September 30, 2014

Which MCAT Am I Prepared to Take?

In order to unlock your good life, you need a great score. One of the biggest questions facing premed students is “which MCAT am I prepared to take in order to get my best score?"

The MCAT is Changing

If medical school is in your near future, you probably know that, the new MCAT will launch in the Spring of 2015. The major changes to new MCAT are:

1. More Tested Topics

2. Almost Double the Length

3. Different Scoring Scale

4. New Question Types and Skills

5. A More Medical Approach

Which MCAT Am I Prepared to Take?

One of the big factors to consider when deciding on a version of the test is the list of required prerequisites. The August episode of The Pulse, Kaplan’s monthly online series for pre-meds, was titled “The Last Chance for the Current MCAT!” In this video clip from that episode, Amit Raghavan, MPH, full-time Kaplan MCAT Instructor, discusses the new pre-requisites and how you can evaluate your preparedness for each exam. [embed]http://youtu.be/zvMKMWa4jBk[/embed]
View more videos on the Kaplan MCAT YouTube Channel.
  The key takeaway is that if you haven’t completed the prerequisites for a particular exam, you should not be taking that test.

Preparing for MCAT Success

No matter which test you decide to take, Kaplan will have the appropriate resources available to help you succeed on test day. Remember, twice as many doctors took a Kaplan course to prepare for the MCAT compared to all other courses combined.* Get started on your journey to the good life with Kaplan. Use our decision tree on www.mcat2015.com to decide which MCAT you are prepared to take. Then check out our road maps to the good life at kaptest.com/unlock to see what the average score requirements are for your top schools. Just by visiting the site and filling out your info, you’ll be entered for a chance to win $10,000.  
*Doctors refers to US MDs who were licensed between 2001-2010 and used a fee-based course to prepare for the MCAT. The AlphaDetail, Inc. online study for Kaplan was conducted between Nov. 10 - Dec. 9, 2010 among 763 US licensed MDs, of whom 462 took the MCAT and used a fee-based course to prepare for it.
...read more
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
May 3, 2013

Medical School Insider: A ReKAP

What a great event! Medical School Insider 2013 was a huge success and we want to give a special thanks to our panelists for joining us Monday night! -Paul T. White, Assistant Dean for Admissions, John Hopkins School of Medicine -Leila Diaz, Assistant Dean of Admissions, Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine -Dr. Kathleen Kolberg, Assistant Dean, University of Notre Dame -Dr. Elizabeth Wiley, National President, American Medical Student Association We are working  diligently to get answers to your questions you sent in! Stay tuned for answers and for our next pulse event: Monday June 10th, on the impact of the Affordable Care Act. ...read more
Applying to Med School
April 29, 2013

Medical School Insider is here!

Kaplan Test Prep will host our fourth annual Medical School Insider tonight, Monday, April 29th at 8pm ET.  This is our biggest event of the year for pre-meds and you absolutely don’t want to miss it! The insights revealed at #medInsider are incredible, they’ll really change the way you look at the admissions process!  Be sure to mark your calendar now for this year’s live streaming event. Save your spot by clicking here now!  

Medical School Insider

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ydIZYCYugog&list=UUwZ7x4y5NY7tz-yEyz9gr4g&index=4 ...read more
April 2, 2013

