May 5, 2016
96
18
[Disclaimer: This is my personal view which means everyone is welcome to agree or disagree with it, and it does not in any mean guarantee the perfect score.]

Hello! I took my PCAT 7/22/16 and received the following scores:

Bio 91
Chem 99
CR 77 (can't say much on this one!)
Quant 96
Comp 97

I would like to share my personal and comprehensive view on the study materials I used for PCAT (Kaplan, Dr. Collins, and Pearson) which are also the three most popular ones. I read many threads prior to my PCAT but did not find anything on the updated one. This includes my personal thoughts, experience with the study materials and a little on study tips and methods.

1. Kaplan
I used the most recent version (2016-2017) of Kaplan PCAT book. I started studying about two months before the exam with this book. Kaplan book provides important facts/new changes/helpful study tips in the beginning chapters. Even if not with this book, you should look up the structure of the test (time, section, new changes, and etc.) before studying so that you don't miss out anything. For example, both bio and chem sections contain 40% passage-based questions now which means about 4 passages/section.
Many people recommend Kaplan's biology section, and I agree with them. Biology is divided into subtopics which are fairly easy to read and detailed. I only read those that I needed to refresh on. The book comes with two full-length online practice exams, and I recommend taking them. The testing format (how it looks on the computer) of actual PCAT looked the closest to the one of Kaplan. Kaplan practice exam also strictly enforces the time limit which is important to stimulate the real PCAT environment. However, I found them to be WAY MORE difficult than the acutal PCAT! Some people say it's better to be over-prepared, but I felt very discouraged from my score on the Kaplan practice. The passage-based questions on bio and chem on the Kaplan were more difficult in my opinion. If you get a low score on it, don't feel hopeless but do make sure to go over the questions you missed. I did a lot better on my real one, so CAN YOU!
I have not gotten my writing grade back yet, but I also read the tips and good essay examples for the writing section in the book.
*Kaplan periodically offers free online exams. They are all one version and shortened, but definitely helpful if you need one more practice.

2. Dr. Collins (mostly about Chemistry)
I used the most recent version (2016) of Dr. Collins. I did the majority of my study with Collins. I highly recommend it if you need a solid study material for chemistry like I did and also lots of practice problems. I have taken two biochem courses but wasn't confident on chemistry section, especially Gen Chem, and Collins helped me tremendously. It comes with many practice sets for each section, but the most for chem. I usually did two sets a day (bio+chem, for example). I always did chem each day but changed up the other one. Meanwhile, I also read and did the study guide for chem. Even though the chem questions on Collins are not very complicated, they directly test your knowledge on the concepts. I did all of the chemistry sets twice and went over all the questions I missed AND those that I got right but wasn't confident. After doing them repetitively, I had mastered most of the concepts. Always time yourself, too.
I thought bio and reading of Dr. Collins are easier than the actual PCAT. Math was helpful, too, but you should note that it is a lot more word problems on the actual PCAT now, whereas Collins do not include them. I practiced brainstorming ideas and writing a couple essays using the topics provided by Collins.
The biggest drawback is the high price (about $400). This is a lot of money. Also, I think you should supplement Dr. Collins with Pearson or Kaplan or anything else that provides more passage-based questions. Each set of Collins only had relatively one easy passage. This is a great place to start but practice more!
Again, don't be discouraged if you miss a lot on Dr. Collins. I missed around 20 problems on the chem when I started out and still missed around 5-7 the second time around. Keep practice and learn from your mistakes, and it will pay off on the real PCAT.

3. Pearson
About threeweeks before the real PCAT, I purchased the three Pearson practice tests. They are pricey, too, but I highly recommend getting at least one to practice. Pearson is the one who writes the real PCAT, so it's very close. Pearson practice tests were extremely helpful for me because they are all updated with the new changes and closely resemble the structure/content/difficulty. It also gives you an opportunity to do the full-length practice and let you realize how tired you might get. It gives you a range for the percentile which is rather broad but accurate, at least in my case, compared to the actual results.
After doing each test, I went over all the problems including those that I also got right. Pearson practice tests provide detailed explanations for each problem. This might have been unnecessary, but I read most of them, if not all to make sure I understand since the same question can be asked in a different way. I also did the math sections three times because I needed extra practice on speed. After doing them once in a full-length practice and going over, I put a sticky note over the answer letters (A,B,C,D) and re-did them so it was like I was doing them for the first time.
I would like to point out something here. For both Pearson and Collins, I always had the periodic table and an online nonscientific calculator during my math and chem practice sessions. I know some people choose not to, but I found this to be helpful on the real exam because using the periodic table let me learn it. I'm not great at fast math so I practiced on using the nonscientific calculator quickly. However, on the actual exam, speed is very, very important for math section, so feel free to ignore this comment lol.

Wow, this is really long. Lastly, I want to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT AND YOU'VE GOT THIS. If you can, plan on enough time to study before the exam. And always have a day off to recharge. I hope you find this helpful and good luck! Feel free to ask any question (though I don't remember much about the actual content of the PCAT because I was so nervous). I think this will be my last thread on SDN!!!

Thank you for reading. :)
 
Last edited:
Aug 26, 2015
39
5
Status
Pre-Pharmacy
Hi! Did the Kaplan test help with the chemistry section on the actual PCAT or is Collins the way to go?


Sent from my iPad using SDN mobile
 
OP
F
May 5, 2016
96
18
Hi! Did the Kaplan test help with the chemistry section on the actual PCAT or is Collins the way to go?


