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Advice from an MCAT teacher

Discussion in 'MCAT: Medical College Admissions Test' started by roja, Apr 22, 2004.

  1. roja

    7+ Year Member

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    So, I scrolled a few pages (its slow in the ED tonight) and didn't really see a nice succinct summary of MCAT advice.

    So, after 5 years of teaching the MCAT, I have seen some of the same bad advice, problems etc over and over again. So here is a brief summary of helpful hints.*


    1. Do NOT take the April MCAT with a half assed mentality, thinking 'well, if my scores suck, I can still take it in Aug'. This is a bad idea for many ridiculous reasons: -Do you really want to waste the bucks?
    -Do you really want to study for the damn thing again? Because even studying half way blows.
    -Unless you want your precious interview time wasted with explaining why you had to take the MCAT again, why you didn't take it seriously the first time, etc etc. Instead of why you are such an interesting amazing person and thier school would be nuts not to take you.
    2. You should plan to spend 40 hours a week studying for this thing. This test can make or break your chances. Take it seriously and study for it. If you are in school, take easier classes. Do not make the common (and obvious) mistake of trying to figure out if you will study for the MCAT or an important premed course. Both will end up losing out. Plan intelligently. Either take a full load in school OR study for the MCAT. If you work, save money or work it so you can have time to study.
    3. Realize you will be studying intesely for about 12 weeks. You need to prep your family and friends that you will be incognito for the majority of this time. You can't be hanging out and having fun most of the time. You need to be studying and making sure you are getting enough sleep.
    4. Make sure that you are also taking care of yourself. Work out and make sure you have a little bit of fun.
    5. Take a prep course. yes, they are expensive, but this is your damn life.
    6. The August MCAT doesn't keep you from getting into medical school. Low scores do. So, don't believe the myth that you have to take the april one. If you can work it so you can spend the summer studying and you kick butt on the exam, you will get interviews.
    7. Do not get sucked into self defeating ideology.
    8. Realize you are not competing with yoru classmates. Find people to study with, even if all you do is meet up and sit together. it makes you study when you don't want to. You will also have someone to ask random questions of. Always ask others for help. you never know who will be able to explain something in a way that will make it all clear to you.
     
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  3. bella_dottoressa

    bella_dottoressa make it happen
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    If you're a motivated self-studier with some good materials and time management skills, I don't think prep courses are necessary, of course for many they are a great help.

    great tips though, thanks!! :)
     
  4. ASDIC

    ASDIC The 9th Flotilla
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    both of you are right.

    I took TPR for the April test and I realized that the classroom lectures by the instructors didnt help. All they did was read off from the book. However, test prep companies are useful for the materials.

    Such as the review books, practice exams, answer explanations etc. Most of the studying was done on own.
     
  5. javandane

    javandane He's so hot right now
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    who studies 40 hours/wk for 12 weeks? that's a sure way to burn out well before taking the actual exam.
     
  6. UCLAstudent

    UCLAstudent I'm a luck dragon!
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    I studied that much and didn't burn out.
     
  7. IndyZX

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    i studied like 2-3hrs a day max for about 3 months. i just couldnt do more than that.

    but anyway, good tips
     
  8. Nutmeg

    Nutmeg Green globule
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    Opinions are like a--holes. Everyone needs to know his or her own studying style. I'd say, "If you need someone else to tell you how to study by the time you're taking the MCAT, you obviously haven't learned how to study in all of your years of high school and college, and thus you'll probably never be ready for med school." I blew off more than half of these advice points and did fine, because I know how I need to study. And I still maintain my preference for my approach, which was if you're taking a class that is a prereq to the MCAT, do really really well in that class, and don't go in with a "memorize and forget after the final exam" mentality.
     
  9. Wahooali

    Wahooali The Real Sydney Bristow
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    I studied 20-25 hrs/wk for 12 weeks but had it on my mind just about every waking minute and burned out like you wouldn't believe 3 weeks before the test. As a result my head was totally out of the game come test day, and I'm probably going to have to retake in August. So I agree with Nutmeg, good advice, but when it comes to studying, you need to do what works best for you.
     
  10. blz

    blz Senior Member
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    If you need 40hrs/week of studying for 12 weeks then you are obviously studying wrong. 40hrs/weeks would be necessary if you had to memorize every single little detail in all the review books but we all know after taking the April test, that memorizing minute details was completely useless. Your focus of study should be more on getting down the core concepts and improving your MCAT test taking abilities. That's what I did and this only translated into a couple hours a day of studying with a couple days off during the week for about 10 weeks.
     
