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For instance, I have a 503 (125,127,127,124) and already have two DO IIs. I remember reading somewhere that schools look at B/B and CARS more than the others because the biology closely resembles how well they will be able to comprehend the medical curriculum, while CARS is a representation of raw analytical and thinking skills.

Is there any truth to this, or is it just internet Hearsay? I'm skeptical as always, so opinions are welcome.


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Huggy

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For instance, I have a 503 (125,127,127,124) and already have two DO IIs. I remember reading somewhere that schools look at B/B and CARS more than the others because the biology closely resembles how well they will be able to comprehend the medical curriculum, while CARS is a representation of raw analytical and thinking skills.

Is there any truth to this, or is it just internet Hearsay? I'm skeptical as always, so opinions are welcome.


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I've very frequently seen that CARS is viewed as the least important. Seems that there's contradicting information circulating. Guess it might be school dependent?

I agree that Bio/Biochem is looked as the most valuable section to perform well.
 
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ATPsynthase123
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I've very frequently seen that CARS is viewed as the least important. Seems that there's contradicting information circulating. Guess it might be school dependent?
See at least for Canadian schools (learned this from r/pre-med), most have a minimum of requirement of a 127 CARS. I'm not sure. Maybe people like to rank things they are good at higher than what they suck at? Lol


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Huggy

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See at least for Canadian schools (learned this from r/pre-med), most have a minimum of requirement of a 127 CARS. I'm not sure. Maybe people like to rank things they are good at higher than what they suck at? Lol


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Your theory would prove correct for me. 123 CARS checking in
 
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Frogger27

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I am pretty sure I remember reading some AAMC data from the old MCAT that showed performance on the Biology section was the best indicator for future success with the medical school curriculum but that doesn't mean adcoms all perceive it as more important from an admissions aspect.
I agree with this. It would be easier to accept someone with a 130 in B/B and a 124 in Psych compared to a person with a 124 B/B and 130 in Psych
 

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At my school, Bio will be looked at the most seriously, and poor performance in ti will impact negatively.

VR/CARS gets cut them most slack. If you look at median scores for acceptees in MSAR, VR is a full point lower than the other two (for the old exam) for tons of schools.


For instance, I have a 503 (125,127,127,124) and already have two DO IIs. I remember reading somewhere that schools look at B/B and CARS more than the others because the biology closely resembles how well they will be able to comprehend the medical curriculum, while CARS is a representation of raw analytical and thinking skills.

Is there any truth to this, or is it just internet Hearsay? I'm skeptical as always, so opinions are welcome.


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Divine Comedy

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efle

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At least on the old exam, the sections had different predictive strengths, with Composite and Bio the strongest correlations at ~0.5-0.6 :


Gyngyn and others have commented that many admissions people will have unique views, such as favoring high Verbal despite its lower correlation.

I'd guess that if you had to have lower sections, psych would be the best place for the poor score, followed by CARS.
 

efle

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When you are deciding between applicants with different versions of the MCAT, are the composite scores just compared on a percentile to percentile basis, or are the individual sections from the two exams compared with each other as well? I guess it just seems difficult to figure out how the new MCAT stacks up on MSAR when only the old exam scores are reported.
You can compare subsection percentiles as well, other than psych/socio. Eg, 123 CARS is the same as 7 Verbal, 127 phys/chem the same as a 10
 

Goro

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We look at percentiles for both exam only when trying to get a handle on the new exam. We already know what a VR6 means.
When you are deciding between applicants with different versions of the MCAT, are the composite scores just compared on a percentile to percentile basis, or are the individual sections from the two exams compared with each other as well? I guess it just seems difficult to figure out how the new MCAT stacks up on MSAR when only the old exam scores are reported.
 
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MareNostrummm

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512: 128/124/129/131

Really wish I had 1-2 points higher in CARS =(
 

libertyyne

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I've very frequently seen that CARS is viewed as the least important. Seems that there's contradicting information circulating. Guess it might be school dependent?

I agree that Bio/Biochem is looked as the most valuable section to perform well.
http://www.internationalgme.org/Resources/Pubs/Donnon et al (2007) Acad Med.pdf
http://peds.stanford.edu/faculty-resources/documents/MedSchoolAdmissions.whatpredictssuccess.pdf

Verbal seems to have the most consistent correlation increasing in strength across the USMLE STEPS. I wonder what the new test's correlations look like.

