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PlsLetMeIn21

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I've been asked about my study plan a few times, so I'm putting it into a post. I put a good amount of prep time (as described in this post) into making my study plan before I started my hardcore review and I recommend this to everyone. Take a few days before you dive into your studies to get your game plan set and your material organized. Look at the AAMC guide to get an idea of what the test is like.

Background One size does not fit all, so I want to describe my situation and why this plan was a perfect fit for me. I studied for the MCAT during the summer following my sophomore year. I wanted to give all my attention to the MCAT, because I'm not good at dividing my time between major tasks, so summer was my best option. I had 97 days from my last final until my MCAT. According to my advisor's formula (based on SAT, ACT, and grades in selected classes) I was supposed to get a 504. This stressed me out and I don't recommend getting a predicted score, but it motivated me to make a plan and stick to it. I ended up getting 516, including 132s in C/P and B/B. If I can do it, then anyone can do it. If you are a 3.9 or higher, it probably doesn't matter what you choose for preparing. For people like me (slightly below average GPA and lacking self-confidence) this plan is meant to build your foundation, improve your test-taking skills and help you overcome your test anxieties.

Materials Many study plans at SDN get questions about substituting other materials. DO NOT substitute anything in this plan; use it exactly as it is. I spent many hours looking at Reddit and SDN posts and tabulating scores of how people did with various materials, good and bad. I eliminated materials that were common amongst low scorers (people below 500). I gave extra value to materials that people who improved by 8 points or more on their second (or third) exam used. I compared how people did in each subsection. I looked for people in a similar situation to me and in the end came up with a list of materials that happened to be very similar to Nymeria's SDN 100-day plan, KoalaT's plan, and Zendabi's plan. If you use any of those plans, you will be in good shape too.

It is important to use the right materials at the RIGHT TIME. Some materials are excellent for building your knowledge and fundamentals while other materials are best suited for training and practice to master test skills. If you use this plan, do them in the order listed.

* TBR (The Berkeley Review) chemistry books, organic books, physics books, biology books (buy them new with no markings)
* Kaplan biochemistry book
* The Princeton Review (TPR) psychology/sociology book
* MCATKing's 300-page KA summary (the 86-page version with no diagrams can be used, but the 300 version is better)
* Next Step CARS book (*I didn't use this and discovered it recently--buy it new with no markings)
* The Princeton Review (TPR) CARS book (buy it new with no markings)

* KA P/S videos (and some B/B videos as needed)
* UWorld (optional, but recommended for P/S and CARS. Good for B/B but do not use for C/P)

* AAMC Question packs
* AAMC Section banks
* AAMC FLs 1-4 and unscored
* Four additional FLs (I found EK and TBR to be very good, but others may work just as well)

This combination is designed to train you up in steps and get you to pique going into the exam. For the first stage of your review, DO NOT WORRY about scores. You are doing passages and question to learn and review, not to gauge your preparedness. For the books where it says "buy new", it is really important to use clean materials, because you do not want to be influenced by anyone else's highlighting or answers. This is EXTREMELY important for building self-confidence at the start of your studies. Don't be cheap and get used books for stage 1 of your review, because it's not worth what it will do to your foundation studies.

The Stages Rather than put out a weekly schedule, I've opted to make to-do lists arranged into four sequential stages of preparation. Stage 1 is about review and possibly relearning content and foundation information. This is best done through slow and methodical review followed by basic content-heavy questions. Stage 2 is about quick recall and application, where passages are always timed. Stage 3 is about MCAT simulation through mixing different subjects and developing skills to quickly recognize what questions are asking. This is where you introduce AAMC materials. Stage 4 is about putting it all together during FLs and getting into the right state of mind for your exam. I want to give a shout out to TBR because I have stolen and modified your homework phases and applied it to all of the materials. TBR organizes their passages into three phases that emphasize different aspects of preparation over the course of their homework. Their phases are the anchor of this study plan. They also have the best answer explanations, which is essential in the early stages in your studies.

Stage 1: Meant to build your knowledge base into a useful pool of information. You should keep notebooks for each topic as needed. I found my iPad to be the perfect tool for this. Writing things out on paper is fine too. Taking notes and then quizzing yourself immediately after making the note is critical at this stage. I kept a separate list of shortcut equations and mnemonics I got from my TBR books. This proved very helpful to review right before starting FLs and in the parking lot before my actual MCAT.

How much time you spend on Stage 1 will depend on how well you know your material. I took approximately five weeks on this stage. I'm not good at making schedules or micromanaging my life, so I choose to put a massive list of all the things that fit into each stage. If you prefer to turn it into a daily planner, that works for many people.

Try to do one-and-a-half hours study blocks of uninterrupted review with your phone far out of reach. Take a half hour break between each power block review. Depending on your allotted study time each day of the week, try to do at least two blocks but no more than five blocks in one day.

Complete the following:
* TBR General Chemistry chapters 1 - 12 review and embedded questions (12 blocks needed)
* TBR General Chemistry chapters 1 - 12 Phase 1 homework sets (12 blocks needed)
* TBR Organic Chemistry chapters 1 - 8 review and embedded questions (8 blocks needed)
* TBR Organic Chemistry chapters 1 - 8 Phase 1 homework sets (8 blocks needed)
* TBR Physics chapters 1 - 10 review and embedded questions (10 blocks needed)
* TBR Physics chapters 1 - 10 Phase 1 homework sets (10 blocks needed)
* TPR Psych/Socio book in its entirety (8 blocks needed)
* Kaplan biochemistry review (only review, no passages or questions) (3 blocks needed)
* TBR Biology chapters 1 - 5 and 9-10 review and embedded questions (7 blocks needed)
* TBR Biology chapters 1 - 10 Passages 1-5 of all ten chapters (10 blocks needed)
* Next Step CARS (first 72 passages, split into 18 sets of 4) (18 blocks needed)

This requires 108 study blocks. Depending on the person and available time, expect this to take four to five weeks if you average three and a half to four study blocks per day. The important thing here is quality time over quantity of time.

Stage 2: Meant to emphasize timing and dealing with the stress that comes with it. You should mark when time is up following each passage and see where you are wasting time and where you are being careless by going too fast. I found that as I got tired later in the day, I would actually go faster because I was getting lazy. It helped to discover this early, so I had time to build stamina and focus. This stage is all about sticking to exact time limits. I used the timing listed in each individual book for their questions and 3 minutes/passage plus 1 minute/question for KA passages.

The study blocks for this stage vary with the materials you are using, so not all fit into one and a half hours. Try to alternate longer blocks with shorter blocks. Avoid the temptation to do two of the same topics in a row. I cycled from 1) gen chem to 2) CARS to 3) biology to 4) P/S to 5) physics to 6) CARS to 7) biochem to 8) P/S to 9) organic to 10) CARS to 11) P/S. I then repeated the cycle over and over until I exhausted all of my passages. Like with stage 1, it must be uninterrupted testing and review. Take a half hour break between each power block review. If you can, use one of the breaks for exercise.