  11. ASDIC

    ASDIC The 9th Flotilla
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    i studied 6hrs everyday starting in February all the way until the day before the exam. That comes around to 42 hrs per week...i felt burnt out...but i took breaks and had some fun to counter

    since you say that it is "wrong"...well consider this. I read all my textbooks, worked out problems and totally prepared myself in the sciences. This isnt a test where you can just sit review all the summaries and memorize the formulas. You have to understand everything, how equations are derived, (They had a question on how Bernoull's equation is derived from the principle of energy conservation), what happens when a theory is tested out by an experiment, etc

    This certainly helps in understanding the science passages and helps you to predict, analyze and solve for answers.

    Then the practice exams come into play...this is the field of play where you attempt to recall whatever you learned. Memorization is required coupled to understanding of core concepts.
     
  12. Nuel

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    For this past MCAT I studied about 7 hrs a week for 13 weeks--studied on weekends. that is about 91 hrs. It totally depends on you as an individual, nothing that extravagant.

    Good luck to others and potential takers.
     
  13. IndyZX

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    but i guess we'll really know if our study methods actually worked in mid-june, wont we?
     
  14. CanIMakeIt

    CanIMakeIt Fellow
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    I studied starting 21st march for 4-5 hrs per day .... I didn't feel I was totally prepared though. However, I did study seriously for my pre-reqs and that took some time from preprations. Well If it was enough or not ... scores will tell ..... as someone said develop your own style....only you know how you will study best
     
  15. MeowMix

    MeowMix Explaining "Post-Call"
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    As another MCAT instructor, I think the OP's advice is great for the majority of students.

    Yes, many people posting above studied a lot less and still did very well. However, many other students never really understood the concepts they learned in science courses. Not because they were lazy; they often had poor instructors, or a curriculum that focused on memorization instead of understanding (organic is worst for this). So they have to master the concepts behind the science for three subjects, master verbal strategy, and memorize a whole pile of stuff too.

    40 hours a week is fair, especially when you think that you will be previewing/reviewing about 2-3 hours/day, plus an 8-hour exam every other Saturday or so, plus review of that exam, plus class time if you are in a prep course. The biggest mistake that I see over and over again, is that students underestimate the time required (not that they overestimate and burn out).

    I studied 40-60 hours/week for the whole of last summer. It was absolutely the right thing for me to do; the high MCAT score opened doors that would have stayed closed otherwise.
     
  16. daelroy

    daelroy Senior Member
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    This is the worst advice I got on the MCAT. I was told that you must know everything; that I had to read textbooks and understanc concepts in a crystal clear manner to do well. WHAT A CROCK OF $H!T. Not only did that advice intimidate the hell out of me. It also made me study in a less efficient way. The truth is the MCAT is a test of formulas and facts. The real challenge of the test isn't lacking a depth of knowledge in each particular subject. The MCAT doesn't go that far into depth with each section. Rather, you have to be able to recall equations and problem solving skills quickly. The information should be innate. Most people don't know their formulas, reactions, problem solving skills to the point that they can instantly recall it and solve questions quickly. The best way to succeed on the MCAT is to memorize all the formulas, reactions, facts etc. and then do practice test after practice test. Your ability to read passages quickly and decipher information from them is far more important than knowing how equations are derived and other nonsense. That is just a waste of time. The difference between a 24 and 30 is speed. The people who get 30 can read faster and recall their facts instantaneously. No textbook or amount of preparation is going to prepare you for the passages you will see on the testing day. They are new passages concocted by experts. The only weapons you will have will be the facts that you memorized and your speed at being able to read the passage and do problems quickly.

    My advice is to spend a month memorizing formulas, reactions, equations, and facts. And then spend another month (40 hours per week) just doing practice problem after practice problem. Reading textbooks and trying to understand in depth knowledge is a waste of time and it could slow you down.
     
  17. MeowMix

    MeowMix Explaining "Post-Call"
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    Why memorize formulas, reactions, equations, and facts for a 30, when you could learn the science and do even better?
     
  18. daelroy

    daelroy Senior Member
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    I meant 30 + and why would you learn the science when you don't have to. The creators of the MCAT are aware that 99% of the people taking the exam don't have PhD's. This is undergrad science we are talking about.

