Testing Solution’s 30 Day Guide to MCAT CARS Success

Discussion in 'Testing Solutions, LLC' started by TestingSolutions, Apr 20, 2015.

  1. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2014 Gold Donor Exhibitor 2+ Year Member

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    Jan 7, 2015
    SDN Exhibitor
    @LoveBeingHuman - We try our best here at Testing Solutions not to fling mud or speak ill of anyone so I don't want to disparage any particular resource. With that said, out of the available resources, the Next Step CARS 108 book is not a resource we recommend. I think they've done a better job on their practice tests, but the 108 book is something that still needs some work. We've put together a review of available resources here: Obviously, we're biased as we're a test prep company, so I'd recommend you do a search on SDN for a more neutral opinion and also take a look at the Amazon.com reviews.

    Best of luck!
     
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  3. michigandr

    michigandr

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    Apr 4, 2017
    @TestingSolutions

    Hi Testing Solutions!

    I am seeing excellent results from using your CARS prep materials. I have greatly improved upon my timing. Do you have any timing strategies for the other sections of the MCAT? I am specifically struggling with timing in C/P. Thank you, in advance, for any guidance that you might be able to share. And, thank you for making the best CARS guide on the market.

    Elizabeth
     
  4. LoveBeingHuman:)

    LoveBeingHuman:)

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    Oct 13, 2015
    @TestingSolutions

    I apologize if you felt as if I was trying to demean them. That was not my intention. I believe that bringing up specific weaknesses of a company's product is perfectly ok if it is done in a polite and respectful manner. Having said that, do you mind telling us what you specifically thought needs work on the 108 Cars book for Next Step so that anyone reading this can take those points into consideration while buying and/or using the book (or at the very least comment on my assessment of their resource)?
     
  5. Thoroughbred_Med

    Thoroughbred_Med 2+ Year Member

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    Jan 1, 2014
    MDApps:
    Just trying to save him some time in replies. He answered this on the previous page :)
     
    michigandr likes this.
  6. mikeman1994

    mikeman1994

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    Jan 17, 2017
    PA
    Hi @TestingSolutions

    Thanks for getting back to me.

    What I have been noticing for the past 3-4 weeks while trying to work on the CARS section, even if I do not 100% grasp the passage, I keep pushing through. I feel like my motivation dropped, and I feel so worn out. Along with that my anxiety is really high and my PCP might put me on SSRIs soon if I'm still down. I scheduled my MCAT on 4/28/2017 and I feel the day is coming up very fast and I am not sure if I will be ready. I think I am having trouble focusing in the beginning of all sections, but I will try your 15 second pause in the start. This is my second time taking the MCAT and I know I have to improve my score.

    I bought your practice passages, and I just completed T1 and I ended up with 19/53 correct which is less than I usually get. I tried the Princeton Review CARS and the Exam Krackers CARS 2nd edition and I'm usually around 27-30 correct. Those are still not very good and I still have to improve my score.

    I will be taking T2 in a couple days and I will see what happens.

    Thanks again
     
  7. mikeman1994

    mikeman1994

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    Jan 17, 2017
    PA

    Hi @TestingSolutions

    So I completed Test 2 and got 22/53 correct which improved by 3 points from T1. I'm happy from that standpoint. However, T2 was also difficult and I rushed through the last 4 questions because I spent more time on a few others earlier on. At the same time, I got the last 4 questions correct. I felt that passage was the easiest. As long as I keep seeing improvements, I am satisfied.

    Thanks again
     
  8. aurevoir0711

    aurevoir0711 2+ Year Member

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    Jan 17, 2014
    @TestingSolutions

    Thank you for getting back to me. I have some updates to share.

    First of all, you mentioned if my vocab level is adequate. I know that there are definitely a couple of vocabs that I do not know even though I may have seen them in previous English classes. I have been keeping track of all the words that I do not know (usually around 2-3 per passage, sometimes none, sometimes around 5, it really depends on the complexity of the passage) in the Excel spreadsheet and have studied the ones that I think are more commonly used. Usually, vocab is not an issue unless the answer choice has one word that I do not know, which has happened a few times, but not enough for me to think that there is a red flag.

