September 29, 2014

4 Reasons Why You Should Take a Kaplan MCAT Class

Hello my excited readers! Today I'd like to answer a question that I get a lot from interested students:

Why should I take a Kaplan MCAT class?

I've been teaching for 6+ years at this point, so clearly I believe in the benefits of the Kaplan MCAT program. I took a Kaplan MCAT class in 2006 and did well enough on the actual test to score-qualify to teach the class. If you aren't sold by that fact alone though, I have some four great reasons for you!

1. Flexibility

One of the best features of the Kaplan MCAT program is the class schedule flexibility. You can take an On-Site class with an in-person teacher that runs 1, 2 or 3 times per week. If you live farther from a big city, have a different work schedule or learn best online, there are two online class options: Classroom Anywhere (live, online classes with varying scedules) and On Demand (self-study via previously recorded lessons and 24/7 access to an online syllabus). One of the advantages of the Classroom Anywhere online option is the ability to learn in your bed with your PJs, while still receiving the same high-quality instruction you would in a traditional On-Site class! Finally, if you learn best in a one-on-one, face-to-face setting, Private Tutoring allows you to set your own schedule. All of our live options (On Site, Classroom Anywhere, and Private Tutoring) also include access to Live Flex Sessions: these optional, online sessions cover key science topics that appear frequently on the MCAT and they run on weekends, weeknights and at varying times throughout the day. My students are frequently blown away by how often they can log-on to their syllabi, hop into a live flex session, and work on some content with a Kaplan teacher. Speaking of teachers, that brings me to reason number 2!

2. Dedicated Teachers

I have had the opportunity to work with and mentor hundreds of Kaplan instructors. I honestly have never met a Kaplan teacher that I didn't like. Every instructor is a top performer on the exam (90th percentile or higher), undergoes a rigorous training program, and is constantly evaluated by students to ensure that you have a truly exceptional experience. They tend to be a great combination of smart, engaging and committed to student success. In fact, we had a panel discussion a few weeks ago in which brand new teachers could ask veteran teachers their questions. I was blown away by how thoughtful the questions were and how concerned the entire group was with making each class session successful and making sure each student gets the help they need to reach their best score.

3. Tailored for your needs

I've already touched on the flexibility of the schedule, but there are other aspects that ensure you get an experience that's tailored to your individual study needs. One of the best aspects to Kaplan's technology is the Smart Reports that are generated after each practice test you take. They help you focus your studying on specific content areas, question types and passage types. That way you can study smarter, not harder. There are also different aspects of your syllabus that allow you to practice timing, content, strategy, or full-length exams. Basically, I'm getting at my next reason- the abundance of resources!

4. Tons of resources

We have the most available official AAMC practice, including the newly released Self-Assessment Package as well as all eight officially released full-length exams. From AAMC and Kaplan full-length practice MCATs (19 full-length exams in total) to 11,000+ practice questions, in addition to MCAT Qbank custom quizzes, the resources in your Kaplan syllabus are set up to help you increase your score and destroy the MCAT on Test Day! The Topical Tests will help you battle through tough content. Section tests make practicing your timing a breeze. Beyond your online syllabus, you also get a Review Notes book for each content area: Biology, Organic Chemistry, General Chemistry, Physics and Verbal Reasoning. These books are also available on your online syllabus if you don't want to haul around actual books. The Review Notes are essential because they are a focused review of MCAT-pertinent material. Each section is rated based on the difficulty of the content and the frequency it appears on the actual MCAT. That way you don't spend too much time stressing about an infrequently tested, hard to understand topic!   So, what are you waiting for? There are so many great reasons to sign up for a Kaplan MCAT class today! I'd love to hear why you chose Kaplan in the comments. Let me know! Happy studying, Emily 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! 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! more
August 14, 2014

