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Little science background - prep course to take? :(

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by yestomeds, 05.12.14.

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  1. yestomeds

    yestomeds

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    Hi, I have a question re: taking a MCAT prep course in order to help me understand the science components of the test.

    I get the impression (but I'm not sure) that people generally suggest you NOT take a prep course.
    I guess I'm considering taking a course because I did a few - but not all - science prerequisites several years ago. Of what I did take, I retained 2% at most (it's been a while). Do you think a prep course might help arts students or those who're a bit older and who've forgotten the contents of their science courses?

    Unfortunately I'll have to be in a summer course (at school) for the same duration as well.

    I've got between: Prep101, Princeton, Kaplan to choose from (I'm up in Canada).

    Anyway, any kinds of thoughts and advice would be appreciated.
     
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  3. Czarcasm

    Czarcasm Hakuna matata, no worries. 2+ Year Member

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    I would only suggest taking a prep course if you feel that you need discipline, as that's ultimately what it provides. It's good for people who can't follow a schedule on their own, but need some incentive to stay on track. Sure it helps to have an instructor explain things to you, but most of your gains will come from you independently studying and doing questions. Ultimately, you can avoid the extra time of driving to and from the review sessions, listening to a lecturer, etc. and find that your time would be better spent studying alone, but every person is different and in some cases, review sessions can be very helpful. They are just so pricey. The only justification for those extreme prices is the online materials they provide, but even still, it doesn't make up for the cost. Personally, I would avoid taking a prep course, but if it's something you're absolutely set on, then the most popular and effective one seems to be TPRH.
     
  4. yestomeds

    yestomeds

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    Hi czarcasm, thanks for your thoughts. TPRH = the princeton review?
    The princeton review offers online courses - so that would save one on transportation costs.

    Ultimately price isn't a factor, as I've saved up for this this summer. I guess the biggest thing for me is to make learning the sciences a bit easier - I am almost starting from scratch.
     
    Last edited: 05.13.14
  5. billy2908

    billy2908 2+ Year Member

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    When are you planning to take the MCAT? If it's late in the year, say October to December, you might benefit from auditing some intro summer classes from a community college or state Uni that let's you sit in (just ask the prof, in Cali they are usually cool about it). Of course, during that time you should also be studying from some MCAT prep books. Then after summer session is over ~July, you can decide then whether to take the prep courses or not.
     
    BerkReviewTeach likes this.
  6. yestomeds

    yestomeds

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    Hey billy2908. Thanks for replying. To answer your questions:
    Ahh unfortunately in August/September. Can't quite shadow courses as I'm doing courses of my own.
     
    Last edited: 05.13.14
  7. yestomeds

    yestomeds

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    Hey Thank you canadianinusa. I took intro chem and intro bio, but I doubt I've retained much, esp. compared to kids in 2nd year or in sciences who've just finished these courses. :p

    What do you mean in a specific way?
    MCAT-focused content review - meaning you learned the stuff based on what was tested on the mcats? Rather than just generally for the sake of learning [these general] subjects?

    If the difference was you, what was different? Especially since you had to be working this time around? Congrats on doing well the 2nd time around. :).
     
  8. clairephillips

    clairephillips 2+ Year Member

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    Hello! I'm in a very similar boat to yours, in that I had physics, chemistry and o chem about 12 years ago. I literally bought all the Kaplan books, the EK books, the BR books and TPRH, as well as subscribing to Chad's videos at coursesaver. I watched videos from Khan academy and wikipremed as well. What I finally found that actually clicked for me is to read the TPRH videos and then watch the Coursesaver videos immediately after, then work the TPRH workbook problems on the section. I'm making progress and I'll use all my other practice materials in the last month and a half after I work through all the chapters. Good luck!
     
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  9. yestomeds

    yestomeds

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    Hello! Thanks for your reply.
    What do you mean by TPRH? Is it the Princeton Review? And by videos, do you mean their online (not-on-location courses)?

