How well could you do on the mcat if money was no object

goldy490

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Just curious how much you think MCAT score is influenced by resources at your disposal. Like if you took a random middle of the road premed and paid for the finest tutors and best prep materials, could he/she produce a 40+ score? Or would it eventually reach diminishing returns?
 

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Ability and desire to do well will trump the best tutor in the world every time.

I've seen people dump ~$4000 on the most expensive plan from certain test companies, yet have no desire to study or try their hardest to master the material. They end up scoring in the ~50th percentile.
 
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Money is only helpful for purchasing AAMC practice tests and private practice tests.
High test scores come from (in order of importance): mastery of material, test taking skills, and luck.

To be in the top percentile you just need to put in the work.

1. Master the material
2. Spend 3 months doing MCAT prep; 6-8 hours a day
3. Take the MCAT

Would the world's best tutors make the struggling premed have better memory recall or problem solving skills?

At best they can facilitate her understanding of the material. Maybe motivate her to study more. But she has to put in the work herself.
 
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Easonred57

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I could only afford to buy one MCAT practice book. It brought my score up by 7 points from the baseline. I imagine if I could shell out $1000+ for a prep class, I could have done better.
 
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goldy490

goldy490

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I was more wondering if the person did work very hard, at what point other factors like luck or intelligence come into play. I had a friend who spent nearly $10,000 on a team of private tutors so that he effectively had 8 hours of subject specific tutoring a day for 4 months. And he still couldn't get above a 30.

Bad study habits? Or things you just cant control?
 

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Just curious how much you think MCAT score is influenced by resources at your disposal. Like if you took a random middle of the road premed and paid for the finest tutors and best prep materials, could he/she produce a 40+ score? Or would it eventually reach diminishing returns?
MCAT prep courses are a waste of time & money.
just get the review books and prep by yourself.
 

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I was more wondering if the person did work very hard, at what point other factors like luck or intelligence come into play. I had a friend who spent nearly $10,000 on a team of private tutors so that he effectively had 8 hours of subject specific tutoring a day for 4 months. And he still couldn't get above a 30.

Bad study habits? Or things you just cant control?
Sounds like you already have your answer then!
 
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tea guzzling traveler

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I think the advantage of money being no object would be the ability to focus completely on the MCAT and getting review books and practice tests. Still glad I self studied though (felt that the prep class would have been a waste of time and money)
 
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Dr. Death

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I would find someone really smart who looks like me and pay them to take the test and prep for me. If someone came to me with that offer (assuming I had no interest in med school myself) I would charge about 20k. What would you guys charge?
 

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Short of paying someone off to get my score changed, taking the test with an answer key, or getting to see the exam early, I don't think I could have done much better. I bought the Kaplan Books/Practice Tests/AAMC Practice Tests and maxed out on what I could do. More books/tests/a class wouldn't have helped me.
 

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I was more wondering if the person did work very hard, at what point other factors like luck or intelligence come into play. I had a friend who spent nearly $10,000 on a team of private tutors so that he effectively had 8 hours of subject specific tutoring a day for 4 months. And he still couldn't get above a 30.
That $10K could've been used in a much more productive way. Goes to show that tutoring/prep classes are essentially a waste of time and money.

There are obviously many factors involved in doing well on the MCAT, and having more money isn't one of them (besides the obvious of buying more practice tests).
 

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No, not everyone is capable of a 40+ score. (*gasp*!)

There are some skills (e.g., critical thinking, language ability, problem solving) that are extremely hard to improve.

Let's take someone who has never spoken a word of English until he was 28. Getting this person to a 40+ would probably be pretty hard (no matter the time/resources) because of the verbal section (not to mention, reading the passages on the science sections would be hard too).

Likewise, some people are just naturally more "intellectually gifted" (define this however you want - whether it be better critical thinking skills, better analysis skills, better problem-solving skills, etc.) than others. To make things easy, let's say IQ is a general measure of intellectual ability. If you take someone with a 220 IQ who is a native English speaker, s/he could probably reach a 40+ if given enough time/resources/prep. However, if you took someone with a 20 IQ, I doubt unlimited time/resources/prep would help much.
 

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Then why do students who take kaplan/any courses have a wide range of scores? Why don't they all score high
 

el_duderino

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I feel I could have gotten another 5 points or so if I had had the time and inclination to devote more time to studying. As it was, I was working full time and and taking classes half-time when I took the MCAT.
 

Glazedonutlove

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I was more wondering if the person did work very hard, at what point other factors like luck or intelligence come into play. I had a friend who spent nearly $10,000 on a team of private tutors so that he effectively had 8 hours of subject specific tutoring a day for 4 months. And he still couldn't get above a 30.

Bad study habits? Or things you just cant control?
that's a year of college tuition... wow
 
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I would say it's more about time than money. I honestly think I maxed out after about 2.5 months of studying, the only variation I saw in my practice scores near the end was a little statistical jiggle.
 

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Bribe my way to a perfect score with trillions of dollars and destroy the economy.
 

