youngDOve

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So I'm thinking about buying next steps 5 full length exams. Has anyone else taken them? Any thoughts?

I have taken7 tpr exams so far and for the most part they are not representative at all :(
 
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bump.

i can't believe no one has taken these.......i took a couple section based FLs that they have in the books. i did well on verbal, but horrible of bio. i found the 2nd bio FL very difficult.

the fact that no one has any comments about NS makes me pretty skeptical of this company.
 

KungFuPanda123

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bump.

i can't believe no one has taken these.......i took a couple section based FLs that they have in the books. i did well on verbal, but horrible of bio. i found the 2nd bio FL very difficult.

the fact that no one has any comments about NS makes me pretty skeptical of this company.
I have their verbal reasoning book. Honestly, the content is for the most part okay, but the layout in the book makes it look like it could easily have been created by a random Joe on Microsoft Word (i.e. the margins are the regular Word format, the passages are not split up into 2 columns, which is more representative, since on the actual test, the paragraphs will only be showing up on half of the screen).

The answers to the questions are not as thorough/detailed as I would like (i.e. sometimes, the answers don't respond to each answer choice and answer why each one is incorrect).

One thing that I do like is that they make sure that answers to the next passage are on a different page such that you don't accidentally spot the correct answer to a question you haven't even started yet.

Overall, Next Step would not be my first choice. It also probably wouldn't be my 2nd or 3rd choice (those would be Kaplan/TPR or TBR). But it's there for if you need extra, extra practice.
 
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Levrone

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So I'm thinking about buying next steps 5 full length exams. Has anyone else taken them? Any thoughts?

I have taken7 tpr exams so far and for the most part they are not representative at all :(
How'd you do on the TPR exams? From what I heard EK has the most representative tests. Although the most expensive too :x

you can try the next step half test free, but I heard it's easier than their full lengths
 

Enik

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I've done 2 NS tests and I'm really hoping that their tests are not representative of the actual MCAT, I got a 12 in bio & PS on the last MCAT I took (verbal is the reason i'm retaking). This time around, however, I have been struggling to get anything above a 9 (126). The NS bio 2 exam was un****ingbelivable I finished the test and the last 4 passages I had absolutely no idea where to even begin. I ended up with a 123 for the bio section. So far I'm not having the best experience with NS tests.
 

longshot1821

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Glad I'm not the only one struggling with NS! I did pretty well on the AAMC practice and the NS diagnostic but just got massacred on their FL#1. All sections were tough but I really struggled with chem/PS. Really hoping it's not representative...
 
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@Enik i'm glad you posted because I too found the bio to be wicked tough. some of the passasges seemed like they were in a different langauge. even after reviewing the content, answer choices, and answer explanations, i still had trouble wrapping my head around their reasoning.
 
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youngDOve

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How'd you do on the TPR exams? From what I heard EK has the most representative tests. Although the most expensive too :x

you can try the next step half test free, but I heard it's easier than their full lengths
On tpr I was scoring around 495-497. It seems like all they did was reuse their old exams, then added a behavioral science section.

I'm deff getting EKs test. The fact that they came out with them so late and only have 3 has me believing they put some thought into their exams
 
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youngDOve

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I've done 2 NS tests and I'm really hoping that their tests are not representative of the actual MCAT, I got a 12 in bio & PS on the last MCAT I took (verbal is the reason i'm retaking). This time around, however, I have been struggling to get anything above a 9 (126). The NS bio 2 exam was un****ingbelivable I finished the test and the last 4 passages I had absolutely no idea where to even begin. I ended up with a 123 for the bio section. So far I'm not having the best experience with NS tests.
What is so tough about them? Are they biochem heavy? Do they relate everything to the body just like how AAMC said they would?
 

Enik

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Not even so much bio chem heavy to be honest. 70% of the verbal passages are cited from 1900, one was 1750.... I was answering questions on a passage written 250 years ago... Anyhow, the bio passages are so convoluted (at least in test #2) that at some points I would just stare at the screen not knowing where to even begin. The psych is pretty straight forward and all about knowing definitions. PS varies greatly, some passages will be about ionic interactions and the next will have you using the full blown Bernoulli equation to get the answer.
 

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I paid for 5 NS exams but was only able to complete 1, 2 and 3. #1 was on par for what I had seen and I had a score very similar to what I scored with TPR. TPR I was hitting 501 - 504 and that's what I got with exam 1. I was highly suggest skipping NS exam 2, it is incredibly difficult in all sections, ended up with a score of 494 or around there. For a specific example, in the psychology section, there were many terms I had never seen before (I did khan academy passages, TPR exams, and all NS study books and more as prep). For exam 3, it was between difficulty of exam 1 and exam 2.

