MCAT Berkeley Review Homestudy Books

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Quick facts:
1) Students using the Berkeley Review materials routinely break into the 30s.
2) All books were written by experts in their specific field after they had attained several years of experience teaching MCAT preparation
3) The books contain over 500 unique strategies for getting a best answer.

Books that are available with Homestudy program (all passages include full explanations)
Biology Book 1
Neuro and Muscle, Heart and Lung, Kidney and GI, Reproduction and Development, and Endocrinology and Imminology 75 passages
Biology Book 2
Cellular Biology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Genetics 75 passages

General Chemistry Book 1
Stoichiometry, Atomic Structure, Equilibrium, Acids and Bases, and Titrations 68 passages
General Chemistry Book 2
Gases, Phases, Thermodynamics, Chemical Kinetics, and Electrochemistry 63 passages
(Our general chemistry books garner high praise for their passages, answer explanations, and unique tricks for solving questions quickly. We proudly boast the best general chemistry books for the MCAT anywhere)

Organic Chemistry Book 1
Organic Structure, Spectroscopy, Stereochemistry, and Hydrocarbons 53 passages
Organic Chemistry Book 2
Carbonyls, Carbohydrates, Amino Acids, and Laboratory Techniques 54 passages

Physics Book 1
Translational Motion, Forces, Work, Momentum, Torque, Periodic Motion, and Waves 50 passages
Physics Book 2
Sound, Fluids and Solids, Electrostatics and Electromagnetism, Electrical Circuits, Light, and Optics 50 passages
(Our physics books garner high praise for their passages, answer explanations, and unique tricks for solving questions quickly. We proudly boast the best physics books for the MCAT anywhere and we'll be introducing a new physics book for homestudy in October 2010.)

Verbal Reasoning Book
includes 105 passages with full answer explanations and test strategy tips
Essay Composition Book
includes sample essays and a strategy formula for writing a strong essay

What makes our books the best?
Simply put, the authors are all experienced teachers in their field of exertise, and they write explanations, concepts, and strategies gleaned over years of teaching. Only experts at teaching MCAT preparation know how to write a book aimed at this level, mixing strategies, problem solving skills, and conceptual review of material. No other MCAT preparation material authors can claim to have as much teaching experience as Berkeley Review's authors. We've been writing practice questions and review MCAT for the MCAT since 1988.

The following are homework links for the homestudy:

12-Week Study Plan

16-Week Study Plan

Three Phases of Homework

(Please note that the above files are for 2011 test takers and are based on the late 2010 BR books, including the latest physics book and general chemistry book. If you have older books, the page numebrs may not match with the phase list)

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What makes the books unique? For instance I know that one company is good for reviewing concepts and getting summaries.

As you know many people use multiple companies to study for the MCAT. People have mentioned your books but have not mentioned what their strengths are?
 
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Where can we buy the books, and are there any promotions running now specifically for the books?
 
Members don't see this ad :)
Where can we buy the books, and are there any promotions running now specifically for the books?

The books are sold via an online form at www.berkeley-review.com. During Test Prep Week there is a $25 discount available of full book sets. You'll need to write "SDN Promo" on your form and it must be postmarked no later than this Saturday, January 23, 2010.

You can also make arrangements to pick books up at one of their centers, in either Berkeley or Westwood. This method avoids FedEx shipping charges. Call 800-843-8378 to set a meeting time in Berkeley or email Todd Bennett at <[email protected]> to arrange a meeting time in Westwood.
 
What is the difference between the new edition that was just released and the older edition? thanks!
 
The books are sold via an online form at www.berkeley-review.com. During Test Prep Week there is a $25 discount available of full book sets. You'll need to write "SDN Promo" on your form and it must be postmarked no later than this Saturday, January 23, 2010.

You can also make arrangements to pick books up at one of their centers, in either Berkeley or Westwood. This method avoids FedEx shipping charges. Call 800-843-8378 to set a meeting time in Berkeley or email Todd Bennett at <[email protected]> to arrange a meeting time in Westwood.

