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Question regarding PS section of MCAT

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Atlas, Mar 20, 2002.

  1. Atlas

    Atlas Senior Member

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    I have not extensively studied for the PS section until recently because I've been mostly focusing on the BS and verbal parts. I've begun studying the PS section using the big KAPLAN book within the last week and have made significant advances through the physics sections. My question is: How important are the passages to people who have not extensively reviewed the material? Is it better to ignore the passages altogether? I know there was a post previously about this, but I'm assuming most of those students had plenty of time to review their PS material. I, on the other hand, have about a month. I'm currently in Physics II so the physics is still pretty fresh. Any advice on what to study for the Chemistry section in particular? Could you tell me if there is anything that always seems to appear on the exam? (e.g. acid/base chemistry or balancing equations) Should I ignore the chem passages eventhough I haven't had a significant amount of time to review? Or, do you feel that the passages might help me because I haven't reviewed much? I feel horrible for putting this off to the last minute. Please help. Thanks.

    Atlas
     
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  3. Atlas

    Atlas Senior Member

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  4. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    I read all the passages. General acid/base chemistry seemed like it was important to know.
     
  5. Diogenes

    Diogenes Succat

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    I read all of the passages. I'm not sure why you would consider not reading them -- they contain the answers to the questions!

    Seriously though, I must qualify my opinions with the fact that I generally don't run out of time on a standardized test, so I did not feel compelled to skip reading the passages on the MCAT. I read all of the passages, answered all of the questions, and finished a few minutes before time ran out.

    There is so much material, I don't know what to tell you to study.... When I took it, I had not finished taking physics, and there was a whole passage about a circuit of resistors, which I had never seen before... but I must have guessed right on some of those questions because I got a 14 on the PS section. Just be calm and confident, and you'll do fine.
     
  6. Atlas

    Atlas Senior Member

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    Cool! Thanks. Anything else? I know that alot of people are preaching NOT to read the passages and dive right into the questions. To me, this approach does and doesn't makes sense. I know that there is alot of excess material in those passages, but at the same time I think there could be something valuable in them...or else there wouldn't be a reason to include them on the test! Got any thoughts on this? Is there anything else that was highly emphasized on the test that you can remember? Thanks for taking the time to help me out.

    Atlas
     
  7. mpp

    mpp SDN Moderator
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    I also think confidence is important. Don't second guess yourself. And if you are having trouble with timing issues, it is Ok just to make an educated guess and move on.

    I think one reason that people can't finish in time is they spend too much deliberating the answer choices. If you feel that an answer is probably wrong, put an X through it so that you don't go back again and think that it might be right.

    Also, learn the basics of electro-chemistry. I think it is important to understand the concepts here regarding the vocublary. For example, know what an anode is, and not just what its role is in the galvanic cell versus electrolytic cell. Same goes for oxidation/reduction reactions -- understand the concepts, don't try and memorize as it will just confuse you.

    Don't feel too horrible about waiting to the last minute. There is still enough time to learn what you need. Use your time wisely...
     
  8. JJ4

    JJ4 Senior Member

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    It depends on the test. A lot of the AAMC tests can be done without reading the passages. However sometimes the questions CANNOT be done AT ALL without reading the passages. It depends on the test. After a quick read you can tell what type of test it is .
     
  9. MorningLight2100

    MorningLight2100 Senior Member

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    Hi Atlas,

    I'm sure you know this already, but if you take a look at the AAMC MCAT Student Manual, you'll find a list of all the topics that the exam might cover. When I took it, the PS section included questions on forces & angular momentum, lenses, circuits & resistors, electrochemistry, redox chemistry, kinetics. . . those are the topics I can remember right now.

    If you're torn as to the proper approach. . . have you tried reading the questions first, then looking at the passages? This might speed you along a bit. For one, you might be able to answer some of the questions right off the bat. For those that you can't immediately answer, you might be able to ascertain the important information from the passage more quickly if you know what you're looking for.

