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Have a $2000 stipend that MUST go to a prep course? Anyone who used NS/Blueprint, EK, TBR TPR, Kaplan, etc - would love to hear your opinions!

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Violetsareblue

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Hello! my MCAT is currently scheduled for Apr 2022 (applying next year as well) and I have to decide on a course or program of some kind to use a $2000 stipend on. I will be purchasing additional materials as well.

If anyone has experience with a test prep company they can share - either first hand or from friends- I would really appreciate it.

About Me/What I'm looking for: I'm pretty good at learning content - my issue is with follow-through (part of it is related to mental health) and scheduling. Since I feel I can probably learn content on my own, I was thinking of doing the private tutoring options from one of the companies - just to have someone to check in, ask specific content questions or practice questions rather than teach me, and review my progress, and help me with my schedule. Basically - I just need structure more than anything.

I do not feel comfortable relying on a study buddy for accountability because I've experienced study buddies losing their drive and therefore me being left without good accountability. I want accountability I can rely on.

I am willing to put some of my savings to combine with the stipend for a more personalized experience. (I'm not wealthy at all - but I am a non-trad with a little money saved for apps/prep). Right now I'm leaning towards the private tutoring for Blueprint/Next step - but would love to hear from people who've done any course.
I plan on leaving a month after the course for practicing/FLs.

The $2000 must go to a prep course as it's a stipend for my program - They request an invoice. I will be purchasing UWhirl & the AAMC bundle separately, using Anki, Khan Academy, & all the other free resources so no need to list them as an alternative. I really just need to decide on a program.

I also already own the Examkrackers books 10th edition and some of their old practice books + their CARS book.
 

MyOdyssey

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Can the $2000 go towards private tutoring?

Altius and Blueprint have the best full lengths apart from AAMC, which matters because you’ll get those if you purchase the course.TBR has the most comprehensive content.

UWorld’s question bank is excellent.

You should spend more than a month practicing full lengths.
 
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Violetsareblue

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Can the $2000 go towards private tutoring?

Altius and Blueprint have the best full lengths apart from AAMC, which matters because you’ll get those if you purchase the course.TBR has the most comprehensive content.

UWorld’s question bank is excellent.

You should spend more than a month practicing full lengths.
I think as long as it’s associated as part of a prep course/company. I can double check but my understanding is the money is allocated for prep courses explicitly.

I saw Altius and Blueprint seemed to have some private tutoring components so have been looking into them (and I think the fee includes aamc materials).

I’ll have to come out of pocket for the extra resources (which I’m okay with).
 

MyOdyssey

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I think as long as it’s associated as part of a prep course/company. I can double check but my understanding is the money is allocated for prep courses explicitly.

I saw Altius and Blueprint seemed to have some private tutoring components so have been looking into them (and I think the fee includes aamc materials).

I’ll have to come out of pocket for the extra resources (which I’m okay with).
Private tutoring plus doing a lot of practice on passage based questions is best. Memorizing content alone will get you nowhere.

How are your CARS skills?
 
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Violetsareblue

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Private tutoring plus doing a lot of practice on passage based questions is best. Memorizing content alone will get you nowhere.

How are your CARS skills?
Pretty good. Been a while since I’ve done a diagnostic but I scored highest in that (of course since it’s not content based) and I was an American studies major as undergrad so am used to the reading/critical thinking.
 

jhmmd

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    Hello! my MCAT is currently scheduled for Apr 2022 (applying next year as well) and I have to decide on a course or program of some kind to use a $2000 stipend on. I will be purchasing additional materials as well.

    If anyone has experience with a test prep company they can share - either first hand or from friends- I would really appreciate it.

    About Me/What I'm looking for: I'm pretty good at learning content - my issue is with follow-through (part of it is related to mental health) and scheduling. Since I feel I can probably learn content on my own, I was thinking of doing the private tutoring options from one of the companies - just to have someone to check in, ask specific content questions or practice questions rather than teach me, and review my progress, and help me with my schedule. Basically - I just need structure more than anything.

    I do not feel comfortable relying on a study buddy for accountability because I've experienced study buddies losing their drive and therefore me being left without good accountability. I want accountability I can rely on.

    I am willing to put some of my savings to combine with the stipend for a more personalized experience. (I'm not wealthy at all - but I am a non-trad with a little money saved for apps/prep). Right now I'm leaning towards the private tutoring for Blueprint/Next step - but would love to hear from people who've done any course.
    I plan on leaving a month after the course for practicing/FLs.

    The $2000 must go to a prep course as it's a stipend for my program - They request an invoice. I will be purchasing UWhirl & the AAMC bundle separately, using Anki, Khan Academy, & all the other free resources so no need to list them as an alternative. I really just need to decide on a program.

