I know some of you have commented on the Exam Krackers test prep series for the MCAT, but I'm still hesitant to fork over a huge load of cash when I don't know that it's going to be worth it. I used Flowers & Silver before, & it didn't really help much. F & S is good in some ways, but it didn't do it for me. As for Barron's, it's a complete waste of time & money (almost every other page has mistakes on it and, except for the practice exam at the back, the book seems to be aimed at the grade school crowd(whereas the MCAT is definitely not, as many of us know!)
I'm looking for something that will
1. develop & challenge my test-taking skills,
2. help me dissect MCAT passages, and
3.improve my speed(without sacrificing accuracy).
What do you think? Can Exam Krackers help me? I'd like to hear from everyone who has used EK. Tell me, specifically, how it has improved your test-taking(specifically, MCAT-taking) skills.
Those of you who have also used other test prep resources(Flowers & Silver, etc.), tell me how EK compares to the others.
I'd really appreciate your input, guys. Remember, I'm planning on making a HUGE improvement. Just think, this could make a great before & after story for our forum. This is the stuff that dreams are made of,… inspirational movies… okay, okay, I'm rambling. A few brief comments will do.
P.S.: I am planning on doing official MCAT practice tests IV to VI after I go through the review again.
hum, I'm in a slight quandry as to how to respond to this as I did use and did like the EK materials very much. However, for the three things you specifically mention -
1 develop & challenge my test-taking skills,
2. help me dissect MCAT passages, and
3.improve my speed(without sacrificing accuracy).
I don't actually think the EK, or for that matter, any of the current review materials really do this - but then there aim is review, with much less emphasis on actual test-taking skills. For the skills that you are looking to gain I think the only way is to do exams, then go back over them, looking at every single answer (whether you got it right or wrong) and trying to understand why it was this way. I used
The Silver Bullet: Real MCATs Explained by Brett L. Ferdinand, et al (Paperback) which is available at amazon (If you buy it from Amazon try to use the link on our front page to Amazon as then they pay OPM and help keep this site going!). It wasn't perfect but it did explain why each question was the way it was, and helped me get into the mindset of the MCAT people. You need copies of AAMC 1-3 to use this book though as the book is just answers.
EK do have one product which is the 101 Verbal passages which would help in a similar way if you are specifically having problems with verbal. The 1001 Science ones are not passage based (I believe - I have not seen the science ones).
…oh and I liked the AAMC online versions of the tests as they also provided explanations of why each answer was either right or wrong.
Ive got most of the EK material and a lot of it is very good. The only issue I have is that they do not supply a lot of MCAT style practice questions.
the 1001 question books are just that, 1001 discrete questions. I feel you need a good mix of both style questions.
I dont believe they'll be a bad investment, but i dont think you'll get a lot of problems to test wheter you can apply all that you learned.
I used Princeton Review materials and liked them - You may want to consider checking them out…
I used and liked EK materials. You can do a search in the forums from last spring and see my comments.
As far as test taking skills and exposure, I thought the materials did a good job of teaching you “pace”.
After every chapter, there is a “quiz” designed to have the appropriate # of MCAT questions for a 30 min timed test in that area (e.g. if you have 90 mins for 69 questions in a subject, the 30 min quiz would have 23Q). I generally worked 4 chapters a week - that is 1 chapter from each subject area. So in that week, I also had 4 30 min timed practices. Over 8-10 weeks of studying that helps you to learn your pace.
but just like in running, you have to practice your race pace, but you also have to increase your distance/endurance. so you work in every other weekend to do a full timed exam. AAMC III, IV, V, VI and the EK sample exams –
Thanks guys for all your suggestions. Well, I guess now that you've answered my questions &, since I have a lot of MCAT study tips(from Natalie, etc.), there are no more excuses for goofing off!
Massive volumes of MCAT-styled questions taken under testing conditions is one of the keys to a solid perfomance on the real thing, in my humble opinion.
