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Does AAMC make some test dates harder?

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I am reviewing reddit reactions to the 3/31 MCAT and I have noticed a lot of people saying how it was not comparable to SB and more like FL1 and 2 unlike 1/28 reactions. After doing more research I see that April has the most testers.
Here's my hypothesis: Since there are more testers, would the AAMC make the exam much harder than compared to less popular months, because AAMC may assume the months with the most applicants will have the more qualified applicants historically?
 

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I am reviewing reddit reactions to the 3/31 MCAT and I have noticed a lot of people saying how it was not comparable to SB and more like FL1 and 2 unlike 1/28 reactions. After doing more research I see that April has the most testers.
Here's my hypothesis: Since there are more testers, would the AAMC make the exam much harder than compared to less popular months, because AAMC may assume the months with the most applicants will have the more qualified applicants historically?

The raw to scaled score conversion will account for any difference in difficulty. I believe what you're asking is something to the effect of did the 1/28 takers get a worse deal than the 3/31 takers and will it be even worse for the April takers. The answer according to the AAMC is no and there is no reason to think otherwise.
 
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I am reviewing reddit reactions to the 3/31 MCAT and I have noticed a lot of people saying how it was not comparable to SB and more like FL1 and 2 unlike 1/28 reactions. After doing more research I see that April has the most testers.
Here's my hypothesis: Since there are more testers, would the AAMC make the exam much harder than compared to less popular months, because AAMC may assume the months with the most applicants will have the more qualified applicants historically?
I don't know if you can necessarily assume that just because April has the most testers, there will be a lot of qualified testers. Most kids taking the exam in April are studying while going to school at the same time. If you think about the exams in September or August, most people will have spent a good chunk of their summer breaks slaving away at the mcat.

I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter when you take the exam. Iirc, your exam is compared to everyone else who has ever completed the same questions, so the curve is basically already determined before you take the test. Or something to that effect.

Just because it wasn't like sb doesn't mean it wasn't hard. A lot of people were upset about the difficulty of c/p and p/s.
 
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I took the test today, and I agree that the chem section was brutal and the cars passages were double to triple the length of any practice cars materials.

I would say your reasoning is correct. The curve may be set to even out the scores between "easy" and "hard" mcat iterations. But, if a test is perceived as hard, people are going to quickly sign up for a second test, and I'm sure the aamc has data on the percent. So, my guess is that more sign ups results in harder tests, because then more of those signed up will re-signup, then it'll be too late for a refund once the scores come in.
 

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Any speculation on this topic is fairly useless.

Just like every exam you've ever taken in your life, there will be passages/questions geared to split up the top percentiles from the mid, and the mid from the low. You will get easy questions, and you will get hard questions -- and it all depends on how well you've prepared for the exam.

Don't worry about stuff like this. You're wasting your time and effort! Focus on studying, and you will be fine.

P.S. It's a standardized test. It is standardized with respect to previous exams and to your specific test. It doesn't matter whether you took a harder version of exam or not: the results are going to be standardized and your score will reflect your performance relative to others.
 
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IWillMakeIt1

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I took the test yesterday and whoever said the AAMC is moving away from the SB literally don't know what they are talking about. There were mix passages of SB and passages harder than QBank. Every test is obviously different. The AAMC always make 2 sections harder than other sections. C/P and PS were the hardest on 31st. I think the MCAT is getting harder. The kind of question they brought were interesting in the way that do you really know how to think on your feet with a limited time. I wont be surprised if students start studying from first aid Step 1 for the MCAT LOL


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I took the test yesterday and whoever said the AAMC is moving away from the SB literally don't know what they are talking about. There were mix passages of SB and passages harder than QBank. Every test is obviously different. The AAMC always make 2 sections harder than other sections. C/P and PS were the hardest on 31st. I think the MCAT is getting harder. The kind of question they brought were interesting in the way that do you really know how to think on your feet with a limited time. I wont be surprised if students start studying from first aid Step 1 for the MCAT LOL


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Really, how many SB passage did you see on the C/P section? I only saw one in B/B .. the bulk of the SB passage were in PSY.
 

