|Cheena|

2+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2016
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Pre-Medical
My CARS score is tanking hard...I used to consistently get about a dozen wrong on Kaplan's FL (~126, according to their scale) and on the first 2 NS FL I got 11 and 12 wrong, respectively, for a 127. On the third one, I was feeling burnt out, couldn't concentrate, and got mauled by some killer passages and dropped big time, about 4 full scores. I'm hoping this is a fluke, but I just did a EK 30 min exam and got 1o wrong out of 21, which is atrocious. I used to get anywhere from 65% to 95% on the Kaplan CARS Sectionbank, doing about 3 passages at a time on average. The more I consistently did them, i.e. every single day, the more I would score about 80%, sometimes even into the low to mid 90s, which I thought was good. My exam on on the 10th, and I'm not sure what else I should do....

I'm planning to spend an additional 2-3 hrs a day on CARS and just hammer out about 10-12 hours a day until 1-2 days before the MCAT

Resources I have:
Full Kaplan Course
EK 10th ed
NS Fl 1-4
Will buy an EK
All AAMC resources, have only done OG, will start to do all of the resources next week, then unscored, then finally scored 3-7 days before my acutal MCAT.

I was hoping this was a fluke but some mistakes I can reason thru, other times I'm like wow, I guess I didn't understand that passage for ****.

Please I need lots of advice ASAP. I'll send you individualized quanta of Karma
 
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|Cheena|

2+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2016
44
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Pre-Medical
What makes you say that? I was planning to finish my second round on lighter content review this week and do all the Q packs next week? I'll definitely take your advice into consideration but what would the advantage be of doing them earlier, b/c I figure if I can get used to the harder testprep company passages, and transition into the language of the AAMC, which are generally easier and almost always revolve around the main idea/author's tone, that would lead to the best chance of getting a high score
 
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|Cheena|

2+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2016
44
1
Status
Pre-Medical
And by second round I mean more reviewing problem areas using EK's sets; problem areas identified on full lengths
 

theonlytycrane

5+ Year Member
Mar 23, 2014
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The AAMC q-packs are good practice and most representative so I think it's better to start earlier than later. There's 240 questions total which is enough to spread over the next couple weeks. I don't think it's as clear-cut as saying the practice-test companies have harder material so the AAMC stuff will be easy. Just my opinion though.
 
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|Cheena|

2+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2016
44
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Pre-Medical
Thanks. So you would not recommend devoting a full day to doing CARS pack 1, reviewing, then another day to CARS pack 2, then reviewing. I hate the prospect of doing part of the pack, then reviewing it, albeit that may indeed be the better approach. I would rather do 1/2 or all at once, so I can thoroughly go over everything. At the same time, if my downward trajectory continues, it may be better to practice with say 3 passages at a time, and see just where my flaw in logic is so that I can hopefully rectify it by the time test day comes around. I also had wanted to simulate a full CARS section with the AAMC material, around 60 questions (maybe an extra passage).
 

JPS398

5+ Year Member
Dec 10, 2013
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CARs I feel is all about confidence. you've gotten the scores before. you know what you're doing. just do it.
 
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|Cheena|

2+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2016
44
1
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Pre-Medical
Thanks. It's hard to maintain a steady lvl of confidence, b/c for w/e reason, the more confident I feel like I do, the worse the scores are. It seems the more confident I am, the less I thought thru the other, trickier answer choices, and end up falling for those trap answers. I'd love to go in confidently, but how can I after getting molly-whopped time and time again? It only stands to reason that I lose confidence given the results I'm getting. Or maybe I should employ some short-term bravado
 
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|Cheena|

2+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2016
44
1
Status
Pre-Medical
Any more tips? I just did the first 4 passages of CARS QP 1, which I know is considerably difficult, but literally got trounced. I'm seriously considering pushing back my MCAT date another 3-4 months, which I did not think I'd have to do up until this point. Confidence isnt worth **** if I'm literally getting 4 or 5/7 on passages I understand, and 1 or 2/7 on passages I cannot grasp the central argument
 
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|Cheena|

2+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2016
44
1
Status
Pre-Medical
I don't mind getting annihilated in the beginning, and building up a worthy %, but it looks like w/e CARS proficiency I gained in the last 4+ months of studying has left me, and then some. I've read countless reddits and subreddits and threads on CARS strategy, but I think either my RC is overall crap, or Kaplan's strategy isn't working for me. I can literally read an entire passage and not know wtf I just read, and then tackle the Qs and get them all wrong, because they recommend (or others) that I don't waste time re-reading sentences to understand the overall goal of the passage
 

theonlytycrane

5+ Year Member
Mar 23, 2014
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You should re-read a sentence or read slower to understand every passage. Speeding through passages without understanding will only make the questions harder to impossible. Cars q-pack 1 is tough though so hang in there.
 
Dec 10, 2013
474
345
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Any more tips? I just did the first 4 passages of CARS QP 1, which I know is considerably difficult, but literally got trounced. I'm seriously considering pushing back my MCAT date another 3-4 months, which I did not think I'd have to do up until this point. Confidence isnt worth **** if I'm literally getting 4 or 5/7 on passages I understand, and 1 or 2/7 on passages I cannot grasp the central argument
The advice I've been given to improve CARS is this: Read, read, read. Read magazines like The Economist, The New Yorker, etc. and ask yourself what the main ideas are, what is the authors attitude toward the topic etc. Use Khan academy passages (though I don't think they are really representative, they still help) and any other material you can get your hands on.

Also if you can put the MCAT off a couple months I would do it. It is such a huge part of the app I would wait until you are certain you can get a competitive score. No reason to rush it. I was signed up for a sept. date and recently canceled it and am going to take in the spring because I was not feeling confident.
 
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|Cheena|

2+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2016
44
1
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Pre-Medical
Thanks. Appreciate the responses. I'm aiming for a 513-517 (ideally), and 513 lowest, and my NS FL 1 was 509 and 2 was 508 (which I felt was significantly harder), so I felt I was approaching the right place, given ppl score anywhere from 3-8 pts higher on the actual thing. I'm not sure anymore and may end up pushing it back, however I won't be able to study full time anymore, as I will probably start work soon, and be able to study max 2 or 3 hours a day, barring the weekends. What could this recent CARS tragedy be resultant from? I figured practicing various CARS passages from multiple sources would help, but however I'm reading now is not how I was 2-3 weeks ago
 
Dec 10, 2013
474
345
Status
Medical Student
Thanks. Appreciate the responses. I'm aiming for a 513-517 (ideally), and 513 lowest, and my NS FL 1 was 509 and 2 was 508 (which I felt was significantly harder), so I felt I was approaching the right place, given ppl score anywhere from 3-8 pts higher on the actual thing. I'm not sure anymore and may end up pushing it back, however I won't be able to study full time anymore, as I will probably start work soon, and be able to study max 2 or 3 hours a day, barring the weekends. What could this recent CARS tragedy be resultant from? I figured practicing various CARS passages from multiple sources would help, but however I'm reading now is not how I was 2-3 weeks ago
Do you review the questions you missed, why you missed them, and what the correct answer was? Reviewing has helped me. Could just be a slump.... I go through those as well...
 
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|Cheena|

2+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2016
44
1
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Pre-Medical
Yes; I even write them down by hand, and make WIMI sheets, but for w/e reason, in CARS reviewing is one degree above worthless for me. I see I make dumb errors, and keep making them; I see I didn't understand the central argument, and get all but one question wrong; the same thing happens. For w/e reason, I cannot seem to improve after reviewing my mistakes. Even if I do understand the central point, there's still a chance I fall for one of the trap answers, a high chance. IDK if I should just do some passages untimed, until I can improve my RC, b/c there are some passages I'll read, acknowledge I can't waste any more time on them and felt I got at least half the questions correct, but got literally 8 in a row wrong
 

Zen Arcade

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Jun 18, 2015
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I kind of feel the same way you are and I recently decided to push back into January (from 9/1 date). I scored around 123-126 on NS (probably 125 average) and did ok/decent on the q-packs, but when I took the scored I couldn't get through the entire CARS section. I honestly think my confidence was shot and it made my motivation to push through go down. Its all a confidence game. I retook it the next day and felt a lot better. The score I got doesnt mean anything cause I had already seen half the passages, but just my ability to focus and push through was totally different. It really made me realize how your attitude and expectations can affect your effort (expectancy-value theory). Given that, I know I need to work on comprehending the passages better. Because I'm applying next cycle there is no harm in pushing it back and focusing on reading difficult and uninteresting material while practicing the EK strategy. I am very prepared in the other sections... but I dont one poor section score to bring down my total score significantly. Its been said so many times before, but its a marathon. If the time isnt now then figure out how you are going to change things up and improve for next time. You got this :)
 
