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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. dsoz

    dsoz Accepted OHSU C/O 2017

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    My story is NOT to be followed. I am a non-traditional pre-med. I graduated with a BS in Bio and a chem minor in 1994. I went into the field of education for the past 17 years being a high school chemistry/physics/biology teacher. This past year I also started teaching health II. In the course of teaching health, I was talking with students about unfulfilled dreams and goals. I had to do some deep soul searching and realized that I wanted to "be a doctor when I grow up." So I started practicing for the MCAT in December. I took the "practice exam" at the princeton website and scored a 24 (the minimum required to get into OHSU because I am in Oregon this is a big deal). I took another practice exam that I found somewhere and scored a 30 (slightly below average at OHSU). Then I bought three books. TPR verbal reasoning. TPR Ochem. and Barrons MCAT (worthless and found no fewer than 7 mistakes that I had confirmed by the publisher).

    I studied the 3 books, and took (in order) AAMC #3 (V10, P13, B11), AAMC #10 (V11, P14, and B13), AAMC #11 (V11, P14, B11), AAMC #8 (V9, P14, B11), then lastly AAMC #9 (V10, P13, B14). I thought I was ready.

    On 3/26/11 I took the real test and scored V9, P10, B12, and R (?!?!?!). total of 31R.

    I thought that I bombed the writing sample. How did I get an R????

    Good enough to be competative at both OHSU and COMP-NW in my book. If I get accepted this cycle, then everything is good. If I don't get accepted this cycle then I will study my butt off and take it again for next cycle. My daughter will have graduated by next cycle and I will not be confined to Oregon. Med school search will go nation wide. :)

    dsoz
  2. PostHaste

    PostHaste Eye Roller

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    (Sorry in advance for my blathering. I tend to do that...)

    Non-trad, married with 2 kids, work full time as an engineer, taking 12 credits/semester. Graduated almost 8 years ago, back in a pre-med program doing prereqs.


    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS=10 VR=13 WS=Q BS=11 Composite=34Q

    Practices:
    10/24/10 - AAMC9 - 8B 8P 10V - 26
    11/28/10 - PR1 - 9B 7P 10V - 26
    1/16/11 - PR2 - 9B 5P 8V - 22
    2/15/11 - PR3 - 11B 10P 9V - 30
    3/23/11 - AAMC10 - 10B 11P 12V - 33


    2) The study method used for each section

    For BS & PS, generally I would read the chapter, do all the in-chapter and end-of-chapter problems, then go on to the next chapter. Every now and then I did some EK problems on the stuff that I knew was problematic for me.

    VR was pretty OK for me from the start so my practice there was mainly the full-lengths plus the practice passages in the PR class. Writing I did not practice, only skimmed the PR book on that and put together a plan of attack using their methods.

    3) What materials you used for each section
    I dabbled in random materials. I'm a study material hoarder. I had the full Kaplan set, the full PR set, the EK 1001/101 set, the i-Whatever apps from Watermelon Express, and the Audio Osmosis CDs. In the end when I buckled down I did most of my studying from the PR content books and the PR and EK 1001 questions.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    -PR1, 2, 3
    -AAMC 9 & 10

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    - Mechanical Engineering, (BS in 2003)

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    - Study how it works for you. I tried to start the SN2ed schedule 4 or 5 times and couldn't get it to stick. I am not good at deadline-less (or self-imposed deadline) studying. I finally accepted that and put together a plan for me to study the way that I work best (modified cramming). The MCAT is special, sure, but I think it's more about scaling your studying style than changing it fundamentally.
    Important caveat: I tend to do well on standardized tests in general and I'm good with reasoning & logic puzzle type things. This study method likely worked for me because what I needed most was content review. I get the feeling that a lot of people looking for tips do need the test-taking practice that schedules like SN2ed's give.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    - 3 months of PR Class (though I would equate this to the same learning you would get from going to lecture and not doing homework/tests in school)
    - ~8 months of dabbling
    - 4 weeks of maybe 3-5 hours/week
    - 5 days of 12-hours studying the week before the test
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2011
  3. Morzh

    Morzh Lifetime Donor

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    1) 34R (PS 11, VR 12, BS 11) 3/26/11

    2) The study method used for each section

    I bought the complete Examkrackers box-set and went through each chapter of each book. I did almost all of the end-of-chapter subject tests and thoroughly reviewed each question I missed or guessed. For each chapter I made flashcards or a note sheet with all the key information **I**, given my own strengths and weaknesses, needed to work on.

    PS and BS: For me, understanding concepts was more important that working tons of problems. I did work a fair amount, but I found being able to grasp and manipulate the underlying concepts to be more beneficial.

    VR: Examkrackers has, IMO, the best strategy, which is deceptively simple: Don't mess with any convoluted, gimmicky, fancy-pants strategies. No notes, no highlighting, and reserve your perfectionist attention to detail only for rare phrases or words your intuition tags as most-likely important. Just read the passage closely, but fairly quickly, and make sure you can restate the main argument(s). Be on the lookout for logical fallacies, weak supporting evidence for a key point, and things like author's point of view and likely opinions on subjects that may not be explicitly covered in the passage. I bought their 101 Passages and practiced incessantly. In addition to AAMC FLs, I think I did 6 full length 101 VR sections. They were on par with both the AAMC practice tests and the real deal. I didn't go out and subscribe to any high-end newspapers or anything, but I do read academic articles frequently so that may have helped me with reading dense material efficiently.

    WS: I honestly only did the writing sample on 3 of the AAMC FLs. I stuck to a simple formula since each question is essentially the same ("Value X is always favored over value Y") and the graders have an objective rubric to go by.

    3 paragraphs:

    1. Define the statement
      Break it down into its basic components. I began with something like, "Since the beginning of civilization, there was has always been a basic philosophical conflict between Value X and Value Y." Add a sentence or two of elaboration. "In this specific situation, Value X is manifested as _______ (example from prompt)." Then spend several sentences building a logical argument, with an example or two, supporting the prompt's thesis.
    2. Offer a counter-example
      "However, in some cases Value Y may actually be favored over Value X." Again, in 5-7 sentences build an argument for why Value Y may be better sometimes.
    3. Provide a rule of thumb
      "This leads to an important ethical/philosophical question. When presented with _____ situation, how can one know which value, X or Y, should be favored?" Then provide a formula - If A is true and B and C are also true, then Value X is preferred. If A is true, but B or C is false, then Value Y is preferred. Then wrap it all up in another couple of sentences about how adhering to your formula will make the decision makers more successful.

    Don't ramble. I did reasonably well (R) and each of my essays was 3 short paragraphs (5-8 sentences each) that followed this formula.

    3) What materials you used for each section

    Examkrackers all the way.

    For some areas, especially physics, where I really needed a lecture-based refresher, I found Chad's videos (google them, the spam filter wouldn't let me post the website..) to be really clear and super helpful. These videos are popular over in the pre-dent forums, but they are golden for MCAT as well and DAT. And they are only a fraction of the cost of a regular prep course.


    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    Most of Examkrackers content review chapter tests. Several EK 101 verbal tests. ALL of the AAMC FLs (critical).

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Neuroscience

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

    You know how you study and learn best. Don't give into gimmicks or prep companies that try to sell you expensive strategies that complicate things more than they simplify. I don't recommend any instructor-led class. Use Chad's videos, or some other online stuff, if you need lectures.

    Take all the FLs.

    Practice WS for endurance. It's not that important, you just need to not embarrass yourself really, but they do wear you down before the BS section. Skip them at your own risk - you may end up being unexpectedly exhausted on Bio if you do.

    Don't go too in-depth, really! That's the opposite of how we normally are in the habit of studying. From a content perspective, the MCAT really just covers the bare surface of most science subjects. Understand the fundamental concepts, but don't try and go way deep or else you will over-think on the test. They try and trick you with dense, complicated passages, but the questions can almost all be answered with only a basic understanding combined with information provided in the passages. I've heard some people criticize EK physics for not being in-depth enough, but that is exactly why I loved EK so much. It prepared me to score well on the MCAT, not my physics final.



    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    Bought materials over Thanksgiving break of 2010, but only studied a little bit here and there until February. Then I started putting in 2-6 hours a day in addition to studying for classes. I blew through at least 1 chapter from EK a day, sometimes 2 or 3 if I had more time. By the end of February I had finished content review and started taking 1 or 2 AAMC FLs each week. I would thoroughly review the entire test several times and do more content review for each question I missed. I kept doing this until 3 days before test day (3/26) and then took it easy until the real deal.


    Good luck to all of you! There is light at the end of the tunnel.
  4. tmg1325

    tmg1325

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    I guess I'm half traditional and half non. I'm still an undergrad, but I'm a senior and I just decided for sure in Jan that I was going to apply to med school. I still need to take some of the prereq courses, but I taught myself enough for the test.

    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS=12 VR=11 WS=O BS=11 Composite=34O (date of MCAT:3/26/11)

    2) The study method used for each section
    Physics: The week before the test I spent two days rereading chapters from the MCAT books for concepts I didn't think I remembered from prereqs and doing end of chapter practice problems.

    Chemistry: None. This was my undergraduate major, so I didn't think I needed to prepare much for it.

    Organic Chemistry: None. Even though I felt extremely weak in this area, I decided that the amount of time it would take to learn Orgo in the few weeks I had before the test would eat up time that would be better spent learning Biology. I took my hits in this section.

    Biology: Starting ~2 weeks before the exam, I read every chapter about Biology and Human Anat/Phys in my MCAT books. After reading each chapter I did the practice problems afterwards. Since the only Biology I have taken is a one-semester general Bio course designed for non-science majors, this was my first exposure to the majority of the material. I found that the two MCAT prep books covered the topics sufficiently for me to rely on them exclusively to teach me what I needed for the test.

    Verbal: None. I usually do well on verbal standardized testing, so I didn't spend time on this portion.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    I just used the two books that were available when I went to the library because I didn't want to pay for my own.
    Kaplan MCAT 2008-2009 Premier Program (I only used the book, not the CD or online stuff)
    Princeton Review Cracking the MCAT 2004.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    I took a Kaplan practice test that was offered free at my school before I started studying. I took AAMC3 4 days before the exam. I took the BS and PS sections of AAMC10 and AAMC11 the night before the exam.

    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?
    I realize I sound like a jerk who just got lucky- and I honestly probably am. But I wanted to post because I know that when I decided rather late in the game that I wanted to try applying to med school and I was checking out these forums it was pretty discouraging.

    But I want to reassure people that feel like they have a super long way to go that it's possible to do decently well on the MCAT without months and months to study. When I took the Kaplan practice test before any studying (or exposure to Bio except what I had learned in Orgo as a freshman) I got a 7. The idea of trying to learn all of it seemed really daunting. But honestly, just sitting down and learning what was in the books wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

    I think that for a lot of people, the really hard part is consistently getting super high scores once you've corrected all the silly mistakes and stuff you've just never heard of. But if you're starting way behind, catching up to most people really isn't that bad at all. Don't think you're hopeless because you're starting way behind people- raising your score isn't a linear process at all.