    I started perusing the sentences more carefully instead of flying through passages. This has helped me greatly with actually comprehending the passages. I feel more confident about what the author is trying to say, despite the passage complexity. Of course, there are some odd ball passages that I just cannot understand what the heck the author is trying to say in 10 minutes (or 12 minutes for 7 question passages). When that happens, I reset the timer and read the passage for the second time, and that definitely allows me to comprehend the passage much more in depth. I think comprehension will definitely improve as I am doing more passages, even with blunt practices.

    Even though my comprehension level has gone up, there's a definite issue with timing. I have been timing myself with what is recommended in the TS book - 30 seconds to be more prepared. I almost never finish in time, and usually go over 2-3 minutes per passage. Main reason why I keep going over time is because I keep looking back at the passage to figure out what the question is referring to or comprehend something that I did not catch in the first place. Is there any tips on fixing this issue?

    Also, one thing I have noticed on most passages is that even though I may have a good grasp of what the passage is about, the questions can be extremely difficult to figure out. This happens due to either not catching the relevant details/information that's in the passage itself or not being able to extrapolate outside the passage to answer the question. Another thing I noticed is that, usually the passages that are easier to read have very challenging questions that rely on subtle difference like catching the tone, figuring out the assumptions, inference questions, and so on.

    I have been doing EK VR 101 passages and my score has been flattened around 50~60% now. My scores do fluctuate a lot, and I attribute this to not being able to answer the questions properly. I am trying to do at least 3 passages a day, sometimes 5-6 passages a day when I have time. I have taken 2 full lengths from Next Step, and timing on CARS was very difficult to meet. On both the first and second exams, I could not finish in time, so I guessed on two questions at the end. However, my pacing was much more consistent in the second exam compared to the first one.

    Lastly, I have seen many people recommending EK's spectrum method to improve CARS score. What's your opinion on this strategy? This method does involve writing down some notes, so I am assuming you wouldn't regard this strategy highly.

    I think my main issue is catching the tone and firmly grasping the main idea of the passage, so that I can apply them in solving the questions. Also, I need better a tactic at tackling the question as I am very inconsistent with answering questions, both timing wise (I can answer some questions under 20 seconds, some take longer than 2 minutes) and accuracy wise. Your recommendation as how I should approach these issues would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much.

    Update 4/12/17
    I did 3 passages of TPRH Verbal book as usual. And got only 2 wrongs per passage resulting in a whooping 71%. This is the first time I got above a 70%. I had very difficult times with some of these passages, so I was so shocked to see such a high score (from my perspective). One thing I definitely noticed is that the slower I read, the more my mind becomes fixated on the passage, hindering my performance on answering the questions. Also, going slower does not guarantee retention of information either. I am not saying that speedreading is the way to go, but taking a turtle stance is not going to do much help either. Also, consistency is definitely the key. There were a day or two that I skipped doing CARS entirely and my average score dipped below a 50% again because my mind somehow got out of CARS mode. Is this pretty typical?

    Update 4/13/17
    Another 70% for 3 passages! I am not sure how my score went up all of sudden. My passage comprehension remains about the same and there are certain passages that are bizzare and hard to comprehend. I think I may have improved in the process of elimination somehow. It's too early to tell, but I definitely do not mind this sudden score increase.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
  9. Twilson016

    Twilson016 2+ Year Member

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    Jun 26, 2013
    Fresno, CA
    @TestingSolutions

    I recently purchased your pdf and all of the practice CARS tests. My test date is 6/17 and I'm stuck at around 124-125. Do you happen to have a plan laid out of what to do to condense the program from 90 days to 60 days? Is it possible to get a 127+ with this much time left? I appreciate all your help. Thanks!
     
  10. mattns

    mattns 2+ Year Member

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    May 7, 2014
    Kelowna, BC
    Hey @TestingSolutions bought your TS bundle and i've been following your CARS guide for a while. TS is the only CARS resource I seem to show improvement on. Initially, i'd get 1-2 questions correct (seriously questioned my intelligence). Now I'm consistently getting all/most of them right. I'm writing my exam June 17 and didn't want to fly through all the passages, so i've also purchased EