Dec 28, 2013
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Hey guys,

I'm fairly new to this site, but I thought I would offer some simple advice on verbal reasoning, especially since I unfortunately had to delay my application and I have to retake my MCAT after receiving very strong science scores and a 5 in verbal. I don't want anyone have to retake their exam like I have to just because of verbal, especially since I recently "found" a quick and easy method that will hopefully get your verbal score up in less than a month of work!

Context: I took the Kaplan course, which definitely helped me with the science sections, although I am now using TBR and it is much better for content review. However, my verbal score kept hovering in the 6-7 range in the various exams I took (both kaplan and AAMC), with an occasional higher or lower score here and there. I completed the entire ExamKrackers 101 passages book, and was completely frustrated because my score was the same before doing the book and after. I simply thought I would hope to get lucky on exam day, and I was dead wrong.

So what did I do to fix my verbal score from the 6-7 range to 11+? Here we go (pay attention to #2, because it helped me the most in a very short amount of time):

1) I realized how much time I spent writing pointless stuff from the passage maps Kaplan suggests, and I simply stopped doing it.

2) I had a strong composite ACT score, and I remembered that the reading strategy I used back in high school was to READ THE QUESTIONS FIRST, and pay PARTICULAR ATTENTION to the questions that asked "The thesis of the passage..." or "the author would most agree with..." etc. (basically, anything that had to do with the author's point of view or argument). In my opinion, this is immensely effective for the following reason:

I know what parts of the passage to pay particular attention to because the questions LITERALLY lay them out for you, especially since I would often find myself paying attention to the wrong content when using the Kaplan strategy. I can almost guarantee you that if you spend no more than 30 seconds reviewing the questions before diving into the passage, you will feel much more attentive, no matter how boring the passage may be! Try it!!!

3) Use the Princeton Review HyperLearning Verbal Workbook, and begin by doing untimed passages for the first week or two USING THE STRATEGY NOTED IN #2. Set up a timer in the background, but don't pay attention to it when doing the passage. The key here is to practice collecting details and using them to answer the questions you already know are coming! Again, I cannot stress enough to do this untimed in order to develop the skill to do this when you actually start timing yourself!

4) After doing about 10 or so untimed passages, begin timing yourself, and try to keep it no more than 1:30 tops per question (i.e., a 7 question passage should not take you longer than 10:30, period. You can stretch it a little bit at the beginning, but as you get closer to taking a practice test or the real thing, make sure your timing is perfect).

5) Buy a book you've always been interested in reading, even if you don't have all the time in the world to read it. I am a huge Game of Thrones fan, and I just bought the first book (I read one chapter a day, which doesn't take much longer than 15 minutes. Obviously this will be more or less depending on the book you choose). The key here is to simply keep your brain used to reading large amounts of text. Many science majors like myself often find ourselves only reading science textbooks, reddit (lol), or science papers for research. Take some time to simply practice reading actual LITERATURE, especially if you don't do much of it in your other classes. This is simply a good habit to keep up until test day.

6) Enjoy your results. I have taken my score from an average of 6 to an average of 11 in three short weeks.

I really hope this works for you guys. Please ask me anything you'd like as well on here. I am by NO MEANS a verbal master... I just wanted to help some of you struggling with verbal get a competitive score your first time through this process.

Good luck guys :D
-Ed
 
Sep 25, 2013
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great job man! so do you basically guess on the last passage? because you said it takes u 10mins to finish one chap, which is the same amount of time that it takes me to finish a passage and end up guessing a whole passage
 
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Thanks dude. Not quite; keep in mind there are many 5 and 6 question verbal passages on the actual exam. Therefore, those should take you 7:30 and 9:00 tops, respectively (this includes reading time obviously). From what I've seen only 2 of the 7 exam passages are actually 7 questions, and also note that many of the princeton review passages are 8 questions, which is not a bad thing at all. If you wanna see the math, it's basically 60 minutes/40 questions which equates to 1.5 minutes per question. You will most likely finish some passages a lot faster than others, so take advantage of that to give you some breathing room on the philosophical passages.
 