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|Cheena|

2+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2016
44
1
Status
Pre-Medical
I kind of feel the same way you are and I recently decided to push back into January (from 9/1 date). I scored around 123-126 on NS (probably 125 average) and did ok/decent on the q-packs, but when I took the scored I couldn't get through the entire CARS section. I honestly think my confidence was shot and it made my motivation to push through go down. Its all a confidence game. I retook it the next day and felt a lot better. The score I got doesnt mean anything cause I had already seen half the passages, but just my ability to focus and push through was totally different. It really made me realize how your attitude and expectations can affect your effort (expectancy-value theory). Given that, I know I need to work on comprehending the passages better. Because I'm applying next cycle there is no harm in pushing it back and focusing on reading difficult and uninteresting material while practicing the EK strategy. I am very prepared in the other sections... but I dont one poor section score to bring down my total score significantly. Its been said so many times before, but its a marathon. If the time isnt now then figure out how you are going to change things up and improve for next time. You got this :)
Thanks Zen, appreciate the response and support. I think what I'll do is take one more FL, either an EK or NS, maybe section by section to prevent getting burnt out, by this sunday, and if I feel like nerves are still wracking me or I can improve my Reading Comprehension over the long term, Ill push it back, otherwise if I feel my confidence has returned (I feel like Will Ferrell from Tallageda Nights), I'll keep keeping on, making sure to not overstrain myself. It's weird, but, at least on the NS exams, the less concerned I am about getting as many questions rights, or hitting a certain raw score, the more I get right.
 
Dec 10, 2013
474
345
Status
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Yes; I even write them down by hand, and make WIMI sheets, but for w/e reason, in CARS reviewing is one degree above worthless for me. I see I make dumb errors, and keep making them; I see I didn't understand the central argument, and get all but one question wrong; the same thing happens. For w/e reason, I cannot seem to improve after reviewing my mistakes. Even if I do understand the central point, there's still a chance I fall for one of the trap answers, a high chance. IDK if I should just do some passages untimed, until I can improve my RC, b/c there are some passages I'll read, acknowledge I can't waste any more time on them and felt I got at least half the questions correct, but got literally 8 in a row wrong
Another few things you could try (hopefully at least one of these things can help you):

1. After every passage take a 5-10 break and just clear your mind and take a small break. This helps me prevent burning out during the section.
2. Don't take notes or worry about the main idea, blah blah blah. That has never really helped me. I don't take notes or anything, but I do write down a sentence after I read the passage that is really basic (like... author liked the book, historical figure A was violent and historical figure B was a pacifist, or author had a neutral opinion on this topic, etc.). This just helps me keep it straight in my head.
3. Don't pick the answer that you think right, pick the answer that the author thinks is right. Try to think like the author of the passage, or look at the questions from the author's perspective.
4. Rephrase the question in your own words in your mind. This helps me make sure I know what the question is asking, and it helps me when I am picking an answer.
5. Don't spend too much time trying to eliminate answers by looking through the text and don't eliminate answers too soon. Often I find myself choosing the option that, at first glance, I thought "no way, not that one."
6. Try reading something you enjoy out of a magazine or newspaper. After reading it try to write your own MCAT questions for that article. This has actually helped me a lot it the past few weeks. It helps you get an idea of how the MCAT authors think...

Maybe some of these ideas are bogus, but hey they might help...
 
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|Cheena|

2+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2016
44
1
Status
Pre-Medical
Another few things you could try (hopefully at least one of these things can help you):

1. After every passage take a 5-10 break and just clear your mind and take a small break. This helps me prevent burning out during the section.
2. Don't take notes or worry about the main idea, blah blah blah. That has never really helped me. I don't take notes or anything, but I do write down a sentence after I read the passage that is really basic (like... author liked the book, historical figure A was violent and historical figure B was a pacifist, or author had a neutral opinion on this topic, etc.). This just helps me keep it straight in my head.
3. Don't pick the answer that you think right, pick the answer that the author thinks is right. Try to think like the author of the passage, or look at the questions from the author's perspective.
4. Rephrase the question in your own words in your mind. This helps me make sure I know what the question is asking, and it helps me when I am picking an answer.
5. Don't spend too much time trying to eliminate answers by looking through the text and don't eliminate answers too soon. Often I find myself choosing the option that, at first glance, I thought "no way, not that one."
6. Try reading something you enjoy out of a magazine or newspaper. After reading it try to write your own MCAT questions for that article. This has actually helped me a lot it the past few weeks. It helps you get an idea of how the MCAT authors think...

Maybe some of these ideas are bogus, but hey they might help...
No this helps a lot! Thanks for taking the time to write all this out, I really appreciate it. I feel like not obsessing over every Q and limiting how much I refer back to the passage helps especially when they pertain to the main idea. Only when the Q asks for a specific instance or every know and then a reasoning beyond the text should I refer back for evidence, but even then, if you're lucky enough to remember salient parts of the passage, you should be able to wrestle thru to the right answer. I guess my biggest problem rn is trying to decide when to and when not to refer back to the passage. Instead of scurrying back to second an obvious answer doesn't come to me, I am now calming down, re-read the question stem, and think of which question most pertain to the author's main idea, which oft doesn't develop until 2/3 the way down the passage, and that's helped me with the easy to medium passages. The first half of the CARS QP, however, those first 5 passages will forever be a mystery to me. I've never been so violated by a passage in my life!
 