So its $270+$31 S&H for the full price if I order by Saturday?
 
how in depth are the conceptual reviews? Do they basically outline all the material that we should know? and give
information? or are they simple and most of the books are just the questions/passages and solutions?
 
What is the difference between the new edition that was just released and the older edition? thanks!

Are you talking about general chemistry or physics?

Let me go in backwards order of development.

Biology books
Book 2 (cellular biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, and genetics) has undergone minimal changes which each new printing since 2003. The changes have been cosmetic in terms of typos and diagrams.

Book 1 (physiology) has been in a state of flux over the past four years, being printed on demand with the alternate cover before the start of each new session. The author of this book changes a paragraph here and there with each new class, based on feedback from when he teaches. The book is not that different since 2005.

Verbal Reasoning books
This book underwent a major overhaul in 2007, going from 268 pages of material to over 400. Much of this was done in the answer explanations. The exam sets included some new passages.

Organic Chemistry
These books underwent a drastic change in 2003, when the MCAT changed their content list for the biological sciences section. It underwent a second significant change in 2005 after feedback on the BS section about minimal organic chemistry. This book now includes many biology examples incorporated into the practice passages, and has certain sections that serve as Cliffnotes of sorts for sections in the biology book.

General Chemistry
These books underwent a recent change in 2009, to integrate more physics twists into selected passages. There is a current major overhaul in the works to have the next edition of the general chemistry book match the soon-to-be-released physics books. General chemistry is expected to have its beta form of the new book in classrooms this summer and next spring with a full release in late 2011. Because the author is also a teacher, he chooses to use the book through a few cycles in the class to get feedback.

Physics
These books underwent a HUGE change that began in early 2009. It will become the state-of-the-art model for all MCAT preparation books. The big changes that people wanted and thus we implemented were multiple homework sections. There is a 3-passage/25-question set designed to review the material in the text portion of the chapter. Those are to be done slowly and thoroughly, working on building concepts. Following that is a 7-passage/52-question practice exam to be taken under timed conditions. The passages are centered around topics from the text, but also incorporate outside material. These are designed to simulate the MCAT experience. In the text portion, we have included explanations to all of the (b)-questions, which is something our students have clammored for over the years. We also include turbo solutions with selected questions. For instance, if there are three questions on the same example, then the first two questions will have traditional explanations and the third will have a turbo solution where shortcuts and tricks are shown and explained in detail. The goal is that these will teach you more about how to save time on the question than the material. This is based on the assumption that the first few examples implant the concepts well.

Right now we are in our final stage of editting, running it by our current classes with the hopes of having it in full use at all centers and available for homestudy in March. We wanted to have it out earlier, but unfortunately, we are perfectionists when it comes to what we choose to include.
 
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So its $270+$31 S&H for the full price if I order by Saturday?

There's no sales tax (actually it's prepaid sales tax), so that's the bookset price. I'm not sure about FedEx shipping prices, but if that's what your zipcode came up as, then $31 is right.
 
how in depth are the conceptual reviews? Do they basically outline all the material that we should know? and give
information? or are they simple and most of the books are just the questions/passages and solutions?

The reviews depend on the section. For some sections, like electrochemistry for instance, there are tons of applications and conceptual points. It builds from the ground up in a very detailed fashion, because most students start weak in this area. Conversely, a section like stoichiometry has very little in way of conceptual examples (besides one or two experiments). That section is all about doing calculations and learning math tricks. I'd say that each section is written with the range of students we've had in class in mind. We write based on what we feel we have taught over the years, adapting to the particular topic. For biology, the reviews are highly in depth, because of the larger volume of information in biology than other subjects. This is a case where the books are written for the person who needs more details, so if you are particularly good at biology you might want to skim the review section and focus on passages.

One thing we do in all the books is have passages that cover twists on the material not necessarily address in the review section in much detail. For instance, action potentials will be described in the review section, but a passage will center around the impact of external conditions on an action potential. As a general rule, we feel passages and answer explanations are the most important part of our books, and we write accordingly. Everyone is at a different point in their review, so it's hard to write for everyone. But when it comes to passages and test-taking skills, everyone needs these so we put a great deal of energy into making those top notch.
 
