Quantcast

Calling my SDN geniuses: is the MCAT really that hard?

Free Sample Essays
This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

superdevil

planning my escape
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2003
Messages
1,721
Reaction score
0
ok, hopefully some of you fine people will have some answers to assuage my fears. i'm in a TPR class, and we just took our second diagnostic test today. it seemed to be very difficult. i'm not a bad standardized test taker, nor have i had any noteworthy difficulty in college (bio major), but i was shocked at how difficult the test was (especially the physical sciences section). i took the aamc free test (3R, i think) months ago and didn't find it to be anywhere CLOSE to the degree of difficulty of what i took today. i've been studying, doing (most of) their oppressively long assignments, and overall just working my ass off, so my performance thus far is almost paranoia-inducing. so what gives? am i suddenly ******ed?

or, more constructively, if anyone took TPR, did you find their practice tests to be inordinantly difficult/ not helpful? how accurate are the aamc tests?

also, for anyone to reply: overall, did you think the MCAT was brutally challenging, a big letdown after all that preparation, or somewhere in between?

please discuss.

thanks
 

Adapt

2K Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Mar 19, 2003
Messages
2,048
Reaction score
6
TPR's tests are hard in the beginning and they get easier continuously until the last test. I got a 19 on the first test, a 27 on my last practice test, and a 29 on the real test. Don't worry too much about it. Just make sure you keep studying.
 

Rendar5

Full Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 12, 2003
Messages
7,045
Reaction score
749
TPR = The Princeton Review?

Don't worry. Their tests are harder than the actual test (I scored 9 points higher than on my first practice). It's a really good thing to work yourself up to taking those harder tests, than the MCAT really does't seem too bad at all.
 

SoulRFlare

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Oct 20, 2003
Messages
658
Reaction score
3
I thought my MCAT (Aug 2003) was a bit more difficult than the official practice tests (the 1-6 tests from AAMC), but not a bad as the TPR tests...you have to remember that the test prep companies make their diagnostic tests overly difficult so that you'll freak out and plunk down $1500 for their class. the tests they give in the class are made to be more difficult as well, because they reason that it get's you used to the hardest questions on the MCAT--that way when you take the real thing, It'll seem like a cakewalk in comparison.
 

Ragzpie

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Jun 11, 2003
Messages
204
Reaction score
0
The second TPR test is BY FAR the hardest test in the course. Test 3 is one of the easier ones. I got a 23 on the first and second tests...Keep in mind, I studied, my a** off after the first test, so the second score was really a slap in the face. Then, I got a 29 on the 3rd, 34 on the 4th and on the fifth and last, I got a 32. I got a 32 on the real thing.

Hang in there...I'm sure you'll do great...
 

LP1CW

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Aug 30, 2003
Messages
651
Reaction score
1
I studied on my own, not too much, just a few practice exams. I reviewed the material that I hadn't covered that's on the exam.

I took a diagnostic, did okay, 20's. With a months work broke 30.

Yes, I thought it was hard. I thought the damn actual test was hard. And I broke 30. I can't imagine anyone thinking that this exam is easy, but it's managable. You might even be surprised. I left there thinking I was going to be going to an Island school.

I really felt bothered by especially the bio section. It was the last section of the day. Oh, wait, the verbal bothered me too. And I still did well. Honestly, it was hard, but you'll be surprised.

What I did to build confidence is when I took the exam, I literally answered every question that I could and felt confident about, I also answered questions that I could narrow down to 2 anwers and answered those.

On every section, I had about 10 questions I couldn't answer. But I had time left over. So, I took a deep breath, relaxed and told myself that I probably already had about a 9. I then went at the remaining questions and soemtimes I even figured out what the answer was and managed to finish the exam.

Answer what you can and see how many you have left. You might be surprised that you're handing a good portion of the exam.

Relax, you'll make it, we've been through it.
 

uclacrewdude

the uclacrewdude abides
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2003
Messages
9,796
Reaction score
7
i dont think its hard b/c the questions are hard, but rather grueling. you need to get used to the fact that its an 8 hour test, and that even though youre really tired (esp when post-lunch coma sets in ... which is why you shouldnt eat/drink anything really heavy that day for lunch) you have to focus and keep your mind clear.

edit: after i finished the mcat, i just kinda sat in a stupor outside for half an hour. then i took 5 other friends out to eat and drink at the stinkin rose. that was the only thing that could help me clear my mind afterwards. if theyd have let us keep the test books afterwards, im sure i would have started a bonfire and burned it.
 

Nuel

Full Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Mar 8, 2003
Messages
2,991
Reaction score
1
The science portions may not seem much of a problem, nevertheless they need not be undermined at any length.

As for verbal, it is very nuanced and I can only pray to God and practice because I hate that thing like the devil. Besides English is not my first language.

If not for verbal I woulda thought the MCAT was pretty manageable.

Well *shrugs*

O.
 
B

Blade28

For Kaplan and Princeton Review, the initial diagnostics are usually quite difficult...this is to "prove" to the students that they "need" the study course. As the course progresses, the difficulty of the tests should more closely approximate that of the real thing, so it looks like you improved (perhaps more than you really did).

OK, now that I think about it, the above paragraph looks really convoluted. :)
 

Cerberus

Heroic Necromancer
15+ Year Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2001
Messages
15,128
Reaction score
185
Ok, I havent taken the real deal yet but here is my opinion on everything so far.

So far I have taken:
3R
IV
and the kaplan diagnostic for PS

I feel that 3R is too easy. Its sort of a good confidence booster though (i took it cold and got a 29).

After studying for about a month i took the aamc IV. I thought it was considerably more difficult than 3R. My score broke down to 9BS, 10PS, and 13-15VR

Flashforward 2 weeks and lots of physics studying and I take the kaplan test. It was by far the hardest i've taken. All the questions were hard, every single one. It was ridiculous. I did alright and got a 10 but I dont know how.

So my guess is that all the kaplan/tpr tests are actually much harder since they are trying to get people to take their classes and then to feel like theyve improved. I wouldnt worry too much about your scores on them. Save the aamc tests till the last month and then do them to evaluate where you are.
 

Cerberus

Heroic Necromancer
15+ Year Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2001
Messages
15,128
Reaction score
185
Originally posted by Blade28
For Kaplan and Princeton Review, the initial diagnostics are usually quite difficult...this is to "prove" to the students that they "need" the study course. As the course progresses, the difficulty of the tests should more closely approximate that of the real thing, so it looks like you improved (perhaps more than you really did).

OK, now that I think about it, the above paragraph looks really convoluted. :)

The author of this post would be most likely to say what based on the passage.

I TPR is inferior to aamc test
II TPR and KAPLAN tests are good indicators of future performance.
III The asian market is highly dependant on the strength of the yen

A) I only
B) I & II only
C) II & III only
D) I, II, & III
 

rgporter

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2003
Messages
920
Reaction score
1
It's really not as bad as people make it out to be. I took four years off after graduation, partly because I wanted to go in other directions for a while and partly because I was so intimidated by the MCAT. Long story short, after four years of misc. stuff I realised I was getting nowhere fast so I signed up for the MCAT. I purchased the AAMC online tests for $80 (highly reccomended) to do a little self assessment. I was surprised when I took MCAT IV cold turkey because I got a 30+, ditto for V and VI. I felt confident enough that I just couldn't make myself study even though I wanted to do so. On the real MCAT I scored exactly the same as the online tests except for the VR section where I scored 2 points higher.
I'm not that intelligent, I graduated with an unassuming 3.8 from a lower tier state school, but I scored in the 97th percentile on the MCAT with no traditional preparation. This led me to believe that the MCAT is not what most people think it is. The only thing I do is read voraciously.
I think that too many people focus on memorizing specific details, when they really need are broad concepts and good reading skills. I'm not sure how you can apply this since reading skills are aquired with years of practice not the months that most of you have left. But I think people should know that the answers are almost always contained right in the passages, if you have the presence of mind to pick them out.
My suggestions are to relax at home the night before the exam (no studying at all) and meditate right before you take it. Keep a confident, relaxed state of mind and you will do your best.