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Also, one thing I would like to add is that you will definitely find yourself answering some questions within 5 or 10 seconds simply because a "lightbulb" feeling goes off while you're reading the passage and you remember a question you read. It's a great feeling :)
 
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Apr 7, 2013
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Just tried this today on 2 passages from Princeton workbook...perfect score on both. I have heard of this method before but never tried it, just was doing EK's strategy because it seemed the most logical and simple. I have to say that just taking 30 seconds to read the questions allows you to 1.) get a good idea of what the passage is about and some main ideas and 2.) allows you to read the passage with a better understanding because your able to put ideas and points of view together more easily... I'll probably keep practicing with this method and see if things stay well. I was averaging 9/10 before using EK's strategy.
 
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Just tried this today on 2 passages from Princeton workbook...perfect score on both. I have heard of this method before but never tried it, just was doing EK's strategy because it seemed the most logical and simple. I have to say that just taking 30 seconds to read the questions allows you to 1.) get a good idea of what the passage is about and some main ideas and 2.) allows you to read the passage with a better understanding because your able to put ideas and points of view together more easily... I'll probably keep practicing with this method and see if things stay well. I was averaging 9/10 before using EK's strategy.
So happy this worked for you! A few of my buddies have said this worked well for them as well. Awesome :D keep it up!
 
Sep 25, 2013
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Also, one thing I would like to add is that you will definitely find yourself answering some questions within 5 or 10 seconds simply because a "lightbulb" feeling goes off while you're reading the passage and you remember a question you read. It's a great feeling :)
do you read the questions only or you read the answer choices as well?
 

orangetea

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so I want to try this but here are my issues:

1. If I read the questions how do I remember all of them?
2. Once I read the questions and now I am reading the passage do I go back and answer a question once I find the part of the passage that discusses that? Like how do you connect the two while you're reading?

My problem is that for some questions I find where the question wants you to look for the answer.. but I end up choosing the wrong answer.. as in I don't know how to decipher what's in the passage to the correct answer.

good job though from a 6 to 11.
I just want a 1o :(
 
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do you read the questions only or you read the answer choices as well?
Good question. What I like to do is read EVERY question, but I only pay attention to the answer choices for thesis questions (authors view) and for anything that says "according to the passage.... *insert random word here* most closely means..." - I have found that if you read the answer choices for anything aside from these two types of questions, you're just going to be reading useless information. Feel free to add your own style to what questions you want to see the answers for, but I wouldn't recommend it. If anything, I skim the other answers but I don't pay as much attention to them.
 
Dec 28, 2013
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so I want to try this but here are my issues:

1. If I read the questions how do I remember all of them?
2. Once I read the questions and now I am reading the passage do I go back and answer a question once I find the part of the passage that discusses that? Like how do you connect the two while you're reading?

My problem is that for some questions I find where the question wants you to look for the answer.. but I end up choosing the wrong answer.. as in I don't know how to decipher what's in the passage to the correct answer.

good job though from a 6 to 11.
I just want a 1o :(
Good questions

1) You don't have to fully "remember" them, but you will naturally feel certain questions click into your mind as soon as you read something similar to what the question asked. I can't really explain it, it's kind of a natural thing that should happen. I can best describe it as seeing a detail in one of your class lectures for a course you've taken, and then when you see an exam question on it you immediately remember that detail. Terrible example, but I hope it makes some sort of sense. What I do is skim the questions, but the ones pertaining to the author's argument are the ones I keep in the back of my mind as I'm reading it. I'm sure you've seen questions that give you 4 choices to choose from regarding the author's tone or his point of view or whatever it may be. If you keep these 4 choices in mind as you read, one of the four should become evidently apparent to you probably a paragraph or two into the passage, and you can then answer that question in a matter of seconds when you get to it after reading the passage.

