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Advice needed! The Princeton Review Complete Set or KAPLAN?

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Hey guys,

I am a total noob when it comes to the MCAT. Looking for some advice. I am going to be buying my study materials on Monday.

My options are:

(1) The Princeton Review MCAT Subject Review complete set, 2nd ed + 7 complete ebooks covering every exam schedule

(2) KAPLAN MCAT 528 Advanced Prep, 500+ advanced MCAT practice questions

If you were a student with a limited science background, which would you go for? Are you familiar with either of these?

Thank-you so much.

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7 minutes ago, moonlitocean said:

If you have little science background, go for Kaplan. 

Note that using Kaplan alone won’t be enough to get you great marks

In that case, what would you recommend in addition to Kaplan? Have you tried the Princeton Review? 

Thanks!

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I'm not sure what you mean by limited science background (like how limited?). I used the TPR books and they were great. I had not previously taken physics so my science background was a bit limited. I also bought the Kaplan biochem book since TPR did not go into enough detail on it I felt. For CARS, I used the EK101 passages book and TPR CARS as well. 

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1 hour ago, m_jacob_45 said:

I'm not sure what you mean by limited science background (like how limited?). I used the TPR books and they were great. I had not previously taken physics so my science background was a bit limited. I also bought the Kaplan biochem book since TPR did not go into enough detail on it I felt. For CARS, I used the EK101 passages book and TPR CARS as well. 

Fairly strong knowledge of bio, limited knowledge of chem, 0 knowledge of physics. I've been told that tackling the MCAT with a science background as limited as mine is not impossible, but i'm sceptical. 

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Kaplan covers everything you need to know. You might have some trouble with a few of the topics in chemistry and physics if your background is very limited, but even so, you will know exactly what it is you need to understand for the exam, and can use other resources to bolster your understanding. A very good (free!) resource is Khan Academy, which has a complete series on the MCAT, so you can just watch the videos covering the concepts you're not too strong on.

I loved Kaplan because, unlike some other resources, you can be confident that, once you are comfortable with the material laid out in the books, you are solid content-wise. Many other prep books skip over some details that are actually tested on the MCAT, so Kaplan is a very safe option to go with. I should note however that I personally didn't use Kaplan for P/S, as I heard from others that their book on P/S lacks a few important topics. Khan Academy's MCAT P/S series is excellent and covers everything you need, so I just used that. The MCAT sub-r e d d i t also has tons of free resources!

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4 hours ago, MedP111 said:

Kaplan covers everything you need to know. You might have some trouble with a few of the topics in chemistry and physics if your background is very limited, but even so, you will know exactly what it is you need to understand for the exam, and can use other resources to bolster your understanding. A very good (free!) resource is Khan Academy, which has a complete series on the MCAT, so you can just watch the videos covering the concepts you're not too strong on.

I loved Kaplan because, unlike some other resources, you can be confident that, once you are comfortable with the material laid out in the books, you are solid content-wise. Many other prep books skip over some details that are actually tested on the MCAT, so Kaplan is a very safe option to go with. I should note however that I personally didn't use Kaplan for P/S, as I heard from others that their book on P/S lacks a few important topics. Khan Academy's MCAT P/S series is excellent and covers everything you need, so I just used that. The MCAT sub-r e d d i t also has tons of free resources!

Thank-you so much, this was very helpful. Given that I know so little about the MCAT, I was nervous that the study materials would not be a good indication of what is on the exam itself. I continue to question how much overlap there will be between KAPLAN and the exam. Do you think as long as I have a thorough understanding of what subjects/questions are in the study books, however specific, I will be sufficiently prepared for the exam? I truly haven't touched physics since high school, and can't remember a darn thing. Did a bit of biochem in high school and some in more recent bio courses, but I know very little.

As you can probably tell, I am very intimidated by this brutal exam. 

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For Psych, watch all the  Khan Academy videos. Trust me, I made the mistake of only relying on the TPR psych book and I didn't do too hot in psych, and that was simply because TPR was missing a lot of the psych content. I found the TPR books to be great for the other subjects though, especially for physics (which is a weak point of mine). For CARS, I used a variety of sources including TPR workbook, EK passages, and Testing Solutions passages (these are way harder than the actual exam, but I found them to be useful). The best practice questions are from AAMC; however, you should probably save all those question banks and full length tests closer to your test date (maybe 3-4 weeks out). As you can see, different companies have different strengths. You should be fine going with either Kaplan or TPR, as long as you supplement the psych section with Khan Academy and do CARS passages from a variety of companies (so you get exposure to multiple styles), ultimately ending with AAMC material itself.