5 Tips for MCAT Success

Some of you reading this may be planners. You may have color-coded binders with tabs and dividers, organized desktops and files; you may group your apps into folders based on category. Some of you may refuse to use any writing tool other than an ultra-fine point Pilot G2 0.38mm (yours truly). If this doesn’t sound like you, you might need to “fake it til you make it,” because doing well on the MCAT and getting into medical school is all about planning. And it starts now. 5 Tips For MCAT Success: 1. Start your MCAT prep early. Start immediately, in fact. The single best thing you can do for yourself for success on the MCAT is to plan. No one who gets a 42 on the MCAT wakes up the week before and decides they’re just going to wing it. (Actually I’m sure that guy or girl exists out there, but they’re the rare unicorn of the MCAT world). You need to plan early, and plan well. 2. Choose a MCAT date. Pick a date with plenty of time for you to adequately prepare ahead of time. The AAMC recommends at least 300 hours of study time before taking the MCAT. It’s up to you to decide how much time you need to spread out your study time, depending on course load, extracurricular activities, and other commitments, but in general, students can prepare adequately for the MCAT in about 3 months. Commit to a MCAT date and register early. Then whip out your calendar and put a big circle (color-coordinated, if that’s your thing) around the date you’ve chosen. 3. Build your MCAT study schedule. Building your calendar may be the most important step. Take your calendar, and work in anything you have to do in between now and your MCAT. Birthdays, family get-togethers, and personal days come first - stick to them: they’re what will keep you sane during your study. Next, build in your big blocks of study time. Build in your Kaplan MCAT class times, your full-length exams, and your test reviews. Build in extra study time, which you’ll inevitably need. Build in more time than you think you’ll need; that way when you can’t finish a section in the amount of time you allotted, you have the ability to spill over into “make-up days.” 4. Be honest with yourself. After your first pass through your schedule, ask yourself “Can I really handle this?” Sleep on your new schedule for a night, and ask yourself again in the morning. This is your one best shot at tweaking your schedule or starting over from scratch, so make sure to make changes now! 5. Stick to your test prep schedule. The MCAT is the doorway to becoming a medical student and fulfilling your lifelong goal, and your schedule is your roadmap for the MCAT. Stick to this schedule no matter what! If you’re disciplined and reasonable with yourself and your time commitments, you’ll be cruising for a competitive score that will impress your interviewer and get you in the door to a lot of medical schools. Tons of students I’ve worked with have determination and drive to spare, but they lack the direction and the planning to get into medical school. Both are needed to make it to your first day on the wards, and sticking to a plan is a sure-fire way to get you one step closer. more
February 21, 2014

What is a Kaplan MCAT class like?

Greetings everyone! As some of you may know I help with our Social Media engagement, I am active on Student Doctor Network, and I have been teaching the MCAT at Kaplan for 5 years now. One of the most common questions that I get throughout the year is “Patrick, Can you give me an idea of what a Kaplan MCAT class is like?” Well you guys are in luck! Over the next 8 weeks I am going to give you an inside look into one of the classes I am teaching.  This is a unique insider preview to what a Kaplan Live Online MCAT class is all about! Some things we are going to cover:
  • What makes a Kaplan MCAT class successful?
  • A preview of the strategies that make the Kaplan Methods proven!
  • Why is it so important to combine both strategy and content in your studies?
  • What is the best study schedule moving into your own MCAT test date?
All of this and much, much more! What makes Kaplan different?
  • Higher score guaranteed or your money back
  • Smart Reports™: Identify your weaknesses to improve on them
  • Live Flex Sessions: Prepare for key science topics that appear frequently on the MCATs
  • Study Materials: Use our extensive collection of supplemental guides, including notes developed with Scientific American magazine, to stay sharp
My class is starting soon! Next week, be on the lookout for study schedule advice, picking a test date, and more! Be sure to stay tuned with our Facebook, and Twitter channels too! Happy Studies! more
June 5, 2013

Teaching the MCAT for Kaplan

Hello my dedicated MCAT students! I have been spending the past few weeks working with some of the best MCAT teachers in the country at the Boulder MCAT Summer Intensive Program. As a teacher, this is a unique experience because I get to share and brainstorm strategies and mnemonics in-person with my fellow teachers. Additionally, I get to nerd out like crazy about things like organic functional groups (see last week's post) the glory of the the inverse relationships that are prevalent on the MCAT and the sheer beauty of a well-crafted passage and its questions.
This quality time with other awesome Kaplan instructors has also sparked a common question, "How did you start teaching for Kaplan?" which is incidentally the focus of this week's blog post.
My story involves initially taking a Kaplan class in 2006 for the last paper and pencil administration of the MCAT. I took the class and subsequently the test and scored above the 90th percentile which is the cutoff for applying to become an instructor for Kaplan. I didn't even consider becoming a teacher until 2009 when my roommate, who did marketing for Kaplan (shout out to Katie W.), mentioned that there were some openings for ACT instructors. I applied, went through teacher training and quickly became an ACT teacher. From there I cross-trained in MCAT almost immediately, since there is frequent demand for a passionate MCAT instructor. The rest is, as they say, history.
Why am I telling you this? Well, when I was in your shoes, I never dreamed that I could become an MCAT instructor. However, it has turned out to be an incredibly rewarding, stimulating and challenging experience for me. The best part is that I get to help people conquer one of the obstacles on their path to achieving their dream of becoming a doctor. Interestingly enough, several of my former students have actually become Kaplan instructors themselves. If you love the MCAT, I encourage you to consider applying.
Please hit me up if you have questions about working for Kaplan or how awesome my job really is (hint- it's pretty awesome).
Happy studying! more
March 21, 2013

