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Going Over Time on Passages

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by altitude, 05.26.12.

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  1. altitude

    altitude 2+ Year Member

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    What is your strategy for finishing in a passage within the time you allocated for it? Do you not sometimes feel the need to spend some extra time (and go over time) on a question you're not getting in order to try to figure it out on your own?

    I'm consistently having the same problem where I'm giving myself 8 min/passage, but I usually only finish half the question in that time because I feel the need to spend extra time on questions that I think I could get with just some more thinking (since it is just practice after all).

    During practice passage: where is the balance between trying to finish within the allocated time (to train yourself) vs. not just skipping/guessing questions that you know you could figure out with just a bit of extra time (and then get them more quickly the following time)?
     
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  3. DAPI

    DAPI 2+ Year Member

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    If the practice problems are full length exams from prep companies or aamc, train yourself to finish on time. If they are like Kaplan practice stand alone passages give yourself more time IMO. Some of the test prep company stand alone passages are not designed to be completed under timed conditions as they are sometime "harder" than the real deal to get you to learn the info and really understand your weaknesses. Sometime the test companies do not tell you this so there is no way of knowing that, but that's my opinion on it anyways.
     
  4. altitude

    altitude 2+ Year Member

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    Thank you for the advice.

    The practice passages are from TBR.
     
  5. OCDOCDOCD

    OCDOCDOCD 2+ Year Member

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    I usually give myself 7 minutes for passages, using TBR and TPRH. If I do multiple passages I give myself 7 minutes X however many passages I'm doing (so 5 passages = 35 minutes). If I can't finish in time I just make a note of it and do the rest of the problems anyway; during practice I also don't guess on questions. If I don't know it, I leave it blank, and then I come back to it before grading to see if I can figure it out with more time.

    If my performance on AAMC practice tests is any indication this has paid off pretty well. I typically finish the science sections with 15-20 minutes to spare, and finish verbal with 20-25 minutes to spare.

    I'd say 8 minutes per passage is still good though. I just went by SN2ed's suggestion about trying to get down to 6-7 minutes per passage, but I think that's overkill (especially 6 minutes). That said, the more time you have left after finishing a section the better. Gives you more time to go over more problems, and it's definitely a massive help when you don't feel rushed.
     
  6. DAPI

    DAPI 2+ Year Member

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    I do not have experience with TBR, so I have no idea how their passages are set up so maybe they should be time, maybe not. But I would not particularly worry about it when you are learning the material. Once you have been through you review though, you should become more accustom to the 8 minute rule.



    Do NOT expect to get your times down to this. I have no stats on this, but from reading these board and assuming members on these boards are "brighter" than the average Joe taking the MCAT, I would say that most people barely have time to finish each section. At best most people have about 3-5 minutes at the end of each science section to review one or two problems they marked and about 30 seconds at the end of verbal just to make sure they at least chose an answer for each question.
     
  7. altitude

    altitude 2+ Year Member

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    Great advice. I will definitely use these tips.

    How much time would you spend on a question in practice and on the actual MCAT before deciding to skip it and return to it later?
    -Would you read it, realize you have no idea how to answer it, and immediately skip it, and return to it later
    OR
    -Would you read it, realize you're unsure of how to solve it, spend 30-45 seconds thinking/looking through the passage, and either answer it/skip it and return later?

    Unless I really have absolutely no idea what the question is talking about, I have been using the second option because often the answer could be found from the passage text/charts/etc., but may require going back to the passage to solve.
     
  8. OCDOCDOCD

    OCDOCDOCD 2+ Year Member

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    I haven't taken the real thing yet. I'm only speaking from practice AAMCs and TBR/TPRH passages.

    When going through questions I never outright skip a question. I'll usually do my best to figure it out. Even if I have no idea what the answer is, I'll put down a guess (may as well, there's no penalty for wrong answers), mark it, and then come back to it after finishing the section. Actually one of my problems is that when I hit a hard question I can get stuck on it for minutes before I realize how long I've just spent on one question. The only reason I finish with so much time to spare is because usually I can breeze through most questions pretty quickly.

    I'd say a big part of getting timing down is learning how to become more efficient at taking the test. POE is priceless, for example. You can get through questions a lot more quickly when you only have to consider two possible answer choices instead of four.
     

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