Nov 2, 2014
30
5
Hi Guys, so I have been mostly doing content review for MCAT since February. I haven't taken biochem in college but after watching khan academy, reviewing MCAT subject books several times I think I have pretty good grasp. I have been studying from Examkrackers and kaplan review books. I think Kaplan did an awesome job reviewing the materal, but I didn't l I didn't think it prepared me in terms of test taking skills. I want to take a prep course this January as a confidence booster and take the exam in April.

I am looking at kaplan and TPR since those are the only two big ones available in NYC. I read better reviews about TPR course in terms of the quality of their practice questions. Also I heard kaplan's practice questions don't resonate the actual exam very well. The only thing that's stopping me from TPR is that I dont know if I want to study from another new sets of review book (TPR) since I am used to kaplan and EK books. Which course would you pick if you are in my situation? Do you have experience with either kaplan or The Princeton Review (TPR) course? Thank you for reading my essay :)
 
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Mar 11, 2015
96
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Pre-Medical
I would caution against taking a course if you've already done so much content review, and plan to study for such a long period of time. Rather than being a "confidence booster", it will probably just end up being boring for you to actually sit through all of the classes. However, that being said, I would recommend TPR (I took this course). I'm not sure exactly which two courses you are comparing, but when I was comparing Kaplan and TPR, the TPR course had significantly more hours of in-person instruction. Furthermore, in your case, even though you say you don't want to study from another set of review books, I think if you're going to take this course (and avoid boring yourself to death in the classes), then it may actually be beneficial to learn from a new book.
 

GrapesofRath

2+ Year Member
May 5, 2015
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Not a big fan of courses. a) they aren't great uses of time. b) you can't emphasize what you are weakest in and put more time in that. Allocation of resources and spending time where you should is something a class will limit.

If you insist on spending the money you need to for a class I can't recommend Kaplan. Everything they teach can easily be covered through basic content review. It doesn't really prepare you for what you will see on the exam and prepare you in terms of the skills in reasoning and thinking you need. Many people who take Kaplan classes do well on the MCAT but it's because there are a lot of smart pre-meds, not because they picked up things so important for their success through Kaplan that they wouldn't have done without them.

TPR does give more actual in-person instruction. I also think there CARs prep is far superior to Kaplan and the early word seems to be TPR over Kaplan for Psych/Soc as well. So while I'm not a big fan of taking prep courses(unless it's the Berkeley Review one which is only offered in Cali) if you are hell bent on taking one I'd opt for TPR.

If you want to focus on the best review books that is a far better use of money than a class IMO. My advice would be Berkeley Review for the sciences(especially chem and physics), Kaplan for their biochem review book, EK 101 TPRH hyperlearning for CARs and combine multiple resources such as Khan Academy and TPR for psych/soc. For practice questions, all new AAMC material is gold and I think the old AAMC material is probably your best resource for CARs practice and a rather solid one for bio as well. I'd get all the EK, BR and Next Step FL's as well. Khan Academy is a valuable resources also. Between all those review books from BR, these FL's and Khan Academy you are getting TONS of really good practice(think over 1000 passages) that is the best simulation of the MCAT you'll find on the market.
 
Jun 6, 2015
753
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Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
If you can work out a good, reasonable schedule that spans 3-4 months ahead of time, then self-study is honestly the best way to go. You need to be dedicated to the schedule and consistent with what you do, but I believe self-study is far cheaper and more efficient than a review course. The only things that review courses really have to offer are practice exams, question banks, and special workbooks. I don't feel like these are worth spending over $2000 for.
 

GrapesofRath

2+ Year Member
May 5, 2015
5,320
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If you can work out a good, reasonable schedule that spans 3-4 months ahead of time, then self-study is honestly the best way to go. You need to be dedicated to the schedule and consistent with what you do, but I believe self-study is far cheaper and more efficient than a review course. The only things that review courses really have to offer are practice exams, question banks, and special workbooks. I don't feel like these are worth spending over $2000 for.
To go off this most of these practice exams and question banks are not realistic simulations or representative of what you will see on the real thing. They test content and memory retrieval of facts, not understanding, thinking and conceptual understanding like the real MCAT.
 

nomdeplume1234

2+ Year Member
Mar 18, 2015
270
131
Aurora, CO
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Pre-Medical
Hi Guys, so I have been mostly doing content review for MCAT since February. I haven't taken biochem in college but after watching khan academy, reviewing MCAT subject books several times I think I have pretty good grasp. I have been studying from Examkrackers and kaplan review books. I think Kaplan did an awesome job reviewing the materal, but I didn't l I didn't think it prepared me in terms of test taking skills. I want to take a prep course this January as a confidence booster and take the exam in April.

