MCAT Calendar: http://studentdoctor.net/reference-materials/3-month-mcat-study-schedule/ Post your MCAT Calendar Questions here. Note that this is for questions specific to the calendar and not a general Q&A thread. For instance, questions like, "how do you see the details for a calendar event?" belong here. While questions similar to, "what MCAT score do I need?"; "how do I increase my VR score?"; or "should I delay my MCAT?" should be their own thread. Also, if you can think of a helpful change to the calendar, feel free to post that too. Make sure you click an event for more information before asking a question. There's more information for most major events (excluding chapter readings), such as, timing and passages to complete, how to review, hat trick explanation, etc. Lastly, MAKE SURE YOU GET YOUR MATERIALS 1-2 MONTHS BEFORE YOU START. IT TAKES AWHILE TO GET EVERYTHING FROM BR. Links to all of the materials can be found in the original 3 month schedule or you can click on "Make sure you have all of the materials..." event for more details, including links. FAQ How many verbal passages should we take per day? For TPRH Verbal Workbook, should I take the full length verbal sections as a whole or split it up? In the TPR VW I believe there's 4 full length VR sections with 7 passages each and 43 other passages. Combined with EK 101, that's 172 passages. There are 67 days for verbal passages (taking out the break days and FL days). For the first 38 days you take verbal passages, take 3 verbal passages from either EK Verbal 101 or TPRH Verbal Workbook. Try to alternate each day until you run out. For the later 29 verbal days, take 2 passages per day. The main reason why I picked this format is because towards the end of the schedule, you'll start taking full length verbal sections when you take practice FLs. That said, feel free to mix up between 3 passage days and 2 passage days if you want. About TPRH Verbal Workbook, combine the full length verbal sections with the rest. Do NOT take them as full length tests. It's more important to continually practice verbal than to take a full length verbal section every week or so. Plus, once you reach the last month, you'll be taking full length verbal sections anyway. WOW TPRH Verbal Workbook COSTS THAT MUCH?!?!? First off, yes, it is a great resource and if you can get it for a reasonable price, I'd pick it up. While it may cost a ton, you can recoup some of the cost by reselling it later. Just make sure you don't write in it. Also, so everyone knows, ANY year for the TPRH Verbal Workbook is fine. Once TPR switched to their Hyperlearning series, they haven't made significant changes to their any of their material (it's all very good material at that). I've looked into some other verbal material, but unfortunately, nothing has come close to the number of passages in the TPRH Verbal Workbook. Here's what I looked at so far: - EK Verbal Reasoning & Math Tech, 9 passages: $14 - Has past AAMC passages. I think they're from AAMC #1 or 2 http://www.amazon.com/ExamKrackers-Verbal-Reasoning-Mathematical-Techniques/dp/1893858480/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top - AAMC Official MCAT Guide, ~7 passages I think: $10 when bought as a bundle with a FL - Also has about the same number of passages for the sciences https://members.aamc.org/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?webcode=COEBndlSearch - TPR's MCAT Verbal Reasoning and Writing Review, ~26 passages I think: $23 - I believe they're the same passages as those in the TPRH Verbal Workbook, but I'm really not sure. Hopefully, they're the same or at least the same level of quality. - MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT PAY ATTENTION TO THEIR VERBAL STRATEGY, IT IS HORRIBLE! http://www.amazon.com/Verbal-Reasoning-Writing-Graduate-Preparation/dp/0375427961/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1 Total: ~42 passages for $47 How do I combine BR Bio's passages and EK Bio's content? Slightly modified from doctoroftha313 post in this thread: http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?p=9660729 EK Lecture: Molecular Biology & Cellular Respiration BR Chapter # - Passage #: 1-13, 6-3, 6-8, 6-9, 6-12, 6-14, 7-1, 7-2, 7-3, 7-4, 7-6, 7-7, 7-8, 7-9, 7-10, 7-11, 7-12, 7-13, 7-14, 7-15, 8-1, 8-2, 8-3, 8-4, 8-5, 8-6, 8-7, 8-8, 8-9, 8-10, 8-11, 8-12, 8-13, 8-14, 8-15 EK Lecture: Genes BR Chapter # - Passage #: 6-13, 9-1, 9-4, 9-6, 9-7, 9-8, 9-9, 9-10, 9-11, 9-12, 9-13, 9-14, 9-15, 10-1, 10-2, 10-3, 10-4, 10-5, 10-6, 10-7, 10-8, 10-9, 10-10, 10-11, 10-12, 10-13, 10-14, 10-15 EK Lecture: Microbiology BR Chapter # - Passage #: 6-1, 6-4, 6-5, 6-11, 6-15 EK Lecture: The Eukaryotic Cell; The Nervous System BR Chapter # - Passage #: Eukaryotic Cell: 6-2, 6-6, 6-7, 6-10 Nervous System: 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 1-5, 1-6, 1-7, 1-8, 1-9, 1-10, 1-11, 1-12 EK Lecture: The