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Kaplan or Princeton?

Discussion in 'MCAT: Medical College Admissions Test' started by DaveinDallas, Apr 10, 2004.

  1. DaveinDallas

    10+ Year Member

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    Hi all,

    Well, it's time for me to start choosing which review course to take, Princeton (TPR) or Kaplan.

    So, I call both today and here are my first impressions:

    Kaplan:

    Seemed professional - I was routed through to a graduate advisor who spent about 20 minutes on the phone describing the review class, actually took my name and email and forwarded some things to me for my perusal.


    Course seems to be a high level review of concepts. Standardized at all locations, available online if you miss one. You've got time between class sessions to study and you can then use your class time to clear up areas of ambiguity.

    TPR:

    Felt like I was calling an 800 number to order TimeLife books. Not a good professional feel at all. Didn't bother to get my name/contact info. When I asked questions, the answers came back at me at about 1.5 times the receiveable data rate. There was no expansion on questions, just "Here's the answer".

    The course seems to be teaching you the subject from the ground up with an eye towards the MCAT. This program is 4 days a week for 3.5 hours and I'm wondering how you do outside study during that time. It does have a payment plan which is good but I'm just not sure.

    My situation: Most of my prereqs were within the last two years (all A's) but at community colleges. My physics I and II were from 19 years ago (B and C respectively). In my recent coursework, I learned the material by reading the book and digging into it myself. When I had questions, I asked the instructor but found that I needed time to sit down with the material myself, rather than just listen in class. I guess I get bored easy and tended to zone out in class.

    Anyway, if anyone has taken either the TPR or Kaplan, would you mind sharing your views on the course and any input on which might be a better fit for me?
     
  2. I don't know anything about Princeton Review's MCAT prep class. I took Kaplan, and was quite pleased with it. The review lectures were decent (especially the o-chem one!), but what really helped were the lecture notes, which were very well-organized and easy-to-follow.

    What really, REALLY helped, though, was being able to take practice full-length MCATs every Saturday morning, in the very same room that the actual MCAT was going to be held. The practice tests were proctored and everything, and we'd receive our grades by the next Monday (with comments on our essays too).
     
  3. jeffsleepy

    jeffsleepy Senior Member
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    I just finished with the Princeton Review. I don't know much about kaplan but from what I've heard, PR gives you more actual in class time. Other than the verbal, lectures are usually spent reviewing the material rather than going over strategies. The instructors are usually quite good, althrough some are better than others. It seems like you would rather study mostly by yourself rather than sit through class. If that's the case, then you'll probably get bored. I found that reviewing the material helped me a lot, however, since I was already pretty good at the test taking skills. Anyways, I'm happy with my progress so far and don't feel like I wasted my money. And as always, the proctored practice exams help the most.

    I recommend you not base your decision on one phone call, however. Go to both places and check them out.
     
  4. UDbiochem

    UDbiochem Senior Member
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    I took Kaplan. Most helpful things about it are the amount of resources they give you and the full length practice exams. Painful... but helpful.

    Both Kaplan and TPR are probably pretty similar. I chose mine based on the days that it met since it was during the semester.
     
  5. nikibean

    nikibean Tip your guide.
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    Blade, UD-

    How did your actual score compare with your Kaplan prep scores? I did really well on 3 and went down on 4, 5. Ick. My verbal was consistent on 2, 3, 6, 7.
    I've heard lots of different views, but I'm just curious about yours. Please let me know, I'm frightened!
     
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  6. Delphium

    Delphium Senior Member
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    I dont thinkk there is any point in taking a prep class but judging by practice material, I would definitely take TPR over Kaplan. Kaplan has the crappiest, most worthless practice tests ever.
     
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  7. UDbiochem

    UDbiochem Senior Member
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    I'll let you know after i take the mcat on saturday. The kaplan exams were really hard and impossibly long, but i took 4 or 5 of those with scores from 27 to 31, and got a 35 on the 5R. Kaplan is definitely harder than the real thing.

    I'm glad i took a class, but when i think back, i really did tons of studying outside of class, so i probably could have just done it myself. The only thing that helped me was the resources. The classes weren't that amazing, except my chem/phys teacher who was great. If you have the time and money, take a class. If the price is too high, just get materials by yourself or ask a friend who has the class resources they're done with. I'm pretty sure i'll do ok on the mcat and that will be due to my hard work, not kaplan necessarily.
     
  8. DaveinDallas

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    For those of you who took Kaplan or Princeton, how deep did the review material go for each? My concern is that I'll zone in class and won't get enough time to study and really be behind.

    Also, I've heard that the TPR centers are franchises whereas Kaplan is not. Any truth to that?

    I've been playing with online MCATs and not seriously doing a program of study at this point and I'm a little nervous with the sheer amount of material that I need to cover in 3 months.