Complete the following:
* TBR General Chemistry chapters 1 - 12 Phase 2 homework sets (12 blocks needed)
* TBR Organic Chemistry chapters 1 - 8 Phase 2 homework sets (8 blocks needed)
* TBR Physics chapters 1 - 10 Phase 2 homework sets (10 blocks needed)
* KA P/S passages sets of 5 broken into odds/evens (such as 1,3,5,7,9 and then 2,4,6,8,10, etc...) (22 blocks needed)
* TBR Biology chapters 1 - 10 Passages 6-10 of all ten chapters (10 blocks needed)
* Next Step CARS (remaining passages, split into 6 sets of 5) (6 blocks needed)
* TPR CARS (all passages, split into 16 sets of 6) (16 blocks needed)
* AAMC Question packs (as you wish--these are designed to show you that speed on free standing questions varies)

This requires 84 study blocks. Review after completion of a given block is essential, but make sure you focus on where you went too slow, where you went too fast, and where you lost focus.

Stage 3: Meant to focus on getting ready for FLs and mastering your testing approach. This requires realistic passages, which can be hard to come by. The most realistic passages you'll find are AAMC section banks, but there are so few of them and their explanations quite frankly suck. The next most realistic passages (a close second to AAMC) are phase 3 of TBR homework sets and UWorld P/S passages.

You should try to do the different sections at approximately the same time of day you'll be taking the corresponding section of the MCAT. Group your passages as close to 90 minute blocks as possible, which usually won't work out.

Complete the following:
* TBR General Chemistry chapters 1 - 12 Phase 3 homework sets (12 blocks needed)
* TBR Organic Chemistry chapters 1 - 8 Phase 3 homework sets (8 blocks needed)
* TBR Physics chapters 1 - 10 Phase 3 homework sets (10 blocks needed)
* AAMC section bank C/P sets of 50 questions (2 blocks needed)
* UWorld P/S passage sets of about 59 questions (6 blocks needed)
* TBR Biology chapters 1 - 10 Passages 11-15 of all ten chapters groups as chapters 1 and 6, chapters 2 and 7, etc... (5 blocks needed)
* AAMC section bank B/B sets of 50 questions (2 blocks needed)
* UWorld CARS passage sets of about 53 questions (7 blocks needed)
* AAMC section bank CARS sets of 50 questions (2 blocks needed)
* AAMC Unscored Practice Exam (All Day)

This requires 54 study blocks plus one full day. Review is critical here. You want to spend two hours reviewing for every one hour practicing. You need to hone your strategies and fill any knowledge gaps that may still exist.

Stage 4: This is what you've been building towards your entire time. You must become a test-taking robot with logical mental reflexes when you see any question. You should try to space FLs at least three days apart if possible, although this proved to be impossible for me. The two days between FLs should be dedicated to a day of thorough postgame analysis of every question and another day of fine-tuning. I found EK to be very helpful during that third day. Their questions are excellent for rapid-fire review. Their explanations are horrendous, but at this point it doesn't matter. You will know the material well and don't need them for learning.

You should do four commercial exams and four AAMC exams during your last month. I chose to mix and match sections from three different sources. I did this at the suggestion of my big sib, and it was genius. It kept me on my toes and prevented me from getting conditioned to one style of writing. I then used the CARS sections from the exams I hadn't taken for additional review. I used EK, TBR, and Altius FLs and did one section from each source and then randomly chose the source for P/S.

Complete the following:
* TBR C/P 1, EK CARS 1, Altius B/B 1, TBR P/S 1
* Altius C/P 2, TBR CARS 2, EK B/B 2, Altius P/S 2
* EK C/P 3, Altius CARS 3, TBR B/B 3, EK P/S 3
* TBR C/P 4, EK CARS 4, Altius B/B 4, TBR P/S 4
* AAMC FL 1
* AAMC FL 2
* AAMC FL 3
* AAMC FL 4

I saved the AAMC exams for the end. You will notice a change in the wording of the questions as you jump from one source to another. This is important, because although AAMC exams are the best resource, they are not exactly like what you will see on your actual exam. Getting used to abrupt changes in style helps prepare you for test day.
 
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PlsLetMeIn21

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No UWorld for C/P? Care to elaborate?

Sure, it's because that is not their strength. It's the weakest area of their materials and I found TBR to be so much better for chem and physics that UWorld's C/P was not a good use of my time. I liked EK for C/P during the last two weeks of my review. The AAMC section bank is very good too, but it was disproportionately heavy in biochemistry, well beyond what I saw on my actual exam. You need good exposure to physics, gen chem, and orgo, and I found that TBR was so thorough that I didn't need anything else.
 
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Sure, it's because that is not their strength. It's the weakest area of their materials and I found TBR to be so much better for chem and physics that UWorld's C/P was not a good use of my time. I liked EK for C/P during the last two weeks of my review. The AAMC section bank is very good too, but it was disproportionately heavy in biochemistry, well beyond what I saw on my actual exam. You need good exposure to physics, gen chem, and orgo, and I found that TBR was so thorough that I didn't need anything else.

I used UW and had decent luck. Very appreciative so I can pass info on to my other friends taking the MCAT. Thank you kindly.
 

PlsLetMeIn21

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UWorld is a good supplement, but I don't believe it would be effective without getting the principles mastered using TBR science books and TPR P/S books. Same goes for AAMC materials. They are the best resource out there, but if you use them too early, they will not be very helpful.
 

stanfordhereiam

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I've been asked about my study plan a few times, so I'm putting it into a post. I put a good amount of prep time (as described in this post) into making my study plan before I started my hardcore review and I recommend this to everyone. Take a few days before you dive into your studies to get your game plan set and your material organized. Look at the AAMC guide to get an idea of what the test is like.

Background One size does not fit all, so I want to describe my situation and why this plan was a perfect fit for me. I studied for the MCAT during the summer following my sophomore year. I wanted to give all my attention to the MCAT, because I'm not good at dividing my time between major tasks, so summer was my best option. I had 97 days from my last final until my MCAT. According to my advisor's formula (based on SAT, ACT, and grades in selected classes) I was supposed to get a 504. This stressed me out and I don't recommend getting a predicted score, but it motivated me to make a plan and stick to it. I ended up getting 516, including 132s in C/P and B/B. If I can do it, then anyone can do it. If you are a 3.9 or higher, it probably doesn't matter what you choose for preparing. For people like me (slightly below average GPA and lacking self-confidence) this plan is meant to build your foundation, improve your test-taking skills and help you overcome your test anxieties.

