Quantcast

Redoing CARS passages as practice

This forum made possible through the generous support of SDN members, donors, and sponsors. Thank you.

nawrp11

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2016
Messages
33
Reaction score
3

Members don't see this ad.
Hi there,

I'm definitely not new to the process of practicing for CARS; this won't be the first MCAT I have written...but each time I have written it, I always exhaust ALL the CARS prep material that is considered good (EK 101, TPHL, AAMC passages). As a result, since I did every single passage in those resources last year, for this year's CARS practice I am doing the exact same passages. Now, I know that one would almost certainly remember nothing from the passages if they do them a year apart, but still I can't help but think that I'm not giving myself a true simulation of the real MCAT passages just because what I'm using to practice I have seen at one point. I wanted to get the opinions of other fellow MCAT'ers on this forum: whats the scoop on redoing CARS practice passages?
There are certainly other resources that I haven't ever used, but I'm hesitant to do so just because people claim they aren't good material that reflects the CARS section of the MCAT.
 

NextStepTutor_3

MCAT Tutor
Vendor
2+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2014
Messages
263
Reaction score
174
This question always generates heated debate - some people are VERY against redoing passages because they think it's unrepresentative / will give you results that are better than what you'd see otherwise. Personally, I disagree - I think it's great practice to redo passages. First of all, if you've done all of EK 101, TPR Hyperlearning, etc. a year ago, there is absolutely no way you'll remember most of these passages, with the exception of any that may have held special meaning for you. Even if the passage seems familiar (which it probably won't), it's still helpful to try it again unless you remember the actual questions / answers. I've had students who don't remember CARS passages they did three months ago, much less a year.

To some extent, it can actually be better to redo at least some passages you've done in the past. Why? Because, if you've done a passage before and still miss some questions, those are the exact types of question that you'll almost certainly miss again and again. Bonus points if you actually have access to your old answers and can compare. The key here is intense review - make sure to spend significantly longer going over a passage than you actually did completing it, and keep a journal where you record mistakes. It sounds like you're on the right track and really driven, but I've seen a lot of students get through all the passages in these books precisely because they didn't spend nearly enough time reviewing.

Finally, note that the majority of people who say "don't redo passages, it's unrepresentative" are those who are very score-oriented. In other words (old MCAT numbers here), they'll say something like "my score on Hyperlearning Test 1 was 11, but that's higher than I usually get, so it's probably skewed because I've taken these before." That may be true - perhaps this person subconsciously remembered an answer or two, perhaps not. But it really shouldn't matter because most of the "scored" sections in CARS books aren't all that reliable in terms of score anyway. Use your "retake" passages to really pinpoint which mistakes you make repeatedly, not to estimate a score. If you take a solid number of full-length exams, you'll have plenty of information regarding where your CARS score stands.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

nawrp11

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2016
Messages
33
Reaction score
3
This question always generates heated debate - some people are VERY against redoing passages because they think it's unrepresentative / will give you results that are better than what you'd see otherwise. Personally, I disagree - I think it's great practice to redo passages. First of all, if you've done all of EK 101, TPR Hyperlearning, etc. a year ago, there is absolutely no way you'll remember most of these passages, with the exception of any that may have held special meaning for you. Even if the passage seems familiar (which it probably won't), it's still helpful to try it again unless you remember the actual questions / answers. I've had students who don't remember CARS passages they did three months ago, much less a year.

To some extent, it can actually be better to redo at least some passages you've done in the past. Why? Because, if you've done a passage before and still miss some questions, those are the exact types of question that you'll almost certainly miss again and again. Bonus points if you actually have access to your old answers and can compare. The key here is intense review - make sure to spend significantly longer going over a passage than you actually did completing it, and keep a journal where you record mistakes. It sounds like you're on the right track and really driven, but I've seen a lot of students get through all the passages in these books precisely because they didn't spend nearly enough time reviewing.

