Apr 13, 2020
11
6
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
Hey guys!

I posted this in r/mcat and a lot of people found it helpful so I wanted to post it here as well so that it's out there for anyone who would like to use this as a reference!

I took the MCAT last year and in this abundance of time I have, I decided to pay it forward by sharing what helped me prepare for the B/B section!

One mistake a lot of students make (I did as well in the beginning of my preparation) is that they spend a lot of time on the content and not enough time on strategy. There’s a lot of material to prepare for the B/B section from Biology to Biochem, but the fact is there is just as much stuff you don’t need to know so what I found helpful was using the AAMC list of content topics for the B/B section and made sure to cover all those as I was going through content review. After going through all the content, I realized that there are anki decks that users have posted here that have cards covering content that you need to know. So, after going through the content using a review book, going through anki flashcards, as many as you can, each day either as you get up or are lying in bed at night can really add up and let you review your content quickly. The rest of the time needs to be spent doing practice. During my practice, I came up with a strategy during my preparation that helped me tackle the passages and I want to share that with you guys here.

Strategy:

This strategy is based on the idea that a lot of the passages contain only 40-50% information that is relevant to answering the question on the passages. The rest of the information is just introductory information and basic background (stuff you already know from your content review). So, this strategy helps to separate the relevant information from the irrelevant information. In addition to that, I realized that a lot of passages have a lot of confusing gene and protein names that just add to the confusion. So, I wanted to make that information clear and easier to refer back to. So, here’s how I approached the passages:

(1) Read the passage, but after reading a paragraph, create a corresponding pictorial representation of the information, using abbreviations for the gene and protein names and arrows to show activators and how molecules are linked in the pathway or system that is being discussed.

*Note - Since the introductory paragraph is usually just a brief introduction to the system being described, I did not draw a mini diagram for that paragraph and merely used it for context of the topic being discussed in the passage and then moved on to the rest of the passage.

(2) I had one mini drawing per paragraph and that helped me see the system being described in chronological order. That helped me at the end see what the system was actually trying to accomplish (so the whole point of what the passage is trying to tell us).

(3) Once you’re done going through the passage, you will have created around 4 mini diagrams total with one from each paragraph. Then, I went to the questions. The goal is that our diagrams are easy to understand since it’s just drawings and we made it, so we don’t have to search for the answers through text and rather we can just refer back to our diagrams.

I know that some people may be wondering whether this would take more time. The answer is that it saves more time by ensuring that you do not have to refer back to the passage to find your answers.

How to make the strategy really work?

This strategy requires practice since it isn’t easy to be able to create easy to understand and nice succinct diagrams explaining the important points in a passage, but with practice, you can see if it works for you. I also made a YouTube video talking about this strategy and also went through a practice passage to show how it works if anyone is interested, but the strategy I talked about here is the same thing I talked about in the video. Let me know if you have any questions! Hope that this was helpful for you guys!

Worked Example from AAMC Sample Test:

Bio/Biochemistry Section Strategy YouTube Link:
 
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Foggybrain

2+ Year Member
Sep 13, 2017
53
12
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  1. Pre-Medical
Thank you for the post. Can you please share a link to that YouTube video? Also, what specific strategies would you recommend when dealing with consistent difficulty in handling dense/detail oriented CARS passages? Thank you for your help.
 
Last edited:

Dochopeful13

7+ Year Member
Apr 3, 2013
736
255
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
Hey guys!

I posted this in r/mcat and a lot of people found it helpful so I wanted to post it here as well so that it's out there for anyone who would like to use this as a reference!

I took the MCAT last year and in this abundance of time I have, I decided to pay it forward by sharing what helped me prepare for the B/B section!

One mistake a lot of students make (I did as well in the beginning of my preparation) is that they spend a lot of time on the content and not enough time on strategy. There’s a lot of material to prepare for the B/B section from Biology to Biochem, but the fact is there is just as much stuff you don’t need to know so what I found helpful was using the AAMC list of content topics for the B/B section and made sure to cover all those as I was going through content review. After going through all the content, I realized that there are anki decks that users have posted here that have cards covering content that you need to know. So, after going through the content using a review book, going through anki flashcards, as many as you can, each day either as you get up or are lying in bed at night can really add up and let you review your content quickly. The rest of the time needs to be spent doing practice. During my practice, I came up with a strategy during my preparation that helped me tackle the passages and I want to share that with you guys here.

Strategy

This strategy is based on the idea that a lot of the passages contain only 40-50% information that is relevant to answering the question on the passages. The rest of the information is just introductory information and basic background (stuff you already know from your content review). So, this strategy helps to separate the relevant information from the irrelevant information. In addition to that, I realized that a lot of passages have a lot of confusing gene and protein names that just add to the confusion. So, I wanted to make that information clear and easier to refer back to. So, here’s how I approached the passages:

(1) Read the passage, but after reading a paragraph, create a corresponding pictorial representation of the information, using abbreviations for the gene and protein names and arrows to show activators and how molecules are linked in the pathway or system that is being discussed.

*Note - Since the introductory paragraph is usually just a brief introduction to the system being described, I did not draw a mini diagram for that paragraph and merely used it for context of the topic being discussed in the passage and then moved on to the rest of the passage.

(2) I had one mini drawing per paragraph and that helped me see the system being described in chronological order. That helped me at the end see what the system was actually trying to accomplish (so the whole point of what the passage is trying to tell us).

