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MCAT 2015 Detailed Feedback - Kaplan, Princeton Review, or Next Step

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by kittycat007, Aug 12, 2015.

  1. kittycat007

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    Hi premeds,

    I just took my MCAT on August 6 and I have some feedback regarding which test company to use. I have used Kaplan, Princeton Review, AND Next Step. I also tried to use 2007 Berkeley Review and EK 1001 verbal. Of course, the most important book to get is AAMC official book.

    1) Kaplan
    -Online classroom (school year): PLEASE do not use their online classroom learning. This was a waste of my money and there was minimal content review. Obviously without solid content understanding, it is difficult to ace the MCAT. On the actual MCAT, knowing my content front and back saved me on very difficult passages. Do not underestimate the importance of knowing your content. Also, don't study for MCAT during school year. I took easy classes and still couldn't keep up.

    -Kaplan 7 review books:
    -CARS book is horrible. They try to teach you to take notes on what you read for each paragraph, which is a time sink. Don't take notes unless you have to. This is true for all MCAT passages.
    -Physics book is great - great emphasis on what is important, easy to understand. I would recommend.
    -Chemistry book is great too - although some chapters like thermodynamics is confusing.
    -Orgo book - it was fine until we started doing mechanisms, everything was confusing to me beyond carboxylic acids lol. Orgo has always been my weakest subject, not sure if it is me or the book, but I still didn't understand orgo at the end. Fortunately real MCAT orgo is not that hard.
    -Psychology book - absolutely necessary. It needs more sociology concepts though but you can look them up on internet. I compared the topics against what is inside AAMC official book.
    -Biology book - highly recommend. Some concepts are not explained in depth but you can easily learn them from your textbook.
    -Biochemistry book - best book out there. Absolutely necessary. Know your biochemistry!!! Otherwise you will fail biology on MCAT.
    -All: Each chapter has 15 free standing questions. They do not represent real MCAT questions so don't bother doing them. Spend your time doing passages.

    -Kaplan practice questions:
    -I consistently failed their questions until I came back after studying from Princeton Review. I didn't do too many questions from them because I started using Princeton Review questions instead. Many times in Kaplan questions, I had a WTF moment because they are so confusing in logic.

    2) Princeton Review
    -In person classroom (summer): I love this class and I have met really great instructors. Part of the charm is that I hang out with other students everyday to struggle together, and this motivates me. I would highly recommend in person classroom because it is way less depressing than sitting in front of your computer. Highly recommend their class.

    -Their 6 review books:
    -CARS - their strategies are slightly better than Kaplan but they didn't work for me. There is really nothing you can do for CARS except keep practicing. My score went up when I started reading the Guardian newspaper everyday on the train.
    -Biology / Biochemistry - this book is much more detailed than Kaplan, especially in terms of DNA, genetics, physiology. Extremely poor review in biochemistry, but other sections are worth studying in depth.
    -Physics - horrible book. Do not buy.
    -Chemistry - I didn't use their book because I used their class review
    -Orgo - I didn't use their book because I used their class review.
    -Psychology - absolutely necessary. When combined with Kaplan psychology book, and AAMC content outline, you are 100% set for the test.
    -All: Each chapter has some free standing questions, and 1 practice passage. The passages might be too easy in my opinion.

    -Science workbook: this book is wayyyy too easy so don't bother unless you never learned a certain concept before. Skip around and do passages you are weak in.
    -CARS workbook: I never used this book

    -Princeton Review online practice questions:
    -Highly, highly recommend these questions. They are so much better than Kaplan questions because they are very hard and they have clear logic in them. At end of each class, we would get 5-10 passages to practice. These passages will make you cry at first but after a week or two, you will breeze through them. The physical sciences topics are much harder than necessary, but if you can handle these PR questions, you can probably score insanely high on actual MCAT. The only problem is that you need more biochemistry practice questions, so supplement this section with Kaplan questions. You can probably get away with doing less physics, less chemistry, less physiology questions.

    -Princeton Review practice exams:
    -I didn't do them because I ran out of time studying. Let us hope I scored well on my August MCAT ^_^

    3) Next Step
    -Their company only has 1 to 1 private tutor, which is very expensive. I didn't use it.

