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HOW I GOT 15s IN THE SCIENCES AND WAS LEFT WANTING ON VERBAL

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by mterp45, May 25, 2008.

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  1. mterp45

    mterp45 Banned
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    My diagnostic was an 18 PS 8, VR 6, and BS 4. It was a Kaplan diagnostic, and 7 months later and about 1500 hrs of studying later, my score on the real deal was a 39 PS 15 VR 9 BS 15 WS T. I doubled my score through hard work, dedication and patience. A couple people have sent me PM about making a thread so here it is.

    Disclaimer: I will not edit this post. This is my day off from the lab. I am 30 minutes from the D.C night life; I am a young and handsome guy, so I don't have the time to sit correct my mistakes. So try to read past the spelling or punctuation errors.

    The first general thing I want to tell you is to use SDN as a motivational tool and a progress gauge. You should not get online and think that people are lying about their score. Instead, use it as a tool to let you know at what level you should be. It is because of my time on this site that averaging low 30s made me feel as if I was averaging 20s. Compare yourself to the best, and work to get at their level. Never mind what the national average is, that doesn't mean jack sh..t. If I can start off with an 18 and finish with a 39, you can too. I am was not smarter than the guy next to me, I just wanted it more than he did.


    HERE ARE SOME OF THE THINGS I DID WHICH ALLOWED ME TO SUCCEED IN THE SCIENCES.


    1) Take tests
    2) I did every question I got wrong without looking at the solution until I could get the answer right.
    3) retook the test and only after the retake would I allow myself to use the solutions and this was to figure not why I got questions right, but why every other question was wrong.
    4) Reason:
    Don't let yourself get in the habit of picking up that pen and pencil. Use your reasoning skills to rule out answers through conceptual understanding. Try solving problem without resorting to calculations, simply use the passage and do calculation in your head.
    5) You should know how to manipulate and use proportionality relationships like the back of your hand. This is the easiest way to rack up quick points in the PS. You shouldn't have to write anything down for these types of problems. If you have to, than you aren't up to the challenge.
    6) Be scrupulous
    Throughout the whole PS section think units. I spent a whole day using an elementary math book, just to get faster at using scientific notations accurately.
    7) Dimensional analysis. Learn how to use it and know it well. It's just like the stoichiometry they teach you in chemistry.
    8) The best advice I can give you is use the passage, use the passage and than use it again. This is especially useful for the BS section. When you take practice tests, forget everything you know and only use it if it is absolutely necessary. They want to see how you think, not how many upper level classes you have taken. If you get in the habit of utilizing the passage properly and reasoning now, then you won't have any trouble on test day.
    9) Leave no stones unturned. Don't let yourself have a weakness when you walk in on test day. When I felt weak on anything I spent one to two days just studying that one subject alone, going to my professors, doing problems on it using the TPR workbook, Kaplan, EK or whatever passages I could find. I even reverted back to my of my old science books to find more problems if there was a need for it.
    10) practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice. I did all exactly 1001 problems in the EK physics and exactly 1001 in the EK chemistry, all the 1001 Orgo, and the Bio 1001. I didn't skip any questions in all four. I did every single problem in Kaplan's QBANK, did all Kaplan's topical tests, did all of Kaplan's section tests. I used the TPR science workbook to do problems in the areas in which I lacked confidence and probably did all the PS, BS, and Chem questions in that book and left about 1/3 of the orgo passages undone. The TPR workbook was extremely helpful for target studying. As for full lengths, I did about 9 Gold standards, all 11 Kaplans, 8 TPRs, all 7 AAMCS. I took about 35 practice tests and it took me about two days to review each one.
    11) BE YOUR OWN SOLUTION MANUAL. When you get things wrong in the sciences don't be so quick to pull up the tab or to read the solution, go in the book read the relevant section and do the problem again and again until you get the answer right. It is easy to read a solution and say you would have gotten it right or that it was just a silly mistake but most time that silly mistake which may be something as small as forgetting a negative sign maybe a lack of conceptual understanding.
    12) For Verbal, the best advice I can give is to read, read, read, read there is no other way or strategy that will improve your reading comprehension. I gave this section just as much time(if not more) as I did for th other sections. I was averaging 12s and 13s consistently on my diagnostics before the real thing but I ended up with a 9. If I had gotten a couple points lower on the sciences I would probably be retaking. Also, I posted something a while back about an unorthodox verbal strategy, you are welcome to read it and use it. I believe the reason I was left wanting in this section is because of my lack of confidence. So be confident.
    13) DON'T NEGLECT ORGO. Treat all sections equally. You should be the best at all of them instead of hoping that it won't show up because I promiss you it will and when it does, it will hurt.