Materials Many study plans at SDN get questions about substituting other materials. DO NOT substitute anything in this plan; use it exactly as it is. I spent many hours looking at Reddit and SDN posts and tabulating scores of how people did with various materials, good and bad. I eliminated materials that were common amongst low scorers (people below 500). I gave extra value to materials that people who improved by 8 points or more on their second (or third) exam used. I compared how people did in each subsection. I looked for people in a similar situation to me and in the end came up with a list of materials that happened to be very similar to Nymeria's SDN 100-day plan, KoalaT's plan, and Zendabi's plan. If you use any of those plans, you will be in good shape too.

It is important to use the right materials at the RIGHT TIME. Some materials are excellent for building your knowledge and fundamentals while other materials are best suited for training and practice to master test skills. If you use this plan, do them in the order listed.

* TBR (The Berkeley Review) chemistry books, organic books, physics books, biology books (buy them new with no markings)
* Kaplan biochemistry book
* The Princeton Review (TPR) psychology/sociology book
* MCATKing's 300-page KA summary (the 86-page version with no diagrams can be used, but the 300 version is better)
* Next Step CARS book (*I didn't use this and discovered it recently--buy it new with no markings)
* The Princeton Review (TPR) CARS book (buy it new with no markings)

* KA P/S videos (and some B/B videos as needed)
* UWorld (optional, but recommended for P/S and CARS. Good for B/B but do not use for C/P)

* AAMC Question packs
* AAMC Section banks
* AAMC FLs 1-4 and unscored
* Four additional FLs (I found EK and TBR to be very good, but others may work just as well)

This combination is designed to train you up in steps and get you to pique going into the exam. For the first stage of your review, DO NOT WORRY about scores. You are doing passages and question to learn and review, not to gauge your preparedness. For the books where it says "buy new", it is really important to use clean materials, because you do not want to be influenced by anyone else's highlighting or answers. This is EXTREMELY important for building self-confidence at the start of your studies. Don't be cheap and get used books for stage 1 of your review, because it's not worth what it will do to your foundation studies.

The Stages Rather than put out a weekly schedule, I've opted to make to-do lists arranged into four sequential stages of preparation. Stage 1 is about review and possibly relearning content and foundation information. This is best done through slow and methodical review followed by basic content-heavy questions. Stage 2 is about quick recall and application, where passages are always timed. Stage 3 is about MCAT simulation through mixing different subjects and developing skills to quickly recognize what questions are asking. This is where you introduce AAMC materials. Stage 4 is about putting it all together during FLs and getting into the right state of mind for your exam. I want to give a shout out to TBR because I have stolen and modified your homework phases and applied it to all of the materials. TBR organizes their passages into three phases that emphasize different aspects of preparation over the course of their homework. Their phases are the anchor of this study plan. They also have the best answer explanations, which is essential in the early stages in your studies.

Stage 1: Meant to build your knowledge base into a useful pool of information. You should keep notebooks for each topic as needed. I found my iPad to be the perfect tool for this. Writing things out on paper is fine too. Taking notes and then quizzing yourself immediately after making the note is critical at this stage. I kept a separate list of shortcut equations and mnemonics I got from my TBR books. This proved very helpful to review right before starting FLs and in the parking lot before my actual MCAT.

How much time you spend on Stage 1 will depend on how well you know your material. I took approximately five weeks on this stage. I'm not good at making schedules or micromanaging my life, so I choose to put a massive list of all the things that fit into each stage. If you prefer to turn it into a daily planner, that works for many people.

Try to do one-and-a-half hours study blocks of uninterrupted review with your phone far out of reach. Take a half hour break between each power block review. Depending on your allotted study time each day of the week, try to do at least two blocks but no more than five blocks in one day.

Complete the following:
* TBR General Chemistry chapters 1 - 12 review and embedded questions (12 blocks needed)
* TBR General Chemistry chapters 1 - 12 Phase 1 homework sets (12 blocks needed)
* TBR Organic Chemistry chapters 1 - 8 review and embedded questions (8 blocks needed)
* TBR Organic Chemistry chapters 1 - 8 Phase 1 homework sets (8 blocks needed)
* TBR Physics chapters 1 - 10 review and embedded questions (10 blocks needed)
* TBR Physics chapters 1 - 10 Phase 1 homework sets (10 blocks needed)
* TPR Psych/Socio book in its entirety (8 blocks needed)
* Kaplan biochemistry review (only review, no passages or questions) (3 blocks needed)
* TBR Biology chapters 1 - 5 and 9-10 review and embedded questions (7 blocks needed)
* TBR Biology chapters 1 - 10 Passages 1-5 of all ten chapters (10 blocks needed)
* Next Step CARS (first 72 passages, split into 18 sets of 4) (18 blocks needed)

This requires 108 study blocks. Depending on the person and available time, expect this to take four to five weeks if you average three and a half to four study blocks per day. The important thing here is quality time over quantity of time.

Stage 2: Meant to emphasize timing and dealing with the stress that comes with it. You should mark when time is up following each passage and see where you are wasting time and where you are being careless by going too fast. I found that as I got tired later in the day, I would actually go faster because I was getting lazy. It helped to discover this early, so I had time to build stamina and focus. This stage is all about sticking to exact time limits. I used the timing listed in each individual book for their questions and 3 minutes/passage plus 1 minute/question for KA passages.

The study blocks for this stage vary with the materials you are using, so not all fit into one and a half hours. Try to alternate longer blocks with shorter blocks. Avoid the temptation to do two of the same topics in a row. I cycled from 1) gen chem to 2) CARS to 3) biology to 4) P/S to 5) physics to 6) CARS to 7) biochem to 8) P/S to 9) organic to 10) CARS to 11) P/S. I then repeated the cycle over and over until I exhausted all of my passages. Like with stage 1, it must be uninterrupted testing and review. Take a half hour break between each power block review. If you can, use one of the breaks for exercise.

Complete the following:
* TBR General Chemistry chapters 1 - 12 Phase 2 homework sets (12 blocks needed)
* TBR Organic Chemistry chapters 1 - 8 Phase 2 homework sets (8 blocks needed)
* TBR Physics chapters 1 - 10 Phase 2 homework sets (10 blocks needed)
* KA P/S passages sets of 5 broken into odds/evens (such as 1,3,5,7,9 and then 2,4,6,8,10, etc...) (22 blocks needed)
* TBR Biology chapters 1 - 10 Passages 6-10 of all ten chapters (10 blocks needed)
* Next Step CARS (remaining passages, split into 6 sets of 5) (6 blocks needed)
* TPR CARS (all passages, split into 16 sets of 6) (16 blocks needed)
* AAMC Question packs (as you wish--these are designed to show you that speed on free standing questions varies)

This requires 84 study blocks. Review after completion of a given block is essential, but make sure you focus on where you went too slow, where you went too fast, and where you lost focus.

Stage 3: Meant to focus on getting ready for FLs and mastering your testing approach. This requires realistic passages, which can be hard to come by. The most realistic passages you'll find are AAMC section banks, but there are so few of them and their explanations quite frankly suck. The next most realistic passages (a close second to AAMC) are phase 3 of TBR homework sets and UWorld P/S passages.

