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crandmat

2+ Year Member
Aug 20, 2018
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Hi all,

So I just took my first practice MCAT blind, without any prior review/practice for the test, and scored a 500, with psych/soc being my highest and chem/phys being my lowest. I am scheduled to take my MCAT on August 7th, and I am thinking that a 3 point improvement per month is totally doable. Am I crazy for thinking this or not lol. I was definitely surprised to see that my lowest section was chem/phys, especially since I am a chemistry major. I think my biggest issue right now is more format than content, and I think doing more practice problems that are structured like the test is probably my best bet.

The test I took was the free Princeton one, and I currently have the Kaplan book sets w/6 tests.

Looking forward to murdering this thing come August, and any input is appreciated.
 

GreenDuck12

7+ Year Member
Mar 30, 2014
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I wouldn't place much emphasis on the number score you receive from 3rd party exams. While every MCAT provider likes to say their exams are similar to the style and rigor of the AAMC, the reality is that only the AAMC is similar to the AAMC. Instead of focusing on your numeric score, think about 3rd party exams as a way to practice timing, strategies, build stamina for a 8 hour test, and to identify content gaps.

With all of that being said, is it feasible to significantly improve your performance over the next 5 months? yes. Is it guaranteed? no. Ive had friends who have studied for 5 weeks an improved from an AAMC 500 to an AAMC 524. Ive had friends study for 4 months and see little improvement. Ive also had friends significantly underperform on their real MCAT relative to their practice exams. A 515 is a great goal - it puts you in the top 7% of test takers. But remember, those other 93 students that you have to out perform are also studying for the exam.

A couple resources that I recommend to my students:
1. Kaplan book set: great concise presentation of the material that hits *most* topics on the MCAT. Not too in depth. Only problem with the books is that because its s really easy to go through them, it can create a false sense of momentum. You have to work hard to make sure you are really engaging with the material instead of passively receiving information and then forgetting it.
2. The Berkeley Review set: very detailed books that cover high and low yield concepts. One unique feature of the books is that at the end of each chapter they have a 3 phase review system (phase 1 is completed right after reviewing the chapter - 25 questions, phase 2 is completed 1 or 2 days after phase 1 - 25 questions, and phase 3 is completed two or three weeks after phase 1). I found that this spaced repetition really helped me solidify my content knowledge.
3. 3rd party mcat exams (Kaplan, Next Step, etc): all are fine. All have unique things that are useful. Use them to practice timing and strategies. Look for score trends and gaps in content knowledge.
4. UWorld: great for identifying content gaps, incredibly rigorous passages and detailed explanations. Use under timed conditions.
5. All AAMC materials: This is the only must have resource on the list. The AAMC has a different style of presenting questions and writing answers. It is essential that you get used to their logic, especially for cars.
 
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