    I spent 7 months studying, I reviewed the material with EK, TPR, and KAPLAN. I dedicated three months to simply taking and reviewing my tests.

    Here is more details about how I reviewed my tests:

    Ok the easy part was taking the test for the first time. On all the FL's, I would mark down the question which I got wrong without reading the solutions. I would then redo those problems again and again often using my books and other resources until I came up with the right answer myself. When I retook the test I would do so untimed, and threat every single question like a brand new one and I would convince myself that there was a different way of getting that answer and I can guarantee there almost always is. This is where reasoning patterns, utilization of the passage and an understanding of concepts came into play. For the Bio section the reviewing consisted of figuring out not only why a particular question was right, but why every other answer was wrong. So I would go down from A-D for each question, use my resources, and figure out why they were wrong. The last aspect of the retake was figuring out the pattern in AAMCs solution, passages, and testing style, How do they expect you to come to that answer? How they arrive at that answer? what type of reasoning is this? can that reasoning be categorized? what type of passage is this? etc.. etc.... There is just so much to tell that it's often difficult to know where to begin or where to end.

    These are just a couple things that I could come up with off the top of my head. There is plenty I am not mentioning, about 7 months worth of tricks and little things that I learned after all this studying process. I just don't have the time to write a book. I hope that what I have written will help some of you guys. I will try to post advice on some of the things I am not mentioning and elaborate on some of the things I have mentioned whenever they come up in threads. Good luck to you all and I hope you guys get 45s on your MCATs.

    I will copy and paste this in the 30+ thread.
     
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  3. iA-MD2013

    Moderator Emeritus

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    I never told you Congrats! You did a great job! Thanks for the post :)
     
  4. hoodz

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    Congrats on the score. What are your thoughts on the Kaplan and AAMC full lengths? I've been reading that the AAMC is a better indicator the actual score.
     
  5. mterp45

    mterp45 Banned
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    AAMC was my MCAT bible and should be for all, I would say that I agree with everyone. However, I was amazed by how similar I found the real test to be like kaplan. Kaplan does an amazing job mimicking the same reasoning patterns found on the AAMC sciences. I just don't understand why they can't do the same for verbal. My overall score on the real MCAT was similar my averages at end of my studying on both Kaplan and AAMC.
     
  6. Junkie06

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    Congrats, are you still gonna keep your mcat study packages or sell them?
     
  7. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna

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    congrats on your accomplishment. i have a question, and i dont mean for it to come off as rude, so i apologize if it seems that way, it was not my intention.


    many many people do not have the time (i think you spent about 7 hours a day) or the money (i dont want to even begin to think of how much money you spent) to study like you did. it is simply unrealistic. what would you suggest doing for the people that can't afford 35 practice tests or spend 7 hours a day studying for 7 monhts straight??
     
  8. bootyshaker

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    lol, what a d-bag..
     
  9. bootyshaker

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    by the way - in response to your post: I too got a pretty good score on the mcat (41), and I certainly didn't spend nearly as much time. I think a lot of it comes down to reasoning skills. Half of the mcat (yes, HALF) is pure reasoning. I think if you got the basics in terms of conceptual understanding, you should be fine without using such exhaustive methods.. just my 2 cents.

    (is it me, or does it seem that this thread was made purely to brag..? If everyone with a 39+ made threads like these, SDN would be full of them..)
     
  10. TheBoondocks

    TheBoondocks StreetFighter 4 Virtuoso

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    I take it you're new. congrats on your score. There is a 30+ thread if you would like to post how you killed the beast. Mterp made this post because numerous people asked him to. I can see how without background info it could be misconstrued. He has a good sense of humor. YOu're correct that the MCAt is a REASONING test. However, all of us have different innate levels. It may take others more time to get to the point of reasoning necessary to kill the beast. You're probably an exceptional test taker so his methods are probably over the top. The whole point is to show people different ways to kill the beast.
     
