rosejayhawk

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May 19, 2017
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Hi guys, I've been trying to put together a list of books before getting a study plan for the 2018 MCAT, I'm aiming for a top score. My major is economics. I'm assuming I've forgotten content for everything other than some ochem. I've taken all prereqs, including intro biochem and ochem 2, except intro bio 2.

I already purchased all AAMC online things and a paper copy of the Official Guide. I stopped at part 2, which ppl say to use as a half-length early on?

I was wondering how 2017 MCAT takers think the 2016, 2017 editions of TBR have been and which Berkley Review books helped them the most on the new MCAT.

I'm planning on Kaplan for psych and soc, TPR for CARS, but am wondering whether to mix and match EK and TBR for content.


I'm a little concerned if the TBR books will be too dull. For instance I liked the recent Klein books for ochem. Klein for ochem didn't always explain everything but they weren't too confusing.

Also since TBR is really good for passages, should I get EK question books? (I think their called EK101 or EK1000?)


Thanks!
 
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the Mannis

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i recommend you get gen chem, o chem and physics from TBR, and then for bio its a toss-up between EK and TBR. EK's books read better, and the 30 minute exams are good, but TBR bio has so many passages that are valuable. If you have the cash, you may want to consider getting the EK 101 books for biochemistry and biology.
 
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rosejayhawk

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May 19, 2017
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This is my plan:

TBR: Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry (organic and inorganic), Physics

Kaplan: Psychology, sociology [Or maybe TPR]

TPR: Cars/Verbal

FL: EK 1-4, NS1, all AAMC

That should handle content review. TPR can be used for CARS.


Is the EK101 set good for practicing every subject?

I've been trying to google EK and TBR to get a sense of how the presentation is, since it's subjective, but I don't see any pictures or ebook samples.
 
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Zenabi90

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TBR O Chem and Gen Chem helped me achieve an understanding that I thought impossible in undergrad. I honestly wish I had used these in my undergrad years.

TBR Physics is beautiful, with just the right level of complexity.

TBR Bio is F. A. T. FAT. Combined almost 400 pages. Worth it to me because of my personal needs (aiming for 520, happy with 515+, 6 years since biochemistry and physiology)

TBR Psych is... unrefined. Bloated. Too much detail for the MCAT, plus it's missing Sociology. I got TPR P/S and it's brilliant. There are also a ton of people who recommend the Reddit Notes for Psych/Soc. They are generated by users from the Khan academy videos and articles. Google search for em.

I think TBR has enough passage content. If you need more, I suggest the old mid-2000s EK1001 for Gen Chem, Org Chem, Physics. Great source for discretes.

The testing year ends on Sept 19 (delayed tests due to the terrible hurricane) and exams are posted 4-5 weeks after. If you don't mind used, try to get them from SDN. AFAIK, any of the recent editions of TBR will work so don't worry if it's 1 or 2 editions old.
 
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rosejayhawk

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May 19, 2017
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TBR O Chem and Gen Chem helped me achieve an understanding that I thought impossible in undergrad. I honestly wish I had used these in my undergrad years.

TBR Physics is beautiful, with just the right level of complexity.

TBR Bio is F. A. T. FAT. Combined almost 400 pages. Worth it to me because of my personal needs (aiming for 520, happy with 515+, 6 years since biochemistry and physiology)

TBR Psych is... unrefined. Bloated. Too much detail for the MCAT, plus it's missing Sociology. I got TPR P/S and it's brilliant. There are also a ton of people who recommend the Reddit Notes for Psych/Soc. They are generated by users from the Khan academy videos and articles. Google search for em.

I think TBR has enough passage content. If you need more, I suggest the old mid-2000s EK1001 for Gen Chem, Org Chem, Physics. Great source for discretes.

The testing year ends on Sept 19 (delayed tests due to the terrible hurricane) and exams are posted 4-5 weeks after. If you don't mind used, try to get them from SDN. AFAIK, any of the recent editions of TBR will work so don't worry if it's 1 or 2 editions old.
I'm on the lookout but see less activity now since the June tests. Since you recently took the exam, do you still feel TBR was solid? How about for bio and biochem?

