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Who didn't take an MCAT prep course?

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novawildcat

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I don't want to blow $1500 on a Kaplan MCAT prep course. Did anyone else not take any prep courses and do reasonably well?
 

silas2642

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novawildcat said:
I don't want to blow $1500 on a Kaplan MCAT prep course. Did anyone else not take any prep courses and do reasonably well?
yup. if you're going to study on your own, then feel free to skip it.
 

Em1

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The trick is you have to buy the study books and practice tests and make yourself do it on your own. I did this and got a 37. (My first practice test was a 31, so you could say it's a 6 point improvement.)
 

novawildcat

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That is a relief to hear. I definitely have the discipline to study on my own. Is there any place where I can get copies of old MCATs online?
 

Em1

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You'd have to buy them from the AAMC (e-mcat.com). They're a little pricey, but worth it.

Another thing is that I did well in the pre-req classes to begin with and already had a good understanding of the material (with the possible exception of magnetism). So I didn't have to learn much, I just had to review it and learn how to apply it to the MCAT.

If you struggled with the pre-reqs a course may be a better option.
 

Psycho Doctor

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Em1 said:
The trick is you have to buy the study books and practice tests and make yourself do it on your own. I did this and got a 37. (My first practice test was a 31, so you could say it's a 6 point improvement.)
that's certainly true. i didn't take a prep course and was actually taking organic chem at the same time (August MCAT) in addition to doing volunteer work and shadowing a doctor; so it certainly required commitment and time management. Frommy first practice test I had probably a 14 point improvement (I tend to forget my practice scores). best of luck
 

italicsquirel99

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novawildcat said:
That is a relief to hear. I definitely have the discipline to study on my own. Is there any place where I can get copies of old MCATs online?

On e-mcat.com you can do their Full Membership for $80 - and that gives you 4 practice tests (I believe) that you can do online or print them out, whatever you want. I really liked it because you can take it timed if you want, and if you miss a question it has a detailed description for the correct answer, and will give you a breakdown of what specific areas you need to work on. I'd suggest checking it out.
 

ND2005

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novawildcat said:
I don't want to blow $1500 on a Kaplan MCAT prep course. Did anyone else not take any prep courses and do reasonably well?

I thought the value of the prep course came from all the resources associated with it. The actual prep classes were nice, but not nearly as helpful as the materials Kaplan had to help prepare.

I especially liked having 5 proctored full-lengths -- sitting at home with an egg-timer just doesn't feel the same.

I also used the subject tests Kaplan has pretty extensively, and the extra full-lengths and such.

For me the 1500 was worth it.
 

novawildcat

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My friend already took the Kaplan course and he gave me all the books he got from it so I have those. With my budget I really can't afford to take the course or even take out a loan to pay for it (living off $25k a year sucks!) . I will definitely check out the e-mcat site.
 

isobel

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i did kaplan and if you are disciplined enough, you don't really need it.

i never did the assignments and i tended to space out in class. but i learned a ton from the 5 full length practice exams. i'm lucky enough that standardized exams come naturally to me and i can learn info from the way questions are asked. they also showed me that i needed to focus on E+M. and the MCAT is so ungodly long that they definitely help build stamina. so in all, i am a lazy ass and would have probably done ok w/o kaplan but i did super well with the course. also, my parents paid for the course.

that said, people who study well on their own and don't want to fork over 1400 dollars and 5 saturdays are certainly NOT screwing themselves over by not taking a prep class.
 

snobored18

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I forked over the money for the AAMC practice tests and that was it (definitely worth it)...however it was nice to have access to the Kaplan and PR books...but honestly the classroom books have EXACTLY the same material as the ones you can get at B&N...oh and Kaplan MCAT 45 is actually not a bad way to go for verbal, drilling using passages that are tough as nails is probably the best way to score in the double digits on VR
 

p00psicleSTICK

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I only took the course because it was the best way to force myself to study. There's no way I would've been able to sit through 5 full-length practice tests on my own (which helped me the most).
 

StevenRF

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You can pay like $300 dollars to access all the kaplan practice stuff for like a year or 6 months. This is all you need. The classes are not useful. They include everything thats the book.