P.S. kaplan diagnostics under predicted my real results by 6 or 7 points.
 

rgporter

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Sep 6, 2003
Messages
920
Reaction score
1
Originally posted by Cerberus
The author of this post would be most likely to say what based on the passage.

I TPR is inferior to aamc test
II TPR and KAPLAN tests are good indicators of future performance.
III The asian market is highly dependant on the strength of the yen

A) I only
B) I & II only
C) II & III only
D) I, II, & III

Cerb, you are a funny funny man.:clap:
 

ucsdmd2b

Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2003
Messages
33
Reaction score
0
I took TPR's 2nd diag today, and it did seem harder than the first. I got 25 on both of them (7P,10V,8B, then 6P,11V,8B). It seemed like the physics and ochem problems were especially frustrating this time. I also felt like it was harder trying to solve the problems using the partial amount of info I've gotten so far in the course than when I when I was doing it without really knowing much at all. I'm not sure why that is. Still, I've heard that there's typically a pretty big jump on the 3rd diag, and the AAMC one's are easier, so I wouldn't stress yourself out too much.
 

Super Rob

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
313
Reaction score
0
Cerberus, had to remind me about those Roman numeral questions, didn't ya?

I didn't take TPR (I took Kaplan) but I found the AAMC practice exams (particularly IIIR, IVR, VR, and VIR) to be adequate representations of the real thing.


I took the August MCAT and found the...

...Physical Science section to be the same difficulty as the physical science sections on the practice exams. I was expected to have a very basic understanding of physics and to have memorized a couple of dozen equations. There was a freaky, conceptual passage on exploding asteroids that beat the holy F out of me and my score. This was the most difficult section but not much different than what I had experienced with the practice exams.

...Verbal Science section to be a little easier than the verbal sections that appeared on practice exams... reasons being they took away five questions and provided passages a little less abstract and easier to understand. I can't speak for TPR, but Kaplan has good verbal strategies to use early on; however, their practice verbal materials s-s-sssssuck. The reasoning behind some of their answers is a tad different than the reasoning behind correct answers on the AAMC exams - stick with AAMC material, especially right before you take the real thing.

...Writing Sample to be... nobody wants to hear about this. Don't get a 'J'. Next.

...Biological Science section to be set up almost EXACTLY the way the practice bio sci scections were set up. Most of your answers come from the passages. You are not expected to recall iddy biddy details from your biology courses. I look at the bio sci section as an extension of verbal reasoning, only with graphs and long, hyphenated words. The O-Chem was basic. They took out most of the good stuff last April :)

All that being said, the AAMC material was VERY VERY helpful. Pay the 80 bucks, or whatever they're charging, make print outs of the exams, take them under time constraints, and use the internet tools to evaluate your answers... iz tha bomb. The Kaplan people (and perhaps TPR people) talked down the AAMC stuff, saying the MCAT writers wouldn't repeat the same questions and that they would try to trick you... about five or six problems on this passed August's exams were more or less taken from the practice exams. They may have changed the topic of the passages in which those questions appeared, but if I remember correctly, one such question used the same numbers on both the practice and the real thing.

A good coaching service like TRP or Kaplan will motivate you to study and review your basic science, but if you are looking for some material that approximates both the demand for knowledge and trickiness of the real thing... go with AAMC.


To answer your questions of how I felt leaving the test in August and how closely the AAMC pratice test scores approximate what you will earn:

I left the exam knowing how I scored in each section... I got my results and wasn't the least bit surprised. I think that's cuz I took every AAMC practice exam I could get my hands on and I developed this sort of sixth sense, where I could tell if I had gotten, say, a ten or an eleven on a section before scoring it... the practice score approximations are close to what you will get on the real thing, but don't smack your head against the wall if you score you don't like. Find out what you're doing wrong and see if you catch yourself doing it on the next practice exam... your score can improve like crazy once you see patterns.
 

