Seeking advice on how to gradually pick up the pace on MCAT CARS

Foggybrain

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Hello everyone,

I am inquiring if there is a successful way in gradually becoming accustomed to the time needed per CARS passage? I have been slowly increasing the number of daily timed CARS passages every 3 weeks, starting with 1 timed passage at a time, then up to 2 passages/day, then up to three timed passages/day and so on....Unfortunately I am finding that I am not yet at a consistent pace/accuracy level now that I am at the 3 passages mark.
Is my method appropriate?

Any advice is appreciated. Thank you.
 

Medical Muse

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As you practice more and more passages, your pace will naturally improve some. However, an important question is how is your comprehension of the passage text? Are you understanding the main point of each passage? If not, it won't really matter how much time you spend on it. Usually not understanding the main idea manifests itself in a lot of time spent rereading parts of the passage to answer each question. This rereading takes up a significant amount of time.

In my experience, adding time into the equation too soon can lock in bad habits. If your test isn't for a bit (and judging by the coronavirus craziness it won't be), my recommendation is to practice passages but without a time limit, so that you can develop your critical reading skill. Identifying key points during your reading and make sure you know the main idea before you start answering the questions. I've found that having the main idea in mind makes answering the questions much easier.

Keep in mind that you will need to be able to stay on pace while doing 9 passages in a row without a break. Take the time now to establish good reading habits and then you'll find the time takes care of itself.

Good luck!
 
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Foggybrain

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Sep 13, 2017
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As you practice more and more passages, your pace will naturally improve some. However, an important question is how is your comprehension of the passage text? Are you understanding the main point of each passage? If not, it won't really matter how much time you spend on it. Usually not understanding the main idea manifests itself in a lot of time spent rereading parts of the passage to answer each question. This rereading takes up a significant amount of time.

In my experience, adding time into the equation too soon can lock in bad habits. If your test isn't for a bit (and judging by the coronavirus craziness it won't be), my recommendation is to practice passages but without a time limit, so that you can develop your critical reading skill. Identifying key points during your reading and make sure you know the main idea before you start answering the questions. I've found that having the main idea in mind makes answering the questions much easier.

Keep in mind that you will need to be able to stay on pace while doing 9 passages in a row without a break. Take the time now to establish good reading habits and then you'll find the time takes care of itself.

Good luck!
Thank you. I will try your recommendation today.
 
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Foggybrain

2+ Year Member
Sep 13, 2017
53
12
Status (Visible)
  1. Pre-Medical
As you practice more and more passages, your pace will naturally improve some. However, an important question is how is your comprehension of the passage text? Are you understanding the main point of each passage? If not, it won't really matter how much time you spend on it. Usually not understanding the main idea manifests itself in a lot of time spent rereading parts of the passage to answer each question. This rereading takes up a significant amount of time.

In my experience, adding time into the equation too soon can lock in bad habits. If your test isn't for a bit (and judging by the coronavirus craziness it won't be), my recommendation is to practice passages but without a time limit, so that you can develop your critical reading skill. Identifying key points during your reading and make sure you know the main idea before you start answering the questions. I've found that having the main idea in mind makes answering the questions much easier.

Keep in mind that you will need to be able to stay on pace while doing 9 passages in a row without a break. Take the time now to establish good reading habits and then you'll find the time takes care of itself.

Good luck!
Hello, you hit the nail on the head clearly diagnosing a major/frequent problem that I am encountering with CARS.

I just realized that my understanding of certain "dense + detailed" passages is poor. Reading those passages in 4-5 min followed by answering the questions, leads me to re-read the relevant paragraph with the purpose to re-understand it hence loosing a lot of important time. This ends up having an exponential detrimental effect on my confidence and future passages performance.

How do you specifically suggest developing good critical reading skills for those dense/detailed passages? Thank you for your time.
 
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Hello, you hit the nail on the head clearly diagnosing a major/frequent problem that I am encountering with CARS.

I just realized that my understanding of certain "dense + detailed" passages is poor. Reading those passages in 4-5 min followed by answering the questions, leads me to re-read the relevant paragraph with the purpose to re-understand it hence loosing a lot of important time. This ends up having an exponential detrimental effect on my confidence and future passages performance.

How do you specifically suggest developing good critical reading skills for those dense/detailed passages? Thank you for your time.

One of the best ways to work on critical thinking skills is to take time combing through those passages after you are done. Try and envision who wrote it, for whom, and what the theme is. The majority of questions test this either directly or indirectly. Write it down if you have to. Keep doing this for every passage until you start doing it in real-time with new passages. Eventually, it will be second nature.

David D, MD - USMLE and MCAT Tutor
Med School Tutors
 

Medical Muse

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Apr 5, 2012
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Hello, you hit the nail on the head clearly diagnosing a major/frequent problem that I am encountering with CARS.

I just realized that my understanding of certain "dense + detailed" passages is poor. Reading those passages in 4-5 min followed by answering the questions, leads me to re-read the relevant paragraph with the purpose to re-understand it hence loosing a lot of important time. This ends up having an exponential detrimental effect on my confidence and future passages performance.

How do you specifically suggest developing good critical reading skills for those dense/detailed passages? Thank you for your time.

It's very easy to get bogged down in the details of the CARS passages. If you think about it, our science classes test us on the details, so our default reading style is to focus on the details. However, CARS is a big picture test. The single most important task is to understand the main idea. If there's a question on the details, then refer back to the text, it's right there in front of you. Remember high school English classes where we studied topic sentences and organization of essays? Those ideas still apply. You are more likely to find the main idea in the first and last paragraphs as well as the first sentence of each paragraph in between. Read those sentences carefully and skim over the details.
 

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