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Breaking Down the MCAT: A 3 Month MCAT Study Schedule

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by SN2ed, May 1, 2009.

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  1. loveoforganic

    loveoforganic -Account Deactivated-

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    Wrote today. Think it went pretty well. Only thing I'm really unsure of is VR - felt like I got 3 killer passages. Finished PS 12 min early, BS 20 min early, and VR just a little early. Working to get your timing was definitely helpful :)

    Good schedule, thanks again (unless I'm unhappy with my scores... then I'll find you in a month!)
  2. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    LetsGo352: Missing the first third of a few chapters won't hurt you that much in the long run. The amount of work you did amounts to roughly 1.5 weeks, so you should probably just start over. I'm sure you could get more out of those passages through a more thorough post-practice review and going over the chapters again won't hurt. Remember, concentrated studying beats studying over a long period of time.

    DrFLAGATORS: You have two options. One is to not do anything which isn't a bad idea. The second option is to read various science journals, the Wall Street Journal, philosophy stuff, etc. Beyond reading, there's nothing else you should do MCAT-wise.

    loveoforganic: I hope everything went well for you. Your practice scores were good. Hopefully the test variation goes in your favor.
  3. DrFLAGATORS

    DrFLAGATORS

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    Word. I'll start reading some articles: The Philosophers' Magazine, WSJ, NATURE...should be enough. I was looking up EK 1001 books on Amazon, but most of them were like (paperback - 2001, 2002, 2004 dates...). None from past recent years. Is this a problem? Or are all of them the same anyways so the year shouldn't matter?
  4. baldrick15

    baldrick15

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    hi everyone, i'm signed up for the sept 4 test but have until aug 20 to get half my money back so i was wondering how soon after you take the amcas free practice test full length 3 you get your score back. I'm repeating and if it's not above 30 i would rather study more and take it january, but i heard that you get your result back in like a week after you take the practice test which seems really stupid
  5. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    The EK 1001 series hasn't been updated in ages, so those are most likely the current versions. EK 101 Verbal received an update, but it's not worth buying. They took all the old passages and cut out questions to get to the new format.
  6. theromanone

    theromanone

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    Also, I would suggest to anyone thinking this schedule goes too slow.. to strongly reconsider. I "started" for the August 14th date in May, planning to study 8-12 hours a day until the test. Don't try to do too much too soon, it ended up killing me.
  7. Kaushik

    Kaushik I'm on a horse. Moderator Emeritus

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    Quick question. I'm about to take my first AAMC FL today and I realized that on the Kaplan site, there seems to be both the paper based and the CBT ones and thus, different number of questions. I didn't look further into it because I was worried I might accidentally get a peek at a passage or question.

    Anyways, which one should I take? The CBT one or the paper one? Sorry if this is a repeat question. Thanks!
  8. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    Kaushik: Go with the CBT.
  9. loveoforganic

    loveoforganic -Account Deactivated-

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    There's definitely a different feel to a CBT than paper.

    SN2ed - sent this link to my advisor. Just thought you'd like to know your effort is spreading :p
  10. Kaushik

    Kaushik I'm on a horse. Moderator Emeritus

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    Thanks for the response. I actually pushed my practice exam to tomorrow. I haven't been feeling that well today. I think I should be able to change something around in the next week or so, so that I should be back on "schedule" (quotations because I'm not following this guide exactly). So I was thinking of doing the extra problems as just regular practice passages, especially the VR ones.
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2009
  11. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    loveoforganic: Kind of weird to think about. I didn't think this thread would take off like it has. I'm glad it's been helpful.

    Kaushik: If you think you're getting sick, take a couple days off. You could be pushing your mind and body too much.
  12. Pelo

    Pelo

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    I have been following this format somewhat so may be you can help me out here. I am aiming for mid to high 30's but by max score from each section combined so far on AAMC FL is 33 (12P, 10V, 11B). I am registered for 9/4 and can't find anything for next week other than 9/10 but thats 8am and I prefer not to take exams early and my ultimate last resort would be to retake it next year if I completely bomb it now. I also have a third of the berkeley review material left which I was planning on finishing over by this week or early next week and then do the rest of FL left, I have 4 of them remaining.

