Step Up Your MCAT Prep with The Princeton Review

Session 17

Session 17

In this episode, Ryan talks with Chris Manual, a senior lead instructor with The Princeton Review where he has been teaching for 11 years. Even if you’re taking Kaplan or other MCAT prep course, this session is still worth listening to as Chris shares with us some key things you need to know about taking the MCAT, the right mindset in taking it, some possible options they offer, ways to prepare for the MCAT, the biggest mistakes student make in preparing for the MCAT and some more tips to help you prepare well for the MCAT.

He goes on to give some great premed advice on what to major in to help you get the best GPA, volunteering, and writing your personal statement.

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Chris:

The normal in-person classroom setting:

Having individual teachers per subject

Getting interaction from other students

ICC (In Class Companion) going over MCAT topics covered in class

42 classes to 2 1/2 hours each

Chris’ experience in taking the MCAT:

Scoring 99.9%

Taking the MCAT during the “paper and pencil” days

Not understanding physics very well but having really good test-taking skills

Missing only 6 questions on his MCAT (5 of them are physics questions)

What the MCAT tests you for:

A “balancing act” between content and test taking skills

The material itself is not hard but it’s the way the questions are being asked that make them difficult

How Princeton Review pick their teachers:

Non-academic interview/presentation

Subject-specific content test

20-hour training (presenting live classroom material)

Interactive methodology using the Socratic method

Princeton Review’s different class options:

Online – MCAT Live Online (webinar-type) with office hours


Private tutoring

Summer Immersion Program (San Diego and Austin classes)

The biggest mistakes students make in their MCAT prep:

Underestimating the psychology of test-taking

Memorizing everything and not understanding

Not referencing the passages

More MCAT prep tips from Chris:

Set a baseline of memorizing certain facts that you can build upon.

Pair up with someone to bounce ideas off with.

How is Princeton Review preparing for the MCAT 2015:

Finding out what’s exactly on the MCAT

Revamping all their materials

Retraining all of their current teachers and staff

Understanding the history of MCAT:

Prior to 1991

  • MCAT is tested on memorization
  • Students from foreign countries scoring better than US students
  • Resulting to doctor shortage

Paper and pencil model to computer-based test

  • Based on critical thinking
  • Giving a higher correlation to Step 1

MCAT 2015

  • To get rid of score discrepancy between men and women
  • To get a higher correlation between MCAT, Step 1, and academic performance
  • Helping medical schools to find the best candidates

Must-have MCAT prep tips for premed students:

  • Do not be a science major unless you truly love science. (Major in something you truly love to get a higher GPA)
  • Volunteer somewhere consistently throughout your academic career.
  • When writing your personal statement, think of it as a touching off-point for what you want to discuss during interview.

Links and Other Resources:

The Princeton Review

Summer Immersion Program

MCAT 2015

The Princeton Review MCAT Prep – Full Resources

If you want some Kaplan MCAT Prep info, check that out here

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