May 30, 2015
360
66
Hi all,
I really feel I might not have done well on CARS since I didn't feel confident on a lot of the questions and felt like I was guessing. So in case I don't do well, I want to have a backup strategy in mind.
I can possibly retake in Jan if things don't work out; but what I want to know is what should I do from here on to get genuinely better at this section?

Here's my preparation:
For practice: I had done most of the old EK101, TPRH, and NS108 CARS books; also, half of the TBR Verbal book and old Kaplan section tests, 4 old AAMC sections from pdfs I had, and the sections from the 10 FLs I did.

For post-game analysis: I close-analyzed the AAMC and TPR passages (rereading passages to see what I missed AND reasoning for why answer choices were right and wrong); for EK, instead of rereading passages (since they were pretty easy reads), I focused only on the reasoning for right/wrong choices; for NS and TBR passages the question styles weren't representative, so I focused on learning to summarize the frequently abstract/convoluted passages they had to work on my comprehension (but still briefly verified the answers for these). I also looked at the type of errors I was making, but found that it was mostly retrieval/inference type questions pertaining to passages I had a hard time understanding.

I mostly averaged 124-127 and on 2015 AAMC FL I had 87% (in hindsight I feel it was unrepresentatively easier). I found that majority of my mistakes were concentrated on a few passages; this was due more to my inconsistencies in understanding passages than in answering questions, which is why I started typing out paragraph-by-paragraph summaries of passages I felt really difficult and did bad on.

TLDR: Things I need advice on:
So what should be a long-term plan from here? My thought is to read fairly difficult but fiction in every bit of my free time from here on. If in a month, I'm dissatisfied with my score I can start practicing a few passages daily up to Jan.
Any other way to improve overall comprehension? I am also slow in reading (which was a big problem during the test) as I tend to summarize each paragraph (otherwise I don't remember anything). So any suggestions for improving on speed?
Also, what changes should I make in my verbal-specific studying?
I've gone through almost every single verbal-related thread on here and tried to implement strategies I felt would suit me, but nothing has consistently worked.

Hence, I'd really appreciate some advice. Thanks in advance for any input.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Profound

StudyLater

2+ Year Member
Jan 4, 2015
1,993
1,252
Status
Pre-Medical
Holy **** @ your FL score.

And then thinking you bombed on a CARS that actually was pretty much the same, at least in length and question difficulty.

Being slow is fine, as there really is enough time for that.

I'd keep the caffeine minimal, too, on this section, if that f*cks with your short term memory (what you're storing the passage info in) like it does for me. I had none on the break beforehand and felt I adequately understood what each passage was saying.
 
OP
B
May 30, 2015
360
66
Holy **** @ your FL score.

And then thinking you bombed on a CARS that actually was pretty much the same, at least in length and question difficulty.

Being slow is fine, as there really is enough time for that.

I'd keep the caffeine minimal, too, on this section, if that f*cks with your short term memory (what you're storing the passage info in) like it does for me. I had none on the break beforehand and felt I adequately understood what each passage was saying.
Yeah, I agree caffeine does interfere with my STM too, but I didn't eat any snack (to avoid watery mouth) or drink caffeine before the CARS. I agree the passages were readable, but I don't feel confident at all about my answers. Part of it is also being in the actual test vs. not having the same pressure in the practice FL - but this means I should be that much better if I'm to have much hope of doing well enough. I am genuinely hoping for a 126, but instead of brooding too much I want to try to improve my not-so-avid reading habits.
 
Jun 6, 2015
753
442
Status
Pre-Health (Field Undecided)
Your AAMC FL CARS score is pretty decent, and you may be worrying too much about your MCAT performance. For reference, I scored 94% on my AAMC CARS FL and have been scoring 126 on Kaplan FL CARS and scored 125 on TPR Demo CARS. I felt really confident on the AAMC FL on the CARS but was devastated by my performance on the company tests. Until you know for sure what you scored on the MCAT CARS, there is really not a lot that can be suggested. You may have not felt confident but actually scored well; I think it is a common trait among hard-working students with big aspirations to feel like a failure after a big test when in reality they performed well.

