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americanangel said:
Which do you think has a better MCAT prep course?
Princeton!

---more information, better courses, better teachers, and many more practice exams
 

scrappysurfer

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Princeton. Seriosly, Kaplan isn't even in the running. 5 hours of private tutoring with Princeton brought my writing score from M (horrendous) to R and my physics from 9 to 12.
 

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I've heard that Kaplan requires more self-study. You basically need to know the information already; they just help you refresh everything.

Princeton, on the other hand, will actually teach the material to you.

So it really depends what you need!
 

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This is anecdotal, but two people (myself and one other) from my Kaplan prep course scored above 40. His diagnostic was 25, my diagnostic was 24, and another Princeton Review diag I took was 23. It doesn't really show anything scientifically, but it does show that there's nothing wrong with Kaplan's test prep. I think if I hadn't taken Kaplan I would not have scored as well. The other person was right on in saying Kaplan takes a lot of self-study, but I disagree that Princeton's test bank is larger: Kaplan has an absolutely exhaustive bank, both of specific topics and full-length MCATs, that despite a very earnest attempt on my part I could not finish during my course.
 

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yourfriend said:
This is anecdotal, but two people (myself and one other) from my Kaplan prep course scored above 40. His diagnostic was 25, my diagnostic was 24, and another Princeton Review diag I took was 23. It doesn't really show anything scientifically, but it does show that there's nothing wrong with Kaplan's test prep. I think if I hadn't taken Kaplan I would not have scored as well. The other person was right on in saying Kaplan takes a lot of self-study, but I disagree that Princeton's test bank is larger: Kaplan has an absolutely exhaustive bank, both of specific topics and full-length MCATs, that despite a very earnest attempt on my part I could not finish during my course.
The Kaplan "test banks" are independent practice exams you can take on your own.

Princeton has full proctored MCAT's with simulated test situations on Saturdays. There is a difference.

Princeton has several more full practice exams then does Kaplan. Additionally, Princeton requires little independent study, which is important if you are a busy person.
 

yourfriend

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OSUdoc08 said:
The Kaplan "test banks" are independent practice exams you can take on your own.

Princeton has full proctored MCAT's with simulated test situations on Saturdays. There is a difference.

Princeton has several more full practice exams then does Kaplan. Additionally, Princeton requires little independent study, which is important if you are a busy person.

Well, just so the facts are there and she can make an informed decision: Kaplan has 5 proctored full-lengths through the course, which I think is the same amount as Princeton. The test banks I'm referring to are the additional 12 full-lengths that Kaplan has available to students. But you obviously had a good experience with Princeton...they're both good, I suppose. Honestly, I think it's a difference in style: if you're a motivated self-studyer, Kaplan can't be beat. Their classroom sessions are not that interesting or enlightening, but they have enormous resources out of class. Additionally, I found their exams to be even more difficult than the actual MCAT: when I got to the actual exam, it felt like a breeze. I have heard that Princeton has better classroom sessions, so I suppose, once again, that it depends on your learning style.
 

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yourfriend said:
Well, just so the facts are there and she/he can make an informed decision: Kaplan has 5 proctored full-lengths through the course, which I think is the same amount as Princeton. The test banks I'm referring to are the additional 12 full-lengths that Kaplan has available to students. But you obviously had a good experience with Princeton...they're both good, I suppose. Honestly, I think it's a difference in style: if you're a motivated self-studyer, Kaplan can't be beat. Their classroom sessions are not that interesting or enlightening, but they have enormous resources out of class. Additionally, I found their exams to be even more difficult than the actual MCAT: when I got to the actual exam, it felt like a breeze. I have heard that Princeton has better classroom sessions, so I suppose, once again, that it depends on your learning style.
That's the point exactly. Why pay for the teachers and to spend time in class if you are going to be doing all of your learning on your own? Why not just pay for Kaplan's online exams and the books instead of taking the classes, which won't really help? It makes more sense to attend a class, where you actually learn so much that you won't need much outside time.

Princeton's full exams are also more difficult, until the final two you take in April, which are old AAMC's.
 

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They all have good points and bad points. Its the deluded people that think just taking a course is somehow going to magically raise their scores just by showing up.

I liked the TPR hyperlearning text (the phone book sized one) for comprehensive review, the EK books for quick review towards the end, and the Kaplan practice materials in their library. I picked up the the first two second hand on Ebay while taking the Kaplan course and rocked the MCAT (38T). All the exams out there stink compared to actual AAMC exams. I am sure people will have similar experiences taking TPR or Kaplan but they all rock and suck in some way.
 

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Axe said:
They all have good points and bad points. Its the deluded people that think just taking a course is somehow going to magically raise their scores just by showing up.