MCAT Madness

March Madness has past and dare I say brackets are busted everywhere! As a college basketball fan this is the most exciting time of year for the sport.  With all the fun on TV, remember there is still an MCAT to study for!  The March Madness tournament with all its hoopla and competition really has some key lessons that students can pull away.
  • Preparation is Key – Think about the players taking those free throws. They practice over and over and over for that. A free throw is just that “free”. The MCAT has “free” easy points to take. Know those flash cards. Know those quick sheets. They are there for a reason, make sure you know the easy facts that will get you those easy points.
  • One Shot – The most dramatic appeal of the tournament is the format. 64 teams, winner take all. Treat your MCAT like this. Studying for the MCAT is long and arduous enough. You don’t want to take the exam twice! Study hard and prepare well now.
  • Rhythm – Teams play only every few days, but are they practicing in between? Absolutely! Sport just like the MCAT studying has a rhythm to it. It is better for you to study a little bit every day rather than continuing to work only every few days and not have the stamina to get through it. This leads to burnout and is one of the most common complaints from students leading up to test day.
  • Have a Game Plan – Championship teams have a plan from day one. Be your own coach in MCAT studying and use your instructor and peers to help motivate and guide you in the right direction. Success is when preparation meets opportunity. The MCAT is your opportunity to show medical school admissions you are prepared. Stick to your game plan.
  • Confidence – There is a magical aura around the tournament. People come to play. They put it all on the line. Michael Jordan once said “If you're trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I've had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.”  All of the mistakes you have made in practice are good! Don’t forget that. You want to make mistakes now. They will help you remember not to make them on test day! Find that confidence going into test day and realize the ball is in your hands. YOU are going to make the winning shot!
...read more
February 18, 2013

MCAT Re-booted: Study Block Part 2

Continuing our discussion from ‘Part 1 of Study Blocks’ we ask what is the most efficient way to study during our block.  Looking back at the sample schedules, note that we are trying to get in at least 20 hours of studying a week at the very minimum, included in that time would be 1 full length examination a week.  At the minimum you should be trying to get in at least:
  • 2 Topical Tests
  • 1 Verbal Section Test
  • 1 Science Section Test
  • 1 Full Length Test
I understand that a lot of the content people are comfortable with. The key to approaching the MCAT is figuring out which information you can study that will result in the biggest increase in points. During your study block, just pick one thing to do… i.e. a Section Test, maybe 2 Topical Tests, or some Review Note Chapters and their corresponding quizzes. The key to finishing up the block strong is filling out the WHY I MISSED IT CHART.  An example of a template:

We find the better a student fills out the chart the more they get out of the exercise. For example:
TEST – For this column just fill in which topical/ section/ or full length test you are working on Q# - Just the question number of that specific test so you can look it up later Passage/ Discrete – Was this a discrete question or was it associated with a passage? Subject – Some people like to fill this in different ways. I have found the best way to do this is to make your subjects just Physics/ General Chemistry/ Verbal/ Organic Chemistry/ Biology Topic – The reason I have students fill in topic is so you can look at what specific topics of a subject you don’t know. I find the best way to do this is to take out the Review Notes and organize your topics by the chapters in the books. This is how to figure out what you need to review so you can go directly back to that specific chapter in the book. Why I missed it? – This is the KEY to making the whole chart. You need to honestly ask yourself why you are missing a specific question. Are you missing it because you don’t know the concept? Did you misread the question? Did you simply make a calculation error? Did you not understand what you read in the passage? Now remember when you are taking FL exams you are going to study longer than 2 hours. That is the only time you are really extending your studying much beyond that time frame. The key here is understanding and recognizing patterns along the way! Remember we want to turn those weakness into STRENGTHS! Stay focused! The hard work pays off! ...read more
Pre-Med Life
February 11, 2013

Romantic Valentine’s Day MCAT plans?

