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Are you a "Good" or "Bad" test taker?

  • I am a GOOD test taker.

    Votes: 50 54.3%
  • I am a BAD test taker.

    Votes: 16 17.4%
  • There is not such thing: Either you know it or you don't.

    Votes: 26 28.3%

  • Total voters
    92

SailCrazy

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I've noticed in several discussions debating whether or not the MCAT is "fair" that inevitably someone says the MCAT is unfair because people who are "bad test takers" know a lot more than the test accurately reflects.

What does it meant to be a "bad test taker?" :confused:

Do people panic under stress? :eek:
Do they have difficulty determining what the question is asking? :(

I've never really understood what this means, and would appreciate your feedback.
 

Mew

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It is sometimes when you look at a question it will confuse somebody like it does me. I remember my IT test, i could do the job easily knew the info. But the test killed me
 

Gleevec

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Originally posted by SailCrazy
I've noticed in several discussions debating whether or not the MCAT is "fair" that inevitably someone says the MCAT is unfair because people who are "bad test takers" know a lot more than the test accurately reflects.

What does it meant to be a "bad test taker?" :confused:

Do people panic under stress? :eek:
Do they have difficulty determining what the question is asking? :(

I've never really understood what this means, and would appreciate your feedback.

Yeah, Ive never really understood this either. If you're panicking under stress for a test, I don't know what to say about how that relates to the medical world. I would imagine people would panic MORESO when there is a guy V-fibbing in front of you.

Frankly, I think such discussions are futile and moreso than anything are just attempts to explain one's score away. To me, you either know the material or you don't.
 
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ForensicPath

A "good" test taker is prepared for the test and a "bad" test taker is not.
 

Mew

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Originally posted by ForensicPath
A "good" test taker is prepared for the test and a "bad" test taker is not.
Yeah but i knew all the information on the test. I think it is some people see two similar awnser and start second guessing themselfs.
 

LP1CW

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It's not about just knowing or not knowing the material. ALl of us have had days when we were just not there mentally, problems at home, sick, etc. There are just too many variables. So, it's not about knowing the material. We have a tendency to think in black and white terms. It's not that easy.

I don't always perform as well as I can and that's not necessarily a function of how much I know.
 

Gleevec

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Originally posted by LP1CW
It's not about just knowing or not knowing the material. ALl of us have had days when we were just not there mentally, problems at home, sick, etc. There are just too many variables. So, it's not about knowing the material. We have a tendency to think in black and white terms. It's not that easy.

I don't always perform as well as I can and that's not necessarily a function of how much I know.

Then how is it that people who say they are bad test takers ALWAYS have their "bad days" when there is a test, and always have their "good days" where there isn't a test. People take a LOT of tests throughout their life, and somehow I doubt someone has enough bad days in such a precise pattern as to overlap with the test days one has throughout his/her life.

People who have a bad test DAY are different from people who say they are bad test takers.
 

irie

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good standardized test takers can identify the wrong answers as well as the right ones. On the mcat, they have the ability to answer a question then never think about it again.
 

TTSD

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There's a difference between a good test taker, a bad test taker and those who are prepared and those who aren't.

Some people can study all the material and know their stuff good but still perform poorly on tests. Why? It's because they have trouble identifying the correct answer that's being presented to them. Oftentimes they will look and investigate various esoteric pathways and arrive at different answers (possible differential diagnoses) in some manner, often thinking a simple question and answer is not so simple.

Personally I think this is a good trait for a DOCTOR (not a good trait for the USMLE unfortunately), they'll constantly attack a problem from different angles to make sure they have all their bases covered.

Edit: Personally I'm a bad test taker. But I've been training myself to be better. And while I'm definately improving be leaps and bounds I find myself getting dumber as well.. or at least less innovative at research. I'm attacking things TOO systematically now. I need to go get drunk and find a good balance.
 
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ForensicPath

Originally posted by Mew
Yeah but i knew all the information on the test. I think it is some people see two similar awnser and start second guessing themselfs.

That's why you have to prepare specifically for a test. For example, I will prepare differently for a multiple choice test than I would for an essay test. The MCAT is a good example. You may know all the material on the test, but you still have to prepare for how the MCAT is structured and how questions are asked.
 

peterockduke

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Originally posted by Chrisobean
being a "good" test taker may apply to some exams, but definitely not the MCAT.

Yeah.. I think good standardized test taking skills help on the MCAt, but it's a different test.

