Question about prepping for the Biology Section of the MCAT

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Hi Everyone on SDN. I am starting to study for the biology section of the MCAT. I am mainly using the Princton Review book and the Exam Crackers book.

For those of you who used either of these materials can you please tell me what to actually be memorizing from the materials or just simply understanding at a functional level. I could really use some guidance on exactly what I am supposed to be doing with these books. The Princeton Review book seems to be more detailed and almost too much to memorize but maybe that is supposed to be my goal. Please offer any suggestions that you have.
 

Stolenspatulas

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Hi Everyone on SDN. I am starting to study for the biology section of the MCAT. I am mainly using the Princton Review book and the Exam Crackers book.

For those of you who used either of these materials can you please tell me what to actually be memorizing from the materials or just simply understanding at a functional level. I could really use some guidance on exactly what I am supposed to be doing with these books. The Princeton Review book seems to be more detailed and almost too much to memorize but maybe that is supposed to be my goal. Please offer any suggestions that you have.

i used a PR book and borrowed the kaplan bio book from a friend. the PR one has way too much detail but i memorized it all anyway. the kaplan book has a good list of hormones, vitamins, etc that may show up as a free-standing question.

you should memorize as much as possible so that you do not miss any free-standing questions. those are gimmes.

the passage-based questions are mostly all just reasoning based, ie, seeing how you think scientifically. that you can practice for, but at some level, is just talent.

take home: memorize it all in detail. then just do crap loads of practice tests.
 
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i used a PR book and borrowed the kaplan bio book from a friend. the PR one has way too much detail but i memorized it all anyway. the kaplan book has a good list of hormones, vitamins, etc that may show up as a free-standing question.

you should memorize as much as possible so that you do not miss any free-standing questions. those are gimmes.

the passage-based questions are mostly all just reasoning based, ie, seeing how you think scientifically. that you can practice for, but at some level, is just talent.

take home: memorize it all in detail. then just do crap loads of practice tests.
I'd listen to Mr. Forty.
 

Dr. C. Troy

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i used a PR book and borrowed the kaplan bio book from a friend. the PR one has way too much detail but i memorized it all anyway. the kaplan book has a good list of hormones, vitamins, etc that may show up as a free-standing question.

you should memorize as much as possible so that you do not miss any free-standing questions. those are gimmes.

the passage-based questions are mostly all just reasoning based, ie, seeing how you think scientifically. that you can practice for, but at some level, is just talent.

take home: memorize it all in detail. then just do crap loads of practice tests.

There's no such thing as talent as far as deductive reasoning goes. Anyone can get a 40 given adequate time. I have taught students who got scores in the teens on their first practice exams, but, after spending literally months of intense study for the MCAT, got scores in the high 30s/low 40s.

Some people just start at a higher level than others, but really, there is just a point where you have to weigh what is more important: raising a score in the mid-30's a few more points, or enjoying life and pursuing your interests. I truly believe life is too short to spend months studying for an exam that may not even guarantee that your entry into medical school, which was why I was happy to have struck the balance between a decent score, and an acceptable amount of study time -- one week of 12 hours of studying/day the week of the MCAT, preceeded by 1.5 months of relaxed study, at ~10 hours per week. Mind you, most of my time was spent learning physics, since I never had any physics education prior to this test, so I had to teach myself physics, which, I never was all that successful at, even though I did get a few 12s on the PS section on some of my practice exams.
 

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There's no such thing as talent as far as deductive reasoning goes. Anyone can get a 40 given adequate time. I have taught students who got scores in the teens on their first practice exams, but, after spending literally months of intense study for the MCAT, got scores in the high 30s/low 40s.

Some people just start at a higher level than others, but really, there is just a point where you have to weigh what is more important: raising a score in the mid-30's a few more points, or living life. I truly believe life is too short to spend months studying for an exam that may not even gain you entry to medical school, which was why I was happy to have struck the balance between a decent score, and an acceptable amount of study time -- one week of 12 hours of studying/day.

hah. ive never boasted about my score. however you are incredibly delusional if you think everyone/anyone can score in the high 30s/low 40s. i teach for PR and I can tell you that some people can improve drastically (as i did)... but most can just improve a few points from their base....and have a hard time improving after they get into a routine in how they study/take practices.

also, everyone who scores very well isnt supernerdy and studying 12 hrs/day for months on end. in all honesty, i was the kid in ugrad that forgot he had a test as he walked into the classroom (bc i skipped the last two lectures) as well as forgot he had a paper due as he walked into the classroom on a separate occasion. i guess im trying to make you judge me as incredibly irresponsible. hah. my point is that im not a supernerd and i know many kids that have scored damn well that are not even close to nerds (some, dare i say it, are potheads).


its easy to generalize those with good scores as supernerdy and insane students that never stop studying. but the truth of it is that there is a huge element of luck (getting a good test version that fits your strengths, etc) and a huge element of preparation. after a while, in all honesty, preparation does plateau your score.
 

