SDN Members don't see this ad. (About Ads) I'll post this in the 30+ section too.... but I promised SDN I'd help out over here if I got a 33 or above on the test. I hope the mods allow this. I'll keep updating this as much as possible, but let this be my first draft. Since you guys love numbers so much, let me start with them: Kaplan diagnostic (after going through EK): 23 (8 PS, 8 VR, 7 BS) August 20th MCAT (after 4 months of prep.. studying 5-6 hours a day): 29Q (10 PS, 9 VR, 10 BS) January 26th MCAT (after 2 months of light prep... 1-2 hours every other day): 37O (14 PS, 10 VR, 13 BS) What does this mean? What were my practice scores like? I'll post the exact numbers later at the end of this post. Let me start off by telling you that I'm your average Joe. I've always been the hardworking type who envied the kids who always seemed to do well without much preparation on standardized tests or who aced the SATs... I feel like that no more. I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me.. I took the SAT 3 times and the ACT 3 times. Scores didn't improve much. (I even took a Kaplan course for the SAT ) I never understood standardized tests. By putting in enough time on the MCAT, I guess I figured out the MCAT. The MCAT is something you can definitely study for.. no matter what anyone says. Take as much time as you need... if you think about it... I had 6 months of prep... 4 at first, and 2 after retake. Just because you see someone study for 1 month and end up with a 40.. but see one of your buddies bust his *** off on a Kaplan course, spend 4 months studying, and still not score as well... means jack sh!t. That means nothing. I'm a prime example.. look at how much time I spent studying the first time, compared to the second. You need to study right AND you need to use Berkeley Review for PS.. if you're weak at it.. it's like free points on your test lol .. which I'll mainly talk about in the strategy/guessing section. If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Use it to your advantage.. mindset is important. Test Day I feel that taking the test once gave me confidence.. but still, in January, the nerves hit me somewhat... as I knew I got 4 Qs wrong on PS right off the bat (I was thinking about it during break), and I had marked 22 questions on the BS section of the test. I felt miserable. Materials/Review Course Chemistry: EK EK EK EK and BERKELEY REVIEW, BERKELEY REVIEW, BERKELEY REVIEW, BERKELEY REVIEW, BERKELEY REVIEW, BERKELEY REVIEW, BERKELEY REVIEW, BERKELEY REVIEW, BERKELEY REVIEW, BERKELEY REVIEW Chemistry was one of my weaker sections... I dreaded it... 3 weeks with the Berkeley Review chem books made me a Chemistry master. I didn't miss any chem questions on the real deal.. and on top of that, the passages are amazing practice. I'll elaborate on this more later on. Physics: EK and Berkeley Review for sure, ... great practice.. Physics is by far my weakest section. I never got As in Physics and always struggled. Definitely use BOTH for Physics. I promise you'll do well. BS and O Chem: I didn't find Berkeley Review's Bio helpful on Biology... way too detailed I used EK and Kaplan.. they worked In terms of practice, Kaplan's section tests were great!! There are what... 10 of them!? 10 full length BS sections.. that's a looot of practice. I exhausted Kaplan.. definitely worth it. I'm a Bio major.. but felt the most uneasy about this section on practice tests.. since it required a lot of reading. I suck at reading comprehension... so I had to improve my "guessing" strategies.. I'll write more about this later. This is what helped me get my BS score. O Chem.. no opinion on my abilities... just meh. I took Kaplan over the summer.. to be honest, the lectures were useless. The online material was great. If you have the money to spend, definitely, definitely get the online course. You get the AAMCs along with the Kaplan FLs.. which I really suspected for the looongest time... but they turned out pretty accurate, atleast the second time. Strategy/Guessing/What I did General Stuff Look at the AAMC topics list and identify the topics you had difficulty with and study those mainly... for me it was Circuits, Doppler Effect, Solubility, Acid/Base Chem, Torque, Sugars/Carbs in O Chem, Digestive System.... make notecards! I'm really not a notecard person... but writing down questions like "What are the 