Endocrine System; Reproductive System BR Chapter # - Passage #: Embryo: 4-1, 4-2, 4-3, 4-4, 4-5, 4-6, 4-7, 4-8, 4-9, 4-10, 4-11, 4-12, 4-13, 4-14, 4-15 Endocrine: 5-7, 5-8, 5-9, 5-13, 5-14 EK Lecture: The Digestive System; The Excretory System BR Chapter # - Passage #: Digestion: 3-2, 3-3, 3-4, 3-5, 3-6, 3-14, 3-15 Excretory: 3-7, 3-8, 3-9, 3-10, 3-11, 3-13 EK Lecture: The Cardiovascular System; The Respiratory System BR Chapter # - Passage #: Circulatory: 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, 2-4, 2-7, 2-8, 2-9, 2-10, 2-13, 5-1, 5-2, 5-3, 5-4, 5-5, 5-6 Respiratory: 2-5, 2-6, 2-11, 2-12, 2-14, 2-15, 7-5 Lymph/Immuno: 3-12, 5-10, 5-11, 5-12, 5-15 EK Lecture: Muscle, Bone, and Skin BR Chapter # - Passage #: 1-14, 1-15, 3-1 EK Lecture: Populations BR Chapter # - Passage #: 9-2, 9-3, 9-5 NOTE: "5-3" means BR chapter 5, passage #3. When should I start studying/When should I take the MCAT? You can choose your 3-4 month window to study after you've completed your pre-reqs. In your pre-reqs, gain mastery of the material; don't aim merely for an A. Spending the time to master the material in your pre-reqs will pay off when you study for the MCAT. Most people take the MCAT in either the summer of their junior year in college or the summer after they graduate. I don't suggest you take the MCAT earlier then your junior year because you run the risk of having your MCAT expire. Furthermore, the additional classes you have in the meantime may aid you on the MCAT. That said, the bottom line is to take the MCAT when you're ready. Why don't you recommend EK Bio 1001? First and foremost, it was removed after numerous posts and threads stating how it did not resemble the current MCAT and that BR Bio was closest. Over the past couple years, BS has moved towards a heavy critical thinking/passage analysis aspect similar in style to VR. Unfortunately, EK Bio 1001 does not focus much on critical thinking/passage analysis and instead relies more on recalling the relevant content. That does not mean there is no critical thinking involved, but it doesn't do it to the same degree as BR Bio or TPRH SW. Additionally, EK Bio 1001 has always been too easy which can give you a false sense of security. It's passage questions are fairly simple and straight forward. Conversely, BR Bio is tougher than the current MCAT and offers good explanations for their answers which will help to solve future difficult passages. Another problem is that supposedly there is a lengthy errata listing. However, you cannot access the errata unless you pay EK to use its forums. Bottom line, BR Bio passages are closer to the current MCAT, while EK Bio 1001 is similar to the older MCAT (ex AAMC 3). Are there any classes that will help me for the MCAT? Outside of your pre-reqs, you don't really need anything else. That said, some classes may give you a slight edge or help you. The classes typically considered the most helpful are: 1. Genetics 2. Anatomy and Physiology (specifically the physiology) 3. Biochemistry Should I buy the Official Guide to the MCAT Exam published by the AAMC? I don't suggest you buy it separately. However, since you will be buying AAMC practice tests and/or the MSAR, you might as well get the bundle where you can get the Guide + Practice test or Guide + MSAR at a reduced price. If you get the guide, I suggest you save the problems in it for last. For now, the practice problems in the guide offer the most accurate representation of the current MCAT. For the hat trick, how specific are the topics you write down supposed to be? For example, is it better to write "electron structure," or go more in-depth and write each of the numbered topics (ie. orbital structure, ground state, etc)? It's really up to you and how you want to utilize the Hat Trick. A good starting point would be writing down all of the bolded topics. Then, when you're doing the Hat Trick, you should think about each topic more in-depth. Remember, you're trying to think up an MCAT style passage. In other words, the passage won't be simple; it will involve some of the complexities of each topic. Should I retake FL X? I don't suggest it for a few reasons. First, your score will be inflated. This alone negates the predictive power of the test. If you don't need it to gauge where you are, fine, retake them. For instance, you could simply be going over the problems again to, as others have mentioned, understand the thinking behind it. However, if you are using it as a practice FL, don't. One of the most important aspects of a FL is that it's material you've never seen before. It forces you to quickly analyze an unknown passage, tap into your knowledge, and answer questions you've never seen. If you knew exactly what was going to be on the test, it would take away from the somewhat frantic experience of getting that weird passage. It also makes you more relaxed overall because you know what's coming. Unfortunately, you