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Berkeley Review Biology

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by Paratodoc, Jul 6, 2012.

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  1. Paratodoc


    May 22, 2012
    I've seen many people here remark of their displeasure with Berkeley Review Biology and I'm beginning to see why. Having just completed reading the metabolic pathways section I'm finding the questions to be unnecessarily difficult or convoluted. Whereas with the other books I feel that the questions are tricky, but still impart good study tactics and conceptual thinking, the BR Bio just screams of a question writer espousing their big brain. Some of the questions don't seem remotely relevant or require very complex reasoning. Other parts contain explanations with incorrect or lazy answers, e.g.. referencing parts of a passage that don't exist or referencing metabolic pathways backwards. For those of you doing BR, did anyone else find the Calvin Cycle questions somewhat ridiculous?

    I'm concerned about continuing with this book for biology review. I've heard others say it is not representative of the MCAT in content review, but that the questioning format is. I do like the passage based questioning, as I feel it keeps you on your toes. Occasionally it does lead to good review of concepts, but I guess I question if those concepts are even representative? Does the MCAT really expect you to have a biblical knowledge of the structure of every intermediate of glycolysis, the Kreb's Cycle, and the pentose phosphate pathway? Several of the questions so far have been very heavy on carbon bookkeeping and biochemistry (a subject I didn't take in undergrad). I'm confused because the beginning of the section says to know "general" details of the pathways but the questions are much more specific.

    My main concern is as follows: So far, it appears that you can answer about 50% of any BR biology passage through careful reading of a passage. That is encouraging, but I feel like that's really only testing my VR reasoning skills. My concern is that the content side is crazy difficult and feels like it's out of far left field. I spend about 50% more time on each biology review passage than any of the other books. When I read the physical science books I go, "Yeah, I remember that." This is not the case for many parts of the biology book.

    Thoughts from those in the know? Somewhere I read that the BR biology is good if you were a bio major, or if you have biology concepts down fairly solid. Would you suggest EK or another book in its place? Admittedly biology is my oldest subject (I last took a biology class three years ago).
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  3. JLeBling

    JLeBling 2+ Year Member

    Oct 21, 2012
  4. MD Odyssey

    MD Odyssey 2+ Year Member

    Jun 26, 2010
    Keep going and don't let getting drilled on BR biology passages. It hurts now, but when you start doing practice exams you will realize how much it does for you. Your MCAT score is not a composite of your BR scores.
  5. MedWonk

    MedWonk 高飛車 7+ Year Member

    May 13, 2010
    New England
    If you take any of the practice AAMC tests, you may be surprised how many of the answers are purely based on interpretation of the information within the passage. They are a few non-passage based questions. The biggest thing I've gotten out of TBR is exposure to a wide variety of experiments and procedures that could appear on the MCAT. Exposure to the difficult passages in TBR has made it easier for me to deal with passages where I really have no clue what exactly it is they're talking about.
  6. angldrps

    angldrps 5+ Year Member

    Oct 23, 2010
    Having taken MCAT twice, I can tell you that MCAT BS section requires you to use much more critical thinking, finding answers from the passages, understanding the experiment being presented in the passage than it does recalling details about Krebs cycle, glycolysis, etc. You do NOT need to memorize these pathways in the detail they are presented in TBR biology books. You just need to have a basic understanding of them because the little details are more likely going to be right there in the passage. BS section has gradually become more like a verbal reasoning section (if you have taken BS section in AAMC 11 you will know what I mean). If I were you, I would stop using TBR biology books. If you can't get a hold of TPR hyperlearning biology books (PM me if you want to buy mine, but they are marked/used) , buy EK biology book. I would recommend TPR science workbook for passages.
  7. angldrps

    angldrps 5+ Year Member

    Oct 23, 2010
    You are more likely to get passages about experiments you have never heard of on the real deal than getting passages similar to TBR's. I agree practicing with TBR passages can be a good idea but these passages also test you on material that require you to memorize a ton of detail which the real MCAT is most likely not going to test you on. Almost all the detail needed is right there in the passages and all you need to do is use this info. from the passage to answer the questions.
  8. Temperature101

    Temperature101 Banned Banned 2+ Year Member

    May 26, 2011
    I think book 1 (Physiology) is ok but book 2 has way too much unecessary info...The passages are good practices, albeit difficut.
  9. Narmerguy

    Narmerguy Moderator Emeritus 7+ Year Member

    Jul 14, 2007
    I was in your same place before, and I can say that it was good to go through BR bio for all the content, but it's just too much. You have to know how to look at some information and just decide you don't need to know that, even if you miss a question on that. I find the AAMC topic lists to be a good guide for deciding what stuff is relevant and what stuff isn't relevant. I felt a lot of anguish about BR's bio because I was scoring 7s, 8s, 9s, and 10s regularly. Got a 15 on the real thing, so don't get fretted about the score you get on their practice passages.

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