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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. 202781


    May 6, 2008
    Score is a 32
    VR 11, BS 11, PS 10

    Step #1
    If you already know the science don't waste your time studying it. Instead take practice tests because that will be what helps you most.

    Step #2
    Make sure you don't overlook a section. For example many of my peers have done well on the BS and PS sections but totally bombed the VR section (8 or less). DONT OVERLOOK THE VERBAL REASONING...if you want to blow off a section blow off the writing sample because it won't mess up your composite score and really does not mean anything.

    Don't stress out about the exam... In order to do this make sure you take every practice test you can buy or find. Take every test under test taking conditions (make sure the room is hot, smelly and have small amounts of backround noise to throw off your concentration...this is only if you want the truly authentic experience).

    Step #4
    Don't think that you need to take a prep course to score over 30...I know that I cannot pay attention when a lecturer is going over something I could learn faster reading in a book.

    Step #5
    Go through all of the exams and make a list about what the MCAT tests most frequently...and make sure you have those sections down. For instance there has almost always been a section on PS dealing with free energy and the equation deltaG=deltaH - TdeltaS. There has also always been a section dealing with solutions and what type of compound will precipitate.
    In VR make sure that you are comfortable reading about dinosaurs or other extinct animals because there is always a passage on that (by this I mean learn how to map out a dinosaur passage because they will give you a bunch of dates and species and try and confuse you). Another VR staple is the passage about thought processes...for these passages learn to write down the two or three different schools of thought, write down key differences.
    in the BS the O-chem always has questions dealing with Ortho Meta Para positioning and also usually a question on chromatography. The biological science section is a little harder to guess what they are going to test you on...just make sure you are proficient at reading/ interpreting charts and figures because that is where you will gain tons of points!

    Step #6
    Go into the test only when you are ready to take it, if you are practicing and getting below 30 (or whatever your goal is) then it is going to be highly unlikely that you will magically jump up to the score you want on test day

    Step #7
    I am 100% serious about this one. The night before the test is always stressful and it is hard to get sleep. Many of my peers tell me that they lay in bed for hours awake because they are nervous. Have a couple beers (don't get drunk though)...I think I only had one drink...and then smoke a couple of cigarettes to calm your nerves and then pass out.

    Step #8
    On test day eat a good breakfast, wake up at least 45 minutes prior to the exam so you can get a shower and brush your teeth and pop a couple No-doz. Drive to the test room and walk in like the most confident person in the world. Personally I decided to walk in with my sweatpants, a hooded sweater and my coolest shades on. While your in the waiting room look around and size up the people and tell yourself how much better you most likely are than they are...Most pre-med people have an arrogant preppy look to them and it will psych you out if you don't realize that most of them will probably do poorly (statistically the average will be like a 25). So size up the people behind your shades while you are waiting... and keep saying a phrase in your head to pump yourself up...mine was "You got this baby! You got this". Once they call your name look around the room at all the nervous people...don't answer for a couple seconds and then casually say. "Oh.. I guess that's me." (like you are being interrupted from some important daydream). Since you know you will score over 30 because you had been doing well on your practice tests you should have nothing to fear and it should be a rather stress-free experience. Go in there and do your thing and then wait a month to see your scores and show them off...

    Good Luck everyone

    P.S. I studied like maybe 8 hours a day for about two weeks (over spring break)
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  3. tco

    tco 7+ Year Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    I'm looking for good test prep materials. It seems as if a lot of you like the Princeton Review for PS section. Is that the best for Genchem/Physics? If not, in your opinion, what is?

    Also, I've read a few very bad reports about the EK Bio 1001 and Physics 1001, is any of this true?

    Thanks for any help.
  4. MDWannabe2009

    MDWannabe2009 2+ Year Member

    Oct 26, 2007
    Lol, nice post....my question is, how did you manage to review everything and take all those practice exams in 2 weeks? Basically, I have 2 weeks left before my exam and i'm planning on studying hardcore for like 10-12 hrs/day. What would you advise me to do? I'm planning on taking a FL everyother day.
  5. imcanadaian

    imcanadaian 7+ Year Member

    Apr 5, 2008
    Oakland, CA
    1) Your individual scores and composite score: 35S (11V, 12PS, 12BS)

    2) The study method used for each section: Basically went through the Examkrackers books cover to cover multiple times. Test was taken April 5th, so that meant I would be doing a big bulk of my studying during the school year. I took a lighter schedule (less biochemistry classes, more psychology courses for my other major) as well as some research units (about 12 hours a week of research)

    During Winter Break, I was supposed to be "studying" and getting a head start, but truthfully not much of this happened, as I was really just messing around, not really cracking down all that much. I read all the exam kracker books cover to cover--not really taking down notes, but just getting a feel of the material--was surprised to find the lack of heavy DEPTH of the material, but more the broad coverage of topics being tested.

    January-February (about 8 weeks) I semi-followed the 10 week EK schedule, but modified it a couple of weeks in to fit my needs. Basically, I did a lecture of biology and half of ochem one even days, taking careful notes and jotting down problem spots and doing one lecture of physics and one lecture of chemistry on the odd days. Verbal was done almost everyday, and I just kept going through the small EK book over and over. Truthfully, studying over the school year was extremely difficult. Balancing a heavy double-major workload, as well as leadership in student clubs and research meant that it was extremely difficult to keep up. but WHATEVER YOU DO, MAKE A SCHEDULE AND STICK TO IT. There are weeks when all I'd be doign each night would be making up for being behind in my MCAT study schedule. I told myself that I would not let myself fall more than a day behind, and used lulls in school busyness to catch up. Studying for the MCAT is like having a huge 5 unit course, it consumes all your free time, but it'll be WORTH IT.

    Once I hit March, and with less than 1 month left before my test date..it was practice problems/practice test time. This proved nice for me instead of taking practice Q's after I go over chapters in EK, because now its been some time, and I was forced to assimilate and extract the information I needed, which is closer to the task I would have on the real MCAT. I basically worked on this, doing practice Q's, ID-ing problem spots, and created a "sheet of awesome" where I had the random concepts, vocab, formulas, etc that I needed help on through my practice problems/tests--I was going to use this to focus my last few weeks of studying.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc): EK all the way!! As a biochemistry and psychology double major, I had covered most of the techical topics in detail in many of my classes--so EK was perfect for giving me concise information and good summaries, tips and practice. For those who don't have as strong of science backgrounds, other, more in-depth tests may be better.

    4) Which practice tests did you use? I used the EK 1H practice test (kind of difficult..haha) as well as AAMC practices 10,9,8,7,6. I started out scoring at 30 (on this kaplan simulated test)..and managed to be averaging around 38-40 on my AAMC practices up to my test. However, upon hindsight, I definitely feel like the AAMC's seemed easier than my April 5th administration. It could be a product of nerves, etc, but the scores DO speak for themselves....I like the AAMC's though, definitely the best representation of the real thing (duh)

    5) What was your undergraduate major? Biochemistry and psychology double major

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    I mentioned earlier about the SCHEDULE. especially if you aren't taking a prep course, or if you're studying during the school year..you ABSOLUTELY need a schedule and stick to it...otherwise you will be swamped and fall behind QUICKLY.
    And definitely keep things in perspective. Be able to fairly evaluate the nature of the MCAT--its huge, its a painful, multi-month process that is going to test you...but trust me, you'll get through, and if you have the right attitude while studying...you'll be able to eventually say "wow, this isn't TOO bad! it's still freaking ridiculous and a pain in the butt, but I can handle this" Good friends who encourage you and understand that for about 3, 4 months you'll be in a hole all the time (and make you cookies on test day) also help A LOT :)

