Most helpful positive review
201 of 209 people found the following review helpful
Very good review with everything you need to know, and almost nothing you don't!
on March 23, 2013
First of all, some of the practice exam sections are incredibly difficult in comparison to the actual MCAT. It is Kaplan's way of challenging you and helping you know more than you need to, but sometimes it is kind of stupid to make the practice exams so much harder. Some of them I could not even finish in the time they gave. If you want to do practice exams, buy Kaplan's separate exams (which I still think are harder) or buy them directly from AMCAS.
I am going to break this down book-by-book:
The Organic Chemistry book is the worst book, which I guess is the best one to be the worst due to such a little amount of O chem. It assumes that you know a lot and almost just lists reaction types in a paragraph or two. I found it the hardest to follow. OCHEM only occurs for about 10-12 questions, but it's still important to know a lot in case it arises. Study a lot of SN1 and SN2. A lot questions dealing with organic chemistry are about knowing the nucleophile, electrophile, and what goes where.
The biology book is great. Pure facts and just telling you what you need to know. Straight and to the point: just read, read, read. The MCAT biology portion is a lot different than just memorizing though (although probably 6-8 questions are purely out of memorization). You need to learn how to break down experiments with your biological background. There are a lot of genetics and problems dealing with the expression of certain "things" on the biology portion. i.e. This causes that, which causes that, which then causes what? Learn about the heart very well too. Muscles (sarcomeres), kidneys, digestive, and hormones are big topics as well.
The physics book was my favorite one. I love how concise all the information is. No time wasting. This is where I saw the largest discrepancy between the practice exams and the actual MCAT. I would miss 15-18 on the Kaplan 52 question practice sections in the Physics book, while on actual practice MCATs released by AMCAS, I will only miss 4 to 5 physics questions out of 26-30. Wavelength = C/f, F=Gm1m2/r^2. Remember those two: especially the wavelenth equation. I have no idea why they stress sound so much. Probably because of cardiology.
General chem is also extremely solid. Extremely concise and tells you what to look out for all the time. I found the exams to be most like the actual MCAT. Learn about redox reactions: which is the reducing agent, oxidizing, etc. Learn the periodic table's characteristics. Be able to distinguish the differences between elemental groups. General chem should be almost everyone's easiest topic to learn.
Verbal reasoning is all about practicing, so I cannot really comment too much on this book. Examkrackers 101 passages is what I recommend for that section. Also, buy the AMCAS reading sections and do them. I found that I needed to practice the least on this part. Being from an engineering background, logical thinking was very easy.
In general, this review set is great. They will tell you what is always on the MCAT, what equations to remember, and what general ideas to remember that are always tested. In the many practice MCATs that I've done, I ALWAYS think to myself "oh wow, I remember this from the Kaplan book and how they stressed this specifically" and almost instantly get the answer. It happens a lot.
A lot of people actually do better when they get there. The extra stress when you're actually testing can help you. It makes you more aware and a more "fight or flight" (parasympathetic nervous system, don't forget ;)) type of attitude kicks in. If you're not doing well on the practice exams, don't worry, you can always go up.
The MCAT can be hard if you don't prepare well. Bust your a**. Study 4 months before the exam. Read each book 3 times. Do multiple AMCAS practice tests starting 10-12 weeks before your test date. Do at least 7 or 8 practice tests. Sure, they add up monetarily, but better than repaying $240 to take the MCAT again. Get a feel for the real deal. I always have extra time left for Physical and biological, but reading is very time stressed, practice practice practice. You will see your reward at the end. Don't view this as an obstacle to get into med school, view it as the beginning of med school.