Are the Kaplan discrete practice questions at the end of each chapter good practice?

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Currently going through content prep and I am not scoring as high as I would like on the end of chapter discrete questions. Do you think those questions are good indicators of how well you should know the material?

It seems that the end of chapter questions are very specific and my understanding is that most of the MCAT assumes no prior knowledge of the material so is it a waste to do these questions?
 
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crandmat

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I thought they were helpful while going through the books to check my understanding, but as with anything Kaplan, take everything with a grain of salt. I think that their books are decent content review resources but their tests/quizzes/q-bank test over the nittiest of grittiest details in their books.
 
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Oct 16, 2020
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Currently going through content prep and I am not scoring as high as I would like on the end of chapter discrete questions. Do you think those questions are good indicators of how well you should know the material?

It seems that the end of chapter questions are very specific and my understanding is that most of the MCAT assumes no prior knowledge of the material so is it a waste to do these questions?

Those questions are highly specific. They have some utility as a quick content check, but I wouldn't agonize over them, or let them get in the way of making progress on your study plan. But I do want to correct one misconception, which is that "most of the MCAT assumes no prior knowledge of the material". That's not the case. The AAMC has a 100+ page content outline where they discuss in detail what they expect you to know, and only ~20% of the science questions focus exclusively on experimental design and data interpretation (and even those questions are much easier if you understand what the experiment is talking about). Instead, the primary role of passages is that they serve as a scaffold upon which the MCAT can ask you questions that draw upon your science knowledge. For instance, you may need to have certain knowledge in order to interpret an experiment, or you may have to combine passage information with your science knowledge to solve a problem and derive a correct answer. Finally, ~35% of questions (corresponding to what the AAMC describes as "Skill 1: Knowledge of Scientific Concepts and Principles) do basically just test content directly. These are mostly, but not exclusively, standalone questions. In other words, to summarize—yes, content absolutely does matter. Myself and a lot of other people on this board push back on an overemphasis on content, because lots of other skills matter too, but you are 100% expected to have a solid grounding in the basic science that's covered.

It might be helpful to take a stab at the Official Guide questions, because that's a solid AAMC resource that's not scored, so "burning" it early doesn't really put you at a disadvantage. In particular, look at the balance between outside and passage-based knowledge, and you'll see what I mean in terms of that balance.
 
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GreenDuck12

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Currently going through content prep and I am not scoring as high as I would like on the end of chapter discrete questions. Do you think those questions are good indicators of how well you should know the material? It seems that the end of chapter questions are very specific and my understanding is that most of the MCAT assumes no prior knowledge of the material so is it a waste to do these questions?
The 15 discrete questions at the end of the chapter are really not useful for two reasons: they tend to test specific details presented in chapter and they do not force the test taker to actively engage with the material. Too many of their questions rely on passive recall. I highly recommend supplementing with more passage based questions that force you grapple with broad concepts that are presented in the chapter and reason through information that is presented.
 
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deleted1085158

The 15 discrete questions at the end of the chapter are really not useful for two reasons: they tend to test specific details presented in chapter and they do not force the test taker to actively engage with the material. Too many of their questions rely on passive recall. I highly recommend supplementing with more passage based questions that force you grapple with broad concepts that are presented in the chapter and reason through information that is presented.
That is good to know. What's the purpose of those questions anyway if they don't help you on the MCAT?

I've been reading each section to understand the topic only. I really haven't been going into everything like I did in undergrad. With that approach, is it OK if I don't get all of those discrete questions correct on the first try?
 
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That is good to know. What's the purpose of those questions anyway if they don't help you on the MCAT?
They feel useful (especially to less informed customers), remind people of college textbooks, and don't do any active harm. Plus it's the safe option from a corporate standpoint—very few people complain about these questions being there, but people would complain about it if you took them away. Trying to transform them into something more MCAT-like would be an uphill battle involving energy that could be better spent elsewhere—in other words, hypothetically, if I'm a content person at Kaplan and I'm trying to pitch my boss on the idea or transforming the end-of-chapter questions, the follow-up would be (1) why fix it if it's not broke in terms of customer complaints, (2) if we are going to invest in creating new, MCAT-like questions and passages, why not put them somewhere with a greater payoff, like in a QBank or something? To be clear, I don't and haven't worked at Kaplan specifically, but in previous job roles in MCAT prep I've had very, very similar conversations, and I can tell you that the inertia can be strong when it comes to issues like this.
I've been reading each section to understand the topic only. I really haven't been going into everything like I did in undergrad. With that approach, is it OK if I don't get all of those discrete questions correct on the first try?
At this stage, it's about progress, not perfection. Use your judgment. Some discrete questions relate more to core concepts, other relate more to little details that you might only get around to memorizing later. It can't hurt to review the questions—that'll help make the content more familiar when you see it again later in your prep process. But don't let these questions grind you to a halt. Learn what you can, do your best to make sure that you understand the material well enough to be able to tackle a related passage, and move on so that you can focus more on practicing with realistic materials to solidify your knowledge.
 
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