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No, the AAMC does not try to target harder or easier exams to one test date or group vs. another. However, the answer to your question "Does the AAMC make some test dates harder?" has two answers:

A) YES (if you define difficulty in terms of how challenging the actual passages or questions were), or...

B) Supposedly NO (if you define difficulty in terms of your scaled score).

Looking at it from the A) perspective, how difficult your exam is on test day will vary, with *most* of the variance in difficulty centered around a mean. The difference between what January examinees saw and what March 31 examinees saw supports that concept.

Looking at it from the B) perspective, the "official AAMC line" is that the scaled score always accounts for these differences. Your exam may have had way more SB-like passages than Freddy's exam, but the score scale ensures that you'll receive exactly the same score on either exam. That's the part I do not buy, although the AAMC relentlessly makes this claim. The peer-reviewed research articles in psychometrics (i.e., the science of standardized testing) suggests otherwise. Although a standardized exam aspires to equate all scores to account for differences in exam difficulty, it is the single hardest thing to accomplish. Interestingly, the more variance you have in exam content, the harder it is to equate scores across all exam forms.

If Exam A is harder than Exam B, but Exam A allows you to miss 6-10 extra questions to get the same score, then Exams A and B begin to evaluate DIFFERENT qualities and skills in the examinee. With respect to MCAT-type questions, in particular, HARDER exams differentially reward students who stay calm under stress. EASIER exams differentially reward examinees who are more detail oriented. Your performance on Exam A could be significantly impacted by your ability to "read between the lines" of dense/obscure content and find the simple science. Your performance on Exam B could be significantly impacted by your ability to answer questions you should/expect to answer correctly while making as close to zero errors as possible. I've tutored enough students to know that those skills are NOT the same thing!

I firmly believe the MCAT is still heavily trending toward SB and this will continue moving forward. However, everyone will have to be ready for the possibility that your particular C/P or B/B might suddenly break rank and throw what seems like "A TON" of factoids and calculations. This is pretty much in line with the "expect the unexpected" advice I drill into my students. Yes, biochem has DEFINITELY been heavy on *most* exams, but could you get a form that seems to forget biochem exists? Yep. So, should you study less for biochem? No, that would be foolish. You have to prepare for the *most likely* reality, but hedge your bets by dedicating a reasonable amount of time preparing for the outliers that could pop up on your exam.
 
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begoood95

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No, the AAMC does not try to target harder or easier exams to one test date or group vs. another. However, the answer to your question "Does the AAMC make some test dates harder?" has two answers:

A) YES (if you define difficulty in terms of how challenging the actual passages or questions were), or...

B) Supposedly NO (if you define difficulty in terms of your scaled score).

Looking at it from the A) perspective, how difficult your exam is on test day will vary, with *most* of the variance in difficulty centered around a mean. The difference between what January examinees saw and what March 31 examinees saw supports that concept.

Looking at it from the B) perspective, the "official AAMC line" is that the scaled score always accounts for these differences. Your exam may have had way more SB-like passages than Freddy's exam, but the score scale ensures that you'll receive exactly the same score on either exam. That's the part I do not buy, although the AAMC relentlessly makes this claim. The peer-reviewed research articles in psychometrics (i.e., the science of standardized testing) suggests otherwise. Although a standardized exam aspires to equate all scores to account for differences in exam difficulty, it is the single hardest thing to accomplish. Interestingly, the more variance you have in exam content, the harder it is to equate scores across all exam forms.

If Exam A is harder than Exam B, but Exam A allows you to miss 6-10 extra questions to get the same score, then Exams A and B begin to evaluate DIFFERENT qualities and skills in the examinee. With respect to MCAT-type questions, in particular, HARDER exams differentially reward students who stay calm under stress. EASIER exams differentially reward examinees who are more detail oriented. Your performance on Exam A could be significantly impacted by your ability to "read between the lines" of dense/obscure content and find the simple science. Your performance on Exam B could be significantly impacted by your ability to answer questions you should/expect to answer correctly while making as close to zero errors as possible. I've tutored enough students to know that those skills are NOT the same thing!

