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Verbal Help

Discussion in 'MCAT Study Question Q&A' started by premed1213, May 1, 2012.

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  1. premed1213

    premed1213

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    I'm having trouble keeping up with time for Verbal. I have decided on doing 10 mins a passage, and skipping one passage by marking C's all the way down. Do you think this is a good strategy to apply? Any tips for ways to skim for the right passages and avoid the trickier ones? I usually always enjoy doing the science and historical based passages, however social and literary one's I find a bit more challenging.
  2. MedPR

    MedPR

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    Unless you get every question right on the 6 passages you actually read, skipping one and randomly guessing is not a good idea.
  3. SH3

    SH3

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    I know this is the favored strategy the Princeton Review teaches however, the more sensible thing to do would be take 5 seconds and identify the most difficult passage (be it in philosophy or what your weakest area is). Leave this passage for the end. This way you can focus on the "easier" passages and leave the most difficult one for the end. Thus allowing you to use the remaining time to contemplate the answers for slightly longer without risk of losing time.
  4. EnginrTheFuture

    EnginrTheFuture

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    This is equally as dangerous since the harder reads could have the easiest questions.... a lot of the time they do and you are quite literally throwing away easy points for hard/ time consuming questions. A harder read may take you 45-60 seconds more than an easy read but I promise you 6 harder question stems will take you 60 seconds + than 6 easy question stems.

    The best strategy here is to figure out what works for you. For some, reading the passages faster and REALLY focusing on the main idea and tone is what helps the most.

    For me, even when I take all the time in the world reading the passage a second time (after taking the exam), a lot of the time I still get the same questions wrong I did the first time. A matter of fact, if I can skim and get the main idea and tone down, I tend to do better than if I sit there and try to soak in the details because a lot of questions are based around the big picture. The details can sometimes throw you into a trap answer based in details like direct wording.

    For passages heavy on names and theories you have to skim for main idea, passage and highlighted differences in these people/theories.

    Do not go guessing on an entire passage. DO NOT do this. It is not worth the gamble. Hell, a lot of the time it is easy to narrow every answer down to 2. You go from getting 1/2 the questions right to 1/4 right off the bat and probably saved yourself relatively no time than if you had skimmed and narrowed.

  5. SH3

    SH3

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    Hahah, I never said skip the passage. I merely said leave the hardest read to the end. This way even if the questions are easier you are simply doing them last since the passage takes a bit longer to read.
  6. EnginrTheFuture

    EnginrTheFuture

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    touche :laugh:
  7. SaintJude

    SaintJude

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    Actually, how much time do you guys recommend per passage. 7 minutes/ passage ?
  8. EnginrTheFuture

    EnginrTheFuture

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    shoot for 7 ON AVERAGE... don't go above 8/passage on average unless you have to or you are close to the end and know you have things under control
  9. SH3

    SH3

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    :hungover:
  10. SaintJude

    SaintJude

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    Actually, wait --7 is too short I just realized

    8 min passage is fine.

    There are 7 passages right? And 60 minutes.

    I need b/c on Test Day, i have to keep myself accountable

    60--52--44-36-28-20-12-4

    Yeah, that's good....
  11. EnginrTheFuture

    EnginrTheFuture

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    If you check out the 5/12/2012 test thread I have a table on there that explains verbal timing accountability strategy. Check it out if your interested.
  12. SH3

    SH3

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    Re-post here for us lazy folk?
  13. supportivehubby

    supportivehubby MS3!

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    I started at 15+ min/passage (very slow reader). I pushed my time down steadily and then I trained for 7min/passage. Yes, 8 min is good, but in the last weeks I suggest training tougher than necessary so that you are stronger for the real thing. Like sprinting with a parachute or swimming with a bucket for drag.

    On full lengths, I kept pace on 8 min /passage doing the countdown:
    60 min Start 1st
    52 min start 2nd
    44 min start 3rd
    etc
    so have a four minute buffer in the end to go back to whichever passage/s needed the extra time.

    To manage this, I really had to push myself on reading the passage in 3-4 minutes. Also, I always lost time on the answer choices that were super long and convoluted. I had to force myself to stop re-reading these like a crazy person. This was hard, but came with many practice passages and tests
  14. SH3

    SH3

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    Wowzers! Congrats on the MCAT increase and the Acceptance! Kudos!
  15. MedPR

    MedPR

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    But how do you know which one is the hardest? If you start to read one and it seems hard, you'll just move on to the next one, but then if that one seems harder do you go back to the one before?

    All these VR "strategies" seem like wastes of time. If you do enough VR practice you can get your times down on all the different categories. Skim if you have to, but don't waste time thinking about which passage you're going to read first or last, or which questions you're going to blindly guess on.

    Just do it all in order instead of adding in more to think about on an already difficult test.

    Edit: Also, imagine reading through 6 VR passages after you already completed the PS section then realizing you have the "hardest" VR passage left. Idk about the rest of you, but that would be demoralizing to me.
    Last edited: May 1, 2012
  16. SaintJude

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    Also, I don't have to read the entire passage before starting to answer the questions. works for me.
  17. pm1

    pm1

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    really?
    do you just go back and forth? or do you just read part of the passage before going to questions?
  18. SaintJude

    SaintJude

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    yeah, it's especially useful for super long passages--I usually read about 1/2 the passage. By this point, the main idea and the author's tone will be as clear to you as it will ever be. The rest of the passage naturally just serves to build the author's argument...Then I liberally refer back to the passage, for all questions that deal with a detail of the passage--
  19. SH3

    SH3

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    It's not necessarily a matter of looking for the hardest passage but, some people hate philosophy passages (or politics etc.) so, in an effort to save time they'd leave that one until the end where they may have a chance to spend more time on it.

