BerkReviewTeach

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Our materials are the best MCAT preparation materials anywhere. There are others that do a very good job and will help students attain a score they desire, but ours are the best. The reason we can say this becomes apparent when browsing the classified section of SDN or searching for materials polls. If you look at the resale price and the incredibly fast turnover rate of BR materials, you'll see they sell for pretty much what they cost new. And while some will consider the theory of supply and demand, there is plenty of supply so the demand must be attributed to quality of product.

So what makes BR books so sought after? There are a few factors.

1) The most important part of any preparation book are the answer explanations. Most students do a little learning during their recall phase when they read through review text. They do a little more learning during the passages when they read through and apply the concepts to questions. But the biggest growth and improvement occurs when reviewing questions after you have actively thought about them. This is where you learn how to apply the material and how to take the test more efficiently. Berkeley Review takes great pride in writing quality explanations that address both the concepts and the test skills needed to quickly choose a best answer.

2) We update our books frequently. If you look at our physics books from 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010, and today, you'll see the evolution. If you look at our organic chemistry book over the last decade, then you'll also see the changes. We adapt to the changing test. When they removed benzene and alkene chemistry from the MCAT in 2004, we omitted that chapter and replaced it with a chapter that emphasized biological applications of organic molecules. Whenever they made minor changes to their list of testable topics, we changed our books accordingly. Because we only do the MCAT, we take it very seriously.

3) We focus on test-taking and process of elimination (POE) throughout our materials. Knowing a concept is only good if you can apply it. We incorporate strategies and shortcuts throughout our materials. Our books are designed to make you able to take a thinking test, not a regurgitation test. The math tricks you learn in the first chapter of a book are repeated all the way through. The mnemonics build as you go through the book.

4) Our books are thorough, but filled only with what you need. If you were to remove the questions and answer explanations within our books and then compare them with the text for the other materials that are commercially available, then you’d find that ours are about 10% longer. That ten percent can be attributed to explaining key concepts in more depth, presenting a strategy only found in a BR book, or mixing a concept from a different discipline. What you won’t find is fluff or any claims that “this will never be on the MCAT” or “this is always on the MCAT.” Those are bold statements that often prove to be wrong. If you were a test writer and some commercial book claimed to know exactly what was going to appear, wouldn’t you want to do the opposite?

5) Our books are written by experienced teachers. After teaching the material in the classroom and hearing questions during office hours, you learn where students traditionally have trouble and what tricks they appreciate. For years we taught the glucose trick for recalling the hydroxyl positions on a monosaccharide. Eventually, after weighing morality concerns versus mnemonic quality, we incorporated it into our books. It’s a fantastic way to recall the Fisher projections and Haworth projections of many sugars. And it’s also a surefire way to figure out who are Berkeley Review students, like a secret handshake. Authors with over twenty years of MCAT teaching experience know a thing or two about how to best deliver information, and you get that with Berkeley Review books.

The quality of the Berkeley Review books is no accident. It’s the result of twenty-plus years of revisions and improvements based on classroom feedback. It makes a difference, and it’s what makes them the preparation treasure they are.
 
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silverturtle

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4) Our books are thorough, but filled only with what you need. If you were to remove the questions and answer explanations within our books and then compare them with the text for the other materials that are commercially available, then you’d find that ours are about 10% longer. That ten percent can be attributed to explaining key concepts in more depth, presenting a strategy only found in a BR book, or mixing a concept from a different discipline. What you won’t find is fluff or any claims that “this will never be on the MCAT” or “this is always on the MCAT.” Those are bold statements that often prove to be wrong. If you were a test writer and some commercial book claimed to know exactly what was going to appear, wouldn’t you want to do the opposite?
I have heard that your biology books have way more detail than what you actually need to know for the MCAT. What is your reasoning/response to this?

Thank you!
 

BerkReviewTeach

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I have heard that your biology books have way more detail than what you actually need to know for the MCAT. What is your reasoning/response to this?

Thank you!
In the other thread you posted in (Raffle Items), I've fielded this general question (or a variation of it) about four times, so if it's okay, could I refer you to those posts?

What I'd rather do here is ask for the specifics of what you mean by more detail than what you need. There are ten chapters total, and from what I've heard over the years (as well as what I believe from looking through them in fairly good detail) is that eight of the chapters are the perfect amount of detail for an exam that expects you to know things at a fundamental level and be able to understand experiments from journals. There are two chapters that have a little more detail than necessary (in my opinion). So when you say there is too much detail, exactly what part does that refer to? It would help to know if it's those two chapters, the answer explanations, or whatever might be causing you to say this.

But no matter where the perceived excess detail may be, the saving grace is that the passages are the best anywhere, and they really make you think. And there is nothing more important in any review book than the passages and their answer explanations. If you read through the threads discussing MCAT experiences (right after people take the exam), you'll notice that many people were surprised by the depth of some of the passages in the biological sciences, especially the ones on fairly compliacated lab experiments. You can get a good deal of the information from the passage, but that's only if you have a good grasp on the concepts. My thought is that to prepare for biology passages, you need to work on biology passages based on experiments, and that's where BR biology books excel, even in the two verbose chapters,
 
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Will you make any big changes in your books soon? especially your PS books? I also wonder do you put your in class passages in your books?
 