You should try to do the different sections at approximately the same time of day you'll be taking the corresponding section of the MCAT. Group your passages as close to 90 minute blocks as possible, which usually won't work out.

Complete the following:
* TBR General Chemistry chapters 1 - 12 Phase 3 homework sets (12 blocks needed)
* TBR Organic Chemistry chapters 1 - 8 Phase 3 homework sets (8 blocks needed)
* TBR Physics chapters 1 - 10 Phase 3 homework sets (10 blocks needed)
* AAMC section bank C/P sets of 50 questions (2 blocks needed)
* UWorld P/S passage sets of about 59 questions (6 blocks needed)
* TBR Biology chapters 1 - 10 Passages 11-15 of all ten chapters groups as chapters 1 and 6, chapters 2 and 7, etc... (5 blocks needed)
* AAMC section bank B/B sets of 50 questions (2 blocks needed)
* UWorld CARS passage sets of about 53 questions (7 blocks needed)
* AAMC section bank CARS sets of 50 questions (2 blocks needed)
* AAMC Unscored Practice Exam (All Day)

This requires 54 study blocks plus one full day. Review is critical here. You want to spend two hours reviewing for every one hour practicing. You need to hone your strategies and fill any knowledge gaps that may still exist.

Stage 4: This is what you've been building towards your entire time. You must become a test-taking robot with logical mental reflexes when you see any question. You should try to space FLs at least three days apart if possible, although this proved to be impossible for me. The two days between FLs should be dedicated to a day of thorough postgame analysis of every question and another day of fine-tuning. I found EK to be very helpful during that third day. Their questions are excellent for rapid-fire review. Their explanations are horrendous, but at this point it doesn't matter. You will know the material well and don't need them for learning.

You should do four commercial exams and four AAMC exams during your last month. I chose to mix and match sections from three different sources. I did this at the suggestion of my big sib, and it was genius. It kept me on my toes and prevented me from getting conditioned to one style of writing. I then used the CARS sections from the exams I hadn't taken for additional review. I used EK, TBR, and Altius FLs and did one section from each source and then randomly chose the source for P/S.

Complete the following:
* TBR C/P 1, EK CARS 1, Altius B/B 1, TBR P/S 1
* Altius C/P 2, TBR CARS 2, EK B/B 2, Altius P/S 2
* EK C/P 3, Altius CARS 3, TBR B/B 3, EK P/S 3
* TBR C/P 4, EK CARS 4, Altius B/B 4, TBR P/S 4
* AAMC FL 1
* AAMC FL 2
* AAMC FL 3
* AAMC FL 4

I saved the AAMC exams for the end. You will notice a change in the wording of the questions as you jump from one source to another. This is important, because although AAMC exams are the best resource, they are not exactly like what you will see on your actual exam. Getting used to abrupt changes in style helps prepare you for test day.


How did you do on phase 3 questions for C/P? I am getting 41/59 on the end of book practice tests, which correlates to 127-129. I want to hit at least a 130 on phase III. Also any tips to improve would be helpful. Thanks!
 

PlsLetMeIn21

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I don't have all of the numbers in front of me, but I was getting around 50 out of 59 on the practice exams in the back of the physics and general chemistry books. My TBR scores were usually 129-130 on phase 3 and I ended up with 132 in B/B and C/P, so statistically speaking, it looks like you are on the cusp of 130. And truth be told, I didn't really take the TBR book scores seriously. I didn't take any score seriously until AAMC.
 
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First, I wanted to say thank you for your thoughts and recommendations. I love the idea of mixing full-lengths, and have all my prep materials ready to roll. Posts from you and Zenabi90 have been very helpful in getting a plan of attack as I prepare to write the exam in late August.

I do have 2 questions on your original post:
  1. The MCATKings KA 300 page document in your original list, but I do not see it in any of the 4 stages. When (and how) did you use this?
  2. I see you carved out a lot of time in Stage 3 to review your passages - was your "review" time not accounted for in the "block" time? (many of the blocks look to take 1 1/2 hours as-is; just trying to gauge how long stage 3 will take in its entirety)
Again, thank you in advance for your help. Your feedback would be appreciated!
 

PlsLetMeIn21

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1) I crammed the 300-page doc right before I started taking FLs. I went through it in detail once and then skimmed it a few more times. It's long and must be absorbed over multiple sittings.

2) I included review time in the blocks. Sometimes it will take longer than you anticipate to go over the questions, but try not to push it much past an hour and a half.

FWIW, I had to take the MCAT again because I got pummeled by CARS the first time and I used this strategy. I believe it even more now than before. Chunking your time into intense blocks followed by relaxation is the only way to do this and have it stick. I took a course my second time and now I am definitely a believer in that too.
 
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Feb 25, 2016
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Thank you for this strategy, I will be using it and have already begun to tabulate it into a spreadsheet. However, I'm having trouble understanding the bio section of stage 3. You state that

* TBR Biology chapters 1 - 10 Passages 11-15 of all ten chapters groups as chapters 1 and 6, chapters 2 and 7, etc... (5 blocks needed)

I'm just confused as in the past two stages you did 5 passages for each of the ten chapters, totaling 50 passages for a given stage (with 10 blocks). In stage 3, this changes, and I can't grasp how you did all ten of the chapters with the same amount of passages in half the blocks. I think I understand the grouping, you mean to do something like

Passage 11 for both chapters 1 and 6
Passage 12 for both chapters 2 and 7

and so on. however, this means that chapter 2's passage 11 will never have been done.

Sorry for the strange question but I'm just not completely understanding this part!
 

PlsLetMeIn21

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Thank you for this strategy, I will be using it and have already begun to tabulate it into a spreadsheet. However, I'm having trouble understanding the bio section of stage 3. You state that

* TBR Biology chapters 1 - 10 Passages 11-15 of all ten chapters groups as chapters 1 and 6, chapters 2 and 7, etc... (5 blocks needed)

I'm just confused as in the past two stages you did 5 passages for each of the ten chapters, totaling 50 passages for a given stage (with 10 blocks). In stage 3, this changes, and I can't grasp how you did all ten of the chapters with the same amount of passages in half the blocks. I think I understand the grouping, you mean to do something like

Passage 11 for both chapters 1 and 6
Passage 12 for both chapters 2 and 7

and so on. however, this means that chapter 2's passage 11 will never have been done.

Sorry for the strange question but I'm just not completely understanding this part!

My bad! It's not clear unless you have the books in front of you. The physics books, gen chem books, and orgo books are laid out in a format that fits this chunking technique. The biology books have 15 passages at the end of each chapter and there are ten chapters. This is a modified version of Nymeria's official SDN study plan.

