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Only 3 days and severely overwhelemed

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by lightng, May 14, 2014.

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  1. lightng

    lightng 2+ Year Member

    May 2, 2014
    Hey everyone, so i'm following SN2ed's 3 month schedule and currently on day 3 and I feel so stressed out when studying for the MCAT that i can't explain this feeling.

    The passages are just ludicrous in my opinion. I can't possibly understand how you guys can complete the majority of them in a 7 minute span.

    I can't even grasp the content of the passage through the first read most of the time!

    Not to mention the fact that I don't feel like the Berkeley Review content prepares me for the passages either. I just finished the first chapter of General Chem (Stoichiometry) and the examples given were very basic and easy to follow but once I hit the passage, it was a whole new ball game.

    Most of the time i'm learning stuff while DOING the passages. Is this normal?

    Also, 7 minutes per passage, from what i've experienced, is literally reading the passages ONCE, reading every single question once, knowing how to solve the question almost immediately without much pondering and rinse-repeat.

    Is this all supposed to get much better closer to exam day? Because even for the Physics chapter 1 i was spending around 12-14 minutes per passage and still getting a few questions wrong because I didn't know how to do them...
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  3. txlonghorn2314

    txlonghorn2314 2+ Year Member

    Jan 22, 2013
    I think I made a post similar to this when I was first starting out. How you are feeling is VERY VERY VERY normal. Don't do what I did though. STICK WITH IT, and don't pay attention to low scores/percentages. Learn from them and keep pushing. If you stick to doing this, by the third month you will notice that it all finally comes together.

    I suggest supplementing Chad's videos with TBR. What I did was watch one of his videos, do his practice quiz over the video,then do a few of the ek 1001 questions over the topic. Then after a break, skim through the TBR chapter and just pay attention to certain diagrams and formulas, THEN do the passages.

    Also, 7 minutes a passage is probably not enough time for TBR passages, since they require a lot of calculation sometimes. This might go against what a lot of people say, but I really think you shouldn't worry about timing this first month (it really only takes 3 or so weeks to get the timing down IMO). I would just focus on digesting the material and practice your problem solving.

    Also, for the PS, what I do is not even read the passage but go straight to the questions. Many of them can be answered without referring to the passage, and the ones that you need the passage, you can just skim and find where the information is at. This has worked wonders for me on both TBR and AAMC. On that Stoichiometry section when I first started, I got 2/7 right on every passage I did :confused:.

    I took AAMC 4 the other day and finished the PS section in 45 minutes and scored a 12. The biggest mistake I made though was not sticking to a schedule. For the love of God, STICK WITH IT!!! Stay confident, and pay no attention to your percentages...just learn from every missed question you make. PM me if you have any other questions
    victoriah likes this.
  4. Sean Lee

    Sean Lee

    Jan 15, 2014
    You will likely be pleasantly surprised by the following two things:

    1) AAMC exams are quite easy/straightforward compared to most of your practice materials (TPR, Berkeley, Kaplan, etc.)
    2) Your AAMC averages will closely predict your actual score
  5. derrick rose

    derrick rose 2+ Year Member

    Feb 22, 2013
    Im going to be brutally honest, I think you should be overwhelmed and stressed out with TBR passages; however, this is an aptitude test. As a test that measures your critical thinking and analytics, it is meant to separate the exceptional people from the not so exceptional. With that being said, I don't think you should be taking that long on the passages! For me, yes I did take a LONG time the first few chapters. BUT, by week 2 I was averaging 6-7 minutes per passage for bio, ochem, achem, and VR with improving scores!

    You just need to stick with it, and definitely use those times and scores as an honest evaluation of your skill level. Do not let it break down your confidence though! Try to use it as motivation and prove you are competent enough to be one of the exceptional people that take the MCAT!
  6. lightng

    lightng 2+ Year Member

    May 2, 2014
    I'm starting to gain the impression that maybe i'm not going into the passages while fully mastering the material of the section. I guess I really have two options on how to approach the SN2ed schedule since there wasn't really any specifics.

    1) Should I study the chapter extremely well before attempting the passages?
    2) Or should I read the chapter, while understanding (not completely mastering it) and then attempt the passages? (this is what i've been doing).

    I don't want to "waste" the passages as I need something to gauge my understanding but maybe that's the reason why i'm taking so long to complete them.

    The problem with approach 1 is, like I said, sometimes the passages through a few curve balls that weren't presented in the material of the section and I end up losing my cool. Last time I took physics was in grade 12 high school and 1st year university for Gchem so the material isn't the freshest.

    Are we meant to be LEARNING from the Berkeley Review passages? Or are they truly a REVIEW of what is being described in the chapters?
  7. derrick rose

    derrick rose 2+ Year Member

    Feb 22, 2013
    In a way you are learning from TBR passages. This is because they test your understanding of the material presented in the previous chapter AND give you feedback on your critical thinking. Thats why people here on sdn and anybody else that has written the MCAT say that half the battle is actually getting used to the MCAT style and practicing it!

