September 2, 2014

Triaging as a Tool for MCAT Success!

Hello my hard-working MCAT Test Takers! Today I want to discuss an important tool for MCAT success: prioritization. In fact, one of the most important lessons in your entire healthcare career will be learning how to prioritize effectively, whether you're working with patients, studying, or taking a test. It not only helps you reduce your anxiety since you have a plan for every occasion, but it also helps you maximize your effectiveness. It is a concept officially known as Triaging (or as I think of it, MCAT Pokemon: gotta catch all the points!) The first question I always get when I discuss Triaging in class is- “but doesn't that take too much time?” The answer is emphatically, no! If done right, triaging can help you move through your MCAT quickly while making sure you get as many points as possible. Let's break down the strategy at different test levels. Section level- Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences The first thing you should do in the science section is go through the passages, looking to complete the discrete questions. By completing the discrete questions first, you're maximizing your potential points from discrete questions and gaining a great MCAT content warm-up. While you're flipping by the passages, take ten seconds or so to size them up and assign them a priority level. Passages that include your favorite content or you feel confident doing, have a high priority level. Passages that look less-friendly or time-consuming, have a low priority level. By the time you've completed all of the discrete questions, you have a map of the entire section! Go ahead and complete the high priority passages first and get those points where you feel confident. Section level- Verbal Reasoning The same strategy can be applied to the Verbal Reasoning section, just without the discrete questions. I know that time can be tight, especially in Verbal, but it's worth it to take a minute and map out the entire section. What if your absolute favorite passage type is last? By taking the time to triage through the section, you are making sure to maximize your ability to do your favorite passages and thus score as many points as possible on the MCAT. Trust me, it's worth the time. Passage/Question level Once you've committed to a passage, you still want to use your time effectively by triaging the questions. The MCAT loves to put heavy calculation questions and scattered detail questions as the first or second question with a passage. They're designed to suck up your time, so you're rushing on the quick, more friendly questions at the end. By rushing, you're more likely to make a mistake. Make sure you do your friendly questions first! Get as many points as possible! But Emily, how can I accurately identify my strengths and weaknesses? One exclusive Kaplan resource that is very handy for triaging is our adaptive learning technology, which we call Smart Reports.  Smart Reports tell you how you are doing and what you should do next.  You can review your most recent scores, review your performance over time, and see your strengths and weaknesses broken down by topic area. You'll see how much time you spent on each question and whether you changed your answer from right to wrong or vice versa. Using the information from your Score Reports to guide your triaging is a genius way to improve your speed and increase your score.  Check out our upcoming MCAT class schedules to unlock your Smart Reports. So, there you have it. Try triaging today and let me know how it goes! What other great MCAT strategies do you use to ensure MCAT success? Happy studying! ...read more
August 27, 2014

Am I Ready to Take the MCAT?

Hello my MCAT-loving readers! Today I want to answer a common question posed by students - “When will I feel ready to take the MCAT?” The short answer is that you may never feel ready to take the MCAT. It's an intimidating test and feeling 100% certain that you're ready to go destroy it, may not happen for you. That doesn't mean that you're not actually ready to take the MCAT. What you should really be asking is - “How do I know that I’m ready to take the MCAT?”

You're ready to take the MCAT if:

1. Your score on MCAT practice tests is within a few points of your goal score.

Realistically, you shouldn't expect your MCAT score to vary by more than 2-3 points on Test Day. On the safe side, you should be averaging your desired test score. If you're not within the range of your desired score, you may want to consider moving your test date.

2. You've moved from pure content review to practicing MCAT-style questions.

At this point you want to be focused on utilizing strategies and fine-tuning your test-taking skills. You should have the majority of the content memorized and be ready to spit out equations and concepts like a master MCAT machine.

3. You have taken at least 8-10 practice full-length exams.

You want to make sure that you've taken both Kaplan and AAMC MCAT practice tests. By taking both types of exams, you'll be well-prepared for anything the MCAT throws at you. After 8-10 exams, you should feel confident in the test structure, your timing and the general flow of the MCAT. The more practice tests you have completed, the more well-prepared you'll be for Test Day.