If I could do it all over I would have not taken the course, bought the Kaplan and TPR DIY books, and then just spent month after month doing practice tests using the q bank.
 

Quazimodo

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novawildcat said:
I don't want to blow $1500 on a Kaplan MCAT prep course. Did anyone else not take any prep courses and do reasonably well?

You do NOT need a study course. I'm living proof. My score was in the high 30's.
You can use your old text books, outline each chapter, and do the practice questions. That's all the information you need, there are no secrets or magic bullets to the test. The AAMC practice tests are a must, but you should do them under testing conditions, timed, in a controlled environmnt (library), and take your lunch with you. Even practice the essay questions. What's the best strategy? Pace yourself, read every word, and do not skip around.
I actually got my practice tests off eBay for a much reduced price, not sure how legal that was though. Good luck.
 
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robotsonic

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isobel said:
the MCAT is so ungodly long
:laugh: It just gets worse for the boards. Step 1 is 8 hours, step 2 is 9 hours, and step 3 is 2 days, 8 hours each day.

To the OP, don't feel like you have to buy a Kaplan course. I always thought those things were huge wastes of money. If you can force yourself to sit down and study for a few hours a day, and do timed practice tests on your own, you will be fine.
 

BDiesel

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If you have a lot of self-discipline, save yourself the $1500. God knows how expensive this process is. I got Kaplan's huge book on recommendation from a recent matricultant that had one full test in it, plus a good focused review of all the important concepts.

I think practice exams are the most important thing. I took about 7 of the really hard Princeton review tests (my roommate took the course and let me photocopy her tests before she took them). Just make sure you get the timing down.
 

abcehmu

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i decided not to take a course because i couldnt justify shelling out the $ for a lack of self-discipline. I went up from a 30 on my first practice test to a 35 on the real thing (my highest practice test was a 36).

I recommend the e-mcat.com stuff from aamc. i ended up buying every single test. I also got my hands on whatever kaplan, pr and examcrackers test/practice questions I could get my hands on (my pre-med office, nagging people who had previously taken the class) and did as much as I could in a test-simulated environment.

two pieces of advice if you are to study on your own:
1. Do not spend a lot of time reviewing the material closely (I did this and regret it, a waste of time). Look over things quickly and jump right into practice questions/tests. This is the best way to prepare. Learn how to take the test, you can't memorize all the info on the MCAT.
2. When you get something wrong, ask yourself why. If it is because of a lack of understanding/knowledge of material, then go back and look at the material you needed for that question in depth. You will learn that material in a relevant context and it will be more meaningful to you in that way.

Good luck
 

Will Ferrell

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No prep courses. High-30s on real deal. I had the money to take one, but it was a waste of time and money. I don't need someone regurgitating basic science which i could easily look up in Examkracker's books. Not only is some of their science excessive, but their whole strategy is inferior to EKs. Also, they make you take unrealistic practice tests (except PR's aamc exams.... Kraplan sucks!).

Buy EK books and exams, all AAMC exams, make a solid study schedule, and you're good to go :thumbup:
 

owenmichael

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Will Ferrell said:
No prep courses. High-30s on real deal. I had the money to take one, but it was a waste of time and money. I don't need someone regurgitating basic science which i could easily look up in Examkracker's books. Not only is some of their science excessive, but their whole strategy is inferior to EKs. Also, they make you take unrealistic practice tests (except PR's aamc exams.... Kraplan sucks!).

Buy EK books and exams, all AAMC exams, make a solid study schedule, and you're good to go :thumbup:

I second that. I spaced out in Kaplan alot. I memorized the material which was stupid because memorizing details isn't important. And their tests suck. They were nothing like the real thing in my opinion (they were more detail/knowledge oriented while I felt the real thing was more drawing from passages). I came away really frustrated with Kaplan. I was scoring 32-33's on them consistently, and walked away on the real thing with a slightly lower score.
 

slim06

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I bought the Princeton Review books and two practice exams off of a guy on Craigslist for $200. I personally found it nicer because I could study at home versus commuting to the test prep site. But you really have to be disciplined. I ended up with a high 30's score.

