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Section Bank different from what I'm studying...

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by Altius Premier Tutor, Mar 17, 2017.

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  1. Altius Premier Tutor

    Altius Premier Tutor SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    Quoting from Reddit user TravelLust a few minutes ago:

    "So I recently took the B/B section bank and the questions and topics just seem to be different from what I've been led to be told by prep companies...I'm testing soon and I'm freaking out, how do I study for these topics?"

    I posted the "Wake Up SDN! Section Bank = MCAT" thread last week and some people thought I was a crazy, biased alarmist. This comment doesn't change anything, each person will think or believe whatever they want to. But this student's experience is EXACTLY the reason I made the post. It is sad to see people figuring this out 2 weeks before their exam, or worse, on exam day.

    SB = MCAT may not be an exact equality, but the facts and trends are clear enough that I can see no reason that waking up to the MCAT being more and more SB-like is not an obvious benefit for all future examinees!
     
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  3. AnotherLawyer

    AnotherLawyer Gold Donor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    Your message is half right, but the correct half is nothing new. It is undisputed on SDN that most of the big name test companies produce material that is not at all representative of the new MCAT. And for as long as I can remember, the SDN conventional wisdom has been that the SB is the gold standard for MCAT prep because it represents the most challenging passages we're likely to see.

    But that does not equate to the SB = MCAT. That part of your message is wrong and serves no purpose other than to induce unwarranted fear. The AAMC, like every other standardized test maker in the world, gets their nice bell curve by employing a mixture of easy, medium, and hard questions. This is true on FL1, FL2, the sample test, and the test I took on 1/28.

    With all that said, let me reiterate the points I made in your last thread: (1) There is no downside to preparing for the worst and (2) people should incorporate AAMC material early into their prep precisely because the test prep companies are failing to capture the content and style of the MCAT in their materials. But no one should think they're going to get 230 questions of SB on test day.
     
  4. Altius Premier Tutor

    Altius Premier Tutor SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @AnotherLawyer, your liberal use of strawman arguments clouds a message that is both necessary and helpful to thousands of premeds who (perhaps unlike you) do NOT currently have an accurate picture of exam day content.

    The fact that you or others may have already recognized the growing trend in SB-like passages on the real MCAT in no way suggests that you or anyone else should impede efforts to increase awareness among others. To do so is to become the Brittish loyalist who follows Paul Revere around shouting "The Brittish aren't coming for a while longer, no need to be unduly concerned."

    The responses and PMs I've received since that original post make it clear that a certain portion of SDN users, like Reddit users, and like the many students I speak to in person, have been approaching the SB as "another AAMC resource." If anything, they have classified that content as "harder" than what one should expect to see on test day. A large number of SDN users express the expectation that they may see "a few" SB-like passages on the real test; a far cry from the 90-100% SB-like B/B section from 1/27 or the 70-80% SB-like C/P section from 1/19. TravelLust is a real person, and the concern he expressed is real. So are the dozens of recent examinees quoted in my original post. Your message won't help them or anyone else avoid similar test-day experiences; my message holds the promise to do that very thing.

    What you believe to be common knowledge is NOT, though I wish it were; my only purpose is to turn that erroneous conclusion of yours turn into actual reality. I will be content the minute it is indeed common knowledge that the likelihood of facing SB-like passages on the real MCAT is noticeably increasing, AND that as recently as Jan 2017 there were exam sections that probably included 7/10 SB-style passages, possibly as high as 10/10 on the 1/27 B/B section.

    The two things you have said that are absolutely true are: 1) It cannot hurt to prepare for the worst, and 2) It's a good idea to start AAMC practice early. I might say "start SB practice early," but beyond that I would add only this: Preparing with one's toughest opponent in mind is more than something that "cannot hurt," it is the only prudent course of action if one expects to be victorious--and how much more prudent that becomes if there is evidence that the level of play you once attributed to only your toughest opponent may actually confront you in nearly every game that season...

    @AnotherLawyer, Please put the following strawmen to bed in future responses or posts:

    1. Inciting unnecessary fear: I have never suggested that examinees should be afraid. It is not fearmongering to warn others of realities of which they are not aware. To the contrary, what students do have reason to fear is the unknown. Awareness, however unpleasant the reality, breeds preparedness and confidence. The more students heed my message, the less likely they are to be surprised on test day and the more calm that test day experience will be.