As for some of the things you suggested, it wouldn't really hurt to do small things here and there to try to increase your reading analytical skills. Until you get your scores back, stay away from practice material. However, it would be a generally great idea to start reading more. Dawkins could perhaps be a great author as his rhetoric can be a little more difficult to understand, but the subject matter may be interesting because he discusses concepts such as altruism in the context of evolutionary biology. If you haven't read this book already, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is a great book that discusses ethics in biomedical research.
 
Last edited:
Apr 26, 2015
37
47
Status
Pre-Medical
You probably did a lot better then you think. It is usually the people that feel like they did well on CARS that wind up in low percentiles (or at least they say they felt good about it). I'd say feeling bad about it is really common. I certainly thought I'd missed every question.
 

GrapesofRath

2+ Year Member
May 5, 2015
5,320
3,803
Status
Non-Student
When in doubt remember your CARS score in real life is based on the % of people you did better than not your raw score. To get a 125(which is sufficient and will not keep you out of medical school alone), you only need to do better than 45% of test takers. Getting a 126 which is a solid score that's really not an issue at all requires only doing better than 59% of testers. We all get terrified when we read and see anecdotes of people who do significantly lower in verbal/CARs than there practice test but there is a long track record and history that shows these people are not the majority(and those who do tend to be more vocal about it than those who simply get similar to their averages which skews our perception).

There's no point speculating on what to do until you get your score back. If you want to improve your reading speed as a general goal read really dense passages. Philosophy(Aristotle in particular helped me). I'm not huge on reading 300 page books because breezing through 50 pages in an hour is not what the MCAT is about. It's about reading closely analyzing each paragraph and their structure and how they relate to each other and a clear overall theme or argument. You can't really do that analyzing 1-2 pages in a 500 page book.
 

Jack Westin

CARS Instructor
Lifetime Donor
Sponsor
Vendor
7+ Year Member
Sep 11, 2011
256
184
www.JackWestin.com
I really like the idea of reading fiction a couple of hours a day. It'll not only help with comprehension, but also with timing. The more you read, the better you become at reading. This means you will comprehend dense material faster and as a result, you'll read faster as well (naturally).

A lot of my students make the mistake of trying to speed up as they read. This does not work. You have to understand what you read and speeding up hurts your comprehension significantly. The problem with taking your time is not really the wasted seconds or minutes, it's the fear/ anxiety you develop as you read slowly. This concern and anxiety kills your comprehension. You fall in this category if you have ever tried to read slowly but said something like the following constantly to yourself: "I'm reading too slow! Am I going to finish in time?" This constant concern/ worry hurts your ability to comprehend.

Try not to think about anything other than the text while you are slowly reading. If you can do that, you can comprehend the text easily.
 
  • Like
Reactions: remedy23

remedy23

2+ Year Member
Jun 17, 2014
146
22
I really like the idea of reading fiction a couple of hours a day. It'll not only help with comprehension, but also with timing. The more you read, the better you become at reading. This means you will comprehend dense material faster and as a result, you'll read faster as well (naturally).

A lot of my students make the mistake of trying to speed up as they read. This does not work. You have to understand what you read and speeding up hurts your comprehension significantly. The problem with taking your time is not really the wasted seconds or minutes, it's the fear/ anxiety you develop as you read slowly. This concern and anxiety kills your comprehension. You fall in this category if you have ever tried to read slowly but said something like the following constantly to yourself: "I'm reading too slow! Am I going to finish in time?" This constant concern/ worry hurts your ability to comprehend.

Try not to think about anything other than the text while you are slowly reading. If you can do that, you can comprehend the text easily.
Very good advice. I find that when I read slowly, it might take me 5-6 minutes to finish a passage, but I feel confident in picking most of my answers vs. reading it in 4 minutes and having to CONSTANTLY refer back to the passage to verify my instincts.