"Physical Sciences (MCAT-PS) demonstrates a moderately strong correlation that drifts downwards with increasing time from medical school admission. Biological Sciences (MCAT-BS) demonstrates a strong correlation which trends downwards with increasing time from medical school admission, though in an even less precipitous fashion than MCAT-PS.

Writing Sample (MCAT-WS) would be categorized more appropriately in the section below entitled ‘‘and What Hasn’t (Worked)’’. MCAT-WS has failed to demonstrate consistently positive results for predictive validity.

Verbal Reasoning (MCAT-VR) demonstrates moderately strong correlations. These correlations are not only sustained, but strengthened, with increasing time from medical school admission. The relative immunity to time of MCAT-VR compared to MCAT-PS and MCAT-BS (Violato and Donnon 2005) bears some scrutiny. It may be due to a combination of factors. One factor may be that MCAT-VR is less context-bound, so correlations with future performance remain unaffected as the context changes. Another may be that MCAT-VR straddles the somewhat artificial divide between cognitive and non-cognitive domains and therefore remains relevant, even as assessment measures in clerkship and on national licensing examinations shift from cognitive towards non-cognitive domains."
 

libertyyne

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But I might just be biased to singing the praises of the Verbal section.
 
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efle

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Verbal seems to have the most consistent correlation increasing in strength across the USMLE STEPS.
I don't think so. The top study you linked is the same major meta analysis my table above was taken from, that shows Composite, BS and PS are much better predictors than Verbal for the USMLE. The Stanford page is citing this study which finds Verbal the best for the Canadian clinical skills tests.
 

libertyyne

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I don't think so. The top study you linked is the same major meta analysis my table above was taken from, that shows Composite, BS and PS are much better predictors than Verbal for the USMLE. The Stanford page is citing this study which finds Verbal the best for the Canadian clinical skills tests.
Look at the verbal correlation for step three at .27 compared to the decreasing correlation of the other sections with BS being .11 . The trend is obvious and relatively increasing and consistent for verbal. It is actually citing the same meta analysis data. The correlation is very weak to begin with at less than .48 for step one and decreasing for all subsequent exams, except for verbal that has an upward trend.
upload_2016-8-29_23-44-15.png
 

efle

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Look at the verbal correlation for step three at .27 compared to the decreasing correlation of the other sections with BS being .11 . The trend is obvious and relatively increasing and consistent for verbal. It is actually citing the same meta analysis data. The correlation is very weak to begin with at less than .48 for step one and decreasing for all subsequent exams, except for verbal that has an upward trend.
View attachment 208558
Oh I see the issue. These trends assume I care about all the MCC Canadian metrics and Step III! If I'm only interested in step I and preclinical grading, which are the major pure academic factors for residency selection, Composite and Bio remain king.
 
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wizzed101

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I wonder how the new Psy/Soc section correlates. It is the section with the least amount of practice material, so high score should lean toward those with excellent ability to discern scholarly materials, at least in the first 2 years...
 

libertyyne

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I wonder how the new Psy/Soc section correlates. It is the section with the least amount of practice material, so high score should lean toward those with excellent ability to discern scholarly materials, at least in the first 2 years...
The new section plus a change in the BS really does seem like it is trying to assess your ability analyze evidence and apply it. I think i did well on it for that exact reason.
 
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Domepiece

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I wonder how the new Psy/Soc section correlates. It is the section with the least amount of practice material, so high score should lean toward those with excellent ability to discern scholarly materials, at least in the first 2 years...
I'd say over half the questions in this section correlate to rote memorization and a chance encounter with the terms that end up being seen on any given test, leading to it being the least predictive section in terms of medical school ability.

Definitely agree that the practice material here is lacking and not predictive of actual exam experience.
 

libertyyne

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I'd say over half the questions in this section correlate to rote memorization and a chance encounter with the terms that end up being seen on any given test, leading to it being the least predictive section in terms of medical school ability.

Definitely agree that the practice material here is lacking and not predictive of actual exam experience.
I disagree with this assessment, there are some underlying terms you have to memorize just like you would memorize formulas in physics or biology. But this section and biological sciences really just gave many studies and asked to interpret and apply. And if you read the intent of the new Exam information published by the MCAT, thats exactly what they said they wanted to do.
 

efle

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I'd say over half the questions in this section correlate to rote memorization and a chance encounter with the terms that end up being seen on any given test, leading to it being the least predictive section in terms of medical school ability.

