The Official MCAT Guide: Read Before Posting

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Are you having trouble on the MCAT? Here is a list of strategies and guides that others have applied to become successful.

Breaking Down the MCAT: A 3 Month MCAT Study Schedule -

BloodySurgeon Verbal Guide-

QofQuimica & Shrike -

30+ MCAT Study Habits-

Tips for MCAT Studiers-

Vihsadas Verbal Guide-

Bozz's Study Tips -

gecko45's Study Tips -

Rabbit36s Study Tips -

Official "Please Help" Thread -

Post a Tip for Current MCAT Studiers -
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What do I need to get on the MCAT to get into medical school?

There is no single MCAT score that will get you into medical school or even a combination of GPA and MCAT score (The LizzyM Score). Your application involves more than just a one-dimensional number. However, MCAT statistics regarding applicants' and matriculants' MCAT scores may be found here.
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How long is the MCAT

The MCAT is presented as follows:

10 minutes of Tutorial (optional)
5 minutes of Non-Disclosure Agreement
70 minutes of Physical Sciences (52 Questions)- 50% Physics and 50% General Chemistry
10 minute break (optional)
60 minutes of Verbal Reasoning (40 Questions)
10 minute break (optional)
60 minutes of Writing Samples (2 Prompts, individually timed-30mins each)
10 minute break (optional)
70 minutes of Biological Sciences (52 Questions) - 75% Biology and 25% Organic Chemistry
5 minutes Void Question
10 minutes of Survey

Total Content Time = 4 hours, 20 minutes

Total "Seat" Time = 5 hours, 20 minutes
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Which MCAT Prep Company is the best?

MCAT Preparation Method Ratings and Opinions (Get other students' perspectives on commercial MCAT prep courses and self-study materials.)

Well everyone has their own style of studying. I can't answer which is better for you, but I will tell you what is out there and what you should expect from it. Other books as well as these can be found on the SDN Bookstore. An SDN user attempted to answer this question before with his own opinion here but keep in mind this is all subjective. Also check out this link to see how others have rated each company: MCAT Preparation Method Ratings and Opinions

Kaplan adapted pretty well for the new MCAT CBT (computer-based test) and has made virtual everything online. The syllabus contains 25 Quizzes, 20 Subject Tests, 41 Topical Tests, 27 Section Tests, 11 Kaplan FLT (Full-length Tests) and access to the 8 AAMC tests. This is all online and also includes a Kaplan Q-bank that allows you to create a quiz by picking topics you want questions on. The review books are fairly detailed and the classes go over the more important topics of the MCAT. The lesson book does go over very important topics, however, the instructors go over the main concepts and refrain from going too much into detail. Most of their strength relies on the volume of their practices. Their FLT scores are quite inflated and give a false sense of hope, but they are still quite good practices. Many on SDN compare Kaplan and AAMC to the difficulty of the real test and you can read more about that here:

Princeton Review
Many have taken note on the extensive detail The Princeton Review books and classes have. That being a pro or a con is quite debatable, however, knowing too much information is never an issue with the MCAT. The Princeton Review also has 9 Online Diagnostics and a great feature that has been implemented is an online writing grade. This means that you can submit your writing online to be evaluated by Princeton Review experts (normally takes 24-48 hours). The Prince Review also has a Science Workshop book which contains 800 pages (including solutions) of passage based and stand-alone questions. These passages are actually quite good and many people have found the Princeton Review bio and G-chem to be great, however they lack the same support for their verbal passages. Their Online Diagnostic scores are quite deflated, but their practices are well worth it.

Berkeley Review
There are ten class books: two for biology, two for general chemistry, two for organic chemistry, two for physics, one for verbal reasoning, and one for the writing sample. Each of the science books is divided into sectional lecture topics. Each section begins with information important to the MCAT and ends with MCAT-style passages and questions and detailed solutions. The verbal reasoning book contains ten practice sets of ten passages each, and the writing sample book has twenty essay topic statements, suggestions for good essay composition, and numerous samples of good writing. Taken together, these books contain about 2,600 pages of material, including more than 550 MCAT-style passages. The books can be bought separately and can be used as supplementary practice or as a complete prep (includes classes as well) package. The Berkeley Review has excellent G-chem and Physics practice, but I have not found the same support on their biology. There are also three full-length practice tests if you would like to purchase and after taking the first one, they give the same vibe as the other simulated tests. This thread thought very highly of Berkeley Review, however, remember that it is only an opinion and everyone is DIFFERENT... you must find what is best for you:

For those of you who prefer the self-study approach, Examkrackers is an excellent self-study prep. They have been noted as one of the best verbal practice book from those of us on SDN; however they do not receive the same recognition on their other books. They include the EK Bio, Physics, G-Chem, and O-Chem review books and the, 101 VR, 1001 bio, g-chem, and physics book. The bio review book is amazing in the fact they hit on the key MCAT topics and basics with easy to read visual illustrations and mnemonics, however they lack the thorough detail that is needed to score well on the MCAT. Overall, the EK bio review is a great supplemental book for those who just started and have a hard time understanding those thick textbooks however it will need to be reinforced later down the line with more detailed resources. I did not have the experience to use the EK 1001 science practice problems and will leave that for others to comment on. They do have simulated practice tests, 1g (1h if you bought the complete package), 2f, and 3g. They are good practices but are more like the old paper-based test than the new CBT and have been known to have a few print errors. To find more information about Examkrackers, it has been discussed more over here:

