drimpossible

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Hey all,

My first post at SDN Forums! I have been lurking for a few weeks and have learned so much good stuff already.

My situation is that I'm a near 30 y/o career shifter coming from the entertainment industry. I took virtually no science classes as an undergrad, but now I'm acing classes at my local CC and transferring to Rutgers' Post-Bacc program in the fall. If all goes as planned, my pre-reqs will be done at the end of Spring of '09, and I will be applying for the accelerated linkage program to the NJ state schools (RWJ or NJMS).

Now my question is this. I'm beginning to study for the MCAT with only a little bit of Bio, and only one semester of College Chemistry under my belt. I'm giving myself roughly six months to learn and drill the material (advanced bio, chem, o.chem, and physics), with test prep materials and practice tests, then I'll most likely take the last MCAT offered this year, right about the time I'm starting my first Bio, Physics, and O.Chem classes.

My thinking is that if I'm learning all of the MCAT science now, it will only make my upcoming Pre-Req classes easier (I want to maintain my current 4.0 - I might benefit from the fact that my college didn't have grades). I'm confident in my ability to grasp the information. A MCAT class is out for budgetary reasons, so I'd probably go with the Examcrackers suite, AO, 1001s, etc. If I score high, then it's one less thing I'll have to worry about and I can focus more on my classes and applications.

What do you guys think of "learning" (memorizing, drilling, repeat) the MCAT materials from a test prep book and not an undergrad class? Most people on this forum seem to discourage this, but as Non-trads, I feel like we tend to reinvent the wheel to serve our own unique needs.

The other option is not taking the MCAT until I finish my pre-reqs, but that would mean differing Med School matriculation for another year. Not the end of the world, but I'm chomping at the bit here. I'm ready to go!

I appreciate your thoughts, comments, jeers, etc.
 

Nanon

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I do think that studying the EK stuff while you're taking the classes is a great idea - kind of wish I'd done it. However... I think taking the MCAT before you take most of the pre-reqs is a really, really bad idea. The EK stuff is a review, meaning that there is a lot of stuff that they assume you know and don't go into, especially in o'chem and physics. I've already taken the MCAT once, and I can tell you that you need to have those concepts down COLD. I didn't (even though I had all the pre-reqs), and now I'm taking it again. A lot of schools will look at both of the scores.

Practice the holy hell out of the verbal section now. Use EK as cliff notes while you take your classes. Take the MCAT when you're getting solid 10's and 11's on each section on the AAMC practice tests, and not before. That is my advise.

S.
 

RLTW75

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If you think you're a self learner and can accomplish it I'd say go for it.....I'm in a similiar boat, I'm taking the MCATS in late May (this year) and haven't taken Ochem or physics II, but I do have the EK book and access to a lot of practice questions, exams, etc.

I agree, you should do multiple self evaluations on practice tests and if you're not scoring well on those practice tests I would postpone the test....studying for this thing is a HUGE task (at least for me), and I only want to do it once.

The benefit of being a non-trad is that you are very self-aware and know yourself well enough to be able to make that decision....if you think you can do it...knock yourself out....

One request though....when you do succeed going down this route, you return to SDN and post your reply for future non-trads who might be on the fence about going down that path......

GOOD LUCK AND GOD SPEED
 
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drimpossible

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Thanks for both of your responses.

Nanon - I'm doing my best not to underestimate this exam, but once I get plan of attack in my head, it's kind of tough to shake. Another option might be to take the MCAT immediately after my first semester of BIO, O.Chem, and Physics. Which might be a good idea. I just liked the idea of slaying this beast before slaying the rest.

RLTW75 - Thanks for your sage advice on the practice exams. Regardless of what time line I'm working out in my head, this seems like the way to go. And if I pull this off (or don't), I'll be happy to report back on it in the forum.

Anyone else have any thoughts?
 

DrMidlife

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In my opinion:
1. the MCAT is ~75% critical thinking and ~25% science knowledge
2. the practice tests on e-mcat.com are valid as predictors
3. the verbal section tells you a lot about how ready you are

In your shoes, I'd take a practice test on e-mcat.com right now. If your verbal number isn't already what you want it to be, then you have a lot more to worry about than science. Bottom line, as you go, your practice test numbers will show you whether your plan is working or not.

I totally understand that you don't want to lose any time, maybe because you think 30 is late. 30 is not late. You don't have to be in a hurry to slam your way into the next app season.

Typically folks who haven't taken any hard science seriously underestimate physics and o-chem. Typically these classes are the weeders that cause premeds to become biz majors. In my view, doing commando MCAT prep is going to double the amount of work you end up doing in the prereqs.

Regardless, best of luck to you.
 