    2. SB = MCAT is false/wrong/untrue. This is a symbol. I have stated overtly on multiple occasions (including this very thread) that it is not a literal equality, that it expresses a trend, that it is particularly true of the new AAMC materials written after the MCAT-2015 transition; I've offered caveats; I've even spent keystrokes on potential percentages and ranges of SB-style passages likely to be encountered presently and in the future.

    3. This is nothing new. I never claimed that I had exclusive knowledge of these trends or that they in any way constituted breaking news. The fact that an idea is "nothing new" to some or most people does not detract from my desire to make that idea known to those for whom it is indeed new information.

    4. SB-heavy sections and/or test-day experiences are universal.
    Another argument I never made, but you seem to want to refute. This is the strawman at which you and others throw examples of "my test wasn't that hard" or "no one is going to get 230/230 SB questions." I'm speaking globally about trends, and to individuals about wise preparations for those trends. Individual exceptions and continuums are recognized, but we do a disservice to the average premed if we make the exception appear to be the rule. Exam day reactions are about 90/10, but it's NOT in favor of calm, "about what I expected" responses...
     
    the Mannis likes this.
  5. Zifish

    Zifish 2+ Year Member

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    Hi @Altius Premier Tutor, I'm taking the mcat on the 31st of this month. I'm a non-trad so I'd like to do as best as possible on this test. I've been using Kaplan and the various aamc practice materials to prep. I can see an obvious difference between the way Kaplan material is written vs the aamc stuff.

    But, I honestly don't see any difference between the difficulty or structure of the Section Banks and the question packs or the sample tests. Am I missing something? Is there something special about the SB's that I should be aware of so I'm not blindsided on test day. Id like to target my prep more effectively over these last two weeks before test day so any light you can shed on what you all mean when saying the SB is unique and more like the mcat than other aamc content would be great, thanks.
     
  6. I'm ugly and I'm proud

    I'm ugly and I'm proud

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    I honestly think a lot of people overexaggerate the difficulty of SB. I just finished going through the C/P SB and I didn't think it was that bad. There were some hard questions thrown in there, but it was definitely doable. The most important thing about SB is that it's a good representation of AAMC's style for passage questions.
     
  7. joe7456

    joe7456 SDN Gold Donor Gold Donor Classifieds Approved

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    Altius Exhibitor,

    There is nothing wrong with emphasizing SB. But again, the claim you make that MCAT is trending into SB is based on emotion and feeling. When you can back it by facts and evidence, we will buy the idea.

    The reason why the previous poster states you have started unnecessary fear is because you make this frightening statement and offer no solution or comfort, set aside from the fact that you have no data to back it up. So, 1) offer something that is hard evidence, and 2) give us a solution on how to approach these beasts.

    Rest assured, I believe you have good intentions, however, lets be reasonable and understand this with sufficient evidence.
     
    the Mannis likes this.
  8. AnotherLawyer

    AnotherLawyer Gold Donor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @Altius Premier Tutor, unlike you, I'm not selling anything and I've actually prepared for and taken the MCAT in 2017. I did well enough that I have absolutely nothing to gain by misrepresenting my experience with the test. So please spare me the nonsensical insinuation that I am seeking to "impede efforts to increase awareness." The fact remains that neither FL1, FL2, the sample, nor my 1/28 experience are consistent with your alarmist message.

    So what do you cite to? The alarmist reaction threads on reddit. But guess what? The average reported score of redditors for the January tests was 514. So this notion that the redditors show a lack of preparedness or failure to properly prepare for the MCAT is a bunch of nonsense. A full two thirds of those folks scored at or above the 90th percentile. The redditor data also show that FL1 and FL2 are predictive of one's actual score, whereas plenty of people who scored in the high 60s and low 70s on the SB went on to score 520+ on the real thing (myself included).

    Answer this: As an MCAT tutor and representative of Altius, is it really your position that someone can get a raw section score of around 70% and end up with a 130+? Because that's what your SB = MCAT messages boils down to and I think future Altius students have the right to know if you and your company truly hold this unorthodox belief.