Definitely agree that the practice material here is lacking and not predictive of actual exam experience.
Sounds about right. I took the old test, but opted to take an extra set of passages for a gift card, that ended up very clearly being a sample of the new psych/socio passages. I took half a dozen psych classes and was still getting stumped more often than not, struck me as even more rote memorization based than Bio was
 
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MareNostrummm

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I'd say over half the questions in this section correlate to rote memorization and a chance encounter with the terms that end up being seen on any given test, leading to it being the least predictive section in terms of medical school ability.

Definitely agree that the practice material here is lacking and not predictive of actual exam experience.
The only real brute memorization involved the freud, piaget, erikson, kohlberg stages etc.. but in Medical School aren't you going to have to memorize tables worth of information and be able to apply it anyway?
 
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hurtem&healem

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I completely disagree with that assessment of the Psych section. I only took a couple psych courses and I was only vaguely familiar with most of the theories/theorists going into my prep. Yes, you have to be able to recognize some names, but almost every theory or principle you have to "memorize" is, IMO, straightforward enough that even if you didn't know it at all you could reason out enough info to do very well. Despite my limited exposure to the material it was still my best section because I could figure out what the most logical answers were.

Then again, CARS was my next best score--and what I expected to be my best, by far, both before the exam and while waiting for the results--so maybe this says something about how personality traits and types of intelligence affect subsection scores. For reference, my breakdown was 128/129/128/130.
 

MareNostrummm

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I completely disagree with that assessment of the Psych section. I only took a couple psych courses and I was only vaguely familiar with most of the theories/theorists going into my prep. Yes, you have to be able to recognize some names, but almost every theory or principle you have to "memorize" is, IMO, straightforward enough that even if you didn't know it at all you could reason out enough info to do very well. Despite my limited exposure to the material it was still my best section because I could figure out what the most logical answers were.

Then again, CARS was my next best score--and what I expected to be my best, by far, both before the exam and while waiting for the results--so maybe this says something about how personality traits and types of intelligence affect subsection scores. For reference, my breakdown was 128/129/128/130.
I had a 124 in CARS and a 131 in P/S. P/S definitely requires some logical reasoning, but if you have background knowledge you can piece the bits of information together. P/S passages were research based and did not feel like they were intentionally trying to be convoluted and difficult to follow, as in the CARS section.

I also could not get any sleep the night before my test, so I felt my ability to focus and remember the relevant information from CARS passages was hindered, whereas for P/S I could just rely on my background knowledge.
 

hurtem&healem

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The only real brute memorization involved the freud, piaget, kohlberg stages etc.. but in Medical School aren't you going to have to memorize tables worth of information and be able to apply it anyway?
THIS! Everybody harps about how the whole section is memorization based. There are figuratively only a handful of things you actually need to have memorized. Plus, I was racing the clock the entire time for other sections, but for psych I had like 11 minutes left over to go back over questions (I think I only changed 1 answer, though)! Like I said, between the info in the passages and the few concepts I "memorized" the overall gist of, most of it seemed very logical and straightforward to me.
 

libertyyne

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THIS! Everybody harps about how the whole section is memorization based. There are figuratively only a handful of things you actually need to have memorized. Plus, I was racing the clock the entire time for other sections, but for psych I had like 11 minutes left over to go back over questions (I think I only changed 1 answer, though)! Like I said, between the info in the passages and the few concepts I "memorized" the overall gist of, most of it seemed very logical and straightforward to me.
i agree with this assessment.
i scored
126/131/130/131

i knew i had fudged up the physics section and wanted to void right after it during the exam. That being said, I really believe that the Pysch section is part CARS and part interpretation and application of data. I also think it should be noted that I have never taken a psychology class. I have however taken classes on study design, epidemiology, biostatistics. I have an N of one, but i really believe the skills i obtained in those classes really came through for me.
 
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I've very frequently seen that CARS is viewed as the least important. Seems that there's contradicting information circulating. Guess it might be school dependent?

I agree that Bio/Biochem is looked as the most valuable section to perform well.
All I've ever heard is that CARS is the most important, always has been. It's literally just critical thinking and analysis, the kind of brain skills you want your doctor to have. Plenty of people memorize science enough to do OK on the other sections, but CARS helps weed them out if they cannot think about new information presented to them.
 

