Aug 11, 2020
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Hi,
I’m a pre-med student completely lost trying to study for the MCAT. I had planned on purchasing the Kaplan 7-Book Study Set and some AAMC study materials, but I don’t know if those are the best ones. I have planned to start studying in September and take the MCAT in March (Covid pending). Can anyone give me advice on materials or a study schedule? All of the study schedules out there are really confusing and have a lot of different materials. I don’t know if I should purchase a prep course to help or not.

Thanks!
 

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I'd say the only must is the entire AAMC online package, because all AAMC material will be more useful than any third party material. If you're currently in undergrad, I'd suggest against taking the exam in March because you'll likely have to balance it with classes and you won't have a period you'll be able to fully dedicate to the MCAT. If you plan to apply next cycle, then you can take your MCAT as late as mid-June without being marked late.

With that being said, for a March exam, you'd want to spend a few hours every weekend from now until ~January doing content review. By the time January comes around, you should have a great foundation. After that, spend as much time as you can doing practice, and in the 5 weekends before your exam, take a AAMC FL exam. If you feel confident, maybe take some 3rd party exams before those 5 weeks. Spare time on weekends/weekdays should be spent reviewing FL exams and doing other practice materials.

With a June MCAT, same thing, but I'd start studying in January review content on the weekends until your semester is over, and then spend ~6 weeks before your MCAT just strictly doing content review.

Kevin W, MCAT Tutor
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I used Kaplan 7-book, AAMC materials, + Altius FL’s. I’m glad that you’re taking 6 months to study for the test, as it will give you flexibility and enough time to prepare without rushing. Use the first three months on content reviews. Try to go through one chapter of each book (except Kaplan’s CARS book) every one or two days, supplemented with KA videos to clear up any ambiguities. Also, use Saturdays to do practice problems and start get the feels for MCAT problems. After the content review, start with Altius or any third party FL's to build your endurance and practice taking the test (1 month). Then, use the last 2-3 months on AAMC materials alone (AAMC FL's, Sample Test, CARS Qpacks, and Section Banks). Also, get started on CARS early: start with third party sources, like KA or JW, to practice timing --> move on to AAMC CARS Qpacks --> AAMC FL's. Review AAMC CARS problems thoroughly before taking each AAMC FL's. I did this and received my desired score.
 
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I used Kaplan 7-book, AAMC materials, + Altius FL’s. I’m glad that you’re taking 6 months to study for the test, as it will give you flexibility and enough time to prepare without rushing. Use the first three months on content reviews. Try to go through one chapter of each book (except Kaplan’s CARS book) every one or two days, supplemented with KA videos to clear up any ambiguities. Also, use Saturdays to do practice problems and start get the feels for MCAT problems. After the content review, start with Altius or any third party FL's to build your endurance and practice taking the test (1 month). Then, use the last 2-3 months on AAMC materials alone (AAMC FL's, Sample Test, CARS Qpacks, and Section Banks). Also, get started on CARS early: start with third party sources, like KA or JW, to practice timing --> move on to AAMC CARS Qpacks --> AAMC FL's. Review AAMC CARS problems thoroughly before taking each AAMC FL's. I did this and received my desired score.

You hit the nail on the head. This is my exact studying strategy as well. Kaplan books are taking forever for me, but I know I will have a great foundation for content. Are you making Anki flashcards of the content from Kaplan?
 
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Great point about Anki Deck! Make your own deck and review from Day 1. I found it tremendously helpful for achieving 131 on P/S. Also, you can also use KA 300 page P/S doc if you want, although I did not find it particularly useful.
 
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hall1ms1b

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Hi,
I’m a pre-med student completely lost trying to study for the MCAT. I had planned on purchasing the Kaplan 7-Book Study Set and some AAMC study materials, but I don’t know if those are the best ones. I have planned to start studying in September and take the MCAT in March (Covid pending). Can anyone give me advice on materials or a study schedule? All of the study schedules out there are really confusing and have a lot of different materials. I don’t know if I should purchase a prep course to help or not.

Thanks!
TLDR: Buy the kaplan set and if you find you are lacking practice, buy additional resources for more question practice.

Hey, I rarely post. But I wanted to help out: Like you, I had no idea on what to do. A study schedule is something YOU should plan out for yourself. Only you know yourself and how much you can handle day to day. BUT there are threads in this forum that outline what the test taker did each day or week. Read them and that will help you how to build your own schedule. Alternatively, you can download the popular study guides under " RESOURCES-> STUDY SCHEDULE" tab on the way top of this webpage. You input your resources and it spits out a generated study schedule for you.

Before I actually starting to study for the MCAT, I combed through threads on here and glanced at reddit, too for the best study materials. I compiled a list, not including AAMC materials bc I already purchased it; I gave each resource a "1" if I liked the reasons why the test-taker recommended it, ( not bc of :" Oh, I like this resource bc it is free and the pictures were nice") and I also gave each resource a "-1" if it was not recommended. Then I added all the numbers up. After many hours , I had a list that looked like this:
The numbers are purely made up :
Altius's CP: 5 B/BC: 6 P/S: 7 FL: 2
Kaplan CP: 3 B/BC: 3 P/S : 4 FL: 12
KHAN C/P: 2 B/BC: 4 P/S: 4
and so on
From there, I bought the individual books that were rated the highest in each sub column. for example: One Chemistry book from one resource and one Physics book from another resource. Now, if you don't want to do this work and have the money for a prep course or multiple sets, then go ahead. But I only had enough money to purchase the AAMCC materials and supplementary materials, not on a course. I imagine a course would give you lots of structure.
 