    Most importantly, I think it's crucial to be focused and CALM during the PS section. I, unfortunately, was neither when I took the exam! I was scoring 11's & 12's in PS on the timed practice exams, but when it came down to the real thing I panicked mid-test and didn't finish three passages. Just make sure that you're calm and that you finish the entire exam.

    Good luck!
     
  10. Atlas

    Atlas Senior Member

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    Thank you all so much for your replies. I actually prefer to use that method of skimming the questions first, answering the ones I can w/o the passage, and then searching through the passage. It's probably the most comfortable way for me to approach the questions. Thanks also, morninglight, for your past experiences with the MCAT. I was looking for a pattern of what subject areas typically show up on the MCAT (i.e. electrochemistry, REDOX, etc.) As more people answer with their past experiences, I develop a greater confidence and focus my attention more on those areas instead of possibly wasting time on stuff that won't be on the test (more than likely). I'll try to stay calm, but I always seem to get all fired up before exams. I don't know why. I guess I'm used to getting fired up for my athletic events, so I feel the need to do the same for tests. I guess that's not a good thing. I really appreciate you telling me what some of the past topics were on the MCAT. By telling me, that gives me a clearer idea of what might actually be on the exam. I sincerely appreciate all of your feedback. It is really helping me out with respect to focusing my attention on specific areas. I really want to make sure I hit the areas you mentioned in particular detail. Thanks again.
     
    ptlover likes this.
  11. hi,

    i have a few suggestions about the physical sciences section. I got a 14 by the way.

    in my opinion, the PS on the MCAT has changed considerably over the last few years or so. after having taken AAMC 1-5 and the august MCAT of 2001, i realize that the answers to the question are a lot more formula based, and less passage based. i agree with whoever said that you dont have to read the passages to do the qeustions for SOME of the passages. i dont know about all, but there were definitely post-passage questions that were basically stand alone questions. being an engineer, i have been exposed to countless equations, so i may have a little more experience than non-physical science majors, etc

    basically, i would trade my 14 for a 13-15 verbal anyday, lol. no matter how hard i worked on verbal, i couldn't improve. PS is not hard to improve on, just know the equations and the concepts...and you'll be done with that section with half an hour to spare.
     
    NeuroSpeed likes this.
  12. Atlas

    Atlas Senior Member

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    Radioheadfan,

    Thanks for your reply, but your advice is easier said than done, especially with a month to go until the exam. That's why I'm asking around to see if there's a pattern as to which types of problems show up most often on the MCAT. I agree that some of the problems probably don't require the use of the passage. How should I go about knowing all the equations? Should I start memorizing them? I'm not even close to being a math wizard. I understand physics concepts fairly well. The chemistry stuff is what I didn't grasp very well (the concepts). I'm still trying to work to the chemistry stuff. I'd like to get through the physics at least. That way, I'll have a firm base in physics and a reasonable amount of knowledge in chemistry by the time I take the exam. Anyways, I'm rambling. Thanks for taking time to write to my post. I sincerely appreciate your feedback. I'll try my best to learn as many equations as I can before the exam.

    Peace
     
  13. jmejia1

    jmejia1 Senior Member

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    I didn't read the passages for the PS. I scored a 10 on that section. On a few passages I had to examine some graphs or look at an equation in the passage, but I didn't bother with reading the rest of the crap. I was scoring higher on the AAMC practice tests with this technique, but needless to say I got a too nervous during the test.

    You would need to practice this method various times on practice tests until you get comfortable with it.

    However, if you haven't reviewed or you don't feel you have a solid foundation in the physical sciences, then dont go messing with skipping the passages. If you're solid in physics, then ignore physics and concentrate on gchem. That's huge mistake people do: they work on thier strengths! Since you're strength is physics, kick it to the side and work gchem passages until your eyeballs fall out.
     

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