Online prep course vs. self-study

Hi all. I’m planning on taking the Apr 2006 MCAT and need to start studying this fall (my spring semester is going to be a NIGHTMARE so I want to start early). I tend to learn better on my own so I’m not planning on doing the Kap/Princteon classes. However Kaplan does offer their prep course online and I was wondering if anyone has experience or has heard feedback about this. My issue is, this online course is $1200 which I REALLY can’t afford to do…If I don’t go this route, has any one found that getting the books yourself and studying on your own can be just as effective?

I found someone willing to sell me all of their books from the Kaplan prep course for $150!! On the other hand I can get all of the ExamKracker books + Audio Osmosis for $200. Any comments/experience with which are better preps? Thanks again.

Hey Bea
Wasent long ago i was asking the exact same questions (like a month). What most people told me was that the online class was not worth them money unless you are unable to be disciplined. Many people also enjoy the Kaplan books as well as the Examkrackers stuff. I went with the examkrackers stuff because i had a few personal friends who raved about them (and did very well on the MCAT). It seems you will find that a choice between the 2 is split down the middle.

I got my older MCAT stuff from ex-premeds with whom I volunteered. Also, I bought Examkrackers stuff from eBay. Mike’s assessment reflects the feedback I received: as far as a prep course, the money you spend is not worth the time unless you put in lots of time. I read a study somewhere (from a bulletin put out by a premed advisors organization), that stated that the major difference between those who did poorly on the MCAT and those who did well was soley the amount of time spend working and understanding problems. This makes sense. And, prep courses did not make any difference, except the prep course group was “poorer” after they finished their prep course.

I am unsure as to whether the online course would be much benefit for the price you pay, except that you can get the books. I found the Princeton Review books from the classes to be very good. The Audio Osmosis CD’s were also very good. There is an ethical issue with selling the materials from Princeton as “officially” they still belong to Princeton and can therefore not be sold. I’m not sure whether Kaplan has the same policy. And, of course, each person will have their own perception as to whether selling or purchasing the materials is “right”.
I found the most beneficial element of taking the course was the number of practice exams we had using conditions similar to those on test day. I HIGHLY recommend taking as many practice tests as you are able.
Good luck to you! I can honestly say that I am SOOOOO happy to be done with the MCAT as of 5:05 p.m. today!

Bea, if you’re at least partially an audio learner or you have a commute in your day that could benefit from some audio study time, the Audio Osmosis is a great bargain for you! Go for it! I used and recommend the EK books, but everybody has preferences.

I asked several of my medical school student friends to tell me how they prepped for the MCAT. A slight majority of them took prep courses; Princeton and Kaplan were the most common and all took it via the classroom rather than on-line. A common reason given was the ability to ask and receive direct feedback on problems solving strategies. But among those who did not take any prep course, several students used more than one study guide, such as Examkrackers and Kaplan, or Flowers and Arco, etc. So, perhaps, combining several approaches, say a prep course with a study book, is a good way to learn the material.

Thank you all for your advice! And congratulations Larry on being done!!! YAHOO!!! Well I went ahead and purchased the ExamKraker books and AudioOsmosis (all for $210…seemed like a great deal…gotta love AMAZON!). I have an older (2003) Kaplan Comprehensive book that I will just use as a supplement…and I’m going to take EVERY free MCAT practice test I can find in my area. I’ll let you all know how the ExamKraker stuff works out. Thanks again.

Now that I have completed the MCAT I feel that I am able to truly answer this question.
I began studying for yesterday’s test last summer. At first I bought the audio osmosis CDs and was trying to stuy on my own. However I, personally, felt that I needed the structure of a class to get me through it.
I tool the Kaplan on-line course. I thought it was wonderful. I was able to set my own schedule and replay parts of the lessons if I needed it. When it came for April I did not feel ready. Then again, I did not complete 1/2 the kaplan course.
I restarted in May after graduation and hit the books hard and was still with the kaplan course.
I can honestly say that I felt very confident yesterday while taking the test and that I felt prepared. There were one or two questions that I felt that I did not really know but at least I knew which answers were wrong and eliminated them.
This is a person choice. You at least have an option and you have time.
Why don’t you take the practice MCAT that the AAMC offers on their website for free. Then spend about 1-2 months studying hard and retake the test. IF you see that you have improved, then you are doing something right. But if not then maybe you should re-evaluate how you are preparing.
With Kaplan, my diagnostics were PS:5, VR:6, BS:6. By the end my prep time, I had the following PS:9/10, VR:9, and BS:8-10. Again this is personal, you will get out of it what you put into it.
If it is a question of $$, then speak to kaplan, or Princeton Review, or whoever and see if they have a payment plan.
If you have any other questions, feel free.