stonefawkes

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Nov 23, 2016
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I recently sent this to a friend who didn't know anything about the MCAT or how to prep for it, so I wrote up my two cents. I received my MCAT scores and happily I am part of the 509+ club so I thought I'd share my experience! Incidentally I am selling all my TBR, EK, and Kaplan prep materials here if you're looking to save some $$$.

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I've spent many hours researching, studying, and taking the MCAT so I have lots to share. Don't be overwhelmed, it's a lot to take in but with planning and a schedule you can do it.


Here's a summary:

The MCAT consists of four sections of 53-59 questions that are each about 1.5 hours long. After the first section you can take a 10 min break, after the second you can take a 30 min break, and after the third section you get another 10 min break. You finish the fourth section and hope you'll never have to take that test again.

The four sections are, in order:
  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS)
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior
Each section is curved with everyone else taking that exam across the country and is out of 132 points--highest possible score is a 528. 500 is the average score (125 in each section) but you want to get above a 505+ for DO schools, a 510+ for MD schools, and a 516 or so for top medical schools. Generally, if you are scoring 85% correct on each section you're in line for a good score.

I recommend you spend 2-3 months studying hard for it--anything longer and you risk burning out in my opinion. Plan to spend at least 6-8 hours a day studying for it 4-5 days a week during that time period (this sounds like a lot but life gets in the way and you will study less). Don't take a full class load when you're studying for it, make MCAT prep your full time job for a couple months. Take a practice test once a week on a weekend simulating full test conditions (waking up early, going to a quiet office or setting up in you room, timing yourself, taking all the breaks, taking a full practice exam). Take at least 4 full practice tests--6-8 is ideal.

In my experience, I felt like I wouldn't have been ready to take the MCAT before taking at least 2 quarters of OChem, at least 1 quarter of biochem, and ideally one class in intro psychology--others may disagree and it's possible you will have a version of the MCAT that does not cover topics from the aforementioned courses, I am speaking of my own experience. If you want to apply to med schools the same year you take the MCAT, register for a test in May. Otherwise, take a summer off everything and study for it for a couple months and take it in August to apply the score with your apps the next year.

Here are the resources I used that I highly recommend:
MCAT info (read through these to get an idea of how to study and what the MCAT is):

MCAT Resources - /r/MCAT Premeddit
www.reddit.com/r/mcat
MCAT Discussions
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Content Materials (I did a lot of background work, and in my opinion, these are the best materials to study from. Aside from the AAMC bundle, you might be able to get these for free in PDF format through the reddit link. If you can only get one thing, get the AAMC bundle.)
Content from the AAMC (test makers):
Product Detail

Hard Science Subject Books:
If you have a general background in the sciences being tested:
JRE-Cart (All the prep books except the CARS and Psych/Soc books) OR If you need lots of work and practice with the sciences being tested:
The Berkeley Review--Home Study Materials (All the prep books except the CARS and Psychology books)

Psychology
Princeton Review: Review Workbook
Free practice passages via Khan Academy: https://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat

CARS
Sections from the AAMC bundle linked above
101 CARS from EK: JRE-Cart | Product Details
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Practice Tests:
NextStep Free diagnostic (https://nextsteptestprep.com/mcat-resources-page/)
NextStep Full-length #1 (https://nextsteptestprep.com/mcat-resources-page/)
ExamKrackers Full Lengths EK Test-2, -3, -4 (JRE-Cart | View Category)
AAMC Sample Exam (in bundle linked above)
AAMC Full Length #1 (in bundle linked above)
AAMC Full Length #2 (in bundle linked above)
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Sample Schedules to consider:
Saigon's 20 Week MCAT Study Schedule
Breaking Down the MCAT: A 3 Month MCAT Study Schedule

You can make your own schedule, just make sure you take a break at least 1 or even 2 days a week so you don't burn out.
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That's just my two cents, hope it added something to your own study. Good luck everyone!!

EDIT: This post is my general opinion, if it feels like I'm "over-generalizing" it's because I am. It's my opinion on my experience..my own...my precious...
 
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Ad2b

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Don't take the MCAT before you've had at least 2 quarters of OChem
Nice summary of the tools you used :)

I would suggest you take out the piece I snipped because many schools DO NOT require 2 courses of ochem, substituting 1 semester of biochem for the 2nd ochem course.

Good job, otherwise!
 
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stonefawkes

stonefawkes

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Nov 23, 2016
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Nice summary of the tools you used :)

I would suggest you take out the piece I snipped because many schools DO NOT require 2 courses of ochem, substituting 1 semester of biochem for the 2nd ochem course.

