my personal verbal observations

drakyn07

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  1. Medical Student
    here are some points of interest i came up with after studying intensely for the verbal section for the upcoming CBT mcat that might be helpful for people starting out studying verbal. ive taken all the EK 101 verbal passages, more than half the kaplan verbal full length passages, and all the princeton review verbal passages.

    take what you will of this, hopefully someone will get something out of it :p

    Reading the Passage
    1. Main Idea - its crucial to find this. the main idea (whether it is of the whole passage, or just a particular section) is what i use to differentiate between two answer choices that ive narrowed down to (when details will not suffice). also you need to know it for questions about the author's feelings about the passage. the main idea will be perfuse until the last paragraph, so while passages will change tones - a main idea will last throughout.

    2. Focus - reading calmly was really important for me. I used to speed read, and then be lost when I got to the questions - freaking out over where to find what detail. W/o a basic idea of the passage info and structure, answering the Q's was too difficult. Also, I tend to zone out when the logic/wording of a passage gets too difficult - and I get holes in my understanding of the passage. verbal passages are designed to be wordy and overwhelming, so its important to be able to work through passages and understand the overall meaning while not understanding parts of sentences or terminology. the only remedy for this is practice. kaplan has good, difficult passages that help increase reading comprehension

    Reading the Question
    1. Logic - sometimes the logic/presentation of a Q can be convoluted and difficult to understand. My only advice for this is to expose yourself to as many of these questions to become comfortable when you see them. for example i had trouble with questions that contained double negatives, so i practiced them till i went cross-eyed and now im fine :) EK does a good job of presenting difficult logic Q's

    2. Specificity - make sure you are answering what the question explicitly asks, not what you think it may be asking. This might just be me, but too quickly i pass over a Question stem too quickly and miss the actual gist of the question. EK does a good job training Q's that require specificity

    Answer Choices
    1. Answers that all sound the same? - like i said before, i use the main idea to narrow down answer choices. Usually i begin with detail, i.e. what detail can eliminate or elucidate a certain answer choice. If there are answer choices left, i look at the main idea/tone of the passage to eliminate or guess which answer is probably more correct

    2. extreme answers - this is pretty solid, any extreme/overly confident answers are usually wrong

    3. Be Thorough - even if answer A sounds like the correct answer, do not try and save time by answering A and not reading B-D.


    Golden Rule for Improving MCAT verbal scores, in the famous words of allen iverson:

    "Practice? C'mon... were talkin' about practice!?'

    unfortunately yes, but that is really the only way.

    hope this helps some of you, i'll post more as i come across my notes
     

    J ROD

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    1. Attending Physician
      Nice explanation of a solid verbal attack strategy!!

      It is pretty much the way I tackle passages.

      I would like to add:

      Be an active reader and think about what you are reading and it makes the rest easier (the main idea and focus in on the passage)

      Just remember these passages are for our pleasure and enjoyment!!
       

      Funky

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      1. Pre-Medical
        Nice explanation of a solid verbal attack strategy!!

        It is pretty much the way I tackle passages.

        I would like to add:

        Be an active reader and think about what you are reading and it makes the rest easier (the main idea and focus in on the passage)

        Just remember these passages are for our pleasure and enjoyment!!
        i thought they were for attacking and conquering? :confused:
         
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        jklasser17

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        1. Medical Student
          I think it helps to read the questions first (don't read the answers, just the question part) It helps my mind to focus on things that I need to be more aware about. For example, if a name or certain phrase is mentioned, you will be more attentive to that area in the passage.

          And yes, my advice is worth at least 3cents simply because I rock Verbal. (Got some work to do on the other stuff though.)
           

          drakyn07

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            i thought they were for attacking and conquering? :confused:

            it depends on what helps you i guess. if you get too involved/distracted by a passage, since they can have a tendency of being really interesting, it'll take away from your unbiasedness towards gleaning details and focusing on working out the main idea. however if you try and read the passage too scientifically, your brain will just get bored or overtaxed - and you'll have trouble retaining anything. i agree that they passages are for your enjoyment, to an extent :thumbup:
             
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