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My test is on April 10th and as of right now my PS and BS scores are around where I want them to be. However, my VR scores are just atrocious. I've been using EK 101 and EK's strategy to attack the passages. I'm averaging around a 10 on EK 101 but I'm averaging around a 7-8 on the AAMCs :scared:

I'm wondering at this point with 1.5 weeks until my exam what I should do? Should I just stick with the strategy I have and hope for a good VR score? Or should I try something new?
 
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clc8503

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My test is on April 10th and as of right now my PS and BS scores are around where I want them to be. However, my VR scores are just atrocious. I've been using EK 101 and EK's strategy to attack the passages. I'm averaging around a 10 on EK 101 but I'm averaging around a 7-8 on the AAMCs :scared:

I'm wondering at this point with 1.5 weeks until my exam what I should do? Should I just stick with the strategy I have and hope for a good VR score? Or should I try something new?
Yes, I think you should stick to your current strategy. Its far too late in the game to start trying new methods, because you lack the time to perfect them with practice. I also think that you a should not focus on "the best verbal strategy" but rather, "the best verbal strategy for you." Everyone reads differently. Some test takers are Verbal Savants, and do well without a given strategy. Some say, "read the questions first" or "map out the passages," which works well if you read and comprehend at super fast speeds. I have found that the most solid VR method is EK, which you seem to be familiar with.

In comparing AAMC practice tests to the real thing, I found the passages on the actual MCAT to be a bit longer, so many of these "read the questions first" and/or "passage mapping" strategies are great if you DO NOT intend to finish the VR section of the MCAT. Obviously, a strategy that reduces your chances of finishing the VR section is a bad idea. On the upside, I did find the passages on the real MCAT to be a bit more interesting, which would favor your current strategy of reading the passages for the main idea and then "tacking the questions."

One thing you can do, if you are not already doing so, is to right down a timed agenda and stick to it when taking the exam. Doing this will prevent you from falling behind. Falling behind tends to induce anxiety, which can cause some individuals to read/comprehend poorly (it does with me). I found that when I took the AAMC practice tests I would miss the majority of my questions on passages 6 and 7, as a result of rushing through them. On closer inspection, I realized that I would suddenly start reading so fast when I got to 6 and 7 (due to anxiety) that I was unable to comprehend any of the material. This resulted in spending more than the typical amount of time needed to answer the questions, as well as answering many of them incorrectly. Eventually, I found that by allowing myself 18:00-19:00 minutes on 6 and 7 (combined) I was able to keep a cool head toward the end of the exam, allowing me to read more confidently and critically. This resulted in better comprehension, and less time on the questions. That's just what worked for me; it "might" work for you. If anxiety is your problem it is quite difficult to overcome. However, finding a way to beat test anxiety will result in higher scores. This is the timing strategy I used:

I like to allow 9:00 minutes on the first passage so I can start out confidently. I also like to spend 9:30 minutes on passages 6 and 7, so that I can finish confidently as well. This allows only 8 minutes/passage on 2-5, which is quite doable. If you find yourself stumped on a question from passages 2-5, pick the answer that makes the most sense and move on. On passages 2-5, do not waste time hunting for the answer in the passage unless you know exactly where it is, and you have not exceeded 8 minutes. Hunting for answers will kill you on time (As noted in EK).


STICK TO THE SCHEDULE WITHIN +/-30 SECONDS!

PASSAGE / START TIME / ALLOTTED TIME
PASSAGE I: / 60:00 / 9:00 minutes
PASSAGE II: / 51:00 / 8:00 minutes
PASSAGE III: / 43:00 / 8:00 minutes
PASSAGE IV: / 35:00 / 8:00 minutes
PASSAGE V: / 27:00 / 8:00 minutes
PASSAGE VI: / 19:00 / 9:30 minutes
PASSAGE VII: / 9:30 / 9:30 minutes


Also, I found that's it extremely important to intimately understand the first paragraph of each passage. If you start out reading at light speed, you will can easily miss the topic of the passage, which is a crucial component of the main idea. Trust me, if the first paragraph fails to make any sense to you, the rest of the passage will only confuse you as well. In my experience, if I were to start out confused I would more than likely stay confused as I read the remaining paragraphs. When you read the first paragraph at a comfortable speed and try to understand the main idea, or at least the topic, the rest of the passage will make a lot more sense. Once you grasp the topic in the first paragraph, expect the remaining paragraphs to explore that particular topic from a new angle. In doing this, you will develop the the main idea intuitively.

This might not work for you, but it worked for me.

Good luck! Try to mesh your current strategy with a good timing strategy, and see if it helps.
 
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Probably the best VR advice. Thanks.

One problem that I've discovered is that I usually miss a lot of questions if the passage describe the actions of author him/herself. First person passages give me lots of problem, so I was wondering if someone can give me advise regarding this.
 
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Great post!

I would say that anxiety is one of my more prevalent problems when taking the VR section, but I don't feel it when I'm taking the other sections. I'm going to follow your advice for the next practice test I take. Thanks!
 

UoCfin

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i really love your advice man!...thanks...
one querry i have: anyone can pitch in::::hungover:oes the whole read the questions first and fast, then return to the passage and read in time work? kinda like,,,hey,,,i read this question already and i actually know where the answer is in the passage....
 

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i really love your advice man!...thanks...
one querry i have: anyone can pitch in::::hungover:oes the whole read the questions first and fast, then return to the passage and read in time work? kinda like,,,hey,,,i read this question already and i actually know where the answer is in the passage....
I know EK advises against that, and they have the best verbal strategy imo. They say that you will forget what the questions were as soon as you start reading the passage, so you just end up wasting valuable time. I'm in the bandwagon of just know the main idea of the author, and you will be ready for anything. I'm not a pro yet, but thats what has worked best for me so far
 

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What clc8503 is saying is golden. But if there is one thing I would like to address, it is that I do not believe having a certain time to finish a certain passage is the way to go.

Passage 3 might be harder than passage 1. So why spend more time on passage 1? I think the amount of time you should spend on the passage depends on the difficulty of the passage. So instead of having a limit to how much time you should spend on each passage, try to go through each passage with a speed that does not hinder your comprehension.

What hurts a lot of people in terms of timing is anxiety. Anxiety prevents you from thinking about the passage and makes you go into a trance of "OMG OMG WHAT IS GOING ON?" If you go into this trance, it's hard to regain yourself. This wastes a lot of time. You need to stay calm throughout, almost an in-the-zone feel that you get when you're doing something you're really good at (like playing basketball, a video game, etc)

Many things can cause anxiety: purposefully rushing through the exam, looking at the clock, no strategy, low confidence, a difficult passage.

So to prevent this anxiety, you should NOT look at the time at all. Instead, practice enough to where you unconsciously know the time without ever looking at it.

When I took the exam, I cut a piece of my scratch paper and put it on the clock. I never looked at the clock.

But as clc8503 stated, everyone is different! You should definitely stick to a strategy (whatever it is) and make it work for you.

Jack