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LOL @ Next Step

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by Enik, Apr 21, 2015.

  1. Enik

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    I just did the passages from the AAMC official guide. Has anyone noticed the amount of plagiarism the Next Step half length diagnostic and the AAMC guide passages have? I mean seriously the verbal passage about SES and health NS's is almost identical they replace study of nuns with monks. The hard-water build up in the pipes passage. As well as almost every psych-sos passage. These guys literally "paraphrased" AAMC's passages used them as their half-length diagnostic. The whole time doing AAMC guide passages I sat there thinking....I've seen this somewhere..... After seeing this I would not use NS to study for my dog-walking licence, let alone the MCAT.
     
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  3. umgoblue2008

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    I noticed that as well (whole time i was ROFL). However, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Now i haven't taken any of their FL but if they try to copy the style (hopefully not content), it could be a good source of practice for the new test.
     
  4. Czarcasm

    Czarcasm Hakuna matata, no worries.

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    I've heard a few people mention this. Given how many people are using their product, I'm surprised it's not brought up more often. Or maybe others haven't noticed yet. Personally, I wouldn't know since I've already taken the MCAT. Would be interested to here what @Next Step Tutor @NextStepTutor_1 @NextStepTutor_2 @NextStepTutor_3 has to say about this, or at least defend their product amidst these criticisms.
     
  5. litotes

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    HAHA I took the diagnostic this past weekend and was wondering why the passages seemed vaguely familiar. I bought the Official Guide last fall and did a few passages as practice. Now I know my high scores are somewhat less accurate... damn. SMH Next Step
     
  6. Captain Flint

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    I'm surprised this hasn't been mentioned more. I really considered buying NS tests because they were relatively affordable compared to the other new 2015 MCAT FLs, but I did their diagnostic and almost half the passages were copied from AAMC. I was shocked especially with the lawyer-patient verbal passage; it was literally the same passage as the one from AAMC except that they switched out the word doctor for lawyer for every single sentence. Although I don't doubt that NS has good intentions, if I were AAMC, I would be pretty angry.
     
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  7. JOLA46

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    wow. that's pretty ridiculous.

    i'm curious what their tutors are like....they want 2,300 dollars for 24 hours : /
     
  8. vin5cent0

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    Would you expect anything less from a company that so obviously puts up false 5 star reviews all over amazon?

    Company is a joke.
     
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  9. allantois

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    Not it makes sense that their diagnostic was most highly regarded!
     
  10. nomdeplume1234

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    I guess it makes sense that they would not put too much effort into their free diagnostic. On the other hand I would be pissed if I spent $35 for one of their strategy guides and it was word for word AAMC. Is that the case?
     
  11. Next Step Tutor

    Next Step Tutor MCAT Guru

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    I want to thank all of your for the feedback. Obviously we need to base our work of what little material AAMC has released. In no case did we commit "plagiarism" and in no case did we violate AAMC's copyright. We want to make sure that our work fits the look and feel of real AAMC stuff, but clearly some folks think that certain passages were "too close", and I'm happy to take a look at the diagnostic and consider making revisions where necessary.

    I'm not sure that "hey your stuff is like the AAMC" necessarily qualifies as a "criticism", but certainly if there are specific passages that need to be modified or replaced because they hew too closely to the official guide, I'll talk to the writers about making updates. Our goal is to create the best possible practice for our students, and if students who have already completed the OG passages are finding our diagnostic less useful, then certainly it's on us to improve the experience our students are having.

    For those who felt that their experience taking the free diagnostic was anything less than stellar, I'm sorry. I want to make sure we've got the best practice tests available, and I'll take the feedback from this thread into account when we do the next round of updates to it (in about a week).
     
    #10 Next Step Tutor, Apr 22, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
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  12. KungFuPanda123

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    I haven't taken any NS full lengths, but I see nothing morally/legally wrong with their passage topics being similar to the AAMC's UNLESS they actually copied some specific questions or used the same phrasing in their passage. I'm not going to argue for NS copying the topics actually being beneficial to people, but I am going to argue that using similar topics =/= copying (unless they did - in which case, that's terrible).
     