will not have the luxury of either on the test. You will have to deal with weird passages. You will have to get out of your comfort zone of knowing what's ahead. Then, you get into the timing issues which you MUST get down before the test. When you have prior knowledge of the material, you miss the chance at gaining more experience with the clock. Too many people underestimate the effect of the timer. Again, you have to get used to it and retaking problems won't help. Think of the whole thing like sports practice. Sure, you go over some standard plays again and again to get a feel for them. However, to practice for a real game, you have a scrimmage match or an exhibition game. The other team doesn't tell you what plays they're going to run. If they did, it would eliminate the usefulness of the scrimmage or exhibition game. I've already taken the AAMC FLs, are there other practice tests you recommend? Both Gold Standard and Berkeley Review offer practice tests. Currently, BR FLs are your best bet despite the increased cost and hassle of ordering them. They're great practice for the science sections and okay verbal practice. However, their verbal is much better than GS's which is almost always hated and thought of as very unrealistic compared to the AAMC and the real MCAT. I believe BR's better verbal author wrote those sections which is why they're alright (BR's worse verbal author wrote the passages in the verbal workbook with the lengthy answer explanations). Conversely, Gold Standard has decent science sections, but their scaling is harsh. Expect a couple points lower than normal. As mentioned, their verbal is bad. The only real positive to GS is their price. Overall, spend the extra money on BR's tests. Of course, if you haven't used the AAMC FLs, buy those before any other FLs. How would you rank the FLs? In terms of easily accessible tests (tests that are available to non-class MCAT studiers), BR is your best bet. When considering all four, unlike MCAT prep books, I don't think the agreement on practice test ranking is that strong. Most tend to agree that the later AAMC tests are the best, but beyond that, there isn't much of a consensus. There's even an argument to be made that the AAMCs are only really good for verbal since there are more accurate CBTs in regards to the sciences. Despite this, your first priority should be to take all of the AAMC FLs in order from 3 to 11 1. AAMC #7-11 2. BR #1-7 3. Kaplan #1-6 4. AAMC #3-5 5. TPR 6. Kaplan #7-10/GS The reason why TPR tests are so low is because the opinions are too mixed to gain a good read. Why do you review previous days passages instead of reviewing the same day? There are a couple reasons why I advise reviewing passages the day after. First, it helps to go over the material again, especially in regards to the sciences. Secondly, directly after you take a set of practice problems, you aren't in the best mind frame to then analyze said problems. Your mind is too focused on what you completed and is unable to grasp the big picture. You need that day for your thoughts to settle in order to approach the analysis with the right mindset. It's similar to how you may make a decision one day. Then the next day, you realize that it wasn't the best choice. Yet, on the day you made your choice, you would have probably found justification for it rather than actually analyzing its pros and cons. Another example would be with proof-reading your own papers. Right after you write your paper, when you proof-read it, you'll probably miss plenty of mistakes. However, checking it the next day allows you to approach the paper with a clear mind and find more mistakes. Why rotate subjects? I think rotating subjects is better for a couple reasons. First, it keeps material from the different areas fresh. Often times, concepts in one chapter build upon another. It also lessens the chance of forgetting what you've already studied. By studying all of one area and then moving on, you lack exposure to that topic for the remainder of your content review which leads to forgetting that area. Lastly, rotating subjects fosters connections between the different topics. One of the biggest aspects of the MCAT is connecting various topics together in any given passage. By rotating, you can easily begin to see connections as you complete content review from different areas. If you were only studying one subject, such connections would not be as evident. I have more than 4 months until my test, is there anything you suggest? There are two things you might want to consider. First, aim for mastery of the material in all of your pre-reqs. Don't go simply for the A. Know the material cold. Next, is reading various materials. Here's my suggested reading list: Wall Street Journal New Yorker Economist Random science journals For philosophy articles, I suggest you go to your library or bookstore and pick up a compilation