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MCAT Prep

Discussion in 'MCAT: Medical College Admissions Test' started by PreMedPoohBear, Apr 25, 2004.

  1. PreMedPoohBear

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    Hello, I'm sure this has been asked to death on this board, but I just wanted some opinions. I wanted to know what is the best way to go about preparing for the MCAT. I have three options. My first option is to take the Kaplan course. My second option is to take the Kaplan course online, and my third choice is to buy review books and study on my own. I just wanted to know which is most effective and if all of them are equal, is taking the Kaplan course in person or online worth the money? If studying on my own is better, what are review books do you recommend?
     
  2. liverotcod

    liverotcod Lieutenant Crunch
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    It's tough to give advice on this, since what works for me isn't necessarily the right answer for you. People both thrive and fail by all methods. What I would do is take the free AAMC practice exam 3R under strict timing and see how you do relative to how you want to do on the real thing. That will give you a better sense of how much effort you need to put into your preparation (i.e., do you need to spend $1300 on a prep course or $100 on a study guide).

    FWIW, following this advice I chose to save $1200 and decided to buy the Kaplan book and supplement it with my textbooks from the prereq classes. Barring some huge surprise on the score, it's worked well for me.
     
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  3. Cerberus

    Cerberus Heroic Necromancer
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    I think the classes are a waste of time. I would buy all the aamc exams, some good review books, and use your old texts:)
     
  4. IndyZX

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    i knew that even if i took the kaplan class, id end up skipping because id get too lazy... so i just studied on my own and took the AAMC tests

    i think i will get probably get a MCAT score within a point or so from my potential, so i think it went well
     
  5. kiahs

    kiahs Senior Member
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    I personally benifited alot from the class because A) I had a dumb teacher but the other two were the bomb and B) it was a specific three hours a week that was for mcat stuff specifically. Regardless of how prepared or not for the class each week it was that was three hours I was learning something about the mcat. And that's what I think it's really about the more exposure you have the better. Anyway you cut it plan on working your butt off. It depends on how you learn like can you study the stuff on your own, with no help and still be okay? Me, I need or like to have someone explain it and then go back and really learn it for myself which is why the class was a great application for me. So hope I helped if you have specific questions feel free to pm me. Good luck.
     
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  6. ms2209

    ms2209 Senior Member
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    I took a Kaplan class, which I found to be kind of pointless (lecture time, that is). The teacher was nice and he tried to give us helpful advice, but I guess being the nervous wreck that I am, it just wasn't enough. Also, I felt that a class time of three hours per week was not enough to cover everything you needed to know, for obvious reasons. That's why I have to agree with people who say that there's no point trying to re-learn material that you originally took over the course of about three years. The only really good things I got out of the Kaplan class were the huge, huge amount of practice materials available, and the proctored full-length exams. After taking the actual exam on the 17th, I didn't feel that the material covered in those practice exams were reflective of the actual MCAT (at least, not in the Physical and Biological Sciences sections), but I can't really blame Kaplan for that, because even the prior AAMC items did not reflect this. However, taking those exams and all of the practice materials helped build up my endurance for the day of the exam. Was it worth over 1000 dollars? Personally, I would have to say no. But, given that most students don't schedule the time to practice for the exam and take full-lengths on their own, I think a class can help give you structure. As cheezy as this sounds though, I think the class is what you make of it. They're not going to force you to come to every class, and they're not going to force you to do all the practice items and reading. You still need to be motivated enough to do all of that. So in conclusion (finally!!!), I would say that if you can schedule the time yourself and diligently review/take practice exams, don't spend the money. But if you feel that you need the structure and the rather easy availability of so much practice material, take the class. It's ultimately your call, I suppose.
     
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  7. Shrike

    Shrike Lanius examinatianus
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    I'm with the other guys, not Kaplan, but if these are your options, consider:

    - our students improve an average of somewhere in the neighborhood of ten points over the duration of the course. No, these aren't the most statistically robust numbers, but they're not bad. I would expect Kaplan to live somewhere in the same neighborhood, if perhaps not quite as nice a street (but I don't know, and details aren't the point).

    Will you improve that much if your take a course? Who knows. Would you improve as much working on your own? Who knows. But consider, it doesn't matter why you do well, just whether you do. Whether the instructors explain something you didn't get before, or the proctored practice exams are more valuable than self-administered ones, or the regimented schedule makes you do more work, or peer pressure in the class incrementally motivates you, or whatever -- if it gives you an extra point, and that's the point you need, it will be worth the trouble and expense.

