Dec 31, 2012
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I have the Berkeley Review books for General Chemistry, Physics, and Organic Chemistry.
I also have the Exam Krackers books for Verbal Reasoning and Biology.

I plan to take the new MCAT in April 2016, but I'm concerned that my books are obsolete enough to the point where I need to buy extra books.

My main question is, are these books alone good enough for the new MCAT? If not, what else should I buy? I can't imagine the chem/bio/phys/ochem problems changing very much, so I'm hoping that my current books are good enough for those subjects. I also wonder if I need to get prep material for the new subjects like psychology, biochemistry, etc.

Thanks in advance.

Edit: Changed "April 2015" to "April 2016"
 
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Jun 18, 2015
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I would probably not use TBR for GChem, and Physics. EK should be sufficient for those subjects as far as content is concerned. However, organic is very poor in the new EK chem book. You would be fine using Kaplan Orgo book. The passages in TBR is another story though. The passages in the TBR books are worth it alone. TBR for bio/biochem is recommended if you really want to know your content.
 

dushash

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Jun 27, 2015
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I have the Berkeley Review books for General Chemistry, Physics, and Organic Chemistry.
I also have the Exam Krackers books for Verbal Reasoning and Biology.

I plan to take the new MCAT in April 2015, but I'm concerned that my books are obsolete enough to the point where I need to buy extra books.

My main question is, are these books alone good enough for the new MCAT? If not, what else should I buy? I can't imagine the chem/bio/phys/ochem problems changing very much, so I'm hoping that my current books are good enough for those subjects. I also wonder if I need to get prep material for the new subjects like psychology, biochemistry, etc.

Thanks in advance.
Do you mean April 2016? Do some free FL's first to get the idea what new MCAT looks like. Then do content review, you have plenty of time. Definitely get some prep material for Psychology/Sociology. I finished Kaplan content review and so far did 2 FL's, but Psych/Sociology section is the worst for me so far, so I would take it seriously. IMHO new MCAT is a bit harder in general due to volume of knowledge necessary for all subjects and it's a bit longer now. try to finish content review 2-3 month before test date to practice FL's, lot's of FL's (like at least 15+). Also Biochem is a big part of a test now - so have a good prep material on that. In your case, since you want to do it without taking any paid courses (like Kaplan or others) you will have to combine best material from different sources. not the easiest task, but will work too. In your place I would combine some EK with some TBR and some NS with Khan videos. YMMV
 
OP
S
Dec 31, 2012
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I would probably not use TBR for GChem, and Physics. EK should be sufficient for those subjects as far as content is concerned. However, organic is very poor in the new EK chem book. You would be fine using Kaplan Orgo book. The passages in TBR is another story though. The passages in the TBR books are worth it alone. TBR for bio/biochem is recommended if you really want to know your content.
SirZaitzev: Thanks for the response. I'm glad you said that the TBR books are worth it for the passages. I spent a great deal on them and was worried buying them was a waste. I've lightly skimmed through the TBR books, and I honestly don't know how I would be able to finish reading every bit of them by April since I have classes, work, etc. The TBR Gen Chem Part 1 book is over 200 pages alone. The EK and Kaplan books that you mentioned sound tempting because they're probably faster to go through. Problem is, I'm quite rusty on my sciences since I haven't taken the courses in a couple years, so I don't know if the EK/Kaplan books would be underkill or if the TBR books would be overkill.

Do you mean April 2016? Do some free FL's first to get the idea what new MCAT looks like. Then do content review, you have plenty of time. Definitely get some prep material for Psychology/Sociology. I finished Kaplan content review and so far did 2 FL's, but Psych/Sociology section is the worst for me so far, so I would take it seriously. IMHO new MCAT is a bit harder in general due to volume of knowledge necessary for all subjects and it's a bit longer now. try to finish content review 2-3 month before test date to practice FL's, lot's of FL's (like at least 15+). Also Biochem is a big part of a test now - so have a good prep material on that. In your case, since you want to do it without taking any paid courses (like Kaplan or others) you will have to combine best material from different sources. not the easiest task, but will work too. In your place I would combine some EK with some TBR and some NS with Khan videos. YMMV
dushash: Oh yeah that was a typo. I'll be taking the MCAT in April 2016. Thanks for the advice, I'll look into that. I haven't taken a biochem course, so hopefully the prep books will be enough. I read that the AAMC only has one FL test, so I'm assuming that I should also take those unofficial FL tests from TPR, Kaplan, etc? Also, I would love to go through all this material, but I'm worried that I might not have time to go through the TBR books with classes, work, etc. I like that the TBR books are detailed, but they're so long that I have no idea how someone could go through it all.
 