Right now, I'm only half way through the physics/chem section of the official 2015 AAMC exam and it's nothing like the others. So much easier and has way shorter passages.
 

longshot1821

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What is so tough about them? Are they biochem heavy? Do they relate everything to the body just like how AAMC said they would?
I honestly didn't think the content/concepts tested were too off the mark. What made it difficult for me was that the passages were (on average) longer and more dense. The answer choices were also much "trickier" for lack of a better word, many questions with multiple answer choices that were all slight variations of the same answer.
 
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dan123

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I also scored below my average on NS fl 1 and 2. Iv been keeping track of all my percentages for each section on every fl iv been doing and I realized I wasn't doing much worse or better than other fls. I think each company has their own scoring rubric because no one really knows the correct percentages right now. I decided to now focus more on my percentages of correct answers for each section as opposed to my overall score. I know I'll be ready when I'm at least getting 75-80% of questions right for every section at the minimum. Hopefully that will give me a decent score but I'm not really sure yet.
 

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I bought five NS practice tests but I've only taken the first one. I thought it was really difficult. My NS scores were like 63% on bio, 64% on chem/phys, 60% on Cars (which was apparently 25th percentile...) and 71% on psych. A 500 overall. One week later I took the AAMC practice test and got 66% on bio (haven't finished physiology or learned metabolism yet so hopefully that explains that), 75% on chem/phys, 96% on Cars, and 88% on psych. So not super great but way better than NS, imo.
 

Levrone

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@trs88 @Lannister

so do you recommend I buy the NS exams? I know they're harder, but were they similar/ feel like 2015 passages, and did they help prepare you?
 

Lannister

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@trs88 @Lannister

so do you recommend I buy the NS exams? I know they're harder, but were they similar/ feel like 2015 passages, and did they help prepare you?
I think overall I would recommend them because they seem to be good practice. Just don't take your score too seriously, I guess.
One think that did bother me, however, was that there were a ton of typos and grammatical errors in the exam, which always makes me doubt a source's legitimacy.
 
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I took the Kaplan diagnostic (502), TPR diagnostic (498), and NS1, NS2 and NS3 (504, 503, 506).
 

Enik

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I regret getting the NS exams, personally, but hey its practice and there is not many practice exams so you might as well give it a shot. But I'd suggest sticking with E.K or more "trusted" prep companies. I found the NS exams to be simply brutal.
 

youngDOve

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Is anyone else having a hard time with these exams. I feel like I'm just reading thru a thick convoluted mess of words.
 
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I regret getting the NS exams, personally, but hey its practice and there is not many practice exams so you might as well give it a shot. But I'd suggest sticking with E.K or more "trusted" prep companies. I found the NS exams to be simply brutal.
Ya I second that...difficult or just not well put together? I'm ok with doing hard exams to really cement content knowledge.
 
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I have not taken the nextstep FL yet, just the diagnostic. What do you mean by brutal? I have read that the TPR exams are tough too. I don't mind tough training but I hear from more and more April testers that no company's exams were that representative, which scares me. At this rate only the aamc practice test will be an indicative score, and that's just one test, with only a handful of topics on it.
 
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In order that I took them: (Phys&Chem/CARS/Bio/Psych&Soc/Total)

AAMC (before I started studying <- dont recommend): 76%/77%/75%/64%/NA
Kaplan Advanced FL (1 week into studying): 124/125/125/124/498
TPR Diagnostic (2 weeks in): 124/123/126/129/502
NextStep FL1 (1 week before exam): 126/123/128/127/504
NextStep FL2 (week of exam): 127/125/125/126/503
NextStep FL3 (week of exam): 125/126/128/127/506

April 2015 Preliminary (percentiles): 85-100/85-100/83-98/80-95/90-100

Best of luck to ya! Hope this helps someone!
 
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In order that I took them: (Phys&Chem/CARS/Bio/Psych&Soc/Total)

AAMC (before I started studying <- dont recommend): 76%/77%/75%/64%/NA
Kaplan Advanced FL (1 week into studying): 124/125/125/124/498
TPR Diagnostic (2 weeks in): 124/123/126/129/502
NextStep FL1 (1 week before exam): 126/123/128/127/504
NextStep FL2 (week of exam): 127/125/125/126/503
NextStep FL3 (week of exam): 125/126/128/127/506

April 2015 Preliminary (percentiles): 85-100/85-100/83-98/80-95/90-100

Best of luck to ya! Hope this helps someone!
@PU2IUSM do you recommend purchasing the NS FLs? Other SDNers have had mostly negative things to say about these exams. Currently I have access to 3 Kaplan FLs, 3 TPR FLs, and 3 EK FLs. Do you recommend that I get the NS FLs?
 
