laxgirl06

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Hey everyone,
Hope your semester is off to a good start. So just need some advice/insight, especially if you have already taken the MCAT.... please + thank you!

I've going to be taking the MCAT in April (tentatively) + was wondering the best route... I had my eyes on The Berkeley Review books for everything except CARS + the PR Hyperlearning Verbal Workbook (2012 edition) for CARS; possibly the Next Step CARS book as well

My questions:
How did you study *successfully* for CARS?
For the MCAT in general?
How did you make your schedule? Stick to it? Especially while in school?
Anything else someone planning to apply this cycle should know?

******DISCLAIMER: For me, the MCAT will be my make or break and I am aiming to score *very high*
*Money isn't a problem (ex. I can afford to buy a book set + take a course*
Any advice is greatly appreciated!
 

libertyyne

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You should post in the MCAT forum. You will recieve better advice there. That being said, I recommend the Princeton Review self directed class. Look up QforQumerica's guide there it should be a sticky. Read all their prep techniques discussed there. The only thing that will get you to score higher on this test is taking practice tests/questions. I also worked fulltime while preping for it, so I prepped on nights and weekends. I created a tracking board to track the chapters I was studying on stickies but everyone's tracking method differs.

Also, the latest MCAT most MD schools accept is usually from September. So you would have to register, prep, and take the mcat within 2-3 weeks.
 
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freak7

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I liked the EK books, they worked for me but YMMV. I felt like it was an "MCAT for Dummies" book.
 
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laxgirl06

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You should post in the MCAR forum. You will recieve better advice there. That being said, I recommend the Princeton Review self directed class. Look up QforQumerica's guide there it should be a sticky. Read all their prep techniques discussed there. The only thing that will get you to score higher on this test is taking practice tests/questions. I also worked fulltime while preping for it, so I prepped on nights and weekends. I created a tracking board to track the chapters I was studying on stickies but everyone's tracking method differs.

Also, the latest MCAT most MD schools accept is usually from September. So you would have to register, prep, and take the mcat within 2-3 weeks.
Where's the MCAT forum? And the self-directed class, is it online? What does it entail? About how many hours per day/per week did you study and for how many months please? But I mean that I will be applying in June...would that be considered next cycle?
 
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laxgirl06

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I liked the EK books, they worked for me but YMMV. I felt like it was an "MCAT for Dummies" book.
Oh, I hear that the EK books are for people who only need 'review'... I think I need to re-learn because I don't have a strong background in science. What does YMMV mean?
 

Mclovin0351

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I took my first full length exam with no prior studying. Then I spent a week reviewing it, learning everything I could from every question. If I didn't understand the content behind a question, I searched the Internet or read my old textbooks to learn it. Then I took another full length and reviewed that one. Then I did that 16 more times (within 7 weeks).

I took all of my notes in quizlet and reviewed it once a week or so. I was weak with psych/soc so I borrowed the TPR review book from a friend and read it every night before bed until I had read it through twice. I also did hundreds of random discrete questions, I think the website was mcatquestionoftheday or something like that. I studied largely alone but also with a group (one of whom got a 522).

Ended up with a 517, 129-129-130-129
 

libertyyne

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Where's the MCAT forum? And the self-directed class, is it online? What does it entail? About how many hours per day/per week did you study and for how many months please? But I mean that I will be applying in June...would that be considered next cycle?
http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forums/mcat-discussions.31/

June would be next cycle for class of 2018.

Expect to put in 500-1000 hours

I studied for 5-7 hours every night 5 nights a week and 12 hours everyday on the weeknd for roughly four months, I took off a day or two here and there. The new tests are almost 7ish hours i took 20 of them. so 140 hours just in testing.

I scored 518.
 
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laxgirl06

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http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forums/mcat-discussions.31/

June would be next cycle for class of 2018.

Expect to put in 500-1000 hours

I studied for 5-7 hours every night 5 nights a week and 12 hours everyday on the weeknd for roughly four months, I took off a day or two here and there. The new tests are almost 7ish hours i took 20 of them. so 140 hours just in testing.

I scored 518.
http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forums/mcat-discussions.31/

June would be next cycle for class of 2018.

