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Should I ditch Kaplan's verbal strategy?

JJArms22

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Aug 28, 2012
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  1. Pre-Medical
Kaplan course started Feb. 2, we're just about done with 1/3 of the class next Saturday, Feb. 16. Anyways, for the most part, I have learned in class. I'm trying hard to keep up with the syllabus and do the topical/subject tests (even though a couple of them kicked my a**). However, I do not seem to be grasping Kaplan's passage mapping strategy in verbal. I think it forces you to think of so many tangibles while you're reading. I have always gone in with the mindset that you should read the passage as a whole and then go on intuition. I have access to all of Kaplan's material of course, but I also just received the EK 101 verbal passages. Should I just stop doing Kaplan's verbal reading and workshops all together? I understand it's early and the process may be off in the end though. Am I being impatient?
 

red7

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Jun 13, 2012
243
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California
  1. Pre-Medical
All of these classes are designed to work for as many people as possible. The best thing to do is go through a lot of practice exams or practice verbal sections, try out different techniques several times each, and figure out what consistently gives you the highest scores. Same thing for any of these MCAT 'strategies'
 
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Mosa

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May 8, 2012
284
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I was getting stomped on by VR trying Kaplan's strategy

Started using EK's VR strat and somehow ended up being my highest score on the real thing

Take it for what it's worth

Happened to me too! Kaplan mapping was very weird for me especially with stopping so often. How can you get a feel for the author's tone if you need to keep breaking so often and writing main idea, scope, etc.

The EK strategy was amazing. Def use the 101 passages book front cover to back cover. It really showed me VR is not as hard as Kaplan and many pre meds makes it seem. I saw huge improvement. English is one of my majors so I'm used to verbal reasoning but with Kaplan my score was much higher (13-15) WITHOUT using Kaplan methods than the AAMC practice tests (9-12) with my EK range being the same as AAMC range. With using the Kaplan method, I was scoring a maximum of 9's across the Kaplan exams and AAMC So for me, EK was a better strategy more accurate indicator using AAMC exams as a comparison.
 
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kami333

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Aug 15, 2007
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If it doesn't work for you, don't use it.

My theory is that their verbal strategy works for people scoring low but if you already score decently I think it's too disruptive and time wasting, at least that's the way it seemed for me. I really liked the EK books, I thought it was much better than Kaplan.
 

Cambino

Full Member
Aug 4, 2011
310
4
51
Oregon
  1. Pre-Medical
Kaplan course started Feb. 2, we're just about done with 1/3 of the class next Saturday, Feb. 16. Anyways, for the most part, I have learned in class. I'm trying hard to keep up with the syllabus and do the topical/subject tests (even though a couple of them kicked my a**). However, I do not seem to be grasping Kaplan's passage mapping strategy in verbal. I think it forces you to think of so many tangibles while you're reading. I have always gone in with the mindset that you should read the passage as a whole and then go on intuition. I have access to all of Kaplan's material of course, but I also just received the EK 101 verbal passages. Should I just stop doing Kaplan's verbal reading and workshops all together? I understand it's early and the process may be off in the end though. Am I being impatient?

I think what people are meaning to say is that, Kaplan doesn't work - don't use it.
 

Oogieboogie

Full Member
Jan 12, 2013
75
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61
  1. Medical Student
I think it really depends on the passage you are cursed with on the MCAT. If I got a science/psychology/social science article in my practice tests I did great. 11-13 scores. If I got an art section, I got raped. (8-9).

I'm told the key to doing well on the MCAT is just to have really great reading comprehension skills, and the only way to do this is to read a lot of passages and learn from your mistakes.

But I never mastered the verbal section. Did fine on the real mcat though.

Get a practice book. Doesn't matter who makes it.

Oogie
 
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PreMedOrDead

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May 19, 2012
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I ditched Kaplan verbal when I realized I maxed out around a 9. Far too much wasted time.

I started my own strategy - scanned questions for hints at dates/ names to look for, then I read through the passage entirely, then I answered questions. This shaved TONS of time off my verbal and let me be way more comfortable. I consistently broke 10 after the switch, maxing out at 14.

I think that, if you're comfortable with your comprehension while reading fast, a paperless method without mapping is far more rewarding.
 
I ditched Kaplan verbal when I realized I maxed out around a 9. Far too much wasted time.

I started my own strategy - scanned questions for hints at dates/ names to look for, then I read through the passage entirely, then I answered questions. This shaved TONS of time off my verbal and let me be way more comfortable. I consistently broke 10 after the switch, maxing out at 14.