I liked the TPR hyperlearning text (the phone book sized one) for comprehensive review, the EK books for quick review towards the end, and the Kaplan practice materials in their library. I picked up the the first two second hand on Ebay while taking the Kaplan course and rocked the MCAT (38T). All the exams out there stink compared to actual AAMC exams. I am sure people will have similar experiences taking TPR or Kaplan but they all rock and suck in some way.
Oh it does....and it did..... the experience of just taking practice exams raises the score..this does not even consider time spent reviewing the material.
 

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ZAZA67401 said:
Honestly, both stink...go with examkrackers
Right on! ExamKrackers has great teachers and good study material....although most of my med school friends have taken PR and have done well on the MCAT too....I agree that Kaplan is good if you plan on doing a lot of self-study and proctoring tests by yourself....otherwise, PR is better for those things....ExamKrackers really does just stress specific things you should know on the MCAT, which helps filter a lot of useless information you may find throughout other courses....anyway, I recommend both PR and EK...I personally do not like Kaplan for the MCAT!
 

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I think that each program has its advantages and disadvantages, but each more specifically, each office is going to have differences. All the programs try to get good teachers, but some are going to be better. If you are feeling really pro-active, talk to each office and find out who is teaching the class. I had an AWESOME Kaplan teacher that had been teaching both the MCAT and DAT classes for four years, so he knew his stuff. If it is someone new to teaching the course, I would be cautious.

Kaplan did require a lot of self-studying to be successful. I spent endless hours using the resources in the office (which there are a lot of) teaching myself the material because you can only digest so much during a three hour class three days a week. However, if you are unprepared to do that, you will have a hard time in med school because that is what you have to do to succeed at the next level.
 

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americanangel said:
Which do you think has a better MCAT prep course?
hahah... this replies are funny when I think about what I did.

-I took the princeton review course and got the books (the teaching is all about the book and comprendium)
-I got all the kaplan test bank questions
-I got the examkracker audiolearn and verbal workbook.

so... I kinda incorporated...
 

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i took princeton and didn't do anything outside of class and got a 39P. also, all my teachers were doctoral candidates, and i know undergrads that teach kaplan. however, if i did it all over again, i would have done examkrackers - i hear its better than both and cheaper.
 

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I took Princeton, scored well. I had Kaplan books, but TPR gave more than enough material, so I did not use those. Also I really liked the structure.
Proctored exams helped me alot during the real thing. Good luck.
:luck:
 

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I took princeton and I would recommend it to anyone over kaplan. i raised my score 10 pts to a 33P, not amazing for this site but I was pleased since I had taken no Physics. My friends in kaplan seemed to struggle and I've heard a lot of bad stories...my class size was 10, where as theirs were 50-60 (could vary on school I guess) and undergrads were teaching them. Princeton uses all med/grad students to teach.
I'm glad I chose princeton.
 

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It's really hard to say which is better without having a more direct comparison. The important things to me are cost, location and timing of classes, do you get to keep the material, and how much realistic practice you get. I used TPR and got good results, but of course I do better with some structure and pacing given to me. With that learning style, I got a grade on the MCAT that made me happy, it was worth it. Good luck! :luck: (I'm so glad I don't have to do it again, for that, I am thankful.)
 

bbaek

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how about berkeley review? how does that program go against tpr and kaplan?
 

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I took PR and scored very well.....well enough to get into medical school :D





Oh BTW, I'm selling my PR Study Books (the whole set, all 3000 pages), PM me if interested.
 

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bbaek said:
how about berkeley review? how does that program go against tpr and kaplan?
I've taken both Berkeley Review and Kaplan, and Kaplan is by far a better prep course. I took Berkeley Review in Berkeley, so it may depend on the place, but Kaplan had so many more resources. A lot of money goes into Kaplan research whereas Berkeley Review is kind of a small company. However, it seems like TPR might be even better than Kaplan by the response to this thread.
 

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I think Kaplan is great, but then again I never took PR and in fact don't know anyone who has. I studied with Kaplan and took full advantage of their resources and did very well on the MCAT. So, go with whichever company has more practice tests and resources.
 

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One advantage Kap has over TPR: Kap has printed flash card you can study with. I did TPR with my own homemade (500+ handwritten) flashcards and realized a wopping two point gain on the sciences.
 

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i took kaplan

and went from a 26Q diagnostic to a 38S

i spent most of the time teaching myself everything and basicly memorizing the books they gave me. the classes werent very helpful.

i mean, they offered me a teaching position before i even took the real MCAT. and i dont think i would really be that qualified to stand up in front of a room full of people that paid $1500 each and teach.
 

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I am a teacher for Kaplan (got to get the disclaimer out of the way at the beginning!) and I would like to share my experiences and correct some misconceptions.