What makes the books unique? For instance I know that one company is good for reviewing concepts and getting summaries.

As you know many people use multiple companies to study for the MCAT. People have mentioned your books but have not mentioned what their strengths are?

The uniqueness of our books starts with the uniqueness of the author(s). Our books are written by experienced MCAT teachers, which gives us a highly unqiue perspective on both the material and moreso what students traditionally find easy and what they struggle with. Our review sections stand out because of how well written and how unique the methods are for traditionally difficult topics in electrochemistry, acids and bases, fluids and solids, electromagnetism, kidney physiology, organic chemistry lab techniques, genetics, and heart and lung physiology.

Our philosophy on our books has always been to make it less of a review and more of a strategy guide. We are a niche market where our students average over 30 on the MCAT, so our methods clearly work. There is no secret formula other than presenting things in a clear manner like a great teacher does, and dealing with potentially troublesome topics very methodically.

As far as what people say about our books, and I'm basing this on classroom students, they love the passages and the explanations. Everything we do is designed to teach how to answer the question faster and more logically.
 
I wish I had a good question, but frankly, mine have already been answered here! I'm glad this event is going on, because I admit I hadn't heard of Berkeley Review, and I will definitely be looking into these study materials. Thanks all.
 
Just a suggestion. For anyone who is considering purchasing the books you might want to use a money order. I have read various posters state that using a money order was quicker than using a personal check. Perhaps this can be confirmed by Berk.


Anyway, I wish I had been able to afford the set of books. They aren't overpriced, we are just really low income, but every person I have spoken to about them gives them much praise. Of course I would still love to get a set for my husband as he is about to start preparing for the MCAT.
 
Members don't see this ad :)
Overall, what I've seen with the BR books has been great. I do have one logistical question, though, and this is concerning contacting TBR. Some members here have mentioned difficulty in getting a hold of TBR to actually order the books. Are there good times of day and/or the week to contact TBR. You're a relatively small company, correct? When do you suggest calling if one has questions concerning an order or in order to make an order? (I myself have not had this issue but I have seen it come up as a concern several times, which I am sure has made others as well as myself slightly tentative about ordering TBR materials despite your excellent reputation for some great review materials!)
 
Overall, what I've seen with the BR books has been great. I do have one logistical question, though, and this is concerning contacting TBR. Some members here have mentioned difficulty in getting a hold of TBR to actually order the books. Are there good times of day and/or the week to contact TBR. You're a relatively small company, correct? When do you suggest calling if one has questions concerning an order or in order to make an order? (I myself have not had this issue but I have seen it come up as a concern several times, which I am sure has made others as well as myself slightly tentative about ordering TBR materials despite your excellent reputation for some great review materials!)

The best window of time to call is 9am-12n PST during weekdays. Like so many of you, I have to call in from time to time and this window pretty much always works for me. There are just two people who answer the phones, and both are teachers, so one of them is usually out doing office hours or in the classroom. When the second person heads out to do afternoon errands (post office and FedEx dropoff), the phone is left unloved and lonely. The rest of the day is less predictable, so calling in the afternoon (PST) would be hit or miss.
 
Since BRT didn't really emphasize this, I will.

PASSAGES

TBR's passages are phenomenal, and there are TONS of them in the review books. Virtually identical to how the MCAT tests.
 
I just bought the physics books along with some others. Should I have waited til March, and am I just sol? Any ideas for what I could do?
 
Any plans for BR to provide courses outside of Cali? Or perhaps a live online type class? I think those would be extremely useful for those of us not able to come to Cali
 
I wish I had a good question, but frankly, mine have already been answered here! I'm glad this event is going on, because I admit I hadn't heard of Berkeley Review, and I will definitely be looking into these study materials. Thanks all.

Likewise, we are greatly appreciative of SDN for hosting this event, because we have been an obscure secret for California students for nineteen years. We work our butts off to make a good product and take pride in the things that are the best on the market (feedback tells us that our physics book, our general chemistry books, our CBTs, and our organic chemistry books are top in their areas). For the areas where we don't win the public opinions polls, we'll keep chasing the curve.

Thanks for your positive comment.
 