I am looking at kaplan and TPR since those are the only two big ones available in NYC. I read better reviews about TPR course in terms of the quality of their practice questions. Also I heard kaplan's practice questions don't resonate the actual exam very well. The only thing that's stopping me from TPR is that I dont know if I want to study from another new sets of review book (TPR) since I am used to kaplan and EK books. Which course would you pick if you are in my situation? Do you have experience with either kaplan or The Princeton Review (TPR) course? Thank you for reading my essay :)
There as never really been an in-depth review of any online course. Just a few pro's and con's thrown around here and there. I guess most people have never done BOTH so can't really compare them. What is really odd is that a simple search does not provide much info. For example,. I was trying to figure out what the TPR ampfire thing was. Went to youtube and the only thing was the company's commercial for the course.
 
May 21, 2014
58
10
Status
Pre-Medical
Don't listen to these people, they obviously havent taken the new Kaplan course which is designed to help you improve your testing taking strategy on the MCAT. They do not do content review in class although there is an MCAT channel with live and prerecorded videos on many topics. I liked the Kaplan course, I can't comment on TPR bc I never took the class.
 

Dreamstoo

7+ Year Member
Dec 13, 2011
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Medical Student
Quality of Kaplan and TPR instructors vary a lot. Whichever center you are interested in, try to read reviews up on the instructors if possible.
 
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OP
C
Nov 2, 2014
30
5
Don't listen to these people, they obviously havent taken the new Kaplan course which is designed to help you improve your testing taking strategy on the MCAT. They do not do content review in class although there is an MCAT channel with live and prerecorded videos on many topics. I liked the Kaplan course, I can't comment on TPR bc I never took the class.
Thanks for the reply. Did you find their practice questions/style resonated with the actual exam?
 

Gauss44

5+ Year Member
Oct 28, 2012
3,191
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Comparing TPR, Kaplan, and EK

Depth and amount of info:
1. TPR, the most depth and info. Errs on the side of overkill.
2. Kaplan, middle ground.
3. EK, only what you absolutely need to master, little or no extra info. Errs on the side of being too concise - but covers most important points.

Quality of tests*:
1. TPR
2. EK
3. Kaplan
(*The info about quality of tests is from 2014.)

My thoughts:
----TPR: Upside of TPR is excellent material, you shouldn't miss anything. Downside is students have drained a lot of unnecessary time on this in the past. Best fit for TPR, IMO, is either someone who is good at being super efficient and moving on when necessary, and/or is already fairly prepared. Worst fit is someone who is generally a slower learner or tends to try to understand every detail before turning the page, due to the time factor. (Berkeley Review: I have the same things to say about Berkeley Review.)
---EK: Upside is efficiency and the fact that they touch on everything or essentially everything you need to know. Good for someone short on time AND good to help focus on what is important. Downsides, you may need to supplement if what they say is not enough on a particular topic, information dense reading, you really need to MASTER what's in the book (not just read it and do the problems, but truly master what's in the book).
---Kaplan: To optimally use Kaplan, your judgement will determine if what they say is enough information or overkill, or even on the MCAT. (Kaplan use to have a couple pages about types of microscopes that I don't think were even on AAMC's list of MCAT topics, and they use to overemphasize non-metric units.) On the upside, it's a middle ground.

Conclusion
Your learning style will determine which one is "best" for you.

Rhetorical Question
If you were to put equal amounts of time and effort into a program, which one of the above is likely to yield the best results for YOU?

(I have made this general so that it applies to anyone with a similar question to OP, and not only to OP.)
 
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BYUCougar2011

2+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2016
40
33
Status
Medical Student
I would suggest saving your money and studying on your own. My friend and I both performed similarly in Organic Chemistry, and my friend went with a prep company and I decided to study on my own for the MCAT. He scored a 515 and I was able to score a 522. I am sure we both worked equally hard, but I think the difference comes from being able to control your study and being able to use the best resources. Test prep companies will train you using their resources, which includes very few of the official AAMC practice problems (problems written by the people who wrote the MCAT!). During my study I found test prep companies' practice exams and practice questions to be subpar. I feel like they take you off track more than help you. I would suggest making a study plan that uses various resources (AAMC, Khan, Kaplan, Princeton, ExamKrakers). Variety is your friend.

Also, if you feel like you need more structure/someone to guide you through the study process and help you with challenging questions, I would suggest finding a tutor. Test prep companies will charge you outrageous prices for tutoring. If you search around online, you can find better deals on tutors. It is helpful to tutor with someone that performed well on the exam already and can give you peace of mind about your preparation.

Lastly, I enjoyed studying on my own because I was able to make the plan that worked for me. I was able to study from home and study only as much as I could each week (very helpful since I was still taking classes during my exam prep). Best of luck with your preparation!
 
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