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I just took the Free NS FL 1 and scored a 510 which was a pleasant surprise (after having gotten my ass handed to me by the section bank. ~70% overall) I got a little surprised by the difficulty of the CARS as the passages were more obscure than EK 101 and TPRH.

Initially I've read that EK 1-4 was the best investment for FL practice but i'm not sure if i'm undergoing some confirmation bias but it seems that NS has also been having a good track record.

I have 38 days until my MCAT and depending on which FL's are the best practice, I will most likely be taking one every 5-6 days (in addition to the scored, unscored AAMCs)

What are your thoughts on the concensus FL's?
 

aldol16

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Your money is better in your pocket. Use Khan Academic passages for B/BC and P/S. Those are excellent free resources. None of the exam companies really have that representative of exams and so your best bet is AAMC materials followed by Khan Academy and then look for free FLs online. These companies usually offer up one or two free FLs as advertisement.
 
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Jul 30, 2016
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Your money is better in your pocket. Use Khan Academic passages for B/BC and P/S. Those are excellent free resources. None of the exam companies really have that representative of exams and so your best bet is AAMC materials followed by Khan Academy and then look for free FLs online. These companies usually offer up one or two free FLs as advertisement.
Is that all you used, Khan and AAMC? How many free FL are there available? My friends recommended 6-10 exams over my 18 week plan.

I don't see how I can do that with "free"stuff. When I made my Khan account, I saw that none of the passages really match the AAMC stuff I have done (Q pack, section bank) very well at all. Plus I can't do them timed because of the stupid insistence that I get the right answer before I move on to the next questions. Add to that the lack of ability to highlight text the way I can on the AAMC stuff.

Of all the companies out there, which did you use? Which would you recommend? I have my books already (AAMC doesn't bother to do that) but will need more practice tests.

Thanks much!
 

aldol16

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Is that all you used, Khan and AAMC? How many free FL are there available? My friends recommended 6-10 exams over my 18 week plan.
I used the free FLs that came with my Kaplan book set. There were 3 of them. I then took the free diagnostic NS and Princeton Review ones although I didn't like them very much. You can probably find free diagnostic half- and full-lengths from each test prep company. I would recommend 4-6 depending on whether you're in your target range in those 4-6. So if you use the two AAMC ones, the free ones, and Khan Academy, that should be okay. Your focus when taking the free FLs should be more on timing than getting all the questions right because no test prep company has a good representative one right now. So that way, Khan Academy can be used to actually practice although with no time constraint/pressure.

I don't see how I can do that with "free"stuff. When I made my Khan account, I saw that none of the passages really match the AAMC stuff I have done (Q pack, section bank) very well at all. Plus I can't do them timed because of the stupid insistence that I get the right answer before I move on to the next questions. Add to that the lack of ability to highlight text the way I can on the AAMC stuff.
Khan Academy B/BC and P/S actually match the Section Bank very well and at the easier level the MCAT actually tests on. The QPacks are not representative of the actual exam at all so I wouldn't base your studying off of those.

Of all the companies out there, which did you use? Which would you recommend? I have my books already (AAMC doesn't bother to do that) but will need more practice tests.
I used Kaplan for content review and am of the viewpoint that any company's review materials will prepare you contentwise for the exam. I used Khan Academy for practice on top of AAMC materials and do not regret that at all. In terms of FLs, I personally was hitting my target range in the AAMC ones when I took them after I did the three Kaplan FLs so I didn't see the need to take more. Do the free ones first and then an AAMC one. If you're below your range, do more FLs - at that point, you can think about purchasing them.
 
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So you used Kaplan Full-lengths? Everything I've read here about them says they are not representative at all, and the score scaling is way off too.

I guess to each their own b/c I don't see how you think the Khan stuff matches the AAMC section bank very well at all. In any case, Do you have any experience with the EK exams? They are very highly recommended but a bit pricey. I want tough but representative exams, and by most accounts that just isn't Kaplan at all.