    If your new message is merely that the the new MCAT contains some passages like the SB, then may I suggest you say just that, rather than repeatedly posting MCAT = SB in bold.
     
  9. Zifish

    Zifish 2+ Year Member

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    I'm not saying that it's not difficult, because I think everything MCAT is a challenge. I just think that if I was to take 100 questions of SB that I would miss the same amount of questions as any other AAMC resource. Since the altius poster is saying that the SB = Mcat, I just don't wanna miss anything if this is a clue to what the real mcat is gonna be like.
     
    joe7456 likes this.
  10. FueledByRamen

    FueledByRamen 2+ Year Member

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    I took the sept. MCAT and logged in just to confirm that the MCAT is very much similar to the section banks. The AAMC unscored and FL1 MAY* not at all representative of what you could expect. It may be representative of how you can do, but not what they can actually throw at you.

    Despite all the arguments, expect them to throw anything at you. I expected only a few "sectionbank like" passages on my B/B, but the whole thing was very similar to it throughout the entire section. Same thing for the P/S. C/P is my strength so its hard to judge what is difficult for that.

    This is not a confirmation though. This is merely my experience and my support for Altius' recommendation despite how extreme it sounds, I think he/she has good intentions. SDN is full of prep companies anyways.
     
    joe7456 likes this.
  11. Zifish

    Zifish 2+ Year Member

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    Hi, Thank you for the explanation and clarification from your experience with the mcat! I'm sorry if this question doesn't make sense, but I'm honestly trying to figure out what is meant by the mcat being similar to the SB, but less similar to the unscored or FL1. When I review the material, I am struggling to differentiate between the difficulty of the SB, the practice tests, and the question packs, since they all seem so similar. You've got a passage and some questions, and you either know the answer or do some digging in the passage and find the answer. I'm in no way acing any of these resources, but I get about the same number wrong in each.

    Can you please clarify what you mean by the similarity between the MCAT and SB, and maybe what you noticed that was similar or different between the AAMC practice resources so I'm not missing some details, thanks!
     
  12. Altius Premier Tutor

    Altius Premier Tutor SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @Zifish, you would be a true outlier if you attempt the SB and do not find it more challenging than "your average" passage from AAMC 1/2 or the AAMC Question Packs. If that is the case, it is probably VERY GOOD NEWS for you. If the SB doesn't seem any harder to you that could mean you have above-average experimental reasoning and/or critical thinking skills, so those "steps-up" in difficulty don't impact you the way they do other students.

    In my opinion, the single biggest difference between SB-like passages and the other AAMC materials is the increased use of experimental reasoning. Nearly every SB passage is cited to an actual journal article from a peer-reviewed journal. The language they use often comes directly from, or is paraphrased from, those journals. As a result, the passage is often discussing actual experimental protocols, molecular cascades, signaling molecules, proteins, etc. It is commonplace on SB for those discussions to describe cascades, proteins and signaling molecules using ACRONYMS. Most students experience a high intimidation factor when they have to read dense text filled with acronyms. The figures are also a big difference. The complexity of the figures on these experimental passages is 3 full levels above a simple graph or molecular structure. Often they include multiple axes, have several trials represented on one graph, include statistical significance labels, etc.

    Finally, on par with the more experimental passage type, more questions will require experimental reasoning or data interpretation. The reasoning you'll need to do is usually different: Rather than assigning R/S or doing a mole-to-mole conversion, you'll be asked why the researchers took a certain step in the experiment, or which experimental finding would most support/weaken their hypothesis, or you'll be asked to predict how the experimental outcome would have changed under some hypothetical alteration.
     
  13. Altius Premier Tutor

    Altius Premier Tutor SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    Thanks for your input @FueledByRamen, although your culinary choices may be suspect...;) Some users on here have freaked out by my suggestion that the real exam is more like the SB than the AAMC FLs, or that the real exam is trending in that direction strongly. However, I've spoken personally with dozens of students who took recent exams, and hthey agree with you. That is NOT to say you cannot get a good score on the real exam, but I think everyone would be better off it they knew going in what they were likely to encounter.