Expect to put in 500-1000 hours

I studied for 5-7 hours every night 5 nights a week and 12 hours everyday on the weeknd for roughly four months, I took off a day or two here and there. The new tests are almost 7ish hours i took 20 of them. so 140 hours just in testing.

I scored 518.
Thanks for the insight. It's very helpful. I just want to ask some follow up things then I'll stop bothering you. XD Do you consider yourself a natural test taker? Do you have a strong background in bio, chem, phys, psych/soc, and cars?
 
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laxgirl06

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http://forums.studentdoctor.net/forums/mcat-discussions.31/

June would be next cycle for class of 2018.

Expect to put in 500-1000 hours

I studied for 5-7 hours every night 5 nights a week and 12 hours everyday on the weeknd for roughly four months, I took off a day or two here and there. The new tests are almost 7ish hours i took 20 of them. so 140 hours just in testing.

I scored 518.
And where did you get 20 for the new mcat? AAMC?
 
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laxgirl06

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I took my first full length exam with no prior studying. Then I spent a week reviewing it, learning everything I could from every question. If I didn't understand the content behind a question, I searched the Internet or read my old textbooks to learn it. Then I took another full length and reviewed that one. Then I did that 16 more times (within 7 weeks).

I took all of my notes in quizlet and reviewed it once a week or so. I was weak with psych/soc so I borrowed the TPR review book from a friend and read it every night before bed until I had read it through twice. I also did hundreds of random discrete questions, I think the website was mcatquestionoftheday or something like that. I studied largely alone but also with a group (one of whom got a 522).

Ended up with a 517, 129-129-130-129
Thanks so much for your insight amd advice. Where did you get your practice tests? And also, I have some follow ups. Do you consider yourself a natural test taker? Do you have a strong background in bio? Chem? Physics? Psych/soc? Cars?
 

libertyyne

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Thanks so much for your insight amd advice. Where did you get your practice tests? And also, I have some follow ups. Do you consider yourself a natural test taker? Do you have a strong background in bio? Chem? Physics? Psych/soc? Cars?
Take every AAMC test you can find, I even took the older ones.
Take every Kaplan 8/Princeton Review test 11 you can Find

Probably an OK test taker. Nerves still got to me that day.

The test doesnt require you to have strong backgrounds, rather have a college level understanding of the science that any 101 class would cover.

CARS is difficult to teach, yet practice makes perfect.

The test is really about learning how to interpret and apply basic science principles.
 

libertyyne

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laxgirl06

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Take every AAMC test you can find, I even took the older ones.
Take every Kaplan 8/Princeton Review test 11 you can Find

Probably an OK test taker. Nerves still got to me that day.

The test doesnt require you to have strong backgrounds, rather have a college level understanding of the science that any 101 class would cover.

CARS is difficult to teach, yet practice makes perfect.

The test is really about learning how to interpret and apply basic science principles.
Oh okay, that makes sense, I see.

Right, I plan to do CARS every day, at least a passage or two.

The main thing I'm worried about is having enough time to study. What I planned to do was to study less on the weeks I had exams and study A LOT during my one month winter break and also during Spring semester, when my course load will be much lighter. 500 hours-1000 hours :eek::writer:+pity+
 

libertyyne

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Oh okay, that makes sense, I see.

Right, I plan to do CARS every day, at least a passage or two.

The main thing I'm worried about is having enough time to study. What I planned to do was to study less on the weeks I had exams and study A LOT during my one month winter break and also during Spring semester, when my course load will be much lighter. 500 hours-1000 hours :eek::writer:+pity+
In my mind, there is no way around the hours. Even if you are naturally gifted building the stamina to take a 6 hour test is a skill rather than a natural ability. If I can work 50 hours a week and do it, so can you!
 
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The Knife & Gun Club

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2 months while working full time: average 8 hours/day x7 days per week. Live at home so mom can take care of all non-academic crap like food and laundry lol.

First 2 weeks you study just content, no practice sections. After 2 weeks start taking practice sections and reviewing answers.

With 3 weeks to go take a FL every few days to get as much test experience as possible.

Low GPA means this test basically decides your med school career, but if you do well it will be crazy helpful.
 
