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CARS issue, any advice?

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Ojay

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Hey SDN,

I am a pre-medical student who has written the MCAT twice. I scored a 510 in my first exam (130,123***,129,128), and I was devastated by my CARS score. Going into the exam, I was struggling with verbal reasoning, and to be honest, I didn't allot enough time towards practice and building important foundational CARS skills. The second time around, I thought I had learned my lesson. I practiced almost daily, doing anywhere from 2-10 passages a day. I was doing whatever material I could get my hands on: EK 101, Princeton verbal passages, Kaplan old verbal reasoning exams, NS1-6 FLs, EK 1-4 FLs. As I edged closer to my MCAT date, I was scoring around 126-127 on the NS exams, which to me is good enough.
My second MCAT's result came back last week: 511 (130,123****,131,127). Although its a good overall score, I can't apply to most schools (in canada at least, I'm canadian) due to section cut offs.
So I ask you SDN, what should I do to improve my CARS score. Its been my dream to get into medical school, and I'm not letting CARS stop me from doing that. Any tips on technique you've used, or ways that you improved your CARS score would go a very long way :).
Sorry for the long post!
 

DrHart

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Sounds like you have an inherent problem with strategy, or reasoning. Instead of simply practicing, find out where you are making mistakes. Is it that you have trouble reasoning within the text? Reasoning beyond the text? Are you reading too fast? Are you not picking up key information? Address these problems first otherwise practice is useless.
 
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theonlytycrane

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Is timing an issue or just reasoning through the right answers?

For C/P and B/B (nice scores), are you figuring out most answers from strong background knowledge and data interpretation or are you actually reading through those science passages?
 
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Ojay

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Sounds like you have an inherent problem with strategy, or reasoning. Instead of simply practicing, find out where you are making mistakes. Is it that you have trouble reasoning within the text? Reasoning beyond the text? Are you reading too fast? Are you not picking up key information? Address these problems first otherwise practice is useless.

I agree thats probably my issue. Do you have any advice on how I can address these problems?
 

Ojay

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Is timing an issue or just reasoning through the right answers?

For C/P and B/B (nice scores), are you figuring out most answers from strong background knowledge and data interpretation or are you actually reading through those science passages?

Timing is usually ok. I tend to practice passages while timing my self, usually with 5 minutes less than I would get on the real MCAT. However, on the real MCAT, I found myself struggling with those "killer" passages, and this is where I think I tend to lose most of my points.

Its definitely a bit of both, a lot of the questions ask things that are specific to the passage, but my science background is helpful
 

DrHart

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I agree thats probably my issue. Do you have any advice on how I can address these problems?
Well you need to identify why you are getting the question wrong in the first place, as that will change how you address the problem. I would suggest going through untimed CARS passages and for each question, write out a few sentences that explain why you chose a certain answer. When you go through the answers, read the explanations that the prep book gives. This will be able to show you the missing piece.
 
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Ojay

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Well you need to identify why you are getting the question wrong in the first place, as that will change how you address the problem. I would suggest going through untimed CARS passages and for each question, write out a few sentences that explain why you chose a certain answer. When you go through the answers, read the explanations that the prep book gives. This will be able to show you the missing piece.

Alright Ill work on that. Thank you!
 

daftypatty

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If you don't mind me asking, what were scores on the AAMC Qpacks /aamc scored on the CARS section before 2nd test date?

Also, how did you feel about your CARS coming out of the 2nd time around?
 

Thoth

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The biggest thing I figured out that has me acing all the practice questions is DON'T INFER! If they don't say it directly it's the wrong answer.
 

Shotapp

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The biggest thing I figured out that has me acing all the practice questions is DON'T INFER! If they don't say it directly it's the wrong answer.

what about questions that ask "What can you infer from so and so?" what do you do then?
 

Shotapp

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@Thoth
So if I get a question that asks "What can you infer...?" I should look for an answer that is directly or strongly supported in the passage?
 

Thoth

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@Thoth
So if I get a question that asks "What can you infer...?" I should look for an answer that is directly or strongly supported in the passage?
Yes. Don't go an extra step. Here is an example from one of the books I have. The passage is about the FDA and how it regulates food in regards to salmonella outbreaks. Here are all portions of the passage that relate to the question:

The oversight mechanisms for food safety are somewhat arcane. Fifteen different agencies are responsible for the safety of our food. The two most important of these are the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, or FSIS, and the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, which is a division of the Federal Department of Human Services. Adding to the problem are the limitations on the two agencies' authority. Even when an agency finds that the allowable limits of contamination are exceeded, the only option it has is to request that the producers remove the product voluntarily.

.....

Food safety advocates and lawyers say that the system is clearly broken, but that relatively simple changes in the production process would vastly improve the safety of our food. They point to Denmark, where after a spate of salmonella cases in the 1980s, the Danish government enacted changes in processing that were extremely effective. The new regulations dictate that poultry workers are required to wash their hands before entering the plant, and to perform extensive microbiological testing. More important, though, is that as soon as a pathogen is found, recalls are imposed on the producers. AS a result of these changes, less than two percent of poultry in Denmark is contaminated with salmonella.

It would be relatively simple for the United States to follow Denmark's example, as have several other European countries, to great effect. But for this to happen, the USDA would have to emphasize its regulatory function and role and protector of the people, and de-emphasize its current focus, which is to advance the interests of big agriculture. Unless that happens, millions will suffer needlessly.

Of the following, which represents the most significant difference between anti-salmonella measures taken by the United States and those enacted in Denmark?
a). Denmark requires microbiological testing in production plants, but the United States does not.
b). While the US does not force producers to recall tainted products, Denmark requires mandatory recall.
c). Denmark has a single regulatory agency overseeing food safety, while the US has 15.
d). US regulatory agencies advocate for the interests of the producers, but Danish agencies act in the interests of consumers.

Now, I immediately cross out A, because it specifically states that the recall is "more important" than the microbiology testing and is therefore factually incorrect. I crossed out C second, because it is more important what is done as opposed to who does it. They also don't actually say anything about the one-agency difference being important; they concentrate on the actual changes in policy.

Now, the trick answer here is D, which is incorrect because it is taking it a step too far. It specifically says in the passage that the USDA advances the interests of big agriculture. It also says that to follow Denmark's example, it would have to stop that focus. HOWEVER - It is INCORRECT because it does not actually say in the passage that Denmark is doing this for the interests of the consumer. It is only inferred. The agency could be working for big agriculture - maybe there are benefits for the companies that we aren't aware of. The correct answer is actually B. The article actually states that the required recalls are "more important" than the rest of the benefits.

By choosing D, you are INFERRING the motivation behind the Danish regulatory agency. Don't do that.


I should note - I haven't taken the MCAT yet. However, I scored a 131 on the Kaplan 4 hour diagnostic. That's my only cred.
 
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Ojay

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If you don't mind me asking, what were scores on the AAMC Qpacks /aamc scored on the CARS section before 2nd test date?

Also, how did you feel about your CARS coming out of the 2nd time around?

I believe they were also around 126/7, earlier on in the summer the scores were poor. Honestly, I felt solid about the first 5 passages, mediocre on 2 of them and was sure that I bombed 1/2 passages. Didn't expect another 123 though
 
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