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In order that I took them: (Phys&Chem/CARS/Bio/Psych&Soc/Total)

AAMC (before I started studying <- dont recommend): 76%/77%/75%/64%/NA
Kaplan Advanced FL (1 week into studying): 124/125/125/124/498
TPR Diagnostic (2 weeks in): 124/123/126/129/502
NextStep FL1 (1 week before exam): 126/123/128/127/504
NextStep FL2 (week of exam): 127/125/125/126/503
NextStep FL3 (week of exam): 125/126/128/127/506

April 2015 Preliminary (percentiles): 85-100/85-100/83-98/80-95/90-100

Best of luck to ya! Hope this helps someone!
Wow, congrats on the great score! So your most recent tests were ~ 505-506 on Nextstep and you scored in the top 10% on the real deal? Least we know the NS exams are tougher than average. I guess that's good news for me. I am 2 FL in with the following:

FL 1 124/125/123/122 - 494 5/1 2015
FL 2 125/125/125/123 - 498 5/8/2015

I am glad to finally see the Psych/soc study pay off. Two tests in I would say they are definitely tougher/denser than a bunch of the AAMC test passages but then some of the passages seem closer to the aamc stuff so on balance these exam def err on the tougher side. I had the same experience with the Kaplan diag exam. It seemed way tougher than the AAMC OG test. I am feeling better about these exams with what you are reporting. Here's hoping the FL exams for NS, EK, TBR, etc... all adapt as soon as possible.

I bet EK waited so they could get data from real test takers, which seems like a smart move. I would imagine all the prep guys do some tweaking as more feedback comes in from AAMC testers. The NS exams seem like good, tough practice and if your scores are any indication, I can expect to do a bit better on the real deal, better than the other way around :)

6 weeks to go!!!!!!
 
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Alright so here's my two cents for anybody that's interested. I would completely avoid the NS exams for a number of reasons. The most notable of these being the fact that each section has characteristics that make it HIGHLY unrepresentative of what the AAMC practice test was like. The PS section is roughly 50% physics, usually requiring multi-step calculations, which has proven not to be the case based on the Official Practice test and what I've heard from early test takers. The CARS section is is comprised largely of highly convoluted passages that leave you feeling confused as to what the main idea of the passage is. The Bio Section contain mainly passages that are largely word based instead of interpretation of graphs, and finally the psych section contains countless passages that are 6-8 paragraphs long, as opposed to the 3-5 used by AAMC. The tests will most likely discourage you and prove much less helpful than other resources. I would suggest using AAMC materials (Full Length, Official Guide, Question Packs) as well as the EK Full length exams. A much better alternative to NS.
 
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cdsacks0911

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Glad to hear all this info about NS not being too representative... just finished the first full length test and was not happy with the score. I'm using the EK review books and am definitely gonna look into using their FL tests in addition to the aamc one. Taking mine in July. Best of luck.
 
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Alright so here's my two cents for anybody that's interested. I would completely avoid the NS exams for a number of reasons. The most notable of these being the fact that each section has characteristics that make it HIGHLY unrepresentative of what the AAMC practice test was like. The PS section is roughly 50% physics, usually requiring multi-step calculations, which has proven not to be the case based on the Official Practice test and what I've heard from early test takers. The CARS section is is comprised largely of highly convoluted passages that leave you feeling confused as to what the main idea of the passage is. The Bio Section contain mainly passages that are largely word based instead of interpretation of graphs, and finally the psych section contains countless passages that are 6-8 paragraphs long, as opposed to the 3-5 used by AAMC. The tests will most likely discourage you and prove much less helpful than other resources. I would suggest using AAMC materials (Full Length, Official Guide, Question Packs) as well as the EK Full length exams. A much better alternative to NS.
Did you even take the 1st 3 NextStep full lengths or are you just going based on what you've heard? I have taken NS, EK, Kaplan and TPR full length exams since I started studying back in March. Literally ALL of the practice tests that are NOT the AAMC's 1 and only exam have characteristics that are not aamc like. Only TPR even gives you the exams 1 Q at a time like the aamc. What did you like about the EK exams? Was their science breakdown accurate? Would you even know? Your comments above would imply you do not.

I have spoken with several friends who took the MCAT recently and even one today who said his exam was heavy on 4C topics, which was the first I'd heard of anyone reporting such heavy testing of that category. The point is we have exactly 1 new AAMC exam, which tells us very little about what favorite topics the future MCAT will test most often or how many Qs will or won't be quantitative. Look back at the older AAMC exams and see how varied the topics and test questions were among the 8 exams that were released. This whole SDN obsession with figure based interpretation, you do realize that only 10% of ALL science questions (skill 4) will test figures and graphs and charts right? That means 5-6 questions per section, 18 total per test? I have had multiple people tell me the mcat they took in April/May had many vanilla, boring experiment or info based passages across the sciences and one friend said only 4 of their psych passages had any figures at all!

Your statements above lead me to believe you have not taken the NextStep full lengths or at least did not bother to check anything when you sought to examine their “authenticity” It took me just 20 minutes to do this.