Also, if you see a question that says "according to the passage", you should also try installing those answers into your brain as well as you're reading so you can pay extra attention to it once you see it. In all, you should only have to really remember the author's view/tone answers and the "according to the passage" answers. Don't literally sit there and MEMORIZE them, but just have a rough idea of what the answer choices looked like so you can make sense of the right answer very quickly when you see it.

2) Do not answer any question whatsoever until you are completely done reading the passage. The reason I say this is because sometimes author's switch up their views (i.e., they talk about how their feelings changed over a course of time or some event or whatever) by the end of the passage.

Edit: by the way, the problem you're having is actually probably the only reason I'm not scoring 14/15 in the verbal. Some people just have a stronger intuition when it comes to making conclusions off not-so-discrete details. I don't have much advice there other than narrowing it down to two and hoping you get lucky. That's what I do, unfortunately, but it's not a bad thing at all. It's a thinking exam at the end of the day, so just choose what makes sense to you. Worst case scenario, you get one wrong, and I can tell you by experience that there are only a few questions per exam that really make you scratch your head like that.
 

tcon91

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This is a great post. I recently changed my approach and started reading the questions before the passage and I noticed a pretty big difference.
 
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Awesome stuff, I'm glad this is helpful. Keep true to this strategy, maybe even add your own flair to it as you build upon it to make it your "own" strategy. Everyone learns differently, so do whatever you think will help you in the long run.
 
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Great advice overall! But the central key is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!!

I did the TPR Verbal Workbook and EK 101 Verbal cover to cover, plus close to 200 additional passages from other companies (Kaplan, Barron's additional materials from TPR). I also read 50+ Economist magazines cover to cover for a consistent year.

Result = 15 on VR as an ESL student.

PRACTICE!
 
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Thanks for sharing the strategy! For me the problem is more about timing. I do decent on the passages if I understand them. But I'm a slow reader because English isn't my first language. So when I try to read faster, I have a hard time understanding the content and have to guess on the answers... then my score goes down by a lot. Do you have any advice for slow readers like me? O_O :(
 

Thisisthelife

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Thanks for sharing the strategy! For me the problem is more about timing. I do decent on the passages if I understand them. But I'm a slow reader because English isn't my first language. So when I try to read faster, I have a hard time understanding the content and have to guess on the answers... then my score goes down by a lot. Do you have any advice for slow readers like me? O_O :(
I have some advice that may help you.

1. When youre reading a passage, if you get to a sentence that is immediately followed by a list (for example "there are many kinds of domesticated dogs, collies, spaniels, labs"...etc) dont read the list...just glance and make a mental note of where that info is, that way if you have a question about domesticated dogs you know where in the passage that info is.
2. Try spreeder.com its free and may help.
 
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Dec 30, 2012
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Great advice overall! But the central key is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!!

I did the TPR Verbal Workbook and EK 101 Verbal cover to cover, plus close to 200 additional passages from other companies (Kaplan, Barron's additional materials from TPR). I also read 50+ Economist magazines cover to cover for a consistent year.

Result = 15 on VR as an ESL student.

PRACTICE!
This is great. I've seen your story in the past, and mentioned it in one of the threads I created a while back. I am curious how you did on the TPR and EK101 passages? What kinds of scores were you getting? Did your scores improve after doing passages? Would you say the Economist was the main contributor?
 

Uafl112

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Great strategy man! I just wanted to comment and say that raising your score in a short period of time is ABSOLUTELY possible. Dont be discouraged if whatever it is you're doing isnt working. Keep exploring new tricks to figure out what works best for you
 
Dec 28, 2013
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Great advice overall! But the central key is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!!

I did the TPR Verbal Workbook and EK 101 Verbal cover to cover, plus close to 200 additional passages from other companies (Kaplan, Barron's additional materials from TPR). I also read 50+ Economist magazines cover to cover for a consistent year.

Result = 15 on VR as an ESL student.

PRACTICE!
That's awesome! Very inspirational, just comes to show I can still bump my score up a few points! I'll throw in some Economist articles here and there. Thank you!

