mbio2015

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Hi,

I'm planning on taking the January MCAT (didn't know they weren't offered in Nov/Dec haha) since my old scores are expiring. I can afford the new BK series, but will have to do a lot of budgeting. I'm wondering if they are worth the price when I could get Kaplan, EK, or TPR for a lot less. I'm looking for a good combination of content review (I was a biology major and chem minor and took a lot of upper level bio, biochem, and chem but have been off of school for a year) and testing strategy. I'm particularly worried about physics since I only took one course and didn't get a whole lot out of it, and the social science; I took psych 101 and did well several years ago but never sociology. So is it worth it if I can afford it?

Thanks for your input!
 

BerkReviewTeach

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If you are on a budget, I would sequentially recommend the following.

(1) The new BR Organic Chemistry book. It is an absolute must in that it has amazing ways to look at biochemistry, applied organic chemistry, and test taking in general. It is arguably the very best MCAT review book for the new MCAT of any book from any source. You have to get this book.

(2) The new BR General Chemistry book. It is also an excellent resource, now with 180 passages (up from roughly 120 before). It incorporates biology, physics, and organic chemistry, so you get a great review of not only general chemistry, but applied general chemistry (what the MCAT is now known for). The answer explanations are second to none and if you do only the passages and read every answer explanation (which reiterate many of the strategies and shortcuts from the reading), you'll be in great shape. This is also a must-have book.

(3) The new BR Physics book. The new MCAT has deemphasized physics and focused on certain topics more than before. Those topics are the strongest points in the BR books. Again, it's all about passages, and you get 150. What makes BR books so popular (and helpful for students in the 506 to 520 range) is the large number of passages and questions. This is a must-have book.

(4) The BR psychology book. It is a thorough review of key terminology and classic experiments that seem to find themselves as a major part of the new MCAT. This is recommended, but if you are scrapped, then there is plenty of good free material from Khan to be found.

(5) The BR biology book. This is an excellent book set as well, but the reason it is not higher on the must buy list is because you can save some money and pick up a used version. It has been undergoing incremental changes over the last few years, so while current and clean books are ideal, you could grab one from 2013 through 2015 and do quite well.

I am biased, but having seen the new books from many other sources (when students come to office hours with questions), I think the gap between BR books and the next best book is even bigger than it was before the MCAT changed. The new MCAT is all about thinking and applying concepts, which was BR's niche for many years. The new test plays perfectly into the BR style.
 

theonlytycrane

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@BerkReviewTeach

I'm kind of sad that I didn't know about BR before getting prep books awhile back, since I hear so many good things about them on here.

Quick question (and not meant to be insulting in any way)- why does the BR website stay so old school looking? It looks like even ordering requires an order form.
 

Kpw101

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I honestly would have bought TBR books if TPR books weren't so much easier to get. I think I missed out. :(
 

BerkReviewTeach

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I'm kind of sad that I didn't know about BR before getting prep books awhile back, since I hear so many good things about them on here.

Quick question (and not meant to be insulting in any way)- why does the BR website stay so old school looking? It looks like even ordering requires an order form.
Fair question with a not-so-easy answer. The short answer is that no one at the company cares about the crappy website. I honestly don't think the owners care at all about how much money they could make if they updated their website. The amount of money they put into editing, writing new class materials each session, having small group tutors, and putting out endless snacks for their students and don't put into their website says everything.

For at least ten years (certainly for my duration with the company) people have complained about the website. But the company answer I have gotten the entire time is that when people have to go the extra yard to enroll in the class, they will be more serious about the class. From a teaching standpoint, I have to say they might be right. I love my students and appreciate their positive attitude and energy. Pretty much everyone has perfect attendance, which has to be in some part due to the type of student that is willing to go through the hassle of printing and mailing a form.

I'm not sure what the classes would be like if it was easy ordering like other programs, but from what a couple friends who have taught elsewhere have said, I don;t think I'd enjoy teaching as much.

Why book ordering is the pain that it is does not make as much sense, but I know many people have found a loophole by calling in and then emailing their order while on the phone. This gets the books turned around on the spot.
 
OP
M

mbio2015

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If you are on a budget, I would sequentially recommend the following.