DannGee

Adorned, Imperious
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2003
Messages
184
Reaction score
0
i took the kaplan course, as well, and i've come to the conclusion that the best thing about the course (and the thing that made it worth $1500) was how the practice tests got me prepared for the routine of taking the MCAT. like someone said before, i think a big part of being successful at the MCAT is having endurance and "test-taking skills", the most important of which (in my opinion) is pacing. the best (and, perhaps, the only) way to develop these skills is through practice. another reason so many people struggle with the MCAT is the fear that it induces, and your psychological and physiological responses to it. by the time the real MCAT rolled around, i didn't have near as much nervous energy, and i was able to focus on the questions quite well.
 

finnpipette

Fallen from Grace
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2003
Messages
502
Reaction score
0
I have to say that kaplan's tests are definitely more difficult than the aamc test and not really reflective of the real mcat. I didn't think the mcat was terrible...a lot of breadth, but not too much depth. I think the worst part was the stamina drain...8 hours...ugh. G'luck though. Take the 5 reat MCATs and the practice reading passages released by aamc. G'luck.
 
B

Blade28

Originally posted by Cerberus
The author of this post would be most likely to say what based on the passage.

I TPR is inferior to aamc test
II TPR and KAPLAN tests are good indicators of future performance.
III The asian market is highly dependant on the strength of the yen

A) I only
B) I & II only
C) II & III only
D) I, II, & III

:laugh: One of the most creative posts I've ever seen here!
 

superdevil

planning my escape
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2003
Messages
1,721
Reaction score
0
as usual, thanks for all the insight and reassurance. i'm definately all about taking the full compliment of AAMC tests.

i guess i could have figured that TPR tests are a bunch of crap, seeing as how our class average for the first diag was a 17. i mean, come on, a 17? at least i'm better than average! :laugh:

according to my non-linear calculus-derived proof series, the preceeding cache of respones only represents about 1.6% of SDNers who scored 30+. keep 'em comin'!!!

thanks!
 

uclacrewdude

the uclacrewdude abides
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2003
Messages
9,796
Reaction score
7
i think it is really cool how nuel, with his megaman avatar, posted right after me, with my zero avatar. cool.
 

huh22

Junior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2004
Messages
11
Reaction score
0
i think for most of the test prep companies, they always promise you or tell you that their avg. student increase their score by ___ points. the way they establish your baseline is from that first diagnostic test. so they have extra incentive to make sure you do get a very poor grade, so then when you get your real scores back they can claim that b/c of the course you improved this much.

like everyone else said though, i think the main thing is getting used to taking a test for 8 hours. i took berkeley review in california, and i think we had 10+ tests. it was gruelling at first, and i hated having to give up every saturday (and friday night as well b/c i had to get up early on sat.), but it was well worth it b/c i felt good and had no problems during the real thing.
 

Cerberus

Heroic Necromancer
15+ Year Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2001
Messages
15,128
Reaction score
185
i just finished the Kaplan BS diagnostic. Having taken the aamc tests I certainly have to say it was the "bs" section. Every single passage was hard as hell to read and intentionally confusing, the discrete questions were also very difficult. I scored an 8 which is a drop of about 2 points from the other tests i've taken.
 

Super Rob

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
313
Reaction score
0
Originally posted by Cerberus
i just finished the Kaplan BS diagnostic. Having taken the aamc tests I certainly have to say it was the "bs" section. Every single passage was hard as hell to read and intentionally confusing, the discrete questions were also very difficult. I scored an 8 which is a drop of about 2 points from the other tests i've taken.

If I remember correctly, Kaplan didn't bother to score my diagnostic. They just handed me back a piece of paper with the one word written on it:

Podiatrist

In retrospect, Kaplan did a fine job of motivating me to study and do well.

Good Luck!
 

jlee9531

J,A,S
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2002
Messages
5,470
Reaction score
8
to the op...

the mcat isnt extremely difficult. its bearable. if you know the basics from all your prereqs then you will do well in all the passages.

the thing where some memorization comes into play are the free standing questions. this is where im sure your class will help you focus on the types of questions you might focus on.

and take the aamc practice tests. i was only able to take one practice test and it was aamc 4 i think...and it was relatively similar to the one that i took.
 

zepplinfan

Senior Member
7+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2003
Messages
183
Reaction score
0
Originally posted by uclacrewdude
i think it is really cool how nuel, with his megaman avatar, posted right after me, with my zero avatar. cool.

crewdude, I can't say for sure, but I think he's catching up to you. The length in legs may be the deciding factor her.
 
Top