4 pancreatic hormones down" and having the answer on the other side reallly realllly improves recall. I made over 150 notecards on topics I was not sure about. Helped BIG TIME.... I can't believe I forgot to post this above... adding it now. Also write stuff like, what happens if I add a resistor in parallel to a circuit? How is current affected... just knowing stuff like this like the back of your hand will save unnecessary time. The first time I had circuit questions, I had to draw 2 resistors in parallel to check if my thinking was right. Just knowing this high yield facts by making notecards will save you a tonnnnnn of time on the real deal. You reduce unnecessary thinking time. On the real deal, I was presented with a rather complicated looking circuit... there was shortcut to the problem. Making flashcards on what happens when a) happens, b) is added c) is removed etc... helped me find great shortcuts that I was able to employ on the real thing. PS: Definitely the easiest section to improve on! Knowing the formulas/basics can get you a 10. Also remember that it is very likely for you to get a few points lower on any section... your goal is to not be satisfied with whatever score you have. Even if you're getting 12s (like I did the first time), there is still a chance you could get a 10 on the real deal. PS is something you can really perfect. No matter what your background, seriously, everyone should be going for a 15 on PS. It's possible!!! My physics background sucks... chemistry, I barely got by. I was never a Math person... more of a biology person... and I turned PS into my strongest section. Use as many books as possible without wasting too much time. I looked at EK, Nova, Berkeley Review, and Kaplan. EK was great.. Kaplan was similar. What's missing in 1 book, you can find in the other. Berkeley Review seemed great for Physics... but I didn't have much time to review it. I only did the Fluids section (something I never understood).. and it made perfect sense to me afterwards. I know I only did 1 section... but I'll assume it's Physics is pretty darn good. But of course, its Chem section is amazing.. I won't repeat the same thing over and over . If you really want, you can find them on Craigslist for cheap probably... But $60 for these brand new Chem books is def. worth it in the grand scheme of things. And lol for those who IMed me about selling them.. sorry.. I'm letting someone use them right now .. and saving them for my brother haha. First 2 are probably the most important tips by far that you can improve on very easily 1) Improve your arithmetic... get really, really, really fast with basic Math. Your confidence will improve, and you won't have to keep checking your answers. TBR's practice passage based questions had a tonnnnn of math.. no I naturally got good at this while working through the passages. 2) Dimentional Analysis ... PERFECT this... I had around 5-7 questions that seriously required you to do this. For example (I'm making this up), a question will ask you how to represent FORCE. You automatically think F = ma... but mass * acceleration will never be in the answer choices. Each choice will have some something convoluted like Energy * Mass * density .. blah blah.. etc... these questions, you simply have to go through each answer choice in order. Working on this will help bigtime... but more importantly, some questions will do it in a subtle way... and under time pressure, if you don't look at the UNITS of the answer choices, you can get a question wrong. Something I frequently noticed was: having the correct number as the answer but paired with the wrong units. Learn to look for this on every calculation question. 3) CHECK FOR BALANCED EQUATIONS every time. Even if it doesn't ask you to.. do it! I recognized one on the real deal... simply b/c during practice tests, I forced myself to check if every Chemical equation I saw was balanced. If it's not balanced, you will definitely get a limiting reagant question wrong. It's just a great habit to get into. 4) Learn to Skim Passages when necessary I had a hard looking roller coaster passage... I didn't even want to look at it. Chances are.. if a passage looks obnoxiously hard, it's that way for everyone. I went straight to the questions... and sometimes, the questions alone can give you information on what the passage is about. Be flexible, practice this on practice tests! 