maikelm

2+ Year Member
Jan 17, 2017
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Hey Everyone,

I am looking to start studying for the MCAT again. I took the MCAT twice (once in 2016 and once in 2017) at which point I was enrolled in the Kaplan courses. Now, I do not want to enroll in any class and would like to study on my own. Frankly, I don't have time and I feel like many of those classes are a huge financial burden. I have to review content and then complete practice tests. I know that I am a bit rusty in some of the content.

I have the second edition Kaplan MCAT books. These were the same ones I've used to study in the past. I'm thinking of purchasing Examkracker's study guides and use that as a foundation to study. Considering the Kaplan books weren't as effective in the past, I feel like reading these books or even purchasing new versions may be a waste.

At the same time, I'm thinking of using full length tests from Princeton Review and Next Step to consider other companies.

I plan on using all AAMC material, since it is the most applicable to the real-world exam.

Also, I'm looking for additional practice questions, specifically for biology, organic chemistry, general chemistry, and biochem. Any recommendations here?

Thanks in advance!
Maikel
 

GreenDuck12

5+ Year Member
Mar 30, 2014
1,825
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Materials:
1. For content review and practice: The Berkeley Review. Why? Phased passaged based content practice that mimics the style of the MCAT. The spaced repetition helps reinforce content knowledge and fill in gaps.
2. For Practice: UWorld. Why? 2000 high quality questions with superb answer explanations. Their PS and CP practice is excellent. I personally really liked their BB practice but others found it less helpful. This is a great resource to use under simulated mcat conditions (59 questions in 95 minutes)
3. Full length mcat practice: Next Step. Why? High quality experimental setup questions that are very common on the MCAT. Princeton Review is fine. Kaplan exams are poor quality and overemphasize minutia.
 
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maikelm

2+ Year Member
Jan 17, 2017
68
12
PA
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
Materials:
1. For content review and practice: The Berkeley Review. Why? Phased passaged based content practice that mimics the style of the MCAT. The spaced repetition helps reinforce content knowledge and fill in gaps.
2. For Practice: UWorld. Why? 2000 high quality questions with superb answer explanations. Their PS and CP practice is excellent. I personally really liked their BB practice but others found it less helpful. This is a great resource to use under simulated mcat conditions (59 questions in 95 minutes)
3. Full length mcat practice: Next Step. Why? High quality experimental setup questions that are very common on the MCAT. Princeton Review is fine. Kaplan exams are poor quality and overemphasize minutia.


Thank you @GreenDuck12 !

I was talking to one of my friends the other day and he was recommending Berkeley review as well. He was pushing me to go for a class, but I feel like that would be a financial waste for me. Along with that, the time constraints to adhere to the course is minimal with my schedule I feel.
I will likely get the Berkeley book series and study on my own at my pace.

Regarding UWorld, this is something new that I'm learning about. It seems like they have excellent resources when it comes to different practice questions. I think I will get this once I am getting a handle on my content review a bit. So, in a couple of weeks of studying.

Regarding full length, I'm surprised you recommended Next Step. I've heard mixed reviews about them on SDN. I've heard people refer to Princeton Review more. And Kaplan tests are absolutely horrible considering I took them in the past during my Kaplan course.

Thanks again
Maikel
 
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GreenDuck12

5+ Year Member
Mar 30, 2014
1,825
1,781
Status
  1. Medical Student
Thank you @GreenDuck12 !

I was talking to one of my friends the other day and he was recommending Berkeley review as well. He was pushing me to go for a class, but I feel like that would be a financial waste for me. Along with that, the time constraints to adhere to the course is minimal with my schedule I feel.
I will likely get the Berkeley book series and study on my own at my pace.

Regarding UWorld, this is something new that I'm learning about. It seems like they have excellent resources when it comes to different practice questions. I think I will get this once I am getting a handle on my content review a bit. So, in a couple of weeks of studying.

Regarding full length, I'm surprised you recommended Next Step. I've heard mixed reviews about them on SDN. I've heard people refer to Princeton Review more. And Kaplan tests are absolutely horrible considering I took them in the past during my Kaplan course.

Thanks again
Maikel

Princeton review for FL is fine. I tend to recommend Next Step because of the experimental passages and that they’re pretty inexpensive.

As far as studying goes, I highly recommend a phased approach that emphasizes practice more than content.
 
Aug 6, 2020
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Kaplan quicksheets is an amazing free resource (or $5 on ebay) chock full of high yield material. Alternatively, you could use the Milesdown review sheets from Reddit which fills in the missing info for P/S.