    Practically speaking, you aren't going to be able to really learn the sciences unless you repeat all of your classes. Hiring a tutor is too expensive and the review courses don't afford one enough personal attention with the instructor. Teaching yourself the sciences through textbooks is a difficult endeavour.

    The best advice is for someone to memorize the formulas and facts. Once the person has done that, just start hitting the practice sets and full length tests until you can't stand it anymore. I understand what you are saying and that is ideal, but it's just not very practical. A student would be spinning his wheels if he tried to teach himself the sciences if he didn't learn it the first time around. If you really want to learn the sciences then you should take a year off and go back to class. That's the only way in which you can learn the material in a reliable and conclusive manner. You won't be able to "really learn" 2 years of basic sciences in 3 months
     
  19. DoogieHowserMD

    DoogieHowserMD Junior Member
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    there's a lot less actual science you have to understand in this exam.. than there is that you must extract from the passages.

    the mcat is more about being able to take given information and use it to answer questions.

    if understanding science was the most important aspect of the MCAT.. wouldn't you expect chem and bio majors to do the best on it?

    in reality.. the humanities majors do the best... obviously not because they know a lot about science.. but because they can extract the important information and use their small amount of science knowledge to do well.

    i realized this while studying for the MCAT my 2nd time around.. the MCAT actually tests very little actual prior knowledge of science.. in fact.. i think using outside knowledge is sometimes counterintuitive for the MCAT, because often times the answer will be different given various circumstances in the passage.

    it's about knowing the system of the test and how to find the right answers and not fall for the traps.. a lot more than just understanding the science behind it all. the science has very little to do with it, outside of a few important chem and physics formulas.. in my opinion.
     
  20. SitraAchra

    SitraAchra Attending Anesthesiologist
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    I think the best way to study is "Know thyself." I studied for it in a way similar to how I study for normal exams in a class. The only diff. is the MCAT needs about 2 orders of magnitude more than would a normal test. Do what works for you and avoid what doesn't.
     
  21. freaker

    freaker Senior Member
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    I don't know if I studied 40 hours per week, but I was definitely over 30 for more than a few weeks. I would guess that I studied between 20 and 35 hours per week for about 4 months.

    I hadn't seen any of this material in over four years and had been living as a beach bum for a year, as well, so I totally needed some extra time to review the material.

    I just got one of TPR's review books from their class and sat down and outlined everything. I also made sure to work my way through all the practice problems and to review those, as well. As the test grew near, I started going over my outlines and taking practice tests.

    I'm fairly confident I'll meet my goal on the MCAT.

    As for the rest of the advice, I'll agree with most of it. Especially on making sure you're taking care of your body. A healthful diet and exercise really make a difference in your attitude, your endurance, and your ability to concentrate.
     
  22. daelroy

    daelroy Senior Member
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    I'm not disputing the hours one needs to study. 30-40 hours per week for 12 weeks is appropriate. What I am disputing is the course of study one actually pursues during those 12 weeks. Reading and trying to understand the science is a waste of time. As someone eloquently mentioned earlier, most of the information will be extracted from the passages. You truly don't need a firm understanding of the passages to succeed on the MCAT. 4-6 of those 12 weeks should be used on memorizing facts and formulas. The rest of that time should be spend on doing problems whether they are in the form of a full length exam or a practice set. One thing that isn't emphasized enough about the MCAT is developing your speed. If a person had unlimited time to do each section, nearly everyone would score in the 30's. What trips most people is the time constraint. Reading, interpreting and doing calculations quickly is as important if not MORE IMPORTANT than learning the science.

    Reading textbooks and spending time contemplating how equations are derived will waste your time. You could use that time improving your speed in reading and calculating. Learning how to solve a problem is one thing; learning how to solve a problem instananeously is something entirely different. The former can be done with a few weeks of preparation. The latter can only be accomplished through weeks of practice. That's why it takes 30-40 hours per week. Getting the material to be innate requires time. The only way you can achieve this is to do tons of practice sets. That's the only way the information will be innate and easy to recall during the actual MCAT.