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I think it's important to know the names of the scientists behind Psych, and Soc, theories, because there is still not a unifying theory that combines individual and social (institutional, cultural, and economic) elements while simultaneous addressing why society works with a serious and meaningful inertia and what makes it change; think of it like taking a comprehensive biology exam before Darwin's Theory met Mendelian genetics met Watson, Crick, Franklin structure of information met palaeontology met molecular biology met biochemistry and all became a cohesive framework of the theory of life. It's hard to imagine for me as there are clear unifying physical, chemical and biological theories that have been around for fifty years - this does not exist for psychology and sociology, at least yet. But beyond that it was definitely still a very data driven and critical thinking section. I think the lack of a unifying theory makes Psych and Soc. seem like there is more memorisation, because the dots simply do not connect in the elegant way that biochemistry and physics do. Nevertheless, I never had a Psych or Soc. course and analytical skills seemed very helpful even on that section of the exam (with some independent learning of the content in terms of which theorist thought what).
 

MDhopeful324

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All I've ever heard is that CARS is the most important, always has been. It's literally just critical thinking and analysis, the kind of brain skills you want your doctor to have. Plenty of people memorize science enough to do OK on the other sections, but CARS helps weed them out if they cannot think about new information presented to them.
Have you taken the new MCAT? I can tell you from experience that the other sections require plenty of critical thinking and analysis. Simply memorizing science was not enough. Some of passages I read were very similar to research papers I have come across in lab/class.
 
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MareNostrummm

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Have you taken the new MCAT? I can tell you from experience that the other sections require plenty of critical thinking and analysis. Simply memorizing science was not enough. Some of passages I read were very similar to research papers I have come across in lab/class.
Aren't they usually the abstracts of basic research papers?
 

MareNostrummm

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To summarize the thread:

"The most important part of the MCAT is probably my best subsection and the least important is definitely my worst subsection."

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True dat, but I think Goro said that his school judges B/B the harshest, and you can't really write off B/B as not being important.
 
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hurtem&healem

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To summarize the thread:

"The most important part of the MCAT is probably my best subsection and the least important is definitely my worst subsection."


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lol. Well, looking at the MSAR for schools that I'm applying to, the average score on the science sections is one point higher than the average Verbal score, implying they are more important, but not that much more important.
 
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Have you taken the new MCAT? I can tell you from experience that the other sections require plenty of critical thinking and analysis. Simply memorizing science was not enough. Some of passages I read were very similar to research papers I have come across in lab/class.
Yes I have taken hundreds of practice Qs from the new MCAT thank you. And I did not say the other sections contain no critical thinking, just that the CARS section is all about critical reasoning while, IMO, almost 1/2 of the science Qs can be answered with a solid science background (in fact a full 25% of all science questions the AAMC says will be recall aka Skill 1).

Your faulty inference actually reinforces my point. I said that CARS is literally just critical thinking, no prior knowledge needed, and that with memorization, people can do ok (i.e. 125) on the science. There is plenty of evidence to show this. You read these statements and came to the false conclusion I was implying ALL science questions were based on memorization and that only the CARS section required critical thinking. You made some bad deductions there, and on the MCAT CARS, that would cost you.

I agree the AAMC science passages do slightly resemble science papers sometimes, which again just reinforces my point. Science research papers are designed to avoid ambiguity if they can, and to be as direct as possible with the data. No one will publish a paper with veiled implications and no concrete results. There may be some gaps that need filling, but the paper will go out of there way to explain that. CARS passages will nto do this.

tl, dr: ALL MCAT sections require some critical thinking but CARS is just critical thinking, with no prior knowledge you can fall back on or use to justify right answers.
 
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lol. Well, looking at the MSAR for schools that I'm applying to, the average score on the science sections is one point higher than the average Verbal score, implying they are more important, but not that much more important.
Its not about the raw score, its about the percentiles aka how you compare to others. And I would hope that the section testing biology and biochemistry for MEDICAL SCHOOL admission would have the highest average score, considering that is what most of us spend 4 years studying. Being a history major, I did not, but the biology and biochemistry is easy enough to pickup. Way easier than learning to read and think critically is anyway (IMO).
 

