Malayna

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I want to decide on a review course by the end of Thanksgiving weekend. I hear different things from friends and read a range of comments here. The problem is that most of the UCLA feedback is several years old. Does anyone have experience with recent MCAT courses at UCLA?

I have already eliminated Kaplan. Their sales reps I've met on campus couldn't really answer my questions. I feel like it's "show me the money" with them. And I don't hear good things about their teachers.

So that leaves me with TBR and TPR. I hear good things about both. What I like about TPR is that they have five teachers total, on-line exams, and a convenient location. What I like about TBR is that they have the best teacher, all sorts of office hours on campus, and they do just the MCAT.

I'm worried that TPR is so large that they might not do a good job with MCAT. I'm worried that TBR has no CBTs.

Each time that I think I've made my decision, I talk myself out of it. Has anyone taken either TPR or TBR in Westwood that can say why one is better than the other?
 

BerkReviewTeach

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I'm worried that TBR has no CBTs.

Each time that I think I've made my decision, I talk myself out of it. Has anyone taken either TPR or TBR in Westwood that can say why one is better than the other?
In case you don't know, Berkeley Review has nine CBTs for their students.

In my opinion, teaching is what really matters when choosing a course. You can pick up everyone's materials whether you take their course or not, so choosing the best course comes down to how they do in lectures. You should try to sit in on a class from each course, preferably the same lecture, so you can compare them directly. That will also allow you to talk directly with students in the class as well as see how they teach. Because each course has multiple teachers, it's not really possible to see everyone teach before signing up, but students will likely tell you how all of the teachers are.

And to be fair, I'm a former teacher for Berkeley Review who only does office hours for them now. Biased as I might be, I'd recommend Berkeley over Princeton because of their focus on the MCAT. Teachers are encouraged to teach strategies and test techniques rather than memorization. The class is big on how to think examples, which I think makes all the difference. They give us a large list of examples to address in class and office hours that both cover the material and also show how to attack certain types of passages and questions. We really spend a lot of time retooling our lectures to make them interesting, filled with some clever tricks and mnemonics, designed around what they cover in classes at UCLA (like Chem 14 or Physics 6), and most importantly full of recent MCAT examples (emphasizing recent topics).

I'm not sure if this helped or just made you more confused. The big thing is to see the class and trust your instincts. Choose the class that feels right to you.
 
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Malayna

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Thank you! I think I'll try to sit in on classes this week if I can. Why don't you teach classes anymore? When you say "do office hours", do you mean privately tutor for them?

Anyone else have any input?
 

Muffinpuff

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I think the best is Kaplan for sure in terms of scoring high for the MCAT. In terms of content review, it'll probably have to be Princeton Review, however, don't expect their teachers to teach you much, I took it, and it was a complete waste of classroom time. We only had like 2 good teachers out of the 6 instructors. Kaplan has you do the review independently, but they're so good when it comes to giving you strategies.
 
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Malayna

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:laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

Muffin, you sound just like a Kaplan rep. Maybe you should see if they are hiring. :D

I already eliminated Kaplan because of what people say about their teachers. If I just wanted to review on my own, I'd buy the books and not waste the $2K.

For that much money, I want great teachers and dinner every class. :)
 

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I agree with BerkReviewTeach, sit in on a class and decide for yourself. There's too much variance between teachers in one area and teachers in another. I do vaguely remember hearing some good things about the UCLA Berkeley Review class; however, I don't have enough information to vote either way. Besides, they could have gotten new teachers since I read some posts from people who have taken the class.
 
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Malayna

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So I took your advice and sat in to see the teachers. That was a great suggestion. All it took was about five minutes to know which one was better.

Not that anyone probably cares, but I've decided to do is take Berkeley Review because as advertised, their teaching was amazing. I can't explain it, but in two hours I learned more than I did in an entire quarter. It's like a review session where everything is simplified to ways that make sense to me.

After reading more threads in the past week than one human being should, I'm going to use the following book combination.

Physics: BR text and passages
Biology: EK text and BR passages
Gen Chem: BR text and passages
Org Chem: BR text and passages
Verbal: EK text and PR/BR passages

And for exams, I plan to start with a couple AAMC exams, then do all of the BR CBTs and then spend the last weeks of studying doing AAMC tests and BR review exams.

I'm actually feeling really excited about starting. Just have to get through finals first. :xf:

Good luck to everyone! Thanks for your suggestions.

