on June 4, 2009
EDIT: I want to preface this review saying that Examkrackers is a good resource and may be great for some and not for others. I don't want to give the idea that it is a bad resource.
- the materials look great (color)
- it seems to cover all the material necessary
- great marketing
- The concepts are very weak, especially in biology. You need to understand WHAT is going on conceptually. You can't just be thrown facts and material without knowing WHAT is going on. I quote another reviewer, "I have to say, the science is very conceptually weak... they teach you shortcuts, but if you don't grasp the concepts, the mcats is about tricking you on the weaknesses and you'll go for all the tricks."
- Not all of the books are excellent, the physics book is particularly weak.
- SIDE NOTE: Exam Krackers 101 Verbal passages is actually very strong and a quality resource.
I went through nearly all the reviews for this site for 30-40 minutes after I found the series to be less than 5 STAR quality (closer to 3) as so many reviewers were saying. I also noticed that a lot of the 5 star ratings were quick little "this is great, blah blah" short reviews. Please read some of the 3 star honest well written reviews. I did this. I also noticed over half of the 5 star reviews were following a certain pattern. The other thing that raised a flag was that this series had 96 reviews! 96! I tried to find ONE other MCAT comprehensive review that was close. Not one. The Kaplan 2007-2008 had 15 reviews, that was the closest.
So I asked a simple question, "how can I be sure these reviews are real or not?". One possible answer was, reviewers like to review. So if these were REAL reviews then I would assume there may be at least ONE other review by that reviewer. JUST ONE. So I decided to waste an enormous amount of time (I have a nice quad-core HP computer less than a month old, so it helped me go faster) and open every reviewer to see if they had reviewed any other books, I felt compelled to do this if there was any foul play going on. Here is what I found:
Here are the results as of June 4th, 2009:
There were 58 reviews that gave 5 stars:
---37 of these reviews only reviewed this book (2 anonymous "by Customer"). That is over 63%
---Another 2 were fishy in that they only reviewed this book and another Examkrackers book OR this book and gave a Kaplan book a low score saying in the first sentence, "I would use the Examkrackers books". In the first sentence made it tough to swallow. Also they were referring to some site called secret-route-dot-com which I looked up on amazon and google and found to be a scam type book with glowing reviews and then people calling it a scam.
All in all I estimate that 67% of the reviews were SINGLE reviews for this book (with only 2 that were this book and another EK book). 2 of every 3!
---33% of the reviewers that gave this book 5 Stars had reviewed some other book by some other publisher. Which looked real.
Crosscheck me on this, it is verifiable and true. Also because the reviews were fake it is likely that Examkrackers will not be able to remedy this situation because when you create a fake email to write a fake review you can't log in again because you will forget the log in/email.
To be fair I went to check out the Kaplan Premier Program with the highest number of reviews. The 2007-2008 had 15 reviews, I was only interested in the 5 star reviews as on this book (as if someone is to falsify reviews that would likely be 5 or 1 star reviews). There were FIVE 5 star reviews, and of the 5 all 5 had reviewed at least one other book or product from amazon.com.
--100% of the people who highly reviewed the Kaplan product were REPEAT reviewers and had reviewed some other book.
I am not advocating Kaplan's book as I haven't used it yet. I am very worried about the fidelity of some of these 5 star reviews. I would estimate that most of them are fake.
---------I have spaced this out as a poster didn't think I was being fair to examkrackers (objectively I do give them a 3)--------
Overall I would give the EK books a 3, but I had to give them a 2 because of the high probability of dishonesty.
I almost gave them a 1 because I am strongly against cheating and my gut tells me that employees created a lot of those reviews.
No one can be 100% sure, but after reading over the ones that seem fake, I see an eerie resemblance and repetition.
So all in all, I would say this. If you are really conceptually strong and did amazing in the classes then ExamKrackers is ok because the quick summary fashion in which they present information will be great. If you haven't taken a class in a few years and are a non traditional student, these may not be for you. The other option is using the Examkrackers as a good base and when you don't understand the quick overviews to use a textbook or some other more comprehensive source that explains concepts better.