    I've heard of Khan academy but not Chad's videos. Also haven't heard of Coursesaver. Do you basically pay a subscription and get access to their videos?

    I've heard that EK books are great - do you find that they are better than Kaplan/BR/TPRH. Also haven't heard of BR hehe. Sorry for all the rudimentary questions.

    P.S. I guess you're charting your own course/setting your own schedule then, if you're using resources from different companies?
     
  10. yestomeds

    yestomeds

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    Thanks, Canadianinusa, for your thoughts and suggestions - I really enjoyed reading them. Just wondering, is there a way to send PMs on this forum? I wanted to ask you a question re: what you wrote but don't know if it'd be a bit too public to hear your subjective thoughts/reasoning.
     
  11. Shipley231

    Shipley231 2+ Year Member

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    Can you elaborate on this? I find myself struggling to take my mind off of other things before focusing on the next passage.
     
  12. clairephillips

    clairephillips 2+ Year Member

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    TPRH is The Princeton Review Hyperlearning series. I know they've changed their books recently, but I'm not sure if they still have the same content. My Physical Sciences Review is from 2010 and my Biological Sciences Review is from 2009. I picked them up in Half Price Books. They are huge books that have two subjects a piece in them. They don't have practice questions other than a few examples, so you have to take practice elsewhere. The best resource is the TPRH Hyperlearning MCAT Science Workbook because it goes in the exact same order. My version of that is from 2012 and I don't really notice many discrepancies switching from year to year. I think if you can find them (which can be tough) they are excellent review. The videos I'm talking about are Chad's videos, which are the www.coursesaver.com website. Chad is the guy who teaches them. They aren't free like Khan Academy, but I think they're worth every penny for those of us who have such a long gap between prereqs and MCAT. I especially love that a lot of his examples are taken from TPRH so it makes the transition easy and it's like having a prep course at home. He has quizzes (pretty tough) that you can take multiple times, but again, other practice materials are definitely necessary as they aren't passage based.

    I've heard of Khan academy but not Chad's videos. Also haven't heard of Coursesaver. Do you basically pay a subscription and get access to their videos?

    Exactly.

    I've heard that EK books are great - do you find that they are better than Kaplan/BR/TPRH. Also haven't heard of BR hehe. Sorry for all the rudimentary questions.

    EK is good for people who have a great background and just need a quick review because it guts all the details and context and states the bare facts. Unfortunately, I often have no earthly idea what they are talking about without studying from something else first. Please don't worry about rudimentary questions - I am absolutely willing to help anyone in the same boat I am. :)

    BR is the Berkeley Review. They are a small prep company out of California that has some dynamite questions, but they are TOUGH and they overload you on more to memorize than you really need in a lot of subjects, so for me it was overwhelming. I also have EK 1001 series for everything but Biology, which is my best area (I have a degree in Microbiology and made a 9 on AAMC 3 with absolutely no memory at all of O Chem, so I just don't need it, and it gets poor reviews compared to the others). I also bought all of the AAMC exams and a friend gave me all the old Kaplan Review practice tests.

    P.S. I guess you're charting your own course/setting your own schedule then, if you're using resources from different companies?[/QUOTE]

    I am charting my own course, but I'm using the ideas I've gained by trying to follow a couple of other study schedules that simply didn't work for me. I will do content review at a chapter a day, alternating subjects, then watch the coursesaver videos and require myself to make a 100 on the quiz (working and reworking the quiz questions) and then finally working through the first 1/3 of the workbook questions. The second 1/3 I will do on the weekends as a recap. I'll save the last third for the practice problems gauntlet I've got waiting for me on the other side of content review, where I will spend roughly 8 hours a day (I'm a teacher, about to be out of school for the summer) working problems and reviewing what I got wrong.

    I hope something in what I said is useful! Have a great time studying (it really is kind of fun, isn't it?) and good luck on the MCAT!
     

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