    Was Princeton too minutiae oriented? Did Kaplan cover enough depth?

    I think I will visit both centers and see how I like them.

    BTW - about how much time outside of the review class are you spending studying?

    The current plan is to take a class that meets two nights a week - if it's Princeton, get the one that meets two nights a week and 2.5 hours each saturday/sunday. That way I can have time with the family the other nights of the week and study after the kiddos are off to bed. Working full time days means studying or reviewing over lunch. This is about to be a full court press.

    Also, I'm just coming off of OChem which was immediately preceded by Gen. Chem (I and II). It's one thing to learn the concepts and work though that. What's the difference between learning them for the first time in a classroom situtation and preparing for the MCAT?
     
  9. I think I started off around the mid-20s (first diagnostic), gradually moved up to the high-20s and low-30s throughout the course, and ended up scoring in the mid-30s on the last practice test and real MCAT.

    Let me know if you have more questions. (Disclaimer: I took the MCAT a while ago, back in 1999.)
     
  10. NRAI2001

    NRAI2001 3K Member
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    I took TPR and they were really really really good ( I don't know if they are all that good, or just the one in berkeley). I heard the Kaplan (in berkeley) is not very good but my TPR teacher said he took kaplan and it is better in other cities. I guess each center is unique, you should find out from people who have taken it in ur city.
     
  11. nikibean

    nikibean Tip your guide.
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    Actually, I'm taking a class from the Kaplan center in Berkeley, and my instructor is a GOD. His name is Petros (okay, I've just totally identified myself, and hi brenna if you're online).

    So, I think it depends on the instructor. He totally knows is sh#t, and if anyone is thinking remotely about taking the course from Kaplan, MAKE SURE you get his class. He's incredible. He just got into a MA in ed at Harvard, and is deciding between that and Med school - and he'd go to med school to become an instructor. The man is a natural, and should by all means do it.
    What I like is that he takes time with each student and is always available. He is extremely encouraging, and not only knows what he's talking about with science, he knows how to convey it to an individual learning style. To top it off, he's been teaching MCAT for 5 years. I feel fortunate to have had him for an instructor, and I know that others feel the same. I have no idea what people think about the others, but I've heard various comments.

    I'm sure TPR is good too. It depends on your learning style. I work my a$$ off every day from 6am-8am and then from either 12-8pm or 5-8pm depending on my class schedule, working on physical and bio science, so I'm more of a self-study type and knew I'd be taking two difficult classes, plus research plus volunteering this semester - so I started in October and did a 1 night/week thing. I've been also working with Exam Krackers books.
    To me, it seems, it doesn't matter what you do as long as you do something, since most people are taking a prep course, so the playing field isn't as level as you think. And even more important is to do as MANY PRACTICE EXAMS AS YOU CAN. get your stamina up.
    Carbo-load the night before, too, dammit.
    Peace and good luck to anyone dealing with this beastie. I am fantasizing about what I'm going to do with my "free" time after this (aside from studying for my next Ochem and Physics midterms). :eek:
     
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  12. jhk43

    jhk43 Senior Member
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    TPR Hyperlearning lecture notes are #1. they teach via socratic method (ie, ask you questions to ensure thorough understanding).

    dunno about classes and fake questions. only aamc's tests are real.
     
  13. jeffsleepy

    jeffsleepy Senior Member
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    ahahaha.... wow... my instructors at PR said that Petros didn't know what he was talking about. He teaches verbal right? To each his own I suppose. I think we should settle this once and for all by taking the average of all the April MCAT scores. The loser has to move out of Berkeley.
     
  14. nikibean

    nikibean Tip your guide.
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    Well, he teaches everything.
    And I dont want to get into some petty argument over who's instructor is better, like I said, I'm sure your instructors work for you and are good for your learning style.
    And as a side note, I've been scoring an average of 11-13 on my practice tests without using kaplan strategies, just my own. Since I spent the majority of my undergraduate years deconstructing feminist and literary theory, which in the former case involves a fusion of studies, I'm comfortable with the verb stuff.
    It's the PS that I've needed help with, so whatever. Like I said, to each his or her own, different things work for different people. And comparing MCAT scores? How about interviews instead. I'm a post-bac with only about 5 science classes, so I'm already at a disadvantage to you on the numbers there.
    Good luck, in any case. I'm sure you'll do well. Have a great week and Go Bears!
     
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  15. jeffsleepy

    jeffsleepy Senior Member
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    I'm just playing around. Just thought that it was amusing how the two organizations talk crap about each other. Believe me, I don't implement half the things that PR says I should. :)
     
  16. nikibean

    nikibean Tip your guide.
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    Right arm. (Right on, but with dorky humor). I just have to have something to believe in right now. I'm getting a leetle frantic, you know?
     
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