I think this is why you can see some people really enjoying this and some people who don't think it is that great. A person who HAS a concept down can read this and say, "oh yeah I remember this, I need to know this? ok" while someone else can read it who has the concept down and say, "wow, if I hadn't learned this really well I would have no clue what this is saying. This is horrible."
You see, 2 people with the same strength reacting to the same resource differently. And of course those who don't have a concept down will have a vague understanding based mostly on memory but their ability to think critically in new directions (which is what the MCAT truly tests, not memory) will be tough. They may be able to get a 10 but I think a lot of us studying are setting goals higher than a 10 in each section.
EXAMPLE OF WHAT I'M SAYING: The section on the electron transport chain is 1 long paragraph. When I read it I had NO idea what it was talking about other than all the definitions of all the major constituents involved. If asked a difficult question on proton gradients or what would happen if you inhibited ATP synthase I would have been clueless and unable to get it right. If asked a simple Q I may have been ok.
So, what I did was also buy the TPR hyperlearning books and I read the EK (with a lot of questions and confusion, filling in gaps with wikipedia sometimes) then I read the TPR section on the same topic (2-3 pages instead of 1 paragraph), now I am conceptually stronger, then I will create a small review back with the EK material.
So I am using the EK as my backbone, because it helps me make the review BUT with only the EK I wouldn't be able to excel (as I took bio years ago). Had I just finished bio and had an excellent prof that covered everything, then I may have been conceptually strong with something like the electron transport chain and the EK short paragraph (as opposed to 2-3 pages in the princeton book) would have been sufficient.
Not ALL the EK sections are this much shorter than the TPR sections BUT you will find more effort to make sure you know everything that is going on and why in a TPR book while EK's goal is cleary: HERE IS WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW in the shortest way we can do it. (useful if you already conceptually strong).
GOOD Luck peoples!
on November 14, 2007
I bought this set of books this year to study for the mcats and I have to say that I'm deeply disappointed. Given the hype about everything that's been said online, I figured, so what if the writers aren't PhD, MD, or science majors, test-taking is different. So I studied with their 10 wk schedule, did most of their practice problems with the 100 problem/passage series, and what I noticed are the following weaknesses:
1.) General concepts are not covered to great enough depth for true conceptual understanding = very important to ace the mcat.
2.) some practice questions are irrelevant.
3.) Biology section--> nervous system, so badly written it is a bit funny, never seen it so badly written, so bad :)Don't get me started on thermo in the chemistry review.
4.) physics --> concepts do not follow with actual examples. Physics is really about applications. Can't apply the concepts, you'll be sad on the mcat.
5.) verbal - the only awesome thing about EK!
6.) the practice 100/1000 problem series do not give a good reflection of actual mcat where it's passage based and you need to know how to handle the information presented. The workbooks are all stand-alone questions.
7.) The science is not well presented. As a biology major with a near perfect GPA, I have to say, the science is very conceptually weak. Some explanations are a little funny. They teach you shortcuts, but if you don't grasp the concepts, the mcats is about tricking you on the weaknesses, and you'll go for all the tricks.
Maybe the books are meant as a supplement to the actual course, or as references with supplement of great background. I have no idea of why the ratings are so high for this series. Audio-osmosis is SO annoying. I'm really beginning to wonder if people from the company are reviewing the books.
One other thing, the text is colored, but honestly, you're no longer in gradeschool, so having content over visual entertainment with salty the annoying cracker is better at this point.
If you have to, buy the used as supplemental material to the Princeton review course which i highly recommend. Their texts are amazing!!!!!
on May 23, 2007
The Examkrackers series is great to improve your MCAT score for home study. Just make sure to follow the home study guide on their website. The books are colorful, easy to read and...yeah almost fun to study from. The only major downfall is that the typos and errors can be frusturating. I got the 7th edition and it was still littered with typos! The typos and errors are so obvious that they could have been fixed if someone just proofread the final draft ONCE!! Seriously! For example: The front cover says "Includes exercises with OFFCIAL AAAMC material", you might see 4 answers and they forgot to ask a question. There are parts where they say remember these FOUR things and go on to number THREE things. It's still the best study guide for the MCAT. All the little typos and messups just get really anoying considering that anyone could have fixed them after one proof read. And after the SEVENTH EDITION?!?! Come on guys. Don't just pump out a new edition every year to make a quick buck without even fixing the retarded typos. That's just lame and cheap.
on October 31, 2008
I regularly purchase books from Amazon.com, but this is my first review. I have decided to write about this study package because of the incredible experience I had using it.