    -Next Step 8 books:
    -I used part of their psychology and biology content review book. I thought psychology was OK but not good enough on its own. Biology is too easy. Also, their physiology section lacks in graphs and pictures. Not recommended.
    -I used their CARS strategy book. Highly recommend this book because they tell you several strategies and make you do lots of hard philosophical passages.

    4) Berkeley Review 2007 - don't bother with physics, chemistry, or orgo review because much of the content is taken out or became easier. I thought their biology review book is OK but probably outdated. I anticipate their new MCAT 2015 book is better.

    5) EK 1001 verbal - passages are good practice, recommend this book.

    6) AAMC book - this book has an outline of everything you need to know. Don't waste your time studying what is not on there. Also, it has some practice questions in there, which is useful for your actual MCAT. Must buy this book.

    7) AAMC practice exam - biological section is too easy, and CARS section is ridiculously easy. Expect harder sections on actual MCAT.

    -Overall feedback: Combine Kaplan and Princeton Review books when you study. Some sections are better than others, so just use whichever one you feel helps you understand the concept. Open AAMC book so you have content outline. Use Princeton Review practice questions and Kaplan biochemistry practice questions. Don't worry if you think physics, chemistry, or orgo is too hard. On the actual MCAT they are not as hard as Princeton Review questions.

    Lastly, know your statistics and experiments. Kaplan physics book had good statistics review, but just know it in the contexts of interpreting an experiment. You should probably read some immunology and biochemistry signaling science papers.

    Feel free to ask me questions!
     
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  3. kittycat007

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    Also I scored 86% in physics, 91% in CARS, 83% in biology, 85% in psychology on AAMC practice exam.
     
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  4. md-2020

    md-2020 The Immaculate Catch
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    Holy crap, 2 classes+all these book sets? How much money did you put into the MCAT....
     
  5. kittycat007

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    The book sets were cheap so I spent less than $500 on the books in total. For Kaplan I think I spent $2000 and TPR is $2200.
    I only did TPR because I had trouble with Kaplan, so it ended up being a lot of money unfortunately
     
  6. Lawper

    Lawper In 3D
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    I thought you were @Catherine Wang (see another thread on upper level courses on front page)

    I find classes and prep courses to be an utter waste of time and money. Everyone learns their own way and in their own pace and SDN provides scheduling schemes to provide structure. What is important is finding the right books.

    So basically, use Kaplan for non-CARS content review, Princeton Review for practice and NextStep and EK for CARS practice. And of course, use AAMC exams for final review.
     
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  7. JustintheDoctor

    JustintheDoctor High functioning FeelsOpath
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    i think they are. go back and read the other thread. First post from different account, last post from this person thanking for the response.
     
  8. Kochanie

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    Kaplan was a waste of time in person too. I like the online resources though, but all the content in 6 weeks? gtfo.
     
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  9. kittycat007

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    I agree I thought Kaplan classes didn't make sense. I ended up self-study for a month after I took TPR class and that was when I started to do better. I thought none of the books prepared me that well for actual MCAT biology
     
  10. Lawper

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    It's probably a slip up from forgetting the info of the second account. I recommend OP to delete the initial account (or remove the avatar and any info).

    OT: Prep courses are always bad. With the 2015 MCAT, it's far worse because no one has any idea about it.
     
  11. Chromium Surfer

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    kittycat do you think taking notes in prep books while you are in the class would be beneficial, or not necessary in your opinion?
     
  12. Dr. Stalker

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    @kittycat007 did you use any of the Khan Academy prep? Videos or questions or passages?
     
  13. kittycat007

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    I took notes on a blank piece of paper, because I am a visual learner. I like to keep my notes in 1 folder haha. Everyone in my prep class took class notes so you should probably take notes too.
     
  14. kittycat007

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    I used Khan Academy videos for some hard organic chemistry concepts. No idea what their video is like for passages.
     
  15. Pastamahn

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    I personally thought the Kaplan psych book and in class format were very inadequate. The psych book missed a TON of topics, and there was minimal content review in class. All we did in class was test taking strategy, which would be fine if kept to one full day of it, but having every day be about strategy? Come on, By now most of us have our own set strategies for standardized testing. So that's my two cents.
     
  16. Dr. Stalker

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    Sorry my message was a bit confusing, I meant how are there videos as question 1. Separately, I was asking if you used any of there questions or passages for preparation given Khan is "teamed up" with the AAMC so their questions are, supposedly, good practice and simulate AAMC questions.
     