  13. Enik

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    I wouldn't, I bought their 5 tests and took 2 and I'm done with them. I'm externally disappointed with NS. The guy that posted the schedule was a nice marketing tactic to make me buy their tests. Hell, PM me and paypal me $50 bucks and ill give you my NS test access.
     
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  14. Enik

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    I'm not sure if that would be violating the copyright, but If I was to post the verbal passages side by side on this site there are very minor changes, and when i say minor changes certain paragraphs are switched in order but 75% of it remains the same. There is literally no denying this.
     
  15. Captain Flint

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    There is literally the same phrasing in many of their passages, which is an example of plagiarism. I'm quite shocked that the representative came and said it wasn't plagiarism. It sounds almost immature that he's arguing that as if switching out words while maintaining the same sentence structure and organization is okay. It quite clearly is a very good case of plagiarism. Didn't we all learn in high school that just changing words for synonyms doesn't mean it's NOT plagiarism? Copying someone's phrasing and ideas also constitute plagiarism.

    I'm just frustrated that these test companies are making boatloads of money off of desperate premeds and are not even trying to make original test content. Here is an example. I attached the AAMC passage. Here is Next Step's passage. Oh and the questions ask almost the exact same things with same answer choices. AND half of their diagnostic is blatantly plagiarized.

    [Next Step] Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills Passage 5 (Questions 21-25)
    Possession of drugs or smuggled goods while incarcerated is illegal. If during a routine legal briefing, a prison attorney notices that the client, John Doe, has drugs and smuggled goods, should the attorney report the crime, or should privacy concerns prevail? What happens to the agreement of privilege between a client and their attorney in prisons?

    Communications between attorneys and clients are protected as privileged. A routine attorney visit is part of the privileged communication, like information obtained by taking an informal deposition. Legal professionals have a vested interest in maintaining privacy so that clients will feel at ease in revealing personal but legally necessary information. Prisoners do not enjoy the full set of Constitutional privacy rights, but they generally retain rights to privacy when there is a special relationship between the involved parties, such as the attorney-client relationship. In fact, respect for privacy is particularly important in a prison setting, in which clients feel mistrust because their attorney is often an employee of the state that operates the incarcerating institution.

    Information elicited during a legal briefing that indicates the prisoner is in possession of drugs, like all information revealed in the meeting, is privileged information to be treated confidentially. The right to privacy supersedes an obligation to report the discovery because there is no imminent threat to others. On the other hand, information that speaks to the prisoner possessing a weapon represents an immediate threat to other inmates and to prison staff. Thus, upon being informed about a cache of weapons during the briefing, the attorney has an obligation to inform. According to legal precedent, when the attorney believes that a significant risk of harm exists, the obligation to inform takes priority over the client’s right to privacy.

    Attorneys working in prisons also retain the privilege of confidential interactions with clients, although the prison authorities may try to convince lawyers to supply information. Independence for legal professionals in a penitentiary setting is essential for good practice. Even if attorneys are employed by the state that runs the prison, their primary responsibility is to their clients. It is at the discretion of the attorney to decide the conditions in which to give privileged information to prison authorities.

    The likelihood of discovering smuggled goods during routine meetings with prisoner clients emphasizes the need for providing privacy to the client at several stages. First, prisoner clients should be taken to their attorney only after they provide informed consent, unless they are incompetent. Before any deposition is taken, they should be informed that they do have the right to and expectation of privacy when it comes to the ensuing communications. Second, if information regarding weapons is disclosed during the meeting, the prisoner client should be informed that the disclosure will be reported and given the chance to surrender the weapon to authorities before more forcible means are taken to obtain it. If John Doe was using drugs, and the drugs may possibly exacerbate John Doe’s legal problems, it is the incumbent on the attorney to instruct John Doe about the potential legal ramifications of drug possession.

    The case of John Doe raises the issue of where to demarcate the boundary between the obligation to protect the public and the obligation to protect clients’ privacy. While legal canon can aid the attorney in making the choice, the attorney must rely on a guiding principle of the legal profession: Where no danger to others exists, their obligation is to zealously protect a client's interests first.
     