I firmly believe the MCAT is still heavily trending toward SB and this will continue moving forward. However, everyone will have to be ready for the possibility that your particular C/P or B/B might suddenly break rank and throw what seems like "A TON" of factoids and calculations. This is pretty much in line with the "expect the unexpected" advice I drill into my students. Yes, biochem has DEFINITELY been heavy on *most* exams, but could you get a form that seems to forget biochem exists? Yep. So, should you study less for biochem? No, that would be foolish. You have to prepare for the *most likely* reality, but hedge your bets by dedicating a reasonable amount of time preparing for the outliers that could pop up on your exam.
I just find it hard to believe you since you are a literal shill for a company that profits off students' preparation for the exam.

I'll qualify this highly critical comment with the following: on occasion, @Altius Premier Tutor has said some helpful things. Good job, I commend you for helping students prepare for the MCAT. However...

It makes so much sense that you "don't buy" the claim that the scaled score always accounts for differences in difficulty between exams, and that you (
time and time again [see, I can have fun with colors too!]) say that you "firmly believe the MCAT is still heavily trending toward SB and this will continue moving forward." Why? Because the company you represent literally profits off students buying your (excessively and not representatively) difficult exams and preparation material.

You prance around here screaming, "OMG THE MCAT IS GETTING SO MUCH HARDER YOU HAVE TO PREPARE FOR THE ARMAGEDDON (hint hint wink wink notice my name come buy our products cause we help)," and take advantage of the fear mongering so as to scare students into buying your products. Seriously, gtfo here with that nonsense.
IF YOU ARE READING THIS, KNOW THAT YOU WILL BE OKAY. BUY AAMC'S MATERIAL, PRACTICE LIKE HELL, AND YOU'LL DO GREAT. Simple.

Why should we not take the AAMC's statements at face value? What are these "peer-reviewed research articles in psychometrics" you speak of? Sounds like a bunch of sound bites to me. Or, should I buy into the whole, "the big bad AAMC is out to make all of us fail the MCAT :("?

No actually, they're not. It is the AAMC's job to evaluate and determine who and who should not get into medical school, and they've designed (and re-designed, and are continually re-designing) this exam to accomplish just that.

Do you make MCAT questions for the AAMC? Are you on the board that decides the "trend" of difficulty? The answer to both of those is a resounding no. Therefore, you are in no place to predict, or even suggest, that the MCAT is trending in any way. And your affiliation with a test-prep company makes me even more weary of anything you say, really.

Hey everyone, I took the MCAT and scored in the 99th percentile. You know what materials I used? All AAMC's practice exams, flashcards, section banks, and question packs; for content review, I used the Berkeley people (and Anki). I did approximately 2.5-3 months of content review, and took a total of 6 practice exams (3 from AAMC, 3 from Examcrackers). That's it.

Get out here with your fear-mongering nonsense. You are in no position to predict the trend of the MCAT, and neither is anyone else.

Edit: Is the MCAT hard? Yes. But does that mean we should all freak out and believe this guy/girl's nonsense? Naw. Just study. Bio/organic/general chemistry hasn't changed, neither has biology, neither has physics, and neither has psychology nor sociology. Are they emphasizing more scientific reasoning and literacy? Yes. Does that make it harder? No. It makes it different. So study differently, i.e., read a peer-reviewed article a day. That's it. No secrets, no big bad AAMC, no having to buy expensive products.

Okay, I'm done now.
 
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aldol16

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The only people who can answer your question are the ones who work for the AAMC and determine what test will be given to you. But it doesn't matter if you're given a hard test or an easy one because the scaled score will already account for that. Somebody who gets an "easy" test will need more raw answers correct than somebody who gets a "hard" test to get the same score.
 
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Altius Premier Tutor

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@begood95 You are quite arrogant to claim perfect knowledge of my motives. You are a cyberbully and I am not intimidated.

1. I am a tutor.
2. Yes, I am paid for my tutoring services.
3. Not even ONE of my current students found out about Altius through SDN. My roster is full. I'm not "secretly" hoping to convince anyone to use my services.
4. Beyond my current students, I do NOT profit personally from anyone buying Altius products or services. Further, I do not consider exchanging my very limited time for a fair wage as "profiteering." I may work for Altius, but that's far from my personal motivation for posting here. I'm not even in this for a job. I do not need a job; they asked me to tutor again this year when I at first told them I could not; it is very HARD for me to balance tutoring with school and family obligations. I do it because I care about students.