4. You've put in at least 300 hours of MCAT study time.

The AAMC recommends 300+ hours of study and practice time to be fully prepared for the MCAT. The number will vary based on how recently you've taken your pre-requisite classes, but you want to be within the 300 hour ballpark. Building a successful MCAT study schedule is key to achieving success on test day.

We'd love to hear from you in the comments! What other signs or diagnostic tools can we use to tell whether or not you're ready to take the MCAT? People who have taken the MCAT, how did you know you were ready? For those of you who have not yet started your MCAT prep, sign up for a free MCAT practice test with Kaplan and view upcoming MCAT class schedules. Happy studying! ...read more
February 4, 2014

Fact from Fiction on This Month’s The Pulse

Are you excited as we are for February's edition of The Pulse? This month our theme is "Fact from Fiction." Out great panel of experts will dissect the MCAT and separate the truth from those horrifying myths. This month's panel includes Amit Raghavan, a full-time MCAT instructor who has heard every fear and myth there is in the MCAT book. Adam Grey, who you may remember from his spectacular, educational MCAT videos, will help dissect the toughest problems and how many students can misconstrue their meanings. And, of course, your awesome moderator Owen Farcy who will help lead the conversation to the answers you want to hear. Don't forget, you can ask your own questions via Twitter or Facebook to our expert team and we'll try to answer every one we can. So reserve your spot for Kaplan's The Pulse on  Monday, February 10th at 8 pm EST / 5 pm PST, and get the answers you need to succeed! ...read more
January 13, 2014

2014 Kaplan MCAT Summer Intensive Program!

Have you ever thought about attending an MCAT summer intensive camp? Kaplan has your answer offering our 2014 MCAT Summer Intensive Program. The program is offered in 5 different locations:
  • Atlanta, GA
  • Boulder, CO
  • Toronto, ON
  • Boston, MA
  • San Diego, CA

Unique MCAT Summer Intensive Course Structure

Boost your MCAT skills with Kaplan's results-driven curriculum, including comprehensive content review, exclusive test-taking strategies, and personalized attention, all designed to help you:
  • Build a rock-solid science foundation with dynamic lectures
  • Learn time-tested, score-raising strategies in small-group recitations
  • Focus on your needs in weekly private tutoring sessions
  • Practice your lessons at staffed study halls every weekday evening until 11pm
  • Master the computer-based MCAT format at weekly, proctored practice tests
  • Prepare for admissions success with weekly presentations from medical school admissions experts
  • Do it all in an immersive, distraction-free environment with peers who are similarly dedicated to earning a top-tier score
  Do you like what you see? Starting January 13th we are running $1000 off our Summer Intensive Programs! Check out more information here! http://bit.ly/fXlOdr ...read more
October 30, 2013