    Basically, I'm trying to shift the message from the current one, which I feel is misleading and less-than-helpful:

    "You may see "a few" SB-like passages on the real MCAT"...but pretty much it is more like AAMC Scored 1 or 2 than the SB."

    to this message, which I believe is more accurate and far more helpful:

    "You may see "a few" of the easier passages from AAMC Scored 1 or 2, but as recently as January there have been sections with 80-90% SB-like passages, so it would be wise to expect and PREPARE FOR the SB-level of difficulty."
     
  14. utazo

    utazo 2+ Year Member

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    If this is true then there doesn't seem to be great value in spending much time on full length practice exams. Seems it would be smarter to spend most of the last month before the exam on the SB.

    How would you portion time in the last 6 weeks between FL and SB ?
     
  15. the Mannis

    the Mannis 2+ Year Member

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    you still want to do FL's to have your timing and stamina down. also it does not take anywhere close to a month to do the 300 questions in the SB.
     
  16. utazo

    utazo 2+ Year Member

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    It's the review of the SB that takes time apparently. And yes a few FL are useful but why do too many if they are not representative of the actual exam?
     
  17. the Mannis

    the Mannis 2+ Year Member

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    it's not as though the test prep companies' FL's are garbage. They might not replicate AAMC precisely, but they still are good practice tools
     
  18. Altius Premier Tutor

    Altius Premier Tutor SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @AnotherLawyer, I think our personal discussion has run its course, but I'd be happy to debate this ad nauseum with you via private message if you like. It really boils down to this:

    YOU BELIEVE that my message that students should view "the real exam" as trending strongly toward SB-level content is unnecessary alarmism (correct me if I'm wrong).

    I BELIEVE that viewing the real exam as trending strongly toward SB is precisely what is needed to save students from unnecessary alarm and frustration on test day.

    1. Calling my message "alarmism" is the most subjective of all opinions. How would you propose to quantify "alarmism" vs. "prudent advance notice"?

    2. I shared quotes from Reddit because these are real people, forum users can read the quotes for themselves, and most of those real people are describing the SB-like exam day content similarly. In your last post, you have now identified the Reddit users as "alarmists" too...at least I have some company:D. It is rather ironic for you, as one anonymous poster on an online forum, to question the empirical validity of other anonymous posters to another online forum. Yep, it's all just online forum stuff. I don't expect students to automatically believe me and/or the Reddit community over you, we're all posting opinions in an online forum. But, I do hope this dialogue will inspire all students to do a little more research (and maybe to crack open that SB a little earlier in their studies), after which I believe they will see for themselves that what I am saying is true.

    3. You seem to think I developed my opinions as a result of reading Reddit exam reaction threads. Wrong cause-and-effect. No, I've had this belief for at least two years now, and have watched as feedback from a variety of sources has continually supported the idea that the real exam is trending strongly toward SB. The January reaction threads were really just the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, in that they motivated me to post more about the issue here on SDN.

    4. One significant piece of circumstantial evidence is the fact that all of the AAMC materials written AFTER the 2015 transition look SB-like, and nearly every non-SB-like AAMC passage can be DOCUMENTED as a recycled passage from OLD AAMC materials. If you look at AAMC Scored 1 and 2, the easier passages just happen to be recycles. The hardest passages just happen to new passages cited to journal articles, with the heavier experimental focus like SB. What the AAMC is doing *today* looks more SB-like, and they are mixing that new content up with a few "older-style" passages.

    5. The actual scores earned by "the alarmist Reddit users" (as you affectionately called them), or the % correct on the SB and how that does/does not correlate to exam day raw score, is irrelevant. The score scale will do its thing...my only focus is that students were not expecting the difficulty they saw on exam day. In my experience, students who focus on the SB-level of difficulty and prepare accordingly have no such exam day anxiety. You also cannot convince me that, whatever number the score scale may spit out, students across the board will not score higher if they fell the exam day went exactly as expected, and relatively lower if they had to work though surprise, anxiety, or frustration.