I highly recommend using Anki and UWorld :) If you want additional P/S practice, the Kaplan q-bank is solid. I don't recommend the other Kaplan q-banks because the questions can make you get lost in the weeds.
 

PatchAdamsWannabe

2+ Year Member
Oct 17, 2017
153
353
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
I liked my ExamKrackers books-- I felt like they were in depth enough that I could master the material but didn't overemphasize minute details. I also recommend Khan Academy, LeahForSci, and AK lectures on YouTube if you are struggling with a specific area. I absolutely recommend UWorld and Anki also-- these were the biggest help for my retake and I improved significantly with them.
 

maikelm

2+ Year Member
Jan 17, 2017
68
12
PA
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
Thanks for your feedback! - @GreenDuck12 @JimmyPage1969 and @PatchAdamsWannabe !!

1) @GreenDuck12 ....
I didn't realize that NextStep offered pretty inexpensive full length exams. Since their quality appears to be well-done, I think I will definitely add that to my list of items.

Phasing my studying is definitely how I would like to approach this. Since I'm working full-time now and I have some more responsibilities compared to a few years ago, I don't want to just jump into studying around the clock. I feel like that would be a recipe for disaster and getting burnt out. This is why I want to focus on content for a bit and when I'm in the groove for studying, then I can add more exam-like conditions including full-length. One of the benefits is that winter time is coming in the northeast (I live north of Philadelphia, PA by a bit) and I feel like it adds to my "study mood". This is something that I experience and I like that mentality.

2) @JimmyPage1969 ....
I still have that Kaplan quick sheet (or maybe a quick sheet booklet) from when I took the Kaplan MCAT course. I assume it barley changed in the past. Ironically, I barley looked at that in the past, because I felt like it was overwhelming with information. I never heard of MileDown or reddit, but I just found their post with their entire 90 page review paper. I think I have a better shot at looking at all of these since it breaks everything down. Thanks for letting me know about it!

I found a few Anki made cards here and there and I've been downloading them. I think their application will be more beneficial as I'm seeing more content and stuff gets solidified in head. I think I may get the iPhone app later on so I can study during my breaks at work. I think I reviewed all of the Kaplan questions in the past, but their level of difficulty was all over the place - I'm not sure if I'll invest in these.

3) @PatchAdamsWannabe ....
I think I've heard a few people on SDN recommend ExamKracker's content as it is not super deep and it does not confuse the reader. Unlike Kaplan's books that get deep in content that overwhelms everyone.

Youtube is one of the best sources of learning information. It looks like Khan Academy is actually retiring the MCAT page in September 2021, but I think this will give me plenty of time to study. AK Lectures were amazing when I was in undergrad. I don't recall using or hearing about LeahForSci in the past, but I will make sure to look into that. Different people have different ways for explaining things so its always beneficial to look at different videos.

As for UWorld, I will definitely invest in their resources since they have a plethora of questions. I think I will get it once I've gotten a groove for studying and I have reviewed some content. Then I can re-review accordingly.

Thanks again everyone!
Maikel
 

Princeton Medical Student

2+ Year Member
Jul 4, 2016
1,044
2,387
As alternatives to the things suggested here:

Altius often has deals for 10 tests for $100. Their CP and BB sections are REALLY good and prepare you well for the toughest materials. I haven't taken NS so I honestly don't know enough to say.

I prefer Kaplan books over TBR, simply because imho TBR goes too far into the deep end of content review, when the MCAT is not a content exam. Your preference may vary, but my philosophy was to minimize the amount of time doing content review, and I would not be able to do it if I had to do TBR.
 

maikelm

2+ Year Member
Jan 17, 2017
68
12
PA
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
As alternatives to the things suggested here:

Altius often has deals for 10 tests for $100. Their CP and BB sections are REALLY good and prepare you well for the toughest materials. I haven't taken NS so I honestly don't know enough to say.

I prefer Kaplan books over TBR, simply because imho TBR goes too far into the deep end of content review, when the MCAT is not a content exam. Your preference may vary, but my philosophy was to minimize the amount of time doing content review, and I would not be able to do it if I had to do TBR.

Thanks @Princeton Medical Student for your insight and perspectives!

I never heard of Altius, but I'll add it to my list of potential test to take. Since it has two excellent sections, I don't think it will hurt.

I agree with you that it would be best to minimize the amount of time doing content review. But I feel like I need it to improve some of my content. I'm looking over some biology stuff now and I am trying to brush up on the information in my head. And I was a biology major in undergrad!

