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Calculator on the MCAT

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by angrypremed, Jan 8, 2009.

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  1. angrypremed

    angrypremed Banned Banned 5+ Year Member

    Dec 31, 2008
    Are we allowed to use a calculator on the MCAT, because going through the KAPLAN prep book, there seems to be no way someone can do the questions without a calculator
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  3. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna 7+ Year Member

    Dec 22, 2007
    Nope. No calculator. Lame, huh? start working on logs, square roots, multplications, long division, sig figs, etc.

    ITS GONNA SUCK, and IMO is a pointless rule to have. What does that accomplish/prove? They could at least let us have a non-scientific calculator that does basic math.
    bshaikh likes this.
  4. nick_carraway

    nick_carraway 10+ Year Member

    Mar 7, 2007
    Methinks angrypremed's mood will not improve with this news.
  5. Boges

    Boges 5+ Year Member

    Sep 16, 2008
    Southern Califonia
    Get the EK books and CD. You should be able to work almost all problems in your head as they will demonstrate. It really is very doable.

  6. MedMan25

    MedMan25 2+ Year Member

    Mar 16, 2008
    Math on the MCAT is easy. You're not allowed to have a calculator because you don't need one.
  7. kltdd

    kltdd New Member 2+ Year Member

    Jul 26, 2006
    Dallas, TX
    I think you can using rounding to find the correct answers on the MCAT. It's not like it was in the science courses where you needed a calculator....
  8. mmmcdowe

    mmmcdowe Duke of minimal vowels Gold Donor SDN Moderator 7+ Year Member

    Sep 12, 2008
    SDN Author
    OP is correct though. I did notice a few q's here and there in the MCAT prep books of Kaplan's which seemed rather unreasonable to do without a calculator, even with sig figs and short cuts. They were doable, sure, but the math was far more time consuming than anything we saw in class.
    sleepyturtle likes this.
  9. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna 7+ Year Member

    Dec 22, 2007

    Sure you dont need one, but it doesnt accomplish anything by not allowing it. Its just a stupid inconvenience. More irritating than anything.
  10. iA-MD2013

    iA-MD2013 Moderator Emeritus 5+ Year Member

    Feb 17, 2008
    Yeah, I agree with ryserr.

    Anyway, this is an MCAT question, so I'm going to move it to the MCAT forum.
  11. Aladdin

    Aladdin 2+ Year Member

    Nov 14, 2008

    It's all basic algebra or pre-calc at the hardest. IMO, if you don't remember that and can't learn it in a few hours plus all the practice problems/tests you take, you probably should rethink a career path.
  12. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna 7+ Year Member

    Dec 22, 2007

    are you trying to be nice to me so that i dont continue my campaign to shun you from the 2013 thread? :p
  13. DrYoda

    DrYoda Space Cowboy 7+ Year Member

    Jun 22, 2008
    Dagobah System
    Calculators are fine, as long as you store them in your brain.

    In all seriousness the math on the MCAT is not very complicated, I didn't even have to use the scratch paper.
  14. Zona Pellucida

    Zona Pellucida 7+ Year Member

    Nov 17, 2008
    Everyone says "It's not that hard/complicated/difficult math" .. but at the same time, that calculator is WAY faster allowing the test taker more time and also is basically error free.

    They should change the rule.
  15. Vihsadas

    Vihsadas No summer Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor 5+ Year Member

    Oct 17, 2007
    An Igloo
    IMHO, they shouldn't change the rule. I think they should never allow calculators on the MCAT. A calculator is a crutch. It lets you ignore trying to find the fastest and most efficient way to approach a problem and promotes "plugging and chugging" which often leads to not understanding the concepts and the material that's been presented. Learning to function under pressure, with just you and your wits is an important skill. Being able to figure out when to estimate, and when not to is also an important skill. It's a translatable skill that will allow you to make snap decisions and to trust your own answers. Logicing your way through not only understanding the concepts, but also the best way to approach a problem and then to carry it out without help is something that you don't get practice with unless your forced to do so with only your own brain. I really think that testing all of those skills are just as important as being able to understand and memorize the science behind the test. Just as verbal reasoning is important because it shows one's ability to read and understand a passage in a subject you are not familiar with, and to understand the perspectives and points view that have been described, as well as their supporting facts, in spite of scientific understanding.
  16. ejay286

    ejay286 Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 10, 2005
    If they allowed calculators the PS sections would be uber hard.
  17. halekulani

    halekulani Member 10+ Year Member

    Jul 2, 2006
    i never needed to write more than 2 steps for anything in PS
    in fact, most of the problems could be done in your head

    so no, you don't need a calculator.
  18. Revilla

    Revilla New Member 5+ Year Member

    Jul 22, 2006
    From someone who's extremely weak at math, only took up to Trig (no pre-calc or calc), let me say that I'm THRILLED there are no calculators on the MCAT. If there were, the PS section would resemble a Chem II or Physics II exam with long, math-dependent questions. The last thing I want to do on my MCAT is a quadratic equation.

    While the current format does have some calculations, I've learned how to do them without a calculator and let me tell you, no one is more math illiterate than I am. The majority of the questions test you on theory and relationships anyway so you really shouldn't need a calculator. Just keep practicing. I've gotten to the point now in my prep that using a calculator would take me longer than doing it on scratch paper.
  19. cyclin M

    cyclin M megaman 2+ Year Member

    Nov 24, 2008
    Not really. Consider it from the test maker's point of view. Calculators all have to be inspected, or all have to be cleared upon entry into the testing site. People can store notes and cheat with calculators and what not. It makes things complicated and wait times even longer. For the CBT you are only allowed an ID card and the scratch paper booklet/pencil.

    In addition, on the job as a doctor I think mental math is important if you ever need to quickly figure out a dosage or something on the fly. You don't pull out a calculator to do that.

    And yes, as someone said, MCAT math is very simple stuff you can do in your head quickly. A calculator would probably even be slower. If you find a problem REQUIRES a calculator you are probably doing it wrong. If you can't do mental math, go become an artist.

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