    6. The worst that could come from MY message is that students are prepared to see 60-90% SB passages and they only see 40-50%. Result = A confident, calm, test-day experience and the real exam might even feel "easier" than expected, all of which can only positively impact score performance.

    7. The worst that could come from YOUR message is that students continue to believe the message that they "might see 'a few' SB-like passages on test day," and they actually see 60-90%." Result = Greater anxiety and surprise on test day, which can only negatively impact score performance.
     
  19. utazo

    utazo 2+ Year Member

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    Which AAMC materials were written AFTER the 2015 transition? SB and FL 2?
     
  20. Altius Premier Tutor

    Altius Premier Tutor SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    Whoa...STOP!

    I would NOT recommend that anyone de-emphasize full-length exams. Rather, I want to emphasize that people should familiarize themselves with the SB early on, then use that SB experience as their primary concept of "What to expect on test day..." Take that vision of what an AAMC passage should look like with you as you evaluate any of the test prep company materials or full-lengths you plan to use.

    Also, keep those lessons in mind as you take AAMC Scored 1 and 2. There's somewhat of a consensus on this forum that AAMC 1/2 are not as hard as the real exam, and the difference--I believe--is more experimental/SB-like content on the real thing. OR, it may just be the absence of those recycled passages from the OLD MCAT. AAMC is using those recycled passages to augment the current practice materials, but is probably less comfortable using a previously-released passage on a real exam form. Since everything they've been doing since the 2015 transition is more SB-like, the mere replacement of "recycles" with "current MCAT-2015 passages" would automatically increase difficulty.

    On those AAMC FLs you'll see 40-50% SB-like passages. Sometimes they'll be just as challenging as SB; other passages have the look and feel but aren't quite as hard. Which ones are which? Can you identify the recycled passages from the OLD MCAT? How might you perform on test day if that AAMC exam you just took increased to 70% or even 90% SB-like content?

    There are just too many benefits to taking Full-Length exams to use SB or any question-bank-type approach as your primary practice:

    1. You need experience with timing. You MUST get your timing down 100% solid before test day.
    2. You need the experience of taking all four sections in that order.
    3. You need the experience of enduring a 7.5 hour exam day.
    4. You need at least some marker as to your *possible* scaled score.

    Personally, I think you need those experiences far more than a couple of times, so you're going to have to venture beyond the 2 scored AAMC exams. I'll post a recommended timeline for using AAMC materials as a separate post. That should open up a can of worms of 10,000 differing opinions, everyone swearing that these are terrible/awful/sinister ideas...but that's kind of what SDN is all about :happy:!
     
  21. Altius Premier Tutor

    Altius Premier Tutor SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    The Section Bank is the ONLY current AAMC resource of which I am aware that is 100% newly-constructed by AAMC authors for MCAT-2015 (after the transition).

    On the other end of the spectrum, you have the AAMC Question Packs, which are 100% recycled from the old exam.

    The other materials are all a mixture of new 2015 passages and recycled OLD MCAT passages, so then it becomes a question of which individual passages are new vs. old.

    If I have some more time someday, I will post a list of all of the new vs. recycled passages for each AAMC resource. As a couple of examples, on the AAMC Sample Test you have a passage about a heated wire being placed next to the skin. That is taken directly from a previously-released AAMC practice test for the OLD exam. They just added the first sentence about the wire being "held next to the skin" to make it "biologically-relevant" enough to qualify as practice for MCAT-2015. They've done that a few times, added a single line to the passage to make it seem more bio-related, but then use 100% of the remaining text, questions, and answers word-for-word. I'm unconvinced that such a small change really makes it a true rendition of MCAT-2015 passages? They did the same thing with another passage on that same exam. On the old exam it used to talk just about a student lab experiment related to PV = nRT, then they added a line at the front saying something like: "gases entering and exiting the lungs obey the Ideal Gas Law." Voila! It became an MCAT-2015 practice passage. The Same pattern is repeated in the Official Guide and on Scored AAMC 1 and 2. I was really hopeful that AAMC 2 would be all new stuff, but if I remember correctly it has 3-4 recycles on both the C/P and B/B sections. They recycle CAR passages too, but that doesn't concern me as much. For the obvious reason, PsS is 100% new on all channels, all the time!

