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Retaking 3rd party exams vs. New exams

Incognito32

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Dec 21, 2016
99
114
116
  1. Pre-Medical
Hi all,

I took the MCAT back in January but didn't score nearly as well as I had hoped - 507 (127/123/129/128). I will be retaking the MCAT on July 23rd (hopefully).

The first time around, I had used NS 1-4, the AAMC sample, AAMC 1-4, and EK 1. My NextStep average was closest to my real MCAT score, so I'll factor that in.

I have available NS 5-6, Kaplan FL's (1-3), and EK 3&5 - all of which are untouched.

From what I've gathered, some 3rd party providers are better than others (AAMC > NS > EK > Kaplan). I've also heard that some exams from the same provider are better than others (e.g. NS 1-4 > NS 5/6, or EK 1 > 3 > 5).

I was wondering if I should just retake some of my old 3rd party exams or focus entirely on new content. I will be retaking all of the AAMC material no matter what, and I take about 1 FL per week.

Any help would be kindly appreciated!

(So basically, Deflated and Inaccurate Re-scores vs. Inaccurate and Unrepresentative 3rd party exams)


--------------------------

I also don't know if it matters, but here were the averages for my practice FL's

NextStep: 508 (127/125/128/128)

EK: 68% (61%/72%/75%/64%)

AAMC: 513 (128/126/130/129)

AAMC Sample: 84% (81%/81%/90%/85%)
 
Last edited:

JimKimSlim

Full Member
Feb 5, 2020
669
497
66
  1. Medical Student
Looks like your weakest section is CARS, which is also the hardest section to improve on. I think all your other sections have pretty solid, consistent scores. I would suggest keep practicing CARS or explore different methods to approach CARS passages. IMO, CARS is all about understanding and retaining information from the passages, and everyone has their own unique strategy they’ve been employing since elementary school. In my experience, regardless of the difficulty of the passage, I did fine on CARS as long as i was able to remember the thesis and the main idea of each paragraph from memory. Perhaps keep trying new strategies until you find one that “clicks.”
 

GreenDuck12

Full Member
7+ Year Member
Mar 30, 2014
2,107
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  1. Medical Student
The purpose of 3rd party exams should be to: identify content gaps, practice time management and other strategies, and to get used to the format of the exam. One should not focus on the scale score from 3rd party exams. To this end, repeating 3rd party exams is fine.

AAMC exams should be used to: understand the structure and format of questions, practice with AAMC logic, and gauge your performance. Scale scores should be taken into consideration with a caveat that your performance on test day may vary. You absolutely should practice with these tests and expect to see a small amount of inflation in score due to remembering some questions and answers.

Also look into UWorld for more high quality practice.
 

Incognito32

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Dec 21, 2016
99
114
116
  1. Pre-Medical
Looks like your weakest section is CARS, which is also the hardest section to improve on. I think all your other sections have pretty solid, consistent scores. I would suggest keep practicing CARS or explore different methods to approach CARS passages. IMO, CARS is all about understanding and retaining information from the passages, and everyone has their own unique strategy they’ve been employing since elementary school. In my experience, regardless of the difficulty of the passage, I did fine on CARS as long as i was able to remember the thesis and the main idea of each paragraph from memory. Perhaps keep trying new strategies until you find one that “clicks.”

Yeah I've been trying to force the strategies that other people employ, but I found that reading the way that I've always read (no notes, no highlighting, take my time) has drastically improved my performance on UWorld and Jack Westin.
 
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Incognito32

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Dec 21, 2016
99
114
116
  1. Pre-Medical
The purpose of 3rd party exams should be to: identify content gaps, practice time management and other strategies, and to get used to the format of the exam. One should not focus on the scale score from 3rd party exams. To this end, repeating 3rd party exams is fine.

AAMC exams should be used to: understand the structure and format of questions, practice with AAMC logic, and gauge your performance. Scale scores should be taken into consideration with a caveat that your performance on test day may vary. You absolutely should practice with these tests and expect to see a small amount of inflation in score due to remembering some questions and answers.

Also look into UWorld for more high quality practice.

Thanks! I've been working my way through UWorld and their excellent explanations. I'll probably end up retaking some 3rd party exams and taking some now 3rd party FL's.
 
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