PS: Hey Muffin, maybe my Kaplan rep comment was a bit flippant, so please forgive me. I meant it as a funny comment and hopefully it didn't come across the wrong way. After seeing a PR teacher at work, I see where you're coming from. He was pretty bad. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that he was having a bad week.
 

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So I took your advice and sat in to see the teachers. That was a great suggestion. All it took was about five minutes to know which one was better.

Not that anyone probably cares, but I've decided to do is take Berkeley Review because as advertised, their teaching was amazing. I can't explain it, but in two hours I learned more than I did in an entire quarter. It's like a review session where everything is simplified to ways that make sense to me.
You must have gone to one of Todd's lectures. That is a perfect way to describe it. I remember sitting in on his Electromagnetism lecture, a topic I hated as an undergraduate. I couldn't believe how easy he made things seem. It really came down to looking at things from a simplistic perspective and then building equations and examples from there. One of his points was that because we understand Le Chatelier's principle so intuitively, so we should apply that perspective to things like Lenz's law. I remember in college being completed frustrated by Faraday's law and Lenz's law but all of the sudden I was getting 7/7 on the Lenz's and Faraday's passages wondering why I never got it before. His approach really makes things simple. The system will try to undo the change you place on it. If you change the magnetic field within a conducting loop, it will generate a current in the loop that creates a B field that opposes the change. It really is just Le Chatelier's principle applied to induced currents in loops placed into external magnetic fields.

What lecture did you sit for?

After reading more threads in the past week than one human being should, I'm going to use the following book combination.

Physics: BR text and passages
Biology: EK text and BR passages
Gen Chem: BR text and passages
Org Chem: BR text and passages
Verbal: EK text and PR/BR passages

And for exams, I plan to start with a couple AAMC exams, then do all of the BR CBTs and then spend the last weeks of studying doing AAMC tests and BR review exams.

I'm actually feeling really excited about starting. Just have to get through finals first. :xf:

Good luck to everyone! Thanks for your suggestions.
Your schedule sounds perfect in terms of timing and doing the right materials. The one suggestion I'd make is to add the BR in-class verbal handouts to your reading list, because they are really good. And make sure you do all of the passages from the in-class handouts for all of the subjects, because they are generally the best passages for their respective subjects.

Do great on your finals! I sure don't miss those days.
 
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Malayna

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I went to a thermodynamics lecture, but his examples covered work and energy, phosphorylation, as well as thermo. Are all the lectures that good? It explained so many things that I didn't really understand before (or forgot :) )

Are the verbal handouts passed out in class like the thermodynamics handout I got the other night? I guess I'll learn all that on Saturday when we start. Wish me luck.
 
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Malayna

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Thanks for the responses. I've been to four lectures so far and every single on of them has been great. What does your friend teach Lukkie?
 
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Malayna

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Your schedule sounds perfect in terms of timing and doing the right materials. The one suggestion I'd make is to add the BR in-class verbal handouts to your reading list, because they are really good. And make sure you do all of the passages from the in-class handouts for all of the subjects, because they are generally the best passages for their respective subjects.
I've only had two of the verbal lectures so far, but I'll make sure to use the handouts. I like them better than the book. It's not written by the same person that wrote the verbal book is it?

Are the passages in the class packets always based on multiple topics? I really like the ones I've done, but it seems like they cover more than just what we did in lecture that day. The explanations really clear things up and seem to answer exactly what I was wondering. It's like they know exactly what I'm going to ask.
 

SN2ed

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The explanations really clear things up and seem to answer exactly what I was wondering. It's like they know exactly what I'm going to ask.
That's because they do. When you sign up for BR, you're also signing up for a mental scanning scientific research experiment. Those books they gave you. Yeah, they're coated in a special film that rubs off and seeps through your skin.

Seriously now, are you enjoying your class so far? After it's all over, you should write a review of the UCLA course. I think that would help a number of people.
 
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Malayna

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That's because they do. When you sign up for BR, you're also signing up for a mental scanning scientific research experiment. Those books they gave you. Yeah, they're coated in a special film that rubs off and seeps through your skin.

Seriously now, are you enjoying your class so far? After it's all over, you should write a review of the UCLA course. I think that would help a number of people.
So is that why they make me take my passages while being connected all those electrodes? :D

Seriously though, I'm absolutely loving their class. I am so glad I decided to take a class and to take Berkeley Review.