    So does anyone have any good recommendations for me on what to do for the next week? I don't know if its the content or the fact that I just freeze up under pressure. When I go over the FL's, most of the things I got wrong were silly mistakes like not reading the choices throughly or missing passage information. Even if its the concepts, I remember it perfectly after the exam but go completly blind during it.

    Sorry for making this so long but I am really scared and pissed off about this.

    I would really appreciate any advice especially from those who have been in a similar situation.
  13. Kaushik

    Kaushik I'm on a horse. Moderator Emeritus

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    Ah, it was nothing bad. I'm actually behind on schedule; I just took my first FL today (technically yesterday I guess since it's past midnight) for my Sept. 10th date.

    However I'm not following the guide exactly though. And the way I have stuff planned out currently, I should be able to get through another 6 FLs before my actual date.

    My question is regarding which FLs to take. I was originally planning on starting on #3 (which I just did today) and going in order. However, looking around on here, it seems like the general consensus is that the later FLs (7-10) are closest to the real thing. Since I won't be able to finish all of them by the time my date comes around, is there one between 4-6 that I should skip so I get all the later ones in? Or is it not that big of a deal if I don't take #10 prior to my exam?

    Thanks again for everything! I truly appreciate it! :)
  14. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    Kaushik: That's good to hear. Though not as good as more cowbell. Skip AAMC #4.
  15. IndianVercetti

    IndianVercetti

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    Apologies if this has been asked in some form before.. but how many hours on average is it taking people to complete the assigned stuff each day?

    I realize this schedule if for people with full free time, but I'm trying to modify it for my semester schedule this fall. Anyone else also planning to do so, especially for the January 2010 date?
  16. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    You'll either burn out with this schedule and school or you will dilute it to the point of uselessness. This schedule does not work being dragged out over a long period of time. There have also been a few posts from people that have tried the schedule and they confirm that going through the schedule while committed to school or work is too much. I am going to stress again that this schedule does not work over a long period of time.
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2009
  17. undrgrad

    undrgrad

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    IndianVercetti: I'm in the same boat as you. Finishing my Senior year undergrad and taking the MCAT in January. I think it probably depends on the person. I'm the type of person that has my life completely booked every single day of every single year. This semester I am giving up many things in order to focus on the MCAT..but still am going to be very busy. I am very used to having a maxed out schedule, so I don't believe I will get overwhellemed (too often) as long as I stay organized. ORGANIZATION IS KEY!

    I'm planning on staying closely on track with the 4 month schedule..but know things will change in order to fit my schedule. Some days I will have to do more and some days I will have to do less. Don't get discouraged because anything is possilbe that you put your mind to! :) Sorry to get cheesy but honestly staying positive is the only thing that gets me by sometimes. PM me anytime! We can kick this MCAT together!
  18. wild2taz

    wild2taz

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    whats the best book to get to practice verbal then. i was thinking about getting the EK 101, i have the kaplan verbal and access to there online material but i've heard from a lot of people that kaplan verbal is bad
  19. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    EK Verbal 101 is the best practice followed by TPR Hyperlearning Verbal Workbook and then BR Verbal. Pick up the old version of EK 101 if possible because it contains more practice problems.
  20. Dr209

    Dr209

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    A SN2ed. I have been reading both of your topics and I always seeing you offer advice on the different companies. Thanks for all the help man. I was just wondering is there a way you can give me a break down on all the companies. like why is kaplan verbal so bad and why is berkeley review so much better. I took this course at UC Davis Med school it's for undergrads to prepare them for the mcat. It's basically a scholarship kind of thing. We took the Kaplan class. I am trying to convince them that for next year's class to take berkeley review but they want reasons for why it is better and why kaplan isn't that good. Thanks man. Also I have read about how you feel about kaplans full lengths 1-6. how do you feel about princeton reviews full lengths. Thanks man. I understand if you are to busy to give me a run down thanks anyway for all the help in the forums.
  21. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    Before I begin, the whole BR vs Kaplan topic should probably get its own thread since it is a large topic. Also, that topic is outside the type of questions associated with this guide. Yet, there's an annoying mosquito in my room keeping me up, so I'll answer anyway.

    I added a bit about why Kaplan verbal is bad in the 4th post. About the rundown for all of the test companies, I'm probably not going to write one for now since it would require quite a bit of work. Furthermore, BloodySurgeon posted saying that he's in the process of writing, so I don't see much of a point in me writing one just yet. Onto the questions.