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laxgirl06

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I started studying in October 2015 for my MCAT in April 2016. October-December I did content review from Kaplan at a very leisurely pace. Over the work week, I would read one chapter from Kaplan psych. Over the weekends, I would read the chem/phys/bio. January-March I studied from EK. They had 5 or 6 books, I would read a chapter from each every day of the week. The following week, I would read the next chapter from each and do all the practice passages and chapter exam from the previous week. Took very thorough notes on each chapter, such that I could understand all the major points without referencing the books. Finished all of this within 7-8 weeks, leaving a month for practice exams and going back over my weak spots.
Sounds like a good plan, did you do well?
 
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laxgirl06

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2 months while working full time: average 8 hours/day x7 days per week. Live at home so mom can take care of all non-academic crap like food and laundry lol.

First 2 weeks you study just content, no practice sections. After 2 weeks start taking practice sections and reviewing answers.

With 3 weeks to go take a FL every few days to get as much test experience as possible.

Low GPA means this test basically decides your med school career, but if you do well it will be crazy helpful.
Wow, 8 hours a day while working full time... I don't work but have research, volunteering responsibilities that add up. Yes it does decide it so I am trying to strategize the best way to go about it. So far I am leaning towards TBR books except for cars + the TPR hyperlearning for cars. But do you guys recommend an additional prep course? If so, what? Or should I just invest that money in practice exams?
 

The Knife & Gun Club

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I recommend getting your hands on and taking as many full lengths and discrete sections as possible. If you can try to use multiple prep companies, since some may stress certain skills/concepts more heavily than others.

I did Kaplan and liked their progress tracking and analytical tools, but EK, TPR, and Princeton are all solid
 

lexswift

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2 months while working full time: average 8 hours/day x7 days per week. Live at home so mom can take care of all non-academic crap like food and laundry lol.

First 2 weeks you study just content, no practice sections. After 2 weeks start taking practice sections and reviewing answers.

With 3 weeks to go take a FL every few days to get as much test experience as possible.

Low GPA means this test basically decides your med school career, but if you do well it will be crazy helpful.
Did you find it difficult to work while studying? Did you request time off the few weeks before the test?
 

freak7

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Did you find it difficult to work while studying? Did you request time off the few weeks before the test?
I worked full time while studying too. I actually enjoyed coming home from the monotony of work to read about topics I actually liked. IIRC I only took off the day before the test and test day.
 

lexswift

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I worked full time while studying too. I actually enjoyed coming home from the monotony of work to read about topics I actually liked. IIRC I only took off the day before the test and test day.
How far in advance did you study? I feel studying full time while working full time seems unfeasible. I don't work full time for this reason and still want to take time off from all activities the few weeks prior to the official test date.

BTW congratulations on that great CARS score. My CARS scores are awful and I feel like I'm not improving significantly.
 

freak7

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How far in advance did you study? I feel studying full time while working full time seems unfeasible. I don't work full time for this reason and still want to take time off from all activities the few weeks prior to the official test date.

BTW congratulations on that great CARS score. My CARS scores are awful and I feel like I'm not improving significantly.
I think you may be confusing me with @libertyyne. I have not posted my cars score in a while.

I "studied" on and off for a couple of years by tutoring math and science to late high school and college students so I had to learn the material to the point where I basically couldn't forget.

Started hardcore studying 2 months before the test though.
 

lexswift

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I think you may be confusing me with @libertyyne. I have not posted my cars score in a while.

I "studied" on and off for a couple of years by tutoring math and science to late high school and college students so I had to learn the material to the point where I basically couldn't forget.

Started hardcore studying 2 months before the test though.
My mistake! You recommended EK for CARS and I'm wondering what makes you recommend them? Was it just the fact that they offer a lot of practice passages? Did it help you improve a lot?
 

freak7

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My mistake! You recommended EK for CARS and I'm wondering what makes you recommend them? Was it just the fact that they offer a lot of practice passages? Did it help you improve a lot?
It was more how they suggested treating the CARS section. They had a lot of great strategies.
 

