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Not Studying MCAT Material Properly?


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Hi Guys,


How are you all? I will give you a bit of a background speech:


I wrote my MCAT for the first time in the summer between 3rd and 4th year - I took TPR course for ~2.5-3 months and scored a 24R.

I worked full time for most of the summer and in the last month just part time.


In the summer of 2011, I decided I would give it a try (after 5 months of traveling abroad), studied on my own for 8 hours a day (with TPR books and online exams etc) and scored a score much lower than my first attempt. I am actually too embarrassed to post (it is less than 20).

I did not work this summer.


I don't know what to do.


I have tried taking the course.

I have tried on my own.

I am obviously not doing something right.


Do you know of anyone I can talk to?

Or books I can read?

Or advice on this blasted test in general?


I want very much to write this summer 2012, and ace the MCAT once and for all.


My plan of attack:

I am currently working full time as a Research Coordinator, so I figured I would buy EK 1001 and the full study package, and give it a try on my own after work in the evenings (I find I have plenty of times in the evenings to spare) and then if May comes around and I feel like I need a refresher, pay the $2000 for the course and make it happen.


Any advice would be helpful..preferably on studying tactics.



Overwhelmed with life :)

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Sorry to hear you're the MCAT is frustrating you. It really is a beast of an exam that's less about knowledge, and more about knowing how to take the test.


(Side note: Good job on the R in the Writing Section.)


I think you're on the right track, trying out the materials from another company. Everyone has his/her own style, and certain materials may work better for you than others. For me, EK was the jackpot, while I wasn't getting anywhere with Kaplan's Premier Program.


But beyond that, I can't say much without knowing a bit more. Do you have any ideas as to what might be holding you back from doing as well as you can? Is it the stamina (going for 5 hours straight)? Are you finding particular topics you find to be confusing? Or, do you know the material but the answers you choose don't match up with the correct ones? Which section(s) is/are you finding more difficult?

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Hey, sorry to hear about your mcat experiences!


I'm actually in a similar situation, as my mcat didn't go the way I had hoped either. However, for this summer I plan on using The Berekeley Review books and practise tests. I've heard from multiple sources that they are golden!


Another thing I'll be doing is trying to follow SN2's mcat schedule. Again, many people have told me this is a great way to prepare (everyone is different, of course). This can be found here.




If you don't mind me asking, what were your practise test scores? If these were 30+ then it may just be nerves. This is what I think my problem is..I did well on the practise test, but come showtime can't pull it off. In the end I'll be sure to take plenty more practise tests.

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ExamKrackers is good I really liked the layout of the books and how they taught the material. They have a "10 week study plan" on their website which I suggest you follow, since it breaks it down into a manageable 2-3hours a day. I agree with repede, it's not so much about knowledge. I've written it 3 times and my scores have varied from 29S to 26M. I used the EK books each time and I have a B.Sc. so I think it was my lack of practice tests, not so much the material that tripped me up.


One thing with Krackers is that if you are weak in the sciences you may find it a little vague. I find it's good for people who have some science background, but not necessarily good for people starting from scratch (like an arts major who has never taken Bio courses or something).


Another thing that friends have told me was to practice, practice, practice. The material the MCAT tests is basic undergraduate knowledge, so I think practicing will help you out a lot.

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I wrote my MCAT after taking the Kaplan class and scored a 39R, and I feel like I may be able to contribute a little bit of advice to this discussion.


I took the Kaplan course after my 3rd year during the summer, and similarly to the poster, while I was working full time at 40 hrs per week. My schedule was basically go to work each day, get home, study for 4-5 hours, and go to bed. IMO, if you are going to write the MCAT and want to do well, you MUST commit your life for the 3-5 months to working at the material and practicing. Sadly, the amount of knowledge and base comprehension required is daunting, but the upside is anyone (and I mean that) can score excellently if they are adequately prepared.


The thing about the MCAT is it really tests you on how well you understand core concepts and whether you can apply them to changing problems. This is probably, IMO, the main reason people do not achieve the scores they are capable of. Undergrad courses that use MCQ exams tend to make us regurgitate material from class notes or textbooks; the MCAT wants to know that you understand all aspects of a concept and how these aspects can be manipulated to solve problems. Thus it is ESSENTIAL that when you study a formula or theory, you don't just memorize it, but that you actually understand what the implications of the formula are. MCAT is known for skipping out on calculations and asking for trends or generalized results. Knowing the relationships between variables and understanding how manipulating variables will change a result will save you time and effort during the test. In addition, if you are able to explain to yourself a why an equation makes sense, chances are you have a good grasp on it.


In terms of verbal, my suggestion is to practice all the time. Verbal is dangerously deceptive. On the outside, it seems easy, but in reality it is one of the most challenging to do well on. Get a hold of practice exams and do at least 10 verbal questions (~2 passages) every day. Not only will you become better at reading passages more efficiently, but you will become more comfortable with the typical answers. What I mean by this is that the wrong answers always seem to follow predictable trends. Either they don't adequately address the question, they generalize or are too specific, they are out of context, or they are outright wrong (i.e. stating a refuted conclusion). The Kaplan strategies were handy for identifying these typical wrong answers.


Writing is pretty well the same as verbal, just practice writing an easy everyday and make sure you know how to write an effective essay in three paragraphs. The standard Kaplan method, and I am sure methods set out in other programs, are more than adequate for this purpose. Thirty mins is not a lot of time to write an essay, but with more practice the better and faster you will become. Also start thinking of prototypical essays that can answer a wide variety of prompts. For example, reading up on Gandhi and Hitler may provide you with essay examples that can be used for prompts concerning leaders, teaching style, styles of power, corruption, etc (probably better examples than this :P)


I did not find the actual classroom portion of the Kaplan class useful at all. The pace was slow and some of the more challenging material was omitted. However, if you are someone who enjoys seeing problems worked over by a teacher, you may benefit from this part. What I really found the best part of the system was the course books and the access to online resources. The Kaplan textbooks were outstanding in their presentation of the material - really awesome. I had never taken a physics class in my life, and after 3 months of study that text I pulled off a 14, so I will say let that be a testament. Kaplan may rob students blind, but they do spend a ton of money researching effective ways to present and teach the material. Also, the online resources (quizes, feedback, practice exams) break the monotony of staring at textbooks for hours on end and relay challenge your knowedge of a subject. In addition, the feedback extends to each answer, so if you are particulary stumped about why you go something wrong, you can have it explained to you. I think this is a critical part of learning the material. If you make an error, really spend the time learning why you made the error and why the correct answer is true. Just seeing you were wrong and what the correct answer is is useless. Once you have that Eureka moment on comprehending your mistake, chances are you won't make it again.


Quite a lot of info in a post, so if you have more q's just message me :)

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