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drimpossible

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In my view, doing commando MCAT prep is going to double the amount of work you end up doing in the prereqs.
First off, thanks for your response. I know that a year's a year's a year. The different between a 35 y/o resident and a 36 y/o resident is practically nil. I'm not rushing. I just have difficulty seeing the point in prolonging the process for another year if I don't have to.

I have a history of testing well. Even on the practice test (which I haven't finished yet) I was getting questions right via practical knowledge over scientific knowledge, so I think you're onto something regarding how the MCAT is designed. Granted, I was also getting a heap of them wrong, too.

I'm having a little difficulty understanding your last point however. Are you saying that I'll be forced to unlearn the bunk science taught in test-prep books in my future classes, or that the workload will be too intense?
 

DrMidlife

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I'm having a little difficulty understanding your last point however. Are you saying that I'll be forced to unlearn the bunk science taught in test-prep books in my future classes, or that the workload will be too intense?
If you do "traditional" prereqs-before-MCAT, then you have a foundation on which the MCAT prep rests. The test prep becomes a well-contained project that bounces off what you already know. And that well-contained project takes smart people 3-6 months of 10-20 hrs/wk effort, in addition to money spent on structured prep courses. (See my mdapps comments for what happens when you don't put in this effort.)

By contrast, doing MCAT prep before you've seen the material is inefficient as test prep, and inefficient as knowledge acquisition. Good MCAT science prep is building the fact-recall and multiple-choice skills to answer for 4 years of science coursework in one sitting. Which has nothing to do with learning the material. Even if you're able to learn the science from review materials, it's going to take 2-3 times as long as review would take. In my view, what you'd be doing is learning about 30% of the prereq material for test prep, at a 300% cost compared to "normal" test prep, and this 30% will serve you about as well as high school science serves you when you get to college science. And I think the frustration level and slow improvement would drive me insane.

Now, can it be done? I can't tell you that. It's not uncommon for somebody to do this for ochem, but it's rare to do it for more than one subject. People have different goals for their score. People have different income sources and responsibilities to manage. Personally, I'd say a plan to start MCAT prep before prereqs, while enrolled in the first half of prereqs, without having any science before, is a weak plan.

Let us know how it goes.
 

Weoh

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Learning some of the MCAT material before actually taking the undergrad course will be helpful in your classes. You'll probably make connections with the material more readily than other students just because you've seen some of it before. That said, however, it may not prepare you adequately for the MCAT if you haven't completed most of those courses. You'd probably be able get by with the phys and bio material, but you might want to at least have some of the chem and o chem under your belt before taking the mcat-- particularly the o chem. There's a whole lot to understanding how organic reactions proceed than the review books will probably flush out for you the first time.

I said you'd probably be able to "get by," but the MCAT isn't a test in which you want to just "get by." If you want to proceed with your plan and take the MCAT before the classes, at least take a few of the practice MCATs from the aamc. If you're doing well on them and feel like you can handle the real thing, then at that point you'll be better able to gauge whether or not it's wise to proceed ahead of time.

Best of luck to you!
 

Lacheln

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I'm assuming it's the accelerated linkage timing requirements that are driving you to take the exam early? Do you know if there are cutoffs or guidelines for the score you'd need? Getting a 30 is quite different than getting a 35+.

I agree with the folks recommending that you use the practice exams to see where you are. You can always decide to postpone the test if you aren't seeing the results you want. The time it takes to prepare varies a lot from person to person, depending on their testing skillz and their science skillz. Personally I'd think with your limited science background it would be pretty tough to get truly prepared on your own. A lot of the material (I thought) dovetailed and was much easier once you have the big picture of all the subjects. I do understand the sense of urgency though.
 
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drimpossible

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I agree with everyone's recommendation to do as many practice tests as possible to gauge where I'm at throughout this process (I've just secured 8 practice exams on a local classifieds site). I don't want to give off the impression that I'm viewing my preparation as some fly-by-night exercise, though. If something needs clarification, I will supplement it with other texts, coursework, and my science guru friends.

If I push the MCAT from the fall till the first test in January, I'll have ~9 months to nail the material and know how comfortable I am with taking the practice exams. I don't mean to sound overconfident, but I'd be surprised if I couldn't get a score I find satisfactory in nine months. And by then, I'd have finished my G. Chem courses, and had one semester of O.Chem, Physics and BIO. I still can apply for the linkage this way, and I'll have a 50% more time to prepare.

You guys are helping already.

So, what should I start with first? :)
 

Lacheln

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Hmm. 9 months to cover 6-7 college courses, some without any class, really isn't that long. This isn't the LSAT or GMAT, after all. But, if it isn't long enough you'll figure that out along the way on your own. :D Your test taking skills should help a lot.

I'd start with chem since you have some under your belt and it is useful for bio and orgo.
 