Since BRT didn't really emphasize this, I will.

PASSAGES

TBR's passages are phenomenal, and there are TONS of them in the review books. Virtually identical to how the MCAT tests.

Thank you so very much for the kind sentiment and great feedback. It is an issue of pride to make sure the passages are well written (good simulations as well as factually sound and creative), the questions are representative of all different question types, and most of all that the explanations are thorough and helpful.

We've had nineteen years to write an average of about 200 passages per year, so we have a big stockpile. However, we've also thrown away over 1000 passages over the years, given the changes in the MCAT.
 
Just a suggestion. For anyone who is considering purchasing the books you might want to use a money order. I have read various posters state that using a money order was quicker than using a personal check. Perhaps this can be confirmed by Berk.


Anyway, I wish I had been able to afford the set of books. They aren't overpriced, we are just really low income, but every person I have spoken to about them gives them much praise. Of course I would still love to get a set for my husband as he is about to start preparing for the MCAT.

You are absolutely right about the turnaround time depending on the payment method. Money orders and credit card are the fastest methods. For checks, they wait ten banking days from the day of the deposit to make sure it clears. The plan for the near future, according to the man in the Berkeley office, is to have a click to order credit card option on the website. Hopefully that happens soon, but things don't seem to go fast with us. Which is foreshadowing for a repsonse to another post about the timing of the physics books.
 
I just bought the physics books along with some others. Should I have waited til March, and am I just sol? Any ideas for what I could do?

Knowing what I know about our timeline, I wouldn't have waited. The physics book we plan to release in March was due out fourteen months ago. The problem is that the current book is excellent (voted number one in many surveys), so there was no hurry to get a new one out. Hence, we have been way too anal about switching little things rather than rush it out. I think we subscribe to the Blizzard Entertainment approach of delaying the release until it's exactly where we want it. So even though the release is set for March, I'll believe it when I see it. As for ordering now, you are better off getting the sure thing in your hand, especially when it's a proven commodity.
 
Any plans for BR to provide courses outside of Cali? Or perhaps a live online type class? I think those would be extremely useful for those of us not able to come to Cali

Back in 1995 we operated a class in Seattle one time. In 1996 we offered a class in Ann Arbor one time. In 1998 we offered a course in Chicago one time. What we learned in all three of these ventures is that we are teachers and not business folks. We also learned what amazing cities all three of those places were and how nice it would be to live there and run a class. We would have loved to expand, but what we learned the hard way is that quality has to give if you expand. Our main staples (Westwood and Berkeley) dropped in quality as we flew (and thus tired out) our instructors. It just wasn't something we could do effectively.

One of our competitors here would likely never admit to it in public, but when they expanded to a point beyond their ability for the founders to be at every location, their reputation dropped. They had an excellent classroom course that suddenly was not getting the praise it did just a year earlier.

For us, while we are fully aware it could be a much bigger business, it's not worth the financial gain to lose what we have. While money is a great motivator, over the nineteen years we've been in this business, we've watched several people come and go as they burned out chasing the dollar. We have considered several different delivery media, but it all comes back to enjoying teaching in a small classroom. The live online class seems like a contradiction (like the large lecture halls seem wrong). One of the great things about a truly live class is the input of students via questions, anecdotes, or smart-aleck comments. Those are essential in a good class.

One of the things we tend to forget is that the teacher-student dynamic is energizing and inspirational to both the teacher and student when in the right setting and right size. A video recorded class would lose both the candid aspects as well as the two-way communications. Much as reality television generally sucks, so does the video transmitted lecture. I am sincerely sorry for this attitude in that it limits where we operate, but it comes back to asking yourself why you do what you do. We'd prefer to be comfortable financially and happy than to be rich and stressed out.
 
Knowing what I know about our timeline, I wouldn't have waited. The physics book we plan to release in March was due out fourteen months ago. The problem is that the current book is excellent (voted number one in many surveys), so there was no hurry to get a new one out. Hence, we have been way too anal about switching little things rather than rush it out. I think we subscribe to the Blizzard Entertainment approach of delaying the release until it's exactly where we want it. So even though the release is set for March, I'll believe it when I see it. As for ordering now, you are better off getting the sure thing in your hand, especially when it's a proven commodity.


