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chronicles of a MCAT workaholic

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by Zephyrus, Dec 15, 2005.

  1. Zephyrus

    Zephyrus The Yellow Dart
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    Hello everyone-

    I will begin studying for the MCAT tomorrow. I have developed a plan which allows me to cover everything before the April administration. Here is the grand assortment of my study materials:

    -Kaplan Online
    -ExamKrackers complete home study package
    -ExamKrackers 1001 collection in Bio, Chem, Physics
    -ExamKrackers "mini-MCATs"
    -Kaplan MCAT 45
    -all AAMC exams
    -Audio Osmosis (pirated, ha)

    Basically, I'm doing an accelerated self-paced version of the Kaplan course, followed by the 10-week examkrackers schedule with additional prep as needed. I'll be updating fairly regularly to chart my progress and offer my personal opinion as to how various study materials stack up to one another.

    Good luck, all.

    (For those interested in my "baseline" level of knowledge and other facts about me: I enter my final semester before applications with a 3.85 GPA, ~3.75 sci., at a "Top 10" undergrad with all pre-reqs completed--except for physics II, which i take in the spring--plus advanced level coursework in biochemistry, cell biology, physiology, microbiology, neurobiology. My GPA is hopefully contextualized by the rigor of my class selection and the fact that I have overloaded with the equivalent of 18-20 semester hours several times. I earned a 1590 on the SAT, but I am relatively new to the sciences, having never studied it in any detail before college.)
     
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  3. remo

    remo Senior Member
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    I have the all the same materials you do. I just started 2 days ago. The Kaplan stuff is more comprehensive so I'm following the same plan you are. I'm curious to see how long it takes to get through the whole Kaplan course. I'm trying to do 1 chapter a day in the Kaplan Chem/Physics because I have to bascially re-learn it all since it has been so long. This includes doing the review problems in the book as well as the subject and topical tests. I think I can fly through the bio review at 2-3 chapters a day because I just took all those classes.
     
  4. ND2005

    ND2005 1K Member
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    For the record, once you've taken all the courses you just mentioned, you're no longer "new to the sciences"
     
  5. nekrogg

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    good luck bro. i also have the exam kracker audio osmosis set obtained from questionable sources :). i listen to it in the car, even if it drives me nuts. Id also recommending someone proctoring your mcats for you. Doing it yourself is just not the way to go

    power on!
     
  6. Don't forget to kick back and do something fun once in a while...... if you get run over by a bus before April, your last waking thought will not be "I wish I had studied more." That being said, you look to be in fine shape.
     
  7. DrBowtie

    DrBowtie Final Countdown
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    Smells like a blog. :thumbup:
     
  8. solitude

    solitude Senior Member
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    Sounds like way more work than you need. Most upperclassmen I've talked to say that two weeks of practice tests and a good memory of the pre-reqs (assuming you got A's in all of them) and you're good for 38+.
     
  9. Mr. Tee

    Mr. Tee Indentured servant
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    You have gunner friends.

    It's better to have more work than "necessary." Consistency is key. It also helps you improve if you already haven't plateaued.
     
  10. MoosePilot

    MoosePilot Y Bombardier
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    BS.
     
  11. MollyMalone

    MollyMalone I'm a Score Quadruplet
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    :laugh: :laugh: So I'm guessing that will be your strategy then? Keep us posted on how that works out for you.
     
  12. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    Dude, if you follow that plan with no additional studying and score 38+ on the MCAT, I will turn the subforum over to you, and bow before your superior intellect. :smuggrin:

    OP, your plan sounds great to me if you have the time to complete all of that work. The important thing is for you to get on a study schedule and stick to it consistently for the next three to four months, plus make sure to take multiple practice exams under timed conditions. You absolutely, positively should NOT cram for the MCAT two weeks before the test. :rolleyes:
     
  13. Zephyrus

    Zephyrus The Yellow Dart
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    12/17/05

    Today I took the Kaplan Diagnostic, earning a 36 (14V/12B/10P), and the Science Diagnostic. I missed two questions each in Biology and General Chemistry, 5 of the orgo, and over 10 of the physics.

    My first complaint about the Kaplan materials is that there doesn't seem to be an answer explanation guide for the science diagnostic, just a report on the percentages you got correct.