  11. stupidkid30

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    No, it's just you. You are the D-bag. what did you get on verbal a 6? anyone with descent reading comprehension should be able to see that he just spent a good chunk of his time typing this long thread in an attempt to help. Additionally, is a regulator poster always giving people advice. I am one of those guys who sent him a personal messages, and I truly appreciate his posts. You got a 41 good for you, I don't see you attempting to help. You must be one of those competitive, sit in the front , professional suck up type of pre-med. I don't want to hear about your jealousy, so take your 41 else where. If I was a moderator I would ban you from this site. learn how to read before you get on SDN.
     
  12. JA Prufrock

    JA Prufrock Serenity Now!

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    *grabs popcorn and soda*
     
  13. Gavanshir

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    I can't say I learned anything new but thanks for your post. If nothing else your score alone is inspirational. Congrats!
     
  14. thierryhenry

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    "here ye, here ye! i are the greatest!

    my daddy and granddaddy all went to Yale, I apply not anywhere else but there! I am the greatest!

    I cracked the MCAT.
    I will be a success!"







    smoke a j go to ratsie's (i hope it still exists that place is the ****) and chill
     
  15. wizenedone

    wizenedone Indeed...

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    lol
     
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  17. thierryhenry

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    also this is what happens when you go to a state school like maryland and have time to review tests for 3 months

    what you didn't have REAL class?

    :)
     
  18. bootyshaker

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    woah..what a response.

    I wasn't calling the op a d-bag for advising you, but for the "I'm so awesome and handsome" comment..I thought that was pretty funny..I can't imagine anyone arrogant enough to speak like that in real life.

    In any case - my 2nd post above was in response to someone who seemed to be losing hope since he didn't have the kind of time that the OP put in. I was just letting him know that it's VERY possible to do well without going through the exhaustive methods listed above. The methods obviously worked for the OP and they may very well work for you - I was simply trying to help the guy that I responded to.

    TheBoondocks, I appreciate your post and your candidness. Stupidkid30 (quite an appropriate name, btw): I DONT appreciate your personal remarks. In fact, I would argue that the type of student to "sit in the front, and professionally suck up" are the kinds that study for 1500hrs for a test, not the others; please don't make this personal or start making personal attacks - it's childish and a sign of intellectual immaturity. I look forward to your apology.
     
  19. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna

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    you should make better use of your smileys!! you are still pretty new...you will learn young one.

    :corny:
     
  20. physics junkie

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    I tell everyone the same thing--there is a limited amount of information they can test you on and if you know it all you will get a perfect score. Still, many people think there is a score ceiling or that the topics are too vast and the content of the test too unpredictable.
     
  21. Vihsadas

    Vihsadas No summer
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    I agree with you mostly. After being scared silly about the MCAT when I started, I realized after studying for it that it is possible to know everything that they could test you on. If you know it, what will keep you from scoring perfectly on the sciences will be stupid mistakes, or by not focusing in that crucial time. (Like my one stupid mistake on bio. :( )
     
  22. Snowy

    Snowy Will I ever be a doctor?

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    Geez, he did all of the kaplan material and all of the EK 1001 books, that's crazy. But 15s on the sciences is also crazy.
     
  23. mterp45

    mterp45 Banned
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    well, hopefully you aren't a girl and don't leave around my way. Around my way, any girl who refuses to acknowledge my handsomeness is to be declared guilty of witchcraft and stoned.

    haha, it's a joke lighten up a little.
     
  24. mterp45

    mterp45 Banned
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    Thanks for the love abd understanding Supidkid30 and The Boondocks. I appreciate it.
     
  25. mterp45

    mterp45 Banned
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    Hey thanks, I appreciate the kindness. I am also a big thierry Henry fan :thumbup:. I hope you do well on your test.
     
  26. mterp45

    mterp45 Banned
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    Yep, certainly, I agree 100%.
     
  27. MaximusD

    MaximusD Anatomically Incorrect
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    Full of them.. how many people do you think get >/=40? Get real.
     