My SAT I, II's, IQ test (ty 7th grade), and prac LSAT are all nearly identical in %ile rank... MCAT is just not the same. I also got something laughably bad (i think a 21 on kaplan and a 26 on the 3r) before I started to prep.
 

Gleevec

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Originally posted by TTSD
Oftentimes they will look and investigate various esoteric pathways and arrive at different answers (possible differential diagnoses) in some manner, often thinking a simple question and answer is not so simple.

Personally I think this is a good trait for a DOCTOR (not a good trait for the USMLE unfortunately), they'll constantly attack a problem from different angles to make sure they have all their bases covered.


I think while that might be true for the subjective liberal arts, I find it hard to believe this for the objective maths or sciences. I don't think its generally considered good to make up alternate pathways for a mechanism when in fact none exist (hmm, so in this o-chem passage, they don't say what temperature the room is at, so MAYBE if the conditions are right we can form a primary unstabilized carbocation, etc).

Creativity is good (especially within the context of knowing the "rules", but making stuff up is bad, especially in science.
 

TTSD

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Well, that's organic chemistry. But if you're looking at things like neuro and similar such fields. Things can get a bit hairy.
 
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ASDIC

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its all about practice. Good test takers were not born with their good test taking abilities...they practiced and practiced.

I seem to have problems with the verbal...so i am practicing so I can become very good with the verbal section
 

Gleevec

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Originally posted by TTSD
Well, that's organic chemistry. But if you're looking at things like neuro and similar such fields. Things can get a bit hairy.

Even then, in those scientific fields, there is a general process by which you would make a diagnosis, and certain diagnoses would me more probable than others.

Im all in favor of having an open mind and being creative about things, but within reason, it doesnt do the patient any good if someone were to just start guessing random syndromes and ordering all sorts of tests when a more methodological approach based on prior knowledge would be more useful. From what Ive been told, one of the most common mistakes med students make is looking for zebras when there is an obvious common diagnosis right in front of them (not that zebras dont exist, but usually doctors rule out the more probable causes first). Arguing that the science sections of test can be intepreted with equal creativity only encourages that, I think.

In any case, even if there are 4-5 answers on a science section, generally have of them are blatently wrong, and the final decision must be made between 2 answers that differ based on some "tricky difference" generated by the examiners.

Also, the kinds of hairy diagnoses you talk about for neuro arent present in tests more pre-allos are referring to, the MCAT is just basic science, and I would say for 99% of the questions there is really only ONE right answer. So I think its a bit of apples and oranges, but regardless, I still feel that preparation, knowledge, and timing are what seperate good test takers from bad ones.

And actually, I think my view is a bit kinder to "bad" test takers, since those are 3 things (prep, knowledge, timing) that you can improve, as opposed to some mystical force dooming students to do poorly on standardized tests.
 

JayMiranti

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Its easy to pan someone who didnt do well on a test and then makes an excuse to justify it, i think that we all agree that when someone does this it is annoying, and it happens a lot sure.

But what annoys me more is when people make huge generalizations like "a good test taker is prepared, smart" etc...
i mean get out of here

its easy for the people with good scores to knock those who dont have them, simply because they think they are "justified" in their score. "I scored high, it must be for a reason, it CANT be arbitrary, it MUST be a positive, I DESERVE this"

I think this thinking is wrong.

I mean, yeah its a characteristic of lots of successful doctors, high test scores, but only because that is what it takes to become a doctor in the first place. You dont hear about any great doctors who are horrible test takers, only cuz they never get admitted to med school due to their bad test scores. They rarely get the chance to prove this stereotype wrong.

I consider myself someone who does well on standardized tests, but never someone who was GREAT at it, i.e. 1500 sats, 33+ mcat, etc...

So whats the difference between me and the guys who do score insanely high? Who knows!?

They could be smarter than me.
They could be more prepared than me.
(positive differences)

But, the differences could be negative too I feel. It could just be that these people dont analyze deeply, and dont get caught up on "tricks". Is that a good characteristic? Lack of analysis?

It could be that they pride themselves in their scores, and live and die by the test results, and are thus motivated to achieve by the prospect of their own self-worth.