    That said, I wouldn't recommend my method if you can help it. I'm at least 2 years past all the prereqs, and I think I was lucky that I had to teach myself Bio (which has a lot more memorization than the other sections). And it was no fun to have to miss socializing opportunities and such because I was doing MCAT stuff. But it's possible.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    2 weeks, about 2-3 hours a day the first week and 4-5 hours a day the second week.
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2011
  5. ChE04

    ChE04

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    PS-13 VR-10 BS-12 = 35Q

    2) The study method used for each section

    I took the "holiday hell" version of Princeton Review's class (mid-Dec to mid-Jan) and then self studied until the test date. I felt TPR's class was helpful for me, as my pre-reqs (except bio) were taken about 10 years ago. So taking the condensed course I got a quick overview of all the content, and then when I self studied I was able to concentrate on areas of weakness.

    VR: Did all of TPR verbal workbook, and all but 2 of the Examkracker's verbal. I thought that the VR section was particularly hard on the real exam, and I count myself lucky that I got a 10. On practice tests, I always felt like this was a crap shoot, but on the last 6 practice tests I took (all AAMC) I was making 11s, and managed to fluke a 13 and a 14 as well. I did not use any particular strategy for verbal; I skimmed the question stems, then read the passage quickly, underlining key words or important info, and then went back to the questions. I read the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and I feel like that helped me with reading speed and interpretation.

    PS/BS: Read all of TPR books; reviewed areas I was rusty in with BR. I wish I had done it the other way around, although I suppose it worked out. For PS, I made a formula sheet with all the formulas, and every few days I would write it out over again to try and drill them into my memory. On my test, there was almost no organic (thank god), and mostly involved interpreting from passages. I tended to rush through BS sections (finished with 20 mins to spare) and tended to miss key info. When I went back through my BS section--the only section where I had significant time left--I corrected 5 questions where I had made a dumb mistake; I have no doubt that there were other similar dumb mistakes I didn't catch... So don't rush!! For PS, if you know the formulas cold, you're pretty much golden.

    I did not use SN2ed's schedule as it seemed too rigid for me. Maybe if I had I would have done better, but I'm happy enough with my score. For the first 2.5 months I did mainly content review, and then for the last month I concentrated mainly on practice problems.

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

    VR - TPR, Examkrackers
    PS/BS - TPR, BR

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    I took a test about every week, and then stepped it up to 2 per week in the last month. First I did all the Princeton tests, then moved onto the AAMCs. Overall I did 15 tests: TPR 1-7, 9; AAMC 4, 5, 7-11. My first practice test, TPR1, on Christmas Eve midway through the class, I got a 24 (PS-5, VR-7, BS-12). My average on the AAMC tests was 34.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Chemical Engineering

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

    Don't burn yourself out. I took many breaks during my studying time. I enjoyed almost every weekend, took a road trip, and didn't stay up too late studying. My test was at 8am, and so the last four or five days I got up at 6am (the same time I woke up for the actual test) to make sure I was used to it. The last practice test I took I started at 8am. On the day before the test, I did no studying at all: I woke up at 6am, went for a run, watched a lot of TV, and cooked a nice dinner. I can't emphasize enough how much I think this helped me get in the right mindset. On the test day, I was ready to go.

    After you finish a section and you think you did terrible, put it out of your mind. Think of each section as a brand new test.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    3.5 months, ~6-8 hr/day with plenty of days off
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2011
  6. anon747

    anon747

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS=14 VR=11 WS=R BS=14 Composite=39R
    (3/26/11 administration)

    2) The study method used for each section
    I followed SN2ed's 4-month study schedule but spread out over 5 months. I essentially did every item on the 4-month schedule, though. Since I work full time, the extra time was necessary. For verbal, I followed the EK method overlaid on top of the SN2ed schedule.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    BR (all), EK1001 series (all), TPRH and EK101 (verbal)

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    AAMC 3-11 and GS-1 to replace the slot in my schedule that I had originally reserved for AAMC 6, only to find out that AAMC 6 had been discontinued

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    History. I graduated in 2002. I'll add a quick note about where I was with pre-reqs when I took the MCAT. I took one quarter of Physics 12 years ago, three quarters of Gen Chem 11 years ago, two quarters of Bio 11 years ago, another quarter of Bio 1.5 years ago, and three quarters of Orgo 1 year ago.

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    Make a schedule and stick with it

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    5 months, ~3hrs/day on average, much of which had to be done while commuting to/from work on public transit, while eating lunch, and after dinner
    daking likes this.
  7. DrShazam

    DrShazam

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS=11 VR=10 WS=S BS=13 Composite=34S
    Test taken: 3/26/11

    2) The study method used for each section


    • PS and BS: Made my own condensed version of notes for each topic (if it can't fit in a page, you're writing down way too much...don't focus on details so much as concepts). I also made a huge poster board with all the concepts and how they relate. This is equivalent to the hat trick Shemarty or SDN2 talked about, but all in one space. I didn't do this till the last month or so of my exam.
    • VR: Practice with TPR and 101 EK, as well as read any articles you can find! I was really horrid with this section, but the most effective technique was following the TPR methods and reading on my own. When you read, it doesn't have to be anything educational or philosophical like the Economist or Atlantic Monthly--just something to stimulate your mind and make sure you are used to reading long passages in a short amount of time. The key to Verbal, according to TPR, is to orient yourself in the passage, not necessarily remembering all the details. There is no need to memorize if you map well and remember main ideas. In all honesty, though, Verbal is a crapshoot.

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


    • TPR for PS and Verbal
    • Kaplan for PS and BS
    • Berkley Review for PS and BS
    • 101 Examkrackers for Verbal
    • I finished the entire Verbal workbook from TPR, as well as 90-95% of their science workbook. I attended class everyday and listened to every lecture, making my own notes.
    • I also re-attempted the BR passages for Chem, Bio, and Physics. I finished majority of the Chem passages, but was lagging with Bio and Physics.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    Took all the Princeton Review diagnostic tests, took some of the Kaplan tests, and almost all of the Kaplan subject tests/ quizzes. This was a retake for me, so I could only take AAMC 11 as a real indicator. I scored a 33 on it (11 PS, 10 V, 12 BS)

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    I did a double major in Biochemistry/Molecular Biology and Economics with a minor in Math. When I was taking the exam, I was taking Cell Biology, Proteomics, and Evolution. I actually think taking classes, even if a light load, was helpful in keeping me always focused towards science and the MCAT.

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    MCAT is all practice! The difference between the first and second time was commitment. I focused much more on the test the second time around, did lots of praying, and even changed my lifestyle to accommodate this test. My whole life was pretty much this test, and everything became secondary. Some people obviously don't need to take such extreme measures, but if you're average like me, I suggest studying efficiently and smartly, and taking this test seriously, like your life depends on it. Leave the rest to God :thumbup:

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    6 months (October-March). Averaged 5-7 hours in the beginning, then upped it to 10-12 hours in the last two months. I would wake up every morning around 7-8 AM and start with verbal drills, then move on to note-taking, then passages, and finally, class at night.
  8. babydragon

    babydragon Pls don't wake me

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    California
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    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    March 26 2011
    36P PS 13 VR 9 BS 14

    2) The study method used for each section
    For verbal I used EK 101 as everyone on this board has mentioned that it is the closest to the
    actual passages in terms of content and question stems. Although I did not keep a log of all
    the questions I got wrong for each practice passages you should definitely do so if you have a good 3-5 month a head of time.
    For the sciences I strictly self-studied using Examkrackers review books and their 1001 practice questions for OChem, Gen Chem, Physics, and Bio. The Bio 1001 is a must if you are not looking into the other ones.
    For writing I did one week of Internet surfing before the test.--->pretty much useless section.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    Examkrackers + My physiology textbook-Silverthorn


    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    All of AAMC (4-11) + 1 from Examkrackers

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Molecular and Cell Biology with emphasis in Immunology. I was studying
    for the MCAT while taking two upper-div MCB classes...what was I thinking.

    6) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    5 months from November to March about 3-6 hours each day.

    7) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    Sleep and exercise:)




  9. MonicaMelquiade

    MonicaMelquiade

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    4/9/2011:
    VR-11 PS-11 BS-12 WS-S, 34S composite


    2) The study method used for each section

    I didn't study for verbal besides taking practice exams. I didn't do one practice writing section, so I guess that was just lucky. (I tend to do well in the verbal department, so this wasn't my focus.) For PS I just used the Kaplan content reviews books along with MCAT a day questions to practice. I took physics 3 this semester and am a chemistry tutor so this stuff was fresh in my mind. I needed the most review and studying for bio because all of the general bio classes I took in high school as IB courses that got me college credit (therefore I didn't have to retake them as an undergrad). So I spent a lot of time rewriting things with study sheets, reorganizing information and developing mnemonics so all the info stuck. Otherwise it was just practice questions wherever I could find them. Not sure I could call this a 'method' - I just reviewed and practiced.


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

    Well, I paid a friend that took the MCAT the year before with one of the Kaplan classes for the books she wasn't using anymore. They were content review books that I sort of hated. I also got the Princeton Review ELITE, but didn't use it besides for some practice sections.
    I didn't really study for verbal besides the practice tests. I used the content review Kaplan books for the other sections. I read through all of them, marked the chapters I needed to review, and used the flashcards last to do a final gauge of my weaknesses. I hated the Kaplan content review books though. I used them to refresh my memory but otherwise wrote my own study sheets on stuff I needed to review the most.


    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    I took the free AAMC test about 2/3 of the way through my studying and got a 33 (12/11/10). Then I took a Kaplan and got the same score. Then I reviewed some more content (especially bio) and took AAMC 9 with a 34 (13/10/11). Needless to say, on the real thing my breakdown surprised me given that verbal has always been my strongest (unsurprisingly) and bio was generally my worst. Some good cramming of bio at the end of my studying seemed to do the trick.


    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Molecular Biochemistry and Biophysics, with a Linguistics minor


    6) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    I guess I started my content review over winter break, so that puts me at four months, but I wasn't very consistent unfortunately and never really put in more than ten hours a week.


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

    The test is beatable, and you ARE smarter than the test! Practice answering the questions, and read the passages carefully. The reason the test is difficult is not that any of the questions are impossible or unfair, but because there is a lot of material to be responsible for and the med school application process puts a ridiculous amount of pressure on students to perform well in those five hours at the testing center. So figure out what's going to work for you. I'm not a person that responds well to spending 30 hours a week studying, so I didn't, and it got me an acceptable score. What has worked well for you for standardized tests in the past? DO THAT.

    And, most importantly: learn how to take the pressure off enough for you to perform well.
  10. user123456

    user123456

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Messages:
    92
    Hi, I took the 4/9 MCAT. I post sparingly on SDN but I referred to this thread a lot before taking mine so hope this helps to those anxious about taking it. Good luck to all of you.