It’s that time of year again- when people daydream of valentines, candy hearts, roses and romantic gestures. While you, intrepid pre-med student, are preoccupied with daydreams about physics equations, the intricacies of mitosis vs. meiosis and the trends on the periodic table. As the commercials say, “every kiss begins with Kay” and you begin to wonder which K? Ksp? Keq? Temperature in Kelvin? As February 14th rolls around, you think- How can I possibly have time for a hot date on Valentine’s Day? Surely I must spend this day of romance alone and wallowing in MCAT-studying induced self-pity. That’s where you are wrong.  You DO have a hot date! It’s with your books and online study resources. Think about it. You’re in a long-term, invested, committed relationship with these resources that will last at least few months. In a romantic relationship with a significant other, Valentine’s Day can help spur you out of a romantic rut. So, the real question for spending Valentine’s Day with your MCAT resources is: how do you keep the studying magic alive and stay engaged in the resource relationship? Here are a few studying tips to help keep your relationship with your resources feeling fresh and new:
  1. Study in a different location- Sure your corner in the library or your table at the coffee shop is familiar, but to ensure that you don’t become the mayor of the library’s fourth floor on Foursquare, try a new location! A fresh location can create a new perspective on some tired material. For bonus romance and excitement points, try studying next to a window.
  2. Spice up your routine- Instead of starting with Kinematics review, then moving on to Work and Energy, start by quizzing yourself on electrostatics with flashcards or creating an exciting quiz about gases for yourself using Q-Bank. The MCAT will not organize the passages based on your desired order for content, so mimic that in your studies and make sure that you are not always practicing your content in the same order.
  3. Ask a friend for study advice- An MCAT study buddy will have a fresh perspective on how to approach the material and will provide some much-needed human conversation. Checking in with fellow MCAT studiers is also great for helping build mnemonics, memorizing formulas and helping you stay focused while you’re studying. Yes, Facebook does count as losing focus while you study and you’re less likely to creep on everyone else’s Valentine’s Day plans when you’re checking in with another person who can hold you accountable. Besides, who knows? Your platonic study buddy may eventually develop into an actual romantic relationship.
Happy Studying! ...read more
February 7, 2013

MCAT Re-booted: Study Block Part 1

Following up on last week’s entry on Study Schedules, I want to continue the focus and narrow in on what “study blocks” are and how to best implement them.  Many of you were asking what a typical day in the week would look like. Remember, the focus of re-thinking your MCAT studying is to build consistency over to aid in preventing burnout and producing a happier you! The first question that many students ask is how long they should 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 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 you in #MCATdomination! ...read more
January 28, 2013

MCAT Re-booted: Study Schedule

In part one of “MCAT Re-booted”  I want to cover what is going to make the ideal MCAT study schedule. The AAMC recommends on average 300 total hours to study for the MCAT.  They also have a “Creating a Study Plan” listed on their web-page. With all of this information out there and the rumors that run rampant in the pre-med community on “secrets” of MCAT studying, where does a student go to get the real answer? Well right here of course!

Now how long is 300 hours in reality? You could easily break that into 10 weeks or approximately 2 ½ months of 30 hours of studying a week.  I know what you must being thinking... 30 hours a week?! I already have class, research, clubs, activities, and that long lost social life! How can I possibly fit 30 hours into a week? Well simply put, you can’t and you aren't expected to.  The majority of students start studying well beyond the 2 ½ month mark.  On average students need to think about breaking that time up into somewhere between 3-6 months, depending on their schedule, how many of the pre-med required courses they have already taken, and their confidence in the material.

After getting a rough idea on when to get started, where do we start? Many students have come to me after getting their Kaplan MCAT materials and feel overwhelmed. Don’t fret! You now have the best material for the MCAT and over 11,000 questions to aid in testing your comprehension of all things MCAT. What you need to do first is establish how much time you have during the week and create “study blocks”.

  • First you need to account for the things that take up time in your week. For example:
    • Personal obligations
    • Professional obligations (school, work, Kaplan class, research etc.)
    • Extracurricular (volunteering, clubs, shadowing)
    • Social time with friends and family
    • 1 day/ evening off/ week
Now after you have successfully jotted this down in a notebook or added to your online calendar you will get a better idea of how much time you truly have to study during the week. With the time left (ideally around 10 -15 hours) we are going to create 2-3 hour “study blocks”. This is going to be the time you are going to use to start tackling all those great Kaplan resources. Many people ask, “Only 2-3 hours?! I can study longer than that!” You are right you probably can, however, your assignment this week is to write down your weekly calendar, and in my next post I will answer why only 2-3 hours and what goes into a successful “study block.” Stay tuned! More #MCATdomination coming at you!   ...read more

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