Finally, note that the majority of people who say "don't redo passages, it's unrepresentative" are those who are very score-oriented. In other words (old MCAT numbers here), they'll say something like "my score on Hyperlearning Test 1 was 11, but that's higher than I usually get, so it's probably skewed because I've taken these before." That may be true - perhaps this person subconsciously remembered an answer or two, perhaps not. But it really shouldn't matter because most of the "scored" sections in CARS books aren't all that reliable in terms of score anyway. Use your "retake" passages to really pinpoint which mistakes you make repeatedly, not to estimate a score. If you take a solid number of full-length exams, you'll have plenty of information regarding where your CARS score stands.
Ok, I see what you're saying. thanks for the reply!
 

aldol16

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2015
Messages
5,421
Reaction score
4,209
I don't think it's a good idea to re-do passages if you have any other alternatives. The reason I say so is because even if you don't consciously remember doing the question, your subconscious may guide you towards one choice or another just because it has been exposed to it before. In other words, you're not really practicing your approach to a question but rather if you remember how you approached it before, consciously or not. It's a precarious psychological argument, I know, but to really apply what you've learned since last time, I think it's better to apply your skills to new problems. Just so you're sure you haven't been "primed" for the problems you're doing.
 

NextStepTutor_3

MCAT Tutor
Vendor
2+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 6, 2014
Messages
263
Reaction score
174
I completely agree that "priming" can happen when redoing old passages - and if you're going to do it, you should ideally intersperse that same number of new passages or more, plus the brand-new ones you take in the form of full-lengths. And it certainly is a precarious debate - both sides make great points! But the reason I propose redoing at least some old passages relates to the quality of your previous prep. If you completed an entire book of verbal passages while carefully reviewing each one and keeping a log of your observations and mistakes, and even after all that, you're still drawn to the wrong answer you chose in the past, that question or answer style deserves a closer look. What if you see a very similar passage on your official MCAT? Even if there is a priming component (which there certainly is - people often remember the answer they chose in the past while mistakenly thinking it was the correct choice), to really excel in CARS, you should try to figure out WHY you're still answering that question wrong even after the review you did. On the other hand, many people crank through an entire book of CARS passages without doing that level of review, and they can benefit from redoing at least some when they're more devoted to analysis. Again, if you've done the passages fairly recently, you'll likely answer some questions correctly that you otherwise would not have, which is why new passages are important too. My argument for redoing basically centers around the high learning value of the "questions you miss twice."

But I agree to some extent that if there are solid CARS resources out there that you haven't touched, you should consider getting a book so that you have new passages within which you can intersperse the old ones. Anyway, thanks for your input @aldol16 . Your answers on here are always so great and thorough. And good luck to everyone!
 

nawrp11

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2016
Messages
33
Reaction score
3
I completely agree that "priming" can happen when redoing old passages - and if you're going to do it, you should ideally intersperse that same number of new passages or more, plus the brand-new ones you take in the form of full-lengths. And it certainly is a precarious debate - both sides make great points! But the reason I propose redoing at least some old passages relates to the quality of your previous prep. If you completed an entire book of verbal passages while carefully reviewing each one and keeping a log of your observations and mistakes, and even after all that, you're still drawn to the wrong answer you chose in the past, that question or answer style deserves a closer look. What if you see a very similar passage on your official MCAT? Even if there is a priming component (which there certainly is - people often remember the answer they chose in the past while mistakenly thinking it was the correct choice), to really excel in CARS, you should try to figure out WHY you're still answering that question wrong even after the review you did. On the other hand, many people crank through an entire book of CARS passages without doing that level of review, and they can benefit from redoing at least some when they're more devoted to analysis. Again, if you've done the passages fairly recently, you'll likely answer some questions correctly that you otherwise would not have, which is why new passages are important too. My argument for redoing basically centers around the high learning value of the "questions you miss twice."

But I agree to some extent that if there are solid CARS resources out there that you haven't touched, you should consider getting a book so that you have new passages within which you can intersperse the old ones. Anyway, thanks for your input @aldol16 . Your answers on here are always so great and thorough. And good luck to everyone!
What you propose aldol16 is actually what I sort of feel to an extent. Its not that I have an inkling of what the right answer might be to a certain question of a passage Ive done in the past, but that I can almost feel where a passage is leading as I read through it; its kind of hard to explain. That being said, I'm torn because I don't know if I should pursue alternative verbal reasoning resources I haven't used before that are known to be poor (Ive heard mediocre things about TBR and kaplan). Should I start doing these other CARS resources (even though they aren't as high of quality) just because they would be novel to me?
 

nawrp11

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2016
Messages
33
Reaction score
3
Mind you, the only "AAMC" resources for CARS that I'm using are verbal passages from old "R" practice exams. Are there any other AAMC resources that would have different practices CARS passages?
 

aldol16

Full Member
5+ Year Member
Joined
Nov 1, 2015
Messages
5,421
Reaction score
4,209
What you propose aldol16 is actually what I sort of feel to an extent. Its not that I have an inkling of what the right answer might be to a certain question of a passage Ive done in the past, but that I can almost feel where a passage is leading as I read through it; its kind of hard to explain. That being said, I'm torn because I don't know if I should pursue alternative verbal reasoning resources I haven't used before that are known to be poor (Ive heard mediocre things about TBR and kaplan). Should I start doing these other CARS resources (even though they aren't as high of quality) just because they would be novel to me?

I think that there are definitely CARS material out there that you haven't exhausted. I think Kaplan is pretty good at testing critical reading (not sure how representative of the actual exam they are) but I think that while their science passages are not very representative, their CARS actually does test the same skills you need on test day. That said, you can definitely go back and re-do some old passages - just don't limit yourself exclusively to those. I would say a balance of 50/50 would be ideal.
 

TestingSolutions

Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013
Sponsor
Vendor
5+ Year Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2015
Messages
418
Reaction score
252
I'd redo all the AAMC CARS materials, but make sure you leave them for the end of your studying to give yourself as much time to forget as you can. I studied for the MCAT twice, but couldn't take it the first time (went to the Peace Corps instead). Some four years later, when I was restudying, I still remembered details from my first pass of the AAMC materials. Who knows how much this affected my score, but it definitely is a skewed experience having the comfort of being familiar with what you're reading in a way that you will not be on test day. As for the other companies materials, there are too many resources out there to repeat CARS materials beyond the AAMC. You need to have the experiencing of reading and processing something completely new. I think adol's advice of 50/50 is pretty close to accurate. I'd error towards 25 re-do and 75 new if you can, but that's me. You definitely have to do new passages though!
 

Aspiring-Doctor

Full Member
2+ Year Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2015
Messages
33
Reaction score
29
When you redo your passages are you getting them all right? If not then you haven't really improved! here is the thing about taking the same test for the nth time ….yes you do remember the answers and if not when re-reading the passage you remember what parts of the passage are important. You are also significantly less stressed!! You are not practicing under stressful conditions and exercising your brain to pick out important parts of the passage you have never read before.

Now to specifically, answer your question……
That is a hard question because you don't want to focus on any one resource because all available resources are extremely subpar to the AAMC resources. BUT you don't want to be redoing passages for the 7th time because lets face it, you aren't going to be exercising your cars skills. In my opinion, I would do multiple resources at the same time so you don't stick to any one style. For instance, TPR - focuses too much on finding specific sentences that will help paraphrase the answer choice like the SAT but this is not the right approach. When looking back, you should be reminding yourself what the main idea of that topic was, rather than finding a specific sentence….you should be skimming that section and should know where to look in the passage rather than try to skim the whole passage to find that section. Similarly EK - helps with new information questions….but they overdo it sometimes causing you to make multiple leaps of inference and this type of critical thinking is not found in the AAMC tests. The AAMC answer choices have some support in passage even if it is an extrapolated new information question.

In my opinion, do a lot more AAMC material a month before your test date !
 
Top