(3) Once you’re done going through the passage, you will have created around 4 mini diagrams total with one from each paragraph. Then, I went to the questions. The goal is that our diagrams are easy to understand since it’s just drawings and we made it, so we don’t have to search for the answers through text and rather we can just refer back to our diagrams.

I know that some people may be wondering whether this would take more time. The answer is that it saves more time by ensuring that you do not have to refer back to the passage to find your answers.

How to make the strategy really work?

This strategy requires practice since it isn’t easy to be able to create easy to understand and nice succinct diagrams explaining the important points in a passage, but with practice, you can see if it works for you. I also made a YouTube video talking about this strategy and also went through a practice passage to show how it works if anyone is interested, but the strategy I talked about here is the same thing I talked about in the video. Let me know if you have any questions! Hope that this was helpful for you guys!
Thanks!
 
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Shotapp

5+ Year Member
Jan 1, 2015
1,219
1,362
GA
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
Hey guys!

I posted this in r/mcat and a lot of people found it helpful so I wanted to post it here as well so that it's out there for anyone who would like to use this as a reference!

I took the MCAT last year and in this abundance of time I have, I decided to pay it forward by sharing what helped me prepare for the B/B section!

One mistake a lot of students make (I did as well in the beginning of my preparation) is that they spend a lot of time on the content and not enough time on strategy. There’s a lot of material to prepare for the B/B section from Biology to Biochem, but the fact is there is just as much stuff you don’t need to know so what I found helpful was using the AAMC list of content topics for the B/B section and made sure to cover all those as I was going through content review. After going through all the content, I realized that there are anki decks that users have posted here that have cards covering content that you need to know. So, after going through the content using a review book, going through anki flashcards, as many as you can, each day either as you get up or are lying in bed at night can really add up and let you review your content quickly. The rest of the time needs to be spent doing practice. During my practice, I came up with a strategy during my preparation that helped me tackle the passages and I want to share that with you guys here.

Strategy

This strategy is based on the idea that a lot of the passages contain only 40-50% information that is relevant to answering the question on the passages. The rest of the information is just introductory information and basic background (stuff you already know from your content review). So, this strategy helps to separate the relevant information from the irrelevant information. In addition to that, I realized that a lot of passages have a lot of confusing gene and protein names that just add to the confusion. So, I wanted to make that information clear and easier to refer back to. So, here’s how I approached the passages:

(1) Read the passage, but after reading a paragraph, create a corresponding pictorial representation of the information, using abbreviations for the gene and protein names and arrows to show activators and how molecules are linked in the pathway or system that is being discussed.

*Note - Since the introductory paragraph is usually just a brief introduction to the system being described, I did not draw a mini diagram for that paragraph and merely used it for context of the topic being discussed in the passage and then moved on to the rest of the passage.

(2) I had one mini drawing per paragraph and that helped me see the system being described in chronological order. That helped me at the end see what the system was actually trying to accomplish (so the whole point of what the passage is trying to tell us).

(3) Once you’re done going through the passage, you will have created around 4 mini diagrams total with one from each paragraph. Then, I went to the questions. The goal is that our diagrams are easy to understand since it’s just drawings and we made it, so we don’t have to search for the answers through text and rather we can just refer back to our diagrams.

I know that some people may be wondering whether this would take more time. The answer is that it saves more time by ensuring that you do not have to refer back to the passage to find your answers.

How to make the strategy really work?

This strategy requires practice since it isn’t easy to be able to create easy to understand and nice succinct diagrams explaining the important points in a passage, but with practice, you can see if it works for you. I also made a YouTube video talking about this strategy and also went through a practice passage to show how it works if anyone is interested, but the strategy I talked about here is the same thing I talked about in the video. Let me know if you have any questions! Hope that this was helpful for you guys!
What strategies did you use for C/P and P/S? Thanks.
 
Apr 13, 2020
11
6
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
Thank you for the post. Can you please share a link to that YouTube video? Also, what specific strategies would you recommend when dealing with consistent difficulty in handling dense/detail oriented CARS passages? Thank you for your help.

Hey! I PM'ed you! I also have a video talking about a strategy for CARS actually. I can PM that as well!
 
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Apr 13, 2020
11
6
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
Hey guys! I added the link to the post above! Let me know if you have any questions about this or other sections on the exam.
 

Ssha

2+ Year Member
Jun 1, 2016
143
15
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
Hey guys! I added the link to the post above! Let me know if you have any questions about this or other sections on the exam.

Hey! Have you used Med-pathway 1600 question bank? contemplating if I should purchase it
 
Apr 13, 2020
11
6
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
Hey! Have you used Med-pathway 1600 question bank? contemplating if I should purchase it

Actually, I have never heard of it before. But, in terms of resources to practice: AAMC Section Packs (hard but representative of the actual exam in terms of wording and format) and UWorld are really good for practice. The more representative your resources are to the actual passages the better. I am planning on making a video about the resources that I used for each section to prepare soon so I will post that when I do!
 

Ssha

2+ Year Member
Jun 1, 2016
143
15
Status
  1. Pre-Medical
Actually, I have never heard of it before. But, in terms of resources to practice: AAMC Section Packs (hard but representative of the actual exam in terms of wording and format) and UWorld are really good for practice. The more representative your resources are to the actual passages the better. I am planning on making a video about the resources that I used for each section to prepare soon so I will post that when I do!
Great Thank you!
 

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