Stage 1:
Block 1 = Bio Chapter 1 passages 1-5
Block 2 = Bio Chapter 2 passages 1-5
etc...
Block 10 = Bio Chapter 10 passages 1-5

Stage 2:
Block 1 = Bio Chapter 1 passages 6-10
Block 2 = Bio Chapter 2 passages 6-10
etc...
Block 10 = Bio Chapter 10 passages 6-10

Stage 3:
Block 1 = Bio Chapter 1 passages 11-15 and Bio Chapter 6 passages 11-15
Block 2 = Bio Chapter 2 passages 11-15 and Bio Chapter 7 passages 11-15
Block 3 = Bio Chapter 3 passages 11-15 and Bio Chapter 8 passages 11-15
Block 4 = Bio Chapter 4 passages 11-15 and Bio Chapter 9 passages 11-15
Block 5 = Bio Chapter 5 passages 11-15 and Bio Chapter 10 passages 11-15
 
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My bad! It's not clear unless you have the books in front of you. The physics books, gen chem books, and orgo books are laid out in a format that fits this chunking technique. The biology books have 15 passages at the end of each chapter and there are ten chapters. This is a modified version of Nymeria's official SDN study plan.

Stage 1:
Block 1 = Bio Chapter 1 passages 1-5
Block 2 = Bio Chapter 2 passages 1-5
etc...
Block 10 = Bio Chapter 10 passages 1-5

Stage 2:
Block 1 = Bio Chapter 1 passages 6-10
Block 2 = Bio Chapter 2 passages 6-10
etc...
Block 10 = Bio Chapter 10 passages 6-10

Stage 3:
Block 1 = Bio Chapter 1 passages 11-15 and Bio Chapter 6 passages 11-15
Block 2 = Bio Chapter 2 passages 11-15 and Bio Chapter 7 passages 11-15
Block 3 = Bio Chapter 3 passages 11-15 and Bio Chapter 8 passages 11-15
Block 4 = Bio Chapter 4 passages 11-15 and Bio Chapter 9 passages 11-15
Block 5 = Bio Chapter 5 passages 11-15 and Bio Chapter 10 passages 11-15
I really appreciate you taking the time to lay this out in detail for me. I'll be starting your plan on Monday!
 
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I've been asked about my study plan a few times, so I'm putting it into a post. I put a good amount of prep time (as described in this post) into making my study plan before I started my hardcore review and I recommend this to everyone. Take a few days before you dive into your studies to get your game plan set and your material organized. Look at the AAMC guide to get an idea of what the test is like.

Background One size does not fit all, so I want to describe my situation and why this plan was a perfect fit for me. I studied for the MCAT during the summer following my sophomore year. I wanted to give all my attention to the MCAT, because I'm not good at dividing my time between major tasks, so summer was my best option. I had 97 days from my last final until my MCAT. According to my advisor's formula (based on SAT, ACT, and grades in selected classes) I was supposed to get a 504. This stressed me out and I don't recommend getting a predicted score, but it motivated me to make a plan and stick to it. I ended up getting 516, including 132s in C/P and B/B. If I can do it, then anyone can do it. If you are a 3.9 or higher, it probably doesn't matter what you choose for preparing. For people like me (slightly below average GPA and lacking self-confidence) this plan is meant to build your foundation, improve your test-taking skills and help you overcome your test anxieties.

Materials Many study plans at SDN get questions about substituting other materials. DO NOT substitute anything in this plan; use it exactly as it is. I spent many hours looking at Reddit and SDN posts and tabulating scores of how people did with various materials, good and bad. I eliminated materials that were common amongst low scorers (people below 500). I gave extra value to materials that people who improved by 8 points or more on their second (or third) exam used. I compared how people did in each subsection. I looked for people in a similar situation to me and in the end came up with a list of materials that happened to be very similar to Nymeria's SDN 100-day plan, KoalaT's plan, and Zendabi's plan. If you use any of those plans, you will be in good shape too.

It is important to use the right materials at the RIGHT TIME. Some materials are excellent for building your knowledge and fundamentals while other materials are best suited for training and practice to master test skills. If you use this plan, do them in the order listed.

* TBR (The Berkeley Review) chemistry books, organic books, physics books, biology books (buy them new with no markings)
* Kaplan biochemistry book
* The Princeton Review (TPR) psychology/sociology book
* MCATKing's 300-page KA summary (the 86-page version with no diagrams can be used, but the 300 version is better)
* Next Step CARS book (*I didn't use this and discovered it recently--buy it new with no markings)
* The Princeton Review (TPR) CARS book (buy it new with no markings)

* KA P/S videos (and some B/B videos as needed)
* UWorld (optional, but recommended for P/S and CARS. Good for B/B but do not use for C/P)

* AAMC Question packs
* AAMC Section banks
* AAMC FLs 1-4 and unscored
* Four additional FLs (I found EK and TBR to be very good, but others may work just as well)

This combination is designed to train you up in steps and get you to pique going into the exam. For the first stage of your review, DO NOT WORRY about scores. You are doing passages and question to learn and review, not to gauge your preparedness. For the books where it says "buy new", it is really important to use clean materials, because you do not want to be influenced by anyone else's highlighting or answers. This is EXTREMELY important for building self-confidence at the start of your studies. Don't be cheap and get used books for stage 1 of your review, because it's not worth what it will do to your foundation studies.

The Stages Rather than put out a weekly schedule, I've opted to make to-do lists arranged into four sequential stages of preparation. Stage 1 is about review and possibly relearning content and foundation information. This is best done through slow and methodical review followed by basic content-heavy questions. Stage 2 is about quick recall and application, where passages are always timed. Stage 3 is about MCAT simulation through mixing different subjects and developing skills to quickly recognize what questions are asking. This is where you introduce AAMC materials. Stage 4 is about putting it all together during FLs and getting into the right state of mind for your exam. I want to give a shout out to TBR because I have stolen and modified your homework phases and applied it to all of the materials. TBR organizes their passages into three phases that emphasize different aspects of preparation over the course of their homework. Their phases are the anchor of this study plan. They also have the best answer explanations, which is essential in the early stages in your studies.

Stage 1: Meant to build your knowledge base into a useful pool of information. You should keep notebooks for each topic as needed. I found my iPad to be the perfect tool for this. Writing things out on paper is fine too. Taking notes and then quizzing yourself immediately after making the note is critical at this stage. I kept a separate list of shortcut equations and mnemonics I got from my TBR books. This proved very helpful to review right before starting FLs and in the parking lot before my actual MCAT.

How much time you spend on Stage 1 will depend on how well you know your material. I took approximately five weeks on this stage. I'm not good at making schedules or micromanaging my life, so I choose to put a massive list of all the things that fit into each stage. If you prefer to turn it into a daily planner, that works for many people.

Try to do one-and-a-half hours study blocks of uninterrupted review with your phone far out of reach. Take a half hour break between each power block review. Depending on your allotted study time each day of the week, try to do at least two blocks but no more than five blocks in one day.