    Already I can recognize physics as a weak point-- then again, I haven't taken physics II, so I had to leave a lot blank. My strong point is my biological background-- having an advanced-level course in biochemistry and cell biology / genetics (and to a lesser extent, physiology) seemed to help. microbio and neurobio were less stressed. i need to review some random stuff i encountered in the diagnostic, like the menstrual cycle and the purpose of the collecting duct in the kidney. also, i was always good at "critical reading," (originally planned to be an english major) and that is obviously translating to performance in VR. Overall, I'm ecstatic that this is my "baseline" and I feel with lots of hard work, I can reach into the stratospheric 40+ realm.

    So far, no recommendations about Kaplan, but I feel that their diagnostic material were an accurate barometer of my general level of knowledge.

    MCAT studying is going to be a unique kind of hell, isn't it?

    More to come.
    Z
     
  14. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    Two comments:

    1) There's no solution manual to the science diagnostic to discourage students from memorizing the specific questions. The science diagnostic does tell you which chapters to read, and you can design a study plan based on your personal weak areas. You should now focus on reading those chapters and mastering that material.

    2) When you're done with the real MCAT, please come help us answer questions for future test-takers in the subforum. I don't know whether you will ultimately score a 40, but it's certainly within your reach. :thumbup:
     
  15. NRAI2001

    NRAI2001 3K Member
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    What about princeton and berkeley review. You should read those also, that is if you really want a 32+ score. :laugh:
     
  16. ND2005

    ND2005 1K Member
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    I can't tell if you're joking or not.

    If not, you need to get some new upperclassmen friends, because the ones you have are messing with you.
     
  17. ND2005

    ND2005 1K Member
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    honestly, given where you are now, I don't think MCAT studying should be hell for you. A 14 verbal on the diagnostic means you really don't need to study for the verbal section at all. The 10 in PS will raise itself probably 2 just from physics 2 alone, without any extra review.

    From there, raising your BS and PS another point or two each is mostly going to be a matter of identifying a couple of weak areas that you need to review (your science diagnostics indicate you probably don't have any huge weaknesses as is) and/or working on your test-taking strategies a bit.
     
  18. solitude

    solitude Senior Member
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    The average MCAT for accepted students at my school is a 34. The average GPA is a 3.45 or so. When you take into account just how decidedly mediocre is the average pre-med at my school, it's really no surprise to me that a few weeks of hard studying is all that's required for a straight-A student to get a 38 (assuming that the straight-A student remembers their pre-reqs, which I noted in my original post.) I'm only a sophomore who hasn't taken orgoII or physII and I know literally nothing about the mcat yet--I just took an AAMC old exam and got a 35.

    Of course I will be studying all summer for the exam in August because I want to score as high as possible. But I am amazed that nobody on this forum thinks that a 38+ is possible with less than three months of studying. There are people out there that do it every year.
     
  19. MoosePilot

    MoosePilot Y Bombardier
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    Sure there are such people out there. I congratulate all 10 of them. How many people took the MCAT again? It's all about the probability of pulling something like that off.
     
  20. ND2005

    ND2005 1K Member
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    Studying for less than 3 months is a lot different than your original post. Your original post seemed to imply:

    A in pre-reqs + 2 weeks casual review = 38+


    You can certainly prepare for and do well on the MCAT in a short time - I took the August MCAT, and I didn't start any preparations until my Kaplan course started in the end of May. So my preparations were in sub-3 months, but they certainly weren't casual.

    Less than 1% of test-takers score above a 38. Of that sub-1%, the # who achieve that score with minimal preparation is very, very small. So while people may do it every year, those people are both extremely rare and uncommonly-skilled test-takers.
     
  21. NRAI2001

    NRAI2001 3K Member
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    5 or 6 weeks of really good studying would probably be enough. You probably wouldnt improve greatly after that.
     
  22. Mr. Tee

    Mr. Tee Indentured servant
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    5-6 weeks is a good time period to learn/memorize all of the material. The rest is just doing practice problems.
     
  23. NRAI2001

    NRAI2001 3K Member
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    I think you can learn everything in 3 to 4 weeks. I read every topic in 2 days. Mon/Tues = g chem, wed/thurs = ochem, fri/ sat = physics, Sunday/Monday = bio. I never really studied verbal, got a 10 on verbal. But this was just the first read through. Everytime I read it afterwards it was faster. I got to the point where i could read all the topics in 2 days and I read through two sets of books (TPR and TBR). TBR was much more in depth.

    I did spend like 9 to 12 hrs a day studying and I studied hardcore (i.e. no friends, by myself in library or cafe).

    After learning everything its up to you how many practice problems you want to do, of course the more the better. 8 weeks would be perfect i guess. 3 to 4 weeks learning the materials, then 3 to 4 weeks practicing them.
     
