Loving the Library

A couple of days ago, I finished my MCAT biology review book. (I’m using EK.) Yay! I was so excited. Not that I know everything, but I’m done with my first run-through, have a bazillion online flashcards made (feel free to access any of my Quizlet.com sets here ) that I can study on the train to and from lab, and was consistently getting most (if not all) the review questions correct. I felt encourged. Energized.

Then I hit a brick wall: physics.

I would read a section in my EK book, think I understood it, then get half the review questions wrong. And I wasn’t even to the tough stuff. I’m talking F=ma, projectile motion, that sort of thing. I was very frustrated, and demoralized. I won’t even go into how my Lesson 1 practice exam went. Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.

Part of my frustration was that I had done so well in my physics class - an A both semesters. An A on every exam, for that matter. I worked my butt off for those grades, and I know it wasn’t some fluke. I also know I’m not stupid (although I certainly felt that way yesterday).

I also felt frustrated because I didn’t know what step to take next. Obviously, reading the EK lessons over and over wasn’t working. So … what?

This afternoon, I knew I needed to take action. Change tactics. More specifically, see if another review book would be a better fit for me, at least for physics (I found the EK bio book to be a great resource). Seeing as how I’m flat broke, though, I don’t have the cash to go out and buy every MCAT physics book. Then it came to me - I don’t have to. I live just outside Chicago, and a whole bunch of suburbs in my area are members of a giant library network. I looked up “MCAT” on the online catalog, and found a ton of resources, including practice tests. I submitted several requests, so we’ll see what happens when the books arrive at my local library.

I’ll try to post comments here on the MCAT forum regarding my thoughts about the different books (I’ve got Princton, Kaplan, and Gold Standard books coming).

In the meantime, I’m putting physics to the side for now. No use in continuing to bash my head against that brick wall. I’ve got better things to do.


I’m also using EK to prepare. I felt the exact same way today when I took the in-class test for bio. My scaled score was a 4. I literally laughed out loud to stop from crying. I have taken copious notes and listened to audio osmosis I don’t know how many times.

But, we trudge into the library EVERY day because we have a goal in mind - medicine.

Keep pushing; you WILL make it over this hump…VICTORIOUSLY!

Well, I feel your pain.

I’m almost in the exact same position: recently started reviewing with EK, and their physics (lecture one) completely kicked my butt. And same as you: A+ in my physics classes. Super frustrating.

This is my first time looking at MCAT style physics questions, and to me, it just seems like a test full of tricks. Whereas in my physics class, things were more straight-forward.

But, I’m hoping it’s just part of the learning process – it seems like the MCAT questions are just a different way of thinking about physics, and that it demands a mastery of the concepts and facility with the equations that most college level physics courses just don’t.

And another thing: after feeling the same way you did about the EK physics questions, I did some searching, and it seems like their review questions can be notoriously difficult. I have BR physics, as well, and tried their questions and found them to be more manageable. Still a lot of work to do, but more manageable.

Good luck, and keep us updated.

@db2103 - I felt exactly the same way about the physics questions. “Wicked, tricksy, false,” as Gollum of LOTR would say!

And I think you’re right, a big part of it is retraining your brain to think about physics a bit differently, and more quickly. (Time was a big problem for me on the EK lecture exam.)

I will definitely update this thread once I get some of the other MCAT review books and try them out.

Best wishes to you, too!

  • terra_incognita Said:
No use in continuing to bash my head against that brick wall. I've got better things to do.

But it feels so good when you stop

I took the MCAT last year, and I agree with db2103 that MCAT PS is very different from our college physics. MCAT is a test designed to measure ability to think critically; therefore, quite a few MCAT questions actually can be solved simply by looking at their mathematical relationship in each physic equation. It is also important to master test taking skills. Remember MCAT is a standardized test, so the ability to spot and answer correctly on low or intermediate level questions is crucial. My impression is that if every low or intermediate level question is answered correctly, a 11 or 12 scaled score is achievable. Don’t waste too much time on difficult questions when taking the full length practice test or the real MCAT. If you are stuck on a question, just make an educated guess and move on. When you are ready to do the AAMC practice test, always analyze every single question, even the ones answered correctly. Pretty soon, you will be familiar with the MCAT question style.

If I can do it, anyone can! Good luck!

Thanks for the advice, Apple Pie!

And an update: I just finished the EK General Chemistry book this morning. So that’s bio and chem down, orgo and physics to go, in terms of content review. Then on to TONS of practice questions, and finally full-length practice tests.

As I mentioned, I was struggling with the EK Physics book, so I checked out a TPR physics review book from the library. I’m barely into it (still on the first chapter, kinematics), but so far I really like it. There are more examples worked out, which helps me think about how to approach the problems. The book is gigantic compared to EK, so I’d say that if you feel solid on your physics (as it pertains to the MCAT), then it may be overkill. But physics has always been a challenge to me, and although I did very well in physics in my post-bac, it took a good bit of effort on my part. So I know I will need to invest in physics review for the MCAT as well.

That said, I did like the EK Gen Chem book pretty well. Although I found chemistry much easier than physics (generally speaking), so that may have been part of it.

One thing that TPR mentions at the beginning of the book is that flashcards aren’t a good way to study for the MCAT unless you’re struggling with a specific content area and need help there, such as with memorizing equations. I get what they are saying, that the MCAT isn’t all about content, but about being able to apply your knowledge to new situations (i.e., reading passages and their associated questions). But I must beg to differ on this, at least in my case. I need to be an active (and not just a passive) learner. Making the flashcards helps keep me focused on learning/reviewing, as opposed to just reading (and in one ear and out the other). Plus, I finished my post-bac nearly a year ago, so things aren’t quite as fresh for me as perhaps for some. And at least in bio, we didn’t make it through all the topics, so some of the material is new to me.

Hope everyone’s MCAT studying is going well!