    For you, I suggest knowing as much as possible before you go into the passages! Thats what I meant by using the first few months you got to strictly do content review. After you have seen all of the stuff that can be tested and you think you know it all, this minimizes the chance of "wasting" questions and/or passages that test your test-taking skills. For example, say you wrote 35 Ochem questions from TBR without having enough knowledge on the current section. You get 10 wrong, and 5 of which you guessed completely because of your unfamiliarity with the concepts. Those 5 questions I would consider "wasted" because you got them wrong based solely on your poor knowledge and not on your intuitive abilities. The worst part is, that if this happens to you, those questions truly are wasted because you CANNOT retake old practice material! So despite passages being a very very very very very great way to learn and add to your knowledge, you want to go into the passages with as much insight on the subject as possible to get the full benefit of the passages!
  8. lightng

    lightng 2+ Year Member

    May 2, 2014
    I definitely know what you mean. Unfortunately, there is not much of a way to test my knowledge of the information until I do questions and since TBR only has passages, i guess i'm left with the EK1001 series. Would it be wiser to do those first for content mastery and then move on to the passages? This seems like a more sensible approach yet i dont know why the SN2ed schedule has us doing passages first and then EK later on during the week...
  9. derrick rose

    derrick rose 2+ Year Member

    Feb 22, 2013
    That seems reasonable. Keep in mind that the SN2ed schedule is not tailor-made to every individual and that you can tweak things, as you are doing. For me, I have 3 months until the MCAT and i can follow the 3 month schedule fairly closely. However, I still changed quite a few things to better fit my learning style! This should go the same way for you. I am making suggestions that would normally work for me, yet they may not work for you. Nevertheless, I strongly suggest doing the EK passages first to get the content down and then TBR passages later to challenge yourself. Just make sure you auto regulate your studying through close monitoring of your progress. If you notice your not performing optimally with the above suggestions, just simply improvise and incorporate a different style of scheduling!
  10. lightng

    lightng 2+ Year Member

    May 2, 2014
    Any tips for verbal reasoning too? I'm scared to death for VR... My MCAT is booked for Aug 27th but still, I feel like i'm ESL (i'm not) when reading these passages.

    It's as if i can go through an entire passage and retain almost nothing. I've done 10 passages so far from TPRH and average 30-40% which is God awful. I don't know how to improve my score though. Should I be dissecting the passages entirely after I do them and explain to myself why the answers chosen are the correct ones?
  11. derrick rose

    derrick rose 2+ Year Member

    Feb 22, 2013
    Hahahahah! I am definitely no VR pro. It is my achilles heel! However, I have just started studying VR as well... Despite the low scores, I am making fairly steady progress. What I suggest, which will be my method of thinking and what many others suggest on sdn, is fairly simple and straight forward:


    ...Be intrigued! Enjoy what you are reading! Even if it means you have to pretend, you will surprisingly find yourself being interested in the most boring passages. My practice list for VR so far: EK101, TPRH, kaplan VR tests, and going to purchase GS 20 VR tests soon!
  12. theparty

    theparty 2+ Year Member

    Feb 4, 2012
    personal opinion: the BR passages are way harder and pretty much useless - the only use i can maybe see them having is just getting practice in the general concept of reading a passage and answering questions. i did 1/3 of the passages and didn't bother grading or reviewing half of them. having floundered on the BR ones, i did 10/9/11=30 & 11/12/9=32 on aamc #3 & #4. when you get to the official aamc stuff you'll see how different it is - a lot more answers in the passage & general concepts >>> specifics. i highly suggest saving as much time as possible along the way from doing BR passages, and focus more on understanding the concepts in the chapter (that's just what worked for me - you might/will be different). practice obviously helps, but a 7ft center & 5'6" point guard don't practice basketball the same way - find what works for you and run with it as hard as you can. i didn't find what worked for me until 2 months into the process when i had finished the content review (non-trad years out of undergrad) & finally took the self-assessment. had i know, i would have gone about everything very differently...
    Last edited: May 15, 2014
  13. GodComplex

    GodComplex 5+ Year Member

    Apr 23, 2012
    The beginning of BR in the sciences section was the most difficult for me and left me feeling inadequate. IMO, you are meant to learn from these passages since they help you to apply the knowledge you were presented in the chapter. As far as speed goes, you will probably pick it up as you practice more. TBR starts out really math heavy in the beginning, especially for G-Chem, but it gets better. Plus, try and develop speed with your math, since you don't want to waste time with it on the actual exam (I began converting everything that was not a whole number into scientific notation).

    Stick with it, make sure you learn from every question you got wrong or even that you got right but were fuzzy on the answer and had the potential to get it wrong. That being said, TBR bio was almost useless (for me) because of the plethora of trivial knowledge they expect you to know.

    Overall, yes, it gets much better as you continue studying and get into the groove.

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