Also, for CARs did you use TPR's new CARS book 2016 or the old hyperlearning?

Thanks in advance!
 

Zenabi90

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I'm on the lookout but see less activity now since the June tests. Since you recently took the exam, do you still feel TBR was solid? How about for bio and biochem?

Also, for CARs did you use TPR's new CARS book 2016 or the old hyperlearning?

Thanks in advance!
My post yesterday was 8 hours post-exam. So definitely feel TBR is solid. I would say that there is no resource more complete.
 
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rosejayhawk

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My post yesterday was 8 hours post-exam. So definitely feel TBR is solid. I would say that there is no resource more complete.
Did you need a content book for CARS? I'm considering TPR either hyperlearning/CARS workbook, but those are practice.

Let me know if your selling your TBR materials!
 

Zenabi90

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Well it depends on how strong your Verbal skills are. If your SAT verbal was strong (700+), I would only get the hyperlearning to get a feel.

If you need improvement, then a more thorough approach is better.
 
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rosejayhawk

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May 19, 2017
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Well it depends on how strong your Verbal skills are. If your SAT verbal was strong (700+), I would only get the hyperlearning to get a feel.

If you need improvement, then a more thorough approach is better.
Didn't take the SAT, I could start with hyperlearning then add on. Did you use a content book? I've heard the test company CARS strategies are throwaway passage ranking.

TBR's website is very sketchy, however the person on their phone line who picked up even suggested I buy used 2016. But given the positive reviews I'm guessing it's okay to take the purchase.
 

Zenabi90

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No SAT or ACT?

TBR website hasn't changed since the early 2000s. They do only one thing, and that's MCAT review. With that kind of specialization, it's sink or swim. Their survival should be enough testament to the quality of their product.

My Verbal has always been my strength. TPRH and FLs were enough practice for me. If I were you, to be absolutely sure, take SN2ed's approach to CARS review. EK Verbal 101, TPR hyperlearning verbal, TBR CARS, TPR CARS. Do all the passages. Ignore their suggested strategies and do the following:
1. Do all passages in order. Do all questions in order. Do not skip.
2. Use KoalaT's Golden Rule. Wrong is wrong, least wrong is the best answer.
3. Always practice timed. MCAT gives you 90 min for 10 passages. Practice at 8-9min per passage.
 
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rosejayhawk

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Got it, and I've also gotten all the AAMC material. General consensus I've gotten is:

Official guide < Sample Test < AAMC FL 1 < Section Bank < AAMC FL 2


Would you suggest using the official guide half length or sample test as a diagnostic first?
 

wildcherry

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Jan 23, 2012
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Hey there, I am also aiming for a 520+ and this is where I'm at. Looks like you and I are on similar boats. I have a bit of a longer study plan (6 months) so I can afford to be more thorough.

I'm using TBR for Bio/Biochem, Organic Chem, Gen Chem, and Physics. Using these to gain a (hopefully) strong foundation and thorough practice passages.

I will then also use the EK books for Bio 1 and 2, Chemistry, and Physics. Orgo is covered in there as well. I hope these will provide a good review and sharpen the stuff I learn from TBR. I've heard great things about the 30 minute exams.

I think I'll start studying CARS after I finish the TBR/EK books for the sciences as I had a good SAT verbal score and I am still 4-5 months out. I will use the EK verbal skills book and then the TPRH CARS workbook followed by the AAMC material.

For P/S I am using the Reddit notes and I will use the Kaplan book as well.

I was very fortunate to be able to borrow all the books I am using.
 

wildcherry

7+ Year Member
Jan 23, 2012
334
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TBR O Chem and Gen Chem helped me achieve an understanding that I thought impossible in undergrad. I honestly wish I had used these in my undergrad years.

TBR Physics is beautiful, with just the right level of complexity.

