original threadAfter it's all over, you should write a review of the UCLA course. I think that would help a number of people.
So now that my exam is finally behind me, I figured I might be able to give a good assessment of my experience. I can't speak for how the course is at other locations, but at UCLA it's great. It has it's problems (like any course), but those can be worked around.
Gen Chem Teaching: Todd Bennett (the owner and heart and soul of the program) taught most of the classes with Cliff teaching about three I think. Todd's lectures are amazing. He works from his handouts, which give great shortcuts and strategies. What I think I liked best was that he'd show us how to think our way through problems. I learned titration curves, photoelectric effect, electrochemistry, and nuclear chemistry WAAAYYYY better than I ever learned it before. He has unique ways to solve these questions that make things easy. Cliff was a good lecturer, but it's hard to follow in Todd's shadow. He did more of the math oriented material. He knew his stuff and had some good tricks. The only problem is that his mood was based on the material. When he loved it, the lecture was energetic and dynamic. If he didn't like it (can you say equilibrium?), then his enthusiasm was a bit low. Overall I'd give this section a 9 out of 10.
Physics Teaching: Todd teaches all of the physics lectures. They are GREAT! I learned so many great ways to solve MCAT questions. What I liked the best was that he would always show us how to make hard questions easier. I love the way he taught optics with his flowchart method. I do great on buoyancy questions using his sinker-or-floater method. I never understood electromagnetism before and his perspective made it so simple. I don't think there could ever be a better MCAT physics teacher. Overall I'd give this section a 10+ out of 10.
Biology Teaching: We had three different teachers for this subject. Dale (another owner) was a great teacher whose knowledge is encyclopedic. He taught mostly physiology. He gave us some really hard practice questions each lecture, but then went over the logic afterwards. I didn't like this at first, but by the third lecture I loved it. And those questions more than anything else helped me on the real MCAT. Sarath taught the genetics and molecular biology material. He is just a really cool guy who had a very simple and logical way to analyze everything. I really liked that he calmed us down. He's also brilliant, but super modest about it. The one thing I didn't like was the attitude of Chelsea. She only taught one lecture (neuro physiology) and she definitely knew her stuff, but she was just a little too negative for my liking. There were people who liked her and she gave a good lecture, but she set a bad tone. Overall I'd give this section a 9 out of 10.
Organic Chemistry Teaching: For this section, Maha taught three of the lectures, Todd taught two, and Cecile taught two (the lab techniques and spectroscopy). Cecile is a professor from Pepperdine who came out to teach and she was absolutely amazing. I wish she would have taught more, because she had a great way of looking at things and emphasized problem solving. She's also incredibly sweet and really cared that we learned. Maha was also really sweet and was great in office hours. Maha is a UCLA TA who sometimes went off on tangents. She taught some really useful tricks for getting R and S and integrating organic material with biology. I liked her lectures for the most part, but she covered the easy things and sometimes rushed through them. Todd's organic chemistry lectures were really good and full of a bunch a great tricks and applications to biology. Because organic chemistry is so lightly tested, he always made it a point to give us related biology examples. His trick for looking at any pathway is really good. Overall I'd give this section an 8 out of 10.
Verbal Teaching: Samantha is AWESOME! I wasn't expecting much from this part of the course, because I don't think you can teach verbal reasoning. But she had exercises and drills that we did in class that really helped. It was more of skills practice than a lecture. She also had a way of soothing our stress by putting the exam in realistic perspective. I think the handouts we got in class were absolutely the best things I did (because they focused on exercises and not the usual droning on of a verbose verbal expert). Overall I'd give this section a 9 out of 10.
Class Handouts: This is where the course really stands out. The handouts summarize the material and give many of the short cuts. They provide additional passages that are better than the ones in the books (in my opinion at least). The review exams and summary sheets that Todd passed out at the end were great. They really match the feel of the actual MCAT, which is why they pass them out near the end of the class (or so Todd says). Overall I'd give this section a 10 out of 10.
Full-Length CBTs: A few of the exams were excellent and really felt like the actual MCAT. A few of the exams were a waste of my time. Exam 7 was so hard it pushed me backwards. But exams 4 and 8 were really good and set me up quite well for the real thing. I didn't like that they had to email me the curve and my scores. But I liked that the tests had no glitches. One piece of advice for anyone who does their CBTs: do the verbal section on Internet Explorer and the science sections on Mozilla. Overall I'd give this section a 7 out of 10.
Tutoring: I don't want to be mean, but I think this is where I felt a bit let down at times. The office hours were scattered across different spots on campus and weren't consistent in terms of times and days. Todd's OHs were usually full, but he'd schedule private OHs if we couldn't stay the whole time and didn't get our questions answered. During finals, a couple of the tutors disappeared completely. But, they did extra office hours during break week. Maha was great in office hours. I only went to see Sarath once and he was also wonderful, answering some of my questions for other subjects as well. Todd was the best, but that's because he wrote most of the material he taught. I did appreciate that they were there for us right up until our MCAT, including the evening before my exam. That was really calming and getting my last questions answered probably helped me sleep better. Overall I'd give this section a 7 out of 10.
Application Workshops: These are great! I can't tell you how much I learned about the process and the timeline that I didn't know before. They have various people from UCLA and UCI come in to speak about the process and make suggestions. Their statistics and tricks for maximizing your application were great. I really like that even after the course is done, they're still there for you. They really care about everyone and want them to do well. Overall I'd give this section a 9 out of 10.
Overall: I am so glad I took their course. I was really close to taking another class and am happy I checked them all out before signing up. Classes aren't perfect for everyone, but I needed someone to guide me, encourage me, and give me insights on how to get ready. They did all of that. I seriously owe them for my PS and VR scores. I think BS can be studied on your own, but they still helped. I think the best part is that they truly cared about me and my classmates. Overall I'd give this their course a 9 out of 10.