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Content Review VS. Practice

Posted: Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:48 pm
by Kevbot
Hello! I am three months out from test day. I am having trouble feeling like the content review is actually going to translate to a better score in the end. For example, reading the book chapters. Do most successful students read every page of every book? It is taking a lot of time, and I am starting to feel like I would just be better off doing practice problems upon practice problems. But when I don't read the books I feel like I am missing out on something for some reason.

Are there any "must read" chapters, or for that matter, "must master" resources?

Any guidance or thoughts on how to balance content review vs. practice would be much appreciated!


Re: Content Review VS. Practice

Posted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 1:59 pm
by NS_Tutor_Will
Hi Kevin,

Thanks for your question. I think the best approach is to do what I call an initial content "blitz" where you're covering all the material from the books, but not obsessively. I think it's a good idea to read all of the chapters, but if you're an expert or confident in a given area, perhaps you don't need to spend as much time on that. Only you can determine where your strengths and weaknesses are. It can feel stressful to learn all the material, but you don't need to learn it on a single read through of the books. You'll have plenty of time to come back to review anything that gives you trouble on practice questions. The big picture goal for this "blitz" is to build a foundation that you can continue to build on as your prep proceeds -- it might not feel important, but it absolutely is. This phase should take maybe 3-5 weeks.

Then you can transition into the next phase which includes more practice -- maybe a FL every or every other week -- along with targeted content review that allows you to strengthen your weak areas.

Then, in the final phase, the balance is tipped even further toward practice and review, but you should still be reviewing content in this phase, too.

As for "must-knows" there are sections at the end of each chapter in the NS books that includes "must-knows." On their own, I'm not sure they're sufficient, but as a supplement and a guide they are helpful.

You'll get to the phase where you're doing practice problems upon practice problems, so don't worry about that! Just make sure to develop at least a foundation of MCAT content knowledge before you do that.

I hope this helps and good luck!

Re: Content Review VS. Practice

Posted: Wed Jan 16, 2019 2:02 pm
by Kevbot
Ok, I definitely see what you are saying. Maybe I am just being impatient and wanting to "always jump ahead." As Brian says in some of the videos.

Along with that, occasionally you will hear Brian or Clara say, "this is not a comprehensive review." So, what would be a comprehensive review? Would that be all of the books? or all of the books and the content review videos? Or, just every resource you can possibly get your hands on? When can you confidently say I have reviewed all of the material I need to for the MCAT, or, does one ever reach that point?

Thanks again!


Re: Content Review VS. Practice

Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 9:09 am
by NS_Tutor_Will
I think a comprehensive review would require textbooks! It's not the most practical approach, though. The basic idea with the MCAT is that it tests you on the pre-med science courses, which could basically include anything from any courses you took (or didn't take!) in college. In my opinion, there really isn't a point where you have reviewed all of the necessary material -- even now I encounter new material all the time. I definitely have the basics down to the point where I can interpret new concepts and ideas, but there will always be some new content on the MCAT.

Later in your prep, you'll know how your content prep is based on how often you are getting questions wrong because of lack of content knowledge versus lack of execution. If it's mostly passage-based stuff, silly mistakes, misinterpreting data, etc., then I'd say you have sufficient content knowledge.