I also found that I didn't get great feedback on the writing section and didnt end up doing so well on that.
 

jbone

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I wouldn't waste your money. Buy the books and study yourself. I wasted my money on Kaplan and it hardly helped me. IMHO. :rolleyes:
 

golftrippy

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jbone said:
I wouldn't waste your money. Buy the books and study yourself. I wasted my money on Kaplan and it hardly helped me. IMHO. :rolleyes:

Not sure if I'd do Kaplan again but at the same time people need that stucture. After teaching it and seeing some of my students...they need the homework assignments and the class time or they would totally blow it...most people aren't that self-motivated, even those taking the MCAT

The average MCATer at 24 is not gonna get into med school...I think Kaplan definately improves the chances of a non-motivated person who was gonna score in the mid 20s to getting them to at least upper 20s and 30.
 

HunterGatherer

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No courses since I learn best from reading and rereading then doing questions as opposed to lectures. spent about $300 on books. Had many commitments while studying for the exam. Used mostly EK and AAMC. went from 21-23(can't remember exactly) on AAMC 3R diagnostic to 32 on real deal.

Read the "30+ MCAT" thread in the MCAT forum for ideas and you will see that a good percentage are home studiers.
 

QuantumMechanic

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I will put in another vote against using test prep courses. They are a waste of time, unless you absolutely can't make yourself study. But do you really need to drop >$1000 bucks just to make yourself study hard enough for a test to get into med school? If that's the case, it begs the question: Are you motivated enough to go into medicine? The non-class study aids are sufficient (especially examkrackers) to a point that it renders a prep course useless to all except the people who truly do not know how to study on their own!
 
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BerkeleyMD

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novawildcat said:
I don't want to blow $1500 on a Kaplan MCAT prep course. Did anyone else not take any prep courses and do reasonably well?


I took it, but didn't go to the classes. The practice tests and mock MCATs really prepare you. Their lectures suck and are totally canned. Use that time to study. If you are focused, the independant study time does help.

I would probably spend the money on the course, in a few months you'll be dumping tons of money on trying to get in... might as well invest a little now and get a better score.

At least buy the books. I used Kaplan's course and books from PR / EK.
 

jbone

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golftrippy said:
Not sure if I'd do Kaplan again but at the same time people need that stucture. After teaching it and seeing some of my students...they need the homework assignments and the class time or they would totally blow it...most people aren't that self-motivated, even those taking the MCAT

The average MCATer at 24 is not gonna get into med school...I think Kaplan definately improves the chances of a non-motivated person who was gonna score in the mid 20s to getting them to at least upper 20s and 30.
True. But I felt that when I studied on my own, I was able to study toward my weak points. Sometimes I felt the classes were a complete waste of time and actually detracted from my ultimate goal and that was to do well on the MCAT. Took away my private time to study. (have wife, kids, full-time job, grad school, research too) Too much on my plate, but that is REAL life. Take what life gives ya and run w/ it.
 

Pepper1o1

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Yeah to second what everyone else has been saying, I didn't take a course and got a 37.

Granted, I did study all summer long with a study-buddy.

I really would suggest getting a study buddy, because it helped money-wise (and motivation-wise) a lot. We each bought one book (Kaplan and Princeton Review) and switched them up to get the advantage of both books, and we split a subscription to the old MCATs from AAMC. If you can do it with even more people, it would be even cheaper. And better. I'm a big fan of study groups :)
Good luck!
 

Dr Trek 1

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Commercial prep. courses are a waste of time. I took the Kaplan one and hated every second of it. You can buy all the Kaplan prep. material if that's what you want, but it's not that great. Buy the full 6th edition Examkrackers books, as well as do all the AAMC practice tests. That's all you need to score a 45T.
 

novawildcat

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Even if I wanted to take a prep course, I couldn't afford it. The only thing that really worries me is biology. I took bio I freshman year (I just graduated) and am taking bio II this spring. I do have biochem under my belt though. I just hope I can get prepared in time for bio. Chemistry shouldn't be a problem since I do organic chemistry for a living. Thanks for all the advice so far though, it is definitely useful.
 

p00psicleSTICK

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I knew this would make its way into this thread. Give me a break.

He's right, I'm not motivated to sit through 8 hours on a Saturday FIVE times before taking the MCAT. ^^; But for all I know I probably scored higher than him on the MCAT so.... whatever.