Thanks for sharing the strategy! For me the problem is more about timing. I do decent on the passages if I understand them. But I'm a slow reader because English isn't my first language. So when I try to read faster, I have a hard time understanding the content and have to guess on the answers... then my score goes down by a lot. Do you have any advice for slow readers like me? O_O :(
One thing I've noticed is that using my strategy, I am finishing the "reading" part a lot faster (typically 2.5 minutes per passage, sometimes less) because I am familiar with what the passage is going to be about having read the questions beforehand, and so the details I read come off as less of a shock than reading the passage blind without any knowledge of the questions. Try this out, and hopefully it will help you in some way.

Great strategy man! I just wanted to comment and say that raising your score in a short period of time is ABSOLUTELY possible. Dont be discouraged if whatever it is you're doing isnt working. Keep exploring new tricks to figure out what works best for you
Thanks dude. I will continue to adapt to hopefully push my verbal up to a 13 by early September. Just have to pay a tiny bit more attention to the way some answers are worded!
 
May 22, 2014
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I stand behind Eddie on this one. I use to just read the passages and then answer the questions; however, I only saw a 3 point improvement after about a month and I started to plateau. My VR score then went up ~2-3 points after using this method and I've only been practicing it for 2 days! I now read the questions beforehand and then read the passage.

When I read the questions before the passage, I try to derive the central thesis from the questions, as well as understand what the question is asking. After I've finished reading the questions(takes about 30-45 seconds) I begin reading the passage. Only this time, I have an idea of what the subject of the passage is so I can concentrate on more important details, such as author's opinion, etc. I don't bother reading the answer options unless it has to do with vocab context.

Utilizing this strategy will use up quite a bit of time, so currently I only read 6 of the 7 passages. I leave ~4 minutes for the last passage and just answer the questions by searching for them in the passage. If you're crunched for time and you have to guess, always pick the answer choice that is the least extreme. Words like "may", "could", "possibly" are usually in the correct answer. I usually miss 2/5 questions on the last passage, but I believe as I practice more with this method I'll be able to gain more time so in the end I won't have to make educated guesses. The goal at first is to familiarize yourself with the strategy.

It's not hard to score over a 10 on the VR, use this method and most importantly, PRACTICE and REVIEW! Even if you got the answer right, ask yourself how confident were you in that answer when you chose it? If you were in between that and another answer, what made you choose it over the other?

Again, different strategies work for different people. You just have to find what works for you!
 
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Does reading question work for BS too?
I'll be honest, I haven't tried it but a lot of the biological sciences seem to be Verbal-esque in nature. That being said, I'm probably going to try it on biological sciences as well. I couldn't imagine I would score worse, only better.
 
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I'll be honest, I haven't tried it but a lot of the biological sciences seem to be Verbal-esque in nature. That being said, I'm probably going to try it on biological sciences as well. I couldn't imagine I would score worse, only better.
I haven't tried your method yet, but if it works out for me... I will love you for the rest of my life
 
May 22, 2014
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Does reading question work for BS too?
I'm not sure, I'll also try it and see if it improves my score. I realized in the past that when I worked solely on VR for 2 weeks, my PS and BS scores also went up a point or two just because I was able to read the passages faster and comprehend them better.
 

TheAnonymous

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^ nice avatar @The Boatox

For me reading the questions takes 50-60 seconds so that's a loss of 7 minutes right there!

I'm struggling with this strategy and trying to get used to it.

I'm doing TPR passages (the online ones that come with their course) and my scores are all over the place but I try to review them at the end and see why I made such mistakes...

For me it's either I improve my VR in 1 month or I have to reconsider my future plans ! :bang:
 
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^ nice avatar @The Boatox

For me reading the questions takes 50-60 seconds so that's a loss of 7 minutes right there!

I'm struggling with this strategy and trying to get used to it.

I'm doing TPR passages (the online ones that come with their course) and my scores are all over the place but I try to review them at the end and see why I made such mistakes...

