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Hi guys,I hope everyone is staying safe during this time. I am about to start studying for the MCAT and plan on taking it in January, so I have roughly 4 months to prepare. I've tried to look up 4 month schedules so I could follow it while making my own, but I'm not having too much luck. From what I've gathered, a lot of people suggest taking at least 2 months for content review.

My question to you is- did you take notes during content review? There is so much information from each source and I feel like it would just waste time taking notes in a separate notebook on whats already stated in the book, but I'm afraid I wont actually retain the information and be studying effectively? What did you do during content review to get through the material quick- but effective. Also, I've hear anki is a good place to look at review material, but I'm not familiar with this website. Do you recommend it? Thank you in advance!
 

GreenDuck12

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Anki is great for memorizing some high yield things that you just have to know. It is also very beneficial for knowing all the terms and concepts for the PS section of the exam since knowing all the terms and concepts is the baseline for doing well on that section.

As a tutor, I typically don't recommend the content heavy approach since I think the mcat is more about reasoning within complex passages about relatively simple chemical/physical/biological concepts. That being said, there are a lot of high yield concepts and there are many things that could be listed as a discreet question.

If you have 4 months, I would recommend doing the following:
6-8 weeks of content review using resources that provide *ample* opportunities to practice answering practice passage/discreet questions (TBR is an example of this).
Starting 4 weeks into content review, I recommend starting to take 3rd party practice MCAT exams to get used to the presentation, length, and format of the exam.
After 6-8 weeks, I recommend spending 4 weeks using UWorld under timed conditions to mimic full sections of the MCAT. UWorld has incredibly strong passages and answer explanations with are useful for identifying content gaps and errors in reasoning.
For the last month, I recommend only using AAMC materials (FL exams, section bank, question packs - especially the cars question pack) to get used to how the AAMC asks questions and presents information (which is unique and much more straight forward than 3rd party providers).
 
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goodtime

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I would take notes because you have enough time to prepare. Its because you will retain information better by writing it down and reviewing your own words. I think i made a mistake and started this late into prep.
 
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Aug 27, 2019
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Anki is great for memorizing some high yield things that you just have to know. It is also very beneficial for knowing all the terms and concepts for the PS section of the exam since knowing all the terms and concepts is the baseline for doing well on that section.

As a tutor, I typically don't recommend the content heavy approach since I think the mcat is more about reasoning within complex passages about relatively simple chemical/physical/biological concepts. That being said, there are a lot of high yield concepts and there are many things that could be listed as a discreet question.

If you have 4 months, I would recommend doing the following:
6-8 weeks of content review using resources that provide *ample* opportunities to practice answering practice passage/discreet questions (TBR is an example of this).
Starting 4 weeks into content review, I recommend starting to take 3rd party practice MCAT exams to get used to the presentation, length, and format of the exam.
After 6-8 weeks, I recommend spending 4 weeks using UWorld under timed conditions to mimic full sections of the MCAT. UWorld has incredibly strong passages and answer explanations with are useful for identifying content gaps and errors in reasoning.
For the last month, I recommend only using AAMC materials (FL exams, section bank, question packs - especially the cars question pack) to get used to how the AAMC asks questions and presents information (which is unique and much more straight forward than 3rd party providers).

Thank you SO much!! This is extremely helpful and clears up a lot of confusion for me. I have just purchased Kaplan books, so I'm hoping those will be okay instead of TBR. I also have flashcards that a friend gave me from AAMC & Barrons. Would you suggest just going over flashcards when I'm doing content review or after because I will have studied the material by then? Also, would you suggest taking notes? I'm still not sure what the best approach is. I know others have commented to take notes but I tend to be the type of student that takes really in depth notes & I'm afraid I'll just end up with the same info in the book.

Sorry for all of the questions, but thank you again! You've been a lot of help!
 
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I would take notes because you have enough time to prepare. Its because you will retain information better by writing it down and reviewing your own words. I think i made a mistake and started this late into prep.


Thats a really good point. My only hesitation is that I'm afraid I wont be able to decide what is important to write down from what I can skip & will end up writing everything down from the book. Any advice?
 