I am truly enjoying your honesty and candidness about your company. Your feedback on this post has been helpful and increased my confidence in your company and of course the reality of my score will be based on how much work I put in. I really need to find out more about these books and of course understand the timeline for ordering. It sounds like passages and practice are the greatest factors and your materials will help in this. And I know I need help in Physics. Looking forward to that book.
 
Hi,

I'm glad to hear all the positive comments on these books because I ordered some a week ago. My question is about contacting the office again, I have a somewhat urgent question about my order. I have tried calling yesterday and today during those hours (9am-12pm) but was still unsuccessful. Is there some way I could get in contact with the office? Should I just keep trying to call? I was able to speak to someone last Thursday but haven't had any luck yet this week...I am from the Chicago area so I don't know if there was some sort of week off or something?

Thanks
 
It is very difficult to contact your company on phone.
 
Since BRT didn't really emphasize this, I will.

PASSAGES

TBR's passages are phenomenal, and there are TONS of them in the review books. Virtually identical to how the MCAT tests.

I've also read NUMEROUS times on SDN that BR passages are the best way to go! And in most cases--the ONLY way to go for MCAT prep!
 
what differences are in the physics book from 2009 and 2010?
 
A friend of mine has the BR books and he states they are incredible! He said that the passages for each respective chapter are key in integrating and understanding the material. The question I have is, is there a BR Workbook with just passages? And lastly, is there a correlation between BR Verbal practice and AAMC Verbal scores? I've seen that a lot of members of SDN suggest that the BR Science books are key to studying and these books have a good indication of what AAMC science passages are like, is that true? Thanks for all your help and time!
 
TBR is marketed as having one of the best solutions for their books. Is there any way to see a sample of solutions for the different sections?
 
How often are these books updated? I'm just curious since I've heard MCAT questions change from year to year...different areas emphasized
 
If buying all of these books, is there a package price?
 
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BRTeach you've thrown away over 1,000 passages.........:eek:. So, what would I have to do to convince you guys to give those passages to me, lol. I'm sure even the crappy BR passages for the sciences are probably better than some of the other companies.
 
Hi,

I'm glad to hear all the positive comments on these books because I ordered some a week ago. My question is about contacting the office again, I have a somewhat urgent question about my order. I have tried calling yesterday and today during those hours (9am-12pm) but was still unsuccessful. Is there some way I could get in contact with the office? Should I just keep trying to call? I was able to speak to someone last Thursday but haven't had any luck yet this week...I am from the Chicago area so I don't know if there was some sort of week off or something?

Thanks

Hopefully you have gotten through by now. It has been hit and miss this week, which I assume is partly due to the heavy rain and the various traffic issues that come with it. I also suspect the phone person made a break for it when the rain subsided to take care of outside errands. If you haven't gotten through yet, please PM me.
 
what differences are in the physics book from 2009 and 2010?

The 2010 version will have four to five new passages per section and the homework will be laid out in a 25-question set that tests straight forward content followed by a 52-question set that will include passages that incorporate information from other sections. It will also include some free standing questions in each section. In addition, the B-questions will have answer explanations and several questions will have new explanations that emphasize clever shortcuts.
 
A friend of mine has the BR books and he states they are incredible! He said that the passages for each respective chapter are key in integrating and understanding the material. The question I have is, is there a BR Workbook with just passages? And lastly, is there a correlation between BR Verbal practice and AAMC Verbal scores? I've seen that a lot of members of SDN suggest that the BR Science books are key to studying and these books have a good indication of what AAMC science passages are like, is that true? Thanks for all your help and time!

Our passage workbook is actually a collection of several lecture handouts that add up to about 1000 pages. If you collected all of the handouts and various review exams, there would be about 500 additional passages to the books. We don't print them as a book because we like to pass them out each lecture to go through selected questions and passages.

