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Note-taking DURING MCAT on Test Day? Is there time?

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@Hazel-rah

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I'd like to hear from anyone who has advice or thoughts on taking notes while reading P/S or B/B experiment passages.

When I do the section bank, I am not doing timed conditions, so I make quick drawings of what is going on in the experiment and it greatly helps me get the answers right.

I know I need to do a practice test under timed conditions and see if I have enough time for this note-taking/drawing, but I'd also like to hear if anyone has any advice or thoughts on this.

(please don't give advice on CARS or psych/soc sections. I'm specifically asking about P/S and B/B. Also, note that I have not had any tutoring or prep classes so if you have learned something from those, please pass along any words of wisdom!)

Thanks in advance :)
 

pms_testosterone

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It's basically necessary to take notes for certain physics and genetics problems and for calculations questions.

See how you do on the timed test and you'll know if you need to cut down on the note-taking.
 
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5words

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There is plenty of time. Took notes throughout my exam, and still manage to finish on time. IDK about CARS though, since i only wrote the main idea down.
 
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AnotherLawyer

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@AnotherLawyer @Next Step Tutor @Altius Premier Tutor
Any thoughts on my question if you don't mind?

The only time I wrote anything during the exam was when I needed to do calculations. I never tried to diagram a passage or anything like that. It seems to me like doing that requires a trade off. You're giving up time in order to get a better understanding of the passage. Whether or not that's a good trade will depend on the test taker and can only be determined through doing practice passages both ways. Unfortunately, there isn't an abundance of AAMC passages to experiment with and what works effectively on third party materials may not be the most effective strategy on AAMC materials.
 
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DameJulie

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For me, I am not an extensive note-taker on the exam because I would rather highlight it and read it again when I need it.
But some things I definitely will write down if time permits:
1. visual representation of inhibition/activation (e.g. enzyme X activates reaction 1)
2. equation
3. CARS main idea (no more than 5 words, e.g. coffee is good), and subsequent
Would like to hear inputs on sufficient MCAT note-taking skills for slow-handwriters
 
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Skydive Fox

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I sketched rough outlines for every passage in every section and still had time to spare usually. The act of doing so helped me better understand the text and the outlines helped answer the questions, especially when the questions referenced a specific paragraph or section. It took me a lot of practice to make my note-taking efficient but once I got the hang of it my scores shot up considerably.
 
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Altius Premier Tutor

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I always take notes when I am doing CP or BB science passages. However, my notes are VERY short, I'd almost call them "mathematical." For example, "CATB + --> EP" would tell me that the CATB molecule stimulates/activates the EP molecule.

When you start talking about notetaking, it always conjures up the "Diagram the Passage" method taught by most prep companies. I think that is significant overkill--primarily because there are often only four (4) questions. In many cases, there are 4-6 figures or tables, and about as many paragraphs...which means they CANNOT ask even one question on each figure or paragraph. That makes me feel like I don't want to get bogged down in something I won't actually need to understand to answer the questions correctly. Therefore, I teach my students to read for understanding, capture important relationships and jot down a simple SHORTHAND/SYMBOLIC note so that you don't have to "re-figure-that-out" later, and highlight anything that looks like something the AAMC would for sure test.

Also, when I struggle with a question I always go back and start to draw out or diagram everything I can; that extra visual input has gotten my brain to make a necessary connection many times.
 
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@Hazel-rah

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Great thoughts, thanks everyone for your responses! I'll let you know how it goes--I'm testing in 10 days :)
 
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