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hah. ive never boasted about my score. however you are incredibly delusional if you think everyone/anyone can score in the high 30s/low 40s. i teach for PR and I can tell you that some people can improve drastically (as i did)... but most can just improve a few points from their base....and have a hard time improving after they get into a routine in how they study/take practices.

also, everyone who scores very well isnt supernerdy and studying 12 hrs/day for months on end. in all honesty, i was the kid in ugrad that forgot he had a test as he walked into the classroom (bc i skipped the last two lectures) as well as forgot he had a paper due as he walked into the classroom. have you ever had your heart beat like that? dont judge people that score well as supernerdy (wow... i guess im trying to make you judge me as incredibly irresponsible.. hah).


its easy to generalize those with good scores as supernerdy.

I can tell that this is going to get quickly off-topic, and I will probably try to refrain from making any further O-T posts, but honestly, this has nothing to do with being "super-nerdy" or not. Judging by the tone of your post, I may have hit a nerve, since it seems you're out to prove yourself an exception to a "stereotype", but I assure you my intention is not to offend those with high-scores; rather, I wanted to point out a fallacy most have about the test -- that high scores are simply unattainable by "untalented" individuals, and that those with scores in the upper 30's to 40's were simply test-masters from day one. The people I am referring to in my previous post are actually really normal guys (no gals for w/e reason -- I'm sure they're out there though), who simply decided to dedicate an absurdly large chunk of their undergraduate career locked in the library studying because they believed it was a necessary sacrifice to make in order to achieve their dreams.

Most people show poor improvements because it reflects their poor study habits. You can study for hours and not actually learn anything if you do it poorly -- I see this all the time. Honestly, there are many things I wish I did differently when studying for the test -- most of my time spent studying for the test was wasted.

But the trend that most just increase +5 points or so from a base of the low 20's is one that I am certain is reflexive of poor study habits. The deductional skills that the MCAT tests, in addition to the content, can be learned by all non-learning disabled people, given the appropriate amount of time. For some, it may be weeks, for others, months or years, but anyone can ultimately get it down.
 

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exam crackers should be sufficient to get you there. however, if your goal is to get a 12 or above, i'd say read them all and get your hands on as much bio stuff as you can get. i read EK and kaplan and read a physio textbook just for the sections covered on the mcat. and i honestly felt super taking the test as if i was well prepared, if it wasn't for the darn orgo i might've rocked it more. so BS is basically all memorization and really to me, no reasoning once you've been exposed to/read all there is out there then you can basically answer the questions w/o reading. for example, i had a passage on leptin and i already knew what it was from anal physio reading etc so i didnt even have to read the passage to answer 2/3rds of the questions. so basically, read them all and then some.
 
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memorizing random facts for any MCAT section is an easy way to screw any chances of improving your score/doing well. i don't know why premeds think that the way to doing well in anything is to memorize.

the MCAT is a reading comprehension test. all the answers, save for the stand alone questions, are in the passage. you just have to know how to read scientific literature critically. in my opinion, to improve scores, just practice over and over. get your hands on any passages and tests you can. do them all, get used to what they're looking for, and how to eliminate obviously wrong answers.

also when people give you tips on whether you should read the passage or questions first, whether you should underline or circle, skipping passages that look hard, etc, take that with a grain of salt. as you practice, find what you're comfortable with and what helps you get the best score. everyone has a different style. i, for one, did worse when i followed people's advice to skip passages. i said screw it and found my own methods.

the MCAT is not hard. it just takes practice.
 

Schaden Freud

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Hard working+Smart= Awesome Score
Lazy+Smart= Good or Awesome Score, depending on Luck
Hard working+Average= Mediocre or Good Score, depending on Luck
Lazy+Average= Poor or Mediocre Score, depending on Luck
Hard working+Not too Smart= Poor Score
Lazy+Not too Smart= Poor Score



hah. ive never boasted about my score. however you are incredibly delusional if you think everyone/anyone can score in the high 30s/low 40s. i teach for PR and I can tell you that some people can improve drastically (as i did)... but most can just improve a few points from their base....and have a hard time improving after they get into a routine in how they study/take practices.

also, everyone who scores very well isnt supernerdy and studying 12 hrs/day for months on end. in all honesty, i was the kid in ugrad that forgot he had a test as he walked into the classroom (bc i skipped the last two lectures) as well as forgot he had a paper due as he walked into the classroom on a separate occasion. i guess im trying to make you judge me as incredibly irresponsible. hah. my point is that im not a supernerd and i know many kids that have scored damn well that are not even close to nerds (some, dare i say it, are potheads).


its easy to generalize those with good scores as supernerdy and insane students that never stop studying. but the truth of it is that there is a huge element of luck (getting a good test version that fits your strengths, etc) and a huge element of preparation. after a while, in all honesty, preparation does plateau your score.
 
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