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My VR strategy (still working on it)

Discussion in 'MCAT Discussions' started by Alejandro, May 26, 2008.

  1. Alejandro

    Alejandro 7+ Year Member

    May 25, 2008
    Ok, so I fit in the category of not-so-competant in standardized exams, as well as being i guess generally smart. lol, i got a 1700 on the new sat...ouch. (with a 530 in verbal...yeah...not-so-hot) Anyways, i've decided to start studying on my own for the MCAT-I bought EK's 101 passages (although the package deal is coming soon-ordered it from amazon.com) and I have been working on that.


    Yes, these scores are far from competitive, unless I end up getting 15's on the BS and PS. haha.

    I've decided after this, I really hafta change my strategy. Here are my problems:
    -Not enough time
    -Lack of accuracy
    Yes-pretty vague problems, but it really puts the nail to the coffin when it comes to VR.

    Here's the conclusions that I've come up with, and I feel that I'm getting positive results by thinking of them:
    -The MCAT VR is 85 minutes long, and there are 9 passages. Therefore, dividing 85 by 9, gives you about 9.44 minutes-basically 9 minutes. That means, each passage should be done in 9 minutes.
    -If each passage should be done in 9 minutes, I like to think that reading the passage by 2.5/3 minutes is expected. One peer on SDN said that taking 15/30 seconds to gather your ideas/summarize the passage helps. It does. Then, you're usually left with a minute/question.
    -Someone else said this, and I apologize for not quoting him (sorry!) but avoid the details-learn how to beat the test (like think of what types of questions they're asking)-think of the general gist of passage, and usually the answers to the questions are intuitive. Also-annotate. I haven't been doing this as much, because I feel like I remember pretty well where 'stuff has been said,' but it's a good idea if that is a problem for you.
    -Diversify. Yes, some of the topics in these passages are a SNORE. But the passages aren't going to change, so it's probably in the best interests for you to change. A lot of these passages, imo, do not require you to be an expert on the topic, and thus you should be able to grasp what they're saying, as long as you read carefully, and have an open mind. This was one of my problems-I wanted to read more science-based content, but we all know the MCAT doesn't throw at us only science material. Some have recommended reading the economist or the NY times-they all seem good ideas.
    -As many have said, become your own answer key. Once you find what was wrong, correct it yourself. In fact, it's a much better training exercise because I would assume you must be a more critical reader to find where in the problem you messed up, because sometimes we guess, sometimes we 'think' an answer is right, so we select it. Those answers to those questions are the ones where you gotta think critically.

    So what am I doing?
    -I'm breaking the test down to individual passages. Yes, I know many will argue that part of the difficulty of the MCAT is having the stamina to continue for 85 minutes, yes point taken. However, if I can't get an individual passage down cold in 9 minutes, how the heck am i going to do that for all 9 of them?
    -I put a timer set at 9 minutes-the goal is to be done with the passages before the timer reaches 6. If i'm done and i feel good about myself before it reaches 8, hooray! This is just a means to pace myself for each passage.
    -Correcting the problems I missed-I found this to be rather helpful, although I personally didn't expect it to. Thanks again guys-this advice is gold for me.:)

    So what's changed?
    -When I first started on this strategy, I found out that it wasn't the stamina factor that was the issue: It was the inability to read well and answer questions. Starting small has allowed me to treat each passage much more easily and not to get overwhelmed with anything.
    -Most passages usually have around 6-7 questions, and I used to get about half right (hence the 4s and 5s). Now I am missing one, and for a few, i haven't missed any. :D So I would think I'm making some improvement.

    What's next?
    After I do several more passages in the broken down form, I am going to try doing them in sets of 3 (27 minutes) and work my way up to the whole test. I realize that my problem is unique because it's not as much of a stamina problem as much as its a skillset problem. I missed a lot of problems in the beginning of a full test, that made me believe that I either suck at the beginning of a test, or I just need to develop better skills. (I think it was the latter)
    -Keep you guys updated on my progress. :)

    Anyways, if this was too long and too repetitive from what others wrote, I apologize. English isn't my first language, and I got rocked pretty bad on the SAT, which has made me paranoid about the mcat VR. I feel like I'm making some positive progress, so I thought I would share my thoughts. I hope I don't make the MCAT harder on the chance that this strategy works and the curve gets steeper :p...then again, as long as I can get my interview at my school, I guess that's what matters to me the most- and if I can help others in the process, then that's all goodness for me. Anyways, I'll keep you guys updated, and best of luck to everyone. We all need it, no?:D

    PS-if you have any other ideas, thoughts, criticisms, please share. Thanks!
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  3. rocuronium

    rocuronium 7+ Year Member

    May 11, 2008
    Canadian Forces
    The VR section is no longer 85 minutes long. It is now 60 minutes with the computer based testing.

    I think you are on the right track with getting used to how long you should be spending on a specific passage. I hope your strategy works for you!
  4. Alejandro

    Alejandro 7+ Year Member

    May 25, 2008
    Thanks gleek-yeah, I just looked at the AAMC page right after I posted this, and came to that realization. haha. and then I was coming back to post a "whoops my bad" addendum, but i'm too late! hahaha.

    that means 8.5 minutes/passage...so 8 minutes then. whoo. let's hope the positive trend works...otherwise it's back to the drawing board. Although, now that I think about it...i wonder how doing this on the computer will change things...

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