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I would find someone really smart who looks like me and pay them to take the test and prep for me. If someone came to me with that offer (assuming I had no interest in med school myself) I would charge about 20k. What would you guys charge?
This would be a one-shot deal, though, because they have a fingerprint database linked to your identity. Prometric thought of this already.
 
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Eh

I guess I could see some improvement with private tutors where your really getting the information tailored to you.

But past that, it doesn't matter. You can find a lot of resources online for free (some not legally). Its all about the time and effort you put into it. Nobody can force you to understand or learn the info.

My example is I took a prep class in the summer before my senior year, made a 27. Then I took the MCAT again almost 5 years later, with pre-reqs not fresh at all, while taking classes and working...made a 32. Was a lot more diligent about studying, had a focused study plan (that I adapted from here), learned about what people thought worked well and what didn't, etc. I think the only thing I spent money on was the AAMC tests, partially due to some illegal lifting (sorry to a certain test prep company...I'll pay you back later).

And I felt like that was about my peak with a few points here or there.
 

feather421

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When I was doing MCAT prep, I remember looking up individual tutors and seeing that they were in the high thousands (for not that many hours!!!). Though maybe not literally EVERYONE could score a 35+, you guys have to admit that having one-one-one personal attention would significantly improve your chances of doing so.

When I took a prep course, I increased my score by ~6 points in 1.5 months, which makes me sound like an informercial. What changed wasn't my level of content prep (it stayed pretty much the same), but my test taking skills, strategies, confidence, and focus on high yield information. That stuff is really hard to get out of a book, and its importance varies for how naturally gifted you are at taking tests. I work full time, so I'd saved up for that class, but it really did give me appreciation for people who couldn't afford to do so. I realize how big an impact money had on my own stats, so I'd be foolish to roll my eyes at people who didn't have the opportunity to try those courses and say "It doesn't matter."

Then why do students who take kaplan/any courses have a wide range of scores? Why don't they all score high
My thought is that there's a score they would've gotten without Kaplan, and the score they got with Kaplan. The second is likely higher? So having a couple thousand can boost you a couple points on the MCAT up from where you'd be on your own, like a lot of people who can't afford prep classes. Hence admissions policies that take things like SES into account.
 
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I was going to ask if anyone took the prep classes and if they felt it was beneficial.
I'm considering it for maybe next year- I might wait a year beyond that, depending on the courses I can finish.
Even adapting a study plan, I wonder if the structure of a class wouldn't be beneficial.
I guess I will see how I feel about it later.
 

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Well, let's see...I spent a few hundred on my prep books, but I did find the pdfs online for free (made it easier to pull figures for flashcards), I just wanted the latest editions and I don't really like stealing. Also, my school's library used to have prep books in it, I just didn't happen to be in undergrad when I took it.

I used the 3 self assessments and 4 or 5 AAMCs, but one of those was free, several more were available in pdfs online, just less convenient, and I really don't think I needed all of them.

I worked 1 full time job and 1 part time job during my studying, so I didn't sacrifice salary.

I would not have scored higher with more prep or money.

You don't need tons of funds to rock the MCAT. You need focus and a certain level of test-taking skill.
 

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The same. Classes are useless anyways.

If I had more time and less commitments? Probably 2-3 points higher.
 
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Prep materials isn't what limited me, it was time! If I had enough money to take time off work and study (rather than working 40-60 hour weeks) then I likely would have done better. I ended up completely winging one section and prioritizing high yield topics for the other 3.
 

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I spent 200 bucks in self study books and had a bargain basement level education prior and still got a 35. It's about how you use the resources available to you and how disciplined you are, not how much money you spend. I studied 40 hours a week for months while working full time- the MCAT was my second job.
 
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Prep materials isn't what limited me, it was time! If I had enough money to take time off work and study (rather than working 40-60 hour weeks) then I likely would have done better. I ended up completely winging one section and prioritizing high yield topics for the other 3.
Can you give an example of what you mean by high yield? I am just in my pre- req courses so haven't started studying MCAT yet.
 

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The very existence of this thread and the time/money many spent studying for this test further supports its de emphasis / elimination.
 

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Can you give an example of what you mean by high yield? I am just in my pre- req courses so haven't started studying MCAT yet.
You'll figure out what's high yield when you start taking AAMC practice tests. It's hard to explain unless you've done some practice passages, unfortunately.
 
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Glazedonutlove

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I self studied and was fine. I think prep courses are an absolute waste of money unless one doesn't have motivation to put in the hours.

If you do self study though, make sure you prepare well so later you don't say "if I had more time I would have done better" blabla. This is the mcat, prepare to the best of your ability the first time.
 

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The very existence of this thread and the time/money many spent studying for this test further supports its de emphasis / elimination.
Really? Because nearly everyone on here who has actually taken the exam says more money would not change things much, if at all.

The MCAT is the great equalizer. Getting rid of that would go further to harm those who are disadvantaged in some way than it would help.
 

el_duderino

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The very existence of this thread and the time/money many spent studying for this test further supports its de emphasis / elimination.
How so?

