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Should I take an MCAT prep course?


cdawso23

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So here's the deal:

I've booked my MCAT for September 2nd, it will be my first time writing. I will also be working full time all summer in research - 9 to 5 Monday to Friday.

 

I've been considering taking the Princeton review prep course. My only issue really is that if it goes 6:30-9 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday, I will basically be waking up for work, working 8 hours, going to the prep course, going home, going to bed.

 

Does this sound like a bad idea? Will I be burning myself out before the actual MCAT? Would it be a better idea to just study by myself?

 

Now I know that everyone is different, so I'm really just looking for opinions, particularly from people who have had similar situations, though anybodys thoughts would be appreciated.

 

Also, I should mention, I don't plan on applying yet. I'm currently in second year but I kind of messed up my first year and so I feel it would be useless to apply quite yet before I pull up my GPA. I plan on writing it this summer though so that if I mess it up, I can retry next year before I actually apply. I know many people end up writing it multiple times so I figured this would give me more correction time if needed.

 

Thanks!

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So here's the deal:

I've booked my MCAT for September 2nd, it will be my first time writing. I will also be working full time all summer in research - 9 to 5 Monday to Friday.

 

I've been considering taking the Princeton review prep course. My only issue really is that if it goes 6:30-9 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday, I will basically be waking up for work, working 8 hours, going to the prep course, going home, going to bed.

 

Does this sound like a bad idea? Will I be burning myself out before the actual MCAT? Would it be a better idea to just study by myself?

 

Now I know that everyone is different, so I'm really just looking for opinions, particularly from people who have had similar situations, though anybodys thoughts would be appreciated.

 

Also, I should mention, I don't plan on applying yet. I'm currently in second year but I kind of messed up my first year and so I feel it would be useless to apply quite yet before I pull up my GPA. I plan on writing it this summer though so that if I mess it up, I can retry next year before I actually apply. I know many people end up writing it multiple times so I figured this would give me more correction time if needed.

 

Thanks!

 

I'd take Kaplan, which has far less class time. You go twice a week, for 3 hours. Don't approach this with the attitude of "I have time to retry". Just sign up for a course, put your head down, and do it once. People often end up needing to do it more than once, but if you take Princeton, with your work sched, I feel like you're wasting your summer.

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I'd take Kaplan, which has far less class time. You go twice a week, for 3 hours. Don't approach this with the attitude of "I have time to retry". Just sign up for a course, put your head down, and do it once. People often end up needing to do it more than once, but if you take Princeton, with your work sched, I feel like you're wasting your summer.

 

I have considered Kaplan but I've heard better things about Princeton. Also, I just wonder about getting "bang for your buck". If they both cost 2000$ but Kaplan runs about half the time, why does it cost so much? Does it make up for less class time in some other aspect?

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From another post in general premed topic forum

 

The NSERC USRA is 40 hours of research a week for 16 weeks in the summer. You get about $5500 dollars which seems like alot but broken down its less then minimal wage. I have been told by every professor it is very prestigious and looks great on a resume. You usually have to seek out a supervisor, both you and him both have to fill out forms and hand it in to your university. Your form is just basic info and your official transcript while his form is usually details about the research you'll be doing. The prof doesn't need an NSERC grant usually you can apply through one prof with the grant and work in anothers lab if the two profs agree upon that. Who gets the award is mostly ranked on GPA of the applicants I believe so I'd imagine some universities are more competitive than others. This application usually takes place in February and you find out late March. I did one last summer and while it was a positive experience it wasn't nearly as much fun as my usual job of teaching swimming and didn't pay nearly as well. But I found out I didn't really like research, which was good to know. So if you like research or want to try it definitley apply, but if you don't like research it can make your summer a drag.

Ps. If you plan on doing one next summer try to write your MCAT this summer, I did both my studying for the MCAT and 40 hours of research a week and found it stressful and felt horribly unprepared compared to my peers when I went to write it.

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LOL the post above is mine from the other general discussion forum. I'll try to elaborate and give you some advice although I am sure there are many people who did better than me on the MCAT and did the same amount of research too.

 

I hadn't planned to write the MCAT so I started studying a little late, ie June for a late August MCAT, but it was sufficient time to prepare.That said obviously the more time you have to study the better, so if you can start studying in May that'd be better.The main thing that I did differently than most people is I flipped my schedule, I believe I can do most things fairly well tired with the major exception of studying productively, so I made sure I was well rested and prepared for that part of the day. So I would wake up in the middle of the night, shower, study, do my research for the day, and then coach soccer or play sports and go to bed early. I believe the last part is important because the lack of socialization and free time will get to you so try to do something to balance.

 

You have to realize that the MCAT is really the most important test you will ever write and you need to prioritize your time accordingly. While I didn't take a prep course I would recommend it or find someone who has written the test before and come up with a study plan. I spent too much time studying things evenly and not enough time focusing on my weaknesses. As well I never really practiced the writing section, I just assumed since I always did well in English that it'd be a cake walk. I got there and got creamed on that section and feel like I never got the chance to show my 'skills'. But the reality is that the test is about having a general plan and implementing, it is not just a simple measure of raw intelligence. You can compensate with pure talent on some sections but really the verbal and writing require specific practice to the situation as opposed to general knowledge. The problem with my studying compared to my peers who were far more informed was that they knew what and how to study. My unpreparedness was more from a lack of structure than it was hard work and study time. In classic MCAT essay form to quote the late great Ben Franklin "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".