Nanon

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I hate being the wet blanket, but one other thing to think about while you're considering all of these options: Once you start taking o'chem, particularly if your taking another lab intensive class like physics, you may find your time to study MCAT material somewhat limited. I loved o'chem, but even for me that class was a time sink. Lab would go on for hours and hours sometimes, particularly toward the end of the semester. I studied until the wee hours for weeks on end. My experience is not novel, believe me.

You sound like you're bright... I just don't want you to shoot yourself in the foot by underestimating...

S.
 

Thespian666

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Hey all,

My situation is that I'm a near 30 y/o career shifter coming from the entertainment industry. I took virtually no science classes as an undergrad, but now I'm acing classes at my local CC and
Music to my tympanic membranes.

I'm a near 31 y/o and in the same boat save the post-bacc program. Here in Socal, post-bacc's are a bit limited so I'll be finishing ALL pre-reqs at a CC. I believe the critical thinking aspects of a liberal arts or humanities' based education are assets with regard to the VR section of the MCAT; wherein, you see a lot of lower scores for people who might otherwise get a 13 on PS or BS.

Good luck and, as Adam Sandler says, do it at "a medium pace." There is no need to sacrifice good prospects in order to save a semester of time.
 

notdeadyet

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Nothing personal, drimpossible, but your approach is pretty common among the crash-and-burn set.

Applying to medical school is an incredibly long and competitive process. You need to get all of your ducks in a row. The fact that you'll be applying late in life is no excuse for not applying right.

Though you may be a great test taker, the MCAT is not an aptitude test like the GRE, GMAT or LSAT. It is very much knowledge retrieval and synthesis. Though you're probably a bright guy, this is going to be a tough test to take if you don't have the knowledge to begin with.

Coming back as an older student without a science background, you need to get a great foundation in the sciences, then approach studying for this test with all the zeal you're talking about here. Do this and you'll probably get a great score and have a multitude of schools to choose from.

The alternative you are talking about is trying to game a test and learn the material from study guides that assume a basis of knowledge you don't have.

Worst case: you'll get an unacceptably bad score and hurt your grades during your postbac from fighting a two front war and medical school will not be in the cards unless you're prepared to take several years to boost up that GPA again and prepare for the MCAT right.

Best case: you'll do all right on the test, but if you're bright enough to do that, you would have done absolutely awesome on the test had you taken it after learning the material properly. You'll have effectively ruled out the possibility of some great schools (or even scholarships) all for the sake of rushing things.

The older nontrads who do well with this process are the ones that go about it properly and make sure they dot every i and cross every t and not cut corners. They don't take the MCAT before they're ready (read: have learned the material via their prereqs), they make sure that they make professional sacrifices to get great grades, and they take the time they need to have a wide spectrum of volunteer and clinical work under their belt that prove to medical schools that they're ready to take the big step.

I applied at 34 and really wanted to rush things too. I got some good advice that forced me to go slow and make sure I put out as strong an application as possible that demonstrated maturity, respect for the undertaking, and commitment to the field. It's not fun, but taking that extra year to do it right will put you in a much better place financially and professionally in the long run. Best of luck to you with your process regardless
 

gman33

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For linkage, when do you need to take the exam and what minimum score do you need?

It's a bad idea to try to take the MCAT before the prereqs.
The test is built on the knowledge gained from taking those classes. Review books are not a good way to initially learn the material. That's why they are called REVIEW books.

While taking classes, your number one priority is to do as well as possible in those classes. If you are easily making all A's and have some time leftover, feel free to do some MCAT prep. As someone above said, the worst case is that you try to do too much at once and do poorly in your classes. A bad MCAT can be retaken, but low grades in a postbacc are very hard to come back from. I'm not trying to scare you, but I know several people who failed postbacc classes because of trying to prep for the MCAT at the same time. This has virtually shut the door from ever getting into a MD school. DO is still possible because they can retake the class and wipe out the old grade.

My advice, concentrate on your classes first. If in the spring, you are doing well and feel like you can comfortably manage MCAT prep, go ahead.
If not, then finish classes, prep for MCAT May and June and take a July exam. This would knock you out from linkage, but it's probably the best way to maximize your grades and MCAT score.

:luck:
 
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drimpossible

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For linkage, when do you need to take the exam and what minimum score do you need?
The linkage requires taking the MCAT in the spring of your second year (final semester of your Post-bacc). They don't say in the documentation that I have if there's a minimum score for linkage applicants, but the MSAR median score for the entering class is 31.

notdeadyet- thank you for your thoughtful post. You made quite a compelling argument for NOT rushing through the pre-med process, and I appreciate that. I'm still going to continue studying for the MCAT for the sake of it, and will begin taking practice tests just to gauge how I'm progressing. If I'm feeling super confident about the test based on consistently satisfactory practice exam scores, then I'll register for the MCAT early. If I don't end up shooting for the linkage, there are a million things that I could do in the interim year that will only improve my med school candidacy.