    BR's classroom course is probably not much better teacher-wise in your area. I believe the owners, who are the best teachers, teach primarily in the UCLA and UCI area. So in terms of teachers, you will run the same risks using either company. What makes BR's teachers better in those areas? They're actually invested in the students doing well.

    BR's claim to fame is their content review books. They are hands down the best in most subjects. The only exception would be verbal and possibly biology. In biology, with the current trend in MCAT passages, BR might become the best option there as well due to its passages which are reportedly similar to the real deal. BR's content review books provide thorough explanations which are great for most students as it helps them understand the material better than a cursory overview. However, what pushes them even further over the top are their abundant practice passages. I think if you combined all of the practice passages in BR's books to Kaplan's online course material, BR would have more passages. The key to MCAT success is practice and BR fulfills that role better than Kaplan.

    A quick note about Kaplan's passages, they tend to repeat passages.

    On the subject of books, Kaplan's just aren't that great. It feels like Kaplan was trying to find a balance between TPR Hyperlearning's thorough explanations and EK's concise review. Unfortunately, while walking that rope, it failed. All too often Kaplan seems to pay too much attention to small details while neglecting some of the other areas. Compounding the problem is a poor presentation of the material that's incredibly dry and textbook-like. A good content review book should be engaging enough that you don't have to fight to stay awake while reading. Lastly, the in-book problems are basically useless.

    One of the biggest reasons I don't like Kaplan is its horrible verbal. For a detailed explanation check the fourth post. Verbal is typically a student's weakest point, thus, when picking a company with such lousy verbal, you place students in a bad position. I will go as far as to say that taking Kaplan's verbal alone is deleterious to one's potential to score well in VR. Finally, even IF Kaplan had good verbal practice, they don't offer you nearly enough passages. In Kaplan's defense, none of the prep companies offer an adequate amount of verbal practice.

    About TPR Hyperlearning practice tests, I don't have much of an opinion on them. I have seen far too many diverging viewpoints to give a thumbs up or down.

    Honestly, that rundown between BR and Kaplan wasn't very good. Well, I guess I shouldn't be surprised since I wrote it on the fly. Remember that ultimately, how you prepare for the MCAT is up to you. You don't have to take the course offered by UCD and I doubt that even a thorough argument against Kaplan would change UCD's mind.


    Edit: Here's the Kaplan verbal stuff:


    Why is Kaplan's verbal bad?

    Kaplan is bad in verbal because it doesn't stress the same things as the actual MCAT. For the MCAT, the main idea and author's point of view/opinion are the keys to success. Conversely, Kaplan focuses more on the detail oriented questions which are easy to teach; the kind of questions which make you go back over the passage to find the minute detail being tested. On the MCAT, going back to the passages will kill your timing. Furthermore, you rarely receive such questions and when you do get them, they can typically be answered with the main idea or author's opinion.
  22. wild2taz

    wild2taz

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    is it the ek 101 verbal 1st edition?

    [​IMG]
  23. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    That's it.
  24. Dr209

    Dr209

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    thanks so much man. You don't know how much your advice has helped me study for the mcat. I am in the program right now and it's taught by kaplan. This is the first year they have used kaplan. and I am trying to tell them if you are just testing out programs to see which one is the best why don't you guys give berkeley review a try. Thanks for writing that though man. much appriecated.
  25. hopefullkid

    hopefullkid Sirfukalot

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    Now that I am doing the practice AAMC, I am wondering if going with EK for bio over BR was a mistake. I used BR for GC, PHY, Orgo and my score in these areas is much higher than in bio. The last exam i got a 14 in physical and 12 in biological with two questions wrong in orgo and 6 in biology. May be the detailed approach of BR worked well for me i dont know. But too late to do anything about it now. Just get in as much bio as possible and pray for the best.
  26. SIRBIG