Chem/Phys
I have reviewed the NS FL 1 and I can tell you there are exactly 14Qs that are physics based. 14/59 = 24%, the EXACT proportion predicted by the AAMC is 25% (15 Qs would be 25.4%). Of those, 8 of them were calculation based. This is pretty much the same as the TPR, and Kaplan exams. Even the EK exams have more calculations than the 1 aamc exam we have. Please check your facts before spouting hyperbole.

Bio/biochem
In the Bio section of FL 1, of the 10 passages, 6 of them had at least 1 figure, 4 of them had 2 or more, and 1 of them had 4 figures. Again, you really should do your homework if you are going to properly review anything and then share your opinion here on SDN. There is too much random noise on the forum; we don't need any more of it.

CARS
I will agree that the NS cars on the full lengths is tougher than the EK and TPS cars. This is prolly the NS exams weakest section in terms of authenticity. 2 and 3 are a not much different, but 4 and 5 are much better. None of the prep companies seem to be quite as AAMC like as I want, but the next Step CARS strategy book is much much better at having a wide variety of passages. I would say Kplan does a a decent job in their FLs for CARS, but not much else. The MCAT itself will be a mix of easy, medium and convoluted passages. They literally test us on identifying the main idea so do you expect it to be easy? I'd rather practice on tougher passages so that the real thing seems easier, which is what I've seen on SDN for those that took Kaplan and NS full lengths and is what I experienced. EK was too different and their explanations sometimes just required blind acceptance. I hope I find myself similarly over prepared for CARS on Monday when I go in for the real deal.

Psych/Soc
All of these passages are within the same length as what the AAMC puts in their OG and practice test (300-500 words). How many paragraphs they are in doesn’t matter as much. Even the AAMC full length Psych/Soc section has 5/10 passages with NO figures whatsoever.


I will also say that NS Full lengths 4 and 5 are much, much more AAMC like. These 2 exams must have been made later/after 1-3, because they are much more like the AAMC in tone and Q cleverness than the 1st 3. I would say NS 4-5 are better than the EK exams, but EK 1-3 beats NS 1-3 overall. I expect all of the companies to do some major revising over the next year or so. No help for me, but hopefully it will help future testers.

Long story short, you should not go spouting off how "realistic" any exam is unless you are actually going to check your facts, and then take a deep breath, because we have so little info about this new MCAT that basing your entire study and test habits around 1 practice test and 1 half-length exam is a recipe for disaster (IMO). So few companies offer full length exams on their own without buying anything else.

I would rank (after AAMC of course) NS 4 & 5 > EK 1-3 > NS 1-3 > Kaplan 1-3 > TPR 1-2 (based on what I have taken). No matter who you go with, look at % correct, not scaled score. NONE of these companies know what the scales are or will be. We cannot know until the AAMC releases more scored exams. Until then its all guesswork.

1 day to go!!!!!
 
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Hatfield0429

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Did you even take the 1st 3 NextStep full lengths or are you just going based on what you've heard? I have taken NS, EK, Kaplan and TPR full length exams since I started studying back in March. Literally ALL of the practice tests that are NOT the AAMC's 1 and only exam have characteristics that are not aamc like. Only TPR even gives you the exams 1 Q at a time like the aamc. What did you like about the EK exams? Was their science breakdown accurate? Would you even know? Your comments above would imply you do not.

I have spoken with several friends who took the MCAT recently and even one today who said his exam was heavy on 4C topics, which was the first I'd heard of anyone reporting such heavy testing of that category. The point is we have exactly 1 new AAMC exam, which tells us very little about what favorite topics the future MCAT will test most often or how many Qs will or won't be quantitative. Look back at the older AAMC exams and see how varied the topics and test questions were among the 8 exams that were released. This whole SDN obsession with figure based interpretation, you do realize that only 10% of ALL science questions (skill 4) will test figures and graphs and charts right? That means 5-6 questions per section, 18 total per test? I have had multiple people tell me the mcat they took in April/May had many vanilla, boring experiment or info based passages across the sciences and one friend said only 4 of their psych passages had any figures at all!

Your statements above lead me to believe you have not taken the NextStep full lengths or at least did not bother to check anything when you sought to examine their “authenticity” It took me just 20 minutes to do this.

Chem/Phys
I have reviewed the NS FL 1 and I can tell you there are exactly 14Qs that are physics based. 14/59 = 24%, the EXACT proportion predicted by the AAMC is 25% (15 Qs would be 25.4%). Of those, 8 of them were calculation based. This is pretty much the same as the TPR, and Kaplan exams. Even the EK exams have more calculations than the 1 aamc exam we have. Please check your facts before spouting hyperbole.

Bio/biochem
In the Bio section of FL 1, of the 10 passages, 6 of them had at least 1 figure, 4 of them had 2 or more, and 1 of them had 4 figures. Again, you really should do your homework if you are going to properly review anything and then share your opinion here on SDN. There is too much random noise on the forum; we don't need any more of it.