I mean im not saying that all good test takers are like this, but some surely are, and are these good characteristics for a doctor? for any person?
 

smuwillobrien

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A lot of the people I know who call themselves "bad test takers" are really just making excuses. If you don't study the material you aren't going to know it whether it is a long response test or a multiple choice one. You get what you give, and unfortunately some people give little and expect a lot. :(
 

Spartacus

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I think standardized tests are very different than tests you take in college classes. I am pretty good at test taking in classes, but the first time I took the MCAT, I got worked. It is definitely a test you can learn to be good at though.
 

lastbastion

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I think smuwillobrien is right on the money. I'm sure everybody has encoutered the individual who continually makes false claims in order to justify bad results. We all know the person who, after failing a test, results to the extremely predictable answer of "I've been sick for a week", or the person who justifies his low MCAT score saying, "I'm just not a good test taker" or "I studied with Kaplan, and I didn't know Kaplan wasn't representative of the real thing until it was too late, blah blah blah." You know the real reason these people got low scores? Its not because they were sick, or because someone else is to blame, or because they aren't "good" test-takers. It is simply because they don't put enough time into studying effectively. These are the same people who come in hungover during lectures, and who have failed several classes already.

Believe me, you can by-pass this trite excuse of "good" and "bad" test-taking by just opening up a book, reading all the chapters, doing every example problem you can, and understanding everything you went over. This my friends, will lead to a definite high score, and I'll bet money on that any day.

LB
 

Cerberus

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I dont mean to draw flames here but if one is a "good test taker" wouldnt that imply that their logical skills were more developed than a "bad test taker" and thus more intelligent? Again not trying to draw flames but that seems like the logical consequence to me.
 

logos

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Some people use being bad at tests as an excuse. Often its a decision they make long before the test...a decision that inevitably leads to a bad outcome.

However, there are some people that are better at sorting out questions. I tend to be able to figure out multiple choice questions using logic, despite not actually knowing the answer. Often I can use this to do reasonably well on questions over material that i've never seen before. I had no significant knowledge of history in highschool but won our county in a satewide multiple choice history test. (it was to my benefit that the test was insanely difficult....i had no competition from anyone ..who actually knew the answers well...i won by scoring a little above 50% of the answers correct...essentially by eliminating an avg. of two answers and then guessing.

Sometimes you can just "read" the answer from the choices. The goal here is just to figure out what the question is really asking and what the answer is from the choices. You have to get into the head of the question writer. Then the wrong answers can be eliminated and a guess made on the basis of the possible correct answers, especially if only a single possible answer remains.

However, I would certainly agree that the MCAT is different in that much more background knowledge is required than most standardized tests.
 

BerkeleyPremed

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I agree with the above poster. In order to do well on the MCAT (especially on the verbal section), you really need to be able to get into the head of the exam writers. For the practice verbal sections I'm doing now, I can usually eliminate 2 of the answer choices and then I'll end up going with my gut feeling between the remaining answer choices. I'm using the 101 MCAT Verbal Passages by ExamKracker's...which many people on SDN recommended. The whole strategy of ExamKrackers Verbal is to get inside the head of the exam writers and answer the question using THEIR logic...not yours.

This is DEFINITELY more difficult than just attacking verbal questions based on your understanding of the passage (like SAT 1 verbal sections). You need to understand what the author is trying to say, how he makes his conclusion, and how the AUTHOR would answer questions about his own writing.

Personally, I think the only way to develop these skills is through practice. I think practice builds confidence with the material..and a LARGE component of doing well in anything is confidence. You want to walk into that MCAT testing center thinking, "I know this material inside and out...I've done numerous MCAT practice exams from different sources and I'm as prepared as I'll ever be." With this attitude, you'll never have any regrets after the exam and you know that the score you earned was reflective of you giving it your 100%.

As for "bad test takers"...I can understand people getting very nervous during stressful exams like the MCAT. In fact, I know someone who told me that when they get really nervous...their mind just goes blank. However, I think that most people can get over these feelings of anxiety by simply taking LOTS of practice exams for the MCAT. If they do this, they'll walk into the real thing thinking, "Alright..this is just another MCAT test...I've already done this many times other times and this is just another trial run." I think lack of confidence is the culprit here...study hard and study consistently for weeks or months before the exam...do multiple practice exams (at least 10+)..and your confidence will be there on the day of the real thing.
 

Sean2tall

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I think there absolutely are good and bad test takers. Not to say that it's impossible to improve your test taking skills, but there have certainly been occasions where other students were far more prepared than me, yet still scored less. Often tests are more about figuring out what the questions want than knowing the material. As far as the MCAT is concerned, I am not entirely certain that it is a test of what you know. I can't count how many things on the MCAT I definitely did not know, yet I figured out a likely answer anyway.
 
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