    I also already own the Examkrackers books 10th edition and some of their old practice books + their CARS book.
    Violetsareblue said:
    Pretty good. Been a while since I’ve done a diagnostic but I scored highest in that (of course since it’s not content based) and I was an American studies major as undergrad so am used to the reading/critical thinking.
    Annotate EK w/Kaplan
    UWorld is better for Step 1--the MCAT is a critical thinking and reasoning test; Step 1 is more memorization
    I'm surprised that you scored so well on your diagnostic--they're designed to be super hard so that you enroll in the company's prep course. That is a good sign.
    One more bit of advice--be SURE that you have completed ALL of the pre-reqs before taking the MCAT; rushing it isn't going to help you and things like Khan Academy/etc. can't take the place of the pre-reqs.
    Good luck
     
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    MyOdyssey

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    Annotate EK w/Kaplan
    UWorld is better for Step 1--the MCAT is a critical thinking and reasoning test; Step 1 is more memorization
    I'm surprised that you scored so well on your diagnostic--they're designed to be super hard so that you enroll in the company's prep course. That is a good sign.
    One more bit of advice--be SURE that you have completed ALL of the pre-reqs before taking the MCAT; rushing it isn't going to help you and things like Khan Academy/etc. can't take the place of the pre-reqs.
    Good luck
    By annotate, do you mean use Kaplan to go into more depth where needed as a supplement to EK?
     

    jhmmd

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    By annotate, do you mean use Kaplan to go into more depth where needed as a supplement to EK?
    Like go through Kaplan according to EK subjects, and take notes on Kaplan in the EK books (writing in the books so that you have a condensed source). Med students do this commonly w/Staedtlers when they annotate First Aid with Robbins/Kaplan/etc. It's kind of old school. :) You want to know one condensed source and know it cold (in this case, the condensed source should be an annotated set of Examcrackers books). ;)
     
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    Dral

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    Take this with a huge grain of salt. It was long ago and it is an n of 1.

    I took MCAT twice undergrad and got equiv of 508. I then went to grad school which took 6 or 7 or so years (read: big gap between undergrad pre-reqs and taking MCAT). I took Kaplan in person. I ended up jumping to equiv 519/520. I think the structure and then number of simulation exams (had us come to the center and pretend it was all test day several weekends) helped a lot.

    I could tell there were a few folks in it who didn't take it as serious (Parents probably paying for it, forcing them to go, and they didn't really want to be there), but if one takes it seriously and follows what they instruct, I think it can be beneficial.
     
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    PlsLetMeIn21

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    With $2000 you can get UWorld, everything AAMC sells, and have enough leftover to get twenty hours of private tutoring. I would not waste money on a course. Full disclosure, I studied on my own and did fine except for CARS, so I had to repeat. The second time I took a course (back when they were in an actual classroom) and except for one teacher (a great teacher) there was nothing I couldn't have done on my own.
     
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    Violetsareblue

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    Like go through Kaplan according to EK subjects, and take notes on Kaplan in the EK books (writing in the books so that you have a condensed source). Med students do this commonly w/Staedtlers when they annotate First Aid with Robbins/Kaplan/etc. It's kind of old school. :) You want to know one condensed source and know it cold (in this case, the condensed source should be an annotated set of Examcrackers books). ;)
    Thanks - I think I will try this. I currently have the EK books and have old copies of Kaplan. I might just annotate whatever course's books I do follow through with using Kaplan. I also have an Anki deck that heavily used kaplan materials.


    Take this with a huge grain of salt. It was long ago and it is an n of 1.

    I took MCAT twice undergrad and got equiv of 508. I then went to grad school which took 6 or 7 or so years (read: big gap between undergrad pre-reqs and taking MCAT). I took Kaplan in person. I ended up jumping to equiv 519/520. I think the structure and then number of simulation exams (had us come to the center and pretend it was all test day several weekends) helped a lot.

    I could tell there were a few folks in it who didn't take it as serious (Parents probably paying for it, forcing them to go, and they didn't really want to be there), but if one takes it seriously and follows what they instruct, I think it can be beneficial.
    Yea, I am someone who would benefit from such structure. I know most people recommend self-study but I am the kind of person who has tried that before, failed, and tried again with the same outcome. I need to get better self-discipline but right before my MCAT is not the time to see if I can develop it.


    With $2000 you can get UWorld, everything AAMC sells, and have enough leftover to get twenty hours of private tutoring. I would not waste money on a course. Full disclosure, I studied on my own and did fine except for CARS, so I had to repeat. The second time I took a course (back when they were in an actual classroom) and except for one teacher (a great teacher) there was nothing I couldn't have done on my own.

    I plan on getting all the resources you mentioned but I can't use the stipend just to buy materials. It needs to go to some kind of course and I must provide an invoice to get reimbursed.
    I do plan on integrating Uworld, the AAMC materials come with the courses I'm looking at, both courses come with 24-25 hours of private tutoring, and I also plan on sprinkling in a few other supplemental materials.


    EDIT: Idk why part of my reply was cut-off. I added what I meant to write earlier.
     
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    Dral

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    Same. I did self study for the first 2 times I took it undergrad (times I got a 508).

    However, self-studied for Step 1 only in med school. I didn't totally blow it out of the water, but I did way better than average.
     

    Violetsareblue

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    For those who may want to know, I decided to do the Blueprint tutoring package (online course + hours with a private tutor). I think this'll allow me the flexibility I need while still having accountability.

    I'll also ask the tutor to integrate Uwhirl + my anki usage + daily CARS + KA passages into my study schedule. AAMC stuff is already integrated apparently.

    I guess I'll write in 6 months how it went haha. Apr 2022, here I come ;)🤞
     
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