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Aug 11, 2020
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I'd say the only must is the entire AAMC online package, because all AAMC material will be more useful than any third party material. If you're currently in undergrad, I'd suggest against taking the exam in March because you'll likely have to balance it with classes and you won't have a period you'll be able to fully dedicate to the MCAT. If you plan to apply next cycle, then you can take your MCAT as late as mid-June without being marked late.

With that being said, for a March exam, you'd want to spend a few hours every weekend from now until ~January doing content review. By the time January comes around, you should have a great foundation. After that, spend as much time as you can doing practice, and in the 5 weekends before your exam, take a AAMC FL exam. If you feel confident, maybe take some 3rd party exams before those 5 weeks. Spare time on weekends/weekdays should be spent reviewing FL exams and doing other practice materials.

With a June MCAT, same thing, but I'd start studying in January review content on the weekends until your semester is over, and then spend ~6 weeks before your MCAT just strictly doing content review.

Kevin W, MCAT Tutor
Med School Tutors
Thank you so much for the advice!

I will definitely take into account the designated time to review the AAMC materials!
 
Last edited:
Aug 11, 2020
5
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
TLDR: Buy the kaplan set and if you find you are lacking practice, buy additional resources for more question practice.

Hey, I rarely post. But I wanted to help out: Like you, I had no idea on what to do. A study schedule is something YOU should plan out for yourself. Only you know yourself and how much you can handle day to day. BUT there are threads in this forum that outline what the test taker did each day or week. Read them and that will help you how to build your own schedule. Alternatively, you can download the popular study guides under " RESOURCES-> STUDY SCHEDULE" tab on the way top of this webpage. You input your resources and it spits out a generated study schedule for you.

Before I actually starting to study for the MCAT, I combed through threads on here and glanced at reddit, too for the best study materials. I compiled a list, not including AAMC materials bc I already purchased it; I gave each resource a "1" if I liked the reasons why the test-taker recommended it, ( not bc of :" Oh, I like this resource bc it is free and the pictures were nice") and I also gave each resource a "-1" if it was not recommended. Then I added all the numbers up. After many hours , I had a list that looked like this:
The numbers are purely made up :
Altius's CP: 5 B/BC: 6 P/S: 7 FL: 2
Kaplan CP: 3 B/BC: 3 P/S : 4 FL: 12
KHAN C/P: 2 B/BC: 4 P/S: 4
and so on
From there, I bought the individual books that were rated the highest in each sub column. for example: One Chemistry book from one resource and one Physics book from another resource. Now, if you don't want to do this work and have the money for a prep course or multiple sets, then go ahead. But I only had enough money to purchase the AAMCC materials and supplementary materials, not on a course. I imagine a course would give you lots of structure.
Thank you so much for the advice!

I’ve definitely been working on trying to make my own study schedule rather than follow others. Still working on it, but I think maybe taking a FL to see how much I currently know will let me know how rigorous I need to be in studying?

I’m definitely buying the AAMC materials, but I’m looking into what other resources to purchase. I’m currently leaning towards TPR and UWorld, but do you think Kaplan is better? I will definitely try your method for determining the best books to purchase. I didn’t know if it would be best to do a combination or just buy one set.

A prep course would definitely give me structure as I tend to procrastinate sometimes, but I think with everything going on I may need the flexibility of creating my own schedule. Also, they are very expensive and I’m just another broke college student.
 
Last edited:
Aug 11, 2020
5
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
I used Kaplan 7-book, AAMC materials, + Altius FL’s. I’m glad that you’re taking 6 months to study for the test, as it will give you flexibility and enough time to prepare without rushing. Use the first three months on content reviews. Try to go through one chapter of each book (except Kaplan’s CARS book) every one or two days, supplemented with KA videos to clear up any ambiguities. Also, use Saturdays to do practice problems and start get the feels for MCAT problems. After the content review, start with Altius or any third party FL's to build your endurance and practice taking the test (1 month). Then, use the last 2-3 months on AAMC materials alone (AAMC FL's, Sample Test, CARS Qpacks, and Section Banks). Also, get started on CARS early: start with third party sources, like KA or JW, to practice timing --> move on to AAMC CARS Qpacks --> AAMC FL's. Review AAMC CARS problems thoroughly before taking each AAMC FL's. I did this and received my desired score.
Thank you for your advice!
Honestly I felt like I should have been studying sooner! Do you recommend Kaplan over TPR? Also, for CARS should I strictly use AAMC materials or another 3rd party? Lots of great advice thank you so much.
 
Aug 11, 2020
5
0
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
Thank you so much for the advice!

I’ve definitely been working on trying to make my own study schedule rather than follow others. Still working on it, but I think maybe taking a FL to see how much I currently know will let me know how rigorous I need to be in studying?

I’m definitely buying the AAMC materials, but I’m looking into what other resources to purchase. I’m starting to lean towards TPR and UWorld, but do you think Kaplan is better? I will definitely try your method for determining the best books to purchase. I didn’t know if it would be best to do a combination or just buy one set.

A prep course would definitely give me structure as I tend to procrastinate sometimes, but I think with everything going on I may need the flexibility of creating my own schedule. Also, they are very expensive and I’m just another broke college student.
You hit the nail on the head. This is my exact studying strategy as well. Kaplan books are taking forever for me, but I know I will have a great foundation for content. Are you making Anki flashcards of the content from Kaplan?
Do you recommend Kaplan or TPR for content review?
 
Feb 5, 2020
533
381
Status (Visible)
  1. Medical Student (Accepted)
Thank you for your advice!
Honestly I felt like I should have been studying sooner! Do you recommend Kaplan over TPR? Also, for CARS should I strictly use AAMC materials or another 3rd party? Lots of great advice thank you so much.
I’ve never used TPR, but I found Kaplan enough to cover all the necessary information to achieve 130+ on all those sections.
 
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