BerkReviewTeach

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Will you make any big changes in your books soon? especially your PS books? I also wonder do you put your in class passages in your books?
As noted in a few of the other threads, 2015 is the big target year when all of the books are getting a major overhaul. For now, the latest change was a minor revision of general chemistry and a major revision of organic chemistry.

As for in-class passages becoming part of the books, the answer is yes and no. The lecture handouts will remain as is, and those handouts will not go into books. But the strategy session handouts and skills sessions handouts will lose some passages to the next version of the book. Part of the revision cycle is to run passages through special lectures and reviews so that we get instant feedback.
 

TexasSurgeon

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Our materials are the best MCAT preparation materials anywhere. There are others that do a very good job and will help students attain a score they desire, but ours are the best. The reason we can say this becomes apparent when browsing the classified section of SDN or searching for materials polls. If you look at the resale price and the incredibly fast turnover rate of BR materials, you'll see they sell for pretty much what they cost new. And while some will consider the theory of supply and demand, there is plenty of supply so the demand must be attributed to quality of product.

So what makes BR books so sought after? There are a few factors.

1) The most important part of any preparation book are the answer explanations. Most students do a little learning during their recall phase when they read through review text. They do a little more learning during the passages when they read through and apply the concepts to questions. But the biggest growth and improvement occurs when reviewing questions after you have actively thought about them. This is where you...treasure they are.
The real question is...when will you update your website and customer service? The website looks like you guys sell Native American artwork, and I've heard people sending in their payments through check and never getting proper service. No doubt, you guys are the best.
 

BerkReviewTeach

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May 25, 2007
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The real question is...when will you update your website and customer service? The website looks like you guys sell Native American artwork, and I've heard people sending in their payments through check and never getting proper service. No doubt, you guys are the best.
Hopefully I can answer your question(s). As far as the website goes, there's not too much I can say. The people who run the company each are in charge of different aspects, and they honor each other's autonomy. That's been great in terms of developing top-notch specialized books and the best CBTs on the market. It has allowed the classroom course to adapt as quickly as the MCAT changes. But the negative side has been that only one person controls the website, and ironically enough, he loves Native American art and jewelry. So while there will be one-click ordering very soon, the website itself is unlikely to change much. If the company were more profit-driven, I'm sure it would change instantly. But the reality is that it's pride driven, and having a strong reputation for a great course and the best materials matters more than having a good website.

As for customer service, that was vastly improved about a year ago, when the phone staff was replaced and revamped. I am curious where you heard a complaint, because to be frank, the only place I read it around SDN is in posts like yours, where it's hearsay. If you look carefully at threads on the topic, you'll see firsthand complaints from over a year ago followed up by recent comments saying service was fine. It's going to take a while for the reputation to come around completely, but it's well on its way. The thing that keeps it from coming around faster is when people who didn't actually deal with the company post comments about service.

Check orders sit for ten business days to ensure the check clears. This policy is unfortunately the reslt of a few lessons learned. I can understand the frustration a buyer might feel in waiting, but that's how most companies operate when it comes to checks. The alternative is to use a credit card, which generally results in a four day to twleve day turnaround from when a buyer mails their order to when FedEx delivers it. The variability is due to distance and season (weather can impact delivery time). One-click ordering will reduce that time to two days to eight days, which will be a nice change.

BTW, your avatar is awesome!
 

TexasSurgeon

I don't pay state taxes
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Hopefully I can answer your question(s). As far as the website goes, there's not too much I can say. The people who run the company each are in charge of different aspects, and they honor each other's autonomy. That's been great in terms of developing top-notch specialized books and the best CBTs on the market. It has allowed the classroom course to adapt as quickly as the MCAT changes. But the negative side has been that only one person controls the website, and ironically enough, he loves Native American art and jewelry. So while there will be one-click ordering very soon, the website itself is unlikely to change much. If the company were more profit-driven, I'm sure it would change instantly. But the reality is that it's pride driven, and having a strong reputation for a great course and the best materials matters more than having a good website.

As for customer service, that was vastly improved about a year ago, when the phone staff was replaced and revamped. I am curious where you heard a complaint, because to be frank, the only place I read it around SDN is in posts like yours, where it's hearsay. If you look carefully at threads on the topic, you'll see firsthand complaints from over a year ago followed up by recent comments saying service was fine. It's going to take a while for the reputation to come around completely, but it's well on its way. The thing that keeps it from coming around faster is when people who didn't actually deal with the company post comments about service.

Check orders sit for ten business days to ensure the check clears. This policy is unfortunately the reslt of a few lessons learned. I can understand the frustration a buyer might feel in waiting, but that's how most companies operate when it comes to checks. The alternative is to use a credit card, which generally results in a four day to twleve day turnaround from when a buyer mails their order to when FedEx delivers it. The variability is due to distance and season (weather can impact delivery time). One-click ordering will reduce that time to two days to eight days, which will be a nice change.

BTW, your avatar is awesome!
Got you. Thanks!

Hahaha I appreciate the compliment LOL
 
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