Jun 18, 2015
43
12
Upstate New York
Status
Pre-Medical
SirZaitzev: Thanks for the response. I'm glad you said that the TBR books are worth it for the passages. I spent a great deal on them and was worried buying them was a waste. I've lightly skimmed through the TBR books, and I honestly don't know how I would be able to finish reading every bit of them by April since I have classes, work, etc. The TBR Gen Chem Part 1 book is over 200 pages alone. The EK and Kaplan books that you mentioned sound tempting because they're probably faster to go through. Problem is, I'm quite rusty on my sciences since I haven't taken the courses in a couple years, so I don't know if the EK/Kaplan books would be underkill or if the TBR books would be overkill.



dushash: Oh yeah that was a typo. I'll be taking the MCAT in April 2016. Thanks for the advice, I'll look into that. I haven't taken a biochem course, so hopefully the prep books will be enough. I read that the AAMC only has one FL test, so I'm assuming that I should also take those unofficial FL tests from TPR, Kaplan, etc? Also, I would love to go through all this material, but I'm worried that I might not have time to go through the TBR books with classes, work, etc. I like that the TBR books are detailed, but they're so long that I have no idea how someone could go through it all.
Just go on amazon, and purchase the books separately instead of the complete set. I'm not sure of what your budget is like, but they run at about 20 bucks a pop for each. Just think about it. Kaplan biochem is great IMO, and this is coming from someone who has not taken the course yet (will be taking this coming fall, and plan to take the test January 2016).
 

GrapesofRath

2+ Year Member
May 5, 2015
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If you want additional resources here is how I would go about it. I prioritized them in order of what is most important if you can't get all.

1) Get all the full lengths EK is offering. They are your best resources outside of anything the AAMC offers.
2) I HIGHLY recommend TPRH hyperlearning verbal workbook and EK 101 passages. BY FAR the best verbal practice you'll get outside of anything the AAMC offers.
3) Get BR Bio to do the passages; the practice is really worthwhile they test conceptual understanding not regurgitation of facts like many companies review questions.
4) Khan Academy is a life line. Use it. Some of the passages aren't very good but some are and they are all worth doing.
5) TPRH science workbook, particularly newer versions is very solid practice as well.

You didn't list psych/soc but for Psych/Soc EK and PR are the way to go combined with Khan Academy.

Note: While physics and chem is less emphasized on this MCAT you'll find many test takers who said it was a major part of their test. It is all variable and some tests its not a focus but you have to prepare for everything. So in that sense BR is your best bet for anything chem or physics related and I recommend going through it thoroughly. IMO physical sciences is the "most learnable" section on the MCAT where there is the strongest correlation between time spent studying and increased score. Do the best practice you can and it'll pay off.
 
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BerkReviewTeach

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I have the Berkeley Review books for General Chemistry, Physics, and Organic Chemistry.
I also have the Exam Krackers books for Verbal Reasoning and Biology.

I plan to take the new MCAT in April 2016, but I'm concerned that my books are obsolete enough to the point where I need to buy extra books.
You have a great starting point for your books. Granted, I have a slight bias here, but I have been doing this for a long time and have seen a few MCAT changes. I work for a company that only does MCAT, so the latest changes to the MCAT have been a topic of daily discussion for the last five years, especially since April. After all of the hype and all of the hysteria entering April, it is quite clear that the exam has not changed that much (yet). The periodic table, to be best of my knowledge, has the same elements it had one year ago. I believe, although I don't have a citation to support this, that gravity is still 9.8 m/s2 like it was last year. The topics have changed a little, with the removal of some subjects from physics, general chemistry, and organic chem. But those topics hardly appeared on the MCAT to begin with.

The key things are that they still (1) have four choices per question, (2) still mix topics together in passages, (3) have a good number of passages based on experiments, and (4) reward thinking over memorization. Those facts have not changed. So the books that had the best test strategies a year ago and mixed subjects together well, and demanded that you think on the majority of their questions are still going to be your best option. It's human nature that with the changes, people will feel better if it looks like their books have changed, but this has truly become a scenario where people are judging a book by its cover. Our students have been doing very well so far on the new exam, despite our older covers. The way they practice with questions is a perfect fit for the new exam.

