Meet the Kaplan Experts: Chris Durland, Associate Director of Content & Curriculum, Pre-Med Programs

by Chris Durland, Associate Director of Content & Curriculum, Pre-Med Programs | August 9, 2021

The Kaplan Team is often cited as why schools stay with Kaplan, year after year. At Kaplan, there’s an expert at the heart of everything we do, whether it’s leading a class or developing innovative tools to help your students achieve their career goals. With our “Meet the Kaplan Experts” blog series, we introduce you to Kaplan’s extensive network of faculty, medical, and educational experts and delve into their diverse areas of expertise so that you can learn even more about your Kaplan team. This week, we're pleased to introduce you to Chris Durland, Associate Director of Content & Curriculum, Pre-Med Programs.

Tell Us About Yourself

I live in Signal Mountain, Tennessee with my wife and daughter. I enjoy challenges of all sorts including games, sports, and learning new skills.

What are your particular areas of expertise?

I’m an expert on: 

  • Curriculum design
  • Content creation 
  • All things MCAT

My newly acquired interests include early childhood: nutrition, sleep patterns, and discipline. I also enjoy playing with my nearly 2 year old daughter. 

What is your most unique experience?

A few years ago my wife was invited to Australia to present her research. We seized the opportunity and spent a week down under. To break up the flight we also spent a week in Hawaii. 

Tell Us About Your Experience in Medical Education

How long have you worked for Kaplan Test Prep and what drew you to your current role?

I’ve been with Kaplan for 13 years. It all started during a gap year in San Antonio, Texas. There, I studied for the MCAT (with a Kaplan course!) and volunteered while planning my next steps. Then, I started teaching. I found the challenge thoroughly rewarding and continued to lean into it. Some of my favorite classes were institutional: UTPA (now UTRGV), TAMCC, and UTHSCSA (JAMP). 

After San Antonio I moved to Austin for a few years and started focusing on content development. A few years of content development led me to a manager role. While I focused on content development, I still taught a few institutional classes (including LMU and UTC). In late 2020, I took on a leadership role on the content team and we are currently working on the next generation of our MCAT course.

What are your thoughts on the value of standardized tests?

It’s easy to see the unfitness of a one-size-fits-all solution—and there’s work to be done to ensure our testing instruments are fair—but I take comfort knowing that there are a standard set of rules. That makes the test predictable and learnable. 

What do you think the future of test prep will look like? 

The future of test prep will be increasingly personalized. As data collection and analysis becomes more sophisticated, we’ll see targeted and efficacy-based performance reporting and recommendations.

What innovations at Kaplan are you most excited about?

We are currently working on an evolutionary leap for our MCAT course. We’re using the principles of learning science to help students stay engaged and maximize retention. There’s a lot to know for the MCAT, so we’re also working to reduce the sense of overwhelm associated with MCAT prep. 

Advice

The MCAT tests your ability to think like a doctor. Therefore MCAT preparation should teach you to think like a doctor. The mistake that many students make is believing that critical thinking is a switch they need to turn on while testing. In reality, these skills need to work their way into everyday life.

I’ve been with Kaplan for 13 years. It all started during a gap year in San Antonio, Texas. There, I studied for the MCAT (with a Kaplan course!) and volunteered while planning my next steps. Then, I started teaching. I found the challenge thoroughly rewarding and continued to lean into it. Some of my favorite classes were institutional: UTPA (now UTRGV), TAMCC, and UTHSCSA (JAMP).  After San Antonio I moved to Austin for a few years and started focusing on content development. A few years of content development led me to a manager role. While I focused on content development, I still taught a few institutional classes (including LMU and UTC). In late 2020, I took on a leadership role on the content team and we are currently working on the next generation of our MCAT course.

See more posts by Chris Durland, Associate Director of Content & Curriculum, Pre-Med Programs