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Best MCAT Prep for Self-Studying?

wafflewaffle Posts: 590Registered User Member
edited July 2013 in MCAT Prep
What is the best MCAT prep book (Kaplan, Princeton Review, Examcrackers, etc.) for someone like me who wants to try to avoid spending all that money on a lecture prep course? Are there other options like online supplements that are worthwhile too? Especially in this economic climate, I'd like to try avoiding paying an exorbitant amount of money for a prep course, and I don't think it would help much anyway since I'm much more of a self-studier (I tend to fall asleep in lectures anyway, while I'm very self-motivated when teaching myself). I am thinking of taking the test this summer since I am currently a sophomore who only needs one more semester of organic chemistry and physics before being done with the general prerequisites. I know that there is a wealth of information on this forum already, but it's very hard to go digging through all of it for information specifically geared towards me. So any suggestions for someone who wants to self-study? Do many even go without the lecture courses?
Post edited by waffle on
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Replies to: Best MCAT Prep for Self-Studying?

  • wafflewaffle Posts: 590Registered User Member
    bump (10 char)
  • IcarusIcarus Posts: 4,336Registered User Senior Member
    Definitely a good call on your part - I really wish I hadn't wasted all that money on that stupid course (I took the Princeton Review series).

    For the books, I would recommend the Kaplan comprehensive book. Its not quite as detailed as the Princeton Review books, but it is significantly easier to read, which is definitely important when you're studying for one test for so long.
  • norcalguynorcalguy Posts: 7,541Registered User Senior Member
    Examkrackers are probably the best (although I don't think you can go wrong with Princeton Review or Kaplan books). If you need extra practice problems, I suggest Princeton Review's 1000-page science workbook. You won't get through it all but it must be good practice since I scored a 27 on the two science sections on the MCAT.
  • SoOnErVoUsSoOnErVoUs Posts: 25Registered User New Member
    i am in a 7-year med program and i want to get my mcat over with during this summer of 2009. i only want to take it once because i think it would be extremely difficult for me to take it once the fall 2009 semester starts.. so i'm aiming for my highest score on my first try this august 2009. do you think it's silly of me to start studying on my own now? i know people say you get burnt out if you study too long but i also don't want to be cramming in 8 weeks when i could have been studying for months. for this self-studying method.. what books do you recommend are the best?

    also-- does anyone know if the kaplan online course for the mcat is good?

    thanks so much!! i appreciate any advice you have to offer!
  • shades_childrenshades_children Posts: 2,206Registered User Senior Member
    i'm aiming for my highest score on my first try this august 2009. do you think it's silly of me to start studying on my own now?

    Yes, I think it's silly.
    i know people say you get burnt out if you study too long but i also don't want to be cramming in 8 weeks when i could have been studying for months.

    Good MCAT prep doesn't take 8 months. I studied from January to April, which is a long time, because I was a full-time student and that's the schedule my Kaplan course was on. That 4 months was plenty. I can't imagine dragging it on for 8.
  • rer678rer678 Posts: 86Registered User Junior Member
    shades, did you find the Kaplan course helpful? Or would you have done just as well self-studying? In general, are prep courses worth it?
  • shades_childrenshades_children Posts: 2,206Registered User Senior Member
    I found Kaplan very helpful for the MCAT. I certainly think my score was due to the course. Looking back on things now, if I had to do everything over again I would take the Kaplan classroom course again. I don't think I would have had the attention span or discipline to lay out a study plan and execute it. I was very busy with class at the time, and just having a preset schedule where I felt I had to prepare and show up to class was a big help.

    I used them in high school for SAT prep. Kaplan's style intuitively makes sense to me in a way that Princeton Review and Barron's does not. That is my personal preference, though, and your mileage may vary.