(1) The new BR Organic Chemistry book. It is an absolute must in that it has amazing ways to look at biochemistry, applied organic chemistry, and test taking in general. It is arguably the very best MCAT review book for the new MCAT of any book from any source. You have to get this book.

(2) The new BR General Chemistry book. It is also an excellent resource, now with 180 passages (up from roughly 120 before). It incorporates biology, physics, and organic chemistry, so you get a great review of not only general chemistry, but applied general chemistry (what the MCAT is now known for). The answer explanations are second to none and if you do only the passages and read every answer explanation (which reiterate many of the strategies and shortcuts from the reading), you'll be in great shape. This is also a must-have book.

(3) The new BR Physics book. The new MCAT has deemphasized physics and focused on certain topics more than before. Those topics are the strongest points in the BR books. Again, it's all about passages, and you get 150. What makes BR books so popular (and helpful for students in the 506 to 520 range) is the large number of passages and questions. This is a must-have book.

(4) The BR psychology book. It is a thorough review of key terminology and classic experiments that seem to find themselves as a major part of the new MCAT. This is recommended, but if you are scrapped, then there is plenty of good free material from Khan to be found.

(5) The BR biology book. This is an excellent book set as well, but the reason it is not higher on the must buy list is because you can save some money and pick up a used version. It has been undergoing incremental changes over the last few years, so while current and clean books are ideal, you could grab one from 2013 through 2015 and do quite well.

I am biased, but having seen the new books from many other sources (when students come to office hours with questions), I think the gap between BR books and the next best book is even bigger than it was before the MCAT changed. The new MCAT is all about thinking and applying concepts, which was BR's niche for many years. The new test plays perfectly into the BR style.



Thank you! When you say helpful to students in the 506-520 range do you mean if that is their goal?

I think I'll just splurge haha. If it gets me the desired score it's more than worth it.

Thanks everyone!
 

hat

Aug 19, 2013
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(1) The new BR Organic Chemistry book. It is an absolute must in that it has amazing ways to look at biochemistry, applied organic chemistry, and test taking in general. It is arguably the very best MCAT review book for the new MCAT of any book from any source. You have to get this book.

...

(5) The BR biology book. This is an excellent book set as well, but the reason it is not higher on the must buy list is because you can save some money and pick up a used version. It has been undergoing incremental changes over the last few years, so while current and clean books are ideal, you could grab one from 2013 through 2015 and do quite well.
Are you saying that the new TBR Orgo book has been updated for the new emphasis on biochemistry more than the new TBR Bio book? Including even the "Biology Part II - Biochemistry and Molecular Cell" book? And that it's not worth buying the new TBR Bio book over the old because the biochemistry component has not been updated enough?

That confuses my plans a little. I have the EK 10th edition for baseline review, and was planning to supplement with 1) new TBR for bio (my weakest subject), 2) KA for psych/social (and other sections as needed), and 3) old TBR for everything else as needed. Should I get the new orgo TBR and old bio TBR instead?

I feel like I have a much better grasp on organic chemistry than biology, because I took organic recently and biology many years ago. That's one reason I'm hesitant to splurge on the new TBR organic books. Reading over the topics listed for the books on the TBR website, I feel pretty comfortable with the Orgo 1 and 2 book topics but much much less comfortable with the Bio 1 and 2 book topics.
 
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BerkReviewTeach

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When it comes to organic chemistry, Book 1 is pure organic chemistry. Book 2 is where organic chemistry and biochemistry meet, and Book 2 is their love child. It covers lipids, sugars, carbonyls, amines, and amino acids. All of these are dual citizens between orgo and biochem.

When you word it that way, it sounds weird. But I guess I am saying that if I could afford one old and one new, then I would choose the new orgo and the old Bio over the new bio and old orgo.
 

Marsay

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If you are on a budget, I would sequentially recommend the following.

(1) The new BR Organic Chemistry book. It is an absolute must in that it has amazing ways to look at biochemistry, applied organic chemistry, and test taking in general. It is arguably the very best MCAT review book for the new MCAT of any book from any source. You have to get this book.