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|Cheena|

2+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2016
44
1
Status
Pre-Medical
After consideration, even though my score is continually plunging, using the AAMC CARS material (I'm now even doing pretty bad on the "easier" passages) I'm still going to write this 10th, throwing all caution to the wind. For w/e reason, by ability to ascertain the author's tone has vanished all but completely, and I often ascribe one of the opinions the author cites as his or her own tone, which leads me to getting at least half of 5-7 Question passages wrong. It cant be burnout, because I take at least one break a week, and this never happened to me before, I think I'm losing my nerves as I get closer and closer to the test, and get angry that I wasn't able to complete all the materials (esp AAMC) that I wanted to. I'm also certain I know most of the things I'm going to know whether or not I postpone, so I think Ill continue going hard (10-12 hrs a day) until 2 days before the exam, and do nothing the last 2 days, save for flashcards and maybe so Kaplan/KA videos on subjects. I think when my motor is always running I start subconsciously not gaf and it hurts my scores
 
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|Cheena|

2+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2016
44
1
Status
Pre-Medical
Thanks. I've actually been doing CARS QP2 and been doing a lot better. Barring the ridiculously hard passage, which I really hope I don't get more than 1-2 on the actual exam, I feel like if I spend another minute and a half reading the passage, making sure to re-read each paragraph until I understand much of what is being said (on the first read I only get about 40-50%, often missing tone and/or important connections) I get most of the question correct, without having to refer back to the passage. It's nice because this only take another minute or so, which is more than saved when I can answer questions in 10 seconds because I know what the answer should look like. Additionally, when the questions or E or M, I can quiet the incessant need to look back and "check" to make sure the answer is correct. I've also stopped taking notes on each paragraph, because I would much rather spend the time re-reading the paragraph, esp since I only need to retain that passage information for about 8-10 minutes. Psyc/Soc seems to be my strongest suit, I really hope to get 129+ on the exam, which I feel is possible, esp since I'm a neuro major. I just need to go over some bio (genetics, immunology, some biochem pathways/structures) and the harder phys/chem and keep practicing CARS.
 

_NM_

2+ Year Member
Jul 11, 2016
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Hey, that sounds exactly like the problem I was having the summer I studied for my MCAT :( My score was really variable (but I would get up to 12 questions wrong too sometimes), and I ended up with an 8 (~125). So that sucked. I applied to med school this past cycle and I did get interviews, but the asked me what went wrong with my verbal. Basically I realized that if I wanted to get into a good school I would have to do better on verbal, so I'm taking a few years off before graduate school and studying for the new MCAT. I started studying for verbal in January, and I've been using Acceleread to increase my reading speed, and I saw some improvement. And trust me, I read a ton, like everyone is telling you to do and didn't get anywhere close to the 127 I was aiming for on practice tests I took. However, my score only actually went up after I took a CARs course with Jack Westin. His strategy is really solid and if you have time, I'd recommend taking his course.

In any case, good luck on your MCAT, and all I can say for sure is that you shouldn't take the MCAT unless you're absolutely ready!
 
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|Cheena|

2+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2016
44
1
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Pre-Medical
Is it too late?! I Test in 6 days?! Would two sessions help me? Wow I wish I heard of this beforehand....I would have tried to incorporate it into my summer studyschedule (no pun intended). Also, the course is like 1.5k USD, which is a tad pricey
 

premedkid1994

2+ Year Member
Dec 17, 2015
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Is it too late?! I Test in 6 days?! Would two sessions help me? Wow I wish I heard of this beforehand....I would have tried to incorporate it into my summer studyschedule (no pun intended). Also, the course is like 1.5k USD, which is a tad pricey
No not really. I was in that class and it helped me a lot, but you need tons and tons of practice with his strategy. If you don't feel ready, it's better to reschedule than to take the test and get a score you are not satisfied with.

Nonetheless, good luck on whatever you decide on :)
 
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|Cheena|

2+ Year Member
Jul 6, 2016
44
1
Status
Pre-Medical
Not to be a jerk, but didn't you score 64% on the Sample Test CARS? Was that before or after the class? Also, if it was before, do you have test scores showing significant improvement after the class?

I've heard some mixed reviews about the class, and honestly 1.5k just for the CARS section tutoring is insane.
Well tbh, you are a condescending jerk, and you try pm-ing me about 1 on 1 tutoring which I'm almost certain was a scam (you're not certified in anyway). Whoever is lurking here, don't bother signing up for this guy's course, as it's likely a scam and he has the temperament of a child.