book on Western or Eastern philosophy. Remember to read the boring articles as well as the interesting ones. Chances are your MCAT verbal passages won't be the most exciting read. After you're done reading, try to discern the main idea and the author's opinion. Why is Kaplan's verbal bad? Kaplan is bad in verbal because it doesn't stress the same things as the actual MCAT. For the MCAT, the main idea and author's point of view/opinion are the keys to success. Conversely, Kaplan focuses more on the detail oriented questions which are easy to teach; the kind of questions which make you go back over the passage to find the minute detail being tested. On the MCAT, going back to the passages will kill your timing. Furthermore, you rarely receive such questions and when you do get them, they can typically be answered with the main idea or author's opinion. Why are so many of your recommended books from BR? About BR, it does go into some unnecessary depth, however, it's great for people that need a little bit more to get the rust off their pre-req gears. If someone is still strong in their pre-reqs, then BR can be seen as a waste of time. In these cases, EK is the better choice because it provides you with only what you need to know. Unfortunately, too many people think they are strong in their pre-reqs when they are not. That's why the safer bet is to stick with BR (or TPRH if you have it). Even if you're strong in your pre-reqs, it doesn't hurt to go above and beyond what you might need for the test. True, BR chapters are longer, but if you plan accordingly, you should be able to easily do one chapter a day. If you can't, then you're most likely weak in that area and you need something like BR to help you. Now about why my schedule doesn't include tons of FLs, one of the primary reasons is cost. Adding FLs would significantly raise the cost of my schedule. I could add GS FLs which are around $100 for 10, unfortunately, that's still quite a bit of money and recent test takers have said they aren't that helpful. Plus, they aren't good in verbal which kind of negates the FL feel. One could argue that if I took out BR and replaced it with EK, that would bring down the cost. However, as I mentioned above, BR is the safer bet AND it includes tons of practice passages. When compared to the AAMC FLs, BR offers more practice passages per dollar. 8 AAMC 168 Passages for $280 = 0.6 Passages per $ 4 BR books ~472 Passages for $240 = 1.97 Passages per $ 10 GS FLs 210 Passages (this includes verbal which is pretty bad in GS FLs) for ~$100 = 2.1 Passages per $ 10 GS FLs if you exclude their verbal 140 Passages for $100 = 1.4 Passages per $ Another benefit of taking practice passages is that you'll get the full range of possible topics. With FLs, you will inevitably miss certain topics and/or go over some topics more than others. Now that sounds pretty good at first glance. It seems like you'll get used to topics tested more often. Unfortunately, you can't predict what you'll see on test day. You may get those topics you saw in the FLs, you may not. It's better to take practice passages from all topics, identify any weaknesses, even if they don't show up often on FLs, and eliminate those weaknesses. Well I hope that long winded explanation explained why I chose BR over other books and including more FLs. How do I eliminate careless mistakes? The first step is realizing that these mistakes are happening for a reason. Next, and by far the hardest step, is figuring out why they occur. Here are some questions to get you going: Are you reading the entire question and the answer choices? Was it a math mistake? What was your train of thought? Are there any similarities between the problems? - Content - Timing - Placement in test/passage question stem - Question type Are you rushing? Did you eliminate all of the wrong choices? You made the mistake for a good reason, find that, and you'll have your answer. Any tips for a non-trad that has to work to eat? First off, let me say that you're not in the same situation as a full-time student. This is good. You're less likely to burnout while studying because your job most likely doesn't include school-like studying. Secondly, you need to make my schedule work for you. Unfortunately, this isn't something I can do due to the wide array of jobs and their respective demands. Take my schedule, if it works for you great. If it doesn't, mold it around your work week. Lastly, I have tried to make the 4 month schedule more doable for non-trads, so give it a try before the 3 month version. Do you suggest reviewing the previous day's passages or practice questions or start with reading the suggested chapter and passages? Do you suggest completing the day's work in any particular order? Go with whatever you're most comfortable with doing. The only thing that must be done in order is reading the day's chapter must come before completing that