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Prep Courses???

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Shakenotstirred, Aug 17, 2002.

  1. Shakenotstirred

    Shakenotstirred Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 16, 2002
    Does anyone here think that the MCAT Courses (Kaplan, TPR, etc.) helped/ are helpful?? Any and all opinions can help. I am trying to decide whether to take one or not.... THANKS
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  3. secretstang19

    secretstang19 Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 1, 2002
    My vote goes for no. I didn't take a review course, and I did better than all of my friends who did. For me it was a financial decision not to take the Kaplan course (it costs $1300 in my area), so instead I paired up with a friend who was also taking the test. It's not as if the Kaplan or PR courses teach you anything special that you can't get out of a book - the advantage of taking their courses is that they formalize and pace your studying. It takes is a little dedication and determination to study by yourself. And it certainly helps to have a buddy going through it with you - if I didn't have someone else with me to make me feel guilty when I fell off pace, I don't think that I would have done as well.

    If you go it alone, make sure that you get a good review book to give you an idea of what to study. I got the Kaplan book, which, at $60 was expensive, but good (and far less expensive than the course).

    If you decide not to take a review course - or even if you do - the best piece of advice that I can give you is to buy all of the cold MCATs that the AAMC has released (there are now six in all). Start taking them on Saturday or Sunday mornings, and time them strictly. I know that the Kaplan course offers their own practice material, but in my opinion (and I have looked at a bit of it) their tests are useful to a point, but if you're shooting for a 35+ their tests will hold you down. There are subtle differences between the Kaplan tests and the AAMC tests - the Kaplan tests tend to test more obscure details and minutae than you'll see on the actual test. The real MCAT will test more logic, and I think that this difference threw off a few of the Kaplan kids.

    So that's probably more than my two cents...
  4. Dancin' Homer

    Dancin' Homer Junior Member

    Aug 17, 2002
    I had a few friends take the Kaplan course. While they did improve their scores by like 5-6 points, they started out pretty low (we're talking hovering around 20). And these people are smart, 3.5+ GPAs, doing some quality bio research, just not good standardized test takers. It's a damn shame.

    The people I've known to get the highest scores just used books. I would also state that a lot of these people are naturally gifted; they study less and can get good grades. One got a 36 or so buying the Kaplan book off the shelf. I tried to read the damn thing and I felt like I should have just borrowed text books because they at least have pretty pictures and those little info boxes with 'FYI' crap that's only useful in Jeopardy.

    On the other hand, I did use books from Examcrackers (it can be found at Amazon or elsewhere on the Net) and I really liked their material. Picked the idea off from this forum. They cut the... crap, so to speak, and focus on the test stuff, which is extensive enough. They also write in plain language, which makes deciphering concepts much easier. With that and a little prayer, I got out OK (hehehehe.... supernatural forces had to be working because I kept hovering between sleep and consciousnesses in the bio section- long story).

    And Examcracker has Salty the Cracker for a mascot. Not quite Mr. T, but it'll do.

    In essence, what you do depends on who you are. All the people I've mentioned above have very little time due to work, athletics, etc. The 36 guy had brains and made time (either an hour a weekday for 3 months... his roommate said he just geeked out on Final Fantasy... the truth is out there... somewhere in between). This guy also made an A in zoology while picking on his fingernails as I scrambled to take notes in class.

    If you have sufficient time, and you do good on standardized tests- this applies especially to the verbal section-, just get some books you'll like and actually read, do some study (there is route memory on the MCAT), definitely do practice tests (but the majority of the MCAT is synergizing concepts with the reading passage they give you), and kick the, uh, crap out of the thing.

    If standardized tests (my opinion they're crocks) just nail ya, or you don't have time to make yourself self study, then I would make the sacrifice and go for the Kaplan thing. Kaplan will require you, however, to devote time outside of class to study, depending on what your schedule is.

    Combining time with effort and correct, focused study from whatever source, you'll beat the hell out of the thing.

    But then you meet that girl (or boy), or you got that orgo exam with a physics one next week, or Fox is showing 'Who Wants to Marry a Shallow, Materialistic Publicity Hound?' ...

    P.S. If ya ain't got any of those, try the prayer thing. No one's really quite pegged which is the best, and that includes voodoo or the Hale-Bopp Comet suicide cult led by D'oh. Trust me, after taking the MCAT, you'll want to perform the former on med school admissions, and your brain will feel like it's been under the rule of the later. If you're not into prayer, cults, work, or have super brains, then I would start looking into contacting organized crime or dumping $$$ into your dream school. I personally bought Tulane the Dancin' Homer Human Excretory Facility, built under the auspices of Port-a-Let. I think Harvard will want more.
  5. JmE

    JmE Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 14, 2002
    I took the Kaplan course and additionally ended up paying for the web review course just before the MCAT ( work, family, etc). I would definately agree with the above quote. I think I might have done better if I had not done the course. The web review course would have been enough for me.

    (A little disclaimer here) I did not put in the suggested amount of time on the Kaplan course, therefore, I do not think the course is a bad idea or that it was at fault in my case. I do, however think that the practice tests threw me a little as my actual MCAT appeared different in the aformentioned way. This little quirk began to throw me during the actual MCAT.


    BTW: I took the MCAT last year.
  6. Miss Dr.

    Miss Dr. Member 7+ Year Member

    Aug 8, 2002
    the prep courses keep you disciplined----help you stay on track, and really highlight the material you need to know. plus, you meet a bunch of crazy people that are taking it as well---and it helps to have that support group type atmosphere.

    if you're a lecture-loving-person like me----take it! if you have the $$ allotted for it of course.

    it's really great if a lot of the instructors turn out to be in med school or pre-meds, because they'll have first hand experience.

    some people can just read read read and study for the MCAT on their own. good for them. i couldn't have done as well that way.

    my score went up 10 points thanks to the course. one can say that with that amount of studying alone---the same would have happened---but i don't think so. I took princeton review and thought it was fabulous.
  7. Wahoo07

    Wahoo07 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jun 10, 2002
    I agree. I didn't take a prep course; I just plugged away at the material for 6 weeks and I got a 33 during the April administration. But those were the longest 6 weeks ever. :sleep: While it certainly can be done without a prep course, I think that if I had the money I would have taken one. The fact that you want to get your money's worth will make you go to class and keep up with the material. My $0.02 :)
  8. Mr. Z

    Mr. Z Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Apr 19, 2002
    There is only one school which can help you succeed on the mcat...

    The Derrick Zoolander center for kids who can read good and want to learn to do other things good too.

    with all others you are just wasting time and $
  9. Dancin' Homer

    Dancin' Homer Junior Member

    Aug 17, 2002
    How can you learn in the The Derek Zoolander Institute for Kids Who Can't Read Good and Want to do Other Stuff Too?!!

    What is is it?!!! A center for ants?! How can we teach children to read if they can't even fit inside the building?!

    I think Mr. Z has spent too much time between two Finnish dwarves and a Maori tribesmen.
  10. BUmiken12

    BUmiken12 Senior Member 7+ Year Member

    Jul 12, 2001
    Waco, TX
    First I'd like to state that I am working for TPR, and my opinion is somewhat biased...BUT, I wouldn't be working for TPR if TPR didn't help me get the score I got (if that makes any sense). I took AAMC IV the Christmas before last April and got an 18...I ended up with a 33 on the actual test. Since AAMC IV is a good indicator of the real thing, I can comfortably say that TPR helped raise my score 15 points. The $1300 is definitely pricey (I'm still paying off my credit card bill for it), but I really needed a good MCAT score to get into the school I want to, and I hopefully got it. Just my two cents...

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