Thanks to everyone who chipped in. I'll be sure to update with any late breaking news. :thumbup:
 

SCMed

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Thank you drimpossible for asking this question...I'm in a similar situation time-wise and I've been wondering the same thing!! And thanks to those who have replied honestly and realistically. You've really helped to put things into perspective for me and slow down a little...if I'm not in the class of 2013, I'll be ok! Deep down, I knew I was rushing and I just didn't want to admit it because I'm ready to begin this process! The best advice I could have received from notdeadyet:

Best case: you'll do all right on the test, but if you're bright enough to do that, you would have done absolutely awesome on the test had you taken it after learning the material properly. You'll have effectively ruled out the possibility of some great schools (or even scholarships) all for the sake of rushing things.

The older nontrads who do well with this process are the ones that go about it properly and make sure they dot every i and cross every t and not cut corners. They don't take the MCAT before they're ready (read: have learned the material via their prereqs), they make sure that they make professional sacrifices to get great grades, and they take the time they need to have a wide spectrum of volunteer and clinical work under their belt that prove to medical schools that they're ready to take the big step.

I applied at 34 and really wanted to rush things too. I got some good advice that forced me to go slow and make sure I put out as strong an application as possible that demonstrated maturity, respect for the undertaking, and commitment to the field. It's not fun, but taking that extra year to do it right will put you in a much better place financially and professionally in the long run. Best of luck to you with your process regardless
I definitely don't want to sabotage myself before I even begin the process. I don't have much volunteer experience and I'm just finishing up my first semester back taking pre-reqs, Chem I & Bio I and I was going to try and take the MCAT in June or July...possibly August :laugh: (I know, it's a little late, but I was allowing for study time!). Thank you thank you thank you for your advice, I'm going to aim for the following year and really bust my a$$ and do it right the first time!
 

notdeadyet

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I definitely don't want to sabotage myself before I even begin the process. I don't have much volunteer experience and I'm just finishing up my first semester back taking pre-reqs, Chem I & Bio I and I was going to try and take the MCAT in June or July...possibly August :laugh: (I know, it's a little late, but I was allowing for study time!). Thank you thank you thank you for your advice, I'm going to aim for the following year and really bust my a$$ and do it right the first time!
You'll have so many more options for taking your time. More applications die of indigestion than starvation. Best of luck with the application process...
 

ekydrd

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Having started the med school app process as a much older student than you are currently (I was 39) I realized quickly how imprtant those undergrad classes were after the fact. I did take an MCAT prep class during a semester while I was still taking my physics and o-chem classes (had already done bio and p-chem the semester before). At the begining of the course I did not do well on the practice test, even though I had studied from some of those prep books, but did very well after finishing the course.

It is a pricey option but was well worth it. Not only does the prep course cover the basic info necessary to do well on the test, it also teaches test taking strategies that can help improve your score even more. I took the Kaplan course, and taught a Princeton review bio course, and both are pretty equivalent in material covered and strategies taught.

It will pay better dividends to take the MCAT at the appropriate time in your undergrad education than to try to rush it. And I do advocate a prep course. When I was teaching Princeton they were talking about creating an intensive review course that went over mostly the test taking strategies, but I lost track of that long ago (residency leaves little time to keep up with those things), so I don't know if it ever got off the ground.

My biggest shock, though, came during the very first exam during medical school. Tests in medical school are not like anything you've ever experienced before, and many type-A's failed the first exam (luckily none decided to roof dive). Be prepared to work hard, study hard, and remember to play harder, 'cause time will be short! Good luck.
 

nontrdgsbuiucmd

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If you do "traditional" prereqs-before-MCAT, then you have a foundation on which the MCAT prep rests. The test prep becomes a well-contained project that bounces off what you already know. And that well-contained project takes smart people 3-6 months of 10-20 hrs/wk effort, in addition to money spent on structured prep courses. (See my mdapps comments for what happens when you don't put in this effort.)

By contrast, doing MCAT prep before you've seen the material is inefficient as test prep, and inefficient as knowledge acquisition. Good MCAT science prep is building the fact-recall and multiple-choice skills to answer for 4 years of science coursework in one sitting. Which has nothing to do with learning the material. Even if you're able to learn the science from review materials, it's going to take 2-3 times as long as review would take. In my view, what you'd be doing is learning about 30% of the prereq material for test prep, at a 300% cost compared to "normal" test prep, and this 30% will serve you about as well as high school science serves you when you get to college science. And I think the frustration level and slow improvement would drive me insane.