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Ho0v-man

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lol. Well, looking at the MSAR for schools that I'm applying to, the average score on the science sections is one point higher than the average Verbal score, implying they are more important, but not that much more important.
I thought on average that cars was about one point lower than the other sections for everyone in general even for people with scores too low to apply. I might be wrong here. It's amazing that once you get accepted you straight up forget anything about your MCAT score.


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libertyyne

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lol. Well, looking at the MSAR for schools that I'm applying to, the average score on the science sections is one point higher than the average Verbal score, implying they are more important, but not that much more important.
You have the causality reversed. More people tend to score higher on the science sections compared to the verbal section. This does not show that schools prefer higher science scores, rather the population that they are selecting their applicants from is limited in the number that have exceptional verbal scores. This is even more apparent when you look at the percentiles across the sections where verbal for the same score is a higher percentile, meaning less people have that score and it is rarer.
 

hurtem&healem

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You have the causality reversed. More people tend to score higher on the science sections compared to the verbal section. This does not show that schools prefer higher science scores, rather the population that they are selecting their applicants from is limited in the number that have exceptional verbal scores. This is even more apparent when you look at the percentiles across the sections where verbal for the same score is a higher percentile, meaning less people have that score and it is rarer.
Okay, looking at the percentiles I can agree with this. Is it then fair to conclude that in no discernable way is any one section more important than an other? However, having higher CARS & P/S* relative to your science scores may set you apart from the hoards, assuming your C/P & B/B scores are up to snuff.


*Is this how we're abbreviating Psych/Soc? Cause PS used to be Physical Science, but that should be C/P now, right?
 

libertyyne

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Okay, looking at the percentiles I can agree with this. Is it then fair to conclude that in no discernable way is any one section more important than an other? However, having higher CARS & P/S* relative to your science scores may set you apart from the hoards, assuming your C/P & B/B scores are up to snuff.


*Is this how we're abbreviating Psych/Soc? Cause PS used to be Physical Science, but that should be C/P now, right?
So talk on the street was that some schools were fiends for high Verbal Scores, it very well may be the case. But the effect may have been as you described something as a result of setting you apart from the hoards of other qualified applicants with similar scores. Also there was a lot of conversation surrounding CARS score correlating with improving performance even years out. So to give you a clear answer to your question

Yes
No
Maybe?

That being said if I ever sit on an admissions committee myself I would give preference to the candidate with a high CARS score provided all other things were equal. But as I mentioned I am biased because I liked the section and I scored well.
 

efle

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Well...years out, Verbal starts to correlate more strongly with Canadian metrics and the USMLE step 3, which isn't relevant to med school performance and residency competitiveness. Not the best argument for it. I was top percent all sections and would personally be impressed more by high verbal than bio, but if I was in admissions looking to build the best med school class the research would make me emphasize Bio a lot more.

I think the best answer from what I've read on SDN is that yes, you can be helped or hurt more by which subsections are strong or weak, but WHICH subsections will vary between readers.
 

hurtem&healem

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to give you a clear answer to your question

Yes
No
Maybe?
/thread

To keep with the data analysis, though...
Expanding the charts to look at all 4 subsection we see this,

Is it just me or are b/b and p/s exactly the same? Is that weird? It certainly flies in the face of my theory of overlap between CARS and p/s scores.

Now what I really want to see is data regarding the correlation of individuals' subsection scores. i.e., are the 131s & 132s in each section mostly from single individuals? Or, is it more likely for a person to score in the 97+% in one or two sections but be mediocre in others? What is the predictive power of each score over the others?

It's kind of like the whole 10-90% thing for MCAT & GPA. What are the odds that matriculants fall at one extreme for both, as opposed to, e.g., being 10% for GPA but 90% for MCAT, or vice versa. They want inquiring minds, but then they don't feed us enough data, yet wonder why we become neurotic
:boom:
 
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I really hope that isn't typical of American schools. I scored 521 (132/126/132/131). For whatever reason, CARS got the best of me that day. If this precludes my acceptance to top-tier medical schools, I'll be quite frustrated..
Lol you'll be fine


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efle

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I really hope that isn't typical of American schools. I scored 521 (132/126/132/131). For whatever reason, CARS got the best of me that day. If this precludes my acceptance to top-tier medical schools, I'll be quite frustrated..
Canadian schools are just notorious for having a harsh and explicit cutoff, 10V if I recall. American schools don't openly have a rule about it, but looking at a few top schools in the MSAR, they do tend to have 10th percentiles at 10-11 (127+). Some are 9s though!