chapter's passages. For instance, you should read BR O-Chem chapter 2 before completing 1/3 of BR O-Chem chapter 2's practice passages. Do you finish the EK 1001 books? You only complete the first 1/3 for most of the EK 1001 books. This is so you have extra practice for concept specific problems. If you want, you're free to go through more. Which do you prefer strictly for content, TPRH or BR? The key to MCAT success is not content review, it's taking tons of timed practice passages and thoroughly reviewing those passages. If you really want an exact breakdown in terms of content review, it'd probably be something like this: Bio: TPRH O-chem: TPRH, a good number prefer BR - In the past, more people preferred BR. Both TPRH and BR are probably about equal with style preference being a large factor. Verbal: TPRH - Verbal is basically entirely practice-based so this doesn't really count. For verbal practice, TPRH easily beats BR. Gen chem: BR, some prefer TPRH Physics: BR, some prefer TPRH Again, you can't go wrong with either. For the money, BR is better because it contains practice passages which are vital for success and far more important than content review. Know anything on free MCAT sites? I don't think the actual free sites (i.e. ones that produce their own material and not steal from others) out there are good enough yet to use as one's sole source for content review. They work well for people that are already strong students. However, that's primarily the top 1-5% which is over represented on SDN. Something people can forget on here is that +35 scores are actually rare. Now in a few more years, one may very well be able to use websites for their content review. That said, you absolutely must buckle down and pay for some passages and practice FLs. None of the free websites I've seen have a decent source of practice material. Furthermore, the key to the MCAT is not content review, but taking tons of timed practice passages. Hence, it is vital that you pick up some good material. A word of warning, I'd only trust free sites recommended by long time posters, such as, Geekchick921. SDN, due to its size, frequently gets scam websites posted on here and just regular old spammers/advertisers. These posters usually operate under a false pretense and act like they've just found this awesome website, so they had to sign up to SDN to tell others. Is a prep course necessary to do well? No one needs to spend thousands for a prep course. Yes, a great teacher and the camaraderie with your fellow students can help, but they aren't necessary. Courses are also good for providing a schedule, but I hope I've helped in that category. Beyond that, it's important to keep in mind that everyone basically studies on their own. When you're signed up for a course, you'll attend classes and maybe some 1-1 review sessions with the teacher, yet the bulk of your studying is by yourself. Why study linearly? Why not focus on your weak areas before your strengths? First off, I think this question underscores the importance of doing well in one's pre-reqs to reduce the number of weakness to as few as possible. Remember, do not merely go for the A; aim for mastery of the material. Working hard in your pre-reqs will boost your GPA and pay off when you study for the MCAT. One of the reasons test prep companies, and most schedules, go in chapter order is due to companies developing schedules for a group of people and not the individual. Rather than create a schedule per student, which would take up quite a bit of time, they make a generic schedule. Sure, they could make a diagnostic to try and pin-point weaknesses, gather the data, and make a schedule per student, yet I doubt they would want to invest their resources like that. Even creating a program to accomplish that task would cost money they probably aren't willing to spend. Furthermore, well, you probably know how I feel about diagnostics judging by my sig. Money is a factor in a test prep company avoiding personalized schedules; however, it is not the only reason to take chapters in order. Additionally, money would not explain why other schedules recommend going linearly. When looking at all of the various content review books, you might notice something. Translational motion is almost always the first topic in Physics. You might be thinking, "Why is that?" There are few reasons which come to mind. First, as opposed to electricity or fluids, translational motion is a relatively easy topic for most students. Secondly, it isn't hard to create complex problems/passages based on this simple area. Lastly, translational motion serves as a great time to introduce the basic math skills and tricks needed for the MCAT. What I'm getting at here is that there are good reasons why subjects are ordered in content review books. The content of one chapter will frequently build from the preceding chapter. Let's take another look at Physics