I think that, if you're comfortable with your comprehension while reading fast, a paperless method without mapping is far more rewarding.

As another PMOD, I agree with this advice. :thumbup:
 

kmp0410

Full Member
Feb 9, 2013
671
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  1. Medical Student
I'm not familiar with Kaplan, but the big company strategies seem a bit weird to me. They aim for score improvements, not necessarily the best score you can get.

When I took TPR course a few years back, they advised that you find the hardest one and just skip and guess on so that you can do better on the other passages. Seems a bit weird, just read and work quicker.
 

abruzz75

Full Member
Feb 24, 2012
119
1
51
  1. Medical Student
Absolutely.

All of these test prep courses feel they have to come up with a "strategy" because, well, what else can they talk to you about for the verbal section.

If you feel like it's taking up too much time, then it's probably because it is.
 

EarthtoneJon

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7+ Year Member
Aug 14, 2011
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Kaplan's strategy did not work for me at all. Here's why.

Kaplan gears their strategies toward reading their passages and answering their questions. Real MCAT passages, while not always interesting, are not as convoluted as Kaplan passages. When working through a Kaplan VR section, it is in your best interest to construct a mental (if not physical) map of where details are located, because the questions will often ask directly about them, or require you to know them. The vast majory of real MCAT VR questions, however, ask about the main point, or require you to apply it. Making a map literally wastes your time because it directs you to information you probably won't use.

Here is my advice. Ditch the Kaplan strategy, and buy EK 101 Passages in MCAT Verbal Reasoning. The passages in this book are incredibly similar to MCAT passages. I'm not sure what strategy EK proliferates, but don't bother with it. Here's bottom line: read with interest. When you do so, your brain actively organizes the information in such a way that it can be accessed in critical scenarios later on. Sorry if that sounds abstract. Basically, when you read information that is important or interesting to you, you read more efficiently and learn more effectively. Approach a VR section intending to enjoy your reading. Seriously...enjoy it. It will certainly take you longer to finish the passage, but when you do, you will almost never find it necessary to go back and re-read anything.

Using this "strategy," if the correct answer doesn't jump off the page, at least 1 or 2 answers will seem silly. If you catch the author's stance on the issue at hand, and thoroughly understand his or her main point, VR becomes a matching game-- you already know the answer to the question, and now you're just looking for the response that matches it. Of course, questions like "with which of these statements would the author least agree" cannot be predicted, but you'll still know the answer when you see it.

I cannot believe the boost my practice scores experienced (from 7-8 to 10-11 almost immediately) once I stopped with the meticulous Kaplan mapping nonsense, and just read the way I had for my entire life up to that point-- with interest.
 
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IniestaDeMiVida

Full Member
Feb 6, 2013
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Agreed with the rest of the posters. I found the Kaplan strategy really time consuming and not productive. Once I dropped it, my score started rising and I didn't feel as pressured when I took the real thing. I'm not even convinced you need a "strategy" to do the verbal if you're comfortable with reading comprehension.
 

Shenanigan

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Nov 13, 2012
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I ignored passage mapping and felt bad at first like it was hurting me, but I realized it's a waste of time.

My strategy was skim questions to see the type of material to look for, then read passage and highlight what I thought was relevant. I did like kaplan's strategy outside of passage mapping so pick and choose what works for you.

Find the hardest, densest, and most obscure passages to practice on and prepare. There are some gnarly passages on the real thing, but if you do that they won't overwhelm you and you'll get a good score.
 
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somethingdeep

Full Member
Sep 2, 2012
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Kaplan's strategy did not work for me at all. Here's why.

Kaplan gears their strategies toward reading their passages and answering their questions.

Agree. I was using Kaplan's strategy on Kaplan passages and doing great (scoring 14-15), but I did a lot worse on released AAMC verbal passages. I think it is because Kaplan questions are more detail-oriented than AAMC passages, so the passage mapping helps. I eventually got the EK 101 passages book and switched to their strategy. I used it on the real exam and ended up with a 12. Not as high as I had hoped after stupid Kaplan got my hopes up, but I was satisfied.
 

redshadow

MS4
Jan 14, 2013
52
4
51
  1. Medical Student
My only strategy on the verbal was this:



If you can't prove the answer you're considering based solely upon the information in the passage, then disregard it.


Literally. Turn your brain off when you answer these. Overthinking them is what kills people, to be honest.

If you have to "infer" something to justify your answer, it's likely wrong. The practice MCAT's usually went along with this, as many of them would say "While you can make this assumption, the passage does not support it, hence XXXXX is a better answer."
 
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