    Your individual scores and composite score
    PS=12 VR=10 WS=Q BS=14 Composite=36Q

    2) The study method used for each section
    read first, then read with taking notes only study material (no textbooks). self-study. did one essay as practice the week of exam. flashcards for orgo. i tutored in intro bio and chem.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    since i self-studied, i bought a lot of books. (so much money!) kaplan (separate books for each section), thick princeton review book, EK (best), aamc official guide, barrons (useless)

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    diagnostic kaplan, online kaplan test (free), GS1-3, all aamc's, kaplan book (2 tests)

    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?
    if you did well in ur undergrad courses don't bother with taking a course. at least for me. i'm was far too busy to make the trek down to the center or bother with the online courses when i knew most of the material anyway and just needed light review and work on harder concepts. don't be cheap in buying practice tests. it's worth it. (hurts a bit though, have to admit). i barely knew orgo because i took this weird alternative orgo my freshman year in which we didn't memorize anything so i was really screwed for mcat. but orgo, memorize the key things, and if your gen chem is solid you should be able to figure it out. don't over study for it. the best thing for me was taking physiology the semester before. the most useful bio course to take.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    not... a lot. two weeks over winter break. then just for three months here and there whenever i had a break, i read the book and took notes. wouldn't say more than ten hours a week over the three months. by march i had wrote out notes, and gone through the books many times. (once through PR, once through kaplan, twice over EK). starting in march, i took a lot of practice tests and focused on MCAT for spring break. last two weeks, just took more tests and reviewed.

    this is probably the longest entry i'll ever write on SDN... hope it helped. good luck:luck:
  11. rubixcube

    rubixcube MS-2

    Joined:
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    51
    Status:
    Medical Student
    Navy SDN 2+ Year Member
    Hi all, I took the 4/9/11 MCAT: 11 PS, 12 VR, 11 BS, S WS = 34S.

    I'm an undergraduate junior now, working on the AMCAS application for 2012. My major is French, but I also have a double-minor in biology and chemistry (I actually took more courses to fulfill all the pre-med prerequisites than I did to complete my French major.)

    I used the Kaplan online, on-demand course for about 8 months. I called them over the phone and they gave me access to the course for 8 months instead of the usual 6, for the same price. I highly recommend it. I have no experience with the Princeton Review course, though I've heard good things. The guided lessons of the Kaplan course constituted the bulk of my studying. I also used independent Kaplan books, and I sampled the Princeton Review and Exam Kracker books as well. The Exam Kracker 1001 question books in the different subjects were useful review after I had gone over that material in the Kaplan course. I studied for a total of about 10 months; I started studying in the summer of 2010, before my Junior year, by working through a Princeton Review book. I studied independently for a while until I started the Kaplan course.

    Study strategies for the different sections seem to have been thoroughly covered already, so I'll just say this: If I had to give someone a single piece of advice for the MCAT, it would be TAKE PRACTICE TESTS!!!!! There is no substitute to familiarizing yourself with the test. When I came within three months of the test day, my studying became mostly finishing the Kaplan course and reviewing the things I missed on practice tests. This helped a lot.

    I took 12 practice tests in total; one Princeton Review, 8 AAMC, and 3 Kaplan. I really think that the AAMC tests are good indicators of the difficulty of the real thing. My AAMC average was 35, which as you can see closely approximated my real score. I scored between 35 and 37 on the Kaplan tests. My Princeton score was dismal, 23. From what I've been told by those who've taken the PR course, their tests are harder than the real thing to force you to study harder. No personal experience with this, though.

    I hope this helps anyone taking or retaking the test. If you have any questions, pm me or ask in the thread.

    Good luck to all!

  12. bfarn30

    bfarn30

    Joined:
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    somewhere
    Status:
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    SDN 2+ Year Member
    I lurked around on this thread when I was studying...now it's time to contribute!

    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    2009 (Real MCAT): PS7 VR6 BS10 - 23P OUCH!

    2011 (Real MCAT): PS11 VR11 BS10 - 32R :D


    2) The study method used for each section

    As you can see, I sat for the MCAT twice.

    Round 1 (Sprint Style): I crammed content review over 2-3 months while working a 40-60 hour/week job. Took a Kaplan course (my 9 hours in class each weak would have been much better spent studying). I had no clue what I was getting myself into and only took about 3 practice tests total. This CLEARLY didn't work!

    Round 2 (Marathon Style):

    VR: Practice sections once to twice weekly from the get go. Used EK101 and Kaplan Online Section Tests (to get familiar with the computer module more than anything. Kaplan VR is okay. I don't feel that it is similar to the real thing. On the other hand, I swear by EK101. My strategy (similar to EK) was to read the passage for understanding, then answer questions...pretty simple. EK helped me develop an intuition for the right answer. Oh, I also used some TPR verbal stuff when I was running low.

    As for the other content...I wen't subject-by-subject, starting with my weakest and ending with my strongest (Physics -> Gen Chem -> Bio) I used EK Content Review and EK1001. I supplemented with old TPR books from 2002 when I didn't understand a concept.

    1) Read Chapter 1 and take detailed notes
    2) Do every 4th question in EK1001 for Chapter 1
    3) Review EK1001 questions
    4) Skim through Chapter 1 again, but only take notes on shaky topics...the rest is fluff
    5) Repeat for Chapter 2

    Oh, and I only spent a few hours going over OChem stuff.

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

    See above. Had access to Kaplan Online the second time around (thanks to the Higher Score Guarantee).

    IMO, EK is the best. Kaplan was okay. I basically used my Kaplan online access just to get to the AAMCs. Like I said, I also used a couple of their FLs and section tests. As for content, EK all the way.

    Side note for those of you who are trying to decide if you should take a class:
    If you have great study skills and can make your own schedule AND STICK TO IT, then don't waste your money on the classroom time.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    As I said before, I only took a couple of practice tests before my first MCAT attempt.

    Second time around:
    AAMC10: PS9 VR10 BS9 - 28
    AAMC9: PS10 VR9 BS9 - 28
    AAMC8: PS8 VR10 BS9 - 27
    AAMC7: PS9 VR9 BS10 - 28
    AAMC5: PS6 VR8 BS11 - 25 What is going on?
    KAPLAN6: PS9 VR12 BS9 - 30
    KAPLAN7: PS10 VR11 BS10 - 31
    KAPLAN8: PS12 VR9 BS11 - 32
    KAPLAN9: PS11 VR11 BS10 - 32
    AAMC11: PS7 VR10 BS8 - 25 Really?
    AAMC3: PS12 VR10 BS9 - 31 Nice pre-test confidence booster!

    Side note: I started with AAMC10 and worked my way down. Don't do that! Start with 3 and finish with 11. My bad! Oh well, things turned out well in the end...

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Bio.

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

    It's been said over and over again...but confidence is KEY! Also, keep in mind that for most people this is NOT a sprint, but a marathon. There is no special set-up for a guaranteed good score on the MCAT. Understand the material and PRACTICE! When you feel like you've practiced enough, practice some more. Oh, and PRAY! a lot...

    Message for re-takers: In undergrad, there is a lot of pressure to stick to the status quo. Most students want to be a traditional pre-med that goes straight to med school after UG. If I would have done well on my 2009 exam, it is likely that I would have done that very thing. When I got my score in 2009 I was literally ashamed of myself. I never thought I would say this, but getting a 23 was the best thing that could have happened to me at the time. So, I graduated UG and took some time off before studying the second time around. I got a job in healthcare and have had more patient contacts than I can count in the past year. These experiences will make me a much better doctor in the end.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    Mid-August 2010 to March 2011 (about 6-7 mos) about 2-3 hours per day. I work full time, so I used what time I could. Note: when you study for a long amount of time, do yourself a favor and take a week off here and there. When I was feeling burned out or started performing poorly, I took a week off and it helped tremendously!

    Of this time, about 1/2 was spent on content review and 1/2 was spent on practice (FLs, section tests from Kaplan, verbal verbal verbal).

    FEEL FREE TO PM ME WITH ANY QUESTIONS! I WOULD LOVE TO HELP!
  13. TommyPickles

    TommyPickles

    Joined:
    May 13, 2011
    Messages:
    67
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS=11 VR=11 WS=R BS=12 Composite=34R
    Test taken: 4/09/11

    2) The study method used for each section
    Read all the books I had for each section. Each book was content based and listed below. At the end of each chapter were freestanding and passage based questions on the given topic. Looked over why the question was correct, even if I got it right, and if it was wrong, I would rework the problem. Did this for every section. Didn't do anything for the essay at all.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    Bought the 5 subjects from The Princeton Review: Physics, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Verbal Reasoning and Writing, and Biology. Then after reading those, I bought MCAT Workout 45 from TPR.
    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    My school offered a free practice test in October and got a 21 on it. :confused: PS=6 VR=7 BS=8. Then started studying and did the practice tests that came with the book, then bought the on paper practice test book from Kaplan and the free test from AAMC 3. Got a 28.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Biology with an option in vertebrate physiology. Took biochemistry during the semester I studied, and I highly recommend taking it.

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    When you do practice problems, make sure you realize why every answer is the way it is AND why the answers that aren't correct are incorrect. That 2nd part is important. I always stopped studying as soon as I felt groggy or realized I wasn't really paying attention. There's always tomorrow to focus and study.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    3 Months January-April. I took a VERY light courseload while still maintaining the 12 credit minimum. Only 5 science credits and got a 4.0 I'd say I studied on average 1.5 hours a day in the first month, and then pushed it to 2-2.5 each time after that except for the four practice tests I took.
  14. PolIV

    PolIV

    Joined:
    May 4, 2011
    Messages:
    29
    Location:
    IN
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS: 10
    VR: 11
    BS: 12
    Composite: 33 O
    Test date: 3/26/11

    2) The study method used for each section
    PS: A crap ton of problems
    VR: Didn't really study
    BS: Read and took notes over books (it helped that I had a great foundation of bio from high school since I did not take the any intro bio in college.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    PS: Kaplan and Berkley Review
    VS: none
    BS: EK and Kaplan

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    All but one of the Kaplan practice tests and all the previous MCATs offered on AAMC

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Human biology (interdisciplinary bio with politics, gov, econ, ethics, etc.) and economics

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    -Take all the tests that you can, but more importantly, thoroughly review them 1 day afterwards
    -Wake up 1-2 weeks before the test and do problems at 7 AM to get your brain used to working (for the 8 AM test)

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    I studied pretty hard over winter break, took a break, resumed hardcore studying from Feb-March. I pretty much ignored all my schoolwork during those 2 months. I also recommend taking a light schedule (13 credits).
  15. SteveJMarist

    SteveJMarist Chasing Greatness

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    2,184
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS: 11
    VR: 10
    BS: 10
    Composite: 31 Q
    Test date: 4/16/11

    2) The study method used for each section
    Sciences: Read the chapter, do a ton of free-responses to reinforce concepts, then a crap ton of practice passages for that section (in that order)

    Verbal: Just a boat load of practice passages. I eventually aimed for 1-2 per day. I would often do the passages under harsh timing conditions. Honestly, I think I would've still gotten a 10/11 on VR even with no studying. Probably wasn't worth the effort (at least for me)

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    PS: TPR
    VS: TPR, EK, TBR
    BS: TPR and TBR
    (bio only for TBR)

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    All of TPR except the last two insanely hard ones. All of AAMC except 6 and 10. AAMC 11 was the most helpful. AAMC average: 31! Range: 30-32.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Mathematics

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    Take it one step at a time. Make sure you understand those concepts before hitting the AAMCs. Those tests are gold and are by far the best predictors out there (I got my exact AAMC average, despite what many called a whacked out test). Only void if you did something seriously wrong- I thought I had a sub-30 score for sure. Work hard, be confident, and approach test day like it's just another AAMC. Be careful not to burn out!! They say VR is the first to fall, so be cognizant of that if you are feeling exhausted. Best of all, know your weaknesses and strengths. I started with a 10 in VR and ended with a 10 in VR. In retrospect, I could have funneled a TON of that VR time into PS and BS and maybe have gotten a better score (though I am definitely content with my score- especially the even spread).