    In short: Spend less time reading and more time doing
     
  23. MrTee

    MrTee Senior Member
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    My opinion is that it isn't very important to know all the science behind the concepts in the review books, etc. if your goal is to hit a 30 or so...it just makes it easier to do. For example, I might have spent 4-5 afternoons on reading about ochem (my worst classes in undergrad) for the duration of my mcat studying...but I did do an assload of practice problems, which famililarized me with most of the relevant things to the mcat organic topics. Did I understand the ins and outs of each and every topic? Hell no. Could I pick out the right answer most of the time? Yes. The mcat doesn't test in depth understanding like a standard school exam. A passing knowledge of the topics is usually sufficient to do fairly well. Regarding the study time, obviously it's an individual thing, with the more brilliant types requiring little time to prep.
     
  24. duck2005

    duck2005 Member
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    uhh more like 3 hrs a week on average. 30? how did u swing classes and extracurrics/jobs and still find itme to study 30-40 hrs a week
     
  25. Shrike

    Shrike Lanius examinatianus
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    Yet another instructor chiming in: I think the consensus on necessary study times is high.

    Consider physics (which happens to be what I teach). How many formulas did you need to learn? On the BG exam, which I took, and I believe on the AG, all that was even moderately valuable was:

    - the wave equation, f * lambda = v (but you could work this out if you forgot it)

    - the definition of electric current

    - potential energy in a Hooke's law spring

    - kinetic energy as a function of velocity

    - work = force * distance

    - the relationship between focal length and radius of curvature

    - centripetal acceleration = v^2/R

    (apologies if I've forgotten one)


    Only the last of these, and maybe the Hooke's law equation, would be even mildly difficult to remember for anyone who prepared at all. Lots of study time cramming equations in? Wasted.

    This is not to say that study time is wasted; practicing passages is incredibly valuable, and a certain amount of learning or relearning is going to be a practical necessity. But let's not go nuts -- telling students they'll need to spend forty hours a week may scare some into buckling down, but it grossly misrepresents what's actually required.

    As a separate note, to the poster who observed that his instructor (he said TPR, but my opinion would be equally applicable to any prep service) just read from the text: that's not what instructors do; if yours did that, you deserved better. Moreover, you were unlucky; I doubt many do that. Ask my students (go ahead, students. . .) how often I lectured out of the book. A good teacher, and there are lots of them, teaches; a good MCAT teacher knows you're all smart enough to read what's in the book, so he explains it and expands on it. Your own experience was unfortunate, but is not representative of what we do.
     
  26. archon218

    archon218 Too Hot for TV!!
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    I studied 3 Hours a week for about a year, and 3 hours a day the last 3 weeks. My MCAT score significantly changed once I began to understand the way the test is made. I went from my first practice test score of 18 a year ago, to a 30. I didn't study the science. I broke questions down and remembered simple concepts.
     
  27. daelroy

    daelroy Senior Member
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    Agreed, I didn't understand every problem I solved but I knew how to solve it. More importantly, I knew how to do it quickly which meant I didn't waste time trying to remember what equation to use or how I would go about solving the problem. And I didn't waste a lot of team rereading the passage trying to figure out what the hell the passage was saying. My experience with practice exams conditioned me to go straight for the jugular and weed through the b.s. If you try to understand everything, you will waste a lot of time. After doing so many practice problems, it just became innate and I did quite well on the MCAT.
     
  28. IndyZX

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    i agree with the last few posters for the most part, but keep in mind that the science trivia really comes up big on the stand-alone questions... thats like 25% of the science sections
     
  29. oudoc08

    oudoc08 Please pass the gas...
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    Just remember, as no calculators are allowed on the test, also will no formulas be present which would require one to use a calculator (e.g. - Lensmakers equation, etc.), though you should be able to UNDERSTAND the reasoning behind the formulas.
     
  30. daelroy

    daelroy Senior Member
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    You don't need a calculator to be able to use formulas. That's why you ESTIMATE by rounding off as much as you can. Most of the problems involve small whole numbers anyway.
     
  31. roja

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    Wow, sorry, I have family in town and between work and stuff, haven't had much time to check the site.

    What I find most interesting is the attitude that many of the responders seem to have that my post someone called down on what they had done as some kind of criticism. The intention of the post, which seemed quite obvious to me, was to offer up some advice to those that haven't taken the exam. And as helpful hints implies, it is not an absolute set of commandments but simply hints. Things to think about.

    Duh, everyone learns a little differently. I have certainly had students who only studied 1-2 hours a day and did really well. However, the vast majority of students do need to put in the time. Because as one person said, by the time you add up class, practice tests, homework and reading, its about 40 hours a week.

