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cdavidso

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Due to severe financial restrictions, I haven't been able to take many MCAT prep course. I took the MCAT last August and got a 29P, and am retaking it the end of May. First of all, it seems that almost everyone I've talked to has taken a prep course or is going to; is it really that unheard of to just self study? Any tips for self-studiers to get over the prep plateau? I'm capping around 29 and I have a wonderful month to break it. Help?:)
 

pr2

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most people that score well probably don't use a prep course.

I would tend to disagree. Those that score well were probably so anal-retentive about the whole studying process that they did anything and everything they could to study for the test. This includes not only taking a study course but also utilizing other test prep companies as well. And yes I'm speaking from experience :cool:.
 
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trust me, the people that score high 30s low 40s are the people that are self motivated enough to identify their weaknesses and correct them while putting in long/hard hours. That type of person doesn't require a prep course.
 

mariambaby3

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I scored in the high 30's by self-studying and not taking a prep-course. If I could re-do it again, I would not change anything and definitely would not take a prep course as I'd probably fall asleep during the class.

You may, however, want to consider buying the extra practice material that some prep companies provide.
 

Medical Muse

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Whether to take a prep course or not depends on how comfortable you are with the material and whether you are motivated and disciplined enough to study on your own. I wanted a physics and ochem refresher and structure, so I took a class.

I don't think there's a big difference in scores between those who take prep courses and those who don't. There are too many variables to consider. Most people I know who were in med school took a class, but that's likely because we were in California.
 

TheKDizzle

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I didn't take a prep course and I really discourage people from taking them unless they absolutely need a disciplined environment or won't be able to study. It's not putting you at any advantage, seriously, unless you fall under that category. Don't sweat it. If you're motivated, you'll do just as well or better than people who took a prep course. Plus you'll be 1k or so richer than them!
 

TheKDizzle

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trust me, the people that score high 30s low 40s are the people that are self motivated enough to identify their weaknesses and correct them while putting in long/hard hours. That type of person doesn't require a prep course.

I generally agree with this... But maybe my experience is skewed because prep courses are less popular in the South?
 

Tatiana3325

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Due to severe financial restrictions, I haven't been able to take many MCAT prep course. I took the MCAT last August and got a 29P, and am retaking it the end of May. First of all, it seems that almost everyone I've talked to has taken a prep course or is going to; is it really that unheard of to just self study? Any tips for self-studiers to get over the prep plateau? I'm capping around 29 and I have a wonderful month to break it. Help?:)

No. Prep courses are not necessary for everyone. You need practice problems though. And I recommend making several practice mcats yourself that are difficult and several hours long. Something harder than the actual mcat. Take them somewhere new and weird. If you master that ahead of time you'll have a ton of confidence going into the real thing.

Is there a section you're losing the most points on?

I also want to point out that the stuff on the test is info that you're basically already supposed to know.
 

MedBound1

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Jun 13, 2011
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I feel that prep courses are best suited for people that have a hard time sitting down and enforcing a strict study schedule on themselves. Some people need to know that they have 'class' to make themselves study for the MCAT.. many people do not.. One of my roommates got a 43 and self-studied the entire way.
 

MedPR

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People have scored well with prep courses, and without prep courses. The only benefit to a prep course is the schedule they keep you on. If you are able to make or follow your own schedule (or SN2ed's), you don't need a prep course.

I know someone who got a 39 using only EK and undergrad notes. I know another person who got a 31 after doing the Kaplan course. I personally got a 28 after doing only 30-40% of the EK books, and after doing TBR I was averaging a 34 on the AAMC FLs (no official score yet). I also know people who got a 26 after doing Kaplan and 27 after doing EK self-study.

So no, prep courses are not necessary to do well on the MCAT and there is certainly no guarantee that a prep course will get you a good score. Though I guess 26 is ok if your GPA is high and you are looking at DO.
 

BYUCougar2011

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I would suggest saving your money and studying on your own. My friend and I both performed similarly in Organic Chemistry, and my friend went with a prep company and I decided to study on my own for the MCAT. He scored a 515 and I was able to score a 522. I am sure we both worked equally hard, but I think the difference comes from being able to control your study and being able to use the best resources. Test prep companies will train you using their resources, which includes very few of the official AAMC practice problems (problems written by the people who wrote the MCAT!). During my study I found test prep companies' practice exams and practice questions to be subpar. I feel like they take you off track more than help you. I would suggest making a study plan that uses various resources (AAMC, Khan, Kaplan, Princeton, ExamKrakers). Variety is your friend.

Also, if you feel like you need more structure/someone to guide you through the study process and help you with challenging questions, I would suggest finding a tutor. Test prep companies will charge you outrageous prices for tutoring. If you search around online, you can find better deals on tutors. It is helpful to tutor with someone that performed well on the exam already and can give you peace of mind about your preparation.

Lastly, I enjoyed studying on my own because I was able to make the plan that worked for me. I was able to study from home and study only as much as I could each week (very helpful since I was still taking classes during my exam prep). Best of luck with your preparation!
 
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