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    Total "time" = about 4 months
    REAL study time: only about 2 months. I spent the first two "months" just familiarizing myself, reading through AAMC publications, SDN, random online stuff...just getting perspective of the nature of this test. Then I spent the next 2 months hardcore studying...about 3-4 hours a day...a lot of late nights and waking up early to find time to study...but it worked out!
  6. Zappel


    Mar 31, 2008
    hello guys,

    Congratulations on the amazing scores! I'd just like to check, do you feel that the examkracker book alone is sufficient to prepare for organic chemistry for the MCAT exam? I have no background in organic chemistry.
  7. fan786

    fan786 5+ Year Member

    May 15, 2008
    I wanted to know what scores people who got a 30+ got on their first diag/aamc practice test.
  8. bigman225

    bigman225 5+ Year Member

    Feb 28, 2007
    Probably not. The EK stuff is geared toward people who took / did well in all the prerequisites.
  9. imcanadaian

    imcanadaian 7+ Year Member

    Apr 5, 2008
    Oakland, CA
    Yaa I agree--the EK stuff is SUPER concise. You gotta have some basic understanding of ochem to be able to use what the EK ochem book gives you. It's especially good if its been a couple of years since you took ochem, or if you need just the "what do i need to know" facts for the test. Proper intuition surrounding the subject, however, is something you'll need to have from your prereq course to utilize the EK material well (to problem solve, expand on their information)
  10. achieve


    May 16, 2008
  11. achieve


    May 16, 2008
    the princeton review
  12. ChubbyChaser

    ChubbyChaser Yummmy 2+ Year Member

    Apr 14, 2007
    31 on kaplan diagnostic...30 something on first aamc.
  13. tco

    tco 7+ Year Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Would you (you in general, no one specific) recommend the AO series?
  14. utahstudent

    utahstudent 2+ Year Member

    Feb 15, 2007
    I scored a 34Q (PS-10, VR-11, BS-13). I took the Princeton Review classes. Looking back I honestly think that there were many concepts that I could have learned better on my own and wouldn't have had to pay thousands to listen to some physics grad student who had never taken the MCAT try to explain physics concepts to us in a concise manner. It really comes down to personal study and taking a lot of practice tests. I think that from January up to the April 19th test date I took at least fifteen or sixteen practice tests from Princeton Review and AAMC. These helped out the most so that I could actually get accustomed to the test format and how I would approach each section. I also did a lot of practice passages from each section, especially in physical sciences and verbal reasoning. When I took the practice tests I hardly ever got the score that I wanted to ultimately achieve. These scores ranged from a 28 to a high of 33 once. Then when I actually took the real test I scored a 34. Go figure. There is a God I reckon. Good luck to those who have yet to take the test. There is hope for you all.
  15. JuliaGulia2789

    JuliaGulia2789 2+ Year Member

    Apr 20, 2008
    Sitting at my desk
    1) Your individual scores and composite score: I got a 31 on my first Kaplan diagnostic (10PS 10VR 11BS) and a 40R on the real thing (14PS 11VR 15BS). On the AAMC tests, my range was 38-41, so I was right in the middle.

    2) The study method used for each section: I went through the whole Kaplan online program. There were a couple of PS topics I had never covered in my physics classes (optics and nuclear phenomena) so I went back to the good old textbook and worked through them, did some HW problems, etc. I did about 12 full-length tests prior to exam day too. I spent maybe 20 - 30 hours/week for 8 - 10 weeks studying.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc): I used the Kaplan online course. The lectures were awful but I LOVED having detailed statistics of my performance on different question types (e.g., it would tell me I only got 24% of amine questions answered correctly, and 86% respiratory system). Each section has pre- and post-tests associated with it, and there is tons of verbal reasoning practice.

    4) Which practice tests did you use? I also all the AAMC practice full-length tests (included in the inflated price of the Kaplan course) and 6 of the Kaplan full-length tests. Kaplan also had numerous section tests that I did and so I totaled about 5-10 full-length, timed section tests for each section as well. I was very nervous about taking a computer-based exam because I am old and it's hard for me to read for meaning on the computer screen. My hope was that, by doing all the practice online, I would be a stronger CBT test-taker by exam day.

    My scores didn't really change all that much once I'd completed reviewing all the material. The AAMC cumulative scores were in a narrow range between 38 and 41 (PS range 12-15, VR range 10-13, BS range 12-14). My Kaplan scores were in a cumulative range between 37 and 43 (PS range 12 - 14, VR range 11 - 15, BS range 13 - 15). I think this shows that there is an element of luck in which test form you receive AND there is a strong "mental readiness" component.

    5) What was your undergraduate major? International Affairs. All the science was post-bacc

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    You must be able to learn from your mistakes! Nothing was more frustrating to me than getting the same question type wrong over and over again, especially in the sciences. That's why I loved the Kaplan online statistics - I could see which areas I was bad at and work with them.

    I call B.S. on the whole "mapping the passage" blah blah blah. It's a total time sink and the maps never got my scores up. I did better just jotting a few notes and using the extra time to "digest" the passages. I tried mapping during my practice tests but didn't do it diligently. During the real test, the only section where I mapped was VR...

    I think a lot of people waste time during the test doing complicated calculations, rather than thinking intuitively "does my answer make sense?" Also, don't spend much time studying organic chemistry. It's been diluted to just a few basic concepts and comprises only a small portion of biological sciences. The things I think you should know COLD are anything to do with kinematics (translational and rotational motion), electromagnetics, homeostasis, and DNA/RNA transcription/translation.

    My other advice is "mental readiness". Particularly in verbal, my scores invariably dropped whenever I got distracted or flustered; I needed my full attention devoted to the passages to score well - obviously, nerves on test day played a big part in my score being lower than my average. Deep breathing techniques, meditation, or medication - do whatever you need to to feel calm and confident on test day.

    The day before the test, try to relax and be happy! It's almost over!

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT? About 8-10 weeks. Being the dork I am, I joked about how I was waiting for my MCAT "action potential" to fire, because I purchased the software about 15 weeks before the test day and then sat on it for about 6 weeks before starting to study. I was a "weekend warrior", since I work full time, so I basically just studied 10 - 12 hrs/day on weekends, plus maybe 1-2 nights per week.
  16. aloepathic

    aloepathic 7+ Year Member

    Apr 10, 2008
    Durham, NC
    I got a 25 on my first AAMC e-mcat test. Ended up with a 36Q (13V 12P 11B) using only EK study materials (all review books and 1001 chem and 1001 physics)
  17. Mets31

    Mets31 7+ Year Member

    Apr 28, 2008
    I'm taking the test a week from yesterday and don't feel comfortable with a single strategy that I have tried for verbal. When I try to write stuff down about each paragraph, I feel like I waste way too much time and have to rush the questions a ton. When I simply read and then try to look at the questions and go back to find what it's talking about, I spend a ton of time searching for the place where something was stated. I write out the exact times that I should be spending on each paragraph and always go way over. Did you try to formulate an answer before looking at the choices? Did you feel rushed for time on verbal for the actual exam? Would you suggest saving the passages with the most questions for the end? I will usually get one wrong in each section and then a ton wrong on the last one I do, which is usually one with 7 questions. Did you glance at the questions first to see if there was a question that referred to a specific word in the passage? I really need to find something that works and soon. Let me know if anyone has any suggestions.
  18. What up doc

    What up doc FLASH 7+ Year Member

    Jan 13, 2008

    uhhh, this post makes no sense
  19. tncekm

    tncekm MS-1 2+ Year Member

    Jul 18, 2006
    I think he meant to write it out like this:

  20. tessa108

    tessa108 2+ Year Member

    May 20, 2008
    I got a 31 on the the first practice I took, I believe. Most of my later practice tests were in the upper 30s, and I ended up with a 40S on the actual thing (12V, 13P, 15B).