  28. mterp45

    mterp45 Banned
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    Many do not need to study for 7 months straight. Some need a month, and others a year. The key is to figure out where you stand on the spectrum and study accordingly. I needed 7 months, but that's just me. If you do not have the time or the money to study as efficiently as you would like, I would suggest taking whatever piece of advice you feel fits your budget or the time you have allotted for this test, and use it to help yourself the best way possible. SDN has 30+ thread with a lot of advice from which you can benefit. Use it formulate the best study plan possible.
     
  29. cbrons

    cbrons Ratatoskr! *Roar*

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    I read your MDApps description... your attitude cracked me up, reminded me of myself:

    lol... you sound like my kind of guy...

    thanks for the post, cause your whole strategy (with all the repetition is exactly what I plan on doing). I don't consider myself smart, just like you said. I think desire and hardwork are good enough. You can do anything if you want it bad enough. A lot of people are considered extremely intelligent - easily breeze by the MCAT with a 40+ and minimum studying - I know that won't be me... I may not have a natural affinity for the sciences nor am I considered a genius by anyones standards but I know people like you and me make up for it in other areas i.e. having superb people skills , a sense of humor ,etc.
     
  30. mterp45

    mterp45 Banned
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    Hey thanks, I am a fan of anyone who is a fan of hardwork. I am positive that your attitude will allow you to succeed. I hope you get a 40+ score.
     
  31. tncekm

    tncekm MS-1

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    I don't think ANYBODY could breeze the MCAT with 40. If they didn't study "for" the MCAT they spent countless hours "prior to" taking it studying for those subjects during their prerequisite courses. If they say otherwise, they're very likely liars.

    One thing I've realized in life is that even the most intelligent people are still human, and they still have to study every once in a while to do well. And, to do well against 80,000 (~# of ppl taking MCAT in a year) of the most dedicated, hard working, and intelligent people in higher education takes even more work! On top of it, the MCAT requires patience and focus. Even if you're a gifted problem solver, if you misread a question b/c your impatient, or overlook a detail b/c you can't focus, you're screwed!

    Just had to throw that in there :D Anyway, stick my Mterp45's words and you'll kill the test. I'm doing heavy practice problem's late in my studying, and I wish I followed his plan b/c just practicing heavily sure makes all the difference when it comes to thoroughly understanding the concepts and the equations associated with those concepts. Best of luck!
     
    oldstock likes this.
  32. physics junkie

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    Mmmmm beg to differ. A relatively close friend of mine got a 40 with studying for 1 week. He said it was all reasoning and that you didn't even need to know half the bio because you could easily eliminate wrong answers. Then again I also met him while he was auditing my 400 level physics class for fun. He never had an issue picking up any concept on the spot. He never needed to study because he gets things the first time. The only other guy I knew like this was a friend in high school who became a rhodes scholar. He would remember every detail from an AP euro lecture so he didn't take notes.

    My cousin also managed to pull of a 38 on the april test. He was still going to school and working and only used the materials he borrowed from me. He only picked up those materials from me 21 days before the MCAT. He said he took 3 practice tests total and not a single one of them on the computer. We always rail on him in the family for being lazy. He's brilliant but never gives anything a serious effort.

    Not everyone needs practice. Some people just learn quickly.
     
  33. tncekm

    tncekm MS-1

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    That's where the studying in "previous" classes comes from. There is still quite a bit of knowledge associated with the MCAT, and if you've got it down beforehand, obviously studying it later isn't going to be of much help.

    And, getting a 40 without having extensive content knowledge is ridiculously unlikely. There are at least 1/3 of the test questions that test specific knowledge. Last time I checked even with probability working for you that leaves you with about 40/52 on any given science section, which is about a 10. At least half is reasoning, that's definitely true and people who are gifted in their logical abilities or whom have honed their reasoning skills will be able to do very well in those sections. But, anybody who says they've hardly put any effort into learning the material is an outright liar. Again, I'm not limiting the "learning the material" to specifically being part of MCAT prep. Like you said, the guy with the 40 with 1 week of studying was auditing a 400 level physics course for fun; he was obviously engaged in his education and had a very solid background in physical sciences. Picking things up on the spot isn't enough; I know plenty of people who can do that, but that doesn't mean you can magically guess correctly on content you've never learned before.