3 Tips to Taking a MCAT Practice Test

What better way is there to see how you'll score on the MCAT than to take an MCAT practice test? This is the best tool to predict your score and see where there is room for improvement. If you're wondering when and how to take your MCAT practice tests, then look no further! 1. Take the practice test at the same time as the actual MCAT. Students can choose between morning and afternoon administrations when registering for the MCAT.  Once you've registered for the test, start taking practice exams at the same time as the actual MCAT.  If you're a night owl and take the practice test at 8 p.m., then chances are you're not getting the best prediction of your score. You'll be extra alert at night and not on your A-game during the real exam when you take it in the morning or early afternoon. 2. Don't take extra breaks or a one-hour hiatus between each section. Taking the MCAT requires a certain level of focus. So if you take a one-hour television break between each section or decide to finish up your exam another day, you're not accurately simulating the real exam environment. You can take sections of the practice test individually if you're just doing practice problems. But if you're practicing taking the test itself, then follow the same guidelines the proctors use. 3. Take a free MCAT practice test before you begin preparing for the real exam. The reasoning is pretty self explanatory: the practice test will let you know how much you need to prepare so you can study accordingly. Once you start preparing, take a practice test on a weekly or biweekly basis to see if you're improving. Kaplan students have access to 19 full-length exams (including access to all AAMC exams), so you'll have plenty of practice before test day. Are you ready to get started? Sign up for a free MCAT practice test with Kaplan. [cf]skyword_tracking_tag[/cf] more
Pre-Med Life
February 26, 2013

MCAT Re-booted: Exercise

Preventative medicine is becoming a more common topic in healthcare today.  As future physicians it is important to understand the rising healthcare costs and how it is impacting our medical economy.  Simple daily changes by individuals can help curb these costs and improve overall health among our communities   Regardless if you consider yourself a ‘health nut’ or not, it is important for you to understand that as a future doctor people will look to you for advice on health as soon as you begin your medical school journey.  Start becoming an advocate now! Straight from the Mayo Clinic, what may already seem like obvious to people in the premedical community exercise can
  • Control excess weight gain
  • Combat health conditions and diseases
  • Improve your mood
  • Boost energy
  • Promote better sleep
Now all of these things are great for improving your overall lifestyle but remember this is about the MCAT. So how else can exercise help you? Research from a former professor of mine, Dr. Charles Hillman, shows exercise can make you smarter! Check out this research applied to children at the University of Illinois. Think of exercise as a ‘brain warm up’ for tackling even the most difficult of MCAT questions! more
May 2, 2012

Kaplan’s Medical School Insider Provides a Peek Behind the Curtain of Medical School Admissions

Every premed student has questions about getting into medical school; from the personal statement to the interview, the admissions process can seem like a daunting and confusing endeavor. Compounding the problem is the fact that nearly everyone you’ll speak to seems to have their own opinion on the best approach to take – one person might suggest listing certain experiences on your application, while another will say the complete opposite! Much of this advice is anecdotal and may not apply to your situation – you aren’t the same person as the friend of your cousin’s wife, so you shouldn’t necessarily take the same approach to applying that she did just because she was accepted. In the end, the only opinions that really matter are those of the admissions committees; after all, they’re the ones that decide whether you’ll be accepted or not. Unfortunately, opportunities to pick the brain of a Dean of Admissions are few and far between. In an effort to shed some light on what admissions committees think about when reviewing your applications, Kaplan Test Prep will once again be hosting its annual Medical School Insider event on Monday, May 7th. In this 2-hour live, online discussion a panel of experts from a variety of backgrounds in medical school admissions will convene to discuss the application process and answer students’ questions about getting into medical school. This year’s panel includes:
  • Dr. David Jones, Senior Associate Dean of Admissions, University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio
  • Dr. Darrin Latimore, Assistant Dean of Medical and Resident Diversity, University of California, Davis, School of Medicine
  • Susan Hanson, Executive Director of Admissions, Western University of Health Sciences College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Gina Moses, Associate Director of Application Services and Recruitment, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Dr. Danielle Salovich, National President, American Medical Student Association
  • Ellen Watts, Assistant Dean for Pre-Health Advising, Fordham University
Throughout the event the panelists will discuss the different facets of the medical school admissions process; moreover, during the discussion the panel will examine and dissect actual medical school applications to demonstrate how the different pieces work together to shape the committee’s view of the applicant. It’s a rare opportunity to see the types of conversations that will take place when your own application is reviewed. More than anything, however, Medical School Insider is a chance for students to get all of their questions answered, and with the 2013 application cycle starting soon it represents a chance to change your application for the better. Students are encouraged to submit questions for the panelists both before the event and during the broadcast, and selected comments and questions will be answered live on the air. At the same time, Kaplan MCAT experts will be leading a side discussion of the event on both Twitter and Facebook as they help students understand how the information shared by the panel affects their individual case. In the end, Medical School Insider should once again prove to be an exciting and informative event for all involved. To learn more about the event or the panelists - or to reserve your seat for the live broadcast - please visit We hope to see you there! more

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