The Knife & Gun Club

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Did you find it difficult to work while studying? Did you request time off the few weeks before the test?
I took the week before the test off. I actually found it kind of fun to be so singularly focused on a goal. Definitely tough to do while working, but if I started slacking I'd remember that anything less than stellar meant having to find a new career path. This is especially true for applicants like me/you who had low undergrad gpas.

Be sure to find as much balance in your life as possible too. Eat right, work out, do a little leisure reading after a long day. Mental health is just as critical as content mastery.
 

Mclovin0351

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Thanks so much for your insight amd advice. Where did you get your practice tests? And also, I have some follow ups. Do you consider yourself a natural test taker? Do you have a strong background in bio? Chem? Physics? Psych/soc? Cars?
I used practice tests from Kaplan (best), TPR, Next Step, MCATcracker (worst), and the lone AAMC Fl that was available. I consider myself an above average standardized test taker, I have been at/above the 96th percentile for SAT, ACT (without studying), and MCAT.
My only background in chem and physics were the pre-req classes, which I did very well in but I hated physics. Bio major so I was strong there (had taken anatomy and physiology, genetics, and evolutionary bio). No background at all in psych soc.
 
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libertyyne

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What was your general approach for CARS? Did you practice outside of your FLs?
I mostly did timed FL's. Some nights when I was dragging afterwork I would do a timed verbal by itself or timed passages. People say you should read newspapers and other articles for comprehension, but this means years before not just 6 months. I read widely for pleasure prior to the exam so that helped immensely probably difficult to reproduce. English is also my second language so scoring a 14 on the section really was a feat for me. As I said practice , practice and more practice is what is needed.
 
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libertyyne

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How far in advance did you study? I feel studying full time while working full time seems unfeasible. I don't work full time for this reason and still want to take time off from all activities the few weeks prior to the official test date.

BTW congratulations on that great CARS score. My CARS scores are awful and I feel like I'm not improving significantly.
I took about I want to say 5-6 months since I was working fulltime. The problem is if you study too far in advance you will forget it all and burn through your FLs. I studied for 4~ months seriously, would hit the books everyday after work. It is dificult and it will suck at first. As far as working or participating in other activities it depends on you. Everyone has different study styles and requirements. I will suggest again that you go to the MCAT forum and read up on the 30+ score thread. It really will give you good context. I dont think anyone will be able to tell you whether it will be feasible for you or not to maintain any activities prior to the exam.

I took the week before the test off. I actually found it kind of fun to be so singularly focused on a goal. Definitely tough to do while working, but if I started slacking I'd remember that anything less than stellar meant having to find a new career path. This is especially true for applicants like me/you who had low undergrad gpas.

Be sure to find as much balance in your life as possible too. Eat right, work out, do a little leisure reading after a long day. Mental health is just as critical as content mastery.
I agree with the above sentiment. This will come off as weird, but I honestly miss prepping for the test. I miss the singleminded focus almost to the point of an obsession. My gf joked that the MCAT was my mistress. So love the test, learn everything you can about the test and what it is trying to ask from test takers. take all the tests under realistic conditions, I went to a coffee shop or other busy environment and took them. Good Luck.
 
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laxgirl06

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I took about I want to say 5-6 months since I was working fulltime. The problem is if you study too far in advance you will forget it all and burn through your FLs. I studied for 4~ months seriously, would hit the books everyday after work. It is dificult and it will suck at first. As far as working or participating in other activities it depends on you. Everyone has different study styles and requirements. I will suggest again that you go to the MCAT forum and read up on the 30+ score thread. It really will give you good context. I dont think anyone will be able to tell you whether it will be feasible for you or not to maintain any activities prior to the exam.



I agree with the above sentiment. This will come off as weird, but I honestly miss prepping for the test. I miss the singleminded focus almost to the point of an obsession. My gf joked that the MCAT was my mistress. So love the test, learn everything you can about the test and what it is trying to ask from test takers. take all the tests under realistic conditions, I went to a coffee shop or other busy environment and took them. Good Luck.
So my plan is to write out a study plan by this weekend. Would it be possible for you or anyone on here to verify it?
 