It is a common misperception that the MCAT is a recall-based exam. It is not and it is intentionally designed to not be that way. Once upon a time, it was a pure recall exam…now that medical is becoming a consumer/curomer service driven profession, the MCAT has progressively altered its testing focus to reading comprehension, integration of information and decision making from the provided info. This rewards people who have been trained to read critically in liberal arts styled curricula…and penalizes those of us in science-oriented degrees - liberal arts education is founded in the art of critical reading whereas science tects do not require critical reading skills, the info is lain out there in B&W in an info-dense format…no skill needed, just the powers of retention.
The sum of this is that is inadequate to prepare for the MCAt by merely trying to cram as much info as you can into your gourd and rushing to the test site with your fingers in your ears to prevent leakage. The answer to every question on the MCAT is contained either in the passages, is info you should have acquired in the pre-med prerequisites or an assimilation of the two sources.
This testing strategy makes test-taking skills & familiarity with the actual exam under testing conditions critically important elements to a solid performance. If you are seeking to “learn” all that will be tested on the MCAt from MCAT prep books or course, you will likely be sorely disappointed. That information should already be in your memory banks…their storage location may be a bit rusty, but the info should largely be there. The purpose of the prep guides & courses is to refresh all of those factoids. It has been shown a multitude of times, although “why” is poorly understood, that the more recently & more frequently you’ve had to work with a piece of data, the more effectively & efficiently you can recall & use it. so, to refresh the info through an organized test review makes the info more accessible.
The test taking skills are invaluable in ‘how’ you attack the exam. Face it, it is not possible to know everything that you will asked. But, sharp test taking skills maximize the effort you put into each question and teach you how to get the highest yield from your efforts. Every question is worth the same amount, test taking skills allow you to get all f the ones you know correct, improve your odds on the ones where you must guess and minimize the number of questions where you are completely clueless.
Very little, if any, of the stuff on the MCAT will come into play in medical school or when you are a practicing physician. So, place it all into perspective & attack it accordingly. Do not expend massive resources as if you were preparing for a factual-recall exam when the actual instrument is a reading comprehension exam. Would an aspiring auto mechanic learn to work on cars by learning to fold oragami (fancy-schmancy little Japanese folded paper thingies)? No, of course not…then why make the same mistake in prepping for the MCAT?
By “organized review”, I do not mean that a full-blown course is mandatory. by all means, if you are sufficiently disciplined as to undertake such a course flying solo or in a dedicated study group – by all menas, go for it!!! However, I knew that I was not this way & was carrying for too heavy an academic load to even try. So, I took a review course. I choose the Princeton Review for scheduling convenience. However, many of my classmates choose Kaplan…and most of them are in med school just as I am.
It comes down to, expend the resources that you must expend to get where you plan to go. If you feel that you need a review course but the dollars are short – perfectly understandable for most any of us – then maybe you should consider revamping your course schedule so as to schedule the course & MCAt at a later date when you can swing the $$. Yes, they are expensive…but is it not even more expensive to have spent all fo the money and the immense personal effort to do well in school and then sell yourself short preparing for the MCAT? To me, undermining myself on MCAT prep would prove far more wasteful of my finite resources than waiting to scrape my nickels together and taking a solid prep course.
Thanks, OMD, for that post. I think that the sheer volume of MCAT-type questions, as well as sticking to the strict time limits while practicing, is what is going to help me the most. I just have to get that response time down when answering Qs. I'm getting a warm, fuzzy feeling about ExamKrackers, though, especially after the responses I've been getting. It sounds like EK also has a fair # of questions, so that should help.
Here is an interesting story. I wanted to study for the MCAT during the winter break and bid on a complete Examkracker set on ebay. This was supposed to be a brand-new set selling for $70. I won the auction and sent my check to some guy with a Chinese name and a NYC address. That was Nov 26.
After a few week of this guy not replying to my emails, and checked on ebay and noticed that he started to register as a pretty bad seller on (this was his first auction, so there were no previous entries). Soon, ebay took him off as a member - I assumed for fraud, and I kissed my check good-bye (which he did indeed cashed).
Today I received a package UPS from Barns & Nobles, inside containing a Christmas wrapped package containing a brand new Examkracker set, purchased from some woman in CA for me!!!
I wonder whats up with this?
Anyway, I just checked Barnes and Nobel and Amazon, and this beast is still selling for $120 and $150.
Ahhhh….I love it when a plan comes together.