MCAT- Cutting through the Crap - Ways to combat the general questions

Apr 11, 2010
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Pre-Medical
Greetings,

For me the MCAT is not a new foe and is one that I have been struggling with for a while. What are some time saving tips to mastering the MCAT? What are some ways to looking at a passage and question statement and be able to figure out what they are actually wanting you to do without falling for one of their many pit falls and traps?

I know some tips such as:
1) Math: Memorize the squares of 1 - 15, Simplify the math, Find unknown square roots by comparing it to known square roots, know your scientific notation, Log x^2 = 2 Log x, Log (ab) = Log (a) + Log (b), Log (a/b) = Log(a) - Log(b)
2) Formulas: know the require formulas
3) Literature: read for main idea rather than read for content, read the entire passage and do not skim, skipping to possibly easier passages wastes time (SAT tip but not good for MCAT (exam Krackers))

But what are some more? Do you skip around in the biology and physics sections to do the discretes first (Kaplan method)? Do you try to write down any information as you read bio and physic passages? How do you save time on problems when you write down equations on paper b/c doing equations in your head just doesn't work in this setting? Do you do questions in bio and physic section first and return to passage if it is necessary? How do you recognize tricks that the question is setting up for you when there is a much easier way?

What tips have you found to help save you time and get questions right?

Remember the MCAT is not scaled and by helping others get the information right you are not hurting your own chances. This monster is all of our foes so lets take this beast down together.

Thanks and good luck to those out there with similar issues.
 
Apr 11, 2010
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Pre-Medical
Some more Verbal Help:

1) Try not to go back to the passage to re-read a statement. If you know the main idea and how this author is like then you should be able to guess at the verbals and see which one fits best (exam krackers).

2) Simplify complex questions into words that you understand (exam krackers).

3) The questions are often times just as important as the passage and will provide more insight as to what this author is like (exam krackers).

4) Eliminate what you can by find information that is opposite to the main idea (be careful some questions ask for the opposite as their desired answer) (exam krackers).

Other help:
1) Often equations are interchangeable if they are applying to the same units. F=ma, F=-kx, W= Fd, W= 1/2 kx^2. Example in CBT 1 where the spring is hanging vertically, the displacement is given, and mass is given, but the amount of work is desired.

2) if you compare to properties of an equation assume that the rest are constant. Ex: F=ma, Force is directly proportional to Acceleration, or Mass is indirectly proportional to Acceleration.
 

alexandertg6

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Nov 12, 2009
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this may be a dumb question but i know i do much better on paper exams because i write all over the question itself which is really helpful to narrow down things like extraneous info and find what they really are asking.. is the MCAT a paper exam or computerized? and if the latter is there a way to request a paper exam?
 
Apr 11, 2010
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Pre-Medical
The MCAT is a computerized test and to my knowledge there is no way to request a paper version. There is a possibility to make a special request such as increased time or no one else in the room but when you do that you can add about $50+ to your already $230 exam. To get a special concession you have to prove that you have some sort of mental deficiency that will qualify you for the special request. Even if for instance you go and do all the work to prove that you are a slow tester and prove you have a mental disorder that makes you slower at processing information, this may not help you too much if you do make a really well score. The special concession will show when the schools look at your records. They will reason that maybe you are not the best candidate b/c there are no special concessions for the USMLE.

Answer: Sorry, there is really nothing you can do about it.

I personally hate CBTs and enjoy written ones much more. Hopefully when you take yours for the first time you will not get the crappy computer with sticky keys and a messed up mouse.
 
Apr 11, 2010
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Pre-Medical
So far the best advise I have seen as been in the general asked questions section posted by Sticky.

Please take the time to read over that information.

I honestly think it may help.
 

addo

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Mar 4, 2010
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I think improving on math, could easily yield an extra point or 2 on PS.
I made the mistake of using a calculator on a couple of practice test, and I was scoring much higher, because I was getting pretty much all the calculation correct.

One thing Ive found very useful when doing calculations, is using scientific notation, fractions, and obviously estimating.
For example, if you have
68593/183659=.37 I would simplify as
7*10^4/2*10^5-->7*10^4*10^-5/2=(7/2)*10^-1=.35
this way I got the answer which is pretty damn close, and I got it faster than plugging the numbers in the calculator
or with square roots, for example sqrt(1.8*10^-9)-->sqrt(16*10^-10)=4*10^-5, which is for all practical purposes THE answer. in the example i modified the power of 10, and i have found this extremely useful for certain fractions. And knowing all the rules of exponents is a must.

I dont know if i am being obvious here, but i used to have a hard time doing calculations due to my reliance on the calculator, but now unless i need to be very precise I dont even use it on other things.
 
Apr 11, 2010
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Pre-Medical
MCAT is a test of rounding and guessing. Learn ways to round easily and ways to deal with scientific notation, logs, and other algebra stuff. Learn probability.

IF you can guess accurately you will be OK.

Also finding the main topic will help anwser basically all questions in verbal.

Just guess at any and all hard laboring questions and come back to them later on.
Get all you can get right and come back and work on those that you are struggling with.
 

FrkyBgStok

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Is there a number of log functions on the mcat or just for sound intensity?