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My perspective on PS and BS

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by Tweetie_bird, Jul 26, 2002.

  1. Tweetie_bird

    7+ Year Member

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    I have heard a few of you complain about graps and diagrams. It's sad because that's the kind of stuff I was good at, it's the easy stuff that always got the best of me. :(

    Anyway, I have a little scheme i would do before starting any BS or PS passage.

    1. If there is a graph or a chart, first thing you gotta do is check it out. ALWAYS check out the Y and X axis first. See what's on there. So if you see, GLUCOSE and ADH concentrations, you gotta think: osmolarity!! KIDNEYS! Where does ADH act? What does it do? This should take like 5 seconds, to scan the X and Y axis and make yourself predict what you're going to see in the passage. The MCAT is really about being able to PREDICT what they are going to ask and narrow down on it.

    Then, look at the shape of the graph. You know what X and Y axis are, try and quickly learn what the shape is showing. Positive slopes mean direct feed-forward relationship. Negative slopes mean negative feedback.

    Know what slopes look like for rate reactions. first rate, second rate etc. Those are easy to remember and show up a lot on the MCAT.

    2. Now, don't go to the passage. Just look at the questions. See if there are any sly discrete questions they have put in there, where you don't have to look at the passage. Circle those answers. I can not stress this enough...almost EVERY passage has a couple of discrete quetsions in it. I HAVE HAD PASSAGES WHERE I NEVER HAD TO EVEN READ THE DAMN THING, JUST USED MY PRIOR KNOWLEDGE AND SCORED HIGH ON THE PASSAGE. LOOK FOR DISCRETES WITHIN EACH PASSAGE!!!!

    3. Now, quicky skim over questions and try and familiarize yourself with the KIND of questions they are. IF you see that a lot of questions are asking for answers straight out of the passage, run to the passage. If you see an inference question or two in there, you HAVE to read the entire passage.

    4. As you read the passage, actively look for answers to the questions you had skimmed. Again, narrow down. . . look at big picture. . . .don't get bogged down my details. IF the passage read something like this. . . . .

    "30 patients and 30 controls were given 325 mg of Glucose at Time 1 and 325 mg of ABCDEFG at Time 2......"

    YOUR active reading should really be like this:

    X patients and X controls given blah Glucose and BLAH ABCDEFG....


    See how little you get bogged down and really focus in on the experiment?

    Again, when doing BS and PS, now that you have wayyyy more quetsions than Verbal and you only have so much time. Here's how to attack the BS and PS (worked for me, may not work for you):

    1. When time begins, RUN to the discretes. there are ususally 2 sets. One in the middle, one in the end. Do the discretes. ALL the discrets should take you NO LONGER than 20 mins NO MATTER HOW MANY THEY GIVE!!! An MCAT will NEVER have more than X amt of discretes (because they are so easy!), so you have to get your points. it's all about getting the points ASAP! Now, if you run across a hard discrete, and you can't seem to think how to answer it, SKIP IT. You can always come back to it later, after most other discretes are done.

    2. Once that is done, what's left is really up to you. I used to run to do the easiest Gen Chem passage first (I like Gen Chem more than Physics), then go to harder Gen Chem. Then I would do the easy Physics first, and then the Harder Physics passages.

    3. All the while, you HAVE to look for easy questions, and get your answers! GET YOUR POINTS. You have to learn how to triage very quickly with a glance and see what you're gonna be good at and run to solve it first. GET YOUR POINTS!!

    4. Try and check your timing each time. I would check my watch every 2 or 3 passages, and make sure that every 3 passages, I was at the 30 minute mark. IN other words, every 3 passages should take no more than 30 mins. Even 30 mins is really a lot, it should be done in 25.

    5. Remember: PS and especially BS don't require a lot of reading passages. Search for the sly discretes, solve those first within each passage. then read the passage to solve any other questions that are left. If a part of the passage is not read, but all your questions are answered, SCREW IT. Let it be.

    4. If you are pressed for time at the last minute and you have a passage or two left--DO NOT run to read and finish fast. Instead, pick the easier passage, do the sly discretes and MOVE ON to the next. Again, do the sly discretes within the next pasasge. When time allows you, try and answer questions that would be solved quickly where the answer is straight from the passage.

    POP QUIZ:
    you have one passage left and 2 minutes remaining. What do you do?

    1. Again, LOOK FOR SLY DISCRETES. These are easiest.

    2. Then look for questions that are qualitative, where you have to use your previous knowledge to pick the right answer. Those are almost like discretes!

    3. Then look for questions where a quick read from your passage would give you the answer ASAP.

    4. If time allows, do your inference questions. Those usually take long.


    Ok, so. .these are the tools I used in my PS and BS and usually helped get over a 10 or so on sciences. I liked double digits, so I was happy. Some of these are my own tools, some I blatantly stole from Kaplan. Choose whichever one you like. Just thought I'd share.