    SIRBIG

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    I too am tentatively planning for the Jan 2010 MCAT. I will also be in school. Being on the quarter system, I don't start until late September, and am actually going to try a 5 month study program. I've posted my program on this forum, and it's fairly intense but leaves 10 or so "leeway days" as well as breaks every 6 days or so. Outside of the first week or 2 and over winter break (since I won't be in school), each individual day shouldn't be too intense (I'm hoping not more than 2 hrs or so a day). Feedback would be appreciated so check it out if you want, and let me know if my schedule is doable.
  27. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    I wouldn't worry that much that about your Bio score. It was one test and you did well in BS anyway. Just thoroughly analyze your test, find your mistakes, and fix them.
  28. hopefullkid

    hopefullkid Sirfukalot

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    Actually all the exams that I have taken, bio score has been the lowest. Its funny because bio has always been my strong point and chemistry, both general and orgo, always killed me. So far 5 AAMC exams and in all bio is killing me.

    Its seems the tiny details get me. I know the material, but the analysis part gets tricky, and every once in a while there will be a question which was not covered in the book, as rare as it may be, it has happened.
  29. parachutes

    parachutes

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    Hey SN2ed,

    I'm getting close to my MCAT and obviously have only gone through and done/reviewed phases I & II once. I don't think I'll be able to review all of phase I/phase II and do phase III. So I was wondering if you think I should just go through as much of phase III as I can? I've gone through and reviewed phase I and II but I just keep feeling like towards the end it might be helpful to look back at those. Any input would be appreciated!

    Also, I've been hearing that the new trend for Bio is more like verbal--less outside knowledge based and more of analyzing graphs/experiments from the passages. Do you think I should focus on EK 1001 more at this time or the physical sciences/orgo? I can't seem to figure it out since I've been hearing so many different things.
  30. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    Are you sure the material wasn't covered in the passage? I don't remember any problems in the AAMC FLs that wasn't covered in EK Bio. Usually I'd be able to recall something like that since it would annoy me if it wasn't present in my review books.

    To clarify, phase 3 of this is guide is the last month which is full of practice tests and problems. Since you're getting close, you should be moving onto to phase 3. Furthermore, in phase 3 you will be hitting all of the old topics again when you complete the various chapter practice problems.
  31. grindtime1

    grindtime1

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    Is this schedule meant for people who usually take the MCAT after their junior year? In other words, for people who took biology, gen chemistry, org chemistry, and physics at least 1 year ago (maybe 2)?

    Would you say 3 months is necessary if you just finished taking physics and organic chemistry?
  32. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    The schedule is meant for people that have finished ALL of their pre-reqs (including English) and have about 3-4 months of free time.

    Yes, 3 months is still necessary even if you just finished physics and o-chem.
  33. grindtime1

    grindtime1

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    I noticed on the front page that you mentioned Economist, NY Times and others for improving verbal.

    I heard someone else say that reading complicated literature helps too. Do you think reading the works of guys like Plato and Shakespeare would help improve verbal?

    He recommended reading 2-3 long and difficult to understand books before taking the MCAT.
  34. SFANJUM

    SFANJUM

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    .
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2010
  35. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    Shakespeare wouldn't help that much. However, philosophy would help which is why I recommend Moral Issues in Global Perspectives. That book is full of famous philosophy essays.
  36. BerkReviewTeach

    BerkReviewTeach Company Rep & Bad Singer Exhibitor

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    Your posts are well thought and sincerely written, which is what makes you the best poster this site has. During my time at SDN, I've seen great posters such as yourself as a main part of the fabric here for a few months before the busy nature of their lives take them away. Vihsadhas comes to mind for instance. So before you are off to medical and have no spare time to read our gratitude, thanks for the countless time you've spent sharing well-thought posts.

    I want to add something here. When it comes to BR, the owners (Dale and Todd) teach at every location. Granted, they teach more in their local area (Dale is in Berkeley and Todd is in southern California), but it is safe to say that because they only run classes in three cities, they put out a great teaching staff everywhere. And they definitely put the time in to make sure the class is top notch. When I taught for them, I was assigned classes during the weeks whenever Todd was up north in Berkeley teaching.

    I feel pretty confident that at their three locations (Irvine and LA as you mentioned as well as Berkeley), their teaching staff is far better than anything the other companies offer. If they ever expand, then that might not be true, but as long as they stay small it will be true.
  37. loveoforganic

    loveoforganic -Account Deactivated-

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    About time this was stickied :thumbup:
  38. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    BerkReviewTeach: Thank you for the compliments :D I'm just trying to help some students through this process. Plus, there aren't too many long time posters on here anymore, so I thought I'd stick around.