As for Khan, if only 1/2 their passages are any good, and none of them allow real timed practice, to me the free part does make them ok for MCAT science learning, but that's about it. I plan to take ~ 10 FLs by January. There are 2 AAMC so I'll need 8 more. I figure I will cut up 3-4 of them into smaller pieces, and use them as timed passage practice sets, and save the bulk of my AAMC section bank for Dec/Jan.

I would say the Qpack is pretty representative, considering it is literally from the AAMC, anything they release is what they test. It is a lot easier than the section bank though so I am using it as training wheels for the AAMC's style. Is that what I can expect ~1/4 of my real exam Qs will look like, difficulty-wise? The OG half-exam was also very easy. I hope the 2 AAMC practice tests are not so easy, I want tough practice.

Thanks for the advice!
 

aldol16

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So you used Kaplan Full-lengths? Everything I've read here about them says they are not representative at all, and the score scaling is way off too.
Yes, I used Kaplan. I believe that they are just as representative as FLs from the other companies I took (NS, TPR, etc.). I didn't take EK though so I couldn't tell you about those. I didn't take them because they were expensive.

I guess to each their own b/c I don't see how you think the Khan stuff matches the AAMC section bank very well at all. In any case, Do you have any experience with the EK exams? They are very highly recommended but a bit pricey. I want tough but representative exams, and by most accounts that just isn't Kaplan at all.
No, I do not have experience with EK exams and didn't take them precisely because they were too pricey.

As for Khan, if only 1/2 their passages are any good, and none of them allow real timed practice, to me the free part does make them ok for MCAT science learning, but that's about it. I plan to take ~ 10 FLs by January. There are 2 AAMC so I'll need 8 more. I figure I will cut up 3-4 of them into smaller pieces, and use them as timed passage practice sets, and save the bulk of my AAMC section bank for Dec/Jan.
Yeah, that's a good study strategy but I would say that over 3/4 of the Khan Academy B/BC and P/S passages were representative of the actual exam.

I would say the Qpack is pretty representative, considering it is literally from the AAMC, anything they release is what they test. It is a lot easier than the section bank though so I am using it as training wheels for the AAMC's style. Is that what I can expect ~1/4 of my real exam Qs will look like, difficulty-wise? The OG half-exam was also very easy. I hope the 2 AAMC practice tests are not so easy, I want tough practice.
QPacks are not representative of the MCAT. I don't know where you're getting this from but they are not similar in either format or style. The point of the QPacks is to test content knowledge that is requisite for the MCAT but on the real MCAT, questions will not be presented in that manner nor will they be so easy. So another way of putting it is that the QPacks and MCAT rely on the same knowledge base but test that in completely different ways. Section Bank will represent the most difficult passages you see on test day and the easier questions will be in the same style as Section Bank (and Khan Academy) but easier.

The two AAMC FLs are easy - easier than the real thing.
 
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Yes, I used Kaplan. I believe that they are just as representative as FLs from the other companies I took (NS, TPR, etc.). I didn't take EK though so I couldn't tell you about those. I didn't take them because they were expensive.



No, I do not have experience with EK exams and didn't take them precisely because they were too pricey.



Yeah, that's a good study strategy but I would say that over 3/4 of the Khan Academy B/BC and P/S passages were representative of the actual exam.



QPacks are not representative of the MCAT. I don't know where you're getting this from but they are not similar in either format or style. The point of the QPacks is to test content knowledge that is requisite for the MCAT but on the real MCAT, questions will not be presented in that manner nor will they be so easy. So another way of putting it is that the QPacks and MCAT rely on the same knowledge base but test that in completely different ways. Section Bank will represent the most difficult passages you see on test day and the easier questions will be in the same style as Section Bank (and Khan Academy) but easier.

The two AAMC FLs are easy - easier than the real thing.
I thought the Q packs were literally old AAMC passages. I have the old AAMC FL 3-10 and Self-assessment package on pdf and there are dozens of repeats found in both those old items and the "new" AAMC Q pack.

