Plue00

10+ Year Member
Nov 10, 2007
494
33
Somewhere
Status
Pre-Medical
Hey guys

I'm planning to study all summer and take the August 15 or 21 MCAT, and I am mostly worried about the verbal section.

What do you guys recommend I do until May(when I start to study exclusively for the MCAT) to try and raise my verbal score?

My friends who have taken their first practice test and scored around 7-8 in each section have eventually improved their PS and BS to the 10-12 range on the real MCAT with a few months/weeks of studying while they only increased their verbal to the 9-10 range (with few exceptions).

I casually took a practice verbal test about a year ago and scored a 7, and that was probably with a lot of luck in guessing. My friends have said that verbal is hard to raise while PS and BS are relatively straightforward.

What do you guys recommend I do to prepare for the verbal section?

Thanks for the help!
 

Uafl112

5+ Year Member
Jun 25, 2013
734
313
Status
Medical Student
Honestly, nothing can replace reading. Best help I have seen is from taking a humanity class where the professor made us read 7 books. These books were accounts from historical figures who wrote in the fluffy manner the MCAT passages are usually worded. In fact, I was reading the social contract and I ran into a few paragraphs that I had read in a practice passage.

However, after reading these books and honestly understanding the pros of reading and learning how to make arguments based on logic, only then was I able to finish a verbal passage in 6 minutes and get 6/7 questions in the passage correct.

Hope that helped
 

Uafl112

5+ Year Member
Jun 25, 2013
734
313
Status
Medical Student
So go read some books until your exam. I would recommend you find a subjective philosophical genre that genuinely interests you. For me, it was political philosophy.
 
OP
Plue00

Plue00

10+ Year Member
Nov 10, 2007
494
33
Somewhere
Status
Pre-Medical
So should I not read stuff like the Economist? I've heard many people here recommend that to improve verbal.
 

Uafl112

5+ Year Member
Jun 25, 2013
734
313
Status
Medical Student
I never read the economist but if it has authors using fluffy language to argue their points, perfect. By all means use it then. However, I suggest you find something that genuinely interests you. If the things in the economist are your thing, go for it. If you arent interested in what you're reading, I guarantee you wont reap any of the benefits.

Also, its important to find an interesting and subjective thing to read because it will help you form an opinion about the argument you read. This will help you make your own argument, either supporting it or adverse to it. Thus, when you start reading passages on the MCAT, it wont be that hard to decipher the author's argument.

Taking the Verbal Reasoning section is all about reading the passage quickly while also absorbing the points it presents to you. This requires a lot more attention to non scientific documents than science majors, such as myself, are use to. By reading actively, you will be surprised how much faster you will be able to read and just how much information you will be able to retain from the passage. Something additional that really helps with focusing is just forgetting about the timer and solely concentrating on what the passage is saying. This has recently helped me quite a bit regarding time.

Last thing...dont overthink it. Concentrate on the passage. Carefully read the questions. Remember what you just read, and simply answer it. If you dont remember the exact detail, atleast have an idea of where it was talked about in the passage. Go back, and you will usually have to read in between the lines to get your answer (a feat not that difficult if you read avidly)
 

gettheleadout

MS-4
Moderator Emeritus
7+ Year Member
Jun 23, 2010
11,814
2,783
Status
Medical Student
OCDOCDOCD had a great post about reading content for verbal practice before prep, let me find it.

Edit: got it

Since OP seems to think those of us with 12+ on VR have something special to contribute, I'll start off by saying I got 13 on VR.

I wouldn't recommend The Economist or any reading material for that matter unless you're scoring extremely low (below 7) which would indicate difficulty comprehending the passages. What makes VR hard isn't really the passages (save for perhaps the more obtuse humanities passages), it's the questions. Even worse, it's not even that what the questions are asking is difficult, it's that they often require you to take note of very subtle nuances in the passage, question stems, and/or answer choices. At the same time, MCAT VR may want you to extrapolate something said in the passage, identify a theme in the whole passage or part of it, identify the author's views, and things of that nature. Reading The Economist or any other literature that gets recommended won't help you tackle any of that. The one exception is if you're prepping for VR years ahead of time, in which case I'd recommend finding a source of literature that talks about high art in an academic tone, and take a philosophy class or two. That'll help you get used to the language and tone in the humanities passages.

What will help is cramming VR. I completed all the decent VR practice I could get my hands on. TPRH VW, EK 101, the handful of passages in the EK verbal review book, all the AAMC FLs, the verbal self-assessment, and the verbal passages in the AAMC Official Guide. Once you've done a lot of practice you'll hopefully (emphasis on "hopefully") get a vague feel of the categories of questions VR asks, what you tend to have to do to get them right, what correct answers tend to look like, what wrong answers tend to look like, and how the VR section's seemingly arbitrary logic works.

I would also advise against using any of the crazy strategies the test companies promote for VR. They'll just slow you down and take your attention off the passage. My strategy for VR was to just read the passage slowly and carefully, and then answer the questions in order, quickly referring back to the relevant sections of the passage when necessary. No speed reading, no jumping around, no skipping the passage to go straight to the question stems, no writing down notes or highlighting, nothing. Perhaps the only "trick" I used aside from the usual way to eliminate answers, was that if I found myself in a position where I couldn't decide which answer was right, I'd instead ask myself which answer was wrong. As pointless as it sounds, looking at a dilemma from a new perspective like that can be surprisingly helpful.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Spikebd and Med_Fit

Swagster

7+ Year Member
Apr 12, 2010
555
86
Status
Pre-Medical
That quote from OCDx3 sums it up beautifully. I never struggled with comprehending the passages on the MCAT, I struggled with figuring out wth they were asking me. If you choose to read articles from places like the Economist, write your own questions and answer choices (use the AAMC sample materials as your template). Writing questions really helped me understand the test writer's mindset.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Med_Fit

Spikebd

7+ Year Member
May 2, 2010
405
164
Status
Resident [Any Field]
You just have to practice similar to how the MCAT verbal is set up. Use that EK 101 book. Take the official MCAT practice exams. Do them under timed conditions. I started with three to four separate sections of EK 101 a day about three months before the MCAT. I started off doing decent but not great, and by the time I took my test I felt prepared and got a 13. Timing yourself and doing actual practice is the most important thing you can do. Forget reading things like the economist, it won't help for this test.