Kaplan Patrick Q&A: Efficient MCAT Studying Part 1

Hey guys! Following up on my student question from yesterday reminded me of a blog post I wrote a while back about proper MCAT studying. In order to help my students become more productive in their MCAT studies I always start with a question back! The first question to ask is how long should we be studying for?  Right away many say "9, 10 hours? All day even?" I am here to tell you that is simply not the case.  Remember that the goal for total hours studied for an MCAT should be around 300 hours on average. Keeping that in mind, a good number to start at is 6.  Just 6 hours is the max many study in a given day, often less. The important thing to note about these hours is that it is NOT 6 hours in a row.  Ideally, you want to break those 6 hours over 3 different sessions in the day.  Could you study for 6 hours in a row? Yes, absolutely you could, however, we find that students study more efficiently and put in more quality time when they limit a "study block" to only 2 hours.  This allows them to stay focused and work hard during that time frame and then back off and take a break. Below is a list of common daily schedules used by our students. I, once a Kaplan student, used the 'Early Riser' Schedule many days during my MCAT studies. This allowed me to accumulate a lot of study time that I otherwise would not have found. Early Riser If you can become an early riser and schedule some of your classes for the late morning/ early afternoon you can really utilize your mornings for MCAT study.   This is a very similar schedule to what I personally did in my own MCAT preparation. 8am - Wake and Breakfast 9am - First Study Session 10am - Workout 11am - Second Study Session 12pm - Classes 6pm - Dinner 7pm - Study for Classes 9pm - Rest/ Relax The "Not-a-Morning Person" Schedule Simply put some of us are just not morning people and that is totally OK! With the MCAT offering the 1pm start time on select dates this shouldn't cause any concern.  The trick to not being a morning person is to try and squeeze a study session in between your classes. 11am - Wake and Breakfast 12pm - Classes 2pm - First Study Session 3pm - Classes 6pm - Dinner 7pm - Second Study Session 8pm - Study for Classes 10pm - Workout 11pm - Rest/ Relax The Weekender As you can see in the two sample schedules above I always recommend time for a workout or at least some break that involves physical activity.  This can be the trick for keeping yourself focused and alert during long study days. Remember for most of us we are trying to balance class work with MCAT work! When you fall behind the best thing to do is to use your weekends to catch up! Most importantly you want to use at least one of your weekend days to take a full length exam. 10am - Wake and Breakfast 11am - First Study Session 1pm - Workout/ Lunch 2pm - Second Study Session 4pm - Break/ Errands 5pm - Study Session 7pm - Enjoy your time off. Remember it's the weekend! Stay tuned! More to come on what goes into those 2 hours of a "study block".  Remember a happier more efficient you in #MCATdomination!   [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] ...read more
Tests & Scores
October 16, 2013

Kaplan MCAT Fast Facts 11: Predicting Reactivity

In today's Kaplan MCAT Fast Facts video from the Kaplan MCAT course, Dr. Jeff Koetje discusses how to predict reactivity as tested on the MCAT. Note that the MCAT tests critical thinking, not just science recall, mastery of certain science concepts is a prerequisite for the test. For more great videos concerning Fast Facts, Current Events, and more, head over to our MCAT YouTube Channel...

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October 4, 2013

MCAT Social Media Round Up – What You Might Be Missing!

You may be getting our blog entries, but have you checked us out on social media lately? Did you know that we are active on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube? We share helpful tips and ideas, practice problems, and amusing pictures and jokes - a combination of the academic and the non-academic to keep all things MCAT at the top of your mind. Here's a collection of recent greatest hits from our social media channels: The MCAT doesn't have to be all hard work and no fun. Sometimes we all need a good laugh to take a break and remind ourselves that we're studying because we like to learn. We also like to help make studying more fun. Here's a trick we posted recently on Facebook. Start every page of reading with some delicious checkpoints. Add a gummy bear to the end of each paragraph and your learning just became a lot more delicious! A little motivation never hurt anyone either. That's why we like to also post encouraging words on #MondayMotivation! Sometimes just a little reminder and motivation is all you need to get back at it! On Twitter we have been running live Q and A with our Pulse series! Get your questions answered in real time! Be sure to check us out on youtube! Not only do we ReKAP the Pulse events we also have Adam Grey with us explain how to relate MCAT science to everyday life! Stay up to date with everything MCAT-related by becoming a fan on Facebook, following us on Twitter, and following us on Youtube! We look forward to getting social with you! #MCATdomination [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] ...read more
Tests & Scores
August 27, 2013

Kaplan MCAT Fast Facts 7: Argumentation

In today’s Kaplan MCAT Fast Facts video from the Kaplan MCAT course, Dr. Jeff Koetje discusses argumentation from Verbal Reasoning as tested on the MCAT. Note that the MCAT tests critical thinking, not just science recall, mastery of certain science concepts is a prerequisite for the test. For more great videos concerning Fast Facts, Current Events, and more, head over to our MCAT YouTube Channel. ...read more
Tests & Scores
July 30, 2013

Kaplan MCAT Fast Facts 4: Concentration Cells

In today's Kaplan MCAT Fast Facts video from the Kaplan MCAT course, Dr. Jeff Koetje discusses concentration cells as tested on the MCAT. Note that the MCAT tests critical thinking, not just science recall, mastery of certain science concepts is a prerequisite for the test. Do you know the peptide structure? For more great videos concerning Fast Facts, Current Events, and more, head over to our MCAT YouTube Channel. [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] ...read more

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