Module 4 Conceptual Integration

  • Taking stock

    It's good to take stock of our progress in the science curriculum. Topic by topic work in our 'Science Focus' subjects has delivered us to the half-way point in physics, and we're even further along in general chemistry. On the immediate horizon is the organic reaction chemistry and then biochemistry.

  • Modes of study

    A primary mode of study involves the careful attention each topic receives in 'Science Focus'. With each topic, we go through a series of steps including careful review in Kaplan/TBR, Integrated MCAT Course video sessions, topic centered practice items, and supplementation with other instructional resources such as HyperPhysics, LibreTexts, and Khan Academy. In topic-by-topic content review, you focus intensively on each topic in sequence and close the circle on the learning goals for each topic. You master primary learning goals within each topic as well as its interconnections with other subject matter. One day we will be at the end of our topic-by-topic content review! Everything comes into the harbor by module 15.

    A second mode of study is 'Comprehensive'. This mode involves tasks that teach you the knowledge-base as a whole. The careful skim we gave TBR/Kaplan is a comprehensive task, and so is our latest work with the AAMC topic list. If 'Science Focus' is like exploring a city at the street level, 'Comprehensive' is like viewing the city from the tallest building. You walked from the coffee shop to the museum on the street level, but from the top of the tallest building, the coffee shop and museum are simultaneous. You see another path that starts at the museum and ends at library. All three are together within a neighborhood, and there are other neighborhoods. You see the whole city. That's comprehensive mode.

    This way of looking at the knowledge provides it with a good structure from the beginning. Good structure facilitates retention and recall, and it also facilitates the more sophisticated kinds of understanding which are the deeper learning goals of this course. There is a sense in which a topic is self-contained. It has learning goals, conceptual vocabulary and traditional problems. However, each topic also has a sense of being 'for-the-rest', of being inter-linked conceptually with the rest of science.

  • Hold yourself responsible for everything

    In earlier knowledge integration work, we've carried out several fast cycles through the knowledge base. Cued recall, relearning effect, and delta sleep are bringing a lot back from lecture course you may have thought yourself to have forgotten. To achieve comprehensive mastery, you have to get to comprehensive familiarity first. We've been studying the whole knowledge-base from the bird's eye view. Now you need to start acclimatizing the knowledge base as a performance.

    Imagine that AAMC sent a letter to you today telling you that the MCAT was actually next week. No choice. You have to take it in seven days. Once a week, pretend that you got that letter and cram for the MCAT for an hour. Assignments in this course are going to begin appearing that ask you to enter into this mindset and perform in situations where questions can come from anywhere. In this module, we're starting at a basic level with the AAMC MCAT flashcards. In modules 5 & 6, we'll be working with the practice passages from the official guide. In module 7, we'll start the physics, chemistry, and biology question packs, and in module 10, it's AAMC section bank that begins. Additionally, our own program of cumulative and comprehensive diagnostic quizzes begins in module 6. Start now to hold yourself responsible for everything, and you will have a pretty good game for MCAT passages before content review is even half-way complete. Having basic competency in a topic before you watch a course video will prime you for the more sophisticated lessons in the videos. (As you have seen, the videos themselves work hard to prime future modules as evidenced by all of the biochemistry we've been discussing.) Practice passages are in the near future and biochemistry is coming. Start holding yourself responsible now, at least for the basics, across the entire knowledge base.

Suggested Assignments

Our work in previous modules has given us a comprehensive familiarity with the structure of the knowledge base. In the light of this understanding, carefully read the AAMC publication What's on the MCAT exam? 

Read the Interdisciplinary Notes for Module 4.

Play Catch Blue.

Begin working through MCAT Official Prep Online Flashcards at AAMC. Try to get through this assignment before module 6. 

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