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Passages

Startingover123

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Hey all I just started studying but my bio content knowledge is pretty decent from undergrad. I took a couple of TPR practice BB passages last night for fun and fell completely flat on my face. It was not a content issue. I had trouble reading, analyzing, and pulling out the pertinent info from the passage. When I was reviewing my answers I realized most of the answers were in the passage but I wasn’t able to put it all together. Is this a skill that can be taught and improved on by just grinding out passages or am I sol? I’ll be taking my MCAT next year so I have plenty of time. I appreciate any advice.
 

lumya

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The MCAT is very passage heavy - have you done any CARS practice? The best way to get better is to do practice and also to just read. Read a book you normally wouldn’t. Some popular books commonly read in academia (The Color Purple, Catcher in the Rye, ect think of books you might’ve read in high school lit) have questions online or a reading you can look up. See if you can answer the questions based on what you read. If you read a news article or a scientific journal, try to summarize each paragraph to get used to picking up main ideas and details within the text. Reading comprehension is definitely something you can improve with practice. Best of luck!
 

GreenDuck12

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Yes, this can definitely be improved with practice and developing strategies. Each person tends to develop a systematic way of approaching passage based questions. The best way to figure out what works for you is to get a lot of practice with passage questions. These are the materials that I recommend:
1. TBR: unlike some other materials, TBR provides ample practice passages at the end of each chapter. What makes TBR unique is that they do so with a "phased" approach for spaced repetition to increase retention of content and concepts and to help students learn strategies. I highly recommend TBR for chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and biology.
2. Uworld: this is a bank of over 2000 passage based and discreet questions. I highly recommend using Uworld under timed conditions to mimic the MCAT.
 
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Startingover123

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Aug 27, 2019
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Yes, this can definitely be improved with practice and developing strategies. Each person tends to develop a systematic way of approaching passage based questions. The best way to figure out what works for you is to get a lot of practice with passage questions. These are the materials that I recommend:
1. TBR: unlike some other materials, TBR provides ample practice passages at the end of each chapter. What makes TBR unique is that they do so with a "phased" approach for spaced repetition to increase retention of content and concepts and to help students learn strategies. I highly recommend TBR for chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, and biology.
2. Uworld: this is a bank of over 2000 passage based and discreet questions. I highly recommend using Uworld under timed conditions to mimic the MCAT.
Thanks a bunch. I was pretty bummed last night and was thinking maybe I’m not cut out for this test.
 
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GreenDuck12

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Nah, the MCAT is a highly learnable test. The things that helped me were to keep in mind that:
1. The MCAT is a reasoning and reading comprehension test more than a test of content mastery. You cannot memorize your way to a high score.
2. In each question, the correct answer is in front of you. You just have to find it. This is much less daunting than having to generate the answer from scratch.
3. Wording is incredibly important. The AAMC is very exact in how they word passages, questions, and answers. When in doubt, pick the best response for the question in front of you.
 
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Dochopeful13

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Nah, the MCAT is a highly learnable test. The things that helped me were to keep in mind that:
1. The MCAT is a reasoning and reading comprehension test more than a test of content mastery. You cannot memorize your way to a high score.
2. In each question, the correct answer is in front of you. You just have to find it. This is much less daunting than having to generate the answer from scratch.
3. Wording is incredibly important. The AAMC is very exact in how they word passages, questions, and answers. When in doubt, pick the best response for the question in front of you.
I’m having similar trouble. I’ve been doing tbr bio passages and they seem to be too content heavy and they require you to make leaps in reasoning from the dense passage. Is it just me?
 

GreenDuck12

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TBR passages are hard, there’s no doubt about it. They definitely test some nitty gritty things that you should expect to see some of on test day. That being said, remember they are trying to hammer in concept and question presentations that you should see on the mcat. I found the AAMC material and my actual exam to be much more straightforward than TBR but I credit part of that to having gone through TBR passages.
 

Dochopeful13

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TBR passages are hard, there’s no doubt about it. They definitely test some nitty gritty things that you should expect to see some of on test day. That being said, remember they are trying to hammer in concept and question presentations that you should see on the mcat. I found the AAMC material and my actual exam to be much more straightforward than TBR but I credit part of that to having gone through TBR passages.
Thank you! I’m changing my study plan. I spent months doing content and then realized that is not the correct way to prep. So now I’m just going to pound passages. However, I’m realizing I’m not the best at critical thinking through these Passages. Can you actually improve this skill that much or is it somewhat innate?
 

GreenDuck12

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Starting with content review is fine, but it needs to be paired with passage practice. Passages are where you apply the concepts that you learn to find the best answer. Critical thinking in the context of the MCAT can absolutely be improved. The MCAT is a highly learnable test. If it wasn’t, folks wouldn’t see significant improvement with preparation. It starts with learning some key strategies and then figuring out the best way for you the tester to systematically approach the exam.
 
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PlsLetMeIn21

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Grrenduck's advice is pure gold. You need to keep pounding passages and learn the content through application. It's the best wayu to matser the skills and material. I also second the TBR books for chem, physics, and bio. Their explanations are to die for (and die without). UWorld is great for P/S and a surprisingly helpful resource for CARS. There bio is good (great explanations) but can be over the top in places. I don't recommend their chem or physics.
 
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