    Attached Files:

    #14 Captain Flint, Apr 22, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
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  17. vin5cent0

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    I'm not trying to be sassy, but I have a legitimate question here - how can we trust any of your reviews when your reviews on amazon are so obviously fake? It discredits any and all testimonials you have.
     
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  18. nomdeplume1234

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    Man the number of reviews on Amazon is seriously lacking for prep materials. Can you imagine if everyone who bought something actually left a review? There are only 65 reviews for Kaplan, 19 for EK, 25 for TPR. That's kind of BS and may say more about the premed than the company. Must be pretty competitive if people don't even want to leave a review. or a truthful one.
     
  19. umgoblue2008

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    Not sure if serious, but I doubt the % of people who purchase these books that actually leave a review is lower than for any other books or items sold on amazon. Most people buy stuff and don't leave a review unless its really awesome or really crappy, in which they feel personally vested to vent about it. If a majority of purchasers left reviews, there would be literally millions of reviews for certain items (this is not the case). These books haven't been on the market for that long, it takes time my friend.

    Can you imagine if everyone donated an average of 5$ every year? We could stop world hunger.
     
    #17 umgoblue2008, Apr 22, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2015
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  20. Czarcasm

    Czarcasm Hakuna matata, no worries.

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    @Next Step Tutor It's one thing to structure your content in a way that emulates the real exam. But when you are paraphrasing or re-wording official content, that's an entirely different scenario and is considered plagiarism. After previewing the similarities above, I fully understand where people are coming from and why their upset. This is the ultimate betrayal. I had high expectations for Next Step Prep and honestly was hoping to see a new face emerge on SDN instead of the usual companies we see pondering around here. Unfortunately, it'll be very difficult to gain credibility now that this has come to light. Perhaps the first step would be acknowledge the similarities as a mishap and work on changing them. Otherwise, Next Step Prep on SDN will be a thing of the past.
     
  21. Looking at what's posted above, it does seem like they just literally took every AAMC sentence and paraphrased it.
    Kind of disappointing to be honest. NS tutor has been real helpful answering MCAT questions and other inquiries around these parts.
     
  22. athlete421

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    Please tell me that's an exaggeration. That's ridiculous
     
  23. JOLA46

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    no. that is how much it costs.
     
  24. tturchi51

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    This first "customer's" amazon name is my favorite.

    [​IMG]
    Berkeley Time
    Reviewer ranking: #5,767,671
    100% helpful
    votes received on reviews
    (1 of 1)

    ACTIVITIES
    Reviews (2)
    OTHER
    Give Profile Feedback to Amazon
    Berkeley Time's Activity: All Reviews All
    [​IMG]
    ReviewedMCAT Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills: Strategy and Practice: Timed Practice for the New MCAT Verbal Section...by Bryan Schnedeker
    This book is a fantastic resource for someone looking to improve their performance on ...
    November 24, 2014
    This book is a fantastic resource for someone looking to improve their performance on the new MCAT CARS section. This book provides multiple, realistic strategies and walks you through how to use each of them. It also has dedicated practice sections for each strategy. The passages also seemed incredibly realistic. By the time you get through the book, you should definitely see your score improve. And by improving your performance on this section, you'll be improving your performance on every section because it seems like so much of the MCAT is based on reading comprehension and being able to synthesize information from passages. I'm really glad I purchased this version and I'm excited to see how it prepares me for the new MCAT!

    ...Read more
    [​IMG]
    ReviewedMCAT Psychology and Sociology: Strategy and Practiceby Bryan Schnedeker
    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
    This book is a great guide for what should be a pretty tricky section ...
    November 24, 2014
    This book is a great guide for what should be a pretty tricky section on an already tricky test. And of course, the test is about more than just rote memorization; it's about critical thinking and applying concepts. This book does a great job of presenting realistic practice passages and then giving concise explanations to the answers. They don't waste your time with a bunch of fluff. If you're like me and don't have an extensive background in psych and sociology, you don't need the explanations to go beyond what's needed for the test. They also provided me with useful strategies that I can realistically apply on test day. The book also has a ton of practice passages so you get to see your progress build up over time.