I first took the MCAT in August 2006 and scored a 28Q. I had used Kaplan books to study for the test without taking the expensive Kaplan class. I believed that I could do well enough on my own to justify saving the money on one of those classes. After applying to medical schools last year, making it on to two alternate lists, and ultimately not receiving acceptance, I was forced to decide if I should retake the MCAT since it was the weakest part of my application.
Ultimately, I decided to retake the Exam still without signing up for an expensive prep class. Based on reading high user reviews, I purchased the Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package and devoted about 2.5 months to studying full-time for the MCAT on my own. I would go to a coffee shop or local library to study for nearly 6-8 hours each of 4-5 days per week for about 2.5 months. I used only Examkrackers as my study materials for all sections of the MCAT. I completely read through the study package two times, utilized all practice questions given in the study package, and went back to difficult areas to focus on in the week prior to the exam.
I took the MCAT for the second time in August 2008. The exam was on a Friday, and I took two official full-length practice exams (from the AMCAS website) on Monday and Wednesday before the exam. The week earlier I had scored a 26 on the Examkrackers practice exam, but on the official AMCAS practice exams I scored a 37 and a 38! On the actual MCAT exam I scored a 37T!!! I went from 65th percentile in 2006 to 98th percentile in 2008. I was shocked with my improvement in the score.
Examkrackers had prepared me exceedingly well for the MCAT and did not give any extraneous information. The goofy cracker character "Salty" was stupid and silly but made the information light and fun. The practice questions and practice exam provided by Examkrackers were much harder than the actual MCAT and overprepared me. The way certain subjects, especially organic chemistry, were taught was much better than I had been taught previously (even in college). The approach to organic chemistry in Examkrackers was to have more of an understanding about the theory and reasons behind reactions than to just strictly memorize so much that your head spins.
I highly recommend this package as your dedicated MCAT study materials. Although I did not practice writing very many essays, my score still went from a Q to a T. I attribute some of this to the no-nonsense opinions and strategy given by Examkrackers. However I directly attribute my increase from a 28 to a 37 to studying full-time with the excellent materials in the Examkrackers MCAT Complete Study Package.
Good luck, and enjoy!
on June 16, 2010
I signed up for the Kaplan classroom course since everyone told me you "have to" take a prep course in order to be on equal footing with everyone else. If someone told you that, do NOT listen to them! It was the worst $1900 I have ever spent. I took the MCAT two weeks after my class finished, as Kaplan suggested, and did not reach the 30 mark.
Please, save your money and buy the ExamKrackers prep books instead! I read all five lesson books, listened to the Audio Osmosis CDs, bought official AAMC practice exams and practiced taking them, and also practiced reading a few verbal passages from their 101 Verbal Passages book. ExamKrackers strategies are much more effective than anything I learned with Kaplan and the books tell you just enough information to succeed on the exam. I know a few of my friends did meticulously study from all their notes by matching them to the AAMC website's outlines, but I didn't want to waste my time digging through thousands of pages of notes. Thanks to ExamKrackers, I got above 30 on my second MCAT.
I would highly recommend that you finish all your premed courses before you attempt the MCAT. Also, make sure you buy a few of the official old AAMC exams to practice with. I know the latter are pricey, but they are the only tests that are indicative of the real thing.
Best of luck. If you decide to buy these, you are making the right decision and won't be disappointed.
on August 14, 2008
...because they are a SCAM. I bought this set based on the positive reviews, largely ignoring the cautionary negative reviews scattered throughout. The truth is, these books are nowhere near as good as the reviews say. Lemme tell you right now -- the negative ones are the real ones.