    I think it is actually good practice to try to identify which ones are new for MCAT-2015 and which ones are recycled.
     
  22. AnotherLawyer

    AnotherLawyer Gold Donor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    It appears you've already caused some people to consider deemphasizing the highly predictive AAMC FLs. So much for your harmless message. But then again, you have something to sell. Indeed, what you're selling is a set of FLs that are marketed as heavily experimental...dare I say, SB-like. I wonder if that has anything to do with your push to convince people that the new MCAT is all like the SB and with the SB being only 300 questions, where shall we turn for preparation? Ah yes...to the Altius FLs.

    The irony is that I think Altius makes quality FLs. I think the same about NS, but when NS flooded Amazon with fake reviews, they deserved to be called on it. This is no different. Rest on the quality of your products, not on fear. I do agree with you on one point: this exchange is no longer benefiting the SDN community. This will be my last reply.
     
  23. Altius Premier Tutor

    Altius Premier Tutor SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    Nice exit, @AnotherLawyer. We've had a heated, but primarily respectful philosophical debate and you must end it with cheap, baseless accusations about Altius.
     
  24. enchantediris

    enchantediris 2+ Year Member

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    Hi @Altius Premier Tutor, I've commented on one of your posts already but wanted to come back and try to explain where my comments are coming from so you and other SDN readers preparing for the MCAT have both sides of the story.

    To begin with, I took the MCAT on January 28, 2017. So I experienced first-hand what it was like to read the Reddit reaction thread for those who took the MCAT on January 19 -- you're right, the vast majority of comments I read were freaking out about how "impossible" the C/P and CARS sections were. (Note that there were two versions of exams that day -- the other version seemed to be more reasonable overall, but you rarely read comments about that exam because most people who took that one were not freaking out as much.) When I took the January 28 exam, I definitely felt like the B/B section was more confusing than anything I had really seen before. CARS and P/S seemed to have at least a couple passages with questions that I was iffy on, but not to the same extent as B/B.

    That being said, these are the biggest issues I have with your posts -- I don't completely disagree with your message, but your posts have honestly rubbed me the wrong way.

    1. @AnotherLawyer and I literally took the most recent MCAT exam
    and are posting about how we don't think your message is necessarily correct, yet you seem to be invalidating our experiences while throwing out numbers and commentary from Redditors that are at least second-hand sources (for you). You know the feeling when someone tries to explain to you something that you already know? That's mostly how I feel when I read your posts. It feels like you're trying to tell me how the January MCAT really was -- even though I actually took it and you didn't. It feels very condescending.

    2. Human memory is extremely faulty. My impression of the B/B section was marred by the first three passages, which were harder and less understandable than anything I had seen before. However, the rest of the passages were more in line with what I would say AAMC FLs were. The issue is that after you've taken this exam that is so crucial to your future, it's only human to focus on how impossible the 30% of the section was, instead of how doable the rest of it was. Looking back, even in the "impossible" passages, I probably knew at least half of the answers, and guessed on the other half. So it was a lot less bad than I initially remembered! I do honestly think that the vast majority of Redditors (including myself) exaggerated the difficulty of the MCAT because we only focused on what was hard, and not what was expected. That's one of the reasons why I think everyone should take Reddit reaction threads with a huge grain of salt. Even the day before scores came out, I was convinced that I had scored much less than my AAMC FL average, and ended up scoring a lot higher than that.

    3. Note that my real experience (30-40% SB-like passages in the B/B section) pales in comparison to your statements, "as recently as January there have been sections with 80-90% SB-like passages" or "90-100% SB-like B/B section from 1/27". That's a comically huge discrepancy! And once again, while I am here expressing my first-hand experience, you are at best conveying information that you've heard from someone else.

    4. I dislike how you've been framing your posts. No one would fault you if you made a post titled, "Prepare for the Worst (SB), Hope for the Best (AAMC)" or something along those lines. I think everyone has agreed that it is better to overprepare than underprepare. However, your first post was literally called "Wake Up SDN, Section Bank = MCAT!" -- I hope you can see why I think this is a very misleading title because since then, your posts have been saying, " I have stated overtly on multiple occasions (including this very thread) that it is not a literal equality, that it expresses a trend". Why would you title your original post, Section Bank = MCAT if you did not mean it was a literal equality unless you wanted to scare people (at least a little)? I have a very hard time believing that one would reasonably come up with that title otherwise.