    ...Read


    Seriously? Berkeley Time's Review of CARS? Trying to get people to find NS book when searching for Berkeley review on amazon or google? That would be like me making a REVIEW of my own prep book with the account name Fresh Princeton....

    I tried posting all the other accounts' reviews who strangely only bought and reviewed the same NS prep books but way too many too fit.

    That's fine if you want to B.S. (not bachelor of science abbreviation) reviews on Amazon, but your "similar" passages yall created is just like AAMC's. Even worst is the NS guy on here who said he would have the writers review the testing materials for the next, next step edition. In case you didn't know, people pay attention to reviews on SDN not amazon. Do yall have anyone that knows anything about PR, as in public relations NOT princeton review? Because after the negative criticism I think yall's next step should be to change the name to Step After....
     
    #22 tturchi51, Apr 23, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2015
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  25. 700003

    700003 Banned
    Banned

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    You would be surprised how much these test prep companies charge…TPR charges $1500 for 5 hrs! It's crazy...
     
  26. Next Step Tutor

    Next Step Tutor MCAT Guru

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    Heya, thanks again for the tough but fair criticism. I wasn't lead editor on the diagnostic test so this is the first that this stuff is coming to my attention. I can definitely understand why some students might be frustrated here after doing the OG passages and then shortly thereafter doing the diagnostic based on the OG, feeling like they weren't getting good practice. I'm meeting with the editors tomorrow and I'll have them do the necessary editing (or replacing) to address these concerns. This is obviously a serious issue, and I take it seriously.
     
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  27. ModyzMalak

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    Lol oh my you guys are like hungry rabid pits, don't mess with premeds! I bought the CARS and Psych practice workbooks for extra questions but havent gone thru them yet so i dont have anything meaningful to add to discussion but carry on...^_^
     
  28. GonnaBeADocOneDay

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    Frankly I am concerned that you, as a MCAT tutor, have not at least breezed through the AAMC materials. Especially if you have any input on designing the resources for your company. You saying "I wasn't lead editor on the diagnostic test" is passing the buck. Have you never looked over your own test company's exams?

    From what students who have been exposed to both the AAMC and NS exams have said is that your company is blatantly plagiarizing AAMC. If the AAMC find out, legal action could be imminent. Not to mention the moral and ethical dilemma of continuing to make money off of plagiarized materials. I implore you to take your materials down immediately. You should not continue to make a profit from this. You are not ignorant of it anymore, so do something about it!
     
  29. JOLA46

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    i know....i looked into them too. that is so ridiculous.
     
  30. introverted

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    @Next Step Tutor
    Would you mind responding to the accusations that most if not all of the reviews of your books on Amazon are fake? We've spent a considerable amount of time on this (and other) forums discussing this and I don't believe I've seen any Next Step representative address this. (Correct me SDNers if I'm wrong)
     
    Backtothebasics8 likes this.
  31. Czarcasm

    Czarcasm Hakuna matata, no worries.

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    I watched NS evolve over the last several months. Beginning last year, they gradually made their presence known within SDN. Several NS tutors provided helpful advice and assisted many people in the Q&A. This was a great way to market themselves and gain reputation. Just a few months ago, in preparation for the upcoming exam, they really picked up on the promotional advertising. Coincidentally, the reviews on amazon coincide with this change in activity. Whether or not those reviews are fake, we cannot know with certainty and it's doubtful that would ever be addressed. As a business owner myself, I can understand the desire to promote your product. However, if it turns out those reviews were indeed fabricated, it was totally unnecessary and deception is never the way.

    As far as the issue of plagiarism goes, I respect that he acknowledged the issue and is working on fixing it. As much as we all feel the need to criticize, we're only human guys and mistakes happen to the best of us. Suppose the editor in chief handed you a series of NS CAR passages. I highly doubt anyone would be able to attribute similarities unless they had taken AAMC exams within the same time frame. That's the only reason this came to light. The important thing is, it's being addressed now.
     
  32. athlete421

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    Yeeeah, no thanks. I'll teach myself for free haha.
     
  33. StudyLater

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    A brand new company fresh out of the woodwork with no credibility to speak of (except acting as a pseudo-guru on an exam no one had ever seen before) failed in providing adequate preparatory materials.

