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Review Course Dilemma...

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by SensesFail, Apr 24, 2004.

  1. SensesFail

    SensesFail Senior Member
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    Alright, so here's my situation.

    I'm planning on writing the August MCAT and I signed up for a TPR classroom course. Two days later, through a friend of a friend, I got all of TPR's Review Books and Practice Tests from 2002 along with AAMC Practice Tests 5 and 6 for free! In the meantime, Princeton Review sent me all of their 2004 Review Books through the mail in preparation for the class that starts next month. I browsed through the 2002 TPR Books and the 2004 TPR Books and noticed that they're about 95% identical. Now my question to all of you is whether I should withdraw from taking the TPR course and instead take a Kaplan course so that I would be exposed to Kaplan's Review Books/Practice Tests.

    It does seem pretty obvious to me that I should probably just go with Kaplan now since that'll expose me to a broader range of Review material/Practice Tests (I.E.,Kaplan's material plus the 2002 TPR material I got for free) but I could always use SDN's opinion! :p Suggestions?
     
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  3. Shrike

    Shrike Lanius examinatianus
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    If your reason for signing up for the course was exposure to the material, then you're right. Also, note that to the extent this is a review of material you've already had, rather than a (for you new) course in how to take the test, then the incremental books will be worthless as long as the TPR books already include all of the subject matter (which of course they, as all the other major vendors', do.)

    If you were looking primarily for instruction, of course, then whatever made you choose TPR still applies.

    If you have enough time that a second, different set of review materials to study on your own, in addition to the work associated with a prep course, is what will make the difference, then your position is different from most's.
     
  4. MrTee

    MrTee Senior Member
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    Don't take TPR if you have the materials already. I don't know about the quality of the instructors in your area (if they were superb, maybe consider sticking with TPR), but I would personally prefer having a completely different set of materials to access in addition to whatever you got for free.
     
  5. daelroy

    daelroy Senior Member
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    TPR is absolutely worthless in my opinion. I did both TPR and Kaplan. I didn't like either but if I had to choose one, I would choose Kaplan because they have a library of study materials that TPR lacks.

    TPR and Kaplan have different approaches to MCAT preparation. TPR emphasizes strategy as opposed to brute memorization and practice. They try to teach you to think like the test makers without having to know all the material. It sounds nice in theory. In reality, it's a gimic. TPR makes it look easy by discussing easy examples of problems and showing "test taking techniques." Just check out the TPR study guides and you will see what I mean. Their in class course compendium is a joke. Their instructors are like motivational speakers and try to convince you that you can "out-think your way" past every problem without knowing all the background information. Maybe it's possible in theory but the overwhelming majority of people never get it. Hey, I bought it just like everyone else. And like everyone else, I realized I got ripped off at the end of the course. I liked TPR's instructional style but I hated the fact that their examples were too simple and not comprehensive enough.

    On the flipside, Kaplan's approach is very old school. They don't emphasize strategy as much as TPR. Kaplan emphasizes practice tets and brute memorization of facts. That is why their books are more comprehensive but very text book like at the same time. Still, the information presented in the Kaplan materials are more complete so you won't feel like you have missed relevant information.

    TPR's practice tests are better than Kaplan's versions. Yes, TPR's study guides are awful buttheir Science workbook and Practice Tests A-D are amazing. They are much more difficult than Kaplan's version. However, TPR's lecture is worthless and that's what you are paying $1500 for. Kaplan's lectures suck too but the difference with Kaplan is that they have library of practice sets that you can do. Most people sign up for their review just to get their access to their library of practice sets. TPR lacks this. That's why if you had to purchase a review course, go with Kaplan. Because if the lectures disappoing at least you have access to their library. With TPR, you are only left with the books they provide you. On a final note, the TPR books don't change. What's funny is that the Science Workbook I bought used from 1998 was exactly the same as the one my friend had from 2001. I would just buy the Science Workbook and the Practice Tests A-D off the classifieds on SDN.
     
  6. ASDIC

    ASDIC The 9th Flotilla
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    preparing the for mcat is all about the materials....you must have all the review books, practice tests etc...I took TPR, but I did all the work...the instructors basically read off the books.

    So, if you can all the material, you dont have to sign up for any courses.
     
  7. PhillyEaglesFan

    PhillyEaglesFan Little Yellow Schoolbus
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    TPR and Kaplan have different approaches to MCAT preparation. TPR emphasizes strategy as opposed to brute memorization and practice. They try to teach you to think like the test makers without having to know all the material. It sounds nice in theory. In reality, it's a gimic. TPR makes it look easy by discussing easy examples of problems and showing "test taking techniques." Just check out the TPR study guides and you will see what I mean. Their in class course compendium is a joke.


    Disagree. Brute memorization doesn't work for the MCAT. Most of the time, the answers are right there in the passage. I felt the in class compendium passages were about the same level as the hardest passages on the August 2003 MCAT.

    Their instructors are like motivational speakers and try to convince you that you can "out-think your way" past every problem without knowing all the background information. Maybe it's possible in theory but the overwhelming majority of people never get it. Hey, I bought it just like everyone else. And like everyone else, I realized I got ripped off at the end of the course. I liked TPR's instructional style but I hated the fact that their examples were too simple and not comprehensive enough.

    This might have been your problem. I took the TPR course in Philly, which is crawling with med schools, so our instructors gave it to us pretty straight. I guess the quality of instructors varies from city to city.
     
  8. daelroy

    daelroy Senior Member
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    Our instructors at TPR were amazing. The problem wasn't the instructors. It was the program. The in-class compendium that we reviewed was a joke. And the instructors couldn't provide enough personal attention with each student due to the class room setting. However, my instructor at TPR was extremely cool and smart. Brute memorization doesn't work but finessing your way through an exam is worse. Like any infomercial, it sounds nice that you can ace an exam without having to know the material simply through "strategies" alone. But in the real world, it doesn't work that way. Most of the people who succeeded through the TPR method already had a firm understanding of the material and used the strategies to enhance their score. I can see how TPR would help those individuals. But for the vast majority of us who actually had to review, the TPR review course was a waste of time. I'm not saying Kaplan is so much better because their lecture is equally bad if not worse. The only difference is Kaplan has a library of resources whereas TPR gives you a set of books and lecture only. If I was forced to pick between the two, I would go with Kaplan.
     
  9. PhillyEaglesFan

    PhillyEaglesFan Little Yellow Schoolbus
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    Wow. It sounds like they really pushed the 'finesse' thing on you. Definitely is some minimal level of memorization involved.

    On the other hand, when I took TPR, I had no exposure to physiology besides a two-year-old intro bio course. Ended up doing the best in the bio section on the real thing. I don't think reviewing and learning to finesse your way around are mutually exclusive. The instructors in Philly spent time on both.

    Ah, well, we can agree on one thing. You get out of any course what you put into it.
     
  10. daelroy

    daelroy Senior Member
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    I don't think I got shady instructors but every student perceives the review differently. We had some students in our course that felt like they were benefitted but the majority of us didn't. Maybe you were one of the few people in your course who felt like it was a huge benefit to them. I still think the in-class compendium was ridiculously easy. I did like TPR's Science workbook and Practice Tests A-D. Those were more difficult than the real MCAT and prepared me very well. TPR makes the best practice MCAT's around. Kaplan's practice tests were not indicative of the real thing but they do offer a greater volume of practice problems
     

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