    As for advice, most of it has been pretty well covered in here. The most important thing is just figuring out what works best for your studying style. Personally, I gradually went through the Princeton Review book in the months leading up to the test, then intensified the studying and practice tests in the final 2-3 weeks.

    Other than that, once you get to the test, RELAX. Don't waste time and energy agonizing about the questions you don't know, or over what seemed to be a bad section. If you have a tough passage, you have to be able to move on and focus on the other parts of the test. It's a hard exam, and there will be things you don't know - so get used to that and managing your time without getting stuck on a few questions. Take the breaks too; they help for mentally putting aside earlier sections and starting fresh on the next one.
  21. acennace

    acennace Junior Member 5+ Year Member

    Dec 4, 2005
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS=9 VR=11 WS=Q BS=10 Composite=30Q

    2) The study method used for each section
    PS&BS: Reviewed Kaplan MCAT books. Things I know from my major, I didn't spend a lot of time in.
    VR: I'm a bio & philosophy double major. The philosophy part helps me a lot on this, especially since I got a passage on Jeremy Bentham. I also read GQ and Esquire regularly :p...

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

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    Kaplan and eMCAT

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Bio & Philosophy

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    Study, study, study. I studied only for about a month with 6 hours each day. The week of the MCAT, I had to fly to DC and back for an Aussie med school interview. I didn't have a lot of sleep that week, but I made sure the night before I slept well. I also had a home spa treatment the morning of.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    4 weeks, 6 hours each day

    My diagnostic test score: 21
    First practice: 21 (4 weeks before)
    Second practice: 25 (2 weeks before)
    Third practice: 28 (1 week before)
  22. nikkiMD19

    nikkiMD19 5+ Year Member

    Jun 1, 2007
    Miami, FL
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS=11 VR=10 WS=O BS=10 Composite=31O

    2) The study method used for each section
    PS&BS: I reviewed all the material with the Kaplan books that come with the course. I read every chapter, took notes, and took all the quizzes/tests Kaplan provides for each chapter.
    VR: Practice, practice, practice!! I did one VR passage per day, one VR section test per week, and went over each test I took in detail.
    Also, one month prior to my test date I began taking 3-4 full lengths per week, about one every other day. On days I wasn't taking a test, I was going over the test thoroughly to see what I did wrong and to learn from my mistakes.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    I took the Kaplan course and highly recommend it! The materials they provide are great and their online system really helps you understand your strengths/weaknesses. It's really easy to keep track of your progress with Kaplan.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    Kaplan Full Lengths and all AAMC full lengths (comes with Kaplan course)

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    Biological Science major, Chemistry minor

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    The best advice I can give is to be consistent with your studying... make a realistic study schedule and STICK TO IT!! Remember to be balanced, though. Schedule in some time for rest and relaxation!

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    I studied for about 3.5 months, 5 days a week, and averaging about 5 hours a day.

    Best of luck! :luck:
  23. tessa108

    tessa108 2+ Year Member

    May 20, 2008
    The test does have a highlighting function, so that should help with your problem about finding key information in the passage. Personally, I found that much more useful - and feasible with the time limit - than trying to write notes.

    As for your time issues, I can't really give you numbers because I never timed myself on individual passages. I also didn't feel any more rushed on the actual exam than I did in preparation; the length was pretty comparable to practice tests I took. It seems like you need to speed up a little on the earlier passages to not be rushed at the end...try to keep a steady pace and avoid spending a lot of time on a question or passage that's especially difficult. I did the passages in order, but marked the hard questions for later instead of wasting a lot of time trying to dig through the passage before the rest was finished. Practice is really the best strategy for figuring out what works for you, though.

    Good luck!
  24. Vihsadas

    Vihsadas No summer Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 5+ Year Member

    Oct 17, 2007
    An Igloo
    It's about time that I posted as much of my personal strategy that I can in this thread. To be honest I'm kind of ashamed that I haven't yet! Without further ado, here is Vihsadas's Personal MCAT Strategy (err...mostly, I think.):

    1) Your individual scores and composite score:

    PS: 15
    BS: 14
    VR: 11
    WS: S
    Composite MCAT: 40S

    2) The study method used for each section

    As a general note, practice will always be the most important part of your MCAT preparation…for any section. You should make time to do as many practice exams as you possibly can and to do practice problems as you are doing your content review. For the MCAT, you need to become comfortable with the testing format, the types of questions, and the manner in which concepts and information is tested. Being familiar with these aspects of the exam can only come through long and thorough practice of MCAT material. If you are diligent and really put forth maximal effort into practicing the material, you will start to gain an intuition about MCAT questions, and how to approach them. Accordingly, the number one mistake made by MCAT studiers is to only review the material in great depth, and to neglect actually taking timed, full-length practice MCAT exams. In fact, you must do both.

    Understanding Concepts and Developing an Intuition – The best way to approach this section is to be extremely curious about the concepts presented. When you are reviewing a particular concept you should constantly be asking yourself “WHY?” Doing so will refocus your thought process from one of memorization to one of understanding. In fact, you must understand why all of the equations are the way they are, and why they make logical sense. One way to facilitate this process is to try and work through what you think should happen without worrying about the numbers at first. Often, students have memorized an equation and will just settle for plugging values into an equation in order to try and arrive at an answer. Unfortunately, this process often bogs the student down in number crunching at the expense of understanding what is actually going on. The latter is extremely important for the MCAT.
    Thus, when you are doing physics and chemistry problems, the first thing you should do is think about the general result you would expect from the situation given. Only when you have understood what should happen conceptually, should you begin number crunching. For instance, if you are dealing with an acid base buffer problem and the question asks, “What will the pH be after I add X amount of Y substance?”, the first thing you should do is ask yourself, “Would I expect the pH to increase a little or a lot, stay the same, or decrease a little or a lot?” Once you think through the concepts, you’ll be more confident in your numerical answer as well as have an understanding of why your numerical answer is correct. After all, the MCAT is a thinking test. If you do not understand the concepts you simply will not be able to confidently answer a fair number of problems on the real exam. That being said, even though I have stressed the importance of concepts, you still must also know all of the relevant equations, and be comfortable with manipulating those equations. Both concept understanding and skill in formula manipulation are necessary for success on the MCAT PS.

    Additional Note: When we say we are doing "Content Review" in terms of PS, this includes doing practice problems along with your content review to absorb the material. For physics and chemistry, an integral part of learning to understand the material is to work through problems to make the logical process more concrete in your mind. Thus, do sectional tests, practice problems and practice passage (but not timed, full lengths!) when studying.

    Learning to be Highly Proficient with Simple Math – This is a point that is grossly overlooked both by students themselves and test prep companies. In my opinion, the most important factor that separates the average speed test taker from one who can finish the PS section with 10-20mins remaining is the ease at which the latter uses estimation methods, tricks with formula manipulation, and answer elimination techniques to reduce the amount of scratch work necessary to complete a problem. On my real exam, I used no more than ¼ a single-sided page for scratch work on the PS. Because I was intensely comfortable with order of magnitude estimation, decimal estimation, log estimation, dimensional analysis and conceptual knowledge I could eliminate answer without too much written math. Sure, you could use the formulas to explicitly solve each problem, but using estimation along with formula manipulation will save you whole minutes on the real exam. In previous posts I have highlighted one example of this:
    Estimation trick for pH and log calculations

    In addition, you must be completely comfortable with orders of magnitude estimation. You should be able to figure out just from estimation what the order of magnitude of the answer should be. This will aid you in eliminating one or two answers right away. One way to start to get good at this is to treat every number in scientific notation:
    If X = n x 10^-4 and Y = p x 10^8, then Y/X = (p/n)x 10^(8 + 4).
    You must be completely fluent in order of magnitude manipulation like this. Definitely practice it.

