Should You Use MCAT Self Prep? Why I Wish I Had

As you already know, test day is stressful. Not only are you nervous about arriving early enough to the testing center, finishing each section on time, and being able to sit for long periods of time, but also thoughts about how the MCAT could affect the medical school that you attend in the future are also circulating in your mind. Although breathing techniques and mindset shifts do help ease these nerves, the only way to truly relieve MCAT test-day anxiety is by being well prepared.

I dedicated a period of approximately 4 months solely to MCAT studying. I considered enrolling in a prep course, but ultimately decided that most were too costly and that I could likely yield the same results by studying on my own. I crafted an MCAT study schedule and dedicated myself to reading, re-reading, and taking notes on each chapter of Kaplan MCAT prep books. After completing each book, I would take a practice test, either from the AAMC or from another test prep company.

As test day approached, I realized that I was not scoring as well as I had hoped on my MCAT practice tests. Ultimately, I scored in the same range on actual test day, around a 500. Looking back at my study methods, I realize that I faced tough challenges working through the concepts that I struggled most with. Although I thought my study schedule was laid out well, I would have benefited more from following a study plan backed by research and high-yield concepts since the beginning. 

I was lucky enough to come across MCAT Self Prep towards the end of my studying, and the comprehensive free e-course definitely helped me solidify some of those concepts that I was testing poorly on. I truly believe that if I would have found this resource earlier, I would have scored better on test day because I would have been solid on the concepts that are tested the most, and better able to apply those concepts to more specific passages.

In addition, if I would have purchased one of the pro plans or enrolled in their affordable elite tutoring, I would have had someone to guide me through my MCAT studying and help me identify the areas that needed improvement. When taking on a challenge like the MCAT, it is essential to get the most out of your resources. I will admit that when I decided to self-study, I was being a bit stubborn. At that time, I had only heard of more traditional test prep companies. I made use of their free resources, but I was under the impression that enrolling in a course would not benefit me any more than studying on my own would, as I felt as though I had developed successful study habits throughout college.

Looking back, I realize that a significant portion of my time was spent over-planning when I should study what, and allotting set blocks of time to each subject and concept. I was uninformed with regards to which concepts students tend to struggle with and which concepts deserve more time.

If I would have used that time to look into different MCAT prep programs like MCAT Self Prep, I would have saved a significant amount of time because I would have experts’ help in creating a customized study schedule created specifically for me, and in deciding which subjects require which amount of time and attention. In addition, because of the various low-cost options offered by this website, I could have avoided the financial burden associated with other test prep companies. Following a study schedule and simultaneously giving each subject the time that it needs is difficult, and I wish I would have enrolled in the MCAT Self Prep eCourse for guidance.

When it comes to studying for the MCAT, it is important to let go of pride and look to those who have experience not only with taking the test themselves, but also with training others to take the test and score well. Not only does MCAT Self Prep work with you individually to meet your study needs, but it also offers resources for you to use on your own time and allows you to make connections with others who are taking the MCAT around the same time as you.

Their program offers over 5,000 flashcards that correspond with lessons in their e-course, which I found were a very helpful study strategy for reviewing information I had just read and taken notes on in my textbooks, and for making sure I retained that information days or weeks later. I made my own flashcards and not only did this take me a large portion of time, but my flashcards were also likely less efficient and comprehensive than the ones created by trained professionals. Another resource that I would have made use of if I were to start studying for the MCAT all over again is the Facebook study group offered by MCAT Self Prep.

I personally love working collaboratively, because I have found that sometimes another individual understands or memorizes a concept differently than I do. Listening to others’ tips and points of view often helps solidify information in a way that allows me to retain it rather than simply memorizing and forgetting. You may find that you remember something by using someone else’s mnemonic, for example. This is yet another opportunity to share your study tips, your struggles, and your questions and to receive feedback and assistance that helps guide your study process. 

I am the first in my family to pursue medicine and during my MCAT studying, I did not recognize the true value of having someone to guide you. I recommend studying with MCAT Self Prep, as it is affordable and effective.

Warm Regards,

Alexa

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How we Matched up the Khan Academy Passages with the eCourse Lessons

Each lesson of the eCourse contains links to 1 to 5 Khan Academy science passages for the purpose of providing you with non-AAMC material to practice your science passage reading skills on. By completing all the linked passages within every lesson, you will have finished all the freely available Khan Academy science passages.

To match up the Khan Academy Science Passages with the eCourse lessons, we carefully examined the passage and question content of each one. Then we decided which lesson of the eCourse best correlated with that content. You may notice that some passages don’t match up perfectly with the current lesson. If they don’t match up with the current lesson, they should match up with one of the previous lessons in the module. We did this carefully so that you could practice your science passage reading skills on passages that contain the content you’ve already learned.

Why we don’t recommend non-AAMC CARS practice questions

We recommend practicing CARS by reading non-AAMC CARS passages but not doing the associated practice problems. The reason we don’t recommend doing the practice problems is because the MCAT is written by the AAMC. They have a very unique style in which they write CARS practice questions that third-party companies (try as they might) are unable to replicate. When students spend time on non-AAMC CARS practice problems, they get familiar with the wrong style of questioning, leading them to overthink and incorrectly respond to the questions written by the AAMC. Thus, it is in your best interest to solely practice on AAMC CARS practice questions.

That said, we highly recommend practicing your reading skills on non-AAMC CARS passages. In our Ultimate CARS Strategy Course, we provide you with 1,000 free CARS passages and 100+ homework assignments, giving you ample material to practice on. Reading countless passages while practicing the proper reading habits and strategies will prepare you well to conquer the CARS section as it was written by the AAMC.

Which books do the lessons match up with?

The books we use in each lesson are linked below. We plan to stick with these older editions of the books since very little has changed and the older editions are much more affordable:

First Edition of the Kaplan 7-book Series
First Edition of the Princeton 7-book Series

Do the chapters match up perfectly?

The Kaplan Books, Princeton Books, and Khan Academy Videos were all produced by different authors. For this reason, there are some chapters in the Kaplan Book or Princeton Book that are not even found in the Khan Academy Videos and vice versa. For instance, the Kaplan and Princeton Books have chapters that cover certain experimental procedures that the Khan Academy Videos do not cover.

Our goal in matching up the books with the videos was to correlate the content as best as possible while also covering ALL the content from every resource. For this reason, when nothing in the Kaplan Books matched up with one of the video playlists, instead of leaving the reading assignment for Kaplan blank, we inserted material that did not fit in anywhere else (i.e. one of those chapters on an experimental procedure that was not covered by Khan Academy). So, when the assignment doesn’t appear to match up right, please know that this was intentional.

*If you follow the reading assignments outlined, you will finish the entire Kaplan 7-book series and/or Princeton 7-book series by the time you finish all 10 content modules.

Do the sections match up perfectly?

If the sections assigned in our eCourse do not match up with the sections contained in your content review book, you may have a different edition. The sections should still match up the large majority of the time, but in the rare instance that they don’t, I’d recommend simply reading sections that do match up and saving the ones that do not for a future lesson.

MCAT Launchpad Required!

Before jumping into our free eCourse, you’ll need to complete orientation by watching MCAT Launchpad. During this free 35-minute intro session with Head Tutor Andrew, you’ll learn 6 Keys to Earning a Top MCAT Score, the 5 Essential Elements of an Effective Study Plan, 12 Tips for Taking the Best MCAT Study Notes, and more! Andrew will also provide you with a detailed overview of the Free MCAT Prep Course, teaching you how to get started.

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