In a nutshell: I found the books to be very poorly written and organized. First off, they spend a ton of time talking down to you and bashing other exam companies. If they were really as good as they say, they wouldn't need to do that. Then they go on to explain why their SINGLE AUTHOR is "uniquely qualified". Their reason? He's a history major who never even went to medical school, who "sat for three MCATs while considering medical school" over a span of about EIGHT YEARS back in the late 80's/early 90's, and finally "scored in the ninetieth percentile in all three sections". Um. Excuse me. Isn't 90th percentile about a 33-34? The first time I took the MCAT, and all I did was read haphazardly through my books and do 3 practice tests. I didn't even understand optics going in. I got a 37. If all he could manage was a 33-34 (and that's assuming his 90th percentile in all three subjects was even on a single test) after three tests and eight years, what the hell makes him think he's qualified to write a book teaching ME how to take the MCAT?
But let's just ignore all that and discuss the meat of the books themselves: the science.
On that count, I have to say that the explanations are oftentimes really convoluted and confusing. The information on the MCAT test structure itself is flat-out wrong in a number of places. There are typos all over the place, and they have the audacity to charge you a forums registration fee on their website to look at the errata for the books. The "MCAT tips" from their "Salty the Kracker" mascot were useless and extremely irritating. And probably worst of all, the practice problems are horrible. They look like they were copied off some generic textbook -- totally off the scope of the MCAT (either too easy or too hard), and sometimes downright illogical/wrong.
The one good thing I have to say about their books is that they draw out all the electron-pushing diagrams in o-chem, which few other review books do. For everything else, they were crap. I finally fled to Kaplan, which I found to be leaps and bounds better. Which isn't to say everyone should go get a Kaplan book, because I haven't had a chance to look through Gold Standard, Princeton Review, Columbia Review, or any of the others -- but it is to say that you should, AT ALL COSTS, avoid exam krackers.
on August 4, 2010
I would recommend reading the feed back from Robert McKee. I think that he may be on to something. I only bough these because a professor recommended them (but he was that smart).
-The company has a lot of practice problems (sold separately), which helps for practice.
-They do an okay job at reviewing the basic material covered on the MCAT.
-I've found quite a few errors, especially in the problems, and occasionally in the material. Their website has all the errors listed, but you have to pay a subscription to join the form for access to what these errors are.
-I don't particularly like how they claim to be the supreme MCAT authority, claiming that using any other review will be detrimental to your score.
-The jokes are stupid, and not helpful.
-They have not released a recent edition for many years now, which means that they are now out dated.
-If you want a good review course, go with Kaplan. They are the gold standard of MCAT/LSAT review.
-You may consider going to the AAMC's MCAT page and download the PDF document that list all the topics covered on the MCAT and look them up on your own using textbooks and other sources.
-Practice lost of problems.
-Take lots of practice test.
on September 5, 2011
So I recently took the MCAT and used both the Kaplan prep course (which, of course, included the books) and had this EK completely study pkg laying around as well. Kaplan does a great job of prepping you for the test via their online resources (for example, chapter reviews, practice MCATs... etc) which is really important for getting acquainted with the strenuous and novel layout of the exam itself. However, I found Kaplan's books gave me an overview of what my science text books gave me, which is great, however, at the same time, they failed to deliver the information in a way that would allow you to be able to make quick connections between concepts, which is essential for someone taking the MCAT. The Kaplan books are great if you are someone who needs a mild refresher of the information.
Now, enough about Kaplan. The Exam Kracker's books really helped me make quick connections between concepts by explaining how the MCAT will probably test your knowledge during the exam. I understood the information the first time around when it was presented to me, but I was certainly dusty on how to approach, for example, the conceptual questions in the physical sciences section in a manner that would yield the right answer while saving me time. Exam Kracker's taught me the tricks of the trade, if you will. I felt like the books were very helpful if you're someone who can't get a lot out of going to a class, like Kaplan's, and are much more a home study/self teaching type student.
At times, the way the Exam Kracker's book is set up with things written in the margins and text all over the place kind of overwhelmed me, but after reading Kaplan's books, these were a lot more fun!
Anyway, the overall point is that the Exam Kracker's books are just as good as the kaplan books - it really just depends on what aspect of the knowledge you really need help with. If you just need a review go with kaplan, but if you need help with associated concepts to one another and forming complex connections between information to help save on time - go with Exam Krackers.