    Personally, I wouldn't do this but, with little time left before one's MCAT date without time for improvement it can be a useful strategy.
  20. Temperature101

    Temperature101

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    Wow...I have not tried that yet. I am getting f....cked by VR....Getting 5 to 6 consistently...Just shooting for an 8. I know I aim low...For some people this not a tall order but for me as an ESOL it is...
  21. viva117

    viva117

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    Using a few of EK's tricks, I don't have any trouble finishing verbal within the time limit (wish i could say the same for PS).

    Some people advise against digging for the "hardest" passage trick because it consumes extra time, but more importantly it could be a faulty trick because a "tough" sounding passage may have cake walk questions.

    I'm not getting 13's or anything, but I'm around 8-9 for my first two practice tests, but my timing hasn't been bad and I'm far from a speedy reader.

    EK says to just read the passage as quickly as you can but slow enough that you don't have to reread paragraphs. Their logic is that majority of the time is actually spent on answering questions and if you cannot understand or don't have an idea where in the passage to find relevant info, then you waste a lot of time hunting and rereading and falling into traps within the passage.
  22. MedPR

    MedPR

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    Well I won't know my real VR score until May 8, but I was averaging a 12 (up from 7-8 from the beginning of MCAT prep) on the AAMC FL verbals and I didn't use any of the "strategies" prep companies suggest.

    Basically I would read the passage carefully and focus on the main idea, tone, and conterpoints/counterarguments to the main idea. I found that the majority of the questions could be answered from that knowledge. I tried to stay under 7 minutes per passage, but that didn't always work out. Typically I would spend about 4.5 minutes reading, then a couple of minutes answering the questions. By reading slowly and carefully, I saved time by not having to go back to the passage while answering questions. I very rarely (less than 1 question per passage, on average) had to look back at the passage.

    The vast majority of the questions I got wrong were the detail based questions.
  23. pm1

    pm1

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    that's very encouraging! thanks!
    but how did you practice it? how much did you practice per day?
    I've heard of people saying that when you do it you should do an hour so you get used to staining focused one hour (which makes sense, since I can see a big difference from just doing a couple of passages vs. 7 passage test). But then I'm afraid of running out of material. :(
    Would you recommend reading The Economist, Time Mag, and such?
    Thanks!!
  24. MedPR

    MedPR

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    I didn't do any outside reading; I hate to read and I didn't want to burn out on non-MCAT stuff.

    I did the whole TPRH VW and the first 6 or 7 EK VR 101 exams, but the majority of it was in the last 3-4 weeks before my test day. I studied for about 110 days and did maybe 15-20 passages in the first week and a half (about 2-3 a day) then decided my time was better spent on PS/BS.

    For the first 8-12 passages I was getting about 3-4/7 right on TPRH and my "strategy" was to try and speed through the passage and spend most of the time on the questions. Obviously this wasn't working. I was also timing myself for these first 8-12 passages and the timer was really stressing me out. After I realized I was sucking at VR, I stopped timing myself and started taking my time reading. It turned out that I was finishing each passage in about 7-8 minutes and my scores jumped way up to 5-7/7. At this point my christmas vacation was over and the amount of time I had for MCAT dropped drastically so I ended up only doing PS/BS for several weeks.

    I took my MCAT on 4/5 and by the time March rolled around I realized that I hadn't done much VR at all so I really started trying to get in at least a few passages every day. I kept the same strategy (reading slow and not looking back at the passage) and my scores stayed about the same (5-7/7) and slowly moved to 6-7/7 most of the time. For the most part I was doing 1-2 TPRH passages at a time then checking the scores. I didn't start doing whole 1 hour blocks until I finished TPRH and started into EK. I averaged just below 11 on the EK blocks (they were harder than TPRH and AAMC imo) and a 12.4 on the AAMCs. I think I might have gotten one 12 on the EK tests, but mostly 10 and 11; no 9 and no 13-15. The lowest I got on an AAMC was 11 and the highest a 13. A 13 on the AAMCs is ~4 wrong iirc.
  25. chiddler

    chiddler

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    i'm not very credible when it comes to verbal, but along my passage practicing, i read articles as it was suggested by so many.

    it....helped..a liiiitttlle bit.

    two things:

    1. it is possible it helped a lot and it is subtle enough that i do not realize it.

    2. VR is extremely idiosyncratic. your results may differ from mine.

    that said, try it. see if it helps. doesn't take that much time anyway.
  26. MedPR

    MedPR

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    Yea I agree with this. I mean if you're already spending time everyday reading a novel or the newspaper, you might as well use that time to read from the sources people have suggested (Economist, Atlantic, NY Times, etc). I just don't spend any of my free time reading, so I didn't want to waste any of my reading time on non-MCAT specific stuff.
  27. pm1

    pm1

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    okay!
    thank you guys!! I'm going to try the suggestions!
  28. Morsetlis

    Morsetlis SGU MS-4

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    No.

    MedPR has the right strategy.

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