5. You have zero basis for accusing me of being a "shill" simply b/c I am paid to do my job. You won't become a doctor and work for free. If someone wants to ignore all of my advice b/c the company I work for might benefit in some roundabout way if they followed that advice, they are free to do so. I have not said one thing on this forum that could not be applied without ever purchasing a single Altius product or service.

You have erroneously conflated every single claim you've made, and fail to understand what I've said:

Do I suggest that students prepare for SB-level difficulty?
Yes. Do I tell them their test will be "ARMAGEDDON" or anything close to that? Never.

Did I state that I do not believe that standardized exams equate scores perfectly between exams? Yes. Did I suggest that the AAMC was "out to make students fail?" Never.

As for my references to peer-reviewed journals on psychometrics, I've read tons of them. Have you? Do you know what Item Response Theory (IRT) is? Do a little reading, here's one to get you started: ERIC - Asymptotic Standard Errors of Observed-Score Equating with Polytomous IRT Models, Journal of Educational Measurement, 2016. I'll give you more if you understand that one.

I doubt you'll take my reading assignment, but if you did, you might understand that IRT, and any standardized exam such as the MCAT, always assumes that items and exam forms are NOT of the same difficulty. The concept of score equating attempts to account for those differences. By definition, there is always a standard error associated with score equating. It is a statistical and logical impossibility for the AAMC or anyone else to claim that exams composed of different items can be made identical using a score scale.

My message to students is simple: Not only is the MCAT NOT an exam so hard that you cannot succeed on it; the MCAT is an exam that any student can OWN (i.e., 90th% and ABOVE) if they 1) put in the necessary sacrifice and 2) approach the exam with the proper perspectives and understanding.
 

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Bio/organic/general chemistry hasn't changed, neither has biology, neither has physics, and neither has psychology nor sociology.

Agreed, one should attempt to master as much of the content as possible, and then some more, and more.

Are they emphasizing more scientific reasoning and literacy? Yes. Does that make it harder? No. It makes it different. So study differently, i.e., read a peer-reviewed article a day. That's it. No secrets, no big bad AAMC, no having to buy expensive products.

I took the MCAT on 3/31/17, and like most people, was expecting it to be heavy on experimental design and scientific/critical thinking. Were there those type of questions on the test? Sure, but my perception was that the bulk of the questions in C/P and B/B tested knowledge of facts. Was it unfair? Of course not, after all those topics were part of the outline. But it does mean one shouldn't go expecting trends or that a certain type of question will be emphasized. In this sense, I agree with the previous poster that there can be quite a bit of variability across exam versions, assuming other versions are similar to the AAMC's practice content. Bottom line is it's a hard exam on a breadth of material, and one shouldn't assume and instead prepare for the unexpected. Whether the scale actually accounts for these differences, I have no idea.

If some versions are harder, I highly doubt that is intentional. Notice that I haven't said some tests are harder, just that it is reasonable to imagine that there is variability in the type of questions asked.
 
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IWillMakeIt1

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I also took the MCAT on the 31st and yes I did take Altius FLs 1-5, and I took NS and other test prep company exams. NO COMPANY resembles the real MCAT. Altius FL are very very experimental and biological based even on the C/P section. The first section of the MCAT had a mix of section bank and pre-2015 MCAT and it was very calculation heavy. I would say there were more pre-2015 MCAT passages than section bank passages. BUT the section bank style passages were very challenging. NO company will ever resemble CARS no matter how hard they try and that is a fact. B/BC section was also a mix of experimental and non-experimental passages. BUT the non-experimental passages were not pre-2015, they were pathways. My conclusion is that every test varies but doesnt mean the whole MCAT is going to be experimental heavy. I think the MCAT is becoming more analytical because even discrete question required to think and carefully analyze what they are asking.
 