Complete the following:
* TBR General Chemistry chapters 1 - 12 review and embedded questions (12 blocks needed)
* TBR General Chemistry chapters 1 - 12 Phase 1 homework sets (12 blocks needed)
* TBR Organic Chemistry chapters 1 - 8 review and embedded questions (8 blocks needed)
* TBR Organic Chemistry chapters 1 - 8 Phase 1 homework sets (8 blocks needed)
* TBR Physics chapters 1 - 10 review and embedded questions (10 blocks needed)
* TBR Physics chapters 1 - 10 Phase 1 homework sets (10 blocks needed)
* TPR Psych/Socio book in its entirety (8 blocks needed)
* Kaplan biochemistry review (only review, no passages or questions) (3 blocks needed)
* TBR Biology chapters 1 - 5 and 9-10 review and embedded questions (7 blocks needed)
* TBR Biology chapters 1 - 10 Passages 1-5 of all ten chapters (10 blocks needed)
* Next Step CARS (first 72 passages, split into 18 sets of 4) (18 blocks needed)

This requires 108 study blocks. Depending on the person and available time, expect this to take four to five weeks if you average three and a half to four study blocks per day. The important thing here is quality time over quantity of time.

Stage 2: Meant to emphasize timing and dealing with the stress that comes with it. You should mark when time is up following each passage and see where you are wasting time and where you are being careless by going too fast. I found that as I got tired later in the day, I would actually go faster because I was getting lazy. It helped to discover this early, so I had time to build stamina and focus. This stage is all about sticking to exact time limits. I used the timing listed in each individual book for their questions and 3 minutes/passage plus 1 minute/question for KA passages.

The study blocks for this stage vary with the materials you are using, so not all fit into one and a half hours. Try to alternate longer blocks with shorter blocks. Avoid the temptation to do two of the same topics in a row. I cycled from 1) gen chem to 2) CARS to 3) biology to 4) P/S to 5) physics to 6) CARS to 7) biochem to 8) P/S to 9) organic to 10) CARS to 11) P/S. I then repeated the cycle over and over until I exhausted all of my passages. Like with stage 1, it must be uninterrupted testing and review. Take a half hour break between each power block review. If you can, use one of the breaks for exercise.

Complete the following:
* TBR General Chemistry chapters 1 - 12 Phase 2 homework sets (12 blocks needed)
* TBR Organic Chemistry chapters 1 - 8 Phase 2 homework sets (8 blocks needed)
* TBR Physics chapters 1 - 10 Phase 2 homework sets (10 blocks needed)
* KA P/S passages sets of 5 broken into odds/evens (such as 1,3,5,7,9 and then 2,4,6,8,10, etc...) (22 blocks needed)
* TBR Biology chapters 1 - 10 Passages 6-10 of all ten chapters (10 blocks needed)
* Next Step CARS (remaining passages, split into 6 sets of 5) (6 blocks needed)
* TPR CARS (all passages, split into 16 sets of 6) (16 blocks needed)
* AAMC Question packs (as you wish--these are designed to show you that speed on free standing questions varies)

This requires 84 study blocks. Review after completion of a given block is essential, but make sure you focus on where you went too slow, where you went too fast, and where you lost focus.

Stage 3: Meant to focus on getting ready for FLs and mastering your testing approach. This requires realistic passages, which can be hard to come by. The most realistic passages you'll find are AAMC section banks, but there are so few of them and their explanations quite frankly suck. The next most realistic passages (a close second to AAMC) are phase 3 of TBR homework sets and UWorld P/S passages.

You should try to do the different sections at approximately the same time of day you'll be taking the corresponding section of the MCAT. Group your passages as close to 90 minute blocks as possible, which usually won't work out.

Complete the following:
* TBR General Chemistry chapters 1 - 12 Phase 3 homework sets (12 blocks needed)
* TBR Organic Chemistry chapters 1 - 8 Phase 3 homework sets (8 blocks needed)
* TBR Physics chapters 1 - 10 Phase 3 homework sets (10 blocks needed)
* AAMC section bank C/P sets of 50 questions (2 blocks needed)
* UWorld P/S passage sets of about 59 questions (6 blocks needed)
* TBR Biology chapters 1 - 10 Passages 11-15 of all ten chapters groups as chapters 1 and 6, chapters 2 and 7, etc... (5 blocks needed)
* AAMC section bank B/B sets of 50 questions (2 blocks needed)
* UWorld CARS passage sets of about 53 questions (7 blocks needed)
* AAMC section bank CARS sets of 50 questions (2 blocks needed)
* AAMC Unscored Practice Exam (All Day)

This requires 54 study blocks plus one full day. Review is critical here. You want to spend two hours reviewing for every one hour practicing. You need to hone your strategies and fill any knowledge gaps that may still exist.

Stage 4: This is what you've been building towards your entire time. You must become a test-taking robot with logical mental reflexes when you see any question. You should try to space FLs at least three days apart if possible, although this proved to be impossible for me. The two days between FLs should be dedicated to a day of thorough postgame analysis of every question and another day of fine-tuning. I found EK to be very helpful during that third day. Their questions are excellent for rapid-fire review. Their explanations are horrendous, but at this point it doesn't matter. You will know the material well and don't need them for learning.

You should do four commercial exams and four AAMC exams during your last month. I chose to mix and match sections from three different sources. I did this at the suggestion of my big sib, and it was genius. It kept me on my toes and prevented me from getting conditioned to one style of writing. I then used the CARS sections from the exams I hadn't taken for additional review. I used EK, TBR, and Altius FLs and did one section from each source and then randomly chose the source for P/S.

Complete the following:
* TBR C/P 1, EK CARS 1, Altius B/B 1, TBR P/S 1
* Altius C/P 2, TBR CARS 2, EK B/B 2, Altius P/S 2
* EK C/P 3, Altius CARS 3, TBR B/B 3, EK P/S 3
* TBR C/P 4, EK CARS 4, Altius B/B 4, TBR P/S 4
* AAMC FL 1
* AAMC FL 2
* AAMC FL 3
* AAMC FL 4

I saved the AAMC exams for the end. You will notice a change in the wording of the questions as you jump from one source to another. This is important, because although AAMC exams are the best resource, they are not exactly like what you will see on your actual exam. Getting used to abrupt changes in style helps prepare you for test day.
----
Once you start Stage 1, do you recommend starting one subject and going straight through those blocks, before moving on to the next subject? For example, let's say you're starting with gen chem review & questions, after that you do the phase 1 homework, and then you move on to another subject?

Thank you
 
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@PlsLetMeIn21 I know you mentioned not to substitute any materials, but you did mention UWorld being optional, leading me to wonder if there are any recommendations for a third resource for P/S passages. In Stage 1, you've got the TPR P/S book. Stage 2 is K/A passages. Stage 3 is UWorld P/S passages. Now that World offers free access to only 100 total questions, I'm not sure if paying $219 for 90-day access to the entire QBank would be worth it just for the P/S passages. I've got the TPRH Verbal book, so I plan on using that instead of the UWorld CARS passages.