Thanks again!
Maikel
 
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goodtime

5+ Year Member
May 20, 2014
114
20
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
Materials:
1. For content review and practice: The Berkeley Review. Why? Phased passaged based content practice that mimics the style of the MCAT. The spaced repetition helps reinforce content knowledge and fill in gaps.
2. For Practice: UWorld. Why? 2000 high quality questions with superb answer explanations. Their PS and CP practice is excellent. I personally really liked their BB practice but others found it less helpful. This is a great resource to use under simulated mcat conditions (59 questions in 95 minutes)
3. Full length mcat practice: Next Step. Why? High quality experimental setup questions that are very common on the MCAT. Princeton Review is fine. Kaplan exams are poor quality and overemphasize minutia.
How are the new Berkeley review books? If I have the old one which should I update?
 

GreenDuck12

5+ Year Member
Mar 30, 2014
1,825
1,781
Status
  1. Medical Student
How are the new Berkeley review books? If I have the old one which should I update?
How old? TBR doesn’t update their materials as frequently as other companies so I think investing in new materials may make sense. However, if your books are pretty recent then it should be fine to use the materials you have.
 

goodtime

5+ Year Member
May 20, 2014
114
20
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
How old? TBR doesn’t update their materials as frequently as other companies so I think investing in new materials may make sense. However, if your books are pretty recent then it should be fine to use the materials you have.
2012 I believe
 

PlsLetMeIn21

2+ Year Member
Dec 5, 2017
695
452
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
I agree with GreenDuck that there is nothing better for studying the sciences than TBR. I also concur that Uworld is a great resource when used at the right time. Their P/S, as mentioned, is superb. I probably rate their B/B a little higher but there will be some questions that will undermine your confidence. Don't let this happen. I was not a big fan of their C/P.

As alternatives to the things suggested here:

Altius often has deals for 10 tests for $100. Their CP and BB sections are REALLY good and prepare you well for the toughest materials. I haven't taken NS so I honestly don't know enough to say.

I prefer Kaplan books over TBR, simply because imho TBR goes too far into the deep end of content review, when the MCAT is not a content exam. Your preference may vary, but my philosophy was to minimize the amount of time doing content review, and I would not be able to do it if I had to do TBR.

Can't beat the Altius price, but there are better exams out there if you can afford it.

I disagree about the detail in TBR. And like another poster mentioned, felt Kaplan left vital information out. The TBR bio book has a couple chapters that are thick, but I think people get scared off thinking the chapters are big before they do them and realize they simplify so many concepts. I learned optics, acids and bases, kidneys, isoelectric points, and so many thing from them that I never really got in school. It was pure gold for me. TBR was exactly what I needed in terms of details and applications for the MCATs I took.

Most of their content review involves sample questions which is exactly where you need depth. I loved that they took the time to explain their reasoning in not only choosing a right answer but why they eliminated wrong answers. This by far was the best thing for the MCAT of all the materials I used. Learning how to apply information is exactly what you need and exactly what they did. I'm talking about their science books when I say this. Their CARS book is not that helpful and P/S is not worth the time.
 
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goodtime

5+ Year Member
May 20, 2014
114
20
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
I agree with GreenDuck that there is nothing better for studying the sciences than TBR. I also concur that Uworld is a great resource when used at the right time. Their P/S, as mentioned, is superb. I probably rate their B/B a little higher but there will be some questions that will undermine your confidence. Don't let this happen. I was not a big fan of their C/P.



Can't beat the Altius price, but there are better exams out there if you can afford it.

I disagree about the detail in TBR. And like another poster mentioned, felt Kaplan left vital information out. The TBR bio book has a couple chapters that are thick, but I think people get scared off thinking the chapters are big before they do them and realize they simplify so many concepts. I learned optics, acids and bases, kidneys, isoelectric points, and so many thing from them that I never really got in school. It was pure gold for me. TBR was exactly what I needed in terms of details and applications for the MCATs I took.

Most of their content review involves sample questions which is exactly where you need depth. I loved that they took the time to explain their reasoning in not only choosing a right answer but why they eliminated wrong answers. This by far was the best thing for the MCAT of all the materials I used. Learning how to apply information is exactly what you need and exactly what they did. I'm talking about their science books when I say this. Their CARS book is not that helpful and P/S is not worth the time.
Which exams are better of we can afford?
 
Mar 14, 2019
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????? It's personal preference. Some people swear by one or another, and none of them compare to AAMC, so it really doesn't matter. NS (now Blueprint) is popular. Other like TPR or TBR or Kaplan. I used Altius because they ran a sale and I got 10 for $99. The value is in getting additional practice, not is using them to gauge how you're going to score, because they all off, by varying degrees for different people, since they are just inherently different from the real thing.
 

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