First of all, it is not true that Kaplan classes have 50 or 60 students; the max number I have ever had in a class (I started teaching for them in 1997) is in the low 30s. (Let's say 35 max to be safe; my memory is fading as I get older. :smuggrin: ) Most classes are significantly smaller than that; I'd say that the average class size is in the teens (anywhere from 10-20 being most common). I've also had classes with as few as six, though you should not expect this. In general, the earlier you start your prep course before test day, the smaller your class is likelier to be. So one word to the wise: don't sign up for the cram course that is the last one starting before test day if you want a smaller class.

Second, the issue of teachers: this is the single most important issue for you to consider when you are deciding between classes, IMHO. If you don't care about the teachers or classes, then you would be better off just signing up for the online course, which is much cheaper. So, assuming that you do want a good classroom experience, you will have to do some homework about the instructors. Some teachers at both companies are better than others, just like in your college classes. Of course, the test center staff of either company isn't going to tell you that. They're going to tell you that EVERY teacher is great. So how do you find out which teachers really are great? You have to ask people who have taken the courses already and whose opinions you trust. It takes time and effort to do this kind of research, but remember, it's your dime (or your parents' if your lucky enough to have them pay for the course for you), so you need to do what is necessary to get the most for your money.

You also need to be self-aware enough to know what learning style works best for you. For example, there is a difference of philosophy with regard to assigning teachers at the two companies. (This is not a value judgment; some people prefer one method, and others prefer another.) TPR's instructors are "specialists" in one or a couple of areas. So you are going to have several different teachers, probably one for each of the subjects, if you go with TPR. At Kaplan, it is common to have a single "generalist" teacher who teaches you every subject, although this is not always the case. So if you have a preference with regard to the number of teachers you will have, this may be something you want to consider when choosing a course. It is also true that TPR has a lot more instruction time than Kaplan does for each of the individual subjects. Again, if you feel that you need or want the extra classroom time, this will be something you should consider.

Related to this issue is teacher experience. Both companies suffer from high turnover rates for their teachers. (Heck, I've even seen the management turn over a few times over the years.) So there is a good chance that your teacher(s) will be fairly new regardless of where you go. Obviously, it is best if you can get a more experienced teacher, but I would caution you not to immediately write off an instructor just because s/he happens to still be a college or medical student. Some of the younger instructors have a knack for teaching that some of the more experienced people lack. BTW, Kaplan does employ some college students as instructors, but most of them are not teaching MCAT; the majority of our MCAT teachers are current medical students or recent college graduates about to leave for medical school.

Finally, I cannot emphasize this enough: it is completely true that you will only get out of your course or self-study what you put into it. If you are serious and motivated to do well on the MCAT, you will put in the time and effort necessary to master the material and practice the test style, and you will succeed, regardless of which company (or none) that you decide to go with. I have worked with literally hundreds of pre-meds as an MCAT instructor and chemistry TA, and I know of multiple success stories for TPR students, for Kaplan students, and for self-study students. In the final analysis, how well you do on the MCAT is up to you. No instructor, no course, no book, can make up for your lack of effort or motivation, and conversely, the determination to succeed is the one common denominator that all of these success stories I mentioned all possess.

Best of luck to all of you who are taking the MCAT next month. :luck:
 

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I'm a teacher for Princeton Review. The books are fantastic, and we give frequent practice exams spaced throughout the course, in conditions similar to the real MCAT. Each subject has its own teacher, and we really go out of our way to teach the material and test-taking strategies together. Many of my students have learned the material for the first time in my class (eg hadn't taken that course yet in college) and yet managed to do very well. That being said, every course is going to involve you putting your time in. Going to class and doing the practice exams will only take you so far, most of the learning will have to be in addition, on your own time. PR has zillions of practice questions, beyond the the practice exams. All of the teachers I know are very enthusiastic and go out of their way to make the lectures fun. I highly recommend PR. I have a few friends that took Kaplan and weren't happy since the classes had one teacher for all subjects, rather than experts in each, and I've been told their exam strategies aren't as effective. I've heard good things about examkrackers, but no real first-hand knowledge.
 

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Based upon the varied postings here, there is clearly not a right answer to this question: ie. neither Kaplan nor PR is "better." I can tell you about why I chose Kaplan and why it worked for me, though. At the same time, I'll let you know its drawbacks.

I am a non-trad, having graduated from college in 1999. Consequently, I haven't taken gen chem (for example), since 1995 or 1996. Taking some prep course was absolutely essential. When trying to decide which, I asked around. A friend of mine had taught for Princeton Review and he initially sold me on them based upon the rationale that PR really vets the teaching skills of its hires. According to him, at least, Kaplan primarily cares about how its teachers scored on the MCAT, not how well they teach.

