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Studying for the MCAT w/o taking a course?

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by Dart1516, Dec 21, 2005.

  1. Dart1516

    Dart1516 Junior Member
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    Ok, I'm not the best when it comes to standardizes tests. Right now, I'm in a position where it isn't quite feasible to pay for a prep course.

    A couple friends have suggested that I could study on my own with the use of ExamKrackers.

    How realistic is this?

    Basically what I'm asking is, how realistic would it be for me to start studying independently with the use of manuals in preparation for the April exam while taking a full course load in school?

    I have taken all the pre-reqs except for biology, which I will be taking over the course of the next two trimesters. I actually will not finish the 2nd part of bio before the exam, but I've been told that it shouldn't matter b/c if I keep up with EK it will teach me what I need to know.

    Should I hold out and take a course? Or can I do this thing solo? What methods would you suggest if I were going to fly solo?
     
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  3. DrBowtie

    DrBowtie Final Countdown
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    Depends on your discipline.
     
  4. QuikClot

    QuikClot Senior Member
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    Success on the MCAT depends greatly on your skill with standardized tests.

    I would take a class. I would even put it on a credit card if I had to. It isn't just the practice you get. It's the confidence from having someone to ask about things, and seeing people on a daily basis going through the same thing.

    My MCAT was like a class reunion thanks to Kaplan. That helped me relax and perform well.

    A class is no magic bullet, but it's useful enough that I'd put it on a credit card if I had to.
     
  5. Non-TradTulsa

    Non-TradTulsa Senior Member - Resident
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    I'm a true believer in ExamKrackers, so if you have to self-study, I definitely recommend them. I had the whole banana on EK - the prep books, the audio osmosis CDs, and the 1001 questions books. I took the Kaplan course, but I didn't use their materials for study outside of class - I used EK. You don't have to have a prep course, but for me the best thing about Kaplan was: 1) I was taking a full course load, and going to Kaplan once or twice a week forced me to stay focused on doing some review, no matter how busy I was with my other two classes (I took my prereqs in night school and was working full-time - last Spring is just kind of a blur). I also got a lot of benefit from taking the timed practice tests under test conditions - which I think are pretty difficult to simulate at home.

    From what you've said, though, it sounds like you will only have 1 intro biology course. That's the problem I see. MCAT has very high expectations of your knowledge of biological sciences and, to me, biology is the worst area to be underprepared in. You probably don't want to hear this, but I think you're going to be at a serious disadvantage - you might want to wait. I took the MCAT with Intro Bio for Majors (a very comprehensive survey course) and I was just finishing Micro - which saved me, I had probably half a dozen micro-related passages. I studied as much Anatomy and Physiology as I could on my own, and that helped. But - I was definitely wishing that I'd had Cell Bio, Genetics, and Immunology in addition to A&P! You don't have to be a biology major to take the MCAT - but my .02 is that I'd have 2 or 3 bio courses, not just 1 for the MCAT. Anybody disagree?
     
  6. shantster

    shantster Eye protection!
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    The only advantages I see for taking a course are that you get a rigid study schedule and you have the timed practice exams. I for one am not taking a course because for me personally, I don't see that these two things are worth $1500. If are disciplined enough to self-study, I suggest getting some practice materials (I'm using EK) and forming a study schedule for yourself so that you have goals for a particular day. For the timed practice exams, see if you can get a group of people who are taking the test to get together and do a practice exam each Saturday leading up to the MCAT. Our pre-med club organizes it at our school, so you could contact them if you have one. Otherwise, ask the pre-meds that you know if they'd be interested in it or talk to your pre-med advisor and see if he/she can email his/her junior advisees to find some people interested in it.
     
  7. RosaVerde

    RosaVerde Junior Member
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    I pretty much agree w/ everything said. i just finished up w/ the Aug mcat and studied on my own. I literally locked myself in the library for 3 months with all the EK materials I could get my hands on. I was working a p/t job so had a lot of time to study. I'm disciplined, plus I finished a degree in physiology a couple years ago so I have a strong background as well. you might want to charge the course on your card if you doubt your discipline and your familiarity with the basic materials.
     
  8. RosaVerde

    RosaVerde Junior Member
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    I pretty much agree w/ everything said. i just finished up w/ the Aug mcat and studied on my own. I literally locked myself in the library for 3 months with all the EK materials I could get my hands on. I was working a p/t job so had a lot of time to study. I did really well. But I'm disciplined, plus I finished a degree in physiology a couple years ago so I have a strong background as well. you might want to charge the course on your card if you doubt your discipline and your familiarity with the basic materials.
     
  9. Twitch

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    I disagree. The class benefits you in other ways, esp. if you are a classroom type of person. If you typically keep quiet and don't goto classes - the self study may be better for you.