for an example. One starts with translational motion. The next subject is typically forces which is a form of translational motion. Then, there's work which advances the topic of forces and applies force by distance. As you can see, each chapter uses the basis of another to present the material in a logical order. Think of it like pyramid. You start with translational motion and then add the bricks of force and work. Another rationale for a linear schedule is that it must instill the skills necessary to apply knowledge early on. In order to do this, a schedule must start in areas that are strong for the vast majority of students. Beginning with a tough subject does not lay the foundation for application of knowledge because the student is struggling with the content itself. In fact, application of knowledge is the most important factor in MCAT success. Merely knowing the content inside-and-out does not cut it which is why you may see students that ace their classes, but do badly on the MCAT. Next, there is the topic of confidence. I cannot stress enough the how vital confidence is for this test. Without it, you might as well not take the MCAT. Jumping straight into weak areas destroys one's confidence. They start questioning whether they actually have the brains to take on the MCAT. Thus, you don't want to start a schedule by slamming the individual right away. You want to guide the student and help them gain some momentum before tackling their trouble spots. Also, by placing all of your weaknesses up front, you naturally start studying those topics first. You might be thinking, "Yeah that's the point." The problem here is that you may forget those topics by the time your test rolls around. You may even try to subconsciously erase your memory since focusing on all of your weaknesses at once was probably not an enjoyable experience. That's not to say studying for the MCAT is fun, but you get the picture. Additionally, you might spend too much time on your weaknesses and neglect areas that should be your strengths and end up with more weaknesses. Finally, there seems to be a misconception that studying linearly means you don't focus on your weak areas. If you are properly reviewing, you shouldn't be breezing by your weaknesses. You should read and re-read the chapter as you pound the practice problems. When you thoroughly review your practice problems, if you find you missed a problem purely based on content, you have to go over the topic again. Considering that this might mean you review the chapter several times, you can see how one might spend quite a bit of time on their weaknesses. You would also hit your weaknesses again whenever the topic comes up on a practice FL. In closing, the above are my reasons for opting for a linear study schedule and why test prep companies may favor them as well. When should I send my primary application and any tips? As soon as it opens. The majority of the application is simple stuff like your name, address, what schools you attended, which medical school you're applying to, etc. However, there are three things you need to get lined up beforehand: LORs, personal statement, and your transcript. It shouldn't be too tough to get your transcript sent to AMCAS as soon as possible. Make sure you take the couple minutes necessary to figure out what paperwork needs to be filled out beforehand and any fees. Next, try to get your LORs written up and submitted to Interfolio or VirtualEval far in advance. I'd start asking your writers shortly after senior year begins. You'd be surprised at how long it can take. Plus, asking near May is a bad idea because your professors will be gearing up for finals. It's best to ask early and get your letters before your spring semester. Then, all you'll have to do is get Interfolio or VirtualEval to send them to AMCAS or one of the few schools that doesn't accept AMCAS letters. Couple more notes on LORs, check the schools you're interested in to get all of the appropriate letters. Some schools want a specific number of science professor letters and/or non-science professors. Additionally, if you can send some non-science professor letters, do it. The diversity will help your application. Finally, if your schools offers a pre-med committee letter, you MUST get one. Lastly, start writing up your personal statement during your senior year. After you write your first draft, get lots of people to read over it. Your science professors will probably be able to help you fine tune the basic thrust since they've most likely read medical school personal statements before. Your non-science professors are typically good at tightening up your essay. Also, friends can come up with good ideas and help bring out more of your positive attributes. Don't forget about writing tutors either. Once you finish draft number 30, you'll be good So get those three things set up for a smooth primary application.