Lyoness

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I have to take the mcat spring of 2018, so I am studying very early. If I buy the practice exams of the AAMC 1&2 right now, will they have the same questions as the practice exams that will be sold next year or will they be a different version? I am asking because if they are different versions then that means it's more practice for me so I'll buy em now and the ones for next year! Thanks!
 

lpp06

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It's the same test.

AAMC should be the last materials you use to practice within 1 - 2 months of your actual exam.
 
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Dr. Stalker

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I have to take the mcat spring of 2018, so I am studying very early. If I buy the practice exams of the AAMC 1&2 right now, will they have the same questions as the practice exams that will be sold next year or will they be a different version? I am asking because if they are different versions then that means it's more practice for me so I'll buy em now and the ones for next year! Thanks!
Excellent question. Let me answer it with a timeline.

The official guide to the MCAT, 4th edition, was released in anticipation for the brand new 2015 Exams. It represents the oldest preparation for the new exam. The questions on here are extremely easy compared to the current administrations of the new MCAT. This item is available through both the paperback book (linked above), or digitally.

The next item released, soon after the official guide to the MCAT, was the AAMC Sample Test, aka, the unscored FL. This exam was, I believe, released in November 2014, to help students get a firm grasp on the new, painfully long exam, that would premier in January 2015. This exam is also, quite easy compared to the current administrations of the MCAT.

Approximately 1 year later, the AAMC had gathered enough data and created a scaled score exam. This is known as AAMC FL 1. This exam isn't technically the first full length - that would be the sample test, however, this is the first scored full length. This exam is quite good and relatively representative of current MCAT exams.

Either before, after, or at the same time of AAMC FL 1, the Section Bank was released (not to be confused with the question packs). These are three 100 question units devoted to the three science sections. 100 phys/chem, 100 bio/biochem, 100 psy/soc. They are both passage based and discrete. These, in my opinion, are the absolute best preparation for the current and future MCATs. Many students (myself included), got obliterated when completing the section bank. You'll notice a completely different style compared to the official guide and sample test questions here. Everything is passage based and extremely difficult. The questions are not easy, and the passages look like a foreign language coupled with endless amounts of data from charts, tables, figures, and mechanisms presented.

Finally, the best absolute preparation for the MCAT is AAMC FL 2. This is the second FL released by the AAMC that will give you a score. It is based on the latest data by the AAMC and (supposedly) the best indicator of your MCAT test score. Take that with a grain of salt though.

tl;dr

AAMC FL 2 > Section Bank > AAMC FL 1 >>>>>>> Sample Test > Official Guide to the MCAT, 4th edition.
 
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Lyoness

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Do you guys think EK would be sufficient enough to prep for the mcat? I was thinking about buying TBR as well, but I've heard the mcat is more critical thinking based than content regurgitation.
 
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Dr. Stalker

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Do you guys think EK would be sufficient enough to prep for the mcat? I was thinking about buying TBR as well, but I've heard the mcat is more critical thinking based than content regurgitation.
The MCAT is entirely based on critical thinking. Does that mean you "don't need to know facts?" NOPE. You need to know every single fact. However, MCAT questions won't ask you to simply regurgitate them. Instead, they'll ask you to apply the facts you do know to a situation.

My common example is this: There's 20 amino acids. You need to know the structures, names, and abbreviations of them all. Maybe 1 MCAT question out of 59 (the total # of questions in the biology/biochemistry portion of the exam) will directly ask you for a structure of the amino acid in question. However, other amino acid questions will ask you to "critically think." Depending on what you learn biochemistry from, there's different categories of amino acids. I learned biochemistry with amino acids falling into 4 categories. A "critical thinking" type MCAT question will ask you something along the lines of this:

You have an enzyme with a threonine residue in the active site. What amino acid substitution will most likely retain protein activity?

At this point, the astute student should try to visualize/draw out threonine and then find a suitable substitute based on threonine's structure, function, and properties. Maybe some random biochemistry book will teach you Threonine is always substituted with ___ amino acid. Chances of a book saying that are extraordinarily low, however. Instead, analyze threonine. The R group, what properties it has, what the substrate in the MCAT passage accompanying this question is discussing.

Lastly, approximately 85% of the science sections are passage based now. For the old MCAT (45 point based), it was "passage based." By that, I mean, a passage would accompany the questions, but really, you didn't need to read and understand the passage thoroughly to answer the questions. Current MCATs are drawing heavily from passage and figures, very similar to those in scientific journals. If one chooses to skip reading the passage and accompanying tables, charts, and figures, he or she will be in for a very rude awakening.

For content preparation, you can use any book series. I personally prefer the NextStep Book Series, but EK is fine.

When are you planning on taking your MCAT?
 

Dr. Stalker

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I have to take the mcat spring of 2018, so I am studying very early. If I buy the practice exams of the AAMC 1&2 right now, will they have the same questions as the practice exams that will be sold next year or will they be a different version? I am asking because if they are different versions then that means it's more practice for me so I'll buy em now and the ones for next year! Thanks!
Oh, I never answered your original questions. The AAMC doesn't release different/updated questions for the AAMC FL exams. AAMC FL 1, for example, is the same currently as it was when it was initially released.
 

Lyoness

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Aha I see! I'm taking my mcat may of next year and I bough EK 10th ed but I am also thinking about buying tbr for passage practice.
 

Dr. Stalker

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Aha I see! I'm taking my mcat may of next year and I bough EK 10th ed but I am also thinking about buying tbr for passage practice.
Any source of practice passages is fine, some are better than others. Ultimately, you need to master your content and then do practice questions. However, the best questions, have always been, and will always be, those released by the AAMC. Be sure to do those after you do the TBR passages and you'll be set.
 
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