GreenDuck12

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Kaplan is fine - they have very condensed materials that cover the major topics covered in the exam. That being said, reading Kaplan is a very passive approach - taking notes is only slightly more active. I would recommend using much more active learning strategies: concept mapping, reteaching, story writing for pathways, etc. make sure you use some KA free passage questions as you go to practice and refresh what you reviewed. I would shorten the timeline above from 6-8 weeks to 4 weeks.
 
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6-8 weeks to 4 weeks.
Hi, I am also in the same situation as OP. I seem to have forgotten a lot of content that I learned (bio and chem, took it freshman year), would 6-8 weeks of Kaplan content be good for me, so that I can relearn all the important information. Of course, the 6-8 weeks includes all the books. I also signed up for the MCAT course (I heard its good in the sense that it forces you to make a schedule). Thank you so much!
 
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As a tutor, I typically don't recommend the content heavy approach since I think the mcat is more about reasoning within complex passages about relatively simple chemical/physical/biological concepts
May I ask, why do you not recommend the content-heavy approach? I don't recall a lot of the information I learned in the past, and I also neeed help in making a schedule. Will be using Kaplan and pre-made Anki decks for the first 2 months (balance between school).
 

GreenDuck12

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May I ask, why do you not recommend the content-heavy approach? I don't recall a lot of the information I learned in the past, and I also neeed help in making a schedule. Will be using Kaplan and pre-made Anki decks for the first 2 months (balance between school).

The MCAT isn't really a test of memorization but rather how well you read to understand a situation, interpret graphs and figures, and apply basic chemical/physical/biological concepts to scenarios. What I find is that many folks spend 2/3 to 3/4 of their time doing content review, when they would be much better served spending more time trying to apply what they know by answering questions. Also note that just because you have moved on from the content phase does NOT mean that you are done reviewing content. You will be doing content review up until the day you take the exam. I just recommend making the transition to applying the concepts and knowledge you have earlier than later. Keep in mind that if you use the resources I recommended, you will answer several thousand discreet and passage based questions.
 

maikelm

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These are all excellent points.

I'm currently in a similar boat as @postponemastudentloan since I will start studying now with the intentions of taking the MCAT in early 2021. Granted, this is my third time taking the MCAT. I took it once in 2016 and once in 2017. I graduated with my bachelors of science in Biology in 2016, so I have some content to refresh in my head.

I took the Kaplan course in 2016 actually, and it was not the best investment for me personally. While I agree with @HighYieldContent that it forces you to make a schedule, some of the stuff they teach you was a waste. I warn you now to take the CARS information from Kaplan cautiously. They fluff it up with extra stuff and their methodologies are pretty ineffective and I feel they are a huge waste of time.

I will be purchasing The Princeton Review (TPB) stuff actually, because it will give me a fresh perspective on things. It's another financial investment, but I feel Kaplan wasn't the best option for me. I still have some of their 2nd edition books, so I may use these Kaplan books intermittently. Considering I'm working full-time, my schedule might be a bit different than some other people.

Regarding Anki, I recently started using it and it is amazing. Their algorithm is excellent to help you memorize things. There is a free app for Mac. I think you have to purchase an app for iPhone or Android - I might do that later actually. Anki is good for memorization, but application is where everything comes together, especially for the MCAT.

Best of luck everyone!
Maikel
 
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MCAT review should minimize content review time when possible. 4-6 weeks is fine. Anything over is excessive. It’s understandable to obsesses over content but ultimately practice is far more important. Anki is good but it too is passive learning and does not replace uworld, third party tests (the more the better) and AMCAS material.
 
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MCAT review should minimize content review time when possible. 4-6 weeks is fine. Anything over is excessive. It’s understandable to obsesses over content but ultimately practice is far more important. Anki is good but it too is passive learning and does not replace uworld, third party tests (the more the better) and AMCAS material.