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    6 grueling months in addition to working full time :D

    Good luck guys!



  16. DISCOSTEW

    DISCOSTEW

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2011
    Messages:
    395
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS: 12
    VR: 10
    BS: 14
    Composite: 36 P
    Test date: 4/16/11

    2) The study method used for each section
    Took the Princeton Hyperlearning Class, went to all of the classes. After doing content review, I content reviewed 1-2 chapter every day in 1 section and then did EK 1001. I didn't use 1001 for bio though.

    Verbal: Practice passages. I found the TPR verbal workbook great because the passages were extremely dense. Kind of like training with a weighted vest!

    3) What materials you used for each section
    PS: TPR, did not like the EK for this
    VS: TPR, EK
    BS: TPR

    All 1001 EK except for BIO

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    all AAMCs came with TPRH course, TPR 1-8
    My AAMC average was a 28-29

    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?

    Know your weaknesses. Most of the test is reading comprehension. Memorization can only go so far.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    3 months working full time.
  17. muhali3

    muhali3

    Joined:
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    Dolanaar
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    SDN 2+ Year Member
    Did you take the AAMCs during or after content review? It seems like they weren't predictive of your score at all.
  18. DISCOSTEW

    DISCOSTEW

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    I took AAMC9 as a Diagnostic during my content review, but the rest AAMCs were after my class.
  19. muhali3

    muhali3

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    So do you think you just got lucky?
  20. DISCOSTEW

    DISCOSTEW

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    Of course, I guessed on a few. The new PS was definitely right up my alley. I didn't panic when all the weird stuff came up. I'm glad I prepared for ochem though. Most people said it was 80 bio 20 percent o chem. I'm glad I didn't take any of it lightly
  21. DoItToIt

    DoItToIt

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2010
    Messages:
    215
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS: 11
    VR: 8
    BS: 12
    Composite: 31 R
    Test date: 4/16/11

    2) The study method used for each section
    PS: I followed EK's online schedule for the most part, definitely modified it though and added a week to content review to account to burnout- plan on it because it WILL happen. I would casually read the week's chapters at first of week. Then, focused on one chapter of one book each day, took notes while reading, and worked on practice problems and 30 min. exams afterwards.

    VR: Practice, practice,practice. Obviously my VR score was not hot- got an 11 on AAMC 11 but other than that it was never higher than a 9/10. Probably not the verbal advice-giver...

    BS: Same as PS. Casual read-through first, then slow reading while taking notes. Then practice problems/passages and 30 min. exams.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    PS: EK Genchem and EK Physics, replaced EK Physics with NOVA Physics though- would highly recommend it too. Also used EK 1001s for both, and PR Science Workbook
    VS: EK 101 VR Passages and PR Verbal Workbook
    BS: EK Bio and EK Organic, also used PR Bio for a few sections (genetics and immune system). Also used EK 1001s for both, and PR Science Workbook
    **I also used EK Audio Osmosis and think it deserves more credit than it gets around here. While it definitely shouldn't be used as a primary study method, I listened to it while driving to work and back and forth when leaving town. A ton of their mnemonics and dumb ways of remembering things truly helped me out while studying for MCAT.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    All of the AAMC practice exams and the free PR online CBT. Took AAMC 3 before starting MCAT prep and scored a 23. Lowest was 26 on AAMC 4, highest was 34 on AAMC 11. Overall AAMC average was 29.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Biochemistry

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    While my scores are not amazing by any means, the main reason I wanted to post this is to encourage those who are unsure of studying for MCAT in the middle of a semester of school. Balancing school, work and MCAT and attaining a fine MCAT score is definitely possible with the right mindset and work ethic. Work at what you're weak at! I am very strong in genchem but far from that in physics. I worked at physics so much and was very glad I did because I had a very physics-heavy PS section on the real deal. I'm personally a huge note-taker. Writing things out and making mental notes while studying really helps me retain information. Take all of the AAMC practice exams and review the heck out of them. This will teach you to avoid dumb, nervous mistakes as was the case on most of my AAMC exams. Take a day or two off when you hit that mental wall and just relax. Stay confident and walk into the testing center knowing you've prepared for a long time for the exam. As soon as PS is done, forget about it and focus on VR, same for BS. It gets stressful, tiring and very frustrating at times, but tons of prayer and forcing myself to keep on keeping on ultimately paid off. Good luck!

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    I started studying at the beginning of January 2011, finished content review mid March, then focused on FLs and passages for the last month up until April 16th.
  22. oic

    oic

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Messages:
    5
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    PS: 12 (AAMC Range = 10-13, Avg. = 11)
    VR: 11 (AAMC Range = 7-11, Avg. = 10)
    BS: 12 (AAMC Range = 11-14, Avg. = 13)
    Composite: 35P (AAMC Range = 32-36, Avg. = 34)
    Test date: 4/16/11

    2) The study method used for each section

    This was my second time studying for the test. Last year I tried and took a practice at the end of my 1.5 months of half-ass studying and got a 28. I wasn't happy. I thought about just going and voiding my score. Luckily (kind of) I went to a friend's going away party two weeks before my test and got mono. I ended up not even showing up and forgoing my test date and money. Like any true pre-med warrior, I never experienced a defeat like that before. This year, I swore I would do it differently...

    My study method was painful. I gave up the gym. I gave up going out. Didn't answer my cell phone. Never left my house except for class twice a week. The whole experience was just pretty awful. The key is to just keep sacrificing until it works. No pain, no gain.

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

    1st Time Around: Kaplan. All Kaplan. I paid $1700 dollars for the course and everything. Jesus, what a waste of money (just an opinion based on my experience - pleaae don't attack me). Don't get me wrong, my instructor was the coolest guy in the world... but the program was not for me. I cannot study in groups, never attend lecture, and always have learned better on my own. That class was awful. The material itself was so overwhelming as well. I couldn't even bring myself to finish each section because it was so in-depth with details.

    2nd Time Around: ExamKrackers. IMO, this is literally the exam cracker. This was a godsend. I used all the section books (Biology, Organic Chemistry, Physics, and General Chemistry) and all the 1001 books (All four sciences + 101 Verbal). The first day of studying, it just felt different vs. Kaplan. I wish they would let me star in a commercial for their products - I was that impressed. I did every question in all the 1001/101 books (except biology) and my first practice test the day after I finished was a 36! I went from a 28 to a 36. I never did the section/subject tests at the end of the book. All I did is read 3 sections and answer the questions after each section... jumped around doing this until all the books were done... then attacked all the 1001 books. The last few weeks I did a 101 Verbal every other day - my verbal scores went from 7-8s to 10-11s. EK! EK! EK! EK! EK! They are just right to the point and that worked for me. When I used Kaplan, I was trying to memorize so much information - I couldn't take it. Using the 1001 books, it was just imprinted. No memorization necessary. No crazy schedule (I HATE SCHEDULES). No worries after my first AAMC practice.

    Disclaimer: EK really is sometimes too brief. I am the type of learner that a lack of details causes me to ask questions and I have to look up the answers until I completely understand the topic. Kaplan, on the other hand, would be better for someone who needs all the information right in front of them.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    AAMC 3-11 (32, 36, 36, 36, 34, 32, 33, 33, 34)

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Biological Sciences w/ minor in Business Administration

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

    I have been scoping out these forums for over three years. I have read almost every single post in this thread. I always imagined being able to write on it... and god does it feel good. I can't stress enough that if you want it bad enough - you'll get it. Do whatever it takes. Do whatever works for you until you get results. You'll make those sacrifices and it'll all pay off in the end. I got discouraged a few times (100+), frustrated, and wanted to quit. I would write curse words and scribble all over the pages of my 1001 books when I would get 10-12 wrong in a row. It looked like the unabomber manuscripts. There are absolutely no shortcuts for the MCAT. Just keep pushing through - you'll get there.

    Also, you cannot copy/paste or undo on the MCAT writing. I learned that the hard way and my first essay ended up being only one paragraph. I highlighted two paragraphs and was going to move them to the end and add an additional paragraph above. I copied them (Cntrl+C) and then erased them. I pressed Cntrl+V and nothing happened. I didn't panic at first because I was thinking okay, I'll just undo it. So I pressed Cntrl+Z and when nothing happened... I panicked.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    I studied about 6 hours a day, 4-5 days a week for 2.5 months.

    Edit: I forgot to say good luck to everyone. It goes by real quick and I really hope everyone reading this will be able to post on here soon!
    Last edited: May 22, 2011
    19131937 likes this.
  23. FutureMD23

    FutureMD23 MS0

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2010
    Messages:
    241
    Location:
    Texas
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS: 12
    VR: 10
    BS: 14
    Composite: 36 Q
    Test date: 4/9/11

    2) The study method used for each section


    I took the Princeton Review Hyperlearning class. I would recommend it if you have the resources to pay for it. I personally didn't really have the money to pay for it and find it hard to justify the fact that I charged the class and am basically paying it off. That being said, it really depends on the teachers you get for the class. I sucked at physics and the teacher we got for physics was a freakin genius (as far as teaching goes) so this helped tremendously. That was the biggest plus of the class. Also, the biology teacher was great, but I knew biology well to begin with. The ochem teacher was also great, but I was currently in ochem so I didn't need to study too much for it. The gchem teacher sucked…and verbal was an absolute nightmare. Sure, the guy was smart, but TPR's verbal method is absolute crap IMO. And yeah, I only scored a 10 in verbal, but that was up from a 7 on my diagnostic and with their method I was scoring 6-8. I skipped almost all of the verbal classes because it was a waste of time. So, in short about the TPR class:

    Pros:
    -GREAT materials – loved the hyperlearning books and I thought the science work book was VERY helpful for practice
    -Mostly great teachers that can really help you to relearn stuff you were never too good at
    -Helps to keep you on a schedule

    Cons:
    -$$$, way too much money for a poor, married college kid to afford on his own
    -Verbal method is crap
    -Possibility of getting a bad teacher in a subject that you really need help

    PS: TPRs materials. Tried to know everything in the books like the back of my hand. Practice passages, practice passages, and more practice passages (especially for your weak area – in my case physics). Try to learn everything while you're actually taking the prereqs. This helped me in Gchem a lot!

    VR: PRACTICE. That's all you really can do. I suggest EKs method if you're going to use a method at all. Don't waste your time reading about TPRs…I personally read through EKs book, but other than that I basically winged verbal and used my own intuition when getting rid of wrong answers and choosing the right ones. I even stopped highlighting while reading passages to speed up my reading – it obviously worked on the real deal. In fact, during my first practices tests I highlighted like a mad man. Towards the end I tried to tone that down a bit. On the real MCAT I didn't use the highlighter a single time (on ANY section) haha. I am not recommending this to anyone, but I am just letting you know what I did. I think I wasted a lot of time on the practice tests highlighting and by not doing it on the real one I saved time and focused on reading and understanding not just trying to find out what you should be highlighting. I used the EK 101 book and the TPR verbal book for practice passages.

