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CARS Strategy Resources

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frosty42

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I've been reading 3 JW CARS passages per day for about a month now, but I feel like I'm not getting anywhere. I know everyone says CARS improvement is slow, but I'm starting to feel like I need to branch out.

I have the Kaplan CARS book since it came with the full set, but I've been avoiding it because of bad reviews - should I continue avoiding it and try to find another strategy resource?

I'd really like some kind of source that can teach me strategy before I continue practicing passages. I plan on trying out the KA passages this week, but I want to have more variety. I'm saving AAMC CARS for later in my study plan but I'll definitely use all of their passages.

Any recommended books or other online sources? For both practice and strategy?
 

Dochopeful13

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I've been reading 3 JW CARS passages per day for about a month now, but I feel like I'm not getting anywhere. I know everyone says CARS improvement is slow, but I'm starting to feel like I need to branch out.

I have the Kaplan CARS book since it came with the full set, but I've been avoiding it because of bad reviews - should I continue avoiding it and try to find another strategy resource?

I'd really like some kind of source that can teach me strategy before I continue practicing passages. I plan on trying out the KA passages this week, but I want to have more variety. I'm saving AAMC CARS for later in my study plan but I'll definitely use all of their passages.

Any recommended books or other online sources? For both practice and strategy?
What are your typical scores on the JW passages?
 

Dochopeful13

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I usually get 2-3 incorrect. My scores from today were 4/7, 3/5, and 4/6. I’ve been reviewing my answers but am wary of placing too much value on non-AAMC answer explanations.
I think those scores pretty good. It’s just my personal opinion but I don’t think JW passages are very similar to AAMC. When I was doing those passages I thought his answer logic was far off sometimes. Would you agree?
 

frosty42

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I think those scores pretty good. It’s just my personal opinion but I don’t think JW passages are very similar to AAMC. When I was doing those passages I thought his answer logic was far off sometimes. Would you agree?

I haven't seen AAMC passages yet as I'm trying to save those resources for later, but I definitely feel that the JW logic is off sometimes. It even seems like his answers are occasionally incorrect. I find that I usually make the same choices as the majority, even if those aren't the "correct" responses chosen by JW.
 
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Medical Muse

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Some overall strategy points:
1) Always read for the main idea. When you get tested on the details, refer back to the text.
2) Have a back-up plan. There will undoubtedly be some passages that are difficult to understand. Know how you will approach them. When I read the first 1-2 paragraphs and felt lost, I skipped to the questions to see what they would ask of me. Then I reread the passage and only looked for those ideas.
3) Flag the hard questions, take a guess at the right answer, and move on. Review all the hard questions with any remaining time.
4) Review what you got wrong and figure out why you got it wrong. This applies to all sections.
5) Try and predict what questions you'll be asked. This is a more advanced skill. Don't worry if you don't get to it.

Keep in mind that CARS is solely testing you on a skill. You can use this skill (being a better/more critical reader) for the other sections and for the rest of your life.

Good luck!
 
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JimKimSlim

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Don't worry too much about your scores on third-party resources. JackWestin does have good passages, but his explanation/logic occasionally requires overthinking that you won't likely see on the real test. Just use his passages to practice timing and don't stress too much about understanding his logic. At the end of the day, you need to prime your brain into AAMC CARS logic, not JW logic. Save your worries and energy for AAMC materials rather than third party resources.

I was in your shoes when I was looking for strategies that worked, but every person reads and interprets information differently, so you'll have to find your own strategy that works. Personally, I thought CARS was just testing own's ability to interpret and retain information from passages, so my strategy was to take as much as time possible (6 minutes - max) to fully understand the passage and remember main idea from each paragraph without looking at the screen. That helped me to score 90th percentile on CARS, but again everyone has their own strategy that works.
 
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MedSchoolTutors

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Some overall strategy points:
1) Always read for the main idea. When you get tested on the details, refer back to the text.
2) Have a back-up plan. There will undoubtedly be some passages that are difficult to understand. Know how you will approach them. When I read the first 1-2 paragraphs and felt lost, I skipped to the questions to see what they would ask of me. Then I reread the passage and only looked for those ideas.
3) Flag the hard questions, take a guess at the right answer, and move on. Review all the hard questions with any remaining time.
4) Review what you got wrong and figure out why you got it wrong. This applies to all sections.
5) Try and predict what questions you'll be asked. This is a more advanced skill. Don't worry if you don't get to it.

Keep in mind that CARS is solely testing you on a skill. You can use this skill (being a better/more critical reader) for the other sections and for the rest of your life.

Good luck!

This. To some degree, it is okay that you are using non AAMC passages first (it saves the good stuff for last) because as long as you are perfecting the skill, it should translate (perhaps with a little wiggling at the beginning) to the real deal.

David D, MD - USMLE and MCAT Tutor
Med School Tutors
 
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