For me it's either I improve my VR in 1 month or I have to reconsider my future plans ! :bang:
That's why I said... make sure you do them untimed first :)
 
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Is it normal that my scores are not consistent? I get anywhere between 3/7 to 7/7 ... Could it be that after practice i get more consistent
My scores have been consistent probably because I've used this strategy all throughout academic career, except until Kaplan told me it's a bad idea lol. If you haven't done this strat before, it will probably just take some getting used to.
 
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May 22, 2014
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Is it normal that my scores are not consistent? I get anywhere between 3/7 to 7/7 ... Could it be that after practice i get more consistent
It's actually not too common to have your scores all over the place when you're doing TPR online verbal passages. Practice this technique using the online passages and after a couple of days, once you've practiced and became more efficient, I would suggest doing 7 passages/40 questions in one hour sitting using TPR verbal books(I also bought EK 101, worth the ~$20).

Remember, different things work for different people. At the end of the day, you have to just read it.
 
T

torontopharm

Hey so i tried this strategy for a couple of days and i seem to have improved quite a bit :) I've only been getting at most 1 wrong per passage in the EK 101 passages.
I read through the questions first, and write down key words from THE QUESTIONS on a sheet of paper - this takes me about 45-50 seconds. Without actually writing something about the questions down, i just can't seem to recall them at all while i'm reading the passage.
Afterwards, i just scheme through the passage and wait for the "light bulb" to go off. Only problem is that it's taking me about 9 minutes to finish a passage. With more practice, i'm hoping to cut that down.
Thanks Eddie ! I hope i can continue the trend.
 

dannybht

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I used to do this method and thought it was useless. Now I'm doing it and only getting at most 1 wrong per passage on EK 101! The reason why I'm doing so much better is because I've taught myself to read passages actively. I recommend those who are still having trouble even after using this method to watch Leo rateoumille mcat verbal on YouTube. His trick to understanding passages helped me tremendously. After supplementing the "questions first" method with the tips I learned from Leo I'm doing so much better! Good luck y'all!

P.S.: I practice reading articles from The Economist every single day, in order to improve my active reading skills.
 
Jul 20, 2014
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I used to do this method and thought it was useless. Now I'm doing it and only getting at most 1 wrong per passage on EK 101! The reason why I'm doing so much better is because I've taught myself to read passages actively. I recommend those who are still having trouble even after using this method to watch Leo rateoumille mcat verbal on YouTube. His trick to understanding passages helped me tremendously. After supplementing the "questions first" method with the tips I learned from Leo I'm doing so much better! Good luck y'all!

P.S.: I practice reading articles from The Economist every single day, in order to improve my active reading skills.

Yes! I agree with the active reading, as well as looking over the questions before. Sometimes it helps me to actively ask myself following each paragraph, "Why is the author telling me this?"
 
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baxt1412

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I used to do this method and thought it was useless. Now I'm doing it and only getting at most 1 wrong per passage on EK 101! The reason why I'm doing so much better is because I've taught myself to read passages actively. I recommend those who are still having trouble even after using this method to watch Leo rateoumille mcat verbal on YouTube. His trick to understanding passages helped me tremendously. After supplementing the "questions first" method with the tips I learned from Leo I'm doing so much better! Good luck y'all!

P.S.: I practice reading articles from The Economist every single day, in order to improve my active reading skills.
what is the guy's name on youtube? i can't find him

==edit==

this guy?
 

TheAnonymous

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I used to do this method and thought it was useless. Now I'm doing it and only getting at most 1 wrong per passage on EK 101! The reason why I'm doing so much better is because I've taught myself to read passages actively. I recommend those who are still having trouble even after using this method to watch Leo rateoumille mcat verbal on YouTube. His trick to understanding passages helped me tremendously. After supplementing the "questions first" method with the tips I learned from Leo I'm doing so much better! Good luck y'all!

P.S.: I practice reading articles from The Economist every single day, in order to improve my active reading skills.
Liinkss pleaseee :) never heard of him

edit:
nevermind lol is he any good?
 
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