Looking at the new materials, I don't see that that exam has changed all that much from pre-2015 (via a vis my experience with FL 3-10). I would agree the exam seems tougher now, and some questions are more subtle, but really I don't see that big a difference at all in tone, style or format. Not surprising the AAMC would try to hype up how "different" the exam is. Gotta justify yourself somehow.

In any case, it won't affect my prep. Thanks for the study plan advice! I am sad to hear the only 2 practice tests they released are so easy. I'll look into EK or someone else to get tough exams. but first, the free exams I can get!
 
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aldol16

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I thought the Q packs were literally old AAMC passages. I have the old AAMC FL 3-10 and Self-assessment package on pdf and there are dozens of repeats found in both those old items and the "new" AAMC Q pack.
Precisely. The QPacks are from passages from old AAMC FLs. Which is exactly why they are not that representative. I think there are few people who have taken the MCAT who would argue that the new MCAT is like the old MCAT.

Looking at the new materials, I don't see that that exam has changed all that much from pre-2015 (via a vis my experience with FL 3-10). I would agree the exam seems tougher now, and some questions are more subtle, but really I don't see that big a difference at all in tone, style or format. Not surprising the AAMC would try to hype up how "different" the exam is. Gotta justify yourself somehow.
Check the length of the passages and the kinds of questions being asked. As I said, I don't think you would find many people who have taken the MCAT who would say it's that similar to the old MCAT.
 

Leumas8

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EK>NS. I think the best thing is to take about 10 practice tests. Take 2 kaplan, 2 TPR. These can be found free online. They don't mirror the voice of AAMC very well, but they are known for testing content knowledge. At this point, you should be trying to see if you understand everything you can. Then transition into the four EK tests. They are very good, and will get you to start thinking like the AAMC. The passages are harder, but they most closely mirror the AAMC style than any other test. Take them in order as EK4 is the best one. Finally, take the AAMC sample test, then the AAMC scored test.
 
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EK>NS. I think the best thing is to take about 10 practice tests. Take 2 kaplan, 2 TPR. These can be found free online. They don't mirror the voice of AAMC very well, but they are known for testing content knowledge. At this point, you should be trying to see if you understand everything you can. Then transition into the four EK tests. They are very good, and will get you to start thinking like the AAMC. The passages are harder, but they most closely mirror the AAMC style than any other test. Take them in order as EK4 is the best one. Finally, take the AAMC sample test, then the AAMC scored test.
Thanks! I don't want to use tests, even if they are free, that do not represent the AAMC. I could use the free Kaplan & TPR exams as content practice like you said, but I want ~ 8 AAMC like practice tests (+2 AAMC) to use as simulated MCATs and section practice.

Is EK much much better than NS? $200+ for 4 EK exams vs. roughly the same cost for 10 NS and the NS site says I can get FL 1 for free. I am gonna sign up for the free NS diagnostic and get the free FL 1, the SDN feedback is pretty positive. I'll take the diag next week and NS FL 1 in September. If the NS material mimics the AAMC very well, I'll pull the trigger on the 4 test NS bundle. If they are just meh, I will still have the chance to buy the individual EK exams without wasting $. Too bad EK doesn't offer anything free.
 

Leumas8

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Thanks! I don't want to use tests, even if they are free, that do not represent the AAMC. I could use the free Kaplan & TPR exams as content practice like you said, but I want ~ 8 AAMC like practice tests (+2 AAMC) to use as simulated MCATs and section practice.

Is EK much much better than NS? $200+ for 4 EK exams vs. roughly the same cost for 10 NS and the NS site says I can get FL 1 for free. I am gonna sign up for the free NS diagnostic and get the free FL 1, the SDN feedback is pretty positive. I'll take the diag next week and NS FL 1 in September. If the NS material mimics the AAMC very well, I'll pull the trigger on the 4 test NS bundle. If they are just meh, I will still have the chance to buy the individual EK exams without wasting $. Too bad EK doesn't offer anything free.
That sounds like a good plan. If you take Next Step's diagnostic and FL1, and like them, spend the $50 and take EK4 anyway.