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1 minute ago, Blasé said:

For Psych, watch all the  Khan Academy videos. Trust me, I made the mistake of only relying on the TPR psych book and I didn't do too hot in psych, and that was simply because TPR was missing a lot of the psych content. I found the TPR books to be great for the other subjects though, especially for physics (which is a weak point of mine). For CARS, I used a variety of sources including TPR workbook, EK passages, and Testing Solutions passages (these are way harder than the actual exam, but I found them to be useful). The best practice questions are from AAMC; however you should probably save all those question banks and full length tests closer to your test date (maybe 3-4 weeks out). As you can see, different companies have different strengths. You should be fine going with either Kaplan or TPR, as long as you supplement the psych section with Khan Academy and do CARS passages from a variety of companies (so you get exposure to multiple styles), ultimately ending with AAMC material itself.

Great advice, thank-you. Do you think 5 months will be enough study time for a student who this limited of a science background? 

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2 minutes ago, med_ical said:

Great advice, thank-you. Do you think 5 months will be enough study time for a student who this limited of a science background? 

Yup should be plenty. I studied for 3.5 months, but had a science background. I would recommend doing a couple of CARS passages everyday (and then reviewing your answers) while studying for the other sections!

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11 minutes ago, Blasé said:

Yup should be plenty. I studied for 3.5 months, but had a science background. I would recommend doing a couple of CARS passages everyday (and then reviewing your answers) while studying for the other sections!

Will do, thanks :)

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22 minutes ago, med_ical said:

Thank-you so much, this was very helpful. Given that I know so little about the MCAT, I was nervous that the study materials would not be a good indication of what is on the exam itself. I continue to question how much overlap there will be between KAPLAN and the exam. Do you think as long as I have a thorough understanding of what subjects/questions are in the study books, however specific, I will be sufficiently prepared for the exam? I truly haven't touched physics since high school, and can't remember a darn thing. Did a bit of biochem in high school and some in more recent bio courses, but I know very little.

As you can probably tell, I am very intimidated by this brutal exam. 

Through all my practice and the real exam, I have very very rarely ever run into a question that made me go, "Oh shoot Kaplan didn't cover this at all!". The ONLY instance of this ever happening, from what I can remember, is that the Kaplan Biochemistry book doesn't cover enough details about enzyme kinetics (which is a very important topic on the MCAT), so you should probably do a bit of research on the side to make sure you're solid on that.

But otherwise, I very much do recommend Kaplan for its thoroughness. They are very spot-on on what's covered in the MCAT. I felt very confident content-wise heading into my exam. If anything, I would say that Kaplan is overly detailed, and has a bunch of anatomy/metabolic pathways/orgo reactions that they go into in detail but that's not really that useful for the MCAT. But hey, I'd rather be overly prepared than the other way around. So yes, trust Kaplan, if you master that set of books you will definitely be prepared. BUT DON'T FORGET TO DO PASSAGE PRACTICE WHICH KAPLAN DOESN'T PREPARE YOU FOR AT ALL.

And to reassure you, when I started preparing for the MCAT (I studied for 3 months), I hadn't touched gen chem, physics or orgo since high school, and knew nothing about almost all of the biology and biochemistry topics. I felt very prepared after Kaplan.

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6 minutes ago, MedP111 said:

 

And to reassure you, when I started preparing for the MCAT (I studied for 3 months), I hadn't touched gen chem, physics or orgo since high school, and knew nothing about almost all of the biology and biochemistry topics. I felt very prepared after Kaplan.

Nice high school, MedP111!  Was it a Cégep by any chance? lol. 

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23 hours ago, MedP111 said:

Through all my practice and the real exam, I have very very rarely ever run into a question that made me go, "Oh shoot Kaplan didn't cover this at all!". The ONLY instance of this ever happening, from what I can remember, is that the Kaplan Biochemistry book doesn't cover enough details about enzyme kinetics (which is a very important topic on the MCAT), so you should probably do a bit of research on the side to make sure you're solid on that.

But otherwise, I very much do recommend Kaplan for its thoroughness. They are very spot-on on what's covered in the MCAT. I felt very confident content-wise heading into my exam. If anything, I would say that Kaplan is overly detailed, and has a bunch of anatomy/metabolic pathways/orgo reactions that they go into in detail but that's not really that useful for the MCAT. But hey, I'd rather be overly prepared than the other way around. So yes, trust Kaplan, if you master that set of books you will definitely be prepared. BUT DON'T FORGET TO DO PASSAGE PRACTICE WHICH KAPLAN DOESN'T PREPARE YOU FOR AT ALL.

And to reassure you, when I started preparing for the MCAT (I studied for 3 months), I hadn't touched gen chem, physics or orgo since high school, and knew nothing about almost all of the biology and biochemistry topics. I felt very prepared after Kaplan.

You're the best... again, thank-you for providing such detailed, helpful, and optimistic replies!!!

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