    And, IMHO, there is a huge difference between applying oneself very little in school and on the MCAT. In class, you always know what is going to be on the test. So, IMHO, a person may be able to apply themselves very little in school and get A's, but they would likely have to work a little harder to do well on the MCAT since they're background is probably lacking and although the majority of the test is logic based or reading comprehension based, there is still a very significant portion that is outright content knowledge.

    Having said that, I should still stipulate that even though its highly improbable its definitely possible what you're proposing.
     
  34. What up doc

    What up doc FLASH

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    haha...actually...he has a point...i dont know if thats only true at umd...but i know my schedule at cp let me study 8 hrs a day for 4 months...
     
  35. What up doc

    What up doc FLASH

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    i call bullshiit...you aint get no 41...troll!

    i got u mterp...we terps gotta rep!
     
  36. physics junkie

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    I'll share one of my favorite anecdotes about him. We were taking a quantum mechanics class together and the teacher completely neglected to teach us the basics and jumped straight into the abstract formalism on the first day of lecture. I asked the kid how he did on the midterm and he had no idea what was being asked--yet he was able to remember how the symbols looked on the board and was able to remember how to manipulate them and got the correct answer without knowing what any of the intermediate steps meant. He didn't even know what the symbols meant when I asked him--just how to move them around.
     
  37. What up doc

    What up doc FLASH

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    i feel you mayne (no homo)....

    i mean c'mon yall...you know you salivated when you saw the avatar...mcat studying is NOTHING compared to maintaining this :bow:
     
  38. tncekm

    tncekm MS-1

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    Oh, I'm sure he's a smart kid. But, there is no way he could get a 40 on the MCAT without extensive content knowledge, and for the reason you outlined right at the end.

    Moving parts is easy. But, for example, an MCAT question may have you determine the major product of HBr + a conjugated alekene. Well, that's easy... just "know how the parts move" and you can figure it out. But, the MCAT is then likely to grill you a little bit as to "why", by asking: the 1,2-adduct forms more rapidly, but is the minor product and the 1,4-adduct forms more slowly, but given enough time will eventually be the major product at any temperature and under any reaction condition. This is because: (a), (b), (c), (d), etc. Or, if you don't know crap about biology and get one of the Central Dogma questions, how are you going to answer it?

    Just as an example: I didn't do 3/4 of my homework in OChem II and I did very well in the class, and nationally on the ACS. And, this was b/c I saw how the parts were supposed to move. Yet, I didn't know why Sn1, Sn2 reactions worked in relation to the nucleophile and the solvent, or under which conditions the substitution was favored over elimination, etc. I also had no idea what thermodynamic and kinetic product even meant; I didn't pay attention enough in G.Chem to even know the meanings of the words. (I had similar experiences in calc, g.chem, etc. and didn't really have to apply myself until I got into upper division bio courses which require lots of memorization). I didn't know any of that until I prepped for the MCAT because I was forced to analyze those sorts of things b/c I got questions about them. Now, that wasn't meant to toot my horn b/c around here there are many people way smarter than I am, it was just an example as to how you can see how things work, not know what they are, and do well in a school environment but not as well on the MCAT. But, the MCAT does test on content specifics and its unimaginable as to how anybody could muster up this knowledge out of thin air.

    I'd speculate a brilliant person with very little content knowledge could muster up low to mid 30s, assuming a great VR score. 40s, no way.
     
  39. WilliamsF1

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    [​IMG]
     
  40. thierryhenry

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    Its Like A Thriller


    Thriller Night
     
  41. Junkie06

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    see my post above mterp45
     
  42. smk9

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    Listen Bro,
    Screw the haters. You busted your ass and I respect that. I think the difference between mterp45 and anyone else who got high 30 or low 40s is this-- mterp45 could probably get 15s in PS and BS again, on another test. I'd bank on it.

    Just cause you're good at eliminating wrong answer choices doesn't mean you know the sciences. mterp45 knew the sciences like he knew his own "young, handsome" face. (Great comment, by the way)

    In regards to going to Yale, and Yale alone--- Good for you. You had a goal to continue a long line of tradition in your family, and you're going to do it. That's pretty solid.

    Kudos to you man, go hit up DC and show which ever gender you are attracted to a fabulous time.