  24. Zephyrus

    Zephyrus The Yellow Dart
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    12/20/05

    Watched Physics I Lesson-On-Demand, did Preview and Review exercises. Some of the early stuff in the Kaplan course could charitably be described as "remedial." Units and kinematics? Uh, ok. I'm waiting for the onslaught of detail that I feared. Radon atoms could not penetrate the assholes of these testmakers. Ugh.

    Also fooled around with the "Kaplan QBank." I did about 60 discretes in Biology and missed 2, one about erythropoitin (sp?) and increase in red blood cell mass in response to high altitude, the other about what germ layer from which the kidney develops (mesoderm is musculoskeletal *AND* excretory systems; i had learned incorrectly that endoderm was responsible for "internal organs" when in fact it is the epithelial lining of the digestive and respiratory systems, but not the excretory. whatever.)

    everything looking good so far. the kaplan Qbank is Great!

    UPDATE: Fall grades are finalized, and adding in the pre-matriculation classes I took at another university (only 7 credit hours), my current AMCAS GPA is 3.863, BCPM 3.789. By the time I apply, I could have as high as AMCAS 3.883, BCPM 3.826. Good motivation to stay focused this spring! I need to start researching programs soon.

    Z
     
  25. MoosePilot

    MoosePilot Y Bombardier
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    MCAT is more about basics. Know the basics cold. Those kinematics will be tested (or were on mine).

    AMCAS calculates GPA to two decimal places. 3.86/3.79
     
  26. Zephyrus

    Zephyrus The Yellow Dart
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    Did a slew of Physics I Topical and Review tests today, and an hour on the QBank. Kaplan answer explanations are exceptionallly clear and detailed, and are useful to look over even if I got the problem right, as they help to solidify and clarify my logic beyond the hazy "gut" feeling which so often drives my virtual bubble-filling.

    I'm beginning to realize that there is a crapload of "review/preview" material embedded between lectures, and perhaps my study schedule was too ambitious. But I'm not one to change it now, and I've got all of holiday break to power on!

    Z
     
  27. ND2005

    ND2005 1K Member
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    If you're already feeling that way, I would highly recommend changing your schedule. One of the biggest problems people have with MCAT preparation is burnout.

    Think of it this way: when you start training for a marathon, you begin with short runs and build your way up for the event. Your training schedule is designed so that you peak at the right time (the day of the race).

    It sounds like what you're doing right now may be the equivalent of running 15 mile runs every other day for the first month of your training. By the day of the "race" you might not have anything left.
     
  28. DrBowtie

    DrBowtie Final Countdown
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    How many topical tests are there?
     
  29. bubbleyum

    bubbleyum Senior Member
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    from my mcat experience, which i took in april 2005:

    kaplan physical sciences exams are RIDICULOUSLY HARD and not an accurate portrayal of the types of questions you will see on the mcat.

    kaplan verbal exams are easier and a little different in terms of the type of thought process it takes to find the right answers to the questions. i was scoring 14's on kaplan verbal, but on examkrackers and aamc tests it was more like 11-12. i would go with examkrackers for studying verbal.

    kaplan bio was slightly more difficult than the actual mcat. but it could have just been my test. kaplan exams were pretty heavy on the orgo, but my particular mcat test had only simple orgo questions, and was very very heavy on genetics. i've heard some other people who had different exams say that they had a lot of orgo on theirs...

    the aamc exams, especially the earlier ones, are way too easy to score high. especially the physical sciences. don't trust that score if you are scoring in the 13's from the beginning. i heard princeton review had pretty reliable physical science exams.

    overall, i wish i hadn't wasted my money on kaplan. i felt like the classes and the homework took away from the time i should have been focusing on my personal weaknesses. (i took the 3-month condensed version.) but there are a lot of people who think it's the best and have seen good results. it all depends on how you study i guess.
     
  30. Mr. Tee

    Mr. Tee Indentured servant
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    Pardon my asking, but how did you do on the VR of the real MCAT?

    I find Kaplan's practice verbal problems to be easier than the AAMC ones, and EK's problems to be harder than the practice AAMC ones. What's the verdict? :oops:
     
  31. Zephyrus

    Zephyrus The Yellow Dart
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    It's been about a week now, and I've zoomed through Physics I, General Chemistry I, and Verbal I of Kaplan Online. I'll take my first full-length practice exam on Dec. 31 (next week, after christmas, i'll be doing Orgo I, Bio I, and Physics II MWF with associated review/preview TuThSa). This is going fairly smoothly.