    It is surprising that you are all surprised.

    That said, it's not like TPR/Kaplan had any more of a clue with respect to their FL practices.
     
  34. anon1239

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    #32 anon1239, Apr 24, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016
  35. DesitnationMD

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    Came on here looking for some feedback on the diagnostic saw this thread. I just finished the NS diagnostic and YMMV but here goes:

    AAMC Official Guide questions taken on 4/14 (Online, not in the book)
    NextStep Diagnostic taken on 4/22



    The Great:

    The price was unbeatable, FREE! I got mine when I purchased the books. Fwiw the Strategy & Practice books are not at all like the AAMC, which isn't surprising given that the AAMC is not interested in giving student test strategies and there are none in the official guide. If you're interested, I would recommend them for some decent test strategies along with lots of MCAT passages. EK books do a good job with strategy too.


    Chem Foundations: The science passages to me did not seem very similar to me nor did the questions. In hindsight, now that I have read this thread I can see the inspiration, if you want to call it that, for sure. But at the time EVEN after taking the AAMC half test nothing was nagging my mind. A perfect example of this is NS passage 2 and AAMC passage 2. Former is on electro-spinning techniques, the latter on AFM techniques. Both are great ways to combine physics, chemistry and boil concepts into a single passage. The questions test completely different topics but you can see that the intent was to present a passage similar in tone and style to the AAMC passage. This is an example of IDEAL emulation for practice tests.

    This seemed to be the format of the entire section. Keeping the feel, tone and thinking similar while playing with the topics and questions.



    Bio Foundations: Again, it was only after I saw this thread yesterday I went back and only cant I can see the AAMC "inspiration" in the questions. To me that's a good thing, so long as the science is different. For the sciences testing a topic over and over is definitely a good idea so since the questions were all different from the AAMC, even if the topics are similar the section still serves its purpose perfectly. Passage 3 of the AAMC guide and passage 2 of the Nextstep exam are another example of good testing. Both test data interpretation based on very different experiments on a unicellular eukaryote. But the AAMC focuses on molecular genetics and the Nextstep tests cell bio, classical genetics and the experimental processes.


    The Good:


    Psych Foundations:

    I have been pounding hard on these topics because I didn't take them as an undergrad so I think I am more sensitive when something is repeated. I did notice some topical overlap (2 passages that deal with premature birth or low birth weight). However, the questions were different enough and the presentation of experimental data was different which allowed me to answer the new questions without any help from earlier work. The fact that it was low birth weight may have made me more comfortable, but I imagine that is just like when I get a good feeling about seeing acid/base chemistry again or when I notice the test has gifted me cardio based questions. Since psychology and sociology are what I know of as the "softer" sciences, I don't know whether to judge this more like cars or more like the hard sciences and life sciences. based on what the aamc has said I'm inclined to go with the latter, which means even if a topic is repeated, seeing if from new angles, testing it in new ways will be better for me in the long run.


    The Bad:

    CARS: Three of the passages are great, one is similar, and one is very similar (I cannot judge copyright or legal jargon so I will refrain from hyperbole). With CARS, this is where I have an issue with utility, even if there is nothing "wrong" with it. Unlike the other sections of the exam, in CARS if I take the AAMC test before or after, ONE of these scores will NOT be as predictive for my performance. The one passage on lawyers is just not useful to me if I have done the passage on doctors in the AAMC exam and vice versa. The similar thought processes will inflate my score and not truly allow me to improve on the CARS section, which for me is the toughest right now. Now, it is just 1, maybe 2 passages, but it does leave a bad taste.

    If they can replace these passages, the CARS section will be viable IMO and useful for prediction of current abilities. In the past few months the NextStep people were good about responding to changes (with the Bio book they send me a pdf supplement when people thought their genetics and biochem info needed beefing up) so I imagine they will take any changes to heart.


    Summary:

    Seeing as its a free exam, any utility I get from the exam is a gain to me. Alone, both exams are great ways to diagnose your current ability. Taken close together the CARS section of 1 exam becomes much less useful.

