LoLCareerGoals

5+ Year Member
Mar 18, 2012
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Non-Student
Ok,
Today is my day #1 of SDN schedule. In the schedule there is an indication that I am supposed to take 2 verbal passages in 7 minutes each... So I tried.
I am a pretty fast test taker when it comes to passages. I've taken many other standardized tests and usually finish in 70-80% of the allotted time. It took me at least 10 mins per passage for each of the first 2 TPRH passages and still only manage 66.7% correct answers.
Did I read that correctly? 7 mins to read a 1.5 page passage + answer 7 or 8 questions???

The calendar says 7 mins per passage, but allocates 9:00-9:30 time slot for 2 passages? Is it actually double? 14 min per passage? 7m/passage is inhuman pace.
 
Last edited:
Feb 4, 2013
26
2
Hoboken, NJ
Status
Pre-Medical
Hey there LoLCareerGoals,

I've been tutoring MCAT for over a decade I've never once told a student that they should actually be able to get 2 passages done in 14 minutes. While it's possible, it's punishingly fast and unnecessary for Test Day.

In general, I'm a fan of the idea of practicing a bit "harder" than the real test. It's like joggling with weights on your ankles, or putting a few weights on the bat while you're in the on-deck circle - it's a way to build up your strength for the real thing.

Having said that, the real test expects you to do 7 passages in 60 minutes - so 8.57 minutes per passage.

What this means is you should probably aim to do two passages in 16 minutes (since you'll have 17.14 minutes on Test Day). Don't time each passage individually - some passages are shorter or have fewer questions, and others are longer. By holding yourself to "two in 16" you can wash out some of the differences between the length/difficulty of two passages.

The other thing to keep in mind about reviewing verbal is that even if you only spend 16 minutes TAKING the two passages, you can easily spend 20-40 minutes REVIEWING those passages. You'll want to really carefully peel apart what you've read, what the question was asking, and what the answer choices said. Try to learn why you got the question right or wrong rather than just whether you got it right or wrong.

Feel free to send me a PM if you've got any other questions! :)
 

Shjanzey

5+ Year Member
Jun 30, 2012
970
635
Status
Medical Student
Hey there LoLCareerGoals,

I've been tutoring MCAT for over a decade I've never once told a student that they should actually be able to get 2 passages done in 14 minutes. While it's possible, it's punishingly fast and unnecessary for Test Day.
WRONG!

I practiced under time constraints for Verbal (but not the 7 minute limit) and on test day I was shocked. The passages they gave were even longer than the ones I had practiced on. I used both Kaplan Q-Bank, AAMC tests and TBR verbal to prepare.

I literally had to sprint through every single one, hoping that the next passage would be shorter. You know what? A "shorter" passage never appeared. They were all literally 3 pages long. I had no time to check my answers or go back and re-read paragraphs. It was the most brutal part of my last MCAT. Before the test I was most confident about my Verbal, because I am an excellent reader and was scoring high on my practice tests (e.g. 13 - 14).

I strongly suggest you practice with the 7 minute time limit. You will be thanking me on test day, especially if you get the passage selection I did.
 
Feb 4, 2013
26
2
Hoboken, NJ
Status
Pre-Medical
They were all literally 3 pages long . . . It was the most brutal part of my last MCAT.
Wow, sounds pretty rough. I'm sorry it was so bad for you. I just re-took the MCAT at the end of the last season and didn't have that experience at all.

It was tough, of course - it always is! But the passages didn't feel wildly out of line with the EK/AAMC/TBR/Gold Standard stuff that's out there. Maybe a bit harder, but nothing like what you're describing.

Certainly the harder you practice the better prepared you'll be for the real exam, but you've gotta balance the need to move quickly with the need to develop good test-like habits for the exam itself. Obviously OP will need to make a judgment call about what works best for them.
 
Feb 4, 2013
26
2
Hoboken, NJ
Status
Pre-Medical
I am prepping to take it again and this time I will probably try to stick to that 7 minute metric.
Good luck! I'm sure you'll have a better experience by being better prepped next time. Feel free to PM if you've ever got a question you wanna ask of a tutor but don't want to make public on the boards here.
 

mcloaf

7+ Year Member
Jan 21, 2012
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7 minutes is a pretty safe goal time as it will allow you some extra time when you inevitably hit a passage/question with which you struggle. Don't panic since it's your first day--working up to getting through MCAT VR efficiently takes practice.
 