Now, can it be done? I can't tell you that. It's not uncommon for somebody to do this for ochem, but it's rare to do it for more than one subject. People have different goals for their score. People have different income sources and responsibilities to manage. Personally, I'd say a plan to start MCAT prep before prereqs, while enrolled in the first half of prereqs, without having any science before, is a weak plan.

Let us know how it goes.
I agree, and would like to respond w/personal experience - I've had success w/standardized tests (95-99th percentile) throughout my lengthy academic career, and passed some industry exams with quite low pass rates prior to prepping for the MCAT; therefore I figured by memorization or speed learning I could get through most premed courses in 7 months (including ochem 1&2) and self learn/memorize the rest from Kaplan course/review books in a month. It worked fairly well (27S), except that I got hammered in physiology, which was heavily tested on my MCAT version but not covered in my academic coursework. (it was reviewed by Kaplan) Even w/near photographic memory, one will find there is a limit to the number of "tidbits" one can learn without a framework to put them into - sure any of us can memorize a few hundred terms, how about 2,000 concepts? 5,000? In my opinion/experience, it takes the better part of all of the premed courses to fully synthesize the material and work sufficient problems to retain the core knowledge & excel at the MCAT.
 

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I tried to take the MCAT early with a similar tactic and bombed it. It is a bear of a test. I think you need the coursework and the bigtime, Kaplan (or whatever) studying to do well on it.
 

notdeadyet

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I think you need the coursework and the bigtime, Kaplan (or whatever) studying to do well on it.
Agree with the course work, disagree with prep review classes. Get some review books, a set of Exam Krackers and a whole lot of time and discipline and you're fine.

The prep classes, imho, are best suited for three types of people:

1) Those who'll slack if they're not forced into a schedule (then the class is a lifesaver)
2) Those who didn't understand the material the first time around (then the class will salvage bombing the test into getting a ho-hum score) or
3) Those who learned the material the first time a long time ago.
 

Lacheln

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Agree with the course work, disagree with prep review classes. Get some review books, a set of Exam Krackers and a whole lot of time and discipline and you're fine.

The prep classes, imho, are best suited for three types of people:

1) Those who'll slack if they're not forced into a schedule (then the class is a lifesaver)
2) Those who didn't understand the material the first time around (then the class will salvage bombing the test into getting a ho-hum score) or
3) Those who learned the material the first time a long time ago.
I agree, with one addition. I taught SAT, GRE and GMAT for Kaplan, and for students who are not natural test takers not only does the class teach the strategies (which may seem obvious to some, but not everyone), but, probably more importantly, builds confidence. Nerves can ruin a test you're otherwise prepared for.

That isn't a problem for me though, so clearly people differ.
 
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drimpossible

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Thanks for everyone's thoughtful input. I'm glad to hear that others were wondering about their own similar situation.

So what you guys recommend in terms of this scenario?

This summer, I'll have the largest block of available time for test prep. Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, this block of time occurs BEFORE I have completed most of my pre-reqs. I'm picking up a full set of Kaplan and EK books today, and I just ordered NOVA Physics and O.Chem as a Second Language online (per many SDNers recommendations).

I'd like to put as much time as I can in preparing for the MCAT, so if I take next year's July MCAT as gman33 recommended, do you guys have any suggestions on how I should be approaching this material given my lack of experience with it? I'm thinking about spending the summer going through the NOVA and O.Chem books page by page and transcribing them into my own study guide. As I mentioned in a previous post, I feel whatever I'm nailing down an understanding of now can only help my GPA in the upcoming school year.

Maybe focus on VR passages this summer?

Thanks, all!
 

notdeadyet

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I agree, with one addition. I taught SAT, GRE and GMAT for Kaplan, and for students who are not natural test takers not only does the class teach the strategies (which may seem obvious to some, but not everyone), but, probably more importantly, builds confidence. Nerves can ruin a test you're otherwise prepared for.
I agree with this if you are rolling in money. Otherwise, $1600 is a lot of cash to spend on "strategies" which you can get from a $20 book and "confidence" which you can build with practice tests, a stopwatch and time.

If you really need to help, either for practicing or strategies, you can privately hire a great tutor who teaches for Kaplan for about 160 hours for the same price as the course.
 

notdeadyet

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This summer, I'll have the largest block of available time for test prep. Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, this block of time occurs BEFORE I have completed most of my pre-reqs. I'm picking up a full set of Kaplan and EK books today, and I just ordered NOVA Physics and O.Chem as a Second Language online (per many SDNers recommendations).
Good book choices. I'd use EK as the main study source, using Kaplan for background. Kaplan texts are usually too dense for most people to flip through as they study. EK will give you 80% of it in a good format and you can use denser tomes to fill in the holes.
I'd like to put as much time as I can in preparing for the MCAT, so if I take next year's July MCAT as gman33 recommended, do you guys have any suggestions on how I should be approaching this material given my lack of experience with it?
Only study what you've already learned. Pre-studying is largely a waste of time. You can read through the stuff, by all means, but don't try to memorize things you haven't learned yet. Save that for after those courses.

