I had to put some extra effort on that. I ended up with 12 on PS and 11 on BS. When you get to a point where you know the prep-book inside and out, it's all about test-taking strategy. Not only you need to know the materials for the MCAT, but also the MCAT exam itself. And the only way to do it is by practicing questions.
    Practice with other people in the similar environment. If you do the practice exams enough, then you won't panic on the real thing. On my third try, I had only about 7 minutes left with a verbal passage. After about 50 practice exams, I knew that it was nothing to panic and I just needed to extra-focus to get my pace up. (I still had to guess the last question, but oh well, it happens) Hope this helps.
  49. hj7korp

    hj7korp

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    I feel your pain because English is my second language as well. I had a 6 on my verbal on the first try and that was the reason why I didn't get in anywhere this year. It is amazing to see some people who never had to practice and get 11 or 12 on the real thing. For the main idea, look at the bottom of each verbal passage (AAMC and real thing only) and it will tell you the title of the passage. That helps you to figure out what the passage will be about. As for our non-native speakers, it is highly probable that there will be 1-2 passages that you basically understand virtually nothing from the passage. On the real thing, when this happens, you will have no time to go back and re-read the passage, so you have to find the main idea from the question stems.
    I read smithsonian and economists magazine for preparation for the MCAT since the second time I had a 6 on my verbal, and that helped as well. And if you think about it, 8 or 9 on verbal isn't that bad.. 8 is like 50th percentile, which means you did the same or better than 50 percent of the people who took the exam. It may keep you away from all the high-ranked schools, but you will have two more years until you prove yourself on board exams. :)
  50. paceey

    paceey New Member

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    Pre-Medical
    Hi Guys,
    I find that I have done better on the Kaplan tests compared with the AAMc tests that I have taken. Although other factors may account for the difference I am wondering if anyone thinks the Kaplan tests are easier than the AAMC tests.
    Thanks!:thumbup:
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