    On the other hand, if you typically attend classes, take the timed tests, pay attention in class (remember it's not rocket science - just review) then it can help. People come to class thinking they'll learn something new. This is a review class. You should know most of everything being taught.

    Another benefit is the in class pimping/grilling. If you have thick skin and like an interactive class this is the way to go. Nothing like public embarassment to drive the message home. You don't have to speak up all the time - just make sure you know the answer to the questions they ask in class.
     
  10. kimmcauliffe

    kimmcauliffe Surfer Chum
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    I've heard great things about Kaplan and Barron's. Like you, I don't have a ton of money or free time to take a course. I'm doing it the cowboy way. :cool:

    Good luck to you, and happy holidays!
     
  11. Will Ferrell

    Will Ferrell Senior Member
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    I strongly believe self-studying is the best way to go and prep courses are total wastes. First, gather all the material available by Examkrackers (maybe not the 1001 books of the sciences you're strong at). Design a schedule, mapping out what you'll be doing each day. Find a lot of practice exams (ALL AAMCs and ,I guess, EKs) and spread them throughout your schedule. STICK TO YOUR SCHEDULE and you'll do great!
     
  12. Cooolguy

    Cooolguy Senior Member
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    im currently enrolled in a kaplan course for the upcoming april MCAT. I feel like taking a class helps break down what to study and when to study, and also gives a wholeee bunch of test prep materials which are probably the most important in your studying. If you can get around these things somehow, then do the self-study.
     
  13. jebus

    jebus Membership Revoked
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    I studied on my own. I bought the Kaplan book and the TPR book off of Amazon, used my old class notes and books (I've been out of school for 3 years), and used the tests at e-mcat.com.
    For the August MCAT I studied for about 5-6 weeks for about 5-6 hours a night after work. If you have good self-discipline you should be ok without a course. I'm pleased with my score. My only qualm was with VR prep. I didn't really prepare at all for it - beyond the e-mcat tests. I have a strong science background, though (4+ years in Neuroscience labs and I've been reading rigorous scientific journals during that whole time), so I was used to that kind of reading. If you aren't used to it then you should find more prepatory material.
     
  14. Jeesing

    Jeesing Junior Member
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    Personally i do not think taking the Kaplan course benefitted me greatly. The lecture material seemed like dumbed-down university material, teaching me the basics i already knew, and not the more advanced difficult to understand material. i rewrote my MCAT in august, forgetting everything about Kaplans strategy (except passage timing) taught me, and i did a lot better. I did not use all of the EK stuff, but i did use their VR stuff, and that helped alot.
     
  15. Ebete

    Ebete Senior Member
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    I took EK a few years ago, but found it to be a waste. I am a hands on active go-to-class person, but extremelly disciplined, so decided taking the class would be ideal for me. Instead I found myself doing only what I needed to do for the class and nothing more. They pretty much read what was on the books and answer questions. I came home worked out my "homework" and that's it. In the end my diagnostics were not what I expected...yes my fault :oops: . But still a waste of $1500, I could have done better on my own if I had only known. This year (a few graduate classes later)I am using the same EK books, a BN Kaplan book and hopefully TPR books (If I can get them).
    Since I have a very full time job :eek: (at home with the kids) I really need to work out my study schedule to make sure I can get to all the material. Diagnostic tests will be taken at Barnes & Noble with the Latte machine noises in the background...& no kids :D . Hopefuly the will be enough time to get to everything; I will be starting this week; already 2 weeks late for my previously schedule plan :scared: .
    What I'm saying is the key to this self study is discipline and a good wippn' every now and then (by the way NO tv especially no Law and Order marathons). Keep yourself in check and finish what you have planned.

    Hopefully it will work for me...good luck!
     
  16. diosa428

    diosa428 SDN Angel
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    I studied by myself with the EK books. They actually have a 10 week study schedule (it's probably on their site, or someone here has a copy of it) that goes along with their books and includes practice with their 1001 books as well. I would also recommend that if you're going to study yourself, you fork over the money for the AAMC practice tests and take at least 4 of them before the MCAT (more if you can). You CAN study on your own, but like everyone else said, you need to stick to your schedule.
     
  17. Pontifex Maximus

    Pontifex Maximus Rads-a-palooza
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    You can do it. I did it while taking classes full time and working. I used EK materials mainly, and towards the end used Kaplan to fill any gaps.
     
  18. psrai85

    psrai85 Member
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    Hey

    Here's the Ek schedule. Try to finish in 8 wekks instead of 10 and then lots and lots of tests.

    Good luck

    http://home.comcast.net/~greet/Examkrackers_Home_Study_Schedule.htm
     

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