    I see two very differeing opinions on *what* to study and it seems to have turned into a real black and white issue. However, I find that the solution for most is somewhere in the middle. Do you need to have a deep and thorough understanding of all materials on the MCAT? absolutely not. However, simple rote memory isn't goign to cut it either. You need to have a basic understanding of the material and be able to apply it. Also, this is a timed test so you do not want to waste time reading a passage if all the questions can be awnsered because you know the material. So there is a happy medium between really understanding everything and simply memorizing it.

    Prep courses accomplish several things (and as pointed out, teacher quality can vary). The offer you up consolidated material that allows you to focus your time. They offer you practice material. (this is crucial) They teach you how to take a multiple choice test. Studying for multiple choice standardized tests is something many people don't do efficiently. Verbal REasoning is not intuitive for most people and a course will teach you this.
    It can offer you feedback on your own personal weaknesses ifyou have any.

    I taught all sections of teh MCAT and I have seen it all. Yes, there are always some variations in individuals, but thehre are also definately some commonalities between MCAT takers and common mistakes made.

    And the biggest one is trying to keep up a full life load AND study for tihs test.
     
  32. no-see-um

    no-see-um Bindaas
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    Roja, I agree with many of the things that you said and believe that you are right. However, you fail to mention the importance of taking the April MCAT over the August MCAT in terms of timing the admissions process. The faster you get your scores in, the faster you get looked at.



     
  33. Shrike

    Shrike Lanius examinatianus
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    Less than that: fifteen of seventy-seven questions on physical sciences, for example. And concepts still solve some free-standing questions, even if the FSQs average more fact-intensive than passages (consider the faucet problem, on April BG, for example: the flow equation could help, but understanding what a noncompressible fluid is helped more).
     
  34. acepoint

    acepoint Member
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    its just a test. those who spend 40 hr/wk studying miss out on whats really important: A LIFE!
     
  35. blz

    blz Senior Member
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    w0rd..........
     
  36. fun8stuff

    fun8stuff *hiding from patients*
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    I agree with blz and nutmeg. I think you will find that if you did well in your prereq classes, you will not need to study 40 hours a week. There isn't even enough material to study that much, imho. I only studied a max of 1-2 hrs a day for 10 weeks and in the last week I could read through Kaplan's big book and all of examkrackers in 2 nights (1 night for each) because I was so familiar with their books. I'm not talking about reading every page word for word- but taking in all the main concepts.
     
  37. roja

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    fruit fly- actually, I believe this is a generalized myth. I was on my medical school admissions committee and a very close friends is on the selection committee. As well as having many conversations with our admissions director about this exact topic. And in the vast majority of the cases, getting a higher score on the August MCAT will get you an interview much quicker than an average score in April.

    I took the August MCAT, and got interviews for all schools I applied to. Its a misconception that getting your application in earlier will net you more interviews. You may get your interviews earlier, but if you have a solid application and a solid MCAT score, you will get interviews, regardless if your scores went in April or August.

    I have seen many many people take the August mcat, do well and get in to med school. But again, the key is to DO WELL.


    blz/acepoint- In general, I am a huge believer in the philosophy of needing to have a life outside of premed/medicalschool/residency. However, the MCAT is 10-12 weeks of studying. On average 45000 people apply for 12000 spots in medical schools. Low MCAT scores can and do keep people from interviewing or getting into medical school. Thus, 12 weeks of your life studying is really a small sacrifice. And while keeping a modicum of perspective in medical school is crucial, compared to your friends, you wont' have a life. You will miss out on many many things while you are studying etc.
     
  38. daelroy

    daelroy Senior Member
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    I agree with this. People who have the concepts down will do better than the people who don't. That being said, most test takers do not thorougly understand the concepts behind the science. Like most people, our focus was getting A's as opposed to learning the material intensely. We did whatever we had to do to get A's and that's it When we were done, most of us forgot the basics involved with these courses. I do agree that if you really learned your subjects the first time around, you will have a big advantage and you won't need to study 40 hours a week. But I will say that those individuals are RARE! It's usually these people that end up scoring in the high 30's. But for the vast majority of us, we didn't remember let alone understand the science thoroughly. We memorized our way to A's. And it's a little too late to go back an reteach yourself the concepts behind O-chem and physics for example. If you are one of those people like me who got A's in their pre-reqs but didn't have a thorough understanding of the material, it would be a waste of your time to try and "get it" now. You need to be efficient in your study approach. I thought I had time to learn the concepts and it was a big waste of time although I felt really prepared because of the hundreds of problems I did. Do the problem sets.