Gold Standard
I did not have the privilege in using Gold Standard MCAT, however, from most previous poster it seems like a last option when most of your resources have been exhausted. There are 10 GS CBT, all of which are curved very unfavorably. They do present unique approaches to solving problems in the sciences, however, others have noted that their verbal passages are short and not like the real test. Yet, the tests are cheap and good to use if you are low in cash and remaining tests. They also have a complete study package that includes review books, DVDs, and more however I am unfamiliar with them and you can find more information here:

Audio Osmosis
Using the philosophy of listening is sometimes better than reading yourself, Jordan and Jon use humor and charm to sink in the MCAT concept in a 12 set CD called Audio Osmosis. You can listen to it in your car, at home, or even in your sleep. I am a little skeptically of this approach, since I prefer reading however others have testified that this approach does work and it was helpful. This, however, would be more of a supplemental tool since visualizing diagrams and practicing problems would be key in doing well on the MCAT but I could be wrong. I did not actually use Audio Osmosis but others have commented on its success here:

Nova Press
Actually, I don't know much except that it does exist and it can be purchased here: The MCAT Physics Book If you are interested in finding more detail I advise you to do a Google search or ask around on SDN.

Also a good thing to note is that most companies allow you to take a free practice test. Try one from each company and see which you prefer best. It sometimes pays to be a little choosy.
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I just did very poorly on my first diagnostic, is it possible to do well on the real test?

Of course it is! No matter what your score is now, it can always get better. Unless you have a 45T, but I never heard of anyone actually scoring that. Also remember, most companies (if not all) deflate their first diagnostic and you may actually be potentially higher. Remember there is only one score that truly matters though and that is your MCAT results. All others are just to give you a ball park of where you are. So don't be so fixated on your numbers and concentrate more on learning from your mistakes.

Also here is a thread that shows a user's opinion towards Diagnostic tests- Why Diagnostic Tests are Worthless
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The MCAT is stressing me out and I don't know what I am going to do about medical school applications!

First of all, relax! The MCAT is a stressful period for all of us. It is a rite of passage for all medical students and it foreshadows the rigors of a potential future. Take comfort in the fact that the MCAT is only a piece of the application and medical school will look at other facts. To help with this stressful period, I have gathered links that I hope you will find resourceful.

2009-2010 Applicant Sticky (PS, AMCAS, Secondaries, Interviews, etc.)

The Official SDN Medical School Admissions Guide

The Official PS Readers List

The Official Guide to Special Masters Programs and List of Post-Baccalaureate Programs

Great tips for entering your "Work/Activities"

Offical 2009 Secondary Essay Prompts

Click here to see what the big fuss about applying early is
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What should I bring with me to the MCAT?

Taken from the AAMC FAQ website:

One current and valid form of government-issued identification containing your photo, signature, and an expiration date. A valid and current driver's license or passport is acceptable. Please note: Any expired form of identification will not considered valid and therefore will not be accepted. Any form of a current, valid government-issued identification containing your photo, signature, and an expiration date. Typically, examinees bring their driver's license or passport. We regret we cannot accept employee ID's, library cards, school ID's, or other similar forms of identification, even if issued by a government-sponsored institution.

You are not allowed to bring anything into the testing lab other than clothes. Hats are not allowed in the test room. If the test proctor permits you to wear a sweater or jacket into the testing room, it may not be removed in the testing room. If you remove an item of clothing (for example, a sweater) during the exam, you will be instructed to place it in the secure area. The exam clock will not stop during this time.

You will be provided with a secure area (locks and lockers at most sites) to store your personal items, including electronic devices such as cell phones and pagers (which must be turned off even when in storage).
Which test prep books and practice tests are best for each section?

This is the general consensus of the SDN membership, but definitely not a hard and fast rule.

Biology: 1. EK Bio (for content) + BR Bio (for passages and further topic depth if needed) 2. TPR Hyperlearning, detail oriented 3. Kaplan

Physics: 1. BR 2. Nova 3. TPR Hyperlearning 4. Kaplan

Verbal: 1. EK Verbal + EK 101 Verbal 2. TPR Hyperlearning 3. BR 4. Kaplan (Avoid if possible)

Organic Chemistry: 1. BR, by far 2. TPR Hyperlearning 3. EK/Kaplan

General Chemistry: 1. BR, by far 2. TPR Hyperlearning 3. EK/Kaplan

Extra Practice Material: 1. TPR Hyperlearning Verbal Workbook + TPR Hyperlearing Science Workbook, good source of practice passages 1. AAMC Official Guide to the MCAT Exam (most representative material available) 2. EK 1001 series, helps nail down basics
What if I take the test and don't want it scored? Will medical schools know that I took it?

At the end of the test, you will have an option to void your test. Your test will not be scored, and you will never know how you did. Medical schools will not know you voided unless you explicitly tell them yourself. Besides losing your money, voiding your test is like you were never there. Keep in mind that a voided test cannot be un-voided.
Can I take my MCAT without finishing my prerequisite courses?

Yes, you can. However, you should not. The MCAT is not a test that you should rush. Take your time to prepare and make sure you have adequately learned all of the material tested.
How do I eliminate careless mistakes?

The first step is realizing that these mistakes are happening for a reason. Next, and by far the hardest step, is figuring out why they occur. Here are some questions to get you going:

Are you reading the entire question and the answer choices?
Was it a math mistake?
What was your train of thought?
Are there any similarities between the problems?
- Content
- Timing
- Placement in test/passage question stem
- Question type
Are you rushing?
Did you eliminate all of the wrong choices?

You made the mistake for a good reason, find that, and you'll have your answer.
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