(2) The new BR General Chemistry book. It is also an excellent resource, now with 180 passages (up from roughly 120 before). It incorporates biology, physics, and organic chemistry, so you get a great review of not only general chemistry, but applied general chemistry (what the MCAT is now known for). The answer explanations are second to none and if you do only the passages and read every answer explanation (which reiterate many of the strategies and shortcuts from the reading), you'll be in great shape. This is also a must-have book.

(3) The new BR Physics book. The new MCAT has deemphasized physics and focused on certain topics more than before. Those topics are the strongest points in the BR books. Again, it's all about passages, and you get 150. What makes BR books so popular (and helpful for students in the 506 to 520 range) is the large number of passages and questions. This is a must-have book.

(4) The BR psychology book. It is a thorough review of key terminology and classic experiments that seem to find themselves as a major part of the new MCAT. This is recommended, but if you are scrapped, then there is plenty of good free material from Khan to be found.

(5) The BR biology book. This is an excellent book set as well, but the reason it is not higher on the must buy list is because you can save some money and pick up a used version. It has been undergoing incremental changes over the last few years, so while current and clean books are ideal, you could grab one from 2013 through 2015 and do quite well.

I am biased, but having seen the new books from many other sources (when students come to office hours with questions), I think the gap between BR books and the next best book is even bigger than it was before the MCAT changed. The new MCAT is all about thinking and applying concepts, which was BR's niche for many years. The new test plays perfectly into the BR style.
I am looking to order the BR General Chemistry set of 2. I am retaking the mcat so I want to do really well on applying the concepts and strategies I feel like I don't have. I see this post from last year that details all of the things in the Gen Chem book, but on the website it doesn't list all of the things you posted, am I looking at the old books on the website? How do I make sure I am getting the newest version?
 

BerkReviewTeach

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I am looking to order the BR General Chemistry set of 2. I am retaking the mcat so I want to do really well on applying the concepts and strategies I feel like I don't have. I see this post from last year that details all of the things in the Gen Chem book, but on the website it doesn't list all of the things you posted, am I looking at the old books on the website? How do I make sure I am getting the newest version?
You will get the newest BR General Chemistry books when you order from the website. The biology, physics, and organic chemistry are incorporated by applying the general chemistry concepts to examples from those topic areas. As the MCAT has become a more integrated exam, the ability to manipulate concepts in different ways and across subject areas has become much more important.

Good luck with your studying!
 

Marsay

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You will get the newest BR General Chemistry books when you order from the website. The biology, physics, and organic chemistry are incorporated by applying the general chemistry concepts to examples from those topic areas. As the MCAT has become a more integrated exam, the ability to manipulate concepts in different ways and across subject areas has become much more important.

Good luck with your studying!
in regards to the original complete set of 10, from 2012, is that just as good for the new mcat as the new books are?
 

Swagster

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I personally used the old bio and it was fine. It didn't seem to have changed.. I got the new organic, general, and physics and am glad I did. They had more passages and I was worried about studying things that aren't tested if I used the old books.
 

Marsay

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I personally used the old bio and it was fine. It didn't seem to have changed.. I got the new organic, general, and physics and am glad I did. They had more passages and I was worried about studying things that aren't tested if I used the old books.
yea I'm afraid of using material that isn't tested anymore if I get the old books. I ordered the new chem and organic book, so waiting on the arrival of those. What did you use for psychology? Did you already take the mcat?
 

Marsay

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You will get the newest BR General Chemistry books when you order from the website. The biology, physics, and organic chemistry are incorporated by applying the general chemistry concepts to examples from those topic areas. As the MCAT has become a more integrated exam, the ability to manipulate concepts in different ways and across subject areas has become much more important.

Good luck with your studying!
I just bought the new general chem book, and in the beginning it talks about phase III, but I can't seem to find it. Where in the book is it?
 

the Mannis

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I just bought the new general chem book, and in the beginning it talks about phase III, but I can't seem to find it. Where in the book is it?
phase 3 for the gen chem and physics books are the 95 minute exams in the back of the books for TBR
 

BerkReviewTeach

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A miscue in the BR books is the labeling (or non-labeling as it were) of Phase III. To make a long story short, in 2016 as each of the books was being revamped and upgraded, the powers that be changed their minds on what to call everything and decided that Phase III would be better if it was a practice exam that emphasized a certain chapter, but had questions from all parts of the book included.