    Oh, and the writing sample-- impressive.
     
  43. doomknight

    doomknight Bing

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    First of all, I'm not a "hater" and I think mterp did very well and I highly doubt he was lying. We went through the same AAMC practice tests and his scores were way higher than mine. However, with that said, I don't think it's necessary to study 1500 hours for the test.

    My freshman year I got 21 in diagnostics at a kaplan event. This past fall when I actually took kaplan I had a 19, I forgot alot of the physics/chem stuff. For the PS section, good math skills are crucial, I was very good at math/mental math since middle school when I did mathcounts. For the BS, you just have to be a fast thinker, and have the knowledge.

    My background courses: 3 semesters of bio (evo, eco, genetics, cell bio, animal/plant physio), human physiology, 2nd semester physics (didn't have time for 1st sem, had memeories from high school), 1 sem gen chem, 1 sem analy chem, 1 yr or organic, 1 yr of biochem.

    I took the kaplan course but I only did the required stuff, and never did any of the readings, I did goto class and had nice instructors who taught us well. I started actually studying for the April 19th test on about March 20th or so, before that time I just went to kaplan but didn't study.

    Here's what I did:
    First I did 1 Kaplan FL every other day. Once I was done with those I did 1 AAMC test every other day, sometimes more if I had time.

    I read through all 4 of the EK books (not the 1001's, the review books). I thought they were helpful. Although EK bio wasn't detailed, it was perfect in that as I already had a nice bio background, I could read through it quickly and help refresh my memory. The EK physics/chemistry were nice too in that the stuff you really need to know are colored.

    Once I finish a full length, I looked through what I got wrong, and wrote down the topic. Then I would read through that section of EK again. Towards the end, most of my errors weren't even knowledge based, it was just from stupid mistakes. The last FL I took was AAMC10 2 days before the test, I got a 28 (I was falling asleep), before that I got a 36 on AAMC9. On the test day I went to the test center 1 hour early, looked through, for the first time, the kaplan laminated formula sheets, and they were helpful, as I read them, I would think how they would apply on questions. For the last 20 mins I tried to calm my self down by listening on Beethoven on my nice $200 headphones. It didn't work as I was still nervous, and ran into time trouble on PS and guessed on 2 questions at the end.


    So basically in summary, I think that if you have a nice science background from science classes, you don't need to spend a ton of time doing problems. Just work on your test taking skills. The stuff mterp mentioned, stuff like dimension analysis, make sure you do them. I never knew it was called dimension analysis, but I've been doing it since high school physics, nice stuff when you don't remember how to apply formulas.

    For example, a question asks: a clark kent is flying towards krypton at a velocity of 34534 m/s, what is his acceleration?

    Alot of times, in the answer choices where they give out the formulas, only one of them would have units of m/s^2.
     
  44. doomknight

    doomknight Bing

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    OH THE IRONY ITS KILLING ME LOL. 41 WITH 6 IN VERBAL ROFL
     
  45. mterp45

    mterp45 Banned
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    Wow, This thread has turned out to be quite entertaining. Does anyone have popcorn left?
     
  46. iA-MD2013

    Moderator Emeritus

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    Sure! :corny:
    I wonder why people are having such a huge problem with your post!?
     
  47. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
    Administrator Physician PhD Faculty Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved

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    Folks, please keep the entertainment "clean" and polite. In other words, please don't personally attack other users. :)
     
  48. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna

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    i knew a kid that studied a decent amoutn for the MCAT, and got a 38. The funny part is that his friend was applying to law school at the same time and told him to take the LSAT for fun, so he did. His friend had been studyin for a year and got a decent score to show for it, but the MCATer who took it cold got like a 175 or something ridiculous. i would be piiiiiiiiiiiiiissed.
     
  49. tncekm

    tncekm MS-1

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    Yeah, from what I hear that test is almost entirely logic based.
     
  50. stupidkid30

    Banned

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    is that you in that avatar? which one of the two are you?
     
  51. bigman225

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    It may not be an attractive attitude, or a particularly humble one, but it works--you gotta believe in yourself.
     
  52. stupidkid30

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    To the guy above, that's my favorite line in the whole post too, lol.
     
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