    One other thing -- it's always struck me that online courses have all the disadvantages of self-study, without the cost savings. I know students who don't need the course; I don't think I'd advise online as the best option for anyone who had the wherewithal to do it live instead.
     
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  8. PreMedPoohBear

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    Thanks everyone for the much needed advice. I understand what you're saying about the online course Shrike. It's like $200 less than taking a course, without being able to have a live person in front of you to ask questions. I'm still trying to decide if I want to take the course or study myself. If I decide to self studying, what books would you all recommend. I was leaning towards ExamKrackers because I heard so many good things about it, but I also heard that you should get like Kaplan or TPR to go with it to make sure nothing is missed; however, I read other things saying that you should stick with only one type of guide and not mix so you're not confused when the actual test come out, or something like that.
     
  9. IndyZX

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    pmpb: i bought the EK set, which was my main study source, along with the kaplan big book and nova physics... i felt prepared
     
  10. daelroy

    daelroy Senior Member
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    The review courses are a gimic. In regards to the 10 point increase or whatever, that too is a gimic. They provide you with an insane diagnostic exam on purpose. Toward the end of the course, they give you another practice exam that is more realistic which helps boost scores. Keep in mind, I was told this by a former Kaplan teacher. Part of the gimic of these courses is that they try to make you feel like you know nothing after your diagnostic score. It's an amazing scam if you think about it. That's why Kaplan and TPR invite you to take a diagnostic exam. They know you will tank and thus be more inclined to pay for their course. I laugh at this PT Barnum like ploy. Then when they you give the easier exam toward then end of the course, everyone scores 10 points higher and yells halleleuah, what a miracle. So of course, we are all going to improve by at least 10 points if you studied at all. Heck, I would hope you would improve by 10 points if you scored a 15 on your diagnostic, and you genuinely studied all summer long after that. I remember in TPR, most of us scored 15-18's on their "realistic" diagnostic exams. It was funny because we had all taken practice exams prior to the TPR diagnostic and most of us scored in the low 20's, yet for some reason we were getting 17's on the TPR diagnostic. Hmmmm This girl in our TPR course got into Wash U. She ended up with a 39 on the MCAT. Yeah, this girl scored a 19 on her diagnostic. Give me a break. It made for good comic relief though because she was such a typ A gunner and was freaking out after her diagnostic. She started crying after her diagnostic score. Of course, TPR will claim her success but she stopped going to class like the rest of us and studied on her own.

    What you have to realize is that you are paying for the lectures and the cost of running the testing center (rent, utilities etc.). Most of the expense of your review course is used to pay those instructors and the cost of running that particular office. The review materials themselves cost nothing. So if you are wanting to sign up for a review course just to get access to their materials, there are other avenues you can puruse. You can purchase used materials from former students on ebay and this website. Also, Exam Krackers and the Berkeley Review produce amazing materials that are a 1/10 of the cost of a review course.

    The only real value a review course provides is a structured environment. If you need to pay $1400 for self discipline then by all means join a review course. Other than than, they provide no real advantage and certainly no advantage that is worth it's high cost.
     
  11. JohnDO

    JohnDO MS III
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    Indeed. Really all you're paying for is a structured environment. If you cannot motivate yourself, the class may be for you. However, just because you paid doesn't mean you'll be motivated, or actually go (see what others have said above me).

    I was very scared not to take the kaplan class. I felt I was "missing out". I think it worked out fine in the end (we'll see come June). All the material you need to know can be found in the books. I bought the Kaplan book (~$50), the Princeton Review book (~$50) and did some EK stuff. I felt very prepared.

    Whether or not you take the class, you must find a way to motivate yourself.
     
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  12. synthetic

    synthetic New Member

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    excellant points by all.....what would you recommend to prepare for the young at heart older student. Currently working 30 hrs/week....

    1987 Left Pre Med prgram nearly completed in 1987
    1990 graduated with BS Chem Engr in 1990, Minor in Chemistry & Math
    1993 Post Grad Prgram Masters in Economics '93
    2004 Plan to take MCAT in Aug '04


    Synthetic
     
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  13. thinkpositive

    thinkpositive futureMD
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    which kaplan book did you buy, indyzx ? and what are best practice tests, the aamc ones you can buy online or should I do the kaplan ones again (I took the class for ther april exam) or...? thanks for your help !
     
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