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AAMC Self Assessment Verbal

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by abdelraziq13, Aug 27, 2012.

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  1. abdelraziq13


    May 25, 2012
    I noticed a lot of people said that the self assessment verbal was good practice for the mcat so I bought it and finished it. I split it up and did it in three sections of about 40 questions each, timing myself for an hour on each. However, I noticed that the last 40 were really time consuming and much more difficult than usual. After completing it I read through the average difficulty levels of the questions and noticed that the first half of the questions were mostly easy with a couple medium level questions. As you get later in the test there are more mediums, but by the last fourth of the test, there are a ton of hard level questions. Which section, if any, of the verbal assessment do you guys think would be most similar to the real mcat?
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  3. Nandrolone


    Jul 16, 2012
    a mixture of everything
  4. Ochempwnsme

    Ochempwnsme 2+ Year Member

    Oct 21, 2010
    I haven't done the self-assessment but from looking at past AAMC verbal sections that I've done (9, 10, 11), and how the easy/medium/hard breakdown generally went, I'd say the number of easy questions could range from as few as 9 to as many as 19, and the number of moderate questions could range from as few as 15 to as many as 25. The number of hard questions on the real thing could range from anywhere from as few as 3 to as many as 8.

    If you were asking me to place a monetary bet as to the difficulty breakdown on my upcoming test, with bonus points for getting the closest, I'll throw a guess out for giggles:

    13 easy
    23 moderate
    4 hard

    Keep in mind that what makes questions "easy", "medium" or "hard" as categorized by AAMC is obviously subjective, especially in sciences. If you are very strong in optics, for example, you may get all 3 "hard" optics questions correct, while missing the 3 "easy" fluids ones, if that's one of your weak areas. I assume what they mean when they break down the science q difficulty is that they're assuming that your content knowledge is superb, and that you don't have any weaknesses, which is not the case for most people taking a practice AAMC. For verbal, I think the AAMC generally does a better job at categorizing the breakdown correctly on their practice tests, because it's verbal, so there aren't discrepancies in the level of content familiarity between test-takers. Still, they're not perfect. I generally miss only 1 question at most on recent AAMC verbal sections, and the one I missed a question on was one in which I got an "easy" question incorrect. To me, the question was a "hard" one, but obviously the AAMC disagreed,, so take that for what it's worth. TPRH verbal is a bit harder, at least for me, and so I usually miss 3 or so on their practice tests in the verbal workbook, which is probably a 13-14 on the TPR scale. The hard questions are there to differentiate the 10s and 11s from the 12+ scores in verbal, because you can get an 11 on AAMC verbal practice tests if you're getting every self-labeled easy and moderate question correct, from what I've seen. If you get all the easy and moderate ones correct and guess well on the hard questions, you have a shot at a 12 or 13. 14-15 require running the table basically, with almost no margin for error on the harder ones.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2012
  5. abdelraziq13


    May 25, 2012
    Would it tilt more or less to one side though? As in, the relative breakdown in terms of easy, medium, and hard. The last 7 passages probably had about 40-50% hard, 40-50% medium, and 10% (maybe even less) less easy questions. Doesn't that seem excessively difficult? I had to take about ten extra minutes just to finish them
  6. Nandrolone


    Jul 16, 2012
    it would be more like 35% easy, 45% medium an 20% hard, if that.
  7. nycsoul87

    nycsoul87 2+ Year Member

    Jul 22, 2010
    I found the same thing as well, OP. Looking over my notes, I missed twice as many questions in the last 7 passages than I missed in the first 14 passages! :eek:

    I am relatively strong in VR and it definitely appeared to me that the passages got progressively harder.

    Anyone know what we can expect difficulty-wise on test day?
    I'm hoping for something like 1-2 hard passages, 3-4 moderate passages, and 2 easier passages.
  8. Ochempwnsme

    Ochempwnsme 2+ Year Member

    Oct 21, 2010
    You'll never have a real MCAT verbal section with 50% of questions that AAMC identified as hard. If you did, there's probably a bunch of experimental thrown in in and you're going to be looking at an incredibly generous curve.

    The difficulty of the AAMC verbal practice tests is generally accounted for by the curve.


    I should amend my prior posts. For example, on AAMC 9, there were 2 questions identified as easy, 24 identified as moderate, and 14 identified as hard. The curve was generous to account for this, although not as generous as it should have been with 14 hard questions. You could miss 8 questions and still get an 11. On AAMC CBTs up till that point (3-8), the most questions you could miss on verbal while still getting an 11 was generally 7. The other two tests prior to 9 that allowed you to miss 20% of the questions (8 total) and still get an 11 were tests 5 and 6. Missing 10 on AAMC 9 would get you a 10.

    On AAMC 10, on the other hand, the curve was not as generous, and this is probably due to the fact that there were 23 questions identified as easy, 14 identified as moderate, and 3 identified as hard. This verbal section was easier than AAMC 9, in my opinion. You could only miss 6 questions in order to still have an 11, and you could only miss 9 to have a 10. The curve at the top was even harsher. You could only miss 3 questions in order to still get a 12, so each question missed at the top of the curve was worth 1 point.