Also, do you mind going into a little more detail about how to use the Kaplan Biochem book in place of certain sections of TBR Bio II? It looks like you covered chapters 1-5 + 9-10 in the TBR Bio II book, and the entire Kaplan Biochem book, but I'm not sure if I'm right about that. You mention 3 blocks for Kaplan Biochem and left out 3 chapters in TBR Bio II, so I'm wondering if you're only covering 3 specific chapters in Kaplan Biochem to replace the 3 chapters not covered in TBR Bio II. You may have just covered the entire Kaplan Biochem book in 3 blocks, so I'm hoping to gain clarity on this.

Thanks for your help! Awesome thread.
 

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----
Once you start Stage 1, do you recommend starting one subject and going straight through those blocks, before moving on to the next subject? For example, let's say you're starting with gen chem review & questions, after that you do the phase 1 homework, and then you move on to another subject?

Thank you

I would try to do complementary subjects whenever possible, lumping things like electrochemistry homework from g chem on the same day as circuits homework for physics. I had no master plan in terms of sequence. As long as you're doing two to five 90-minute blocks each day. You're going to finish on the same day no matter what sequence, so do whatever keeps you motivated. Making your last block of the day a topic you like is probably a good idea.
 
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@PlsLetMeIn21 What is it about NS 108 that make you see it as a necessary part of MCAT prep? You mention not using it, but you recommend it. Just trying to gain more insight, especially regarding CARS materials. Wondering if there is an order to any CARs materials that one would follow. What I mean to say is, are there certain CARS resources that should be employed later than others because they are better tools than others?
 
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I had to take the MCAT a second time because I faceplanted CARS my first attempt. I wanted materials I hadn't seen before so I tried NS. It seemed as good as everything I did the first time. I also used the TBR class passages this time (not their book) which were as good as the other stuff. Maybe I'm biased to NS because I did better my second try.
 
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I had to take the MCAT a second time because I faceplanted CARS my first attempt. I wanted materials I hadn't seen before so I tried NS. It seemed as good as everything I did the first time. I also used the TBR class passages this time (not their book) which were as good as the other stuff. Maybe I'm biased to NS because I did better my second try.

Nah, you're good and that makes perfect sense. I have gathered from the countless MCAT threads I've read that all 3rd party CARS resources should be used for timing and gathering main ideas. I have also gathered that none of them should be used for strategy, and that should come into play only once one begins using AAMC materials. I hope I'm right about this, but I am definitely about done reading SDN MCAT threads, haha! Information overload starts to kick in and you end up doubting ay sort of plan lol.
 

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LOL, you sound like me. I read so many threads here and reddit that I was so over the MCAT material scavenger hunt.

You are exactly rigtht about CARS. It really doesn't matter what you do, as long as you do something. Let AAMC materials show you what to do!
 
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@PlsLetMeIn21 Also, do you mind going into a little more detail about how to use the Kaplan Biochem book in place of certain sections of TBR Bio II? It looks like you covered chapters 1-5 + 9-10 in the TBR Bio II book, and the entire Kaplan Biochem book, but I'm not sure if I'm right about that. You mention 3 blocks for Kaplan Biochem and left out 3 chapters in TBR Bio II, so I'm wondering if you're only covering 3 specific chapters in Kaplan Biochem to replace the 3 chapters not covered in TBR Bio II. You may have just covered the entire Kaplan Biochem book in 3 blocks, so I'm hoping to gain clarity on this.

Thanks for your help! Awesome thread.


@PlsLetMeIn21 I'm quoting my own reply to you from a few days ago, hoping you can solve this mystery for me. I have not been able to figure out form any SDN thread how the study schedule employs the use of both the TBR Bio books and the Kaplan Biochem book. Did you read all chapters for all three books, just TBR Bio I and Kapla Biochem, or another combo?
 

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LOL, you sound like me. I read so many threads here and reddit that I was so over the MCAT material scavenger hunt.

You are exactly rigtht about CARS. It really doesn't matter what you do, as long as you do something. Let AAMC materials show you what to do!

It becomes dizzying, haha! I am almost there, though! I still have so may doubts about the 9-10 month schedule I've devised, as I may forget material from these earlier months and wish I'd just ground it out for 4-5 months during the dedicated period after fall term. But I am a slow reader and want to do really, really well. This would probably be no issue if I were intent on making Anki cards, but as much a I know that is the way to hold onto content learned this summer, I do not like flash cards and do not want to learn how to make them right now, haha. I'll be relieved when I can just start studying.
 
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@PlsLetMeIn21 I'm quoting my own reply to you from a few days ago, hoping you can solve this mystery for me. I have not been able to figure out form any SDN thread how the study schedule employs the use of both the TBR Bio books and the Kaplan Biochem book. Did you read all chapters for all three books, just TBR Bio I and Kapla Biochem, or another combo?

I used TBR for passages as they are super helpful at getting the material and test skills down. I read Kaplan chapters for stuff I knew well and TBR for the stuff I didn't know as well. To be completely honest, I probably read less than half of each of those books. But I did every passages and read every answer explanation.
 
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I used TBR for passages as they are super helpful at getting the material and test skills down. I read Kaplan chapters for stuff I knew well and TBR for the stuff I didn't know as well. To be completely honest, I probably read less than half of each of those books. But I did every passages and read every answer explanation.

I really appreciate this reply. I haven't taken biochem yet but will take it before I take the MCAT and apply, so have been going back and forth about how to approach content review from now until the fall. I probably should just wait to start studying in the fall, but I want to start putting some of this info in my brain.

The TBR folks thought an extended 9-to-10-month schedule would work very well with their books, but I still have my doubts about being able to retain content review done this early, as I plan to complete phase 1 over the summer, switching to phase 2 in the fall, and then phase 3 and 4 (QP/SB/FL Exams) from November to April.

I'm currently working on two different study schedules. One would begin next week and the other would begin in August. I may design a third that would just be a dedicated 4-5 months (December to April or May) and see if it looks realistic. The nice thing is that my TBR books arrive tomorrow, so I will be able to start skimming and estimating how much time it seems getting through material will take me. We'll see!

Thanks, again!
 
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I used TBR for passages as they are super helpful at getting the material and test skills down. I read Kaplan chapters for stuff I knew well and TBR for the stuff I didn't know as well. To be completely honest, I probably read less than half of each of those books. But I did every passages and read every answer explanation.

It looks like you didn't do the phase 1 content review for TBR Bio chapters 6-8, and because you assigned 3 blocks for Kaplan Biochem, I'm assuming you covered the 3 chapters not covered in the TBR Bio books using the corresponding 3 chapters in Kaplan Biochem. Is that right, or were the 3 blocks for Kaplan Bio just random topics you chose to review? I noticed you did complete the phase 1 passages for all 10 TBR bio chapters.
 