 

Don't worry you won't be burned out for the actual MCAT, I talked to my supervisor and took the week off that I wrote it (on a friday) and did a full practice exam a day and got plenty of sleep for the week and felt fine the day I wrote it. And as for length of time wearing on you, you'll find as the test day gets closer your studying will pick up. But that said I've felt burnt out my whole third year because studying/working all summer is basically being in school for 2 years straight, but hey welcome to the real world.

So my point is if you schedule your time properly you will have sufficient hours to study and have a productive summer(in terms of ECs), but make sure that you have an effective plan in place. You will to make sacrifices socially, which sucks. As a kid who was used to hanging out with my friends, running, swimming and playing soccer on a daily basis in the summer I can say that it was quite a change and in terms of how i'd rank my summers this one was at the bottom of my list. Mentally it's tough and can be stressful but if you are able to do both research and write a good MCAT it is very rewarding summer in the end.

On a bit of a side note make sure you enjoy doing research, as in my other post research felt like a horrible drag compared to my other job and that really doesn't help your stress level and concentration.

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Kaplan has more practice/more online resources. The quality of the verbal ones is questionable, but buy the EK 101 passages in VR and that should do you just fine.

 

As for the whole "working 40 hours+ MCAT" I think that's the norm, not the exception. Most people I know who did well on the MCAT worked full time. In fact, all of them did. Some people will need more time, and some people's financial situation will allow them to not work for a stretch, but doing the MCAT while working full time is definitely doable.

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How do you learn best? Are you a strong self-directed studier, or do you only get something done if you have a harsh deadline and a teacher to order you to do it?

 

The courses always seemed like a massive waste of money to me, but when I want to do well in something I don't usually have troubles getting motivated. I realise not everyone is the same way.

 

I did all my studying during a 55+ hour/week MSc, and it didn't feel particularly onerous to me. I think a course would actually have made it worse.

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Kaplan has more practice/more online resources. The quality of the verbal ones is questionable, but buy the EK 101 passages in VR and that should do you just fine.

 

As for the whole "working 40 hours+ MCAT" I think that's the norm, not the exception. Most people I know who did well on the MCAT worked full time. In fact, all of them did. Some people will need more time, and some people's financial situation will allow them to not work for a stretch, but doing the MCAT while working full time is definitely doable.

 

My issue with Kaplan now is that I can't seem to find a course that runs at a time that works for me. They are either during the day or until 11:30. I'd rather not be going until 11:30 if I will still need to be driving home after that and then waking up at 7 every morning.

 

Edit: Actually, I was looking at the online course and so the schedules work a lot better when looking at the correct ones...

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LOL the post above is mine from the other general discussion forum. I'll try to elaborate and give you some advice although I am sure there are many people who did better than me on the MCAT and did the same amount of research too.

 

I hadn't planned to write the MCAT so I started studying a little late, ie June for a late August MCAT, but it was sufficient time to prepare.That said obviously the more time you have to study the better, so if you can start studying in May that'd be better.The main thing that I did differently than most people is I flipped my schedule, I believe I can do most things fairly well tired with the major exception of studying productively, so I made sure I was well rested and prepared for that part of the day. So I would wake up in the middle of the night, shower, study, do my research for the day, and then coach soccer or play sports and go to bed early. I believe the last part is important because the lack of socialization and free time will get to you so try to do something to balance.

 

You have to realize that the MCAT is really the most important test you will ever write and you need to prioritize your time accordingly. While I didn't take a prep course I would recommend it or find someone who has written the test before and come up with a study plan. I spent too much time studying things evenly and not enough time focusing on my weaknesses. As well I never really practiced the writing section, I just assumed since I always did well in English that it'd be a cake walk. I got there and got creamed on that section and feel like I never got the chance to show my 'skills'. But the reality is that the test is about having a general plan and implementing, it is not just a simple measure of raw intelligence. You can compensate with pure talent on some sections but really the verbal and writing require specific practice to the situation as opposed to general knowledge. The problem with my studying compared to my peers who were far more informed was that they knew what and how to study. My unpreparedness was more from a lack of structure than it was hard work and study time. In classic MCAT essay form to quote the late great Ben Franklin "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".

 

Don't worry you won't be burned out for the actual MCAT, I talked to my supervisor and took the week off that I wrote it (on a friday) and did a full practice exam a day and got plenty of sleep for the week and felt fine the day I wrote it. And as for length of time wearing on you, you'll find as the test day gets closer your studying will pick up. But that said I've felt burnt out my whole third year because studying/working all summer is basically being in school for 2 years straight, but hey welcome to the real world.

So my point is if you schedule your time properly you will have sufficient hours to study and have a productive summer(in terms of ECs), but make sure that you have an effective plan in place. You will to make sacrifices socially, which sucks. As a kid who was used to hanging out with my friends, running, swimming and playing soccer on a daily basis in the summer I can say that it was quite a change and in terms of how i'd rank my summers this one was at the bottom of my list. Mentally it's tough and can be stressful but if you are able to do both research and write a good MCAT it is very rewarding summer in the end.

On a bit of a side note make sure you enjoy doing research, as in my other post research felt like a horrible drag compared to my other job and that really doesn't help your stress level and concentration.

 

I'm not really sure yet if I like research, I guess this summer I will find out. Thank you for your long reply! I appreciate you taking the time.

 

One of my main fears about the test is not really knowing how to prepare. I feel like I wouldn't even know where to start...

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My issue with Kaplan now is that I can't seem to find a course that runs at a time that works for me. They are either during the day or until 11:30. I'd rather not be going until 11:30 if I will still need to be driving home after that and then waking up at 7 every morning.

 

Going until 11:30? Weird, every course I have ever seen from Kaplan runs 6-9 at night during the week, or is during the day on the weekend...

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