    You should also become familiar with estimating the decimal values of weird looking fractions and the fractional values of weird looking decimals. For instance, .3145/.6021 might look difficult, but it’s approximately = ½. This kind of estimation is usually sufficient for the MCAT, and GREATLY simplifies the manipulation of formulas and numerical calculations.

    Dimensional Analysis – Using the units of physical quantities to your advantage is also often grossly overlooked by students. One way to check your math is to manipulate the units of the quantities you are using while you are manipulating the math.
    The following post sufficiently explains one very MCAT relevant way of how you should be able to use dimensional analysis on the PS section of the MCAT:
    An example of how dimensional analysis can really save you one the MCAT.

    An additional way dimensional analysis can be helpful is if you forget the formula for something. Let’s say that you forgot that one of the formulas for electric potential (Volts) is Volts = Electric field * distance. Let’s say that you know that Voltage is expressed in Joules/Coulomb and Electric field is Newtons/Coulomb. Then, you remember that Work (Joules) = Force (Newtons) * Distance (meters). Therefore, if I multiply Newtons/Coulomb * Distance I get Joules/Coulomb, which is the correct units for electric potential. Usually, this trick will lead you to the right answer!
    A word of warning, however, about this last point: Sometimes there will be an extra constant factor needed to arrive at the correct answer. Therefore, only use this technique when you really forget the correct formula and be wary for extra constants! Example:
    Let’s say that you know the units of energy are [E] ~ kgm^2/s^2. Knowing that, it would be reasonable to guess that one correct formula for energy would be E = mass*velocity^2. Afterall, mass*velocity^2 has the correct units…but because of how the formula for energy was derived, energy, as you know, is actually = ½ mass*velocity^2.
    So while this particular trick with dimensional analysis can be useful, you must not rely on it.

    See the following post: My Verbal Strategy
    Just as a note, I wanted to say that I was scoring 13-15s on the verbal practice exams for AAMC CBT 7-10. As a word of warning, please heed the part I mention about being able to do the verbal section with 5-10mins remaining. If you get a monster verbal section like I did on the MCAT, you’ll at least be prepared to get through the entire thing. My real verbal was hard. Really hard. Be prepared!

    Biology is like a Modified Verbal Section – The trick to the BS is treating this section a little like the verbal section. You should definitely memorize everything that you possibly can in terms of biology and organic, but, while your are memorizing you MUST think long and hard about the logic of what you are memorizing. For instance, you can memorize all of the favorable and less favorable conditions that lead to Sn2 or Sn1 or E1 or E2 reactions in organic, but, do you have a conceptual understanding of WHY these different conditions favor one type of reaction over the other. This type of conceptual understanding on the bio section is absolutely necessary for the MCAT. Then, you will have to be able to understand the logic that is presented in the passage (because it will be more convoluted than in the PS) and using the logic set down by the passage, apply what you already know.

    Know Intimately what you Expect to be Tested on– One type of logic useful for the BS section is to be familiar with the topics that you would expect to be tested and to use that knowledge to your advantage. Let me give you an example. Let's say you are given a large organic macro-molecule diagram with various keto/acetyl-groups labeled "A" "B" "C" "D". You are then asked "Enzyme X is added to a solution of the macromolecule, which keto/acetyl group do you expect to be cleaved?"
    Now let's say you have absolutely no idea what enzyme X does and you have never even heard of enzyme X. What would you do? On the MCAT, with the information I've given you, you should be able to guess what the operative characteristic is that the test-maker is trying to test. I can guarantee that it has something to do with how strongly that "O" is drawing electrons from that C=O bond. So without even looking at the answer choices, you should be able to narrow it down to two possibilities: the highest amount of electron draw, and the lowest amount of electron draw.

    Applying knowledge to novel situations – While this is important for the PS section as well, it's much, much more likley to show up on the BS section. You will be asked to integrate many different subjects in one passage and use your conceptual knowledge to find an integrated answer. Sure you know all the oxidation and reduction reactions, but if I gave you a novel reaction could you logic out whether it should be an oxidation or reduction reaction? Then, could you use that information to determine whether that reaction would help or hurt the aerobic capcity of a mammal? Do you understand WHY the oxidation and reduction reactions proceed the way they do? Can you hypothesize mechanisms for different reactions? Do you understand WHY electrons move the way that they do? Always, always, always ask ‘why?’ Then, of course, you still do have to memorize all of the information as well.
    It take all of 1) Memorization, 2) Conceptual understanding, and 3) Problem Practice!

    Additional Note: Although more helpful for the PS section, doing practice problems during your content review including sectional tests and practice passages can also be helpful to drive home important concepts in the BS section. This is especially true for the organic chemistry section. I definitely recommend doing some practice problems as you finish various sections in your content review, but again, timed full length practice during your content review may not be that helpful. Save those full-lengths for after your content review study months.

    3) The practice materials you used
    Kaplan Premiere Program Book (2008)
    Princeton Review ‘Cracking the CBT’ (2008)
    The Princeton Review Verbal Workbook
    Kaplan Sectionals and Topical Exams
    Kaplan QBank
    Monthly Quizzes and Tests from Kaplan Online (Comes with Premiere Program)
    Wikipedia and Google (Seriously, for random things I wanted to know)

    I studied the Kaplan Premiere Program and Princeton Review Cracking the CBT book side by side. Although there is a large amount of overlap between the two books, each book covers the material from a different angle and there is some information that is not doubled in each section. I found this tactic to be very helpful in gaining a deeper understanding of the material, particularly for the organic chemistry section of the exam.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    I made absolutely sure to get my hands on as many practice tests as I possibly could. Altogether I took 20 practice exams. I had access to:
    AAMCCBT 3 – 10 and the extra passages from 3R – 9R (8 exams)
    Exams that came with the Princeton review ‘Cracking the CBT’ (4 exams)
    Free Princeton Review Exam (1 Exam)
    Kaplan Full Lengths 1- 11 (11 Exams)
    Free Kaplan Exam (1 Exam)
    Gold Standard CBT Free Exam (1 Exam)
    Two Kaplan Exams on CD, Premiere Program, (2 Exams)

    A Copy of my testing schedule is attached to this post.

    5) What was your undergraduate major
    I started off as a B.Mus in Music Theory at the McGill Conservatory of Music and then started all over again in a joint program in Physics and Physiology in my 3rd year. I finished my undergraduate degree after 6 years.

    6) Any other tips you may have
    Post-Game Analysis: The most important thing you can do is post-game analysis of your practice exams. Keep a log of the types of questions that you are missing, and why you thought you missed the question. Make sure that you review every single problem, right or wrong on your practice exams. Even though you may have gotten a problem correct, you need to ensure that you got it right with the correct thought process and also, in the most efficient manner possible. Therefore, you need to review every single problem that you do on practice exams. If you do this you will begin to see a pattern about how the MCAT test makers have structured the exam questions, and how to develop what I call ‘MCAT intuition’ about what the correct and incorrect answers are.