Jun 29, 2011
1,721
285
Status
Medical Student
Ok,
Today is my day #1 of SDN schedule. In the schedule there is an indication that I am supposed to take 2 verbal passages in 7 minutes each... So I tried.
I am a pretty fast test taker when it comes to passages. I've taken many other standardized tests and usually finish in 70-80% of the allotted time. It took me at least 10 mins per passage for each of the first 2 TPRH passages and still only manage 66.7% correct answers.
Did I read that correctly? 7 mins to read a 1.5 page passage + answer 7 or 8 questions???

The calendar says 7 mins per passage, but allocates 9:00-9:30 time slot for 2 passages? Is it actually double? 14 min per passage? 7m/passage is inhuman pace.
I wouldn't sweat time limits until you're hitting verbal scores you are happy with. IMO, it ruins the use of the resource if you are hurrying through it and not actually learning WHY you are getting things wrong and how to improve. Much better to spent 20 minutes a passage at first to understand how to succeed in the section than to place yourself under a time crunch to begin with. Downward spiral, since it's hard to do well in 7 minutes right off the bat which leads to confidence issues in the section and never really giving it your all.

Once you start hitting your scores, you can slowly start decreasing your time restriction towards 8-9 minutes ON AVERAGE (harder passage will take longer but tests are balanced). If you are around there, you'll be good for test day and it's certainly possible to get around there with practice.

One tip that worked for me: Don't try to read and comprehend every single word. Your goal is to get through the passage quick enough to have time to spend on the questions that earn you points. You don't get points for reading the passage thoroughly. At the end of the passage, you should know the key points/main ideas AND where to find specific details (notes help here). If a question asks about a main idea, you should be able to answer it without looking back in the passage (because looking back at the passage for a general question means you are spending significant time re-reading a large portion of the passage). If a question asks about a specific detail (rarely), you should know exactly where to look.
 
Feb 1, 2013
683
228
Status
Medical Student
I kind of disagree with the people who say that you should shoot for 8-9 minutes per passage, as that is the SLOWEST you can go on the exam and finish. Knowing that exam situations are always a bit different than practice situations, you should really try to shoot for 7-8 minutes per passage as a minimum speed to feel confident on test day. The easiest way to get a bad verbal score is to not finish the section.

With that being said, I think what you should do is take the first couple weeks to get used to the verbal section. Do your 2-3 passages per day and write down how long it takes you, but don't try to rush. During this time, I would also try to supplement your studying with some reading on verbal section techniques. I bought the EK Verbal (not EK 101, but the lecture book) and they have some great tips. I also know that there are a few threads here that have some great strategies (linked to on the calendar thread). After 5-6 weeks, reassess your speed. I think you'll find that with some strategy work on comfort, you'll be able to pull off a 7-8 minute average and feel confident on test day.
 

MedPR

Removed
Dec 1, 2011
18,581
44
Status
Pre-Podiatry
Hey there LoLCareerGoals,

I've been tutoring MCAT for over a decade I've never once told a student that they should actually be able to get 2 passages done in 14 minutes. While it's possible, it's punishingly fast and unnecessary for Test Day.

In general, I'm a fan of the idea of practicing a bit "harder" than the real test. It's like joggling with weights on your ankles, or putting a few weights on the bat while you're in the on-deck circle - it's a way to build up your strength for the real thing.

Having said that, the real test expects you to do 7 passages in 60 minutes - so 8.57 minutes per passage.

What this means is you should probably aim to do two passages in 16 minutes (since you'll have 17.14 minutes on Test Day). Don't time each passage individually - some passages are shorter or have fewer questions, and others are longer. By holding yourself to "two in 16" you can wash out some of the differences between the length/difficulty of two passages.

The other thing to keep in mind about reviewing verbal is that even if you only spend 16 minutes TAKING the two passages, you can easily spend 20-40 minutes REVIEWING those passages. You'll want to really carefully peel apart what you've read, what the question was asking, and what the answer choices said. Try to learn why you got the question right or wrong rather than just whether you got it right or wrong.

Feel free to send me a PM if you've got any other questions! :)
It's not that fast bro.

Sent from my SGH-T999 using SDN Mobile
 
Jun 29, 2011
1,721
285
Status
Medical Student
It's not that fast bro.

Sent from my SGH-T999 using SDN Mobile
I agree, and honestly, 7 minutes is where you want to be because there WILL be a question/passage on the real thing that will completely stump you and you'll be thankful for conditioning yourself and giving yourself a few extra moments to figure it out.

But still, 7 minutes on day one is too fast. Way easier to find a comfortable strategy that works and THEN shave down time wise than it is to force yourself to figure out a strategy in 7 minute chunks.