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I am reviewing reddit reactions to the 3/31 MCAT and I have noticed a lot of people saying how it was not comparable to SB and more like FL1 and 2 unlike 1/28 reactions. After doing more research I see that April has the most testers.
Here's my hypothesis: Since there are more testers, would the AAMC make the exam much harder than compared to less popular months, because AAMC may assume the months with the most applicants will have the more qualified applicants historically?
Oh my god that isn't how it works. It is a standardized, scaled test. Literally everyone could get a perfect score in a sitting if they did well enough. The value of the questions is based on carefully examined data spanning decades, so they know about what percentage of people are going to miss a given question, and put roughly the same mix of easy, medium, and hard questions in each test. Slight differences in test difficulty are scaled out via modified scoring prior to administration, and if any anomalies occur, they are analyzed to determine if they are legitimate or not, and whether anything should be adjusted in light of them.
 
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aldol16

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No actually, they're not. It is the AAMC's job to evaluate and determine who and who should not get into medical school, and they've designed (and re-designed, and are continually re-designing) this exam to accomplish just that.

Edit: Is the MCAT hard? Yes. But does that mean we should all freak out and believe this guy/girl's nonsense? Naw. Just study. Bio/organic/general chemistry hasn't changed, neither has biology, neither has physics, and neither has psychology nor sociology. Are they emphasizing more scientific reasoning and literacy? Yes. Does that make it harder? No. It makes it different. So study differently, i.e., read a peer-reviewed article a day. That's it. No secrets, no big bad AAMC, no having to buy expensive products.

The AAMC's job isn't to determine who should or should not get into medical school (I think medical admissions offices would find that a huge issue if that were what the AAMC was trying to do) but rather only to assess whether a student has the basic science skills required to succeed in medical school. Whether or not they should be there is another story. That's why the MCAT is assessing basic science knowledge and applications.

I am a huge proponent of not spending any money on test prep courses or expensive prep materials - several people I know used only the AAMC materials with Khan Academy review and scored in the 99th percentile. No books/flashcards/etc. needed. But I think one thing that many pre-meds miss is that content review is only one part of the equation - you also need to be able to reason from and within data and the passage. That's why it's "harder" to many pre-meds - because they lack this crucial skill.
 
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The AAMC's job isn't to determine who should or should not get into medical school (I think medical admissions offices would find that a huge issue if that were what the AAMC was trying to do) but rather only to assess whether a student has the basic science skills required to succeed in medical school. Whether or not they should be there is another story. That's why the MCAT is assessing basic science knowledge and applications.

I am a huge proponent of not spending any money on test prep courses or expensive prep materials - several people I know used only the AAMC materials with Khan Academy review and scored in the 99th percentile. No books/flashcards/etc. needed. But I think one thing that many pre-meds miss is that content review is only one part of the equation - you also need to be able to reason from and within data and the passage. That's why it's "harder" to many pre-meds - because they lack this crucial skill.

What's the key that lets those people do so well with only AAMC materials and Khan Academy though? My guess is a very strong foundation of knowledge built throughout undergrad, which obviously isn't something most of us studying for the MCAT can obtain at this point...so aren't prep books necessary?
 

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Havin taken on the 31th, i can tell you the MCAT hasnt changed per
What's the key that lets those people do so well with only AAMC materials and Khan Academy though? My guess is a very strong foundation of knowledge built throughout undergrad, which obviously isn't something most of us studying for the MCAT can obtain at this point...so aren't prep books necessary?
Book prep tend to go way way overboard, i actually agree with aldol15 here. Although, the question style of KA is a bit different, their materials sure are representative of the actual exam. If you can afford it though, i'll def go with either TPR or Kaplan then supplement with KA or TBR sciences.
 
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Havin taken on the 31th, i can tell you the MCAT hasnt changed per

Book prep tend to go way way overboard, i actually agree with aldol15 here. Although, the question style of KA is a bit different, their materials sure are representative of the actual exam. If you can afford it though, i'll def go with either TPR or Kaplan then supplement with KA or TBR sciences.
Are you referring to stuff like KA's passages? I'm a quarter way through their P/S passages, but I thought some questions were way too specific about little details rather than emphasizing experiment analysis (which is apparently what 3/31 p/s focused on).
 