    What is the test maker thinking? Accordingly, think about what the test maker is trying to test! Really try and figure out what concept or thought process or piece of knowledge the test maker is trying to test with a particular question. If you think about that, you have a better chance of not over-complicating problems and seeing what you are supposed to do. It is important to try and think from their perspective.

    Critically think about what you are a doing! Although it seems obvious I guarantee that many of you are not doing this! I know, because when I started studying I wasn’t doing this either. Always ask ‘why?’ and always question the process you are taking. You must always be critically thinking about how you are approaching each problem. Make sure that you are completely aware of exactly what you are doing, and why you are doing it when you are testing.

    Practice! The more practice you do, the more familiar you will be with the material in an MCAT format, and the more familiar you will be with doing the calculations or thinking that will be required of you on the MCAT. This is extremely important. Practice as much as you can, and whenever you can.

    Ample Content Review: Although practice is definitely more important than studying, in my opinion the best way to study (if you have the luxury of time) is to do solid content review for 1 – 1.5 months and then do a very, very arduous string of practice exams for the next 1 – 1.5 months. I believe that taking full-length, timed practice exams when you lack a cursory knowledge of the topics and material covered on the MCAT is a waste of time. You can’t improve your MCAT test-taking skills if you don’t have the basic MCAT knowledge at hand. Personally, I did 1 to 1.5 months of solid content review with a diagnostic at the beginning, and then 1.5 months of practice exams, reviewing the material between exam days. Note, however, that I did do practice problems in the course of my content review. In fact, practice problems are very important for gaining a solid understanding of some of the concepts, especially in the PS! What I am saying is to avoid doing practice tests during your content review, but practice problems, however, are very important!

    In my opinion, the four most important keys to MCAT success are:

    1) Practice!
    2) Know everything. Really.
    3) Understand the Concepts and Logic.
    4) Do many, many full length timed practice exams.

    In the final days before the exam: In the final 2-3 weeks before you real exam you must develop a routine to get your body and mind ready for test day. For instance, I planned my 'homestretch' for 2.5 weeks before my exam. At this point content review is long ago done with. I'm not really even opening up my books anymore unless there's a random/weird fact I somehow missed. The last 2.5 weeks are for tying up loose ends, final test-taking preparation, and getting yourself into an MCAT Rhythm. Here’s what I did:

    1) I took four AAMC CBTs in these final days and I planed 3 day breaks between each of these last four exams so that my actual MCAT was synchronized with this schedule. It is important to make these last exams AAMC exams because they are the closest thing you have to the real MCAT.
    2) In addition, I took each of these last four exam at the exact time that I would take my real MCAT, and woke up and went to sleep at the same time that I would on and before real test day.
    3) I also restrained myself from going to my refrigerator during breaks, and brought an ‘MCAT lunch and snack’ which was exactly what I would take to the real MCAT to my room on practice test days.
    4) In the days between exams, I reviewed the tests (the same way as I suggest above) and also did peripheral content review if there was a particular concept or question I was still shaky on.

    By simulating real test taking conditions as close as possible and developing a ‘routine’, when I got to my real exam, it was just another day at the office so to speak. :) My body, my sleep cycle, and my mind were just continuing the routine I had developed over those last 2.5 weeks.

    I took the first of the final four tests on a Wednesday, the next on the following Sunday (3 day break), the next on the following Thursday (3 day break), and the final one on the following Monday (3 day break). That way I had a 3 day break until my real exam which was Friday.

    I believe that making my last four exam times periodic and treating them like my real exam really helped. When I sat down to do my real exam it really felt like it was nothing unusual from my normal routine. I was prepared, and I had done this before... That helped to calm my nerves and give me extra confidence.

    7) How long did you study?
    Total time studied: I studied for approximately 3 to 3.5 months for 4-8 hours every day, 7 days a week.

    Guys, you really can do this. Just treat the MCAT like a big game, a competition of sorts that you are trying to win at. Get excited about studying and doing better on the next practice exam. If you are able to take that pseudo-masochistic viewpoint, the MCAT almost becomes fun. Put your mind, body, soul…put your entire existence into this MCAT for a few months. Remember, it’ll be worth it in the end. If I can do it, you can to. You just have to figure out the best way for you to gain your own success. Good luck, and kick that MCAT straight in the crotch!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 9, 2009
  25. mterp45

    mterp45 Banned Banned

    Jun 2, 2007
    I am too lazy to split it up into the specific question format, I spent too much time writting it. Here is my 30+ thread contribution.

    My diagnostic was an 18 PS 8, VR 6, and BS 4. It was a Kaplan diagnostic, and 7 months later and about 1500 hrs of studying later, my score on the real deal was a 39 PS 15 VR 9 BS 15 WS T. I doubled my score through hard work, dedication and patience. A couple people have sent me PM about making a thread so here it is.

    Disclaimer: I will not edit this post. This is my day off from the lab. I am 30 minutes from the D.C night life; I am a young and handsome guy, so I don't have the time to sit correct my mistakes. So try to read past the spelling or punctuation errors.

    The first general thing I want to tell you is to use SDN as a motivational tool and a progress gauge. You should not get online and think that people are lying about their score. Instead, use it as a tool to let you know at what level you should be. It is because of my time on this site that averaging low 30s made me feel as if I was averaging 20s. Compare yourself to the best, and work to get at their level. Never mind what the national average is, that doesn't mean jack sh..t. If I can start off with an 18 and finish with a 39, you can too. I am was not smarter than the guy next to me, I just wanted it more than he did.


    1) Take tests
    2) I did every question I got wrong without looking at the solution until I could get the answer right.
    3) retook the test and only after the retake would I allow myself to use the solutions and this was to figure not why I got questions right, but why every other question was wrong.
    4) Reason:
    Don't let yourself get in the habit of picking up that pen and pencil. Use your reasoning skills to rule out answers through conceptual understanding. Try solving problem without resorting to calculations, simply use the passage and do calculation in your head.
    5) You should know how to manipulate and use proportionality relationships like the back of your hand. This is the easiest way to rack up quick points in the PS. You shouldn't have to write anything down for these types of problems. If you have to, than you aren't up to the challenge.
    6) Be scrupulous
    Throughout the whole PS section think units. I spent a whole day using an elementary math book, just to get faster at using scientific notations accurately.
    7) Dimensional analysis. Learn how to use it and know it well. It's just like the stoichiometry they teach you in chemistry.
    8) The best advice I can give you is use the passage, use the passage and than use it again. This is especially useful for the BS section. When you take practice tests, forget everything you know and only use it if it is absolutely necessary. They want to see how you think, not how many upper level classes you have taken. If you get in the habit of utilizing the passage properly and reasoning now, then you won't have any trouble on test day.
    9) Leave no stones unturned. Don't let yourself have a weakness when you walk in on test day. When I felt weak on anything I spent one to two days just studying that one subject alone, going to my professors, doing problems on it using the TPR workbook, Kaplan, EK or whatever passages I could find. I even reverted back to my of my old science books to find more problems if there was a need for it.
    10) practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice. I did all exactly 1001 problems in the EK physics and exactly 1001 in the EK chemistry, all the 1001 Orgo, and the Bio 1001. I didn't skip any questions in all four. I did every single problem in Kaplan's QBANK, did all Kaplan's topical tests, did all of Kaplan's section tests. I used the TPR science workbook to do problems in the areas in which I lacked confidence and probably did all the PS, BS, and Chem questions in that book and left about 1/3 of the orgo passages undone. The TPR workbook was extremely helpful for target studying. As for full lengths, I did about 9 Gold standards, all 11 Kaplans, 8 TPRs, all 7 AAMCS. I took about 35 practice tests and it took me about two days to review each one.
    11) BE YOUR OWN SOLUTION MANUAL. When you get things wrong in the sciences don't be so quick to pull up the tab or to read the solution, go in the book read the relevant section and do the problem again and again until you get the answer right. It is easy to read a solution and say you would have gotten it right or that it was just a silly mistake but most time that silly mistake which may be something as small as forgetting a negative sign maybe a lack of conceptual understanding.
    12) For Verbal, the best advice I can give is to read, read, read, read there is no other way or strategy that will improve your reading comprehension. I gave this section just as much time(if not more) as I did for th other sections. I was averaging 12s and 13s consistently on my diagnostics before the real thing but I ended up with a 9. If I had gotten a couple points lower on the sciences I would probably be retaking. Also, I posted something a while back about an unorthodox verbal strategy, you are welcome to read it and use it. I believe the reason I was left wanting in this section is because of my lack of confidence. So be confident.
    13) DON'T NEGLECT ORGO. Treat all sections equally. You should be the best at all of them instead of hoping that it won't show up because I promiss you it will and when it does, it will hurt.

