In this episode, I talk with Chris Manual, a senior lead instructor with The Princeton Review, where he has been teaching for 11 years.
Even if you’re taking an MCAT course from Next Step or Kaplan, this session is still worth listening to. Chris shares with us some key things you need to know about taking the MCAT, the right mindset in preparing for the MCAT, and the biggest mistakes student make in their MCAT prep.
Chris also shares some great premed advice on what to major in, what to do for volunteering, and how to write your personal statement.
Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.
The normal in-person classroom setting for MCAT classes:
- Having individual teachers per subject
- Getting interaction with other students
- ICC (In Class Companion) going over MCAT topics covered in class
- 42 classes about 2 and 1/2 hours each
Chris’ experience taking the MCAT:
- Scoring in the 99.9th percentile
- 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 were physics questions)
What the MCAT tests you for:
- The MCAT is a “balancing act” between content and test-taking skills
- The material itself is not hard, but the way the questions are asked makes them difficult.
[Related episode: What Is the Best Way to Learn MCAT Testing Strategy?]
How Princeton Review picks teachers for their MCAT classes:
- 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 MCAT class options:
- MCAT Live Online (webinar-type) with office hours
- Private tutoring
- Summer Immersion Program
The biggest mistakes students make in their MCAT prep:
- Underestimating the psychology of test-taking
- Memorizing everything and not understanding concepts
- 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 of.
[Related episode: Is an MCAT Study Group Helpful to Prepare for the MCAT?]
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
[Related episode: MCAT 2015: A Review of All the Changes and New Tips.]
Understanding the history of the MCAT:
Prior to 1991:
- The MCAT tested memorization.
- Students from foreign countries scored better than U.S. students.
- This resulted in a doctor shortage.
Paper-and-pencil model to computer-based test:
- The MCAT became based on critical thinking.
- Newer evolutions of the MCAT have a higher correlation to Step 1 scores.
The MCAT 2015:
- The test changes were designed to:
- get rid of the score discrepancies between men and women
- achieve a higher correlation between MCAT, Step 1, and academic performance
- help 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 jumping-off point for what you want to discuss during your medical school interviews.
Links and Other Resources:
- Check out MCAT prep options from The Princeton Review.
- Related episode: Common MCAT Prep Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.
- Related episode: Should I Take an MCAT Prep Course?
- Check out my Premed Playbook series of books (available on Amazon), with installments on the personal statement, the medical school interview, and the MCAT.