After seeing my roommate go through an MCAT course last summer, I wasn't sure I wanted to take one at all. Her case might be weird, because she took a new course that had no materials except for a single skinny book written by a math TA. The same math TA taught biology and chemistry, so I think her negative experience rubbed off on me. It would have been more time efficient to read on my own than to take her class.

After (sorta) trying to study on my own this Fall using handmedown PR and EK books in my lab, I decided that I was someone who needed a little motivation from a class. On top of that, I've never been a very good test taker, especially on multiple choice tests. That's about the time someone recommended I start reading posts here to find out what worked.

I can't say thank you enough to the suggestion I got from SDN. I probably would have just signed up for Princeton Review like everyone else does had I not gone to see teachers from the different courses. I wasn't sure they let you do that, because the teacher from my roommate's class was seriously paranoid when I wanted to sit in.

So after all that, I found the best course (for me at least). It has the test tricks I want and the way they cover things is just so simple and logical. I'm getting questions right in the homework that I don't think I would have been able to do without their tricks. I sound like a complete homer, but the course has really changed the way I look at things. I seriously think I can pull a 35 which I never would have even thought of before.

Once I finish my class (or need a study break) I think I'll tke your suggestion and write a review of my BR class.
 
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Malayna

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Decided to ask via a PM.
 
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I wanted to thank you for your thread. I'm actually in the same position right now. I've had a friend take both Kaplan and TPR. He told me that he liked TPR, but not Kaplan. I've taken Kaplan for the DAT and felt that I lost a lot of money on that course. I almost posted a thread asking which course was better; TBR or TPR, but your information and input really helped me.

I was wondering if you took the MCAT and how it went? Did TBR really help with your confidence? I feel that I'm a poor test taker and would like the course to also help me with my confidence and test anxiety!
 
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Malayna

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I wanted to thank you for your thread. I'm actually in the same position right now. I've had a friend take both Kaplan and TPR. He told me that he liked TPR, but not Kaplan. I've taken Kaplan for the DAT and felt that I lost a lot of money on that course. I almost posted a thread asking which course was better; TBR or TPR, but your information and input really helped me.

I was wondering if you took the MCAT and how it went? Did TBR really help with your confidence? I feel that I'm a poor test taker and would like the course to also help me with my confidence and test anxiety!
I started my studying hoping and praying I'd get at least a 30, partly because I'm not a great standardized test taker and also because I have an average GPA at best. I definitely have to say that BR raised my confidence by a mile. They teach you how to think your way through the test and how to save time. That's what made the biggest difference for me. I became a much better test taker. I ended up getting a 15-10-13, which was WAY better than I imagined in my wildest dreams. I was getting about 34s on my practice exams, so that helped with confidence too.

Having been through all the lectures and worked through the books and class handouts, I think BR was the major reason I did well. I wouldn't have done as well had I taken PR. I can't comment on Kaplan directly other than nobody I know well took it or considered it.
 

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Malayna or Lukkie:

I know this may sound like a weird question, but how nice is the BR classroom in Westwood? Is it nicer than the discussion rooms in Young or the classrooms in Bradley? I've been asked to do some midterm review sessions this quarter and was I thinking about doing it in their new center if it's nicer than campus.
 
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Malayna

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Malayna or Lukkie:

I know this may sound like a weird question, but how nice is the BR classroom in Westwood? Is it nicer than the discussion rooms in Young or the classrooms in Bradley? I've been asked to do some midterm review sessions this quarter and was I thinking about doing it in their new center if it's nicer than campus.
I tried to stop by their place last week, but I didn't see anyone there. Do you know when Todd is around? I've actually not been inside the classroom, but the space looks really nice and it's huge. I felt Bradley was a little cramped at times and anything in Young is terrible.

Why are you doing reviews? Are you a TA? I was thinking about being a UA spring quarter.

It's strange to reread this thread, because a year ago I had no idea I'd be sitting comfy a year later. Time sure flies.
 

caliclown5

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Hey I'm studying for the MCAT for this January. If anyone wants to meet up for some study sessions let me know. I'm near UCLA.
 

PRamos

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Your thread depresses me Malayna. I'm doing fine studying on my own and so far have been motivated to stay caught up. But what I really miss is that feeling you get after a class that it all makes sense and it's completely doable. I know that feeling of realizing you really can do better than your initial goals.

I second your suggestion about taking BR at UCLA over PR, and would do it in a heartbeat if I had the money. Mind you, PR wasn't bad (in fact, they were pretty good), but BR is great. Congratulations on some great scores! Where have you been accepted to that let's you sit "comfy"?