MCAT test prep courses - are they necessary?
Because the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) is such an important exam for prospective medical students, there are a number of commercial preparation courses offered by private firms. Although these courses may provide a comprehensive and organized approach to taking the exam, they are often time-consuming and expensive. Furthermore, much of the information and guidance provided by such courses is either available through the Association of American Medical Colleges or can be easily obtained elsewhere.

In fact, the AAMC strives to ensure that those students who can afford a commercial prep course do not receive an unfair advantage on the MCAT. Numerous studies have been performed to study the relationship between participation in a commercial prep course and exam score, and the results suggest that any improvement in score is probably due to the fact that students in prep courses are obliged to spend a great deal of time reviewing for the exam. In other words, students who study diligently and effectively on their own are just as likely to do well on the MCAT as those who pay for a prep course.

The AAMC issues specific recommendations for independent preparation. For instance, students should begin preparing for the exam at least three months before the testing date. Comprehensive exam preparation will include a review of all the basic concepts in biology, physics, and chemistry. The level of difficulty in the science sections of the MCAT is approximately the same as in an introductory undergraduate course. The AAMC recommends that students prepare for the Verbal Reasoning section of the exam by studying a wide variety of texts, and by answering the practice questions provided on the AAMC website. As for the Writing Sample portion of the exam, the AAMC asserts that students can most effectively prepare for it by composing practice essays in the style required by the exam. After a few weeks of preparation, students should practice performing mock exams while timed, so as to accustom themselves to the amount of time allotted for each section.

Information provided by Morrison Media LLC

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