For all of our books, verbal and sciences, we collect feedback so we can list a general curve. But we shy away from trying to correlate a chapter score to an actual score for a few reasons. First, for any given section, a student's actual MCAT may not contain any questions from that section, so it could be misleading. Second, some of the book questions are designed to review the material while others are designed to stimulate the thought process needed to do well on the MCAT. In a nutshell, we don't have a heartfelt belief that there can truly be a diagnostic exam. Take your overall percentage for every question in a book and that should give the best indication of where you are at. But individual chapter scores can be misleading.
 
TBR is marketed as having one of the best solutions for their books. Is there any way to see a sample of solutions for the different sections?

If you go to our website and click on sample passages, you'll get a sample for each book. For some of the questions, if you click on the best answer, a sample of our explanations are listed.

I have attached two pdf files here that show a sample passage from a section in the physics book and a two page sampling of the acids and bases section in the general chemistry book.
 
How often are these books updated? I'm just curious since I've heard MCAT questions change from year to year...different areas emphasized

Books are generally updated every two to four years, although minor changes in terms of fixing typos or adding some new information is done with each printing. Major updating occurs when the MCAT undergoes major changes.
 
If buying all of these books, is there a package price?

There is a package price of $295 for the full set. However, if you mark "SDN Promo" on your form and it is postmarked by tomorrow (Janaury 23), it is $270.
 
BRTeach you've thrown away over 1,000 passages.........:eek:. So, what would I have to do to convince you guys to give those passages to me, lol. I'm sure even the crappy BR passages for the sciences are probably better than some of the other companies.

You wouldn't want many of them. Several are on benzene chemistry, alkyne chemistry, and alkene chemistry which is no longer tested on the MCAT. Each time they implemented changes to their topic list, we had to omit some passages from our pool. And some of the passages we removed were just plain crappy. Some just got outdated over time. There's a reason we don't use them anymore, and it's almost always because they wouldn't be helpful.
 
What is the recommended time for completing these books?
 
You mentioned $25 dollars off. Does this apply to a subject set? For example, can I get both physics volumes for $35?
 
So you said that the new PHYSICS book was suppose to be out in March sometime, and I was wondering if they are out yet, or if you have a specific date set for it to be out because I am about to start studying for the mcat and am ready to order some books? Also, are any other of your books being released as new versions too, or should I just buy the current editions of chem, ochem, and bio??

THANK YOU
 
So you said that the new PHYSICS book was suppose to be out in March sometime, and I was wondering if they are out yet, or if you have a specific date set for it to be out because I am about to start studying for the mcat and am ready to order some books? Also, are any other of your books being released as new versions too, or should I just buy the current editions of chem, ochem, and bio??

THANK YOU

As of today, to the best of my knowledge, it is not out. The "Please submit any last editting changes" request was sent recently, so I'm guessing they are going to print the new book very soon. I'm not sure how long of a timeline it is from manuscript submission to finished book. When it comes out probably depends on the speed of the printer.
 
well what are the publication dates for all your other subject books? And are any of them looking at a new version in the future. And if you would have any idea of a 'planned' date for the new physics book, that would be great! If not, it's okay

Also, i know this is very specific, but could I get the # of pages for each of your books?

Thanks a lot! :)
 
Are the new physics books out?

I apologize, I am at work and I was skimming this section but are the new chemistry books out already?

Thank you. I already own the Organic, Physics and general chemistry from March 2009. But, I have lost one of my Gen Chem books :mad: so I will likely be ordering those.

Essentially, i just wanted to know if I should wait a few weeks to catch the other updated books. Do you all have a problem if we donate these books to our undergraduate alma maters?
 
I have sent mney order last wk...but still no e-mail for receipt of money order! How do I even contact someone or check the status of books???

How do I get in touch with TBR to find out if they have received my rder-form/money order post????????????????????????????????///

Frustrating!
 
chill out.

You knew what you were signing up for with TBR. You sent your money, relax. Complaining and acting exasperated on the internet over such a trivial matter does not make you look fit to handle the pressures of medicine.

Relax, breathe, your books will come.
 
I apologize, I am at work and I was skimming this section but are the new chemistry books out already?

I think it was stated in one of the follow up posts that the big overhaul of chemistry won't be out for home study books until some time in 2011.
 
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