CARS
I will agree that the NS cars on the full lengths is tougher than the EK and TPS cars. This is prolly the NS exams weakest section in terms of authenticity. 2 and 3 are a not much different, but 4 and 5 are much better. None of the prep companies seem to be quite as AAMC like as I want, but the next Step CARS strategy book is much much better at having a wide variety of passages. I would say Kplan does a a decent job in their FLs for CARS, but not much else. The MCAT itself will be a mix of easy, medium and convoluted passages. They literally test us on identifying the main idea so do you expect it to be easy? I'd rather practice on tougher passages so that the real thing seems easier, which is what I've seen on SDN for those that took Kaplan and NS full lengths and is what I experienced. EK was too different and their explanations sometimes just required blind acceptance. I hope I find myself similarly over prepared for CARS on Monday when I go in for the real deal.

Psych/Soc
All of these passages are within the same length as what the AAMC puts in their OG and practice test (300-500 words). How many paragraphs they are in doesn’t matter as much. Even the AAMC full length Psych/Soc section has 5/10 passages with NO figures whatsoever.


I will also say that NS Full lengths 4 and 5 are much, much more AAMC like. These 2 exams must have been made later/after 1-3, because they are much more like the AAMC in tone and Q cleverness than the 1st 3. I would say NS 4-5 are better than the EK exams, but EK 1-3 beats NS 1-3 overall. I expect all of the companies to do some major revising over the next year or so. No help for me, but hopefully it will help future testers.

Long story short, you should not go spouting off how "realistic" any exam is unless you are actually going to check your facts, and then take a deep breath, because we have so little info about this new MCAT that basing your entire study and test habits around 1 practice test and 1 half-length exam is a recipe for disaster (IMO). So few companies offer full length exams on their own without buying anything else.

I would rank (after AAMC of course) NS 4 & 5 > EK 1-3 > NS 1-3 > Kaplan 1-3 > TPR 1-2 (based on what I have taken). No matter who you go with, look at % correct, not scaled score. NONE of these companies know what the scales are or will be. We cannot know until the AAMC releases more scored exams. Until then its all guesswork.

1 day to go!!!!!
How do you think you did? I found your reviews very helpful. I'm taking mine on 21st August. I have EK 3 and 4, as well as NS 1-5. My EK 3 was 63% (C/P was tough), while my OG was 71%. I have yet to take EK 4 and NS 4/5. I went from 494 (before content review) and 496 (two weeks after content review) with TPR, followed by two 503s with TBR (after content review). To be competitive in my school, I need at least a 508.
 
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How do you think you did? I found your reviews very helpful. I'm taking mine on 21st August. I have EK 3 and 4, as well as NS 1-5. My EK 3 was 63% (C/P was tough), while my OG was 71%. I have yet to take EK 4 and NS 4/5. I went from 494 (before content review) and 496 (two weeks after content review) with TPR, followed by two 503s with TBR (after content review). To be competitive in my school, I need at least a 508.
I posted in the official June 2015 test takers thread. I ended up in the 95% overall.
C/P : 129
CARS: 129
Bio/Bioch: 130
Psych/Soc: 128

Total: 516

I think EK and NS 3-5 were the most helpful besides the AAMC practice test (which was roughly on par with my real exam, maybe a bit easier). The OG was much easier than the PT and my real exam but its kinda subjective.
 
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I posted in the official June 2015 test takers thread. I ended up in the 95% overall.
C/P : 129
CARS: 129
Bio/Bioch: 130
Psych/Soc: 128

Total: 516

I think EK and NS 3-5 were the most helpful besides the AAMC practice test (which was roughly on par with my real exam, maybe a bit easier). The OG was much easier than the PT and my real exam but its kinda subjective.


Excellent job on your score DestinationMD!! I am in the process of figure out which practice exams would be best for me since I am limited on funds and must perform very well on my exam.

How much did you pay for the each exam and all together? Did you purchase them through their website or through Amazon??

What was your study guide and techniques did you use??
 
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I posted in the official June 2015 test takers thread. I ended up in the 95% overall.
C/P : 129
CARS: 129
Bio/Bioch: 130
Psych/Soc: 128

Total: 516

I think EK and NS 3-5 were the most helpful besides the AAMC practice test (which was roughly on par with my real exam, maybe a bit easier). The OG was much easier than the PT and my real exam but its kinda subjective.
Great score and thanks for your review on the next step FLs. I'm using them as well. Do you mind sharing what you got on their FL 4 and 5? Also, did you find the next step FLS harder, easier, on par with your actual mcat?
 
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I believe NextStep revised their full lengths and made some changes to their scaling a couple months back so my scores now are diff from what I had before my test date. NextStep FL access is 6 months so I was able to grab these "new" scores. I tried to remember my old scores on FL 4 & 5, but I cannot be 100%. I have entered below my current FL 4 and 5 scores as well as the % correct on the AAMC practice exam.

I took FL 4 ~ 2 weeks out, FL 5 ~ 10 days out and the AAMC practice test ~ 5 days out. The AAM PT was slightly easier than my real exam, but not as easy as the OG half-exam.