As for studying the stuff you've already covered, I'm a huge proponent of flash cards.
Maybe focus on VR passages this summer?
Good plan. If you're not a reader, this can only help...
 

Lacheln

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I agree with this if you are rolling in money. Otherwise, $1600 is a lot of cash to spend on "strategies" which you can get from a $20 book and "confidence" which you can build with practice tests, a stopwatch and time.

If you really need to help, either for practicing or strategies, you can privately hire a great tutor who teaches for Kaplan for about 160 hours for the same price as the course.
Eh - I think some students really need the hand-holding of a class for confidence. Some people just really put stock in that, and/or classroom learning is more effective for them - maybe they're more auditory than visual. Not me, I didn't take the course, but I saw some students really benefit.

True dat about the cost and the benefit of the tutor though. If you really want a tutor find an independent one. After I quit Kaplan I did private tutoring for a little over half the price of Kaplan tutoring.

DrI - I know you want to use the summer productively, so some other options would be getting your hands on some of the course materials for your fall classes and getting a jump start on the reading, or general med school app stuff like researching schools, thinking about/outlining your essays. Or reviewing your chem class.
 

notdeadyet

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Eh - I think some students really need the hand-holding of a class for confidence. Some people just really put stock in that, and/or classroom learning is more effective for them - maybe they're more auditory than visual. Not me, I didn't take the course, but I saw some students really benefit.
Fair enough. I'm sure you're right. I guess I'm being a little reactionary. So many premeds have this attitude that if you don't take a Kaplan/TPR course, you're somehow shooting yourself in the foot. I don't know how much it's a product of premeds being a little bit lemming by nature and how much of it is Kaplan/TPR course marketing, but I think the value of those courses is way overstated for your average bear.

But as you rightly pointed out, not everyone is your average bear.
 
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drimpossible

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DrI - I know you want to use the summer productively, so some other options would be getting your hands on some of the course materials for your fall classes and getting a jump start on the reading, or general med school app stuff like researching schools, thinking about/outlining your essays. Or reviewing your chem class.
Some good ideas here. I just bought some used course books to get started on studying, and writing my PS/Secondary essays are a good idea. Once the semester starts, med school apps are going to take a backseat to a 4.0.

Now I'm weighing the advantages/disadvantages in taking an earlier MCAT (for the sake earlier AMCAS application submissions, plus the early test may qualify me for fall 2009 linkage) versus dedicating two solid months of MCAT prep after I complete my pre-reqs and applying later than is recommended.

I've seen the list of application deadlines, but what seems to be the industry standard in terms of how early you send them in? Is it like that "wait two days to call the girl" rule after you get her number? Not that I've had to use that rule in awhile or anything. :)
 

MaddieMay

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True dat about the cost and the benefit of the tutor though. If you really want a tutor find an independent one. After I quit Kaplan I did private tutoring for a little over half the price of Kaplan tutoring.
breeak,

How can I tell the difference between a rock star tutor like you and some yahoo who will take my money and suck out my will to live? ;)
 

Lacheln

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I've seen the list of application deadlines, but what seems to be the industry standard in terms of how early you send them in? Is it like that "wait two days to call the girl" rule after you get her number? Not that I've had to use that rule in awhile or anything. :)
The earlier the better, no playing hard to get. :) But a good MCAT score definitely trumps an early application.

Maddie - Word of mouth and references. I got almost all of my students from referrals from students who had taken the kaplan class with me. If you can't do that, the tutor should be able to provide AT LEAST 3 references that you can speak with on the phone. No email. And do actually call the refs. Also, be sure to get an idea of what the tutor's philosophy is and the type of student they have the most experience with. And of course if they don't seem up to par in the first session or two, DTMF.
 
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drimpossible

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The earlier the better, no playing hard to get. :) But a good MCAT score definitely trumps an early application.
I think that I'll have to wait to see what my Spring '09 practice MCAT scores look like before I decide whether I need one month of prep (mid June MCAT) versus two months prep (early July, but a seemingly late-ish app).

The science material should all be very fresh (as I'll have just finished an entire year of Bio, Physics, and O.Chem), and I'll already have have done a solid month of strictly MCAT prep over January's winter session.

Thanks to everyone who has helped me figure this out. :thumbup:
 

McSnappy

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In my opinion:
1. the MCAT is ~75% critical thinking and ~25% science knowledge
2. the practice tests on e-mcat.com are valid as predictors
3. the verbal section tells you a lot about how ready you are

In your shoes, I'd take a practice test on e-mcat.com right now. If your verbal number isn't already what you want it to be, then you have a lot more to worry about than science. Bottom line, as you go, your practice test numbers will show you whether your plan is working or not.