TBR Bio is F. A. T. FAT. Combined almost 400 pages. Worth it to me because of my personal needs (aiming for 520, happy with 515+, 6 years since biochemistry and physiology)

TBR Psych is... unrefined. Bloated. Too much detail for the MCAT, plus it's missing Sociology. I got TPR P/S and it's brilliant. There are also a ton of people who recommend the Reddit Notes for Psych/Soc. They are generated by users from the Khan academy videos and articles. Google search for em.

I think TBR has enough passage content. If you need more, I suggest the old mid-2000s EK1001 for Gen Chem, Org Chem, Physics. Great source for discretes.

The testing year ends on Sept 19 (delayed tests due to the terrible hurricane) and exams are posted 4-5 weeks after. If you don't mind used, try to get them from SDN. AFAIK, any of the recent editions of TBR will work so don't worry if it's 1 or 2 editions old.
I have a very very weak background in Gen Chem and Physics, and TBR Gen Chem and TBR Physics is really killing me. I feel like I get the theory when I read the chapter, but when I do the questions I totally blank out and never know what formulas to use. I'm averaging 8-12 out of 25 in GC and PS while I did significantly better in the O Chem and Bio books, which I have a solid background in. Any advice on how to best use these books? I feel really bad because I keep hearing how awesome the Physics and Gen Chem books are but I'm struggling very much with them.
 

Zenabi90

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I'm not going to really use AAMC OG or sample test as an actual diagnostic than to get a feel for the exam firsthand.
If you're just going to use them to get a feel for the exam, then I would suggest treating them as you would regular FLs.

About halfway through your content review (I'm assuming you're rotating subjects to build on your lateral thinking processes), set aside a few days to take the AAMC Sample Exam all the way through, and then really analyze and break down your performance (what did you do wrong, what did you do right, what is strong and what is weak). The Sample Exam is generally the easiest of the 3 full-lengths provided by AAMC and should give you a good feel of what your pacing should be like (you should already be practicing passages under timed conditions).

Content review is for just that: content review. There's a reason why the last 2-3 weeks are pure FLs. You're building stamina, sharpening strategy, developing a rhythm. You'll also be increasing your rest days the closer you get to your exam, to help prevent burnout and to optimize your performance on the big day.
 

Zenabi90

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I have a very very weak background in Gen Chem and Physics, and TBR Gen Chem and TBR Physics is really killing me. I feel like I get the theory when I read the chapter, but when I do the questions I totally blank out and never know what formulas to use. I'm averaging 8-12 out of 25 in GC and PS while I did significantly better in the O Chem and Bio books, which I have a solid background in. Any advice on how to best use these books? I feel really bad because I keep hearing how awesome the Physics and Gen Chem books are but I'm struggling very much with them.
I would really recommend you look into EK1001. They're a decade old, but they provide the best practice problems possible. They are discretes rather than passages, but I think that would be good for you, as you can focus on learning how to recognize the approach you need to take or what formulas should be used.

If you're finding you're having difficulty with the basics, trying to do passages right off the bat or proceeding at too fast of a pace can do more harm than good, especially if you have 6 months.

The typical pacing for dedicated prep is to do a chapter a day. If your background is particularly weak or you're just not getting it, slow down a little. Take 2 or 3 days per chapter. Work through every practice problem presented in-text.

Another reason may be that TBR simply isn't for you. Maybe you should take a look at your EK101 books, and see if they present the material in a way that helps you learn it the way you need to learn it. TBR is great, and many will swear by it, but there's a reason why there are different companies. And it's because there's really no such thing as "one size fits all" when it comes to test-prep materials and strategies. Since you do have access to EK, try taking a look at them. You can also try free resources such as YouTube and Khan Academy to help you out.
 

Zenabi90

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but when I do the questions I totally blank out and never know what formulas to use
The best tips I have ever received for working on Physics problems.

1. Draw a picture.
2. List ALL the givens provided (including units)
3. List what is being asked of you, what you need to find (including units)
4. When all else fails, draw out all the forces and remember conservation of energy.

It'll be basic but taking an example from motion/kinetics:

You're given a ball of mass Z rolling down a frictionless hill. It starts at rest at height X, accelerates down the hill, rolls for a distance on a surface with a friction coefficient Y, and eventually comes to a stop. Where does it stop?