Scores.PNG

The chem foundations and bio foundation on the NextStep exams were definitely tougher than the exam I had on test day. CARS was pretty spot on but the AAMC seemed to ask more about subtle changes to arguments and less detail than NS. The psych foundations section on the real thing surprised me. The passages I saw on test day seemed much simpler than the NextStep psych passages and I felt great but, I got pretty much the same score I had been getting. I guess my recall wasn't as good as I thought (the psych I got was very recall heavy, not much critical thinking).
 
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TheAnonymous

5+ Year Member
Jan 19, 2014
2,449
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I believe NextStep revised their full lengths and made some changes to their scaling a couple months back so my scores now are diff from what I had before my test date. NextStep FL access is 6 months so I was able to grab these "new" scores. I tried to remember my old scores on FL 4 & 5, but I cannot be 100%. I have entered below my current FL 4 and 5 scores as well as the % correct on the AAMC practice exam.

I took FL 4 ~ 2 weeks out, FL 5 ~ 10 days out and the AAMC practice test ~ 5 days out. The AAM PT was slightly easier than my real exam, but not as easy as the OG half-exam.

View attachment 195444

The chem foundations and bio foundation on the NextStep exams were definitely tougher than the exam I had on test day. CARS was pretty spot on but the AAMC seemed to ask more about subtle changes to arguments and less detail than NS. The psych foundations section on the real thing surprised me. The passages I saw on test day seemed much simpler than the NextStep psych passages and I felt great but, I got pretty much the same score I had been getting. I guess my recall wasn't as good as I thought (the psych I got was very recall heavy, not much critical thinking).
Hey, did you take TPR or EK FLs as well? If so, may I ask how you were scoring on the CARS in particular?
 
Apr 24, 2015
251
100
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
Hey, did you take TPR or EK FLs as well? If so, may I ask how you were scoring on the CARS in particular?
Yes, I took all 3 EK exams that were out at the time. They were pricey, but totally worth it IMO.

I was performing ~ same or worse on EK CARS compared to NS 4&5, but I took them earlier than FL 5. I don't trust any companies scaled score right now (b/c we don't have one from the AAMC so its all just pulled from nowhere or old MCAT data). So I would focus on % correct for all exams you take until next year. By then the aamc will have released an actual scored exam and people can figure out exactly what it took (on that exam) to get a 118,119....

EK1 CARS - 70%
EK2 CARS - 76%
EK3 CARS - 73%

Most of my missed CARS Q were subtle things I missed or what I though were correct and that EK didn't do a good enough job justifying why my answer was wrong (TPR and NS cars do this too, Kaplan less so).
 
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YITB536

2+ Year Member
Aug 24, 2015
28
2
The Lone Star State
Status
Pre-Medical
Wow, congrats on the great score! So your most recent tests were ~ 505-506 on Nextstep and you scored in the top 10% on the real deal? Least we know the NS exams are tougher than average. I guess that's good news for me. I am 2 FL in with the following:

FL 1 124/125/123/122 - 494 5/1 2015
FL 2 125/125/125/123 - 498 5/8/2015

I am glad to finally see the Psych/soc study pay off. Two tests in I would say they are definitely tougher/denser than a bunch of the AAMC test passages but then some of the passages seem closer to the aamc stuff so on balance these exam def err on the tougher side. I had the same experience with the Kaplan diag exam. It seemed way tougher than the AAMC OG test. I am feeling better about these exams with what you are reporting. Here's hoping the FL exams for NS, EK, TBR, etc... all adapt as soon as possible.

I bet EK waited so they could get data from real test takers, which seems like a smart move. I would imagine all the prep guys do some tweaking as more feedback comes in from AAMC testers. The NS exams seem like good, tough practice and if your scores are any indication, I can expect to do a bit better on the real deal, better than the other way around :)

6 weeks to go!!!!!!

I posted in the official June 2015 test takers thread. I ended up in the 95% overall.
C/P : 129
CARS: 129
Bio/Bioch: 130
Psych/Soc: 128

Total: 516

I think EK and NS 3-5 were the most helpful besides the AAMC practice test (which was roughly on par with my real exam, maybe a bit easier). The OG was much easier than the PT and my real exam but its kinda subjective.

Congrats on getting a 95th% score! That's so awesome!!!

I was following this thread and found your input extremely helpful, not to mention reassuring. I'm scheduled for September 23, and I've only taken NS Diagnostic, FL 1 and 2 so far.