  17. Chromium Surfer

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    I meant as in when I'm taking orgo this semester if I take class notes in my MCAT book concurrently would that be helpful or a waste of time? Sorry I should have been more clear!
     
  18. kittycat007

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    That's why I supplemented Kaplan psych with TPR psych and additional internet googling. I followed the topic list from AAMC book, and I only saw 1-2 wtf content questions on actual MCAT psych section. Agreed, Kaplan classroom quality is not good for MCAT 2015.
     
  19. kittycat007

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    Do you mean Kaplan videos? They are not very good.

    I did not use Khan questions or passages. Sorry!
     
  20. kittycat007

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    That sounds like a great idea. I regretted not studying my MCAT as I was taking my college classes. But obviously MCAT orgo is nowhere nearly as hard as college orgo. They made this section much, much easier than old MCAT.
     
  21. theonlytycrane

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    Just to clarify, by the AAMC official book do you mean the official online guide + practice questions?

    Thanks!
     
  22. Meeehai

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    You recommend dropping a few thousand for somebody to verbally recite what's already in the books? That you also paid for?

    Interesting, but I disagree.
     
  23. kittycat007

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    Yes that is correct. I used all the AAMC published books / questions.
     
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  24. kittycat007

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    None of my instructors verbally recited what is in the book. Like I said the book is not perfect and takes a long time to address weaknesses by relying on the book alone. You don't have to take the in class instruction, but I find it to be helpful for me
     
  25. johnston9234

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    What was your number score on the mcat?
     
  26. frosted_flake

    frosted_flake waaahmbulance attendant
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    Bolded parts are what is necessary, the rest are what I consider to be the minor details.

    For anyone using the Kaplan books (set of 7) do you think I would be okay to review just the concept summaries at the end of that chapters?
    I feel like I am reading material for the 1000th time when I work through the chapters. I have done 2 chapters so far by painstakingly annotating every detail of the chapter (takes me about 5-7 hours) versus probably 1 hour doing the chapter summaries. I just don't want to come across that one discreet question and be like damn, wish I would have spent a zillion hours reading those Kaplan chapters! Shame on me!

    Has anyone done this? What were your results? If it makes a difference, I am also simultaneously taking 15 hours of upper level hard sciences and working 2 jobs. I am out of time :)

    Thanks in advanced for replies.
     
  27. Ad2b

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    @frosted_flake - no @ just the summaries; you need the details.

    Can't answer and won't try. I disagree 100% with the comments on Kaplan online classes being a waste. I thought they were helpful for the in-depth content reviews like electro statics, kidney, endocrine, circuits/resistors, orgo orgo orgo, molecular genetics, neuro, psych/soc.

    I continue to attend the live on-line sessions and will do so until test day (9/12)
     
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  28. frosted_flake

    frosted_flake waaahmbulance attendant
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    Is it just me, or do the discrete questions at the end of the Kaplan chapters suck? I know an above poster mentioned they were not MCAT style at all, but I am saying they are poorly written...
     
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  29. Ad2b

    Ad2b SDN Gold Donor
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    Don't waste your time on the end of chapter Kaplan questions. Do the content review, do passages from Kaplan online or AAMC or EK. The end of chapter questions are really just to see if you retained what you just read (can't remember who said that yesterday so credit to whoever that was)
     
  30. kittycat007

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    I got 515... which is 93% percentile.

    Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems 130 / 97%
    Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills 129 / 93%
    Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems 128 / 87%
    Psychological, Social, and Biological Foundations of Behavior 128 / 87%

    I am slightly confused by what the scores really mean... also how to convert to old MCAT score
     
  31. Lawper

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    A 515 is roughly a 33. See my signature regarding the accurate percentile conversion presented by @efle
     
  32. kittycat007

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    Gasp, how can 93 percentile be the median score for medical school matriculants? I thought the acceptance rate is 45% nationally.
     
  33. Lawper

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    It's not. It would be around the 83th percentile (so a 31 or 510). This is from recent reports from what i saw for MD acceptance averages (which is far more important than matriculant averages). DO is obviously lower, so overall is around a 29-30.

    For MD: 31 +/- 2 is fine
    For DO: 27 +/- 3 is fine
     

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