Good job, otherwise!
Thanks! I wrote the sentence on which courses to take as a general guideline for what I think best prepared me to study for the MCAT. My exam had questions on there that absolutely required me to have taken the full OChem series plus at least an intro biochem + intro psych courses. Of course as you said, make sure to check with specific schools as to what courses are required.
 
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Thanks! I wrote the sentence on which courses to take as a general guideline for what I think best prepared me to study for the MCAT. My exam had questions on there that absolutely required me to have taken the full OChem series plus at least an intro biochem + intro psych courses. Of course as you said, make sure to check with specific schools as to what courses are required.
But you are suggesting that and premeds will see it and it is not general, it seems like a de facto statement. A 2nd course of ochem is not required for the MCAT either. There is nothing about sugar molecules/dehydrogenation that can't be learned via Khan or Kaplan or EK or AKLectures ... in fact, I'd go so far as to say, there is nothing required to take the MCAT other than you must acknowledge you are taking the test for purposes of entering a professional school and that you won't cheat. Beyond, nothing is required.

You are prescribing and it is inaccurate. It might have been accurate for you but I have yet to hear anyone say that their exam was heavy ochem - some ochem yes, heavy ochem? not in the 3 years I've been watching reddit/here/others (and I track, btw).
 
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stonefawkes

stonefawkes

2+ Year Member
Nov 23, 2016
28
13
But you are suggesting that and premeds will see it and it is not general, it seems like a de facto statement. A 2nd course of ochem is not required for the MCAT either. There is nothing about sugar molecules/dehydrogenation that can't be learned via Khan or Kaplan or EK or AKLectures ... in fact, I'd go so far as to say, there is nothing required to take the MCAT other than you must acknowledge you are taking the test for purposes of entering a professional school and that you won't cheat. Beyond, nothing is required.

You are prescribing and it is inaccurate. It might have been accurate for you but I have yet to hear anyone say that their exam was heavy ochem - some ochem yes, heavy ochem? not in the 3 years I've been watching reddit/here/others (and I track, btw).
I see, well to avoid any confusion I changed the wording to reflect that the recommended courses are my opinion.
 
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blackroses

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But you are suggesting that and premeds will see it and it is not general, it seems like a de facto statement. A 2nd course of ochem is not required for the MCAT either. There is nothing about sugar molecules/dehydrogenation that can't be learned via Khan or Kaplan or EK or AKLectures ... in fact, I'd go so far as to say, there is nothing required to take the MCAT other than you must acknowledge you are taking the test for purposes of entering a professional school and that you won't cheat. Beyond, nothing is required.

You are prescribing and it is inaccurate. It might have been accurate for you but I have yet to hear anyone say that their exam was heavy ochem - some ochem yes, heavy ochem? not in the 3 years I've been watching reddit/here/others (and I track, btw).
You're doing the exact same thing you're accusing the OP of doing and overgeneralizing.:rolleyes: Two things:
  1. You must not be tracking very carefully, because one of the more recent exams has a subreddit that's full of people in shock over how ochem heavy it was, and;
  2. Just because the way ochem is taught at your school is nicely arranged so that first semester covers the majority of info you need for the mcat does not mean that every school teaches it the same way (many don't). My school covered oxygen reactions (the overwhelming bulk of ochem-related mcat questions) in second semester.
 

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You're doing the exact same thing you're accusing the OP of doing and overgeneralizing

No, I have 2000+ posts, pretty substantial investment into this whole process given my "distance traveled in life" and an 9 year blog about being a premed where a one-size fits all doesn't work. I'm pointing out that the post generalizes.

Ochem II is not required at MOST medical schools in the US. How do I know?

I have not and will never take it.
 

blackroses

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No, I have 2000+ posts, pretty substantial investment into this whole process given my "distance traveled in life" and an 9 year blog about being a premed where a one-size fits all doesn't work. I'm pointing out that the post generalizes.

Ochem II is not required at MOST medical schools in the US. How do I know?

I have not and will never take it.
The discussion isn't about whether it's required for medical schools, though. The discussion is about whether or not it's useful for the mcat.

I didn't argue that you aren't invested, I pointed out that your post is generalizing just as much (if not more) than the OP. You're free to disagree. But there have been plenty of people to claim they got an ochem-heavy mcat, and there's plenty of material that can be tested on the mcat that is taught in ochem (some of it exclusively).
 
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