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Just how much scientific detail does the MCAT require??

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JulianCrane

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I have been studying the gen chem sections in the big Flowers and Silver Princeton Review book. Is this book sufficient for MCAT review or should I re-read all my science textbooks for the exam?? (something I'd prefer NOT to do) Sometimes, when I don't remember the details about electrochem or atomic theory, I panic. What to do?? I do plan to study for the test on my own and to not take a prep course. Help!!
 

omores

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Use a combination of both the MCAT review book and your textbooks.

You don't want to simply reread your textbooks. Not only would this be agonizing, it also wouldn't be an efficient use of your time -- you need to focus on the holes in your knowledge, not recapitulate what you already know well.

My method of studying (and I use it in medical school as well) is to rely upon review materials and practice tests heavily, for two reasons: First, to refresh my memory for material that I understand pretty well but that is a bit hazy from disuse (i.e., no problem with the concepts, just the details). And second, to identify areas where I need to do some relearning (i.e., both concepts and details). When these latter deficits appear, I turn to my textbooks and reread the sections in question. Textbooks present information in a detailed, narrative form that helps me understand concepts fully. Review materials, conversely, are usually concise and spare, which makes them perfect for helping you recall the details of material you already understand in theory.

In my experience, the MCAT focused more on concepts than on details, but often you had to recognize the details to be able to understand the concept being discussed. Still, you'll be far better off with a broad, solid grasp of a range of concepts than you will be with a headfull of out-of-context minutiae.

Good luck!
 

Bikini Princess

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I remember reading the Betz guide that my mom bought from a garage sale :), which is an earlier version of the flowers and silber book. My experience was that this book covered a good 90% of what you need to know...

There's important things to know (ie P=F/A, F=ma, GT=AC etc) and then there's less important things to know, like the fact that LH levels spike in the 14th day of the mentrual cycle, one day prior to ovulation. Get the idea? Focus on the basic concepts, not the detail, and you should do well.
 

Drako

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The MCAT requires you to know the basic concepts. The details will be in the passages and you will have to dig through them to find what you need. That is the nature of the exam.

However, it would only help you if you know all that you could know (notice I don't say "all that you have to know") because it will give you a time advantage on the exam b'c you won't have to dig through the passage as deeply as if you don't know the details already.

An example from my personal experience. I had Virology. On the MCAT, there was a Virology passage. I went straight to the questions and finished that passage in a few minutes. I gained time. (of course I went back to read the passage briefly to make sure the information in there matches what I knew and it did)
 
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