Strategies to approach MCAT biologiy/biochem passages?

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Aug 19, 2015
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I've been working on some practice questions from AAMC question packs and sample test. I found it pretty difficult to organize the actual information on the passage. Having them clearly organized in your head (or on scratch paper) would make it easier to answer the questions. Specially the biology/biochem passages that go into a lot of detail about multiple experiments, or ones that talk about cascades upon cascades upon cascades of biochemical reactions, how they are regulated and how genetic mutations or things of that sort affect those cascades, are difficult to read and organize in your head to attack the questions. I find myself going up and down the passage, confused on where to look for the answer. At the end, frustrated, I read the question and try to make sense of the answers from what I know, instead of looking at information on the passages. Does anybody have any tips/tricks to tackle this type of passages? I've tried to jot down very scribbly flow charts for things like what activates what, and causes what to happen. But that doesn't always work because for passages with like 3 paragraphs and 2 graphs it takes a long time to jot down all the ideas. Any contribution would be appreciated. I can't be the only one having this problem.

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Hang in there man, I also have this problem. What I find helpful (for me at least) is to read everything once through (like a CARS passage). Then I'd roughly know where certain details are and if a question pops up I can have a better idea where to look for the info. I ignore those dense parts unless a question asks about it. Then I look for detail.
As you go through a passage, write down what happens in the form of a scheme or figure. Use an internally-consistent mode of labeling, so like blunt arrows for "inhibits" and actual arrows for "activates." As you read through the biological jargon, fill in the figure. If you do this in a complete and concise manner, you won't even have to refer back to the passage for background questions.
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