Zona Pellucida

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 17, 2008
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A bit of a rant...

I will be taking the May 29th MCAT and will begin studying mid-december during the semester break.

If I end up doing bad on the MCAT I feel I will really regret not taking a Kaplan/etc. type prep-course.

I am definitely self-motivating yet I am still nervous that I may be missing out on some good "inside" information that could help me by not taking the course. I chose not to take it as it seemed a bit silly to spend $2000 for people to teach me when I could just buy some books. I just really don't want to regret this decision.

Was curious if anyone truly feels I will be handicapped by NOT taking the course as opposed to if I had signed up...?
 

pyromatic

Lord of Chaos
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Jul 18, 2006
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I didn't take a course, and I did pretty well. My approach was to get the outline of material from the website, look over it to see where I was lacking, review that material, and do a couple sample questions.
 

neutropos

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Sep 9, 2008
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Do NOT be nervous. I took a prep course and I regret it. If you study well for your college courses and do well on your exams, you'll do fine studying on your own for the MCAT. I will never take a prep course ever again.
 
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mmc48

Med School Flunky
10+ Year Member
Jul 17, 2007
86
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Tennessee
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I also did not take a prep course, and I made a 33. You'll be fine. Just use all the resources available, make a plan, and get feedback both from here and from others that have taken it. Good luck!
 

sylvanthus

Attending
10+ Year Member
Sep 9, 2008
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I think the prep course is a total waste of time and money UNLESS you need the motivation and structure. I wouldn't worry about it too much man, I got a 36 and just read EK.
 

BerkReviewTeach

Company Rep & Bad Singer
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May 25, 2007
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A bit of a rant...

I will be taking the May 29th MCAT and will begin studying mid-december during the semester break.

If I end up doing bad on the MCAT I feel I will really regret not taking a Kaplan/etc. type prep-course.

I am definitely self-motivating yet I am still nervous that I may be missing out on some good "inside" information that could help me by not taking the course. I chose not to take it as it seemed a bit silly to spend $2000 for people to teach me when I could just buy some books. I just really don't want to regret this decision.

Was curious if anyone truly feels I will be handicapped by NOT taking the course as opposed to if I had signed up...?
To add to the theme of the previous comments, relax and don't let anxiety talk you into something you don't need. Here's my take having taught for a few years.

1) About one-third to half of the students who take our class need it very much and couldn't have done nearly as well without it. About one-third to one-sixth needed the motivation and someone telling them what to do as much as anything else. And the last group (about one-sixth of the class) could have easily studied on their own and anything they gained from the shortcuts and tricks we taught them was lost in that the time they spent in class could have been better spent doing practice passages. If you fit into that last 16.7% or so, then you are just fine not taking a class.

2) Prep courses offer an environment that encourages you to study. Many people need that positive atmosphere to keep going. If you are already self-motivated, then you would be buying something you don't need.

3) I'm not sure if this is true for other courses, but I certainly see in ours that it's the same ten to fifteen students who are regulars at my office hours. Most students don't take full advantage of everything we offer. Last summer (the last time I taught) there was one student who timed my office hours perfectly and got about 50 hours of one-on-one tutoring. If you aren't going to take advantage of tutoring, office hours, review sesisons, and workshops, then you aren't going to get your money's worth.

4) There are in fact some things that a class can teach you. Not to toot my own horn, but our course teaches some pretty cool tricks and strategies that I wouldn't have encountered had I not learned them from the lead teacher. But let's be realistic about it. I'd say there are about 200 unique tricks and techniques we teach that you won't see anywhere else. If 5%-10% of those show up on your MCAT (about the statistical average), then on 10-20 questions you'll have an advantage over everyone else. That's just a small percentage of the test. The people who benefit most from this are the ones who barely finish on time, because this helps their timing. If you are already fast to begin with, then those tricks are less critical to you. Even though you will never see the tricks/techniques/strategies I'm talking about, you may not need them if you are already fast.

Lastly, think about how many people use courses. Kaplan gets probably 70% of all MCAT test-takers in their class. Do you honestly think there is anything they get that is "secret" information if that many people are taking the class? Even PR, with about 20% of test-takers using their service, has no "secret" technique floating there. By not taking a corporate program, you are not missing any "secret advantage" that you won't be able to read in some book.

If you know you are soneone who can study on their own, then you'll be fine not taking a course. Just get plenty of passages and questions to practice with and get as many of them done as you can.
 

mrmedschool

10+ Year Member
Jul 24, 2008
16
0
Status
Pre-Medical
The course I took, Kaplan, was horrible as far as "inside info." Going to the class was a waste of time (I could have used those 3 hrs per class to cover so much material). Do NOT feel like you are missing out on any inside info by not taking Kaplan. I would suggest buying the examkrackers study material to get the inside info (especially for verbal). What the kaplan class did have, however, was a great deal of online material. The practice tests and material were endless and very helpful to me (maybe sign up for the $600 online course if it comes with all the material).

I wish i didnt waste my $1800 -- there was more inside info on this site.

just a few things I did not learn from Kaplan that helped me (from this site and experience):

1) if you see a pair of opposites, one of them is most likely the answer
2) outlining verbal passages is a waste of time for me
3) skim science passages; very hard to force yourself to do this but most questions can be answered easily with no understanding of the passage.
4) too simple and obvious on verbal: probbably not the answer
 

BlueElmo

10+ Year Member
Sep 7, 2006
14,411
25
Status
Medical Student
I found the Hyperlearning books that came with my course really useful. I would never have scored anywhere near my score only with EK books. Thus, I found my TPR course to be money well spent.
 

Zona Pellucida

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 17, 2008
2,446
3
Status
Medical Student
Thank you everyone for all the great info here.

It was nice to hear from both sides of the argument...

Hopefully always staying motivated and practicing will end up paying off with a 30+ !
 
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