I appreciate that people still recognize our passages as being the best resource for practicing, but the text is pretty good too. There are some invaluable shortcuts in the text that if you skip the reading you skip some techniques that could save you up to five minutes on an average exam. There are new versions of the books you mentioned coming out soon (starting with organic chemistry later this month). But the people who used the old books have been getting some great scores. If you stay with those books and cross off the topics that are no longer tested, you'll do fine.

My main question is, are these books alone good enough for the new MCAT? If not, what else should I buy? I can't imagine the chem/bio/phys/ochem problems changing very much, so I'm hoping that my current books are good enough for those subjects. I also wonder if I need to get prep material for the new subjects like psychology, biochemistry, etc.

Thanks in advance.
You nailed it right there. You need a more in-depth biochemistry review and need to get your knowledge base of classical psychology and sociology theories and experiments down. For biochemistry, you need to start with amino acids and proteins and build through pathways and kinetics. You need to leave no stone unturned. Our new organic chemistry book 2 covers the fundamentals really well and our new biology 2 book covers the details really well. The old organic chemistry book 2 was already going this way, so if your current BR books are recent enough, then your nitrogens chapter has many of the amino acids pearls of insight that have been critical to the current exam. Many of the things people have been posting frantically about in amino acids threads are in that chapter already. That should be your starting point, and then move on from there to whatever biochemistry source fits your learning style. For psychology and sociology, there are several books floating around and there seems to be no consensus yet. Our book is due out this month. The students who have used it, along with the SDN home studiers who got it recently, have loved the passages and felt it was very well written. Right now it is essential that you memorize a large volume of jargon and ideologies.

I would probably not use TBR for GChem, and Physics... The passages in TBR is another story though. The passages in the TBR books are worth it alone. TBR for bio/biochem is recommended if you really want to know your content.
We appreciate the endorsement. But I'd like to elaborate, and hope this doesn't go the wrong way. I completely believe (from years of experience) that the passages and questions are excellent (the best you'll find) at preparing students for how to think on the MCAT. This seems to be a very common opinion at SDN as well. But to do well on some of those questions (to master the shortcuts and understand where they are coming from), you need to work through the text (especially the sample questions in the text).

Without having sat and studied for the exam or having taken the MCAT, it is hard to see just how helpful that combination is. Most people who suggest skipping our text, have actually not worked through our books. From what I gather, that's true for you as well. What I'd suggest is that when you take your biochemistry class in college, use the amino acids section in our organic chemistry book 2 simultaneously. There are tricks in there that will make some challenging topics incredibly easy. This summer we had several students taking biochemistry in summer school while studying for the MCAT, so we scheduled our biochemistry lectures right before their midterm and their final. Every last one of them did perfect on the amino acid sections of their midterm and final. If you work through the sixteen pages in organic 2, then you'll see just how powerful the techniques are.

Good luck in your studies and ongoing pathway to medical school.
 
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GrapesofRath

2+ Year Member
May 5, 2015
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You have a great starting point for your books. Granted, I have a slight bias here, but I have been doing this for a long time and have seen a few MCAT changes. I work for a company that only does MCAT, so the latest changes to the MCAT have been a topic of daily discussion for the last five years, especially since April. After all of the hype and all of the hysteria entering April, it is quite clear that the exam has not changed that much (yet). The periodic table, to be best of my knowledge, has the same elements it had one year ago. I believe, although I don't have a citation to support this, that gravity is still 9.8 m/s2 like it was last year. The topics have changed a little, with the removal of some subjects from physics, general chemistry, and organic chem. But those topics hardly appeared on the MCAT to begin with.

The key things are that they still (1) have four choices per question, (2) still mix topics together in passages, (3) have a good number of passages based on experiments, and (4) reward thinking over memorization. Those facts have not changed. So the books that had the best test strategies a year ago and mixed subjects together well, and demanded that you think on the majority of their questions are still going to be your best option. It's human nature that with the changes, people will feel better if it looks like their books have changed, but this has truly become a scenario where people are judging a book by its cover. Our students have been doing very well so far on the new exam, despite our older covers. The way they practice with questions is a perfect fit for the new exam.

I appreciate that people still recognize our passages as being the best resource for practicing, but the text is pretty good too. There are some invaluable shortcuts in the text that if you skip the reading you skip some techniques that could save you up to five minutes on an average exam. There are new versions of the books you mentioned coming out soon (starting with organic chemistry later this month). But the people who used the old books have been getting some great scores. If you stay with those books and cross off the topics that are no longer tested, you'll do fine.