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Are you referring to stuff like KA's passages? I'm a quarter way through their P/S passages, but I thought some questions were way too specific about little details rather than emphasizing experiment analysis (which is apparently what 3/31 p/s focused on).
Well, it all comes down to yield, 85% of the test is a difficult version of the Q banks (TPR like or AAMC FL1 and 2), only 10-15% will look anything like the SB. So, it depends on you, or on how you want to prepare.

Also, i have done their P/S as well. They really do test on very low yield stuff, thus you should only use it to supplement your notes. (TPR + TBR (perception chapter) + KA docs or EK (Kholberg stages) is all you need for the MCAT.
 

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What's the key that lets those people do so well with only AAMC materials and Khan Academy though? My guess is a very strong foundation of knowledge built throughout undergrad, which obviously isn't something most of us studying for the MCAT can obtain at this point...so aren't prep books necessary?

If you don't have a strong foundation to begin with, prep books aren't going to change that. The only thing that can change a weak foundation is a textbook.
 

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I feel it is more likely that the MCAT writers are learning to make the questions tougher. So maybe in 2015 the questions were easier than in 2017? Would I be right here?

Is MCAT become harder than the SB or at a similar difficulty as their FLs?
 

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No, the AAMC does not try to target harder or easier exams to one test date or group vs. another. However, the answer to your question "Does the AAMC make some test dates harder?" has two answers:

I firmly believe the MCAT is still heavily trending toward SB and this will continue moving forward.

Really? What makes you think that? Why would they be doing this?
 

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I took the test today, and I agree that the chem section was brutal and the cars passages were double to triple the length of any practice cars materials.

I would say your reasoning is correct. The curve may be set to even out the scores between "easy" and "hard" mcat iterations. But, if a test is perceived as hard, people are going to quickly sign up for a second test, and I'm sure the aamc has data on the percent. So, my guess is that more sign ups results in harder tests, because then more of those signed up will re-signup, then it'll be too late for a refund once the scores come in.

Seriously? My AAMC official guide says the CARS passages will be 500-6000 words, and my Next Step 108 book has a few passages up to 650 words.

Are you telling us you are sure you saw a CARS passage on 3/31 with 1200-1800 words? Does the AAMC not explicitly say they make sure all exams are the same relative difficulty. I checked some of the older pre-2015 threads and even when the exam was just given 2x a year, there was no "easy" test. Please do not contribute to the hysteria on here, I like this place.
 

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Seriously? My AAMC official guide says the CARS passages will be 500-6000 words, and my Next Step 108 book has a few passages up to 650 words.

Are you telling us you are sure you saw a CARS passage on 3/31 with 1200-1800 words? Does the AAMC not explicitly say they make sure all exams are the same relative difficulty. I checked some of the older pre-2015 threads and even when the exam was just given 2x a year, there was no "easy" test. Please do not contribute to the hysteria on here, I like this place.
Contribute to the hysteria? What are you taking about????

Did you take the exam on the 31st? I did, and I noticed that the cars passages were very long in comparison to the FL 1/2 and my Kaplan FL's, some people on the Reddit reaction thread noted the passages were 7-10 paragraphs. Im sorry but I didn't have time to count the number of words. Tell me what you are going to do on test day when a passage has over 600 words? Are you going to email aamc and tell them they're in violation of their official guide?
 
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AquaticSunrise13

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Based on everybody here who has taken the MCAT, in what months would you say you had an "easier version" of the test, and in what months did you have a "harder version" of the test. I plan on taking it in 2018 and am very curious. Any positive and helpful comments would be appreciated. If you're a troll or have nothing but negative remarks or attacks then please keep your comments to your self. Thank you.
 
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Based on everybody here who has taken the MCAT, in what months would you say you had an "easier version" of the test, and in what months did you have a "harder version" of the test. I plan on taking it in 2018 and am very curious. Any positive and helpful comments would be appreciated. If you're a troll or have nothing but negative remarks or attacks then please keep your comments to your self. Thank you.
You shouldn't worry about whether you get an easy or hard test. Since it's standardized it is said that the "harder" tests have a more significant curve, whereas a mistake on an easier test can cost you much more. I had a "harder" version and could count quite a bit of questions I got wrong on C/P but ended up with a 131 in that section.
 
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