    About the review course. It's a waste of your money. Here is why. You are paying over a grand for the lectures. The lectures are a waste of your time. There is no such thing as "test taking skills" when it comes to multiple choice tests. It's merely called common sense. They don't teach you anything you don't already know. They don't teach you any verbal strategy that you can't pick up from the Exam Krackers verbal strategy book. I would know because I took both Kaplan and TPR 2 years ago. I had some amazing instructors. The problem is that you have to compete with your classmates for your instructors attention. Your instructor will lecture and then at the end of the lecture, every student crowds him to help answer questions they had on the homework. And most of the lectures didn't use difficult examples to teach from. They mostly used simple examples That is why Kaplan and TPR charge extra for private tutoring. Do a search on the forum and 90% of the people on here will advise you NOT to take a review course. That's not a coincidence.

    Most of the problem sets can be purchased used off people who took the review course. The AAMC now has a deal where you can pay $80 and get all the full length practice sets you need.

    I would only advise a review course if you are lazy and you need the discipline. If paying $1200 will get you to study because you will feel guilty if you waste your money, then it's worth it. If you really need instruction, pay for private tutoring which is a lot cheaper
     
  39. I agree with the above post.
    However, you should take a prep course only if you will make good use of the practice materials they offer.
    But more importantly, you should be smart/responsible enough to identify your weak areas early on and work on those.
    Then, zoom in on the test with positivity and confidence.
     
  40. roja

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    I took Kaplan (found in general the class structure to be a waste) and taught for princeton. As at TPR, we were paid for special tutoring, for our students and office hours, I was always readily available for my students. I sceduled time wiht them off hours etc for extra help. However, I think you have to look in your area and figure out who has the best teachers. This will definately vary from city to city.

    Regarding test taking skills, I am goign to have to completely disagree with you. Not because I was an individual that didn't intuitively do well. In fact, I had and always have been good at standardized tests. However, there ARE a large majority of people that are not. It is NOT just common sense. Taking a standardized test is not about common sense or intelligence. It is about learning how to take on. Multiple choice is a completely different beast. It is also about time management. Both issues that many students have never really had to face before. Much of my teaching dealt iwth these two issues over and over again. Becasue for the most part, students taking the MCAT are smart enough to master the material on their own. What they need is to learn how to manage their time on the test to get the maximum score. They also need to be retrained in how to study efficently for the test. And many people need a structured environment as its not exactly a fun test to study for.

    But again, it really just depends on the individual. I don't regret taking a course. And I loved teaching for one.
     
  41. This is outstanding advice. I really couldn't agree more. Whichever MCAT you decide to take (April vs. August), take it seriously and study accordingly! Put in the hours, work hard (but take time to relax and destress too), and you'll be happy with your score.
     
  42. Well, I studied around this much, but this included Kaplan lectures, practice quizzes, a full-length practice test every Saturday, time spent watching videotapes, studying on my own, etc. If you figure in the time you spend in lecture, it's much more manageable.

    BTW, these kind of study habits are good. You'll need them again for Step 1 and 2. Not 12 weeks, sure, but a good number of them for several hours a day, for Step 1.
     
  43. Take it in August, between sophomore and junior year. ;)
     
  44. daelroy

    daelroy Senior Member
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    I really wish I had you as an instructor because I doubt most instructors would schedule appointments away from lecture to see students. I have several friends who took Kaplan and not one mentioned that their instructor made time outside of lecture to tutor their students. My instructor (both Kaplan and TPR)never did that. He wasn't rude or anything but I think you are rare because I have yet to hear of any instructor do that. In fact, that's why Kaplan charges for private tutoring sessions with the same instructors who taught our lectures. And private tutoring is expensive as hell. I don't think they would be too happy if they knew their instructors provided free one on one sessions outside of lecture. But I will concede that test taking skills are not common sense for everyone. However I strongly disagree that one needs to take a review course to learn test taking skills. I learned more test taking skills from review books than I did from the review course.