    BS: Same materials as PS. I recommend upper level bio classes because they help you to understand everything WAY better than genbio. Before the MCAT I had taken GenBio I and II, cell biology, anatomy, physiology, and was half way through histology. Also, as I said in PS, learn everything VERY WELL while you are in the actually prereq classes. Especially in ochem. You never know what kind of ochem will show up on the MCAT. Mine had 3 ochem passages. Luckily I understand ochem very well and pulled a 14 in BS.

    3) What materials you used for each section (Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    PS: TPR physics and gchem books and TPR science workbook
    VS: EK 101 VR passages and PR verbal workbook
    BS: TPR bio and ochem books and TPR science workbook

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    All AAMCs and TPR exams (not the best)
    All practice test scores, in order taken (PS-VR-BS) total:
    AAMC 3: (6-7-8) 21
    AAMC 4: (10-8-8) 26
    AAMC 5: (8-9-10) 27
    TPR 1: (7-6-12) 25
    TPR 2: (7-6-10) 23
    TPR 4: (10-7-10) 27
    AAMC 6: (11-9-11) 31
    AAMC 7: (12-9-13) 34
    AAMC 8: (12-10-12) 34
    AAMC 9: (14-8-12) 34
    TPR 5: (13-9-11) 33
    TPR 6: (10-7-15) 32
    AAMC 11: (12-8-12) 32

    AAMC average (only using 5-11, because had not even done much review at all before 3 and 4 and TPR just is not very representative of the AAMCs)
    Average: (11.5 – 8.8 – 11.7) 32

    REAL: (12-10-14) 36


    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Biochemistry

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    Do NOT EVER give up. Keep studying, keep studying, keep studying and do not stop. I took the MCAT in the middle of a semester of 13 hours with 3 science courses (ochem II, histology, and pchem (one semester pchem). I also had 3 jobs, working around 30 hours of week. Sure, this semester was the most mentally taxing and challenging 4 months of my life, but all the hard work paid off. The best advice I have is to not let anything get you off of your schedule. Do not make excuses about not studying and study every chance you get! Be as positive as possible going into the test and try not to get down on yourself if you ‘feel' like you did bad after the test. I personally felt like I did not do very well during the real test and it was torture for an entire month thinking I might have to retake this dang thing. Oh, and exercise to relieve stress. I did not exercise enough and I am paying for it now being lazy and trying to get back into good shape.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    Started mildly studying during Christmas break, but didn't really know what the heck I was doing…Began hitting it hard when my TPR class began in mid January and took April 9
  24. ru4real1666

    ru4real1666

    Joined:
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    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS: 11
    VR: 11
    BS: 15 (insanity)
    Composite: 37 S
    Test date: 4/9/11

    2) The study method used for each section


    Sorry if I'm too brief on this but my method wasn't exactly groundbreaking.

    For PS I ONLY used the BR books (for physics, gen chem, and orgo) and even though I only got an 11 on the real thing, I know that was because of nerves. On all the AAMC practice exams I was averaging close to 12 (and sometimes 13) and if there had not been nerves I am sure I would have done just as well. I know that BR had prepared me well and it was perfect for what I needed. Specifically, my gen chem was pretty weak but BR was amazing at that.

    For BS, I use the EK book combined with the TPR hyperlearning book. I used the EK book as a refresher to understand the concepts and then I tried to learn as much of the hyperlearning book as possible. I did not memorize anything that the book said was unnecessary and I memorized everything that seemed necessary or that the book said was necessary. I didn't have too many practice questions aside from the EK book, the EK 1001 book (I only did 1/3rd of this), and the AAMC practice tests. I focused on connecting various topics logically more than I focused on very miniscule details and ultimately this got me a 15, which is pretty freaking amazing and I still cannot believe it.

    For VR....I had no idea what I was doing. I was scoring a 9 on every practice test until I read QofQuimica's guide to verbal and followed it EXACTLY with all the EK 101 verball passages book. I only did half the book (time constraints), but found my score to increase to 11 (and sometimes 12). I was very satisfied with this since I was averaging 12s on BS and 13s on PS (and my goal was a 35).

    Other than that I learned being consistent was much more important than having one day of 6 hour studying followed by 2 days of doing nothing. Furthermore, I simulated all my exams exactly as my real MCAT (including sleeping at the same time, waking up, eating the same thing during breaks, etc).

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

    PS: BR only
    VS: EK 101 VR passages
    BS: EK + TPR hyperlearning

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    All AAMCs only
    All practice test scores, in order taken (PS-VR-BS) total:
    AAMC 3: (12-8-11) 31
    AAMC 4: (12-9-11) 32
    AAMC 5: (12-9-12) 33
    AAMC 6: (11-10-11) 32
    AAMC 7: (12-10-12) 34
    AAMC 8: (12-11-11) 34
    AAMC 9: (12-11-12) 35
    AAMC 11: (13-11-12) 36

    AAMC Average: (12 – 9.9 – 11.5) = 33.4

    REAL: (11-11-15) = 37


    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Applied Mathematics (don't have to be a biology major to do well in BS!!)

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

    As soon as I ended the PS section, I knew I ****ed up. I knew that I did worse than I usually did and definitely worse than I wanted. I took the 10 min break and calmed myself down. Right after, I had the best VR section of all my practice tests, and definitely the best BS section of my practice tests. When I saw my score, I saw that I had redeemed myself and scored higher than ANY other test before...and this was on the REAL THING. Not to be too overly dramatic, but it's definitely doable. Just trust yourself and work hard.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    1.5 months without a course. I didn't really have the money for a course and my parents were in a tough financial situation so I just bought the books listed above and tried my hardest. Also, this was in the middle of the semester when I had my classes and research (at a top 20 university). I know it's hard, but I tried my best and it somehow worked out before I lost energy and burnt out. Thank god it's over.
  25. Neuralbunny

    Neuralbunny

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    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS: 14
    VR: 13
    BS: 15
    Total Composite: 42S (I'm still shocked guys!)
    Test date: 4/16/11

    2) The study method used for each section

    I basically followed SN2ed's plan (thanks man, you're the best!), with a few changes. I ALWAYS took (fairly extensive) notes on what I was reading, which although meant that I spent a loooong time on each chapter, I felt that it stuck in my brain better. But then, I know that writing stuff down is how I learn, so, y'know, varying mileage and all that.

    Bio: Used the EK bio book, took the tests from that book as well as some passages from TBR. Didn't do too many of those, however, as I was a bio major and found that I remembered most stuff with a little bit of memory jog.

    OChem: I cannot recommend the TBR book highly enough for Orgo; this was by far the class I did worst in in undergrad, but everything seemed much clearer when reading these books. Drew out important mechanisms in notes and would come back to them often. Would often look at previous chapter's notes to refresh my memory before doing the Orgo chapter of the day.

    Gen Chem: Again, used TBR as per SN2ed's schedule. Gen Chem was something I tutored, so that definitely helped.

    Physics: Fairly standard, used TBR.

    Verbal: Did not study, as consistently did well on practice tests from the beginning. Always done well on verbal-type tests, so although I was frantic in getting the TPR Verbal Workbook, I found I didn't really need it. :smack:

    The main differences from SN2ed's schedule (besides Verbal) were that I didn't use the Hat Trick, the last third of the TBR passages, and I reviewed the passages right after I took them. For me, this was important so I could remember my thought process during the problem, and see where it might have derailed.


    3) What materials you used for each section (Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    Content review: TBR for Phys, Orgo, Gen Chem, EK for Bio
    Passages: TBR for all 4
    Extra: EK1001 for Phys, Orgo, Gen Chem (but only really used when felt I didn't know a topic well; for me the discretes were not as helpful)

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    Here's another difference from SN2ed's plan: I bought the 10 GS tests before I even started studying. I started taking one every once in a while, starting about halfway through my content review (I know, a lot of people say that's a no-no, but I wanted to have the sense of what tests were like early on. I think it really helped!) I never did the writing on the tests, and later on only did the PS and BS sections, so I was only simulating real test sections, not the whole test. It was still very useful for me, but I'm not going to bother putting my scores down here.

    At the end of content review I took:
    AAMC 7: 41
    AAMC 11: 41
    AAMC 10: 44
    (in that order)

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Biology focusing on Neuroscience. As well as a second, more humanities-and-social-science-related major.

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    I found, because my days were long, I needed to take breaks more frequently to avoid burnout. I could tell when I was no longer being effective due to having pushed too hard, and knew that I wouldn't remember what I was studying very well during those times. Don't force yourself through it when you just can't do any more for a bit: walk away for a little while and come back (as long as that doesn't happen too often! :laugh:) because you just won't retain as well.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    A little over 3 months, 5-7 hours a day. I realized that I wasn't going to be able to study like I needed to with the job I had, and was lucky enough to be able to quit and devote my time to the MCAT. It was worth it!
  26. 90210

    90210

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    Really? You were surprised with your score even though you averaged 40+ on the AAMCs... :confused: Hmm. Congrats though.
  27. getright

    getright

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    A 44 on a practice test? Sick, congrats on the 42!
    Last edited: May 29, 2011
  28. WashMe

    WashMe

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    oooh burn! trying to rub it in that neuralbunny only got a 42?
  29. getright

    getright

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    No! neuralbunny's 42 (the post is corrected :)) is obviously amazing. I was also shocked at the 44 because I had never heard of anyone scoring so high on any practice/real test.
  30. gettheleadout

    gettheleadout what's a nerve? Moderator

    Joined:
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    That's what I'm saying. A 44 on a practice test should blow anyone's mind...
  31. backsideatk

    backsideatk

    Joined:
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    SDN 2+ Year Member
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS: 14,VR: 10, BS: 12, WS: S
    Total Composite: 36S
    Test date: 4/29/11

    (I retook a 32)

    2) The study method used for each section

    Read books (Kap first time, EK second time), take notes. take practice passages, add to notes. The usual stuff.


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

    PS: Kaplan 1st time, EK second time
    VR: EK 101 first time, EK 101 second time.
    WS: Nothing, I just winged it.
    BS: Kaplan 1st time, EK + EK 1001 second time

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    Kap 1-6, all AAMC

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Biochem

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

    DO NOT USE KAPLAN (Especially if your goal is >35), Kaplan is only good for people who have little to no understanding of content or for those who only want ~30.

    EK books are a godsend for the sciences (if you combine the increase in my PS and BS scores before and after EK it totals >4). EK is most effective for those who already have a solid understanding of material though.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    5 Weeks before take 1 (2-3 hours per day except FL days), 3 weeks before take 2 (2 hours per day)

    Quality of studying is clearly more important than time spent, as evidenced by my case. The quality of my EK study time was SIGNIFICANTLY greater than with Kap.

    I couldn't devote an entire summer to the MCAT since I work full time every summer. While a full summer might be needed, it's not necessary to score reasonably well. If I spent more time studying I can imagine my score would have been higher but I'm very happy with my score.
  32. Fox800

    Fox800 Masta Cell

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    Texas. The America of America.
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    Medical Student
    SDN 7+ Year Member
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS: 10 ,VR: 9, BS: 11, WS: T
    Total Composite: 30T
    Test date: 4/29/11

    2) The study method used for each section

    Took a TPR course, did mainly the AAMC practice exams.