If anything, I think this thread supports the idea that most reasonably intelligent people can do well on the MCAT (30+) given a sufficient level of dedication and preparation.. and really, for med school, dedication and preparation are extremely important.
 

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The MCAT is the great equalizer. Getting rid of that would go further to harm those who are disadvantaged in some way than it would help.
There is no such thing as a great equalizer in education. Education itself is supposed to be an equalizer, but if you look at SES trends it's clear that it isn't.

People are getting stuck on the idea that more money= more prep materials, but more money=more time off work= more time to study. The MCAT isn't an equalizer when one applicant can study for 4 months with just a part-time (or no) job and another can't. It's the same issue with gpa.
 

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Time you have to study is a much bigger factor than money is when concerning the MCAT. Save 300 something dollars and buy the full TBR set and princeton hyperlearning. No expensive, overrated Kaplan course required.
 
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p0gono

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Time you have to study is a much bigger factor than money is when concerning the MCAT. Save 300 something dollars and buy the full TBR set and princeton hyperlearning. No expensive, overrated Kaplan course required.
I dunno, everyone is different. I know folks who scored in the 40s after studying full-time for just a couple weeks before the exam. Your education background is important, your prep is important, time is important, it just depends.
 
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mehc012

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There is no such thing as a great equalizer in education. Education itself is supposed to be an equalizer, but if you look at SES trends it's clear that it isn't.

People are getting stuck on the idea that more money= more prep materials, but more money=more time off work= more time to study. The MCAT isn't an equalizer when one applicant can study 4 months with just a part-time job and another can't. It's the same issue with gpa.
It's easier to take a few months off than a few years.
Besides, I strongly disagree that working full-time is at all a barrier to achieving a high MCAT score. I've seen too many people accomplish it.
 

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I get that we all have commitments. Some have full time jobs, I had full time class and research and a part time job. I think it's up to us to manage our tjme and prepare to the best of our abilities

I know the people in this thread did amazing so idk what you're complaining about ;)
 

Gandyy

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I dunno, everyone is different. I know folks who scored in the 40s after studying full-time for just a couple weeks before the exam. Your education background is important, your prep is important, time is important, it just depends.
Honestly I think your natural intelligence and your educational background from K-12 is the most important factor when it comes to your MCAT score. This of course is assuming every applicant is able to put in a considerable amount of time that will allow them to reach a score close to their potential ceiling.
 

Glazedonutlove

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It's easier to take a few months off than a few years.
Besides, I strongly disagree that working full-time is at all a barrier to achieving a high MCAT score. I've seen too many people accomplish it.
Well taking off work may not be an option if you are supporting yourself. And it is a barrier, but I still think one could start prep like 9 months in advance if necessary
 

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It's easier to take a few months off than a few years.
Besides, I strongly disagree that working full-time is at all a barrier to achieving a high MCAT score. I've seen too many people accomplish it.
It's certainly a hindrance. Taking time off wasn't an option for me at all, nor was cutting back hours at work.
Well taking off work may not be an option if you are supporting yourself. And it is a barrier, but I still think one could start prep like 9 months in advance if necessary
Prepping super early helps, but it's not equivalent to prepping full-time in the few months before. In my experience, there was so much material on the new MCAT that studying for 10-15 hours each week 9 months in advance wasn't super helpful, because by the time I got around to taking full-length tests I would forget a lot of the material I reviewed months prior.

I don't think anyone means to complain (I certainly don't), just offer up different perspectives for an important discussion.
 

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It depends on more than time. Like gandy said, prior education and how fast you are at memorizing, problem solving skills - all of those are factors. Some are fine working full time and scoring well and some need to study a little more. We all have different strengths. You have to know yourself and know what works for you. If that means prep class go for it.
 

Affiche

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I think it's up to us to manage our tjme and prepare to the best of our abilities
I think it's important to note that "to the best of our abilities" is vastly different for different people, especially the non-trad crowd. Some applicants are dependent on an overtime paycheck and have demanding responsibilities at home as well.

It depends on more than time. Like gandy said, prior education and how fast you are at memorizing, problem solving skills - all of those are factors. Some are fine working full time and scoring well and some need to study a little more. We all have different strengths. You have to know yourself and know what works for you. If that means prep class go for it.
I wouldn't recommend a prep class to anyone lol.
 
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Gandyy

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It's certainly a hindrance. Taking time off wasn't an option for me at all, nor was cutting back hours at work.

Prepping super early helps, but it's not equivalent to prepping full-time in the few months before. In my experience, there was so much material on the new MCAT that studying for 10-15 hours each week 9 months in advance wasn't super helpful, because by the time I got around to taking full-length tests I would forget a lot of the material I reviewed months prior.

I don't think anyone means to complain (I certainly don't), just offer up different perspectives for an important discussion.
Yea, but you still did pretty well :)
 

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Yea, but you still did pretty well :)
Not my point lol. My point is that at some point, for some applicants, it becomes a wiser decision to score "good enough" on the MCAT (sacrifice a few points) to make sure they have money to live on/aren't neglecting other important obligations. To assume that everyone has an equal chance to score to their highest capability on the MCAT is ignorant, at best.