However, when I discussed the matter with my pre-med advisor, he offered some counterpoints. (Warning: I have not checked the following facts. They are hearsay.) First, Kaplan has been in the business longer and has standardized its program nationally. As such, every Kaplan center offers essentially the exact same program of study. Conversely, the quality of the Princeton Review varies from center to center. Second, and most important to me, Kaplan requires about half the number of in-class hours that Princeton Review requires. (I did check up on this.) That was essential to me, as I work full time, and I generally do a lot of my learning on my own anyway. In fact, that sealed the deal for me, in terms of my decision.

As for my Kaplan experience: it was mixed. My class only had about 6 people in it, and I took it in downtown SF, so the classes are not necessarily going to be huge. (I also took the one that started in the fall that only meets once a week, so that may have had something to do with it.) As far as results go, I couldn't be happier. I kicked butt on the MCATs, raising my initial diagnostic by about 17 points. How much of that was due to Kaplan, I can't honestly say. Certainly, their materials were helpful, and the structure and discipline they provided were essential, but I found their "system" to be a load of BS...for me anyway.

A couple of other important points, if you decide to go with Kaplan:
---The quality of the teaching varies tremendously. My teacher was absolutely fantastic, but I sat in on another lecture when I had missed one of my own, and the guy was horrendous. Dead man lecturing. If you feel like you are going to rely on the classtime to learn the material and your teacher is bad, I would advise you to look elsewhere if you have options.​
---Their practice tests are good for practicing how to sit there and concentrate for 7 hours, but their content still doesn't quite reflect the actual MCAT. The practice MCATs created by AMCAS are MUCH better indicators of how you are doing with the material. I highly, highly, highly (did I mention highly) recommend sitting down and taking a full length practice AMCAS MCAT under test conditions at some point when the test is approaching. Looking back, it probably would have been a better use of my time to practice with AMCAS MCATs over the course of my studying in place of some of the myriad Kaplan practice and diagnostic tests (they have 10 million, more or less). Kaplan will tell you that you don't need to get any other materials to prepare for the MCAT, but I disagree. You should invest in the AMCAS practice MCATs.​
More than anything else, I needed the materials, and I needed a structure which would encourage me to partake in a disciplined course of study. If that's primarily what you need, you probably can't go wrong with any of these courses. If you feel like you are going to be very dependent on the in-class teaching component of the course, be sure to thoroughly investigate the teachers. And, let me reiterate: I and others I've talked to, found the AMCAS MCAT practice test to be the best practice test out there. Don't forget about it.
 

jeffsleepy

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TPR FTW!!!

You choose to take a prep course because you're too lazy/unmotivated to study on your own. Because of that, the extra instructional hours is a big plus. You can just buy extra material/diags for a fraction of the price of a Kaplan course.
 
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americanangel

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Thanks for all the info...See I'm a sophmore and I'm definately thinking about taking my MCAT in August since I will have all of my pre-reqs done now and then next year I can use my time to continue my research during the upcoming semesters!
I don't need to be taught the material again, but I want to be drilled more so then anything. The reason why I originally asked Kaplan or Princeton Review was because of the location. The Kaplan center is a half hour from my house and the Princeton Review is an hour away without traffic! I heard good things about the PR class and I wanted to know if traveling an hour in both directions would be worth it!!! From what I've heard, I really don't think it matters!!!

Thanks for all the insight you guys!
Best of luck to everyone taking the MCAT in April :luck:
 

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jeffsleepy said:
TPR FTW!!!

You choose to take a prep course because you're too lazy/unmotivated to study on your own. Because of that, the extra instructional hours is a big plus. You can just buy extra material/diags for a fraction of the price of a Kaplan course.
I would not have taken TPR, Kap, or EK at all if there were ample practice sets available outside of their super-expensive courses.
 

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The misinformation in this thread is amazing.

First, which is better is going to vary WIDELY by location / center. The quality of teaching is no better at either. Kaplan doesnt hire based on MCAT score any more than TPR. Nor does either have larger classes necessarily.

TPR does have more class hours. If you are really weak on the material and want more teach time, this may be good for you.

The statement about TPR varying more by center is true, not the teachers, but due to the fact that their lessons arent as rigid / developed as Kap. TPR teachers develop a lot of their own lessons, can be good or bad.

As far as books go, Kap has better (more directed) review notes. TPR tends to include a lot of extra info, that you dont necessarily need to memorize for the mcat.

The pracitce tests are hard to evaluate. As stated above, AAMC tests are the best. Do these regardless of course. And yes, for some reason Kap doesnt think this is necessary, do them anyway.

EK has the best books by far. If donig self study, use EK. Otherwise compare TPR and Kap at your area.