    My thoughts:

    -The VR prep seems like a lot of hand-waving. I feel like what is being tested on the MCAT in the VR section cannot be taught other than through lots and lots of practice problems. So I skipped most of the lecture itself and just did all the associated optional tests.

    -Gen Chem I is much less challenging than Physics I wrt Kaplan. I wonder if this is indicative of the real thing? It's just harder to throw curveballs with periodic trends and PV=nRT, i guess.

    -Albert Chen sounds like the kind of person I would have harassed in junior high. The MCAT strategy lectures are sort of pointless.

    -basically, kaplan is great because they throw a ridiculous amount of practice material at you. the rest of it is pretty packaging.


    this last part is more a note to myself than others, but:
    i am a f*cking soldier.

    -Z out
     
  32. SensesFail

    SensesFail Senior Member
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    Hahaha... Yeah, Albert Chen definetly seems like that kid who'd get picked on, or who'd always get picked for sports last during recess. During the summer, I stopped watching those lectures because it was taking up too much of my time, but looking back, he was probably better than my actual Kaplan classroom teacher.

    But on a serious note, judging by your determination/work ethic, I think you're absolutely going to destroy the MCAT. I don't check this board too often anymore, but I'll look forward to watching your scores on practice tests and other periodical updates. Keep it up!
     
  33. bubbleyum

    bubbleyum Senior Member
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    hi teerawit,

    well i advocated for examkrackers because it was more realistic to my actual score :) i scored an 11 on my mcat verbal, and the day of the exam, i thought my test was soooo much harder than any of the practice exams i took.

    i think you're correct in thinking that kaplan was the easiest, then aamc, then ek. i felt like the type of questions ek asked was a little more on par with aamc and actual mcat verbal tests than kaplan. kaplan was more like, read quick and find the right answers to the questions(= read and regurgitate the knowledge from the passage in a timely manner.) the ek and aamc test required a little more critical thinking/predicting than kaplan.

    i'm sure other people may have different opinions on this, but that was my take. i had a false sense of security from scoring so high on the kapan verbals, so i was quite disappointed with my actual score. hopefully this won't happen to you!
     
  34. Mr. Tee

    Mr. Tee Indentured servant
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    Thanks for the response, bubbleyum. I'll prepare for the worst :)
     
  35. bubbleyum

    bubbleyum Senior Member
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    and from the looks of it, you seem to be a UGA student/graduate! (from athens, ga)
    i went to uga as well, though it was quite a while ago. ;) good luck to ya!
     
  36. MoosePilot

    MoosePilot Y Bombardier
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    I thought so initially, but then I decided I had enough spare time to at least read the TPR strategies and practice them. I went up a point from my previous max. Whether it was the low to moderate amount of practice passages I did (mostly what we did in class) or the techniques, I don't know, but going from 12 to 13 didn't hurt me.
     
  37. Zephyrus

    Zephyrus The Yellow Dart
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    This week:

    Orgo I,
    Physics II,
    Gen Chem II,
    Bio II,

    skipped verbal II.

    Taking a practice exam Sunday.

    Whoo... my knowledge of second-semester orgo is shaky. Hofman rearrangment w) hypobromite, cyclopropane from diazomethane/UV light, Williamson Ether Synthesis (SN2, damnit), oxidation of benzyl substituents to carboxylic acids. all fairly simple, just random.
     
  38. MarzMD

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    With that GPA at duke, I know you will rock the mcat. Man, you must be a genius, but it is no surprise because you are one of those kids that messed up the curve for me...lol Good luck fellow Dukie.
     
  39. MarzMD

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    With his GPA at Duke, I have no doubt 2 weeks of study alone will get him a high score. But, dont get lazy.

    P.S. I agree with Solitude
     
  40. Zephyrus

    Zephyrus The Yellow Dart
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    Thanks.

    But, to be fair, I am not naturally talented at science any more than I am good at a generic game of logic. I work really, really, really hard. That is what separates kids here, because everyone is smart. I'm sure many blue devils will look back on their college years far more fondly than I will

    Sensing the MCAT-trench bitterness yet, anyone? :laugh:

    random post factoids of the moment: the tollens test tells you whether an aldehyde is present by presentation of a silver mirror on a clean test tube. or, you could loook for a characteristic C-H IR at about 2700 cm-1. iodoform tests for the presence of a H3C-C=O or H3C-C-OH group. ok? (i despise orgo 2 randomness).
     

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