5) Keep a log of the types of questions on each exam you took .. you'll start to see some patterns in how the AAMC is formulating questions... On the earlier AAMCs when I was preparing the second time, after Berkeley Review, I was getting consistend 12s. I only improved my scores to the 13 - 15 range within the last 3 weeks before the exam! I guarantee you that if you keep a log, you will notice that some types of questions start showing up again and again and again.... you'll just say to yourself, "Hey! it's that type of question! I know how to do it." You're not going to be shocked on the exam. VR: I'm no Verbal expert.. but I tried finishing each passage within 7.5 minutes.. as fast as possible without losing accuracy (Vihsadas' advice). Understand that you can read! you've been doing it since kindergarden... my reading comprehension isn't great.. it's normal. I got a 630 Verbal or something like that on the SAT. I've read a net total of 3 books (non-science) for college since I graduated. You want to get a 10 on Verbal. Unfortunately, I didn't do as well on Verbal as the other sections... so I think my advice is probably not the best. BS: I guess my knowledge base is OK. The only advanced classes I took were anatomy and genetics (which was basically just high school level Bio with extra details). I never took Biochem.. it probably would have helped. I had a Western blot passage that I thought I missed completely. However, by looking at the images given, I was able to predict answers for each question. Again, if a passage seems complicated, it probably is for everyone! Go to the figures and questions! Take the AAMCs and look over all your marked/wrong questions. Keep looking at them.. analyze them. Figure out what you were thinking when you answered the question. 1) Draw a map of the body systems in the human body... start with what happens when food enters your mouth.. or what happens when air enters your nose? If you do this over and over (write it down once and practice recall), physiology will make a lot more sense to you. how does this affect the heart? stomach? lungs? etc.. 2) Try and relate this to fluid flow in physics, for example. As one of my engineering friends told me, imagine the body as a circuit with blood being the current. 3) Know which systems normally "go together"... for ex: Nervous and Endocrine system... at times, if you don't know what a question is talking about, knowing which "things" go together can be a big help. 4) Again, make a log. It'll help. Final Word of advice: Take the MCAT when you feel ready. Don't rush it at all. When I was going to take it the 2nd time, I felt fairly confident I would pull off a 33 atleast, a very competitive score. Also, taking it once boosted my confidence bigtime before going in there. Of course, after coming out, I felt like I got run over haha.... but your attitude going in there matters a lot. AAMCs are good indicators. Do noooot hope for a miracle on test day. Assume you'll score around your average + or - 2-3 points ... if you're not happy with your average, and if there is no urgency, wait and take it when you are happy with your practice scores. Set a goal and do not get your mind off it. If you work hard and don't slack off, you can pull it off. Practice Scores: First time: CBT 4: 12/8/11 (31) CBT 5: 13/8/12 (33) CBT 6: 12/8/11 (31) CBT 7: 10/10/12 (32) CBT8: 12/10/10 (32) CBT9: 12/9/11 (32) FL 1: 11/9/9 (29) FL 2: 13/10/10 (33) FL 3: 11/12/14 (lolol) (37) FL 4: 11/8/12 (32) FL 5: 13/8/11 (33) My scores were all over the place.. as seen above.. and Kaplan can be very inaccurate at times.. lol Second Time: remember I took these twice AAMC 4: 13 PS, 10 VR, 12 BS (35) AAMC 5: 12 PS, no VR, 12 BS AAMC 6: 12 PS, 12 VR, 12 BS (36) AAMC 7: 15 PS, 12 VR, 11 BS (38) AAMC 8: 13 PS, 10VR, 10 BS (33) AAMC 9: 14 PS, 11 VR, 13 BS (38) AAMC 10: 14 PS, 9 VR, 13 BS (36) Kaplan FL#7: 12 PS, 12 VR, 14 BS (38) Kaplan FL #8: 12 PS, 13 VR, 13 BS (38) Comments on these: What's important to realize is ... I didn't really do a whole lot more studying for the Jan. MCAT.. I picked up Berkeley Review, worked on the passages, and that MINDSET leaked into the other subjects... moreover, I completed 20 section tests and the 8 AAMCs with 4 additional Berkeley Review practice tests... I saved more than a month for practice tests and analysis alone.