    I should also say that I did not pay full price for the course. I signed up in the fall when Kaplan was offering a discount of a few hundred dollars, and I took the course from Jan-Apr.
  • ns89ns89 Posts: 704Registered User Member
    im exactly the same as the OP :)
    i hate lectures, because i tend to fall asleep, or zone out/daydream.. but when i self study im usually very good and motivated :) Like I'm pulling an A in my gen. chem 2 this semester, and I've been to like 6/30 classes, 1 of which was the first day, and 3 were test days :P

    i borrowed the barrons book from my school library, and though i havent looked through it much yet, i feel that it seems like a very easy to read and well structured book. which i like.. and it has both info, and practice tests.. :) going to self study it this summer, and then take it in august, for the first time.. :) only problem is that i havent finished Ochem, or physics yet(or started for that matter), am just finishing up gen bio 1+2 and gen chem 1+2 so... i dont think physics will be a problem, its always been one of my stronger subjects, but ochem scares me.. had a basic o chem class in HS, which i hated, because it was so boring imo:P oh well.. we'll see :)
  • wafflewaffle Posts: 590Registered User Member
    i started using examkrackers to study for the august 14th test, so far it's pretty good, though i don't know how much i'm improving - it's so hard to improve on the verbal! the worst part is that each time i do a 30 minute set on examkrackers, i think i've gotten almost everything right, and then i see that some of the questions were almost like trick questions or harder than i first thought. i think the strategies for the verbal is good for examkrackers, though i have issues with some of the question wordings and reasonings, at least compared to the aamc diagnostic i took. on my diagnostic i got a 9 and now i'm getting 10s on their short passages - i don't really know how good a one point improvement is, though i know a ten is a good score, and i'm happy with that slight improvement considering when it comes to verbal tests i have the attention span of a goldfish :)

    i also got kaplan's big book, just to get some extra take on stuff that examkrackers may leave out. i definitely like examkrackers verbal stuff more than kaplan, while on the other hand kaplan gives much more direction on writing
  • sarahvu1988sarahvu1988 Posts: 6Registered User New Member
    I took 2 courses in LA. Here' the info:

    1) Princeton Review had great materials. Very comprehensive. I liked one of the bio instructors (Jennifer).

    2) SWARTWOOD had the best instructor (John) I have ever seen.
    But, it's an "in-class" class and not a self study.

    3) I looked at EK, but liked the PR material better. EK has some mistakes and is not thorough enough in physics.
  • IcarusIcarus Posts: 4,336Registered User Senior Member
    2) SWARTWOOD had the best instructor (John) I have ever seen.
    But, it's an "in-class" class and not a self study.

    Dude, John Swartwood is brilliant! (literally - 44 on the MCAT, equally high score on the LSAT, PhD in Math) And he was one of the best teachers I ever had at UCLA.
  • IcarusIcarus Posts: 4,336Registered User Senior Member
    ^ that being said, I didn't take John's MCAT prep, so I can't speak for that. He is an amazing teacher who really cares about his students though. I remember him doing 5-hour long reviews for the Math 3-series tests, which were super-helpful. I can only imagine that his MCAT classes are pretty decent.
  • premedbruinpremedbruin Posts: 8Registered User New Member
    I don't know for sure, but I heard that there were no Swartwood materials (no computer exams and one tiny book). Don't you end up using the AAMC stuff in class and have nothing else to study?
  • KgirlLAKgirlLA Posts: 5Registered User New Member
    He goes around trashing Swartwood when he's never taken it.
    I think it's that Todd guy. He's just scared b/c Swartwood and crew are way better teachers and are taking a huge chuck of students. I got the mass email he sent me right here with his name on it. It's desperate and sad. SAD really SAD. (wanna see it? Let me know.)

    Right on one thing though: Swartwood's an in-class class. I took it, so I know :).

    Regardless, SELF-STUDY
    1. Princeton Review is best all around (lots of good material).
    2. Kaplan is ok, but has some mistakes. Bad for verbal. Good at bio.
    3. EK is pretty good for biology but a little dense. Verbal Passages are good but have bad explanations.
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