    The sciences are so broad it is easy to change enough to make it different but keep the feel of the AAMC, which is the goal of all of those companies. Once you take enough passages from TPR, Kaplan, AAMC, NextStep, you can def see they all "inspire" eachother. Good or bad they all do it.

    The sciences are great practice, and are not affected if you take both. For CARS 2 passages need to be changed and then this exam will fulfill its purpose. tl dr, free exam is free, and can be a good tool and a better tool with some alterations.

    Overall the products have been good for me. The only issue seems to be this 1 exam based on the OG.

    Edited for grammar and additional input.
     
    #33 DesitnationMD, Apr 24, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2015
  36. allantois

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    Can anyone comment on integrity of their CARS book?
     
  37. DanniD

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    I really feel bad for myself and other premeds that all these thirsty prep companies try to make as much money as possible without giving a damn about the poor students... I myself paid $2000 for verbal toturing from my visa because I was so desperate just to realize after that it was totally useless and yet all the reviews online about them was pretty good... I mean we're trying our best to be the doctors of future to help society, and yet some of these companies instead of helping us to achieve our goals easier they just make it harder for us by putting us into more debt. that makes me sick...
     
  38. Lannister

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    I didn't take the NS diagnostic but I bought the 5 FL package. This thread is making me wonder if I should go buy another company's FLs instead...So much $$ :confused:
     
  39. JOLA46

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    you got a NS tutor and he/she was useless?
     
  40. Levrone

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    who was the $2000 verbal tutor?
     
  41. FueledByRamen

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    .
     
    #39 FueledByRamen, Apr 24, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2015
    rraidermd likes this.
  42. DanniD

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    nah it wasnt a NS tutor
     
  43. FueledByRamen

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    Jack Westin? Leonardo Radomile?

    edit;
    let this be a place to talk about misleading companies. We will protect you!
     
  44. DanniD

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    #42 DanniD, Apr 24, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2015
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  45. FueledByRamen

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    Thanks I appreciate that. I'm sorry you had to go through that. A lot of the reviews on sdn can be biased because these guys pressure them to review them good and they know who they are so there is pressure to say something nice.

    edit: looks like you took it out. Out of concern I also took out the quote. I got you!
     
    #43 FueledByRamen, Apr 24, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2015
  46. texan2414

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    I understand people want to criticize some of the questionable NS MCAT material but some posts here are just downright inflammatory...
     
    TSJ93, allantois, rraidermd and 2 others like this.
  47. anon1239

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    #45 anon1239, Apr 25, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016
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  48. anon1239

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    #46 anon1239, Apr 25, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2016
  49. GonnaBeADocOneDay

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    So let's make it hypothetical for those who feel that criticism of NS for this mistake is too harsh...
    I decide I want to write a super, sexy erotic book that is edgy and includes bondage. So I come across "50 Shades of Grey" and think "this is exactly what I want my book to be!" So I change the names from Christian and Anastasia to Bob and Juanita and publish the book. People love it!! They think it is racy and provacative and it flies off of the shelf. The only ones who know it is plagarized from 50 Shades are the people that have read both. So what happens next?

    Do you think I could just continue selling my plagarized book?
    Do you think EL James would probably want to sue me for all of my profits?
    Expect me to pull my book from the shelves immediately (via a friendly cease and desist)?

    This is what happens in the real world when you plagarize. Plus you get a lawsuit.

    NS deserves nothing less, epecially if they are made aware of it and blantly refuse to do anything about it. The materials are still up for sale, so I guess they want to press their luck.
     
  50. nomdeplume1234

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    Does anyone know if the questions (NOT the passage text) were similar? Or was it just the passage text?
     
  51. tturchi51

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    Can I get my $$$ back from amazon since I haven't even opened the box they came in yet?
     
  52. nomdeplume1234

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    I was starting to think you guys were being too hard on NS but after going to Amazon and looking at one of their reviews I came across the following. Not sure what to make out of it. In their review, someone complained Next Step Physics and Math book was a copy of The MCAT Physics Book by Garrett Biehle. Upon further examination I came across this... Can there be a good reason? Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 2.26.45 PM.png Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 2.26.57 PM.png
     
    #50 nomdeplume1234, Apr 25, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2015

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