You nailed it right there. You need a more in-depth biochemistry review and need to get your knowledge base of classical psychology and sociology theories and experiments down. For biochemistry, you need to start with amino acids and proteins and build through pathways and kinetics. You need to leave no stone unturned. Our new organic chemistry book 2 covers the fundamentals really well and our new biology 2 book covers the details really well. The old organic chemistry book 2 was already going this way, so if your current BR books are recent enough, then your nitrogens chapter has many of the amino acids pearls of insight that have been critical to the current exam. Many of the things people have been posting frantically about in amino acids threads are in that chapter already. That should be your starting point, and then move on from there to whatever biochemistry source fits your learning style. For psychology and sociology, there are several books floating around and there seems to be no consensus yet. Our book is due out this month. The students who have used it, along with the SDN home studiers who got it recently, have loved the passages and felt it was very well written. Right now it is essential that you memorize a large volume of jargon and ideologies.



We appreciate the endorsement. But I'd like to elaborate, and hope this doesn't go the wrong way. I completely believe (from years of experience) that the passages and questions are excellent (the best you'll find) at preparing students for how to think on the MCAT. This seems to be a very common opinion at SDN as well. But to do well on some of those questions (to master the shortcuts and understand where they are coming from), you need to work through the text (especially the sample questions in the text).

Without having sat and studied for the exam or having taken the MCAT, it is hard to see just how helpful that combination is. Most people who suggest skipping our text, have actually not worked through our books. From what I gather, that's true for you as well. What I'd suggest is that when you take your biochemistry class in college, use the amino acids section in our organic chemistry book 2 simultaneously. There are tricks in there that will make some challenging topics incredibly easy. This summer we had several students taking biochemistry in summer school while studying for the MCAT, so we scheduled our biochemistry lectures right before their midterm and their final. Every last one of them did perfect on the amino acid sections of their midterm and final. If you work through the sixteen pages in organic 2, then you'll see just how powerful the techniques are.

Good luck in your studies and ongoing pathway to medical school.
Whether or not someone needs to review BR's Physics and Chem content is entirely dependent on their background and how much they retained from their classes(and perhaps most importantly the quality of their professor and how in depth they were taught material). There are many people(engineers come to mind) for whom it can be over kill and the passages are simply where there time is best spent as well as briefer reviews that give an idea of the key principles ot know.
 
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BerkReviewTeach

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Whether or not someone needs to review BR's Physics and Chem content is entirely dependent on their background and how much they retained from their classes(and perhaps most importantly the quality of their professor and how in depth they were taught material). There are many people(engineers come to mind) for whom it can be over kill and the passages are simply where there time is best spent as well as briefer reviews that give an idea of the key principles ot know.
This is very true. In fact, we tell classroom students to skim sections they know well. Your engineer example is absolutely perfect for physics, because they will get the details they may have forgotten from doing questions. I do believe that many students can skip equilibrium, forces and torque, organic structure, spectroscopy, gases, and so on. But I believe they absolutely must read certain chapters, such as the acids-bases chapters, the amino acids chapter, the fluids chapter, the electrochemistry chapter, the lab techniques chapter, etc... because they present things from a very unique perspective.

One thing we strongly suggest is to try phase I passages first on topics you know well, and if things are going fine you can skip the reading altogether. If they are doing okay, then perhaps go back and skim. If they get punished, then going back and reading is a great idea.
 

StudyLater

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Jan 4, 2015
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organic is very poor in the new EK chem book
Eh, according to the outline things were covered adequately, except things like reading spectra. There really isn't a lot of orgo on this exam. It makes up about 12.5% of the C/P + B/B sections. It seems to amount to understanding what has happened in a given reaction, who is a better nucleophile/acid/base, **** like that.
 
Oct 11, 2012
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I would go through the AAMC Outline and then use Khan Academy and the books that you currently have to make sure that you hit every subject and bullet point. This really helped me more than any book. The only book that I could suggest is a biochem book for the section on amino acids and enzyme kinetics (like how to derive the M-M equation, Vmax, Km, Kcat). I recently took a biochem class for my postbac, so this definitely helped.
 
OP
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Dec 31, 2012
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I really appreciate the feedback, and will definitely put it to good use. Sorry for the late reply; I didn't get any email notifications about this thread so I assumed no one else posted. Additional responses are welcome. Thank you.
 
Jun 26, 2015
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Definitely use Khan Academy for Psychology! all the other material out there for psychology was not that helpful when it comes to the real MCAT. Also buy as many practice exams as you can because the review books only help so much. PM if you want to buy online MCAT exams that aren't that expensive. Good luck studying! :)