    AAMC 11 is a more typical verbal section than either AAMC 9 or AAMC 10, in my opinion, in terms of the difficulty. While there were only 3 hard questions on it, there were 21 moderate and 16 easy, and the scale was more typical of the average verbal scale, at least at the higher end, and it was a bit generous. Missing 3 questions netted you a 13, missing 4 still netted you a 12, missing 8 and 11 netted you scores of 11 and 10, respectively. I would never expect to see a verbal section on the real MCAT that had as many hard questions as were on AAMC 9, but I guess you have to prepare for the worst. I think that if your real MCAT verbal section has a similar difficulty breakdown to AAMC 9, that the curve will be more generous than AAMC 9's curve.

    Anyway, let's sum it up. Averaging the raw numbers from AAMCs 9-11 (supposedly the most similar to the current MCAT), we get an average of roughly 7 hard questions, roughly 20 moderate, and roughly 13 easy. As you can see, this is relatively close to what I estimated how a real MCAT verbal section would theoretically break down. Focus on getting all of the "easy" questions right. Even if the MCAT has misjudged the difficulty level of practice questions on the AAMC verbal tests, when you get to the real test, focus on not missing ANY gimme question. Any question that starts with "according to the author", or "according to the passage" is almost always a question that requires no critical thinking and just requires you to go back to the passage and find the answer. The MCAT expects most test-takers to get all of these correct and if you do so, you'll give yourself a nice margin for error on the "harder" moderate questions as well as the truly "hard" ones.

    Your goal on verbal if you're aiming for a 10, should be to get EVERY easy question correct, get 70-75% of the moderate ones correct, and guess correctly on at least ~25% of the hard ones.

    If you can accomplish the strategy above, this should give you a 10 on most administrations, in my opinion. If your goal is an 11, you still need to get every easy question correct, obviously, but now you're aiming to get 80-85% of the moderate questions correct, along with running well on the hard ones. 12+ will generally require running the table and getting all easy and moderate questions correct, along with either getting lucky on guessing or getting the correct answer through solid reasoning on the hard ones. I don't need to explain 13-15 because it's obvious from what I've already written what you need to accomplish to get there. Basically, get your points where they're the easiest pickings. This isn't TPR or Kaplan strategy, it's just common sense. Let's say that you've marked two easy questions for which the answers are in the passage, but you ran over your self-imposed passage time limit so you marked them and moved on. You're burying your head in the sand on two tough questions on the toughest passage, so what should you do? The correct strategy is to throw in guesses on those two and go back and get your points on the two easy ones. I see so many people make mistakes like this. Their stubbornness gets the better of them and they refuse to let hard questions go. It's deadly on verbal.


    This is just my opinion, but in some cases, random guessing on super-hard questions may be better than strategic guessing because you can't fall into a trap if you're randomly guessing. This may sound counter-intuitive, but knowing too much about a very hard passage if you're short on time can be deadly if your goal is just to pick up 2 points out of 5 or 6 questions, because you will eliminate down to two answers and frequently pick the trap answer. You would have been better off eliminating down to two answers by getting rid of the two bad choices, and not even reading the two remaining ones if you're short on time or if you aren't confident in your bottom line. You have a 50/50 shot of getting the super-hard question right if you eliminate down to two answers and guess among the remaining two as randomly as you can. If you take the time to compare the two remaining answers on the 3-4 super hard questions that are on every MCAT verbal administration, you will probably fall into the trap, and your chances of guessing correctly are no longer 50%, but are more like 15-20% tops, because you'll be attracted to the trap answer. In other words, you would have been better off, statistically speaking, even if you had simply guessed randomly among the 4 answer choices than you would be by comparing and contrasting the remaining two. Obviously it is better to use process of elimination to get down to two answers, however, making your odds much closer to 50/50 (or near exactly 50/50 if you eliminate correctly) I know that what I just said sounds incredibly counterintuitive, but re-read it a couple times and you might end up agreeing with me. These 3-4 questions are written into the test to differentiate between those scoring 11s and those 12s, and I have seen people who are scoring 11s get into 12s and 13s by guessing on these questions rather than taking a bunch of time to compare the remaining two answers when they end up picking the trap anyway.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2012
  9. maybemed2013

    maybemed2013 2+ Year Member

    Sep 13, 2011
    How many passages are in the VR SA
  10. Gauss44

    Gauss44 2+ Year Member

    Oct 28, 2012
    AAMC computer based practice tests are most similar to real MCATs because they use to be real MCATs. Why don't you take one? Once you are finish, it will tell you how many were hard, medium, easy, etc.
  11. jennifer1585

    jennifer1585 2+ Year Member

    Apr 26, 2011
    I have Self-assessment of verbal but I don't have the answer key and explanation.
    Is there anyone kind enough to share the answer key and explanation with me?
    Thank you so much in advance!!!

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