    My major is PHYSICS, I spent 7 months studying, I reviewed the material with EK, TPR, and KAPLAN. I dedicated three months to simply taking and reviewing my tests.

    Here is more details about how I reviewed my tests:

    Ok the easy part was taking the test for the first time. On all the FL's, I would mark down the question which I got wrong without reading the solutions. I would then redo those problems again and again often using my books and other resources until I came up with the right answer myself. When I retook the test I would do so untimed, and threat every single question like a brand new one and I would convince myself that there was a different way of getting that answer and I can guarantee there almost always is. This is where reasoning patterns, utilization of the passage and an understanding of concepts came into play. For the Bio section the reviewing consisted of figuring out not only why a particular question was right, but why every other answer was wrong. So I would go down from A-D for each question, use my resources, and figure out why they were wrong. The last aspect of the retake was figuring out the pattern in AAMCs solution, passages, and testing style, How do they expect you to come to that answer? How they arrive at that answer? what type of reasoning is this? can that reasoning be categorized? what type of passage is this? etc.. etc.... There is just so much to tell that it's often difficult to know where to begin or where to end.

    These are just a couple things that I could come up with off the top of my head. There is plenty I am not mentioning, about 7 months worth of tricks and little things that I learned after all this studying process. I just don't have the time to write a book. I hope that what I have written will help some of you guys. I will try to post advice on some of the things I am not mentioning and elaborate on some of the things I have mentioned whenever they come up in threads. Good luck to you all and I hope you guys get 45s on your MCATs.
  26. sleepy425

    sleepy425 7+ Year Member

    Mar 6, 2008
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2008
  27. Gavanshir

    Gavanshir 10+ Year Member

    Sep 25, 2005
    Vihsadas, thank you so much.
  28. Vihsadas

    Vihsadas No summer Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 5+ Year Member

    Oct 17, 2007
    An Igloo
    My pleasure. :)
  29. What up doc

    What up doc FLASH 7+ Year Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    vihsadas...u often refer to the "one" simple mistake you made in bio...are positive that there was only one question that you got wrong, or are you assuming that you only got one wrong since you got a 14...bozz claims 2 have got 4 wrong on the PS and he recieved a 14 as well...do you think there is a possiblity that you could have made a few mistakes to earn that 14?
  30. enjoydrywax

    enjoydrywax 5+ Year Member

    Mar 27, 2008
    I scored a 39R on my MCAT and I attribute it mostly to a spartan study schedule along (see various posts above) with a strict weightlifting routine. Honestly guys, working out your body while constantly working out your mind will result in this awesome synergy - I know it sounds loony but it really works. I also kept a VERY clean diet - no junk food and only a few "cheat" meals a week. Other than that it was mostly lean meats, whole grains, and all sorts of vegetables. No soda, only water; No desserts, only fruit. Keep your body in check and it will reward you.

    Also fish oil, lots and lots of fish oil. During the summer I studied I took roughly 4 1000mg capsules a day (2 caps per dose, one in the morning and one after working out). These capsules and the added concentration gained from working out were what really allowed me to study and perform at an optimal level.
  31. Vihsadas

    Vihsadas No summer Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 5+ Year Member

    Oct 17, 2007
    An Igloo
    It is possible that I made 1 maybe 2 more, but I remember having a whole lot of time leftover to look at my exam and I basically did the entire thing again and tried to approach each problem slightly differently. I was very confident on every answer except that question...Sure the curve for 14 might have been 49-51 or 49-50 or something, but I'm pretty confident that was the only mistake I made. Of course, it's all speculation, but that's just my perspective.
  32. mb11040

    mb11040 5+ Year Member

    Aug 1, 2007
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS=12 VR=10 WS=Q BS=12 Composite=34Q

    2) The study method used for each section
    read the exam krackers books and learned everything I didn't know. and two weeks before the MCAT started taking practice AAMC tests. worked great for me
    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    Exam Krackers was the best. I didn't take any classes just used Exam Krackers 90% of what was on the MCAT was in those books
    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    learn how to use the computer program before you show up at the exam. Don't waste time studying for the writing section and on the real MCAT try to finish the writing section quickly to give yourself a bigger break before BS section
    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    6 months studying in my free time and a month before the exam about 3-4 hours a day
  33. matches

    matches 5+ Year Member

    May 18, 2008
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS=13 VR=15 WS=R BS=14 Composite=42R

    2) The study method used for each section

    Overall: Took Kaplan course. Classroom not too helpful but online materials, study sheets and flashcards were. Not crazy about the Kaplan study books, as it seems they just kinda crammed random facts from textbooks into them. A key part of my studying was keeping a "lessons learned" word document, in which I added bullet points each time I learned something from a wrong answer or accidental right answer from a practice test. Ex: "All blood vessels have endothelium, not all filter nutrients. Only capillaries do." or "LOOK AT ALL HYDROGENS IN HNMR!" The document was 20 pages by the time I took the test, but I bolded, underlined and starred sections as I reviewed them to mark the information I had not yet absorbed. I tried to take entire practice tests (except writing) at once, but in hindsight I should have included the writing as well. Fatigue was much greater than expected on test day! I also had a very motivated study buddy. We sat next to each other during practice tests. Explaining concepts back and forth was great and the friend was also a huge help with morale and encouragement.

    Physical Sciences: Despite my final score distribution, PS was usually my best section on aamc practice tests (13-14s usually). Flashcards were great, as were online Kaplan questions, which were good drills, even if they didn't seem to correspond exactly to aamc-type questions due to the heavy Kaplan calculation focus. This might sound crazy, but I hardly ever read the PS passages. If you know the material, you really can answer most questions on your own and only refer back to the passage when needed. I highly recommend this method because the extra time it gives you to check answers was crucial for me. The easiest errors to make on PS were careless calculations or misreading questions/answers. The extra time gained from skipping passages helped considerably to correct any such mistakes later.