So you know you have height, mass, and a friction coefficient.
You will learn to recognize this is a purely energy function. The ball has a potential energy at height X, which is completely converted to kinetic energy at the bottom of a frictionless hill, then free rolls until all of the kinetic energy is lost due to friction. Once you draw it, and recognize it, the formulas to use should become clear.
 
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wildcherry

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I would really recommend you look into EK1001. They're a decade old, but they provide the best practice problems possible. They are discretes rather than passages, but I think that would be good for you, as you can focus on learning how to recognize the approach you need to take or what formulas should be used.

If you're finding you're having difficulty with the basics, trying to do passages right off the bat or proceeding at too fast of a pace can do more harm than good, especially if you have 6 months.

The typical pacing for dedicated prep is to do a chapter a day. If your background is particularly weak or you're just not getting it, slow down a little. Take 2 or 3 days per chapter. Work through every practice problem presented in-text.

Another reason may be that TBR simply isn't for you. Maybe you should take a look at your EK101 books, and see if they present the material in a way that helps you learn it the way you need to learn it. TBR is great, and many will swear by it, but there's a reason why there are different companies. And it's because there's really no such thing as "one size fits all" when it comes to test-prep materials and strategies. Since you do have access to EK, try taking a look at them. You can also try free resources such as YouTube and Khan Academy to help you out.
Thank you, I'll definitely look into the EK books I have as well as the EK1001 series (I'm assuming the old books are still good for the new MCAT). You're right...I have been doing a chapter a day and I feel like I'm brushing through the books but retaining little. I still like the TBR way of looking at theories and manipulating variables and they also have some nifty tricks, but I think my foundation needs a lot of work. Instead of doing TBR and then EK, I might go through the EK books first and then revisit the TBR books later.

Thanks again for the advice. I think I will take a step back and nail the basics down before approaching the TBR material again.
 

Zenabi90

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Jul 14, 2017
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Thank you, I'll definitely look into the EK books I have as well as the EK1001 series (I'm assuming the old books are still good for the new MCAT). You're right...I have been doing a chapter a day and I feel like I'm brushing through the books but retaining little. I still like the TBR way of looking at theories and manipulating variables and they also have some nifty tricks, but I think my foundation needs a lot of work. Instead of doing TBR and then EK, I might go through the EK books first and then revisit the TBR books later.

Thanks again for the advice. I think I will take a step back and nail the basics down before approaching the TBR material again.
No problem. This is the hardest part about reviewing: nailing down what works for you. Be flexible, use the search function when you need advice, post when the search function fails you, and above all keep fighting.
 

BerkReviewTeach

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TBR's website is very sketchy, however the person on their phone line who picked up even suggested I buy used 2016. But given the positive reviews I'm guessing it's okay to take the purchase.
The website is horrible. For years people have said this and I have argued that we need a better website to be taken seriously. After time, however, I've fallen into their camp. The people willing to look past the crappy website and antiquated business model really want the books or really want to take the class. As a teacher, I love that the classes are filled with energetic people who want to be there and are enthusiastic about the lectures. It makes it easier to teach and I feel like the students really benefit from the positive environment. If we had one-click ordering, I am sure the classes would be larger and they'd have some people who were not as dedicated. Having to print an application, fill it out, and then mail it in goes against the instant gratification nature of our society. But it ensures that people have time to make a well-reasoned purchase and more so it ensures that everyone getting the books truly wants them. Watching some Youtube videos of people getting and using our books have been heart-warming.

I'm also incredibly impressed that the person on the phone suggested that you look into used books to save some money. That is exactly what the company philosophy has been since day 1. We will never be as slick as the other companies, but no one will ever care as much about their students and put as much heart and soul into helping them get where they are aiming to go.

From deep in my heart, I hope your studies are going well! If you need a question answered, feel free to message me.
 
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PlsLetMeIn21

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Rogue, if you are still on line, I think this is the thread that I was thinking about with Zenabi90's advice. There are a few great threads they posted.
 
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