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

    All TPR.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    TPR 1-2, AAMC 8-11.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Management

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

    Take time off before the test to study. I studied full-time for about two weeks before my exam.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    Approximately 3 months.
  33. Perkins

    Perkins

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    4/29/2011 MCAT

    score: 36 S
    physical sciences: 14
    Verbal: 10
    Biological sciences: 12
    Writing: S

    Studying: From October 2010 to April 2011
    materials: everything from TPR hyperlearning course including AAMC practices, EK 101 passages for VR, TBR full length exams (did 2 through 7).

    I did content review using TPR books and then practiced on the TPR workbooks, supplemented by the TPR online student center and EK 101 passages. I did 2 VR passages a day for a few months, then it got more sporadic once I stabilized my scores.

    I started with a VR score of 7 on the diagnostic and ended up scoring 10-11 on my practices --> so have no fear, with hard work and daily passages you can do well on the VR :D

    I started out PS with a 6 on the diagnostic TPR test and ended up with a 14. I didn't finish taking pre-reqs when I took the diagnostic though. PS is in my opinion the easiest one to have score increase on. Lots of practice problems in a concentrated time are so helpful. Doing practice passages in blocks of 7 passages really helped me. I also try to focus on doing passages in the topics I missed on the most recent FL in addition to doing whatever chapter that was assigned for the week.

    I started BS with a 10 and ended with a 12. For practices I ranged from a 9-15 on BS, in the end stabilizing in the 12-15 range. I think you need to really be meticulous on the BS and make sure you stay awake. Please do NOT get tired during the last section-- it is probably the most enjoyable section but at the same time it is the hardest to get through since it is the last one.

    To be perfectly honest, I did not really study for the writing section. They taught writing at TPR but my teacher was pretty useless so I just read the TPR book. I didn't do most of the practice writing questions in the TPR book but I did score my essays with the TPR essay scoring system. It was helpful. Mostly I think reading the book and doing the practice essays that came with the full lengths was most helpful to me.

    timeline: I took it in my junior year while doing classes, EC's and research. It was a lot of work, but I tried not to take too many classes while studying and I think that helped. On average I did research at my lab for 15 hours per week regularly until the month before the mcat -- then I took it down to 5 hours a week.

    The month of the MCAT I took 2 practice tests every week and checked them the day after I took them. My practice test scores ranged from 35-40 in the month leading up to the MCAT. The week I took the MCAT was also right after midterms (... whopeee...) but I didn't freak out too much. I learned to treat this test normally, not make a big deal out of it, so despite having midterms and papers due two days before it I just told myself to calm down and go with it. Sometimes when I take it at the library people would talk or whatever and I'd get annoyed, but over time I kind of forced myself to take it under any condition since you never know what you get on test day.

    It was quiet on test day, but not THAT quiet. Like you could definitely still hear stuff in the room, so don't take it in a vacuum when you practice. Go to a library and sit in a room where there are other people too.

    edit: here are condensed answers to the questions for this thread
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    see above


    2) The study method used for each section
    TPR study method for all except VR. I used EK for the VR method since TPR could only get me up to a 9 and I sat there for like 3 months.


    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    TPR for all sections, with EK supplement for VR since I ran out of TPR book passages

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    AAMC 3-11, TBR 2-7

    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?
    Don't freak out. Take a chill pill and break out the books. And cancel some social events while you're at it.



    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    October 2010- April 2011 but I didn't study for it seriously until about from Mid December 2010 to April 2011. October – December I kind of just flipped through the book and did a few individual passages a week maybe. So in all seriousness: 4.5 months is the total study time.


    [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2011
  34. attixx

    attixx

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    08/06/09: PS:8 VR:10 BS:9 --- 27P
    01/30/10: PS:8 VR:10 BS:10 --- 28P
    06/17/10: PS:9 VR:8 :)() BS:10 --- 27P
    04/29/11: PS:12 VR:9 BS:12 --- 33O

    This will be a long post, but I hope some people can benefit. Although my situation isn't the ideal way to go by any means, maybe someone can learn and motivate themselves from me. This has been probably the longest and most difficult process of my life. This test has been my nightmare for 2 years.


    I've about tried it all. I have a stash consisting of the entire Kaplan set, the entire TPR set, TBR Bio/Physics/Org/Chem books, EK Bio 101, EK Physics/Org/Chem 1001, and EK Verbal.

    My first go, I took a Kaplan course over the summer. The class went well, but I severely underestimated this test. I'd study 1-2 hours a day at my leisure. My Kaplan CBTs were averaging 28-29, and I really didn't have that adrenaline push. 27P arrived, and I was ready to give it another go.

    So I felt like my failure was due to lack of content. I bought a TPR set from ebay and studied PS content like hell for a momth. I think I only reinforced BS the last day or two. Test day arrived and I realize I screwed myself with my 1 month time limit. Was pretty bummed with my 28 but still felt positive that I'd improved. I figured, if I can improve 1 point in a month I can keep it going.

    I graduated the following May, and started studying right away for my June 17th MCAT. This time I bought TBR Physics and Chem, realizing this was my weakness. I screwed up again, focusing on content and not working practice problems. I think I only took 2 or 3 CBTs, averaged about a 30. Needless to say when I saw my 27P I about threw up. I really studied my ass off on content, but on the test I fell hard.

    I about called it quits at this point. Was ready to take the Caribbean dive. After some thought I figured I had nothing to lose I spent a lot of time reflecting on where I've been falling, and decided to take a step back and tackle the test kind of like I'd never taken it before. This brings me to the most important factor in my success:
    SN2's guide :love: This is absolutely what helped me the most. I can't recommend this guide enough. I gave myself 3 and a half months, and hit it hard. I averaged about 5-7 hours a day, 6 days a week. I had a part time restaurant job but basically had the rest of the time free. This guide isn't for everyone's situation, but if you have that chunk of time to work with you will not be disappointed. I ended up getting TBR CBT 1-5, and averaged a 31. I moved on to AAMC 8,9,11, and averaged a 35.

    Test day was absolutely horrible. I was almost late to the test due to a flat tire, and I knew this was my last real shot before it became shameful so the pressure was brutal. Testing went smoothly, but I felt like I absolutely tanked on verbal. I shot in the dark for 2 passages, and felt sure on only about 40% of the questions. I felt miserable this entire month. I wasn't exactly rejoicing on my 9 on VR, but with two 12's I'm sure I'll get over it :D


    Undergrad Major:
    Biochemisty, Cellular and Molecular Biology


    Tips:
    Do not underestimate this test. You will see many people that claim they studied for 3 weeks and made a 35. This happens, but only for a miniscule portion of test takers. Act like this test is your class final that you need to score a 95 on for an A. You absolutely cannot prepare enough.

    Do not rely on content knowledge to get you through. You have to get intimate with this test. This is why SN2's guide is so golden. Practice problems are essential. You will slowly mold your mind to deal with these problems with practice. Eventually I got to the point this last time around where I could have a decent shot at solving a passage on a content area I was weak on. Do practice problems until your head hurts.

    Get on the MCAT Q&A section of this forum - ask questions when you don't understand something, and answer what you can. You will reinforce your knowledge immensely by explaining to someone else. Really get into this test and you will be great.

    Keep moving: I can't even count how many times I felt desperately hopeless. You cannot give up if things don't go as planned the first time around (or 2nd, or 3rd). If this is what you want, don't quit ever. I felt like I was getting nowhere, and felt like I just didn't have the brain to break a 30. I almost gave up so many times, but put my head down and kept going.

    Anyone can do this, I promise. It takes a lot of faith and confidence, but it will happen. If you have this test approaching, start getting into the mindset now and get ready to rock this biatch.
  35. Catburr

    Catburr

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2011
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    Chicago, IL
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    Medical Student
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    1) Your individual scores and composite score?

    PS-13, V-11, WS-P, BS-15; Total-39P

    As my practice scores were all 36-37, and my feeling after taking the test was that I'd scored lower than that, my reaction to this actual score was pretty amusing for my coworkers, I'm sure.

    2) The study method used for each section?


    Biology - First I'd read an EK section up until a set of questions, taking notes as I read. Then I'd read my notes, highlighting and color-coding whenever it felt useful. Then I'd do the set of questions (no open notes!), and go over ALL the questions, not just what I missed. When I got to the end of a chapter, I'd make some flashcards. Not just strict definitions, but like, "Action Potential Step 2" or "Source and Function of ACTH." For some more detailed stuff, like nervous system organization, I made some little charts and outlines.

    I did not purchase TBR's biology, as a lot of people said it was "too detailed." I don't hate the idea of too much detail, and for stuff that I felt weaker on (as in, everything but bio...) I was glad to have the extra detail. Several people praised EK's bio above the rest of EK, so I went with that. I've seen people state that maybe EK is lacking in some crucial details. I wouldn't say that, but maybe I'm not the best judge. I've been working as a research associate for three years, so I might have some SLIGHT advantage with some techniques and logic. In theory, trying to decipher other groups' publications in an attempt to extract useful info might have been good practice for weird bio passages. I REALLY wouldn't recommend that as a study tactic.

    Physics, Org Chem, Gen Chem
    - First I'd read a whole TBR chapter, taking notes and doing example problems as I go. Then I'd read those notes, highlighting and color-coding. Made flashcards for physics equations and chem facts. NO specific reactions, just trends. Then I'd do the 100 questions at the end of the chapter. If TBR had a suggested passage order, I'd follow that. For Physics, I graded and reviewed each passage after completing it. For both Chems, I did the passages in the order suggested by TBR on the first page of the passage section, and graded after finishing each group of passages.

    Other random notes about study methods - I did not alternate between subjects, as some people like to do. I did all of Biology, then Physics, then Gen Chem, then Org Chem.

    Once I had taken notes and done the questions in all of my books, I had about 3 weeks to go before the actual test. So I typed up all my written notes, and then did all the TBR passages again. Some things that I missed the first time, I was still missing, in the same way I had the first time. So I spent more time on those areas, less time on stuff that felt easier this go round.

    Throughout my studying, I'd occasionally watch some KhanAcademy.org videos. They're awesome, and I highly recommend them. Not always extremely detailed in the places you might want, but usually really good overview. If you're confused by your main study source, listen to his take on the subject.

    I also made use of the MCAT study question Q+A board here on SDN. I posted questions just a few times, mostly because a lot of my questions from TBR had been asked before and were easily searched. When I was bored of studying, I'd take a quick break and read other people's questions.

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

    Biology - EK Text, plus like 10 passages of EK1001 before I decided it was crappy. Buyers remorse, but better to have extra materials than fewer I guess.

    Org Chem - TBR, EK Text, never opened the EK1001 except to briefly consider using the flashcards. Decided against it, since half the benefit of flashcards, I think, is in the experience of making them.

    Gen Chem - TBR

    Physics - TBR

    Verbal - Nothing. Felt like the AAMC practice tests were good enough, and it would take too much time/effort to retrain my reading comprehension skills for MAYBE an extra point.

    Writing - I forced myself to do the ungraded AAMC practice test essays, even though writing's always been my strength. Guess that was a smart move, since my writing score was pretty average. When I left the test center, I felt totally unsure about how I did on the test, EXCEPT that I was pretty sure I wrote some good essays. For each prompt, I'd written 3-4 paragraphs at about the 25min mark, so I had time to do some slight vocabulary editing, and I think my grammar and spelling were both decent. Maybe my examples weren't specific enough, I don't know. Maybe writing for my research work over the last 3 years has distanced me too much from my college English, and now I write too technically or something.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?


    March 21 -- AAMC 3: PS-13, V-11, BS-12 Total = 36
    March 31 -- AAMC 10: PS-11, V-12, BS-13 Total = 36
    April 3 -- AAMC 11: PS-11, V-12, BS-13 Total = 36
    April 17 -- AAMC 5: PS-12, V-11, BS-14 Total = 37
    April 24 -- AAMC 9: PS-13, V-12, BS-12 Total = 37

    AAMC practice tests are great. Felt easier than TBR passages, which was a nice confidence boost. I actually never converted my passage percentages in TBR into "scaled scores," but I'm sure they'd be worse than my AAMC scores.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?


    Nutrition - Physiology/Metabolism. I graduated in 2008, so it'd been a while since I finished the prereqs.

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

    Don't underestimate the importance of timing.
    On the practice tests, I had PLENTY of time. I would often finish BS with 30 minutes of extra time, and I always had at least 10-15 minutes on PS and Verbal. While taking the actual test though, I was getting down to the wire. For bio, I got to the end with like 2-3minutes to review a few questions I'd marked. Got a little tight with the other sections too, but not that bad. I chalk this up to the fact that on practice tests, I was relatively comfortable with making an educated guess and moving on. On the real thing, I spent more time debating, wanting to feel better about what I picked.

    Find a study spot where you can focus. For me, that was mostly a local cafe, because I like noise, but am too distracted at home. Probably spent a bunch of the money I saved from not taking a class on coffee. Practice tests I always took at home in a quiet room though.

    Not really a tip, but just to share. I went into the test feeling a little nervous, but fairly confident with the good practice scores, hoping for a 36-37 on the real thing. I came out a little shaken, not totally wrecked, but still thinking I'd probably pulled like a 32-33 if I was lucky, few points lower if I wasn't. It felt way tougher than the practice tests. Seems like that's normal though. So keep that in mind as you're struggling through the torturous 30-day wait for score release.

    If you have questions, feel free to PM me. Keep in mind that if you think my methods suck, odds are they wouldn't help you. Everyone learns differently.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    Most nights and weekends for 4-5 months, minus the Thursday nights that I volunteer. I work full time as a research associate, so I would guess that if you want to use my note-taking, passage-doing, practice-testing method, and you don't work, then you could cram it in to half that time. Even if I didn't work I don't know if I could have forced myself to study this stuff for 12 hours a day, but I guess everyone's different.
  36. cactuscake

    cactuscake it tastes good

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2011
    Messages:
    59
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    Test date: 4/29/2011
    PS 12, VR 10, BS 12, Total 34Q

    2) The study method used for each section
    Worked a ton of problems from the EK 1001 books. I estimate that between the EK books and practice tests, I did over 4500 practice problems. I actually did not work any OChem practice problems other than what was in the practice tests but I took OChem while I was studying for the MCAT so it was all fresh in my mind.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    EK for gen chem, physics, bio. EK and TPR for verbal. Class lecture notes for o-chem.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    AAMC 3-11, EK paper, TPR paper. For the AAMC tests, my score range was 29 to 34. I didn't think the EK and TPR paper tests were an accurate portrayal of the real test. The AAMC ones were definitely worth the money.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    B.S. Computer Engineering (May 2001)

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    As you can see, I'm a non-trad student. I made the decision to change careers in Jan 2009. I bought my EK books about two years before I took the test and leisurely studied the material while I took my science courses. I signed up for my test date way in advance (~7 months) and then planned an AAMC practice test every other week at my day/time. I took them at the library sitting in a cubicle wearing ear plugs so I could simulate the testing environment as much as possible. I probably studied hardcore for about five months. Any free time was spent either working problems or reviewing material.

    During this last semester I worked part-time (~20 hrs/week), volunteered, shadowed docs, did research, and took OChem lecture and lab. With everything going on I'm definitely glad I only took 4 credit hours so I could have time to study.

    I felt that the real test was much harder than the AAMC practice tests. I walked out feeling horrible about my performance so I was pleasantly surprised to see my score yesterday.

    The best advice I have is to do as many practice problems and tests as you can. It can be boring and tedious and you may feel very frustrated at times but from my experience it really pays off.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    Five months hardcore
  37. Sighz

    Sighz

    Joined:
    May 12, 2011
    Messages:
    7
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    PS 10 VR 13 BS 9
    Composite 32N

    2) The study method used for each section

    PS- went over the review books many times, and did practice questions from kaplan quiz bank and the br books.

    VR- my strongest section and did not really study for it. I took a few practice tests from the examkrackers 101 to see where I stood.

    BS- I should have studied more for this section, but I read the review books and did practice questions from br books.

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

    PS- Examkrackers, Kaplan, BR I got lucky in that I was able to borrow BR and Kaplan books so I only had to purchase BR

    VR- Examkrackers 101

    BS- Examkrackers, BR bio

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    I took most of the AAMC practice tests scoring between 29-35 with an average of 32
    PS- avg of 11 range 10-12 was a little disappointed with my score on the real thing
    VR- started at 10 tried new strategies and got up to 13 avg was 12
    BS- My weakest section by far, I should have studied earlier for it. Range was 7-12, with avg of 10. I definitely suffered in organic chemistry on the real thing, I missed some easy questions on basic terminology. Had I studied more I might have gotten those right.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Finance and IT

    6) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    I started studying during winter break and took the test in April. I did not study intensely the whole time, I was more focused during the break and closer to the test. I did not have a much time as I thought I did due to coursework, if I could redo everything I would have started earlier. I ended up having to cram biology and organic chemistry closer to the test which was a bad idea as a finance major.

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

    Remain calm. I remember during the actual test I though I was going to get a 6 on the bio section. I thought I would fail and there was no point in trying. But I forced myself to go on and tried to reason everything out and ended up scoring better than expected. Also start studying early, if your like me and freak out closer to the test you want to have all your content down by then. Finally, I know a lot of people have difficulties with verbal try new strategies and figure out what works best for you. I tried experimenting with reading the passage quickly and referring back to answer questions, reading slowly with no highlighting, and reading slowly while highlighting sentences that I thought were the main point of the passage. I found that the latter strategy worked best for me and my score went up from 10 in my first practice tests to 13.
  38. Arthritic

    Arthritic

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2011
    Messages:
    17
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    12 PS, 7 VR, 12 BS 31 P (english is my second language)
    first two test scores were 20 Q and 23 Q, respectively.

    2) The study method used for each section

    PS: Memorize and UNDERSTAND (by far the most important part) all the material in the Kaplan classroom textbook.
    BS: same as above.
    VR: took most of the EK 101 tests.

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

    For PS and BS, I took a Kaplan classroom course and basically memorized the textbooks and understood most of the material fairly well.
    VR, I felt that Kaplan was pretty weak in terms of VR preparation, so I bought the EK 101 book. I averaged 9s and 10s, but failed to do so on the real deal.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    All AAMC tests throughout my 3 attempts at taking the MCAT. All Kaplan FLs. All TBR FLs. All Kaplan section tests.

    AAMC tests are by far the best.
    To me, Kaplan FLs were better than TBR FLs. Both tests can be hard but Kaplan section tests and the latter full length tests (6-11, especially 10 and 11) were great practice for tough situations.

    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 improved 4 points over my previous test in both science sections. I previously had 8s on the sciences and got 12s this time. I truly understand how the people who have gotten low 20s feel. I felt like giving up many times and I got to the point where I doubted myself to keep questioning what I was doing.
    "Okay, so I took this test twice and got a 20 and a 23. What makes me so sure that I can break 30 if I take it another time?"
    It's hard to keep going when the results aren't encouraging, but keep at it. I kept telling myself this is only a minor obstacle to becoming a doctor, if I can't do this why should I be a doctor.
    Some tips:
    1. Don't give up.
    2. Don't hope for a miracle on test day, you really end up getting a score that shows how much work you put into it. When I got the 20 and the 23, I had averaged around a 26-27 on the practice tests, but I had a lot of weaknesses in the sciences.
    3. Don't cut corners. Don't try to BS a particular topic and hope it won't be on the real test. Study EVERYTHING and UNDERSTAND the material. Get help from other people if necessary.
    4. Take practice tests as if they were the real deal and most importantly go over EVERY QUESTION in DETAIL.
    5. Don't give up.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    A LONG TIME. I don't think I'm stupid, considering I went to a top 25 undergrad and had done well on standardized tests before (2270 SAT). I think my biggest problem was that I didn't know how to study the right way. Also, I think I just didn't try hard enough. When you think you're trying hard, push yourself to always try HARDER.
  39. dlouis

    dlouis

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2008
    Messages:
    614
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 5+ Year Member
    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    PS - 10
    VR - 10
    BS - 11
    Total 31R

    2) The study method used for each section

    PS: First I read the chapter with no note taking, then I re-read the chapter again with note taking/highlighting. I made sure I completely understood each topic that I was studying. On previous study sessions, I kind of pushed things off that I had trouble with which is obviously a terrible idea. Practicing a ton of passages is key!!

    VR: I've always had a lot of trouble with VR. I used EK101 and got anywhere from 7-11s. I did see an increase in my scores though, especially after the AAMC and TBR CBT practice tests. I tried all of the methods from the various companies and found that the EK method of emerging myself in the passage. NO NOTE TAKING WHILE READING. I made sure I was ACTIVELY reading, making mental notes to myself, getting angry with the author, agreeing with the author.. anything to help me absorb all of the information I was reading. As soon as you let your mind wander, you are doomed.
    **** I also read 4 to 5 articles from The Economist online (www.economist.com) EACH DAY the week leading up to my test. This was by far one of the best ideas I've ever had. The passages are much longer than any of the practice tests as well as the read test! The articles are long and convoluted. Great great practice. I highly recommend.

    BS - I never had a huge problem with this. But since I got a 9 on my last retake, I knew I could know the information better. I took a ton of notes, re-read chapters multiple times, and did a ton of practice passages.

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

    PS - TBR and TPR hyperlearning books and workbooks for extra passages, EK1001. I also used www.***********.com. I honestly don't know if I would have gotten a 10 and 11 on PS and BS if it wasn't for this site. Well worth the 60 bucks.

    Verbal - EK101, The Economist online articles

    BS - TBR and TPR hyperlearning books and workbooks for extra passages, EK1001. I used my ochem textbook as an extra resource. It was Organic Chemistry 7e, McMurry. great book.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    TBR CBTS and AAMC 3-11

    I took AAMC 11 last and got a 29. PS-8, BS-11, VR 10. I knew PS was a fluke as I averaged 10-12. My real score was PS-10, BS-11, BR-10. Almost exactly the same. (kinda creepy actually).

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Microbiology
    Minor in biochem

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

    - You have to be extremely confident to succeed. Be cocky if you want to. If you know the information, you will feel it running through your blood. :laugh: - Make sure you spend about 5x more time doing passages than reading the chapters. I constantly made the same mistake of reading the chapters and taking notes, but in reality, if you can't take the information you read and do well on passages, you don't know the information.
    - Make a schedule and follow it exactly. Do not cut corners, do not brush off information because you don't think you will need to know it. KNOW EVERYTHING. Push yourself when you get the urge to leave the library or wherever you are.
    - Speaking of that, do not study in an environment with distractions. I am in a long-distance relationship and decided to take 6 weeks off work, fly to where my girlfriend was (much less stress/distraction than living with my family), and study at the University's library. I also had a few friends studying for the MCAT over there who I was able to help tutor.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    -I spent about a month reviewing PS and BS. This was my 4th and final retake so it was mandatory I score >30. I used TPR hyperlearning books and www.***********.com. I was relaxed in my studying. I took notes but I tried to get a good overview of the material before I really dove into studying.
    - When I went started my intense study session, I studied for 6 weeks of 7-12 hours a day. Even after hours at the library, I would eat dinner and study at home.

    Note: I did not drink ETOH, i did not smoke pot, go to parties, stay up late...nothing that would interfere with the information I was cramming into my brain.

    It's also important to really understand who you are for this exam. The last time I took the MCAT, I used SN2ed's 3 month plan. It's a great schedule but it was not for me. I realized that I succeed in my undergrad by cramming for about a week before difficult exams. While others may study for 2 or 3 weeks, I knew I learned material quickly. So i decided to make my own 6 week plan. This was great because I never burnt out and never felt bored with studying.

    Hope this helps
    [/QUOTE]
  40. dermocrat88

    dermocrat88

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2009
    Messages:
    1,060
    Location:
    North East
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    SDN 5+ Year Member
    [/QUOTE]

    what's www.***********.com.
  41. dlouis

    dlouis

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2008
    Messages:
    614
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 5+ Year Member
    what's www.***********.com.[/QUOTE]

    Sorry, for some reason SDN blocked the site from being written. It's "course saver" .com. Absolutely recommended!!!
  42. SephirothXR

    SephirothXR

    Joined:
    May 7, 2011
    Messages:
    123
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    Sorry, for some reason SDN blocked the site from being written. It's "course saver" .com. Absolutely recommended!!![/QUOTE]

    What did you use on the website? I've heard of Chad's videos, do you pay a certain fee per month to watch them or do you pay per video? Are they definitely worth it?
  43. BluApple

    BluApple

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2011
    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Detroit
    Status:
    Medical Student
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS=11 VR=11 WS=P BS=14 Composite=36P

    2) The study method used for each section
    PS&BS: Practice problems, EK books review
    VR: I try to read a lot in general, and think that it helped in my verbal section. Other than that, just practiced whatever passages I could get my hands on. Used the AAMC tests, Kaplan, and Examkrackers

    3) What materials you used for each section
    Exam Krackers. I did look into Princeton Review but felt like it presented material in a way more difficult than would be on the actual MCAT (up for debate).

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    Just the free CBT from AAMC + AAMC 4-6.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Chemical Engineering. This beat Physical Sciences and any associated math into me more than I wanted...still I scored higher on the biological sciences somehow. This major also offered me no preparation for the verbal reasoning section...haha

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    Read stuff. If you have at least a few months in between you and the next MCAT you're willing to take, try to take on speed reading (not just reading fast, but reading accurately too). Also broaden your horizons on the genres that you generally expose yourself to. Figure out how to take interest in what you're reading.

    Also, I was kind of sure on the day of the exam that I had bombed the verbal reasoning. But it turned out okay. I took the EK advice that I should be confident of my uncertainty...if that makes any sense.


    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    1 month, averaging ~8 hrs/day. I studied for the MCAT during the summer and for the month before it, I carried my prep books, my Ipod + EK Audio Osmosis + netbook (for cbt practice test) everywhere. By the day of the MCAT exam, I had gone through the entire EK prep books (not the practice question books) twice in one month.

    Good luck everyone.

    Edit: Just one comment. You should not be learning the material in the MCAT for the first time during your preparation for this exam. It should ideally all be review from the past pre-requisite classes.
  44. nysw

    nysw

    Joined:
    May 20, 2011
    Messages:
    532
    Location:
    TX
    Status:
    MD/PhD Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS=10 VR=11 WS=Q BS=13 Composite=34P

    2) The study method used for each section
    PS&BS: Studied off Kaplan subject books. Took notes, then took notes off of the notes. Started doing passages in the last 2 weeks.
    VR: Passages. Reviewed why the answer was wrong and also revisited all questions to determine why it was right. Didn't really study for this portion.

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

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    Random Kaplan subject ones I found. Also AAMC tests. All of them.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Biochemistry. Sucks because we don't learn anything about general physiological processes/whole organ systems, only very specific mechanisms.

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    Even though you are dead tired from taking practice tests, review every question and figure out why you got it wrong/right. Write down these mistakes somewhere. Review over and over and over.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    For 3.5 months, an hour a day. Two weeks before the MCAT, I started putting in 4 hours/weekday, 8 hours on weekends. I hated the last two weeks.
  45. Cinclus

    Cinclus =^..^= Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2011
    Messages:
    3,247
    Location:
    Texas
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS=12 VR=12 WS=N BS=15 Composite=39N

    2) The study method used for each section
    BS, VR, PS: I used the ExamKrackers subject books for study and practice, and I used the EK Verbal 101 Passages for VR practice (I did 7 timed VR tests from this).

    Physics: Physics was my worst subject (by far) starting off, so I used Nova's MCAT Physics Book to help me get a really good conceptual understanding and to get lots of practice. I followed that up by going over EK Physics for extra tips and tricks.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    All sections: ExamKrackers
    PHYSICS:EK and Nova

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    I took three AAMC exams: numbers 3, 9, and 11.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Biological Sciences. I'm currently finishing my MS in molecular biology.

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    Make sure you flesh out what you write in the writing section. Even though I believe I followed the directions just fine, I was very concise, which probably lost me points (especially from the computer grader).

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    6 months, averaging ~1.5 hrs/day. I was a full-time grad student and teaching assistant while studying for MCAT, so I had to spread it out a lot. Also, I hadn't seen many of the subjects for years (2-5 years, depending on the subject), so I needed some time to work on it.
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2011
  46. Tep

    Tep

    Joined:
    May 15, 2011
    Messages:
    107
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    9/2010: 11/10/14P-35P
    5/2011: 14/11/12R-37R

    2) The study method used for each section
    Book, desk, music.

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

    Exam 1)
    PS&BS&VR: Princeton review book (single book, not hyperlearning or subject books)
    Ochem: EK book
    No writing prep

    Exam 2)
    Same, with kaplan 45 book (only writing section was useful imo)


    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    Exam 1)
    3 PR exams (online)

    Exam 2)
    2 AAMC tests (3 & 11)
    1 Kaplan paper test


    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Genetics

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    Study hard, but take lots of breaks. Don't burn out.

    Use practice tests as practice, not score indicator.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    Exam 1)
    4 weeks

    Exam2)
    6 weeks
  47. ridethecliche

    ridethecliche

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2011
    Messages:
    3,334
    Location:
    Beantown.
    Status:
    Non-Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    Retaking a 35?

    Ballsy...
  48. kautionwirez

    kautionwirez Hadoken!

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Messages:
    1,960
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 5+ Year Member
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS=11 VR=9 WS=Q BS=12 Composite=32Q

    2) The study method used for each section

    Content Review:

    Bio: Examkrackers, that's all you need. There are some sections that are flimsy, go to wikipedia or TPR
    Chem: Examkrackers. I am a biochem major and I am working with a lot of biochemistry so I had my head around this.
    Physics: TPR, makes it real easy.
    Ochem: TPR, I believe this was the best compared to EK and Kaplan. TPR makes it really easy to understand. Know your functional groups

    Verbal: I started with a VR 4 on aamc 3. I consistently read economist online, and did tons of verbal passages trying to figure out the best strategy.

    I never read throughout middle/high school. I read a lot of research papers but that didn't help. Definitely need at LEAST 3.5 months if you never practiced reading comprehension. My main trouble was memorizing what I had just read, the details, and arguments (especially the author's opinion). When I took the test, I was beginning to understand passages like I needed to but my mind was still developing the strategy (thus VR=9).

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

    EK Chapter tests
    TPR Science Workbook
    EK 101 Verbal
    TPRH Verbal Book

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    All AAMCs
    Most of TPR CBTs

    averaged 24 overall
    averaged 27 in the month of May only (may be more representative of what I was expecting to get)
    average from each section:
    BS: 10 (would get exhausted from verbal section, finished 20 mins early each time)
    PS: 10 (was making really dumb mistakes, I think on the real test I made some stupid mistakes, predicted I would get a 13)
    VR: 5-8 (never hit a 9)

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Biochemistry

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

    For those who have trouble with verbal:
    1. Read something challenging and the economist (I wrote about several things on the WS from what I read in the economist, practiced 1 prompt before test)
    2. Find a verbal strategy that works, review your mistakes.
    3. If you have time, read intensively 6 months before the test.

    Other tips:

    1. Don't have a girlfriend or SO to distract you. I had several fights with my loved one and I would have probably done better in all sections and scored maybe 2-3+ higher. I had taken weeks off my studying because of this.
    2. Even when adversity strikes or something happens to you or someone close to you, make that a motivation to do well on the MCAT and understand why you are studying for this test. One of my best friends from high school was terminally ill and passed away while I was in the process of studying. Even though it was a tough situation, through him as well as other people I known who had gone to pass because of disease has given me desire to be a physician.
    3. Don't work full time. I work 8-5 and I studied 3-5 hours after work. I barely managed and I would have done a lot better on the test if it weren't for my job taking all my time every day (another 2-3+ points).
    4. Don't sign up late, I had to drive 5 hours to AZ from CA to take my test. That may have affected me.
    5. I pushed my mcat test date 3 times. Do it if you have to.
    6. Read SDN for help/advice and don't be neurotic :)

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    4 months (3 months with several breaks I had to take). 3-4 hours a day.
  49. blizzah

    blizzah

    Joined:
    May 4, 2010
    Messages:
    812
    Location:
    Urf
    Status:
    Medical Student
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    12P 11B 10V Q

    2) The study method used for each section

    Princeton Review Hyperlearning course + EK Verbal 101

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

    TPR course matieral, EK 101, EK Biology

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    All AAMC plus some Princeton practice

    Started in low 20s. At end was averaging 32-35 total. Verbal average on practice was 11-12, so that kinda suckled

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Double Major: Nutritional Sciences + Human Biology

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

    Prepare, prepare, prepare, practice

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?

    Course over 2 months, but was doing research full-time so only had some weekends to really study.
    Then took a month off before the MCAT to spend full-time 11-7 nearly every day.

    I took the course after 2nd year before taking any Physiology so my bio was kind of weak. I could definitely score much higher now, but sufficient preparation helped me.
  50. salim271

    salim271 Patience is tough. :/

    Joined:
    May 21, 2011
    Messages:
    546
    Location:
    Michigan
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    SDN 2+ Year Member
    ...?

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