I totally understand that you don't want to lose any time, maybe because you think 30 is late. 30 is not late. You don't have to be in a hurry to slam your way into the next app season.

Typically folks who haven't taken any hard science seriously underestimate physics and o-chem. Typically these classes are the weeders that cause premeds to become biz majors. In my view, doing commando MCAT prep is going to double the amount of work you end up doing in the prereqs.

Regardless, best of luck to you.
Very good advice. I don't know about the commando MCAT prep, but the above said is good.

I do know of someone in my med school class who took the exam @ 32yo, english/history major who got a 31 based on taking the exam as a reading comprehension exam. meaning, the answers to the questions lie in the vignette and the words in the answers either support or do not support the vignette. Simple to say, more difficult to do. He had not taken either physics classes, not taken OChemII, and had no idea about genetics.
Advice: practice, practice, practice question after question after question... especially verbal. It will strengthen every other section of the exam.
 

rohara30

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If you're going to take the MCAT w/out having taken the classes yet, I think it is without question doable. Examcrackers really "dumbs it down" for the reader, for lack of a better phrase, but it's not as informative or in-depth as the Princeton Review CBT book. For what it's worth, I have both, and Princeton Review is far far far better in my opinion. I'd pick it up. It's worth the $60. But both books do so well "explaining" the science that you should be OK. Just buy an old edition of a university Bio, Chem, Phys, and Orgo texts for references. They'll be available for a few bucks on the web.

I more or less taught myself the sciences b/c my post-bacc professors were so bad. I actually used Examcrackers to prepare for exams as as a supplament to my class notes and texts and recommend it to anyone, although it should be noted that EC's books are littered w/ typos and very significant errors.

All that being said, I'm not sure why someone would want to take the MCAT before taking all their prereq's first. The classes at Rutgers will be significantly harder than CC classes, and believe me when I say orgo lab = hell. Hours and hours of hell. Medicine is a looooooooooooooooooong process, and taking the MCAT's that early really isn't going to save you much time in the long haul, and in case you have trouble teaching all the sciences to yourself, it won't be worth a bad score. I'd really concentrate your energy on the prereq's b/c w/out good grades, the MCAT is worthless anyway.
 

Lacheln

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Very good advice. I don't know about the commando MCAT prep, but the above said is good.

I do know of someone in my med school class who took the exam @ 32yo, english/history major who got a 31 based on taking the exam as a reading comprehension exam. meaning, the answers to the questions lie in the vignette and the words in the answers either support or do not support the vignette. Simple to say, more difficult to do. He had not taken either physics classes, not taken OChemII, and had no idea about genetics.
Advice: practice, practice, practice question after question after question... especially verbal. It will strengthen every other section of the exam.
I'm curious if you know his section breakdown? If I guessed, I would assume his verbal was high (12+?), BS was decent (10), PS was low (9?). Reason being, in my experience PS is most dependent on equations, although a lot of mechanics can be reasoned through in a word problem way. A balanced distribution is better. Mostly I'm just curious, it's an interesting experience. :)

I definitely agree that there are a lot of answers within the passages/setups, but the way the sections are converted from the raw score, each right answer matters more and more the higher score you want. This is obvious probably, but that's why reading comprehension skills can't get you into the noticeably high 35+ range - all those non-passage questions. And depending on what your application looks like, that high score might be critical.
 
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drimpossible

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All that being said, I'm not sure why someone would want to take the MCAT before taking all their prereq's first. The classes at Rutgers will be significantly harder than CC classes, and believe me when I say orgo lab = hell. Hours and hours of hell. Medicine is a looooooooooooooooooong process, and taking the MCAT's that early really isn't going to save you much time in the long haul, and in case you have trouble teaching all the sciences to yourself, it won't be worth a bad score. I'd really concentrate your energy on the prereq's b/c w/out good grades, the MCAT is worthless anyway.
Rohara, PM sent.
 

Archer

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Interesting thread -
I ended up taking the MCAT during the middle of August in the last week of my summer bio class (I had taken Pchem the previous summer intensively and Ochem and Physics during the interim school year. I didn't have time to study and it was extrememely difficult to schedule a seat to take the test. I took 2 timed practice exams on the computer the weekend before and scored 28P. I have an undergrad degree in English Lit from 1981.
This was the only thing missing in my application and it was soon enough - I start school in a month.