Sent from my iPad using SDN mobile
I always thought Kaplan was just really hard. On the first full-length practice, I got 90% on the Chem section. This was weird because it was before I really started studying. However, when I took the free one maybe 4 days before the actual PCAT, after 2 months of studying, I scored really really low on the Chemistry section on the Kaplan. Maybe 50%??? You can see why I was really confused on these results. I think both Kaplan practice test and book for chem are very detailed and over-prepare you! I personally like Collins better because it's more approachable. But again, Collins is so expensive that I don't want to tell everyone to buy it if you can't.
 
Mar 23, 2016
25
0
Status
Pre-Optometry
[Disclaimer: This is my personal view which means everyone is welcome to agree or disagree with it, and it does not in any mean guarantee the perfect score.]

Hello! I took my PCAT 7/22/16 and received the following scores:

Bio 91
Chem 99
CR 77 (can't say much on this one!)
Quant 96
Comp 97

I would like to share my personal and comprehensive view on the study materials I used for PCAT (Kaplan, Dr. Collins, and Pearson) which are also the three most popular ones. I read many threads prior to my PCAT but did not find anything on the updated one. This includes my personal thoughts, experience with the study materials and a little on study tips and methods.

1. Kaplan
I used the most recent version (2016-2017) of Kaplan PCAT book. I started studying about two months before the exam with this book. Kaplan book provides important facts/new changes/helpful study tips in the beginning chapters. Even if not with this book, you should look up the structure of the test (time, section, new changes, and etc.) before studying so that you don't miss out anything. For example, both bio and chem sections contain 40% passage-based questions now which means about 4 passages/section.
Many people recommend Kaplan's biology section, and I agree with them. Biology is divided into subtopics which are fairly easy to read and detailed. I only read those that I needed to refresh on. The book comes with two full-length online practice exams, and I recommend taking them. The testing format (how it looks on the computer) of actual PCAT looked the closest to the one of Kaplan. Kaplan practice exam also strictly enforces the time limit which is important to stimulate the real PCAT environment. However, I found them to be WAY MORE difficult than the acutal PCAT! Some people say it's better to be over-prepared, but I felt very discouraged from my score on the Kaplan practice. The passage-based questions on bio and chem on the Kaplan were more difficult in my opinion. If you get a low score on it, don't feel hopeless but do make sure to go over the questions you missed. I did a lot better on my real one, so CAN YOU!
I have not gotten my writing grade back yet, but I also read the tips and good essay examples for the writing section in the book.
*Kaplan periodically offers free online exams. They are all one version and shortened, but definitely helpful if you need one more practice.

2. Dr. Collins (mostly about Chemistry)
I used the most recent version (2016) of Dr. Collins. I did the majority of my study with Collins. I highly recommend it if you need a solid study material for chemistry like I did and also lots of practice problems. I have taken two biochem courses but wasn't confident on chemistry section, especially Gen Chem, and Collins helped me tremendously. It comes with many practice sets for each section, but the most for chem. I usually did two sets a day (bio+chem, for example). I always did chem each day but changed up the other one. Meanwhile, I also read and did the study guide for chem. Even though the chem questions on Collins are not very complicated, they directly test your knowledge on the concepts. I did all of the chemistry sets twice and went over all the questions I missed AND those that I got right but wasn't confident. After doing them repetitively, I had mastered most of the concepts. Always time yourself, too.
I thought bio and reading of Dr. Collins are easier than the actual PCAT. Math was helpful, too, but you should note that it is a lot more word problems on the actual PCAT now, whereas Collins do not include them. I practiced brainstorming ideas and writing a couple essays using the topics provided by Collins.
The biggest drawback is the high price (about $400). This is a lot of money. Also, I think you should supplement Dr. Collins with Pearson or Kaplan or anything else that provides more passage-based questions. Each set of Collins only had relatively one easy passage. This is a great place to start but practice more!
Again, don't be discouraged if you miss a lot on Dr. Collins. I missed around 20 problems on the chem when I started out and still missed around 5-7 the second time around. Keep practice and learn from your mistakes, and it will pay off on the real PCAT.

3. Pearson
About threeweeks before the real PCAT, I purchased the three Pearson practice tests. They are pricey, too, but I highly recommend getting at least one to practice. Pearson is the one who writes the real PCAT, so it's very close. Pearson practice tests were extremely helpful for me because they are all updated with the new changes and closely resemble the structure/content/difficulty. It also gives you an opportunity to do the full-length practice and let you realize how tired you might get. It gives you a range for the percentile which is rather broad but accurate, at least in my case, compared to the actual results.
After doing each test, I went over all the problems including those that I also got right. Pearson practice tests provide detailed explanations for each problem. This might have been unnecessary, but I read most of them, if not all to make sure I understand since the same question can be asked in a different way. I also did the math sections three times because I needed extra practice on speed. After doing them once in a full-length practice and going over, I put a sticky note over the answer letters (A,B,C,D) and re-did them so it was like I was doing them for the first time.
I would like to point out something here. For both Pearson and Collins, I always had the periodic table and an online nonscientific calculator during my math and chem practice sessions. I know some people choose not to, but I found this to be helpful on the real exam because using the periodic table let me learn it. I'm not great at fast math so I practiced on using the nonscientific calculator quickly. However, on the actual exam, speed is very, very important for math section, so feel free to ignore this comment lol.

Wow, this is really long. Lastly, I want to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT AND YOU'VE GOT THIS. If you can, plan on enough time to study before the exam. And always have a day off to recharge. I hope you find this helpful and good luck! Feel free to ask any question (though I don't remember much about the actual content of the PCAT because I was so nervous). I think this will be my last thread on SDN!!!

Thank you for reading. :)
Hi,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Could you please tell me how you prepared for Reading comprehension and what your technique was?
Thanks in advance.