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Finishing Verbal

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by blazinfury, Feb 24, 2012.

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  1. blazinfury

    blazinfury 5+ Year Member

    Mar 28, 2008
    I could really use some advice about the current issue that I am having with Verbal. The strategy that I use is to take notes while I read and then answer questions and then jumping after 8.5 min. The problem that I have run into, is that I do not finish the questions for each passage and ultimately that brings my score down. In some instances, I don't finish not because I can't do them, but because I needed an extra min or so to finish 1-2 quest per passage (assuming the passage has 6-7 quest). It takes me around 5 min to do the reading and take notes. Obviously the problem that arises is that I barely have any time to do the quest. I get the main idea, tone, and "according to the passage" quest correct, but I have not enough time to think through the inference quest and new info & drawing conclusion quest.

    The problem is that if I do not take notes, then I either read too fast and don't analyze the passage as thoroughly as I should and ultimately get more quest wrong. The other problem with my current approach is that I need to keep tabs on the watch. I tend to lose focus because I need to look at the clock and thus, I probably lose several seconds or so along the way from each passage because of the dawning motion that "OMG I need to jump soon. So I better move and answer quest." When I do not have that stress, I tend to get nearly all of the quest correct. So I feel that my problem is more in my approach and strategy than straight verbal inaccuracies, at least at this point.

    I tend to finish AAMC individual passages using my current approach in the allotted 7-8 min with taking notes, but am not finishing passages from EK and TPR.

    I would appreciate some advice, if possible. Thank you.
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  3. Syialb

    Syialb 2+ Year Member

    Mar 3, 2011
    This is what I've been doing. I'm sitting at about a 10 VR average after 4 AAMC tests (nothing too amazing). Remember though, what works for me or anyone else who comments here may not necessarily be what works for you. You just have to feel it out for yourself with practice.

    I practiced getting my timing down to 7 mins/passage. This was done using the EK 101 Verbal book. I did the first pre-test with a liberal time limit, just to understand how to tackle it. For verbal tests 1-3, I divided them up. I would do the first 4 passages of a test one day (ex. the first 4 passages of test 1 on Monday) and then do the remaining 3 passages two days later (Wednesday). For these first few tests, I gave myself 8 mins/passage. Once I was comfortable and finishing on time with the 8 mins/passage limit, I brought it down to 7 mins/passage and I've been able to maintain fairly comfortably. Work your way down. From test 4 onwards, I've been doing the entire 60 min. tests.

    For this whole test, as I'm sure you realize, timing is a critical factor. I personally don't find taking down physical notes, as you seem to be doing, to be very helpful or time efficient. I think if you can sharpen your focus and teach yourself to actively read the passages, and learn to mentally map the passage, it will work wonders for you. I definitely go back to the passages for questions, and it's this mapping ability that allows me to quickly find the relevant portions of the passages.

    Another thing, there are plenty of different tips out there: EK Verbal content book says to never go back to the passage, Kaplan says to summarize the passage in a few sentences, while TPR apparently says to spend all of your time doing the first 6 passages and then just guess on the 7th passage. These tips don't necessarily work for everyone. Like I said, I actually found the best way for me is to mentally map the passage after a thorough read-through, and then go back to the relevant parts of the passage for certain questions that require it.

    Lastly, these are a couple things I find helpful. I memorized the time landmarks based on my ideal reading speed, and try to check the clock at least once or twice during each passage. I know based on my 7 min/passage limit, I should be finishing passage one at the 53 min. mark, passage two at 46 mins., passage three at 39 mins., etc. This way, even if I'm falling a bit behind, I'll know by how much and I'll have extra time to spare at the end. Make sure you're getting enough time to answer all the questions. Otherwise, your score will definitely go down even if you did well on the passages you did finish. I hope this helps. Good luck.
  4. chemhead123

    chemhead123 2+ Year Member

    Feb 19, 2012
    I think it is a bad idea to take notes. The passages are between 500 and 600 words so at most it should take an average reader 3 minutes to get through the passage. You spend another 45 seconds to a minute writing these notes down, which only a short few will actually help you.

    Worrying about notes for specific paragraphs is just a distraction from getting to the heart of the passage. Most of the questions the MCAT are some form of a synthesis question anyways, so knowing the exact placement isn't all that helpful. Its signifcantly more important to get the big picture of the passage.

    Of the high scores on the verbal that I know, none of them took notes like Kaplan recommends. I think it is just a bad idea.

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