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laxgirl06

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I used practice tests from Kaplan (best), TPR, Next Step, MCATcracker (worst), and the lone AAMC Fl that was available. I consider myself an above average standardized test taker, I have been at/above the 96th percentile for SAT, ACT (without studying), and MCAT.
My only background in chem and physics were the pre-req classes, which I did very well in but I hated physics. Bio major so I was strong there (had taken anatomy and physiology, genetics, and evolutionary bio). No background at all in psych soc.
Okay, thanks so much for the information. I have a weak science background so am trying to personalize my plan based off that.
 
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laxgirl06

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I took the week before the test off. I actually found it kind of fun to be so singularly focused on a goal. Definitely tough to do while working, but if I started slacking I'd remember that anything less than stellar meant having to find a new career path. This is especially true for applicants like me/you who had low undergrad gpas.

Be sure to find as much balance in your life as possible too. Eat right, work out, do a little leisure reading after a long day. Mental health is just as critical as content mastery.
I am currently in the same situation (low undergrad GPA), do you think a high MCAT can offset low GPA? Also, would you be able to look over my intended study plan?
 
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laxgirl06

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It was more how they suggested treating the CARS section. They had a lot of great strategies.
Which EK book did you use? I heard bad things about EK Verbal...I was going to use TPR Hyperlearning 2012 vresion
 

freak7

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Which EK book did you use? I heard bad things about EK Verbal...I was going to use TPR Hyperlearning 2012 vresion
Complete study package. 5th Edition I believe, so I had to buy the Pych/Soc book separately when it was released
 
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laxgirl06

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2 months while working full time: average 8 hours/day x7 days per week. Live at home so mom can take care of all non-academic crap like food and laundry lol.

First 2 weeks you study just content, no practice sections. After 2 weeks start taking practice sections and reviewing answers.

With 3 weeks to go take a FL every few days to get as much test experience as possible.

Low GPA means this test basically decides your med school career, but if you do well it will be crazy helpful.
One question I have for you is, does science come naturally to you? I find that it doesn't for me, and so especially this year, I have to spend a good amount of time on my courses. The 8 hours a day seems implausible for me.... do you think me rigorously studying winter break (1 month) could compensate? And then I could in turn study less per day?
 
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laxgirl06

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Complete study package. 5th Edition I believe, so I had to buy the Pych/Soc book separately when it was released
Oh okay, if anything I would be buying CARS books separately, because I would be spending 300-400 on TBR books. Did it help you in CARS? Also, does CARS/critical thinking come naturally to you?
 

freak7

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Oh okay, if anything I would be buying CARS books separately, because I would be spending 300-400 on TBR books. Did it help you in CARS? Also, does CARS/critical thinking come naturally to you?
I haven't looked at anything TPR related so I wouldn't be able to say. The EK CARS book is definitely a different format than the rest of the series, but I think it works well.

CARS does not come naturally to me, I am a slow reader.
Critical thinking does, however CARS is so straightforward when you think literally that I wouldn't exactly say it requires much critical thought.
 

libertyyne

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I haven't looked at anything TPR related so I wouldn't be able to say. The EK CARS book is definitely a different format than the rest of the series, but I think it works well.

CARS does not come naturally to me, I am a slow reader.
Critical thinking does, however CARS is so straightforward when you think literally that I wouldn't exactly say it requires much critical thought.
I like detail, TPR gives that, I felt their questions and FL's were better than Kaplan. Kaplan mostly tests content TPR tries to test thought process. In my opinion TPR is more representative of the exam. I also took a few others like gold standard? they were aweful.
 
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freak7

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I like detail, TPR gives that, I felt their questions and FL's were better than Kaplan. Kaplan mostly tests content TPR tries to test thought process. In my opinion TPR is more representative of the exam. I also took a few others like gold standard? they were aweful.
Yeah if you're looking to get reps in, then I would not go the EK route. EK CARS was more about how to think in this particular section. It worked for me, but it may not for others.
 
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laxgirl06

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Yeah if you're looking to get reps in, then I would not go the EK route. EK CARS was more about how to think in this particular section. It worked for me, but it may not for others.
Okay, so how would you describe the EK CARS strategy, briefly? I am a very fast reader but don't know how I will be with CARS. All I know is for me personally, it would be easier for me to get a perfect score in CARS and psych/soc than in the sciences.
 
