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Feb 17, 2007
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I know the length of passage and complication of it varies, but on average how long do you spend ?
Kaplan recommends tri method where we time every 3 passages. But this confuses me especially the number of passages in each exam varies.
I am struggling with timing. When I took mcat last year, I just ran out of time in every section. Had no time to check my work.

I believe I spent about 11min per each passage for physical/biological
Verbal.. I had to skip two passages. really bad idea..
I felt the discretes were very easy compared to passage based,, this tells me i'm not reading the passages effectively.

2. Another question is, what do you guys do if you feel the passage you are reading is very challenging (e.g. you have no experience of reading any similar passage, even though you kinda get the big picture, but you are not clearly understanding the detail mechanism or all the complicated terms.)

Do you still focus to stay on tune and tackle the questions or just skip to next one?

3. What is your personal strategy to read passages faster actively?
I just try to read fast while remembering WHERE each concept/information is mentioned so that I can at least go back if i'm asked.
But sometimes, this takes time especially in physical sciences.

Thanks for your comment!


Captain Fantastic

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Mar 28, 2005
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I never explicitly timed myself on the passages. On the practice exams I always finished with time to spare. On the real deal I was about a minute or two short on PS, had about seven minutes left on verbal, and nailed the timing perfectly on BS.

The clock on the screen was helpful in gauging my progress. Meaning when I finished the 4th passage I could see I had used just over half the time. I wasn't concerned with how many minutes I had spent on the passage versus the questions. I think trying to keep track of that would really distract me.

2) Sometimes it's worth going back through it to get your mind around it. Other times it's best to just finish the passage and hit the questions. I don't have a set of rules, though. I play it by ear.

3) Sometimes I jot quick notes on the scratch paper. Try not to get tunnel vision. Often the MCAT tries to trick you into focusing on the wrong paragraph to find the information.


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Apr 25, 2004
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For verbal, you need to be under 8.5 minutes per passage if you want a chance at finishing.

For sciences...not too sure..but I tend to go at roughly 7-8 mins per passage...and if its a passage I'm pretty good at, then that could be down to 5. Its on those passages where I make up a lot of time.


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May 26, 2006
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In general, Kaplan told us to spend 8.5 minutes per passage on all sections. Yes, some of the passages are shorter and longer, but if you stick to getting the passage done in under 8.5 minutes, you should gain time from the shorter passages that you can tack on the longer passages. 11 minutes per passage is WAY to long if you want to get them all done.
also, it should take you 13 minutes or less to do all the discretes
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May 7, 2006
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1) Don't bother going back. If you can't figure out something, guess and move on. Let go of a passage as soon as you finish it. Just know where you're at generally, and try to stay ahead of the clock. Do not spend too long on a passage unless you KNOW you have the time for it.

2) I remember one INSANE PS passage on my August MCAT. I re-read it once. Still ended up guessing. Barely had time to finish. Lesson - don't re-read, guess and move on.

3) I guess it depends on how fast you read generally, but just try a comfortable pace. If you go too fast, you WILL have to go back more. It doesn't save you time.
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