    I also disagree that most students have already mastered the material. They aren't signing up at Kaplan and TPR to learn test taking strategies. After all we are only dealing with a 4 answer multiple choice set. I didn't need my instructor telling me that I had 25% chance of guessing correctly, or that if two answer choices opposed each other, one of those were correct. I don't think that advise is woth $1500. Most students have learned to master basic test taking strategy in undergrad. You wouldn't be able to survive if you didn't already know basic test taking skills. The truth is people sign up for these courses for the access to resources and testing atmosphere. It's convenient to have a center that will administer a full length exam every Saturday in addition to having a libarary of tests to choose from. And many people sign up for it because they have NOT mastered the material and are seeking to be taught stuff they haven't had in a long time. But no one is shelling out 1500 bucks to only learn "how to study efficiently"
     
  45. fun8stuff

    fun8stuff *hiding from patients*
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    Perhaps someone has said this and I missed it. According to the research done by the AAMC "people who take prep courses on average only score 1 or 2 points more than people that don't, and this can most reasonably be attributed to these people spending more time studying."

    All existing data that exists suggests that prep courses do not work. I will try and find where it says this....
     
  46. UCLAstudent

    UCLAstudent I'm a luck dragon!
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    Maybe my 40+ hours per week sounds like a lot, but it wasn't like I was going through text books and trying to memorize every little detail! Minus the 8 hours per week of my MCAT prep course, every single hour of my studying was dedicated to doing practice passages. I really do think that I used my time wisely (even though I am nervous about my results).
     
  47. NinerNiner999

    NinerNiner999 Senior Member
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    Medical Students do during their first two years, and usually for 18 weeks each semester...
     
  48. roja

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    Its a shame you didn't end up wiht good instructors. And unfortunately that is the luck of hte draw. I loved teaching (and still do) and intend to go into academic medicine as well as eventually going into medical school admissions.

    I think people sign up for these courses for many reasons.
    -condensed focused material
    -structured time
    -test taking skills
    -practice exams in a 'mock' setting
    -to have someone there to ask questions of

    and on and on. Some people just want review, some need to be reminded of courses they took a while back. Some just want the practice. point being that there are MANY reasons to take a prep course. And as I said, competition is incredibly stiff and the MCAT is a make or break deal for medical school. So, yup, 1200 is a lot of money, but not getting into medical school is expensive as well. I wanted whatever edge I could get and thus, why I took a course.

    There are lots of tricks for the MCAT and there is a lot of simple advice that can make it easier for people. however, the world of premeds skews reality on a regular basis and sometimes its helpful to have someone bring it back in. especially if its someone that has gone through it all.
     
  49. docjolly

    docjolly On Cloud Nine, Once Again
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    This forum is very helpful...

    I've been reading it off and on for some time now, and I have to say that I really appreciate some of the opinions that have been given (by DoogieHowserMD, daelroy, Meowmix, etc)...They've given me a great deal to think about.

    I didn't take the April exam, but I did begin studying for it last October. Because of my schedule, I literally stopped going over new material in February. I took all of the practice exams given by Kaplan, and even though I did not finish any of the new material that had been discussed in my classes, my composite scores progressively increased from the mid to upper 20s. Without any new material under my belt, I was still able to improve my overall score. So, I do think there is truth in the idea that one does not have to thoroughly know the sciences to perform well on the exam..

    I'm taking the MCAT in August, and now I better understand how to approach the exam..
     
  50. kiahs

    kiahs Senior Member
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    I think everyone has their own way of studying like a lot of the posts I'm seeing I too could not study more then five good hours and then that too into the third hour it would get pointless but I sat there for ten regardless, but it was just out of fear. And I feel like there's no secret formula you study until your almost comfortable but still scared to death. Anytime you feel you know everything is a time when you should be scared. On taking it only once I say do it when you're ready for sure but if it doesn't turn out well then if it means enough to you you'll go through the hell again because it is what you really want, and so what if they ask you at the interview why you took it twice if your rocked it the second time they won't care. It shows dedication and indurance. That's my two cents.
     
  51. roja

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    Just as an aside, I completely understand that studying for 8 hours a day can be very very daunting. However, the question I used to pose to my MCAT students was 'What on earth do you think medical scool is like?' Learning to study this much a day for 10 weeks is a nice mini trial run for medical school. And trust me. To do average (B's) you will study this much and nearing exams, MORE. So, yup. It toasts your brain. It sucks. Its exhausting. But it is also what you have in your future, to one degree or another. If you aren't sure, talk to some medical students and ask them what the longest stretch at a time they have studied. (I could only muster 14 hours a day for a week or so.)
     

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