At the end of the day, I would suggest doing a prep. course and getting these books to help fill in the gaps.
btw: Kaplan's books haven't been edited in awhile, so you find yourself learning concepts that won't appear on the MCAT (especially with respect to organic chemistry)
Hope this helped anyone taking the MCAT and in need of some advice! I haven't gotten my scores back (get released on Sept. 20th), but my practice exams fluctuated from a 33-37 if that helps validate this review!
on June 1, 2010
I truly wish I had scoured through all the reviews before trusting the plethora of 5/5 ratings. I received this package earlier in the year with the hopes of using it as my prime MCAT study resource. After all, the package openly claims repeatedly that Exam Kracker is *the* resource to use and warns that the use of other study materials can actually lower your score. It claims to be absolutely comprehensive; it claims to be accurate. All these claims are meaningless in the end; the contents of the book do not live up to its hype nor its $100 price tag. You'd best look elsewhere for study materials.
Trying to prepare for the MCAT using this package has been terribly frustrating. The books begin by telling you that everything you possibly need to know for a given section is contained between the front and back covers. I carefully read through the chapters, and noticed right away that the package sacrificed depth and clarity for breadth. The books are quick to jump from idea to idea without really giving you an understanding of the underlying concepts. The "copious explanations" and "revealing insights" are nowhere to be found.
The book also assumes tons of prior knowledge without actually covering such materials anywhere in the books. When I arrive at the end-of-the-chapter question sets, I encountered complex questions that required knowing rules NEVER covered in the chapter nor the chapters preceding. Other times, the questions presented were so trivial that I had to wonder if they were used just as space fillers. The book claims to be representative of real MCAT questions, but I suppose I was not surprised by the questions' quality after reading the chapters.
This book does not deserve anything above a 2/5. Even if you've got your sciences down, the way this book skims MCAT concepts makes it a poor study guide. Be wary of many of those glowing 5/5 reviews. Some fellow Amazon members have suggested that the integrity of this product's ratings has been compromised. After using this package, I feel obliged to agree.
on September 16, 2011
i took the MCAT 3 times, each with a different preparation method and outcome.
1st time, fresh out of undergrad as a biology student. all of the tested concepts were fresh in my mind. score = 27
2nd time, after about a year of working in a lab while studying for 6 months with a huge princeton review book, using college textbooks to fill-in gaps as necessary. score = 30
3rd time, after grad school. graduated undergrad 6 years ago and was most nervous of being too rusty in all of these basic science concepts to do well at all on the mcat. while working full time, i studied the exam krackers set of books for 1 month, wishing i had more time to prepare. i didn't have time to open the verbal reasoning book at all. i didn't even have time to take any of the practice mini-mcats in the back of the books. score = 34
it is true that the ek books leave a lot of foundation information out of the texts but, i prefer that. if you have a strong foundation in science concepts, all these books do is remind you of some details that you forgot, tell you what is on the test and what is not, and help you to exercise using this knowledge so solve some mcat-like problems to get comfortable. then, on to the next topic.
i preferred this style of studying this time as i didn't have any time to waste going over background information that was already in my brain somewhere. the ek books just reminded me of the pieces of info that i needed to dig-out from the dusty files in the back of my mind and put in the front for easy access. when there was a topic that i couldn't remember for the life of me, i just dug out an old textbook and perused it for an hour or so until i was totally clear on the concept, then i continued right where i left off in the ek book.
furthermore, i found that the practice questions in the ek books were more difficult than the ones on the actual mcat. this helped tremendously when it came time to take the real test. the questions seemed a bit easier than i expected, so i was able to relax a bit and take my time double checking answers to be sure i was satisfied with my answer choices.
so, i loved this series of books. it may not be for everyone but it was for me. i think i had a slight advantage as a non-traditional med school applicant since i went through grad school in the sciences. so, although i had forgotten most of the details of basic science concepts, i was still very used to and seasoned in analytical thinking and absorbing a lot of information from text/figures in a short period of time.
if i had more time, maybe i could have scored even higher using everything the ek books had to offer. maybe i could have risen the score even more if i also supplemented with a princeton review book or something. but, it is what it is. im satisfied with the results of the ek books given the limited time i invested into using them. hope this helps some of you out there.