Hi! My only problem is (this might be normal but I don't have any other premed friends to ask) I feel like I don't remember anything from my prereqs & I'm afraid that when I'm reading over things I might not actually have it memorized. Would you suggest doing problems? I have Kaplan books & do the problems at the end of each chapter but it's only 15 questions. I'd love to have more questions to practice that go by each subject so I know for sure that I'm retaining the information. I've been told not to get Uworld until I'm done w content review because they're difficult questions. What would you suggest for practice? I just want to make sure I'm retaining the information.
 

maikelm

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Hi! My only problem is (this might be normal but I don't have any other premed friends to ask) I feel like I don't remember anything from my prereqs & I'm afraid that when I'm reading over things I might not actually have it memorized. Would you suggest doing problems? I have Kaplan books & do the problems at the end of each chapter but it's only 15 questions. I'd love to have more questions to practice that go by each subject so I know for sure that I'm retaining the information. I've been told not to get Uworld until I'm done w content review because they're difficult questions. What would you suggest for practice? I just want to make sure I'm retaining the information.

Ironically, I have to go back a few years for my prerequisites as well.

I think doing practice problems is a good idea to assess your learning, however it might be testing your short term memory. Especially when the questions come right after the content. Just tossing some ideas here.

1) Maybe complete the questions after a day or two to assess your retention. You might get lucky finding practice questions free here and there (maybe through a Google search) that pertain to the subject. They are very unlikely to be in similar standards to MCAT questions though.
2) A good way to assess your retention is by teaching this information to someone. Assuming you are a student right now, maybe you can talk to the free tutors on campus (or virtually)? As a tutor in the past, I loved when students came in and just started tossing ideas and drawing things. I would help fill the gap here and there.
3) You can literally take a topic and draw/write out what you remember. Doing that over and over again may be tedious, but I think it will ensure retention. I think over time content will be engrained. This is how some people study for courses, so be cautious that you don't invest a huge amount of time here.
 
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Hi! My only problem is (this might be normal but I don't have any other premed friends to ask) I feel like I don't remember anything from my prereqs & I'm afraid that when I'm reading over things I might not actually have it memorized. Would you suggest doing problems? I have Kaplan books & do the problems at the end of each chapter but it's only 15 questions. I'd love to have more questions to practice that go by each subject so I know for sure that I'm retaining the information. I've been told not to get Uworld until I'm done w content review because they're difficult questions. What would you suggest for practice? I just want to make sure I'm retaining the information.
My method for content review was more or less:
  1. Read 2 chapters of Kaplan or some pages of 300 pg document (I forget how long it took me to get through, but I think I did 100/day).
  2. Do anki reviews for the day + associated new anki cards with said chapters
  3. Do uworld questions for what I learned the PREVIOUS day. 50 is a good number. You'll still likely have many leftover questions, and can redo if you want to anyway. Avoid doing stuff from the current day because you will most likely remember it.
Once this was done,I immediately started doing weekly unofficial full lengths (imho 6+ is good. I did 9 but I had more time vs others) and doing uworld. I finished uworld and said full lengths roughly at the same time and have started my last month by doing all AAMC material. I have been doing reviews for all my anki cards, and adding more cards for material that has been a struggle for me.
 
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GreenDuck12

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Hi! My only problem is (this might be normal but I don't have any other premed friends to ask) I feel like I don't remember anything from my prereqs & I'm afraid that when I'm reading over things I might not actually have it memorized. Would you suggest doing problems? I have Kaplan books & do the problems at the end of each chapter but it's only 15 questions. I'd love to have more questions to practice that go by each subject so I know for sure that I'm retaining the information. I've been told not to get Uworld until I'm done w content review because they're difficult questions. What would you suggest for practice? I just want to make sure I'm retaining the information.

Check out Khan Academy passages and questions. They are free and will give you feedback on what you’re understanding and missing. Other materials offer more in-depth practice (TB, Next Step).

When I was setting up my prep plan, I also did not feel like I was solid on the content from my prereqs. What I found is that by reading review chapters I would remember some details, pick up some new things, and then promptly forget it again. I really only solidified my understanding of a top by trying to reason through questions and answers, drawing concept maps, and trying to teach topic to my dog (sounds silly but it works). Very rarely will the MCAT ask you to recall an obscure detail. But it will frequently test your understanding of broad concepts and trends that are presented through a specific application in a passage and in data tables. As you transition to doing UWorld and FL 3rd party exams, content review will look different. It’ll be more targeted to the topics that you are struggling with most frequently.
 
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