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laxgirl06

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I like detail, TPR gives that, I felt their questions and FL's were better than Kaplan. Kaplan mostly tests content TPR tries to test thought process. In my opinion TPR is more representative of the exam. I also took a few others like gold standard? they were aweful.
Okay, I see what you mean. I'll probably do AAMC and TPR. TBR ones are 33.75 each which is pricey IMO.
 

libertyyne

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Okay, I see what you mean. I'll probably do AAMC and TPR. TBR ones are 33.75 each which is pricey IMO.
Yeah, I already blew an ungodly amount for the TPR course to gain access to the exams I wasnt going to drop any more money. TBR didnt even have exams out at that point.
 
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laxgirl06

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Yeah, I already blew an ungodly amount for the TPR course to gain access to the exams I wasnt going to drop any more money. TBR didnt even have exams out at that point.
Right, but 13 exams is amazing....I'm torn because the TPR course looks good but I really want to get TBR books because I hear they have a great reputation of being very detailed and provided a lot of questions. I tried researching the self-directed course the other day but didn't find if it included books. What was the format? Weekly online classes?
 

libertyyne

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Right, but 13 exams is amazing....I'm torn because the TPR course looks good but I really want to get TBR books because I hear they have a great reputation of being very detailed and provided a lot of questions. I tried researching the self-directed course the other day but didn't find if it included books. What was the format? Weekly online classes?
The self directed course has lectures and modules set up already. You gain access for a few months of prep which you can extend for a small fee. It does give you recorded lectures. I downloaded the lectures and ran that at double speed to get through them quicker. They do provide you with the books. They are the same books that they sell individually.
 
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laxgirl06

5+ Year Member
Dec 6, 2013
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Pre-Medical
The self directed course has lectures and modules set up already. You gain access for a few months of prep which you can extend for a small fee. It does give you recorded lectures. I downloaded the lectures and ran that at double speed to get through them quicker. They do provide you with the books. They are the same books that they sell individually.
Hmmmmm, that sounds like a really comprehensive course. Sorry if I already asked you this but do you have a strong science background? I don't so I'm trying to find the method to compensate for that. Maybe I could do the TPR self-directed course and also buy TBR Biology books + Gen chem books since those are my weak areas and the most tested. And then add in the AAMC FLs. So you got your 500-1000 using this course?
 

The Knife & Gun Club

MS - 4
2+ Year Member
Nov 6, 2015
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4,495
Hollywood Upstairs Medical College
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Medical Student
I am currently in the same situation (low undergrad GPA), do you think a high MCAT can offset low GPA? Also, would you be able to look over my intended study plan?
It definitely CAN. There's no guarantee that it will though. Some people can blow up a 40 and still not get accepted. It's kinda random, it certainly seems to pique the interest of Adcoms at a lot of the schools. I got a 35, paired with a 3.38 (3.19 sGPA) and got 7 MD acceptances.

Just grit your teeth, apply broadly, and pray.

One question I have for you is, does science come naturally to you? I find that it doesn't for me, and so especially this year, I have to spend a good amount of time on my courses. The 8 hours a day seems implausible for me.... do you think me rigorously studying winter break (1 month) could compensate? And then I could in turn study less per day?
Tbh only you can answer this, since I don't know your brain. I certainly wasn't a strong science student (3.2 sGPA :blackeye:)
 

libertyyne

2+ Year Member
Mar 5, 2015
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Hmmmmm, that sounds like a really comprehensive course. Sorry if I already asked you this but do you have a strong science background? I don't so I'm trying to find the method to compensate for that. Maybe I could do the TPR self-directed course and also buy TBR Biology books + Gen chem books since those are my weak areas and the most tested. And then add in the AAMC FLs. So you got your 500-1000 using this course?
I was a science major with a bad science gpa. The exams were the only reason I took the course. You couldnt buy them seperately.
 
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laxgirl06

5+ Year Member
Dec 6, 2013
212
37
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Pre-Medical
I was a science major with a bad science gpa. The exams were the only reason I took the course. You couldnt buy them seperately.
That makes a lot of sense. I think I would greatly benefit from that course.