    TL;DR -- It's definitely better to be overprepared instead of underprepared, but I believe there are better ways of spreading this message.
     
  25. oopsaloo

    oopsaloo 2+ Year Member

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    Feb 1, 2015
    I took the MCAT over summer, and my experiences have been the same as @enchantediris.
    I struggled the most with C/P as it was the toughest section for me, and the hardest passages definitely resembled the difficulty of the Section Bank. I remember walking out of that section thinking I had certainly failed, only to find out that I did above average when the results came and that the curve/scale takes into account this difficulty somewhat. On the other sections, the AAMC FLs were the closest in difficulty to the exam itself, except for a couple of complex passages here and there that were kind of like the Section Bank.

    Overall, I recommend that students prepping for the MCAT should definitely try to do the Section Bank if they have time, but from my experience, doing all of the FLs and getting through some of the Section Bank to get a sense for the hardest types of passages was enough for me to score decently on the exam. So in that sense, I agree that when I took the exam, the FLs were the best indicator and that overall, the Section Bank passages/questions were much more difficult than the exam itself on average.
     
  26. Altius Premier Tutor

    Altius Premier Tutor SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    May 11, 2015
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    @enchantediris, I agree with nearly every word you said. In fact, it's hard for me to understand why we are on opposite sides of the debate. SB = MCAT was not designed to create fear. But it was designed to prompt people to start paying more attention, to "wake up" as I suggested. For that reason alone, it had a "WARNING-DANGER AHEAD" tone. I know your intentions are excellent, but I do NOT believe students need to be told to "not worry too much about SB-level passages on test day." They need to be aware that SB-type passages are trending upward and prepare accordingly so that test day is as easy and smooth as possible. What you've just shared helps me understand where you are coming from, but I still think this is exactly what students need to hear.

    I apologize if my comments seemed condescending because I didn't take a January exam and you did. I am indeed basing my experiences off of second-hand accounts. However, these are students I've worked with and know very well. They all reported feeling calm, and felt like the test was just what they expected. Because they were calm, and because they were all very high scorers, I trust their perspectives and they all reported that nearly every passage on B/B seemed SB-level; C/P much less so, but about 40%. You have stated that you were freaked out, and these students, being more calm, may have had more clear impressions.

    The "fear" you and @AnotherLawyer keep mentioning makes no sense to me. Why should a student be "fearful" of information suggesting that on exam day they could face far more SB-like content than they expected? SB-content isn't "scary," it's just something you need to anticipate and prepare for. I see this message as only a message of warning, like telling someone the road ahead is severely damaged, SLOW DOWN. I'm not trying to "scare" them by telling them how bad the road is, but if the road is indeed really bad what should I tell them? "The road ahead is 'less than ideal'?"

    You and Lawyer seem like above-average students. Many of the Reddit posters freaking out seemed that way too, and the score scale helped them in the end. But if the brightest students were freaking out to that degree (recognizing that it may have been overblown for the very reasons you cited), what do you think was going on in the minds and hearts of students who were barely hoping to scratch out a semi-competitive score? Test-day forms that are harder-than-expected, but have more lenient scaled scores have a disproportionate impact on less-prepared students. The better prepared you are, the easier it is to deal with unexpected challenges. The more tenuous your skills are on test day to begin with, the more dramatic the impact of fear/anxiety/surprises will be. Students don't adjust to unexpected difficulty equally.

    It is far more "fear-inducing" to be running full-stride and suddenly encounter a cliff you didn't know was there--that will put fear into you! Someone warning you that a cliff is ahead shouldn't induce fear; you don't have to go over the cliff! My message is to AVOID the cliff. The cliff isn't a cliff BECAUSE there are lots of SB-level passages on test day--that's not a cliff. The cliff is the GAP that exists between what students studied for and what they saw on test day. I want to help students avoid that unpleasant difference. I want all students to report that their test day went "pretty much as I expected."
     

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