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MCAT reading strategy

Discussion in 'MCAT: Medical College Admissions Test' started by ramseszerg, May 2, 2007.

  1. ramseszerg

    7+ Year Member

    May 1, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Dental Student
    Sry if this has been asked before, but the search engine here is useless.

    Do you guys find it best to 1) read the questions, read the passage and then answer the questions, 2) read the passage and then answer the questions, or 3) read and answer the questions as you read the passage?

    Personally I find 3 works best because I take too much time to do the verbal reasoning.. But is it more effective to adopt 1 or 2 and try to shorten my time with it?

    I appreciate your time, experience and expertise!
  2. uzbekistevie

    uzbekistevie Engine 628
    10+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2005
    Likes Received:
    You're asking about verbal, right? At first I thought you were asking about PS/BS passages. When it comes to verbal I definitely read the whole verbal passage before answering any questions. And I pause to write down what I think is the main idea before answering any questions. Then I rarely go back to the passage to look for an answer.

    It seems to me that reading and answering at the same time is not a good idea. I think if I did that I would lose the "big picture" of the passage and focus on the details. Most of the answers to verbal passages are not given in the passage itself. The answers are information they want you to infer BASED on the passage. If you understand the main idea (big picture) of the passage you can then determine which answers would fit the main idea and which don't. If two answers seem good the one that best fits the main idea is going to be the "best" answer.

    So yes, I think adopting option 2 is much more effective than searching the passage for the answer to each question. ( I also think highlighting and underlining are a waste of time.)
  3. scottj72

    2+ Year Member

    Apr 3, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Iwould agree with uzbekistevie. I like to read the passage first before looking at the questions. However, you should deffinately take a more "active" type approach. By now you should know the types of questions that are coming and make mental notes of the authors tone, opinnions and overall what his argument is and how he is trying to make his point.
    I also agree it is important to get the "big picture" as uzbekistevie mentioned. Sometimes this gets lost in the passage in the ways the author is trying to make his point. I find it helpful to read the first paragraph and last paragraph. Hopefully I can get the "big picture" from that. Then to reread the first paragraph as I read through the whole passage. This then allows me to see how the author is choosing to address his "big pitcher".
    I am then comfortable enough with the passage to answer the questions in about the passage. I also have a good idea where to find passage based info directly related to those types of questions.

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