Tuesday, September 15, 2009

MCAT Review: Which One Works

A friend of mine asked how I prepared for the MCAT and how I think he should prepare. This led me to write this new blog about the different review tools I have used.

I have taken the MCAT three times and have used three different book series to study. The first time I took the exam on paper I was at the testing center from 6:30 AM to 5:00 PM and the next two were both on the computer.

Princeton Review: This was okay. It contains all necessary information, but it is extremely wordy. It also includes a lot of information that is unecessary and is not ideal for the non-science major or those with limited study time. The method used in the writing and verbal portions of the exam are awful and are conducive to wither a paper or a computer exam. I used this the first time and I got a 26O, which was a little below national average at the time.

Kaplan: This is not even worth my time to explain the good points. The tests that are provided are more difficult than the real MCAT. Some people like this. I think it is always better to go with the most similar questions to the actual test, and taking these test will reduce self confidence which is the most important tool you have in the MCAT. If you decide to use their exams, use them at the beginning of your study schedule as a way to practice test taking skills and not as a diagnostic. I used these books the second time and did a little better at a 28S. I do not recommend these prep books.

EXAM KRACKERS! is the best and most concise review on the market and I do not get paid to say that. There are some typos, but they are easily detected. Just make sure you read the answer explanations to make sure it matches the key in the back of each test. I found that to be a small problem. Their writing and verbal strategies were the best I worked with. They also feature questions throughout the chapters and tons of questions. I also found these test to be most similar to the real MCAT. Using these the last time I took the MCAT I got a 31R, but with these on the MCAT practice exams provided by AMCAS I did not test below a 33 and sometimes saw a 36. Follow Jonathan Orsey's directions in the books to the letter. It took me a month into my study to find out they worked.

No matter which you decided to use I strongly recommend buying all the exams offered by AMCAS online. They give an exhaustive diagnostic of your testing ability and knowledge after each one.

Amount of time to study should really be up to you. I find that it is good not to draw out the study time for the sciences. About two or three months should do it if you are not in school. The verbal reasoning on the other hand will only get better with practice so beginning 14 weeks or more before the exam is not a bad idea. Just make sure you are reading and answering questions.

Keep the questions coming send me an email or just reply to the blog, and I will get back to you either in the form of a blog post or a personal email.


Anonymous said...

The only thing is there is limited classes for examkrackers and the other two are much more flexible

Colin said...

Most people I ask found that the classes are rarely helpful unless you were not a biology major

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Kimberly said...

Do you mean to say that if I wasn't a bio major, I should find classroom instruction helpful?