Berkeley MD is right, classes don't help much (ESPECIALLY verbal) but sitting through their practice tests is good experience. My highest score was a 30 out of five practice exams but I scored higher on the real one.

If you had the chance, opportunity, why NOT spend that much money to achieve your ultimate goal of becoming a doctor? You're going to be in debt 100K by the time you graduate. $1300 was well worth it for me for the score I got.
 

QuantumMechanic

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TheProwler said:
:rolleyes: I knew this would make its way into this thread. Give me a break.

Seriously, you give me a break, everyone I know that took those courses said the lectures were a waste of their time and the only benefit they received was getting proctored tests. Making yourself set aside time to study and take practice tests is the most important way to improve your score. There just isn't enough lecture time in these prep courses to spoonfeed all the material in a way that will stick in your mind like studying on your own will.

Is someone keeping time for you worth $1500???? If you answer yes, then maybe a prep course would be worth considering.
 

Pontifex Maximus

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I got a 32 and only bought EK. Totally doable, and I had only had Bio 1 by the time I took the MCAT, learned almost everything from EK.
 

Dr Trek 1

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Although I feel EK provides the best prep., keep in mind that nothing is a guarantee of doing well on the MCAT. It all comes down to how good you are at taking the MCAT. Some people prepare and practice well and still score poorly, you have to just practice and practice and hope for the best.
 
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quantummechanic said:
Seriously, you give me a break, everyone I know that took those courses said the lectures were a waste of their time and the only benefit they received was getting proctored tests. Making yourself set aside time to study and take practice tests is the most important way to improve your score. There just isn't enough lecture time in these prep courses to spoonfeed all the material in a way that will stick in your mind like studying on your own will.

Is someone keeping time for you worth $1500???? If you answer yes, then maybe a prep course would be worth considering.
:rolleyes: My post had nothing to do with defending/attacking prep courses. It worked out great for me, and my score reflects that, but I know that they aren't for everyone, so when somebody asks me if they should take a prep course, I give them the straight dope. The point is, if you're questioning someone's ability to be a doctor just because they felt a prep course would be the best way for them to study for the MCAT, then you're probably questioning half of the med student population. Lectures were the least helpful part of the course for me, but they still had value for me. I didn't need all the material to stick in my mind - I hadn't forgotten all of it anyways. I just needed to learn things like VR and WS technique, etc.
 

QuantumMechanic

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TheProwler said:
:rolleyes: My post had nothing to do with defending/attacking prep courses. It worked out great for me, and my score reflects that, but I know that they aren't for everyone, so when somebody asks me if they should take a prep course, I give them the straight dope. The point is, if you're questioning someone's ability to be a doctor just because they felt a prep course would be the best way for them to study for the MCAT, then you're probably questioning half of the med student population. Lectures were the least helpful part of the course for me, but they still had value for me. I didn't need all the material to stick in my mind - I hadn't forgotten all of it anyways. I just needed to learn things like VR and WS technique, etc.

You can find most of the same useful mcat techniques in written sources available from the prep companies. EK Audioosmosis is available if you need lectures. You can time yourself on a mock mcat. So why bother paying so much unless you really need structure? I wanted to get a good enough score badly enough that I motivated myself.

You don't see many "application prep classes" offered by kaplan et. al, but med students managed to get that done on their own. Most of my friends that did a prep course told me afterwords that they regretted doing so for the aforementioned reasons as the course itself didn't give them anything that they couldn't find for themselves.
 
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quantummechanic said:
You can find most of the same useful mcat techniques in written sources available from the prep companies. EK Audioosmosis is available if you need lectures. You can time yourself on a mock mcat. So why bother paying so much unless you really need structure? I wanted to get a good enough score badly enough that I motivated myself.
The structure helped, so I shelled out the cash. The fact that I prefer the structured course to independent study has nothing to do with my motivation to enter medicine.
 

boozeybean

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I too am planning to study on my own but I'm looking for a few study partners. If you plan on studying solo, and live in the Boston area, and want to start a small study group, please let me know. From what I've read, forming a study group is the best and cheapest way to prepare for the MCAT.
 
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