    Tweetie
     
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  3. Tweetie_bird

    7+ Year Member

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    just high on DayQuil. :( It's funny how this smiley face kinda reminds me of John Candy.

    I see the millions of spelling mistakes and typeos in my last message and i just wanna say I don't have the energy to fix it now. I think I am seriously falling ill. read over what i said I think iw ill really help soome of you guys.

    I'll be back when my fl;u leaves me. :(
    Anybody know how to solve a really bad ear ache? I think I've sneezed my tympanic membrane's ass off.

    Tweetie
     
  4. limit

    limit Molesting my inner-child
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    be especially careful with this technique!
    mcat people aren't stupid... many questions will begin by saying "According to Table 1, ..." meanwhile, the correct answer sits silently within the passage, often phrased identically to the correct answer choice.

    just a suggestion
     
  5. Tweetie_bird

    7+ Year Member

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    True, I didn't think about that.

    I guess after some time, you really develop an instinct about this stuff, and you know what's gonna be straight from the graph and what's not.
     
  6. lady bug

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    I don't remember learning about slopes of 1st order or 2nd order reactions? What page or chapter of the kaplan book is this info. in? :(
     
  7. Mudd

    Mudd Charlatan & Trouble Maker
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    There are a couple of different graphs to consider:

    Rate as a function of time, rate as of function of reactant concentration, and reactant concentration as a function of time. I'm not sure if you have access to BR chemistry books, but on pages 216 and 217 of Book II, there are some good generic graphs for both 1st and 2nd order reactions, along with some typical questions. The half-life relationship to reaction order is shown on pages 218 and 219, which is also pretty useful.

    I hope these turn out! :)

    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    |__________________________________

    That is [Reactant] as a function of time for a 1st order reaction (above). The half-life is constant.

    The rate as a function of time for a first-order reaction is linear (below).

    |x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    |__________________________________


    For a second order reaction, the two graphs are:

    |x
    |x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
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    |__________________________________

    [Reactant] as a function of time (above)
    Rate as a function of time (below)

    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    | x
    |__________________________________

    Note that the 1st-order reactant vs. time graph is equal to the 2nd-order rate versus time graph.
     
  8. Mudd

    Mudd Charlatan & Trouble Maker
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    LOL

    It looked good in preview, it really did.

    OOPPPPSSS!
     
  9. Street Philosopher

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    I disagree with the aformentioned tactics.

    The best approach is to be calm, take the information in stride, and just reason things out. There is no need to look at the questions or scan the questions ahead of time, or automatically make assumptions about the graph (e.g. osmolarity), or skip around the section, or analyze what type of questions these are. These kinds of tips usually sound good, but give you a false sense of control. For most people, it just makes them nervous and frantic. That leads to overanalyzing everything and losing composure and the ability to reason. The PS and BS is in a sense pretty simple in concept (not in difficulty).

    Do the passages and questions in order. Read the passage like you read an interesting book. Note some interesting details in your head, but don't feel like you need to analyse and memorize every little detail. That will help you with the discrete questions. Then if a question asks you about a graph or diagram, just look at it and make sure you understand it before you answer the question. If that fails, eliminate bad answers, choose the best answer, and move on.

    It's really that simple. I'm not saying you'll get every question right doing this. I'm just saying that the process of reading and answering questions is not complicated. There is no trick or little things you need to do like scanning questions or any of that. If you are calm and attentive, you will probably do as well, if not better than, someone who tries to overanalyse the process.
     
  10. Tweetie_bird

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    I am not surprized to see why you'd disagree with me. Our approach is exactly the opposite. Although there are people who gain benefit from doing every pasasge and every question in order, there are others who have kicked ass with a quick glance to look for hidden discretes that should not take you over 30 seconds for each passage anyway. The point of the exam is really to shake off all the points you can, and i don't think your approach would help in doing that.

    During the test, one naturally gets frantic and nervous. IF they are doing stuff in order, seeing a passage they may not be good at can only make them more nervous. I think the process of "ELIMINATING" has probably been with us since our SAT days. Why do you think teachers/tutors etc advocated this even then? What i am advocating (eliminating the hard passages first....eliminating the harder questions first and just looking for discretes within each passage and doing those first) is not unlike that. The methodical step-by-step process I mentioned, really seems to help others get that sense of control that a LOT of PS and BS questions are really like discretes. My own scores jumped atleast 2 points on each section because I adapted this method.

    In any case, I don't get any benefit from mentioning what worked for me besides knowing I tried to help. The info is out there, that i think has helped TONS of people. If I think I have info that may help others, I don't hesitate to mention it. It's upto the students to decide it individually and do what ever works best for them. What I mentioned is just another tool.

    Tweetie
     
  11. Street Philosopher

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    hey no problem! i know you are trying to help :)

    i just know that that kind of stuff doesn't work for me, and probably a lot of other people. it's best to have both sides of any argument when making a decision right?
     
  12. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg 1K Member
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    tweetie,

    exactly how did you do on BS and PS? just curious...V also, for that matter.

    :)
     

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