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Got Kaplan Book + Online: Exam date April 2017: Now what?

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Happensinvegas

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So my Kaplan complete Book+Online set came in today. I am planning on taking the MCAT this up coming April (April of my Junior year). I was wondering if you all have suggestions of the best way to go about this. I have a few specific questions:

1) Should I use one of the full length exams now to get a 'starting point' without reviewing the books yet?

2) I have not taken Psych 101 yet: I was planning on doing it spring semester. Should I start self studying that book yet or should I wait until I'm in the class?

3) How important are optics and electromagnetism? I was planning on taking this class my senior year (after I have already taken the MCAT / during the application process). Should I instead try to cram (yes, cram would be 18 hour semester) the class into spring semester?

4) Is there a preferred order of which way to go over the books. The only thing I thought about was doing Gen Chem -> orgo -> bio -> Biochem

5) What is the highest level math that this gets into. I have taken up to Calc 3, but that was 3 years ago and rusty on the material. I assume I won't need to know more than basic derivatives and integrals though, right?

Any other tips and tricks with the Kaplan set would be great!
 

DrHart

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1) No. Not if you haven't taken psych or physics 2.
2) You can if you want but it might not make much difference. Psych and Socio on the MCAT is more about recognizing themes and understanding the definitions of words/theories (being able to name a certain situation as a certain concept, or being able to assume what happens in a situation based on a certain concept). Self-studying for the psych/socio is easier than the other sections.
3) Physics is ~7% of the MCAT. I would assume physics 2 is roughly half of the physics they test so you are looking at a very small amount. Personally, I wouldn't take the MCAT until you finish ALL the prereq classes - but everyone is different. Just my two cents
4) To retain the most of what you read, I would NOT recommend working through one book at a time. Read one chapter of each book at a time. It doesn't matter the order so long as you take a little of each. This actually works really nicely with the Kaplan set because they reinforce the same concepts in each book relatively close to each other in chapter order.
5) Trig. The physics book explains all the math you need to know. You don't need to know what an integral or derivative even are.

On a personal note, I took the MCAT in April of my Junior year as I was finishing up both Physics 2 and Socio. I would recommend finishing all the prereq courses first - then studying over the summer when you don't have classes competing for your attention. 15 credit hours in a science major (even without the extracurricular activities that every premed does) gives you very little time to focus. MCAT prep really requires constant attention (at least a few hours every day for a few months) Like I said, everyone is different. This is just my opinion after going through this once!
 
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