    Verbal Reasoning: You might be reading this entry carefully considering my score on this section, but I really cannot explain how I got the 15. Usually I got 12s on VR sections in the aamc practice, "high" 12s near the top of the range, but rarely scoring above. It was generally my worst section. I never felt that any mcat practice materials helped much for this section. The questions are just too hard to write. The single most important advice I learned from any book about VR: "According to the passage..." means the exact answer is right in the passage. "Based on the passage..." means an inference is required. That advice went a long way. I never mapped passages while reading them. I sometimes highlighted a little. My most important strategy was to read and keep in mind the first two questions for a given passage before starting to read the passage. Most of the time, but not always, the answers to these questions were near the top of the passage. Keeping the questions in mind saved time and kept my mind from overloading by trying to absorb the entire passage at once. After answering those first questions, I would read the next ones and then continue reading the passage etc. This saves time and also lets the answered questions steer your understanding of the passage's main messages, as early answers must be consistent with later ones. I didn't really try to improve my verbal score much because it seemed to plateau at a 12 for practice tests. But as my final score showed, verbal improvement really can catapult your composite score because of the nature of the curve. The aamc online practice tests also have a really neat feature that breaks down your verbal error into skill types, which can show you what kind of errors you consistently make.

    Biological Sciences: This was the hardest section for me to study for. My college had never really taught to the curriculum of the mcat and classes rarely encouraged the kind of "know two sentences about each of a million different things" learning model that the mcat seems to embrace. I memorized a lot of biology using the Kaplan flashcards and the Examkracker textbook. I kind of crammed the orgo material in the last week or so of studying as I tended to do well on these questions without much work up front. I definitely learned to READ ALL THE BS PASSAGES, even though at first I thought I could get by like PS. Not the case. My sense is that PS rewards deeper conceptual understanding of the material but BS rewards reading comprehension, short term memorization and familiarity with the types of questions aamc asks. I also found that inherent interest in biology (even if that interest doesn't correspond to deep knowledge) is an asset, because if you like biology enough to read Science on your own, you will be much better prepared to absorb passages that draw from new and unfamiliar experiments/topics.

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

    aamc tests were the best practice. Examkracker biology textbook and questions were great for bio studying. kaplan online questions were good too. kaplan questions should be seen more as drill questions than actual reflections of aamc-like questions. Science flashcards for Kaplan were great but I doubt all the orgo in them needs to be learned.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    Kaplan and aamc. First Kaplan diagnostic (had only reviewed gen chem) was a 36, evenly split in 12s.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    I'd rather not share (anonymity paranoia?), but I took plenty of science and social science courses with a few humanities sprinkled among them.

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

    In addition to the tips above, try not to freak out in the day/moments before the actual test. I was pretty scared going into the test and it was a bad thing (I had some surprisingly bad mistakes in the PS I corrected just before time ran out). Cramming will likely help you much much less than consciously making an effort to calm down.

    Also, if you're scoring pretty high generally, luck helps. I really don't think there is much of a difference between a 38 and a 42 test-taker. That's about a difference in 4 questions wrong. If you are guessing between two options for each question, you have a 1/16 chance of getting them all right or all wrong. 1 in 16 of the high achievers will get them all right, and another guy with the same abilities will get them all wrong. Although I don't remember if I guessed much, luck was definitely on my side. I don't think I ever scored above a 39 (my dream score was 14/12/13) on any aamc practice test.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    3 months before test. Biggest push in last two weeks, when I tried to finish up all remaining aamc tests (one every other day, maybe) while totally neglecting my school work (extensions were sought).
    Hadi7183 likes this.
  34. futuredoctor10

    futuredoctor10 10+ Year Member

    Jan 25, 2007
    Matches, thank you for your post!!!!! Alot of really helpful advice in there.
  35. secants

    secants about:blank 10+ Year Member

    Aug 23, 2006
    Matches, excellent post with great advice

    I'm actually trying to use your verbal strategy by reading the first two questions first and then the passage etc however, what did you do if the first questions asked about the author's main idea/tone? Did you end up just reading
    the whole passage or skipping to detail questions instead?

  36. supafield

    supafield Dream Big 7+ Year Member

    May 18, 2006
    Matches, this is one of the first posts to get me to change something I was doing.... I'm going to give flash cards a go.... I may owe ya one! thanks
  37. matches

    matches 5+ Year Member

    May 18, 2008
    Good point! I think in this case I tended to skip the main idea question and look at the next question that was more detail related. This strategy wasn't set in stone though. It just felt like the most natural way for me to do the questions. It could be totally my learning style and not someone else's.

    Also, an important point I forgot to mention, it's worth it I think to quickly scan the questions for a "all of the following are true EXCEPT..." question before reading the passage. It was so much easier to get these questions right if I knew what to look for the first time I read the passage.
  38. What up doc

    What up doc FLASH 7+ Year Member

    Jan 13, 2008
    what did your friend get?
  39. tncekm

    tncekm MS-1 2+ Year Member

    Jul 18, 2006
    I know this is ages old, but I just had to comment. I went from about a 5 on my first few EK's to an 11 on my last couple AAMC's w/ a 10/11 average in EK101.

    The "natural" VR is a bunch of boloney. Its practice makes perfect. Those who read a lot throughout their lives, can read fast, etc do better than those of us who didn't. I hardly read prior to the MCAT, so I had to do what I could to read faster, comprehend better, etc, and it helped a lot.

    I know quite a few members of SDN who had a similar experience w/ VR as me.
    TactFR44 likes this.
  40. ofoshoukno

    ofoshoukno Cram it up your cramhole 2+ Year Member

    Feb 2, 2008
    Awesome Advice!
  41. doomknight

    doomknight Bing 2+ Year Member

    Apr 13, 2008

    Study strat:

    Take a ton of prep courses in bio, ie genetics, neurobiology, physiology, evolution, biochemistry.

    3 weeks before MCAT, I did one AAMC prac test every other day, reviewed one EK chapter each day, and used internet resources to learn stuff if needed. Didn't study verbal, but I only got a 10 on verbal so meh
  42. secants

    secants about:blank 10+ Year Member

    Aug 23, 2006
    Not sure if I should post this here but...

    To Vihsadas,

    I'm trying your VR timing of at max of 7mins/passage. However, I am curious to know if you have any timing suggestions for the PS and BS sections as well or did you just evenly divide the time (7passages+discrete/70mins)?

    Thanks and sorry if this questions doesn't belong here. =)
  43. Maxprime

    Maxprime Higgs chaser 5+ Year Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    I agree with this. I made a 14 on the BS and, IIRC, I was unsure of my answer on only 2 questions. The others I was pretty confident I got - I don't have the percentiles in front of me for the scores on each section to knock you down from a 14 to a 13. But I see a lot more 13s than 14s on the science sections - seems like 14s are always in crazy scores and 13s can be found in the more reasonable slice of the great score curve. Again - just anecdotal evidence here, but I think 3 is the max you can miss to keep your 14.
  44. Maxprime

    Maxprime Higgs chaser 5+ Year Member

    Nov 28, 2005
    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    40Q VR:11 / BS: 14/ PS: 15

    2) The study method used for each section

    In the 3 months leading up to the exam, I took my finals in physics, chem, orgo, and bio - so my studying was spread out much more.

    VR: Lots of practice tests - did every practice or old test verbal section that I could get my hands on. I sucked at verbal and never really got the hang of it - worked hard to make sure I got at least a 10 and aimed for an 11. My practice tests were almost always 11s with an occasional 10 or 12. Materials: PR & AAMC.

    PS: I reviewed a few of the tougher formulas to derive, but mostly just made sure I understood concepts. Concepts are KEY to this section - if you can work fast enough to have free time, you can definitively prove almost every answer in this section. I could never be sure of a perfect score in any other section.

    BS: I reviewed microbio in the PR book b/c my class was light on it. Past that, just practice tests and brushing up on any one topic that I missed a question on. By that, I mean if I missed a hardy-weinberg question then I reviewed on that for an hour and made sure I never missed a HW question ever again.

