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MCAT Prep Courses -- Are they necessary?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by JulianCrane, Feb 2, 2002.

  1. JulianCrane

    JulianCrane The Power of Intention

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    This summer I'm going back home to take physics and be done with my pre-med requirements. I was also planning to start studying for the MCATs on my own. What do you think about people studying for the MCAT on their own? Do I really need to take a Kaplan or TPR course? I just think they are expensive and a waste of money. I mean, I didn't do any prep-courses for the SATs and did fine. So, what should I do?
     
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  3. Jim Picotte

    Jim Picotte Senior Member

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    I didn't take an MCAT prep course, nor a USMLE Step I or II prep course. I guess it depends on how you study and whether you can keep yourself motivated on your own. That's how I study best, by myself in a coffeeshop wired on caffeine but that's me and if you love the lectures, spoonfeeding type stuff then maybe a prep course would be very helpful for you.
     
  4. brandonite

    Moderator Emeritus

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    If you can study on your own, you'll do fine. I didn't take a class, and I did very well on my MCATs.

    I think they work best for people who have a hard time getting motivated to study.
     
  5. BUmiken12

    BUmiken12 Senior Member

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    I'm in TPR Hyperlearning right now, and I love it...the teachers are great and the materials are great (except for the bio book). BUT...I would agree with the other two: if you can study on your own then you should do fine. Just go to Ebay to find some cheap used materials and study those along with some practice tests. To me, TPR has been worth every penny, but if you're able to study like Jim Picotte then I'd consider not taking one. Good luck.
     
  6. racergirl

    racergirl Senior Member

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    Are they necessary? No. Can they be helpful for some? Yes. It's up to you. I studied on my own and did well. But make sure you study! and buy some prep materials too. Get the tests from the AAMC, and I bought the Kaplan comprehensive review book too. Beyond that, I just used text books.
     
  7. The Fly

    The Fly Senior Member

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    As far as test prep is concerned--I think its a very constant sort of thing...if you did well on the SAT without a course, I think you can do well on the MCAT without a course. But I agree with the others that you DEFINITELY need the course materials--buy them on ebay like I did (I purchased both TPR and Kaplan course materials--52 pounds worth!!).

    Personally, I did well on the SAT without a course--honestly, I can't remember how on earth I did as well as I did. The MCAT, however, was a little different--I did well (34T), but wish I did a little better, which I feel that the classes could have done.

    It comes down to whether you want to spend the $1000 more it costs for the course vs. the books, but I think that you probably do a little better than you would just studying on your own--I think it makes you do a bit more work than you otherwise would have.
     
  8. Doctora Foxy

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    I did well on the sat without a prep course, but now that I've taken a KAPLAN prep mcat course, I bet I could have done better on the sat. On the mcat diagnostic kaplan test 1 got a 15, which kaplan helped me bring up to a 27, and i could have done better if i studied harder on my own.....i was able to ask questions and go the kaplan center where they have TONS of practice material---something that would also be expensive to get studying on your own.....it all depends on if you like to ask questions and if you think all of the extra study materials are worth it. I also heard that the princeton review is more comprehensive in terms of review, but i don't know how much study materials they offer (test questions)

    Also....at my school they offered a free practice test to see how you would do...now i think these are harder to get you to join, but take it and see how you do...you may find that you don't need a lot of extra help
     
  9. Mutterkuchen

    Mutterkuchen Senior Member

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    I am taking TPR mostly for the structure of studying. If I really thought I could study 3-4 hours a day for a test that is months away, I would save the money. I know that I won't do that though.
     
  10. JulianCrane

    JulianCrane The Power of Intention

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    Why must one study 3-4 hours everyday? That just seems totally ridiculous when you have work for class and other committments to pursue. Don't get me wrong -- I advocate studying wholeheartedly for the MCAT, but insanely studying like that is not something that will help me in the long run.
     
  11. Angeliqua

    Angeliqua Senior Member

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    I am taking the TPR review course now, I completely agree with JBJ in that the structure helps A LOT. I graduated last year and am no longer in the college studying mode, therefore, having a class helps keep me focused. I envy those people who can study without a course, it saves money and time spent in a more or less useless lecture. If you have the discipline to study hard for the next few months, you will be fine. The actual class time most could do without, however, the structure helps. 3-4 hours a day is ideal, make that 6-8 on the weekends...it is only for a few months!
     
  12. Angeliqua

    Angeliqua Senior Member

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    I am taking the TPR review course now, I completely agree with JBJ in that the structure helps A LOT. I graduated last year and am no longer in the college studying mode, therefore, having a class helps keep me focused. I envy those people who can study without a course, it saves money and time spent in a more or less useless lecture. If you have the discipline to study hard for the next few months, you will be fine. The actual class time most could do without, however, the structure helps. 3-4 hours a day is ideal, make that 6-8 on the weekends...it is only for a few months!
     
  13. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    I didn't use a prep course nor did I study 4 hours a day. I spent Saturday or Sunday studying. I used the AAMC practice tests to figure out what concepts I needed to know and used text books and internet to learn what I didn't know. For verbal I practiced a lot (and I mean more than one hundred) of reading comprehension passages from every test prep book I could get my hands on for free from the library (GRE, LSAT, MCAT, OAT, DAT, VAT, GMAT, etc.). Good luck...
     
  14. squeek

    squeek Senior Member

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    It depends on if you are a good standardized-test taker. Also, the MCAT is different from the SAT. It asks you to apply knowledge rather than simply regurgitate it.

    I took the Kaplan course, and got a 35 on my MCAT (the first test I took at Kaplan was about a 20). I didn't use the lectures so much, as my undergrad years were solid. What I needed was the practice tests--I needed the test taking strategies and familiarity with the test format. I took as many as I could, and it was extremely helpful.

    Good luck!
     
  15. mistirvr

    mistirvr Member

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    I'd have to agree with everyone else. I took TPR and saw an improvement in my MCAT score, so it worked for me. Things to consider are the cost and your own study needs. I felt that the lectures were beneficial at times, particularly when I needed more help to understand a specific concept.

    So, evaluate yourself and how you learn. Oh, and I attended an AMSA conference at Tulane med. school which included a pre-med track. Dean Pizzano (spelling?) of admissions at Tulane had this to say about TPR and Kaplan...basically, the point of taking the MCAT is to make yourself more competitive among other applicants and increase your chances of securing a seat in medical school. If everyone else is taking a prep course to learn not just the material for the test, but also to obtain hints and MCAT specific test taking skills, then you need to do what everyone else is doing. He said it might not be fair, but this is one time that you need to conform. (Unless of course you're a genius, in which case you have no worries about the test).

    -Melissa
     
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  17. dukeblue01

    dukeblue01 Senior Member

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    JulianCrane, you should check out the financial aid thing with TPR and Kaplan. I know my girlfriend just signed up for Kaplan, turned in her financial aid forms and got the course for half price. I think that test prep is pretty important to review all the material and go over strategy. More people are using it every year. Check into it. Good luck.
     
  18. figure five

    figure five Member

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    yes, I think it's worth it to look into prep courses. If money is an issue then you can get financial support (I did TPR and they paid half with scholarships). For me, I hadn't had any sciences for a year and a half, so it was definitely helpful. Also, I took physics while I studied for the MCAT (sounds like what you're doing), which actually worked out quite well. I studied physics enough for my quizzes and exams, and that was more than sufficient to cover all the physics material on the MCAT...in fact, physical sciences ended up being my strongest section.

    like others have said, if you can't afford the time / expense of these courses, at least pick up the workbooks and practice tests -- you definitely will want to develop brain endurance for the actual exam!
     

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