NS Diagnostic: 495 (CP 122, CARS 124, Bio 125, Psych 124)
NS FL 1: 500 (CP 124, CARS 125, Bio 127 Psych 124)
NS FL 2: 502 (CP 124, CARS 125, Bio 127 Psych 126)

It's crazy to see that I'm doing slightly better in the FL's compared to you, but you ended up getting 516. So that gives me so much hope that I can somehow pull that off... But I was wondering how your content knowledge and train of thought at that the time you took the FL's. Because when I took it, 90% of the material felt uncomfortable and was convinced that I totally bombed it. Mostly because of how it was presented. But I trusted my intuition and eliminated wrongs answers as best I could. I have some content holes for sure, but I would say I'm proficient with most of the topics across the board. Did you experience something similar? Also, why do you think you had such a huge discrepancy between your practice FL's and the real thing? I've seen quite a bit of stories similar to yours, but most with Kaplan or TPR. Just wanted to pick your brain.

Again, congratulations on your score and hope you can offer some insight. Thanks!
 
Apr 24, 2015
251
100
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I did about 4 points better than NS FL5, or about 1 point per section. From what I have seen, that's not uncommon for this year. Lots of the exams out there are either way off or a bit tougher than the AAMC so I think I was over prepared, which is what you want to be on exam day.

Most of my errors early on were content and by about FL 4 and EK FL 3 my mistakes were almost all based on the way the test was asking about material. I got better at catching on and then doing the AAMC materials helped me big time in getting used to odd methods of asking about science topics. There were always 1-2 "oh duh" mistakes or miscalculations, but the content got better. There will always be some random topic that comes up you don't know but that's ok.

As for the EK exams, a lot of the Qs in the Chem/Phys were way too calculation intense, especially EK 2. At least 10 or so Qs involved a good 2 minutes worth of calculations and unit conversions, Avogadro's #, you name it. Next step was also calc heavy so maybe the companies just underestimated how simple and calc averse the new MCAT is.

Once you have enough practice, you will learn to trust your gut. familiarity leads to confidence leads to points. When are you testing?
 
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YITB536

2+ Year Member
Aug 24, 2015
28
2
The Lone Star State
Status
Pre-Medical
I did about 4 points better than NS FL5, or about 1 point per section. From what I have seen, that's not uncommon for this year. Lots of the exams out there are either way off or a bit tougher than the AAMC so I think I was over prepared, which is what you want to be on exam day.

Most of my errors early on were content and by about FL 4 and EK FL 3 my mistakes were almost all based on the way the test was asking about material. I got better at catching on and then doing the AAMC materials helped me big time in getting used to odd methods of asking about science topics. There were always 1-2 "oh duh" mistakes or miscalculations, but the content got better. There will always be some random topic that comes up you don't know but that's ok.

As for the EK exams, a lot of the Qs in the Chem/Phys were way too calculation intense, especially EK 2. At least 10 or so Qs involved a good 2 minutes worth of calculations and unit conversions, Avogadro's #, you name it. Next step was also calc heavy so maybe the companies just underestimated how simple and calc averse the new MCAT is.

Once you have enough practice, you will learn to trust your gut. familiarity leads to confidence leads to points. When are you testing?
September 23. Started studying July 10.

I just took NS FL 3 (125/125/125/124) 499..... I don't know what happened. The bio passages was a lot more dense and overall the exam content just seemed harder. I suppose I could do more content review, but I find that my problem comes from answering questions the "MCAT way." I'm almost in the exact position you were right before you took FL 4. What did you do to get over that hump? More content review or FL's? Time is running out for me... :(

I start graduate/post-bacc classes next semester and got the rest of the month off from work, so I pretty much have 24/7 between now and test day. I don't know if should reschedule or just push forward. Please let me know what you think. Thanks in advanced!
 
Sep 11, 2012
39
12
Status
I don't agree with the Next Step FL's assessments. Yes, test 4-5 are better, and those are the only ones I would recommend. Tests 1-3 are overly difficult (some questions are just random/confusing) and not good preparation. But I liked TPR (All sections except Psych) and I found Kaplan's tests (especially the Psych and Bio sections) very good preparation for the real exam. EK's are okay as well (I like their Verbal and Psych sections), a lot of their questions seem to be ambiguous on purpose.

Interestingly, what I scored in EK ended up being closest to my AAMC Sample score (percentages wise). Though it wasn't what helped me target my weakest areas. Yes, Kaplan and TPR were tougher, but they exposed my weaknesses and holes in my understanding better than any of the other tests. I believe the measure of a good FL should be that it helps you improve, not just something that approximates your score using ambiguous language (like EK) or random questions (like Next Step).


>>>>> My recommendation: TPR Tests 1-4 > Kaplan 1-3 > EK FL's > Next Step 4-5> Next Step 1-3


I see DestinationMD seems to like the Next Step tests and has been advocating for them on this board a number of times. Again, to each his own. I am glad there is enough prep material that we can all find what we need.
 
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Apr 24, 2015
251
100
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I .........seem to be ambiguous on purpose.