For Physics and General Chemistry, the last two books to be updated, Phase III is the practice exam at the end of the book. Phase IIIs are where most of the new passages went, and many of those were made by combining multiple topics, so they would not have fit into a single chapter very well.
 

Marsay

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I am having trouble understanding question 20 on passage 3, page 72 for acid base. It asks why are carboxylic acids stronger than carbonic acids. The book says the answer is C, (the OH group is more electron donating than the "R" group). I thought electron withdrawing is what makes an acid stronger?? Also, Carbon acid has more resonance so I thought it would be stronger than carboxylic acid? The answer explanation given in the book is confusing to me. IF someone could please help, that would be great
 

NarutoMD

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I am having trouble understanding question 20 on passage 3, page 72 for acid base. It asks why are carboxylic acids stronger than carbonic acids. The book says the answer is C, (the OH group is more electron donating than the "R" group). I thought electron withdrawing is what makes an acid stronger?? Also, Carbon acid has more resonance so I thought it would be stronger than carboxylic acid? The answer explanation given in the book is confusing to me. IF someone could please help, that would be great
Carbonic acid is a carboxylic acid. Are you differentiating between carbonic acid and a carboxylic acid that has an alkyl side chain? If it is that case, then I would think that carbonic acid would be a stronger acid because of the electron withdrawing effect of the additional oxygen. The alkyl group would be donating electron, making the bond between O-H "stronger" due to a supposedly higher electron density and it harder to release H+.
 
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Marsay

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Carbonic acid is a carboxylic acid. Are you differentiating between carbonic acid and a carboxylic acid that has an alkyl side chain? If it is that case, then I would think that carbonic acid would be a stronger acid because of the electron withdrawing effect of the additional oxygen. The alkyl group would be donating electron, making the bond between O-H "stronger" due to a supposedly higher electron density and it harder to release H+.
I would agree with your answer but thats not how the question is asked, see here
 

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NarutoMD

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I would agree with your answer but thats not how the question is asked, see here
For this question, I might attempt to answer it by looking at the strength of the conjugate acid or conjugate base. Carbonic acid clearly has a stronger conjugate base since the additional oxygen has electrons that can be delocalized. Whereas, the strength of conjugate base of the carboxylic acid is strengthened by the alkyl group through inductive effect. Although the strength of the conjugate base of carbonic acid is somewhat weakened by the inductive effect, it is also strengthened by the resonance effect. And as I remember, the resonance effect takes precedence over the inductive effect (have a greater influence). So the conjugate base of carbonic acid is stronger, and thus the acid is weaker. I hope my reasoning at least is in the right direction for this.
 
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Marsay

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For this question, I might attempt to answer it by looking at the strength of the conjugate acid or conjugate base. Carbonic acid clearly has a stronger conjugate base since the additional oxygen has electrons that can be delocalized. Whereas, the strength of conjugate base of carbonic acid is strengthened by the alkyl group through inductive effect. Although the strength of the conjugate base of carbonic acid is somewhat weakened by the inductive effect, it is also strengthened by the resonance effect. And as I remember, the resonance effect takes precedence over the inductive effect (have a greater influence). So the conjugate base of carbonic acid is stronger, and thus the acid is weaker. I hope my reasoning at least is in the right direction for this.
your reasoning sounds like the same one I ended coming up with, but Carboxylic acid has less oxygens, but yet the question says its stronger. So is it that carboxylic acids make more stable bases, than carbonic acid?
 

NarutoMD

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your reasoning sounds like the same one I ended coming up with, but Carboxylic acid has less oxygens, but yet the question says its stronger. So is it that carboxylic acids make more stable bases, than carbonic acid?
Yes, the conjugate base of carboxylic acid is more stable, hence less reactive and a weaker base. Thus, carboxylic acid would be a stronger acid.
 

Marsay

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I was wondering if someone could be of assistance with question 11, passage 2, pg 115 (titrations). When the pH in the solution for the third titration is 7.00, what is true about the ratio of weak acid to conjugate base in solution? The answer is B, the weak acid exceeds conjugate base at 2.53:1. I'm confused where they are getting these numbers. Any help would be appreciated. I posted the question and answer explanation.
 

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