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


    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    AAMC, PR - PR were much harder and great prep for the AAMC

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    BS Math, BA Economics

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

    My approach == time + concepts. Get used to the exam so you can have some free time - then work as hard as possible to nail concepts. Will add more later - have to grab a flight to go find an apartment. :)
  45. 204090


    May 15, 2008
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2008
  46. craniotomy30

    craniotomy30 2+ Year Member

    Aug 25, 2007
    I honestly still can't believe I can actually post in this thread.... :)

    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    32 M; PS: 11 VR: 10 BS: 11

    2) The study method used for each section

    PS: I took a Kaplan course and I feel that it was helpful because of the abundance of materials they provided. PS was my lowest on my diagnostic, so I was expecting the worst with this section. For PS, I practiced problems like crazy. I made lists of topics that were difficult for me and then I would practice problems in those areas until I was completly comfortable. For instance, I spent a whole day of studying and practicing with acid/base chemistry until no problem stumped me. Learn your basics for this section, and then practice until your eyes bleed ;)

    VR: Ughhh, this section was the thorn in my side and I dreaded practicing it because when I did bad, I did not want to practice anymore. For some people, VR comes easily and this was not the case for me. I literally practiced every verbal reasoning passage I owned (and I even did some passages for a second time when I got desperate towards the end). Kaplan did not help much with verbal; I had to be able to help myself with this section. My advice is to practice verbal everyday if possible, and to stay positive when things don't go well....:)

    BS: The bio on my MCAT was out of control (5/10/08 test).....so at the time I felt that my preparation did absolutely nothing for me. But now I see that I was being irrational after the test. I had just taken ant/phys and biochem so I felt good about bio. I just studied my prep books and practiced when I took practice tests.

    WS: Obviously my writing sucked, so no advice is needed from me :laugh:...but, I can say don't wait until the day before the MCAT to even think about that section (or you will end up like me :rolleyes:)

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

    PS: Kaplan, EK, Nova

    VR: Kaplan, EK

    BS: Kaplan, EK

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    Kaplan and AAMC; I used about 5 of the Kaplan tests and all of the AAMCs. The real deal felt much harder than both Kap and AAMC tests....I usually finished PS and BS with about 20 mins on practice tests, but on the real MCAT I finished with about 10 secs on both sections :cool:....boo!

    5) What was your undergraduate major?


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

    Get a routine for yourself and stick to it!
    -I picked a different day of the week to practice different subjects (Chem on Mon, Bio on Tues, etc.) and then had a day where I did practice tests (as the test approached, I dedicated two days a week to do a practice test).

    Study with people --> they can hold you accountable
    - I had two MCAT study buddies. We held each other accountable for studying. When one of us didn't show up, we always called them to get their butt into gear. We always studied independently, but just having people there to vent to about stuff helped tremendously! We all supported each other and I don't know if I could have studied as hard as I did without them there.

    Pick a study spot where you will be productive
    -Studying at home was impossible for me...the TV always called my name. I spent about 4 months of my life living in the library at school (it literally felt like home). I had my spot next to a window where I would always sit and study...I swear I only gazed out the window for about 50% of the time ;)

    Remember the goal
    -Sometimes I would feel hopeless and sick of studying, but I would try to remember the purpose. I would think about my goal and how good it would feel to reach it and then never have to study for this test again. And trust me, it feels good :D

    After the test, forget about it and enjoy life
    -There is no point to worry when the test is over...it will still take a month to get your scores back whether you worry or not. I felt horrible after my test (I literally was expecting the worst) and I worried for a few days. But then I forgot about it and moved on. The score release approached so fast.....so enjoy the freedom while you can

    Good luck everyone.....the time put in will pay off when it is all over :luck:
  47. chadiman


    Jun 17, 2008
    Vihsadas and mterp, you guys are truly disciplined. Your story itself is also very inspirational.

    Thank you for your input
  48. WinterLights


    Sep 15, 2007
    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    33 N; PS: 12 VR: 09 BS: 12

    2) The study method used for each section

    PS: Used Kaplan review books
    VR: Did not study any VR
    BS: Used kaplan review books

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

    PS: Kaplan

    VR: Kaplan

    BS: Kaplan

    4) Which practice tests did you use?

    I used two Kaplan FL's, And Five AAMC tests (#3,4,6,7,8,9)

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Molecular and Cellular Biology

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

    Spend a lot of time going over verbal reasoning (lol). Also devote more time than I did to studying (I studied for 3 weeks--includes taking practice tests). I spent a maximum of 80 hours studying total. If you spend more time than that you will easily score better than I did. Good Luck.
  49. bazaar

    bazaar 2+ Year Member

    May 27, 2008
    1) Your individual scores and composite score
    PS=10 VR=13 WS=P BS=14 Composite=37P

    2) The study method used for each section
    I only had two weeks to study between my finals and my test. I know, I should have been studying before finals, but I just didn't have it in me. I took three days to do each EK book for Bio, Phys, and Chem. I didn't do their Orgo of Verbal books because of time and those are strong subjects for me.

    3) What materials you used for each section(Kaplan, TPR, Examkrackers, AAMC, etc)
    I actually signed up for TPR and found the classes to be useless. I stopped going and never even cracked the books. I did everything with ExamKrackers and I would recommend them wholeheartedly.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    I only took the AAMC practice tests.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?
    I started out in aerospace and computer engineering and switched to neuroscience as a junior. I did a post bacc in order to complete my pre-reqs.

    6) Any other tips you may have for those of us who still have this test lurking over us?
    Practice tests were very important for me. I didn't always do the writing section, but do it at least every other time because it is very important for your timing. If you can stand to (it was so hard for me), study with someone else. I did silly things like reading sections I didn't understand out loud to my study partner. This isn't like me at all, but I was willing to do anything for this test.

    7) How long did you study for the MCAT?
    Two weeks, as much as I could stand every day. Probably over 8 hours everyday with a few days where I just vegged out and recharged.
  50. kautionwirez

    kautionwirez Hadoken! 7+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2007
    does anyone study by following the section outlines in order?
    would that be a good strategy for studying? or should i stick to EK order?
  51. Barfalamule

    Barfalamule Member 10+ Year Member

    Sep 8, 2005
    1) Your individual scores and composite score

    33 O; PS: 11 VR: 11 BS: 11
    30 M; PS: 11 VR: 10 BS: 9

    2) The study method used for each section
    Self-study both times

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

    Examkrackers (especially for verbal and Bio). Nova for physics.

    4) Which practice tests did you use?
    AAMC tests. A friend of mine sent me a couple of the Kaplan tests. They were horrible so I just sat down and read the passages to understand the science. The verbal was particularly bad on the Kaplan tests.

    5) What was your undergraduate major?

    Computer Science

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

    In doing a retake, it is important for you to analyze and study accordingly. I spent a lot of time reading magazines and reading the Bio book, but I also took BioChem and Genetics between the 2 MCAT tests. It's all about consistency and these advanced courses really help cement the concepts. I still wound up biffing the physics/chem by making 3 really (really) silly mistakes, but that's also what this test is about. It tests your ability to let things go. There are perfectionists that will always void and there are chokers who will always choke. Don't be in these two camps. And if you find that you are, then you need to work on the psychological aspect of your game for the retake.
    Also, for this second test, to get better at verbal, I bought something like $200 worth of magazines over 3 months and just read. I think that helped a bit. I also decided not to bother with the headphones during my second test. Don't be misled by those suckers, unless you've practiced with them, don't use them!
    And to reiterate this point: Don't take the test unless your practice scores are where you want them. It's a practice that bares a striking resemblence to russian roulette.

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