Interestingly, what I scored in EK ended up being closest to my real score. Though it wasn't what helped me target my ......
If EK only provides % correct and not any scaled score, how do you know your EK score came closest to your real score? It's all random, None of the companies scaled scores mean anything until we get an actual AAMC exam with a raw to scaled score conversion. You also do not get a % correct from the AAMC, just a scaled score and your percentile, which is NOT % correct, though many confuse the two. Right now it seems to me what you claim is impossible since there is no data. Can you elaborate or clarify? For the record I have consistently ranked EK better than NS overall, but there is no way to meaningfully correlate any of these companies scales to the real thing yet.
 

YITB536

2+ Year Member
Aug 24, 2015
28
2
The Lone Star State
Status
Pre-Medical
I don't agree with the Next Step FL's assessments. Yes, test 4-5 are better, and those are the only ones I would recommend. Tests 1-3 are overly difficult (some questions are just random/confusing) and not good preparation. But I liked TPR (All sections except Psych) and I found Kaplan's tests (especially the Psych and Bio sections) very good preparation for the real exam. EK's are okay as well (I like their Verbal and Psych sections), a lot of their questions seem to be ambiguous on purpose.

Interestingly, what I scored in EK ended up being closest to my real score. Though it wasn't what helped me target my weakest areas. Yes, Kaplan and TPR were tougher, but they exposed my weaknesses and holes in my understanding better than any of the other tests. I believe the measure of a good FL should be that it helps you improve, not just something that approximates your score using ambiguous language (like EK) or random questions (like Next Step).


>>>>> My recommendation: TPR Tests 1-4 > Kaplan 1-3 > EK FL's > Next Step 4-5> Next Step 1-3


I see DestinationMD seems to like the Next Step tests and has been advocating for them on this board a number of times. Again, to each his own. I am glad there is enough prep material that we can all find what we need.
With all due respect sir, DestinationMD's progression and scores speak for themselves. So I find it extremely difficult to ignore his advice. But thank you for the input!
 
Sep 11, 2012
39
12
Status
If EK only provides % correct and not any scaled score, how do you know your EK score came closest to your real score? It's all random, None of the companies scaled scores mean anything until we get an actual AAMC exam with a raw to scaled score conversion. You also do not get a % correct from the AAMC, just a scaled score and your percentile, which is NOT % correct, though many confuse the two. Right now it seems to me what you claim is impossible since there is no data. Can you elaborate or clarify? For the record I have consistently ranked EK better than NS overall, but there is no way to meaningfully correlate any of these companies scales to the real thing yet.
Yes, sorry, I will clarify. The EK was closest to my performance on the AAMC Sample Test. In terms of percentage, I got a lot more wrong doing FL's from other companies.
 
Sep 11, 2012
39
12
Status
With all due respect sir, DestinationMD's progression and scores speak for themselves. So I find it extremely difficult to ignore his advice. But thank you for the input!
Of course, like I mentioned, to each his own. However, this forums thrives on varied opinions, I hope some people will benefit from my perspective and experience. The MCAT is an important exam, and you don't want to be wasting your time doing exams that's aren't representative.

Other issues, I remember having with NS exams:
1. Too much Physics on the first section.
2. Not enough experimental passages for Bio and Chem.

Though Kaplan exams are not the most popular, I did find their experimental and graph interpretation passages very much prepared me for the worst I saw on the Actual Exam.

Again, it's your time and money. I wish you good luck.
 
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gibbsfree

2+ Year Member
Sep 10, 2015
3
1
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
Of course, like I mentioned, to each his own. However, this forums thrives on varied opinions, I hope some people will benefit from my perspective and experience. The MCAT is an important exam, and you don't want to be wasting your time doing exams that's aren't representative.

Other issues, I remember having with NS exams:
1. Too much Physics on the first section.
2. Not enough experimental passages for Bio and Chem.

Though Kaplan exams are not the most popular, I did find their experimental and graph interpretation passages very much prepared me for the worst I saw on the Actual Exam.

Again, it's your time and money. I wish you good luck.

Thank you for you input. I've been looking for a few exams since it looks like I'll be taking the test in January. I have already used up Next Step, but haven't tried EK, TPR and Kaplan as yet. I will make a full comparison and post it here.
 
Nov 10, 2014
4
4
So I've taken NS FL 1,4,5. Do you guys find their scale way too generous? For example, a 54% in their chem/phys is a 126; whereas, a 54% for most of the other test prep companies us a 124. I know their tests are harder but their curve just seems way too generous. Do you guys agree?
 
Apr 24, 2015
251
100
Status
Medical Student (Accepted)
I think it's been posted over and over this summer but it still bears repeating. There is NO curve for the new MCAT. It does not exist yet. No one has any data on the new raw-to-scale score conversions for this new exam. Not even the AAMC has released anything and they won't until November. Any company that gives you a 3 digit scaled score is likely going off of the old AAMC curves which will be at least similar to the new curve. Either way, it's all (educated) guesswork.

That is why EK doesn't even bother with a scaled score. Focus on your % correct, and what areas of weakness your practice test identified.
 
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