You will know more about this plan if you take a timed practice exam. I can't imagine taking it without the pre-req classes being done but after reading through this thread it seems like anything is possible. Best of luck!:luck:
 

McSnappy

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I'm curious if you know his section breakdown? If I guessed, I would assume his verbal was high (12+?), BS was decent (10), PS was low (9?). Reason being, in my experience PS is most dependent on equations, although a lot of mechanics can be reasoned through in a word problem way. A balanced distribution is better. Mostly I'm just curious, it's an interesting experience. :)

I definitely agree that there are a lot of answers within the passages/setups, but the way the sections are converted from the raw score, each right answer matters more and more the higher score you want. This is obvious probably, but that's why reading comprehension skills can't get you into the noticeably high 35+ range - all those non-passage questions. And depending on what your application looks like, that high score might be critical.
If I remember right, it was 13 verb, 10 BS, 8PS. Probably would have been a 35'r if he had taken the time to learn the material prior to exam. As it is, he picks up concepts extremely quickly. 248 Step 1;), as a non-science nerd:idea:
 

Lacheln

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If I remember right, it was 13 verb, 10 BS, 8PS. Probably would have been a 35'r if he had taken the time to learn the material prior to exam. As it is, he picks up concepts extremely quickly. 248 Step 1;), as a non-science nerd:idea:
Wow, I'm kind of surprised he got in. The overall is fine but that's a sub 10th percentile PS at pretty much every school and not an impressive BS either. Basically no science aptitude demonstrated. Glad he did well on the USMLE though, that's awesome. VR does supposedly correlate highly with USMLE performance.
 

notdeadyet

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Wow, I'm kind of surprised he got in. The overall is fine but that's a sub 10th percentile PS at pretty much every school and not an impressive BS either. Basically no science aptitude demonstrated.
Actually, the BS is above average for matriculants (or at least it was last year). That means it's better than about half of matriculants. The 8 is on the low side (I'd be curious where your sub 10th percentile comes from), but it's not shocking. I actually had an 8 in bio and was waitlisted at UCSF and had a good few acceptances elsewhere.

Don't buy into the SDN hype on figures. They're way skewed.
 

Lacheln

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Actually, the BS is above average for matriculants (or at least it was last year). That means it's better than about half of matriculants. The 8 is on the low side (I'd be curious where your sub 10th percentile comes from), but it's not shocking. I actually had an 8 in bio and was waitlisted at UCSF and had a good few acceptances elsewhere.

Don't buy into the SDN hype on figures. They're way skewed.
I'm getting those numbers based on the msar data, which, yes, is accepted not matriculant so a little higher. Not going by SDN hype. :)

The 8 is 10th percentile or lower for 93 schools out of 130, and below the median for all but 6 (including caribbean). The 10 is 10th percentile or below at 39 schools, and median or below at 81 schools.

I thought we were talking about how to do well on the mcat. I'm glad he had success (and you too!) but you have to admit it's not the norm and that plan of attack is probably is not a good recommendation for anyone who has a choice.
 

McSnappy

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I'm getting those numbers based on the msar data, which, yes, is accepted not matriculant so a little higher. Not going by SDN hype. :)

The 8 is 10th percentile or lower for 93 schools out of 130, and below the median for all but 6 (including caribbean). The 10 is 10th percentile or below at 39 schools, and median or below at 81 schools.

I thought we were talking about how to do well on the mcat. I'm glad he had success (and you too!) but you have to admit it's not the norm and that plan of attack is probably is not a good recommendation for anyone who has a choice.
If you search some of my threads, you will see some of my advice on "it is not all about the score".

Quickly: You need a strong score to feel comfortable with yourself, however, there are many doors into med school and one of them is THE score.
A door of similar if not more depth, but slightly narrower, is the LOR door. If you plan your LORs as well as you plan your study schedule and other habits, you will get a look and many times a second,third or fourth. (major theme - get a LOR from a rainmaker (Cardiology or other big name speciality that brings in major cash and other docs know those docs) @ the hospital assoc w/ the school you want. Get one from a member of an ethics committee member/doc, one from a doc that gives away their time in charity, one that teaches in the school, etc. This path comes from an old business and life school thought of, it's who you know...;)

There are others, but I am on firm ground with that one. Another is the rural door, but I won't go into that one.

I know I seem to hammer that point (score) in many of my threads, but as non-trads, you've got to know it is not all about that! Widen your circle of influence on that committee. The non-trads at out school rock in the clinics, have many times, more passion, more empathy, more focus, more insight...
 

notdeadyet

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I thought we were talking about how to do well on the mcat. I'm glad he had success (and you too!) but you have to admit it's not the norm and that plan of attack is probably is not a good recommendation for anyone who has a choice.
No, I wouldn't recommend getting 8's as a good plan of attack. Hell, I wouldn't recommend getting 12's either. Get 15's.

That said, if you have a strong GPA and strong overall MCAT, an 8 will probably not keep you out of medical school. It will keep you out of many medical schools (so get those 15's) but not all medical schools. And you only need one acceptance....