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Review Course: what do you want?

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by Shrike, May 3, 2004.

  1. Shrike

    Shrike Lanius examinatianus
    10+ Year Member

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    OK, many of y'all like to bitch about your prep courses, whether Kaplan, TPR, whoever. Being one of "them," I understand experiences vary (mostly with instructor quality), and so do student's needs. I'm sure some of the grousing is appropriate, given the experiences you've had, and I imagine that some of you aren't having your needs met by any of the prep services.

    So now, let me give you a chance to design your own course. You can't make it much cheaper; lets say you're out a grand to take it. What, if anything, would make it worth that thousand(ish) dollar fee?

    Get as specific as you want. Go ahead and assume knowledgable, articulate, personable, energetic instructors -- but that's the only given. What sort of materials? How many meetings? Several instructors, or just one? How many weeks? How much work? How many tests? Does class size matter? How much? What else? Anything that none of the services provide?

    C'mon, go nuts. And this isn't just an idle post; I'm trying to be one of the good guys. I've said before that I know students improve under my instruction; I can't prove it, but I see it. Still, this is irrelevant if people don't take my course, and it's only marginally relevant if the same students would improve more if they took a different course or studied differently, or if they'd improve the same amount by doing someting else that happened to be cheaper. I know many of you think the prep courses are ripoffs. If this is true, help me fix it.
     
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  3. N-toxicologist

    N-toxicologist the accidental tourist
    5+ Year Member

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    Assuming knowledgable, articulate, personable, and energetic instructors? That's more than half the equation, but I'll play. For the record, I have no complaints about my instruction or instructors, but I had realistic expectations going in. A review course worked for me because:

    Undergrad courses have been spread out over most of the last decade, so courses like G-chem and physics were long forgotten.

    I needed to have a set time devoted to preparation, so ten hours a week for 3 months helped accomplish this. This is also why I chose TPR over Kaplan.

    I had more practice materials than I could ever hope to finish (I finished about 80%), but I need to feel like I'm behind to get ahead, so no problem there.

    As for the utopian-classroom:
    Different instructors for different subjects is a must. It helps if they're cross-trained; the same thing said by someone different may be clearer. Conversely, something clear as mud in one subject is clear as mud in another from the same person. If you can relate difficult concepts to something medically relevant, even better.

    Start a week earlier, or at least early enough to allow for a "dead week." Having class three days before the test--BIG stress factor. Give me some time to review EVERYTHING.

    Class size should be small (<20), and not dominated by one or two star students (or idiot slackers), but that's more of a pacing and control issue for the instructor.

    And what these courses don't tell you: just learning the techniques and knowing the material doesn't mean you'll do well. It takes a certain level of maturity to open your mind to this kind of test that cannot be taught in the classroom. If you've trained yourself to memorize, you now have to train yourself to think. I think a lot of people I know would actually do better if they grew up by a year or two. Most of the people I hear bitching are rather young and immature, and if posed this question, would not have an answer. When asked why they think the class was a waste, they reply,"I already knew the material." DUH, you're supposed to know most of it. If you expect to learn in-depth new material, you're going to be disappointed. If you've taken most of your core, you've already had it.

    Bottom line, I think a lot of people sign up for the review course without considering their expectations vs. what the course is offering. The result is a bunch of vague complaining, which has nothing to do with class structure or materials (How many replies so far?). I doubt drastic changes would matter; I think a mismatch in expectations and reality is the true issue. After all, we are assuming knowledgable, articulate, personable, and energetic instructors. :cool:
     

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