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@PlsLetMeIn21 I see that you used 2018 books. Did you do all of the phase 3 homework passages? I'm looking through this physics book now and phase 3 is an entire 59-questions exam section, haha! An amazing amount of practice, but has gotta be time-consuming. Gonna look through the rest of the books and see if each of them has this same phase 3 homework setup. I think I saw your mention of the 5 passages per phase in the bio books and assumed that was the case for all of the books. Wondering if you decided to only do a certain number of the phase 3 passages/questions, in the interest of saving time, or if you just knocked em all out. Thanks for any insight you can provide!
 
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@PlsLetMeIn21 I see that you used 2018 books. Did you do all of the phase 3 homework passages? I'm looking through this physics book now and phase 3 is an entire 59-questions exam section, haha! An amazing amount of practice, but has gotta be time-consuming. Gonna look through the rest of the books and see if each of them has this same phase 3 homework setup. I think I saw your mention of the 5 passages per phase in the bio books and assumed that was the case for all of the books. Wondering if you decided to only do a certain number of the phase 3 passages/questions, in the interest of saving time, or if you just knocked em all out. Thanks for any insight you can provide!

I ended up taking the full practice test in one sitting and then going over it completely in another sitting. Those exams are killer and I think there are thirty or more total for physics, gen chem, and orgo. The amount of passages in their science books is insane. I added it up and it was more questions than AAMC + UWorld + EK combined, so it takes a lot of time if you want to do them all. It's so worth it in the end.
 
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I ended up taking the full practice test in one sitting and then going over it completely in another sitting. Those exams are killer and I think there are thirty or more total for physics, gen chem, and orgo. The amount of passages in their science books is insane. I added it up and it was more questions than AAMC + UWorld + EK combined, so it takes a lot of time if you want to do them all. It's so worth it in the end.

Just gotta get it done huh! I'm on it!
 
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@PlsLetMeIn21 I'm planning on starting my test prep in June to take the exam (tentatively) in January. I currently work full-time and am also taking post-baccalaureate courses as well, so out of necessity, my prep will be more spread out. Do you think that your plan would still be effective/do you have any recommendations for someone studying maybe 2-3 blocks per week during the work week with an additional 2-3 blocks on the weekend?
 
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@PlsLetMeIn21 I'm planning on starting my test prep in June to take the exam (tentatively) in January. I currently work full-time and am also taking post-baccalaureate courses as well, so out of necessity, my prep will be more spread out. Do you think that your plan would still be effective/do you have any recommendations for someone studying maybe 2-3 blocks per week during the work week with an additional 2-3 blocks on the weekend?

Most definitely. It's about getting the blocks done, be it five a day over a short time (the sprinter approach) or two to three a day over a longer time (the marathon runner approach). I think the same sequence will be good. Make sure you have dedicated days for FLs later in your studies and all's good.
 
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Just the passages for all CARS books. The content in review books is useless for CARS.
Thank you for the clarification. BTW, do u think should I use TBR CARS book also? English is my second language, so I want to find more sources to study for the CARS section but I wonder if it makes me more confused.
 
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@PlsLetMeIn21 Hi! I'm really interested by your method of making custom FLs by pulling from different sections of third party test makers, and I've heard that NS makes some decent FLs. Do you think your method would still work if I substituted the TBR sections with NS ones?
 

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Thank you for the clarification. BTW, do u think should I use TBR CARS book also? English is my second language, so I want to find more sources to study for the CARS section but I wonder if it makes me more confused.

If you need more passages, sure. But I think between TPR, EK, and NS you will have plenty of passages to do. When it comes to strategy, only trust what applies to AAMC materials. I didn't find any third part materials to be that helpful for strategies.
 

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@PlsLetMeIn21 Hi! I'm really interested by your method of making custom FLs by pulling from different sections of third party test makers, and I've heard that NS makes some decent FLs. Do you think your method would still work if I substituted the TBR sections with NS ones?

I'd probably substitute NS for Altius in that case. I'm not 100% tied to which three you should use. Realism of any of them will not be the same as AAMC. What mixing and matches gives is a different perspective in the answer explanations, which I found really helpful. TBR had the most helpful explanations in terms of how to think about the question.
 
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I'd probably substitute NS for Altius in that case. I'm not 100% tied to which three you should use. Realism of any of them will not be the same as AAMC. What mixing and matches gives is a different perspective in the answer explanations, which I found really helpful. TBR had the most helpful explanations in terms of how to think about the question.

Okay, thank you!

I had another question! Would this study plan also work if one was considering supplementing with Anki?
 

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Okay, thank you!

I had another question! Would this study plan also work if one was considering supplementing with Anki?

For sure. I found Anki helpful for the P/S section. I made decks for B/B and C/P, but didn't end up using them very much. I found doing questions to be more helpful.
 
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PlsLetMeIn21

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Would you say the 86 page notes include all the content needed?

I did the 300-page version, so I can't really say. Some of my friends did the 86-page version and they did well too. I think it comes down to how much you like pictures and how much time you have. The longer one has way more drawings.
 

skeptastic

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@PlsLetMeIn21 It just now dawned on me to ask this question, as my MCAT prep is fast approaching. When you reviewed your 3rd party practice exams, did you use the answer explanations provided by the 3rd party companies, or how did you approach this? I've never see anyone speak poorly about 3rd party practice exam answer explanations, but have also never really seen this question asked on SDN. Particularly with 3rd party practice test CARS sections, did you just score the CARS section and wait to get into the details when you did AAMC CARS material, or did you check 3rd party CARS explanations? I'm eager to hear about your approach to 3rd party exams in general.
 

PlsLetMeIn21

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Reviewing the exams is so important. The first time I studied I did a mix of exams from three different sources and found the explanations from one company super helpful, the other two companies kind of helpful. By the time you're taking FLs, you know your stuff well enough to work around poor explanations. The only horrible explanations are from AAMC.
 
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skeptastic

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Reviewing the exams is so important. The first time I studied I did a mix of exams from three different sources and found the explanations from one company super helpful, the other two companies kind of helpful. By the time you're taking FLs, you know your stuff well enough to work around poor explanations. The only horrible explanations are from AAMC.

Appreciate the reply. Dang, AAMC explanations suck? I thought they were the gold standard of all materials.
 
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Appreciate the reply. Dang, AAMC explanations suck? I thought they were the gold standard of all materials.

They are absolutely the gold standard in terms of representativeness. The issue is that with many of the materials, they have very short explanations along the lines of "This is a Skill 2, Scientific Reasoning and Problem-Solving question because it requires you to reason about science and solve a problem. It is a content category 2B question because it focuses on the structure, growth, physiology, and genetics of prokaryotes and the structure and life cycles of viruses. B is correct because [insert fact about bacteria/viruses]". (I'm exaggerating a little bit, but not much). Basically, the explanations focus more on how the exam is built than on why the correct answer is correct, and there's very little explanation of why wrong answers were wrong.

I will say, though, that the AAMC has been noticing this feedback -- the most recent FL has better explanations.
 
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