    Also, good to know about the BR classes. The owners show real dedication to their course. Now if only they'd demonstrate some dedication to maintaining a good website...




    I made a large update to the 4th post FAQ.


    By the way, sweet. My schedule was good enough to get a sticky.
  39. hopefullkid

    hopefullkid Sirfukalot

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  40. Just for reference.. when you said it isn't that smart to do School and MCAT at the same time... how do people manage to skip that year of school? or am i missing something here
  41. loveoforganic

    loveoforganic -Account Deactivated-

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  42. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    hopefullkid: I don't think this situation requires anything special. Simply use your thorough analysis to find the exact weak points in your biology knowledge. Then study those areas.

    Also, you can usually expect to have a few questions that come out of left field. When you run into these questions, don't panic. Try to connect it with topics you do know. Typically, these questions do have a basis in something you learned, but it requires some clever thinking to find the connection. To me, these are the questions that truly tests one's understanding of the material.

    psharma02:
    As loveoforganic mentioned, most students study for the MCAT during their summer break.




    Made some slight updates.
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2009
  43. grindtime1

    grindtime1

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    Do you know how often these prep companies edit their books? I'm wondering if it's possible to buy prep books too early.

    For example, if I wanted to take a July 2010 MCAT, would it be ok to buy the books in December of 2009? Do the companies make major changes like this?

    Not saying I'm studying from December to July. I just want to buy the books very early.
  44. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    There usually aren't major changes for years (most changes are for spelling and whatnot). The only company I know of that has made some substantial changes recently is Berkeley Review. Even there, if you buy the books in December, you'll be fine.

    In general, if you buy from any of the major companies in December, you'll be able to get the most recent versions.
  45. scaredoflife

    scaredoflife Eaaagglleee

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    Hey SN2ed question, since you don't allow PMs ha. So I have taken the MCAT, and didn't do as hot as I would have wanted to.

    1) I have burnt out AAMC resource tests.
    2) Also I have done EK content review.
    3) Worst Sections Verbal, and Physical Sciences.

    I have all the EK1001 books, EK content review books, and EK101 verbal. Also I have the huge kaplan book. So my question is since I am retaking in January. What would you advise someone in my situation to do? I mean as far as should I buy other material? Should I go over content review more indept? And what tests should I take if I have burnt AAMC? Thanks, for what you contribute to this site.
  46. EconFootball

    EconFootball

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    SN2ed, you mention that your study schedule can probably not be done by someone in school or who has a part/full time job. Now that I have graduated, I need to keep at least a part time job, if for no other reason than to establish residency in my state and to not have medical schools perceive me as an unemployed bum. My job is pretty relaxed and only 20 hours a week, can I make your study plan work or should I find something else?
  47. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    You could try it, but I'm not sure if it will work. When I first posted my guide, there were a few people that tried it with part-time work and said it was too much. Still, if you need the money to live, take the job because that's far more important. If you don't need the money and just want the residency, could you do volunteer work instead? That way the hours are very flexible and you build up your medical school resume. Lastly, medical schools won't care that much if you take a short break for the MCAT. For instance, if you took the MCAT and then got started with various volunteer positions, it is unlikely that would hurt your chances. However, there would be a problem if you did nothing for a whole year and while you were applying to medical school (so roughly two years of doing nothing). A few months won't hurt.
  48. EconFootball

    EconFootball

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    Got it, thanks. Is there any value in going over the MCAT content list that the AAMC publishes, or is all of that material covered in prep books anyways?
  49. SN2ed

    SN2ed Moderator

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    All of the material should be in the prep books. If you end up following this guide, you have to print up the list. At that time, you could double check if you want.
  50. sixpence

    sixpence

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2008
    Messages:
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    SDN 5+ Year Member
    SN2ed,

    Do you have any suggestion for a 5 month variation? I'm taking a light course load so ideally I'd like to spend about 2-3 hrs a day and more on the weekend. Maybe doing 1 chapter of each section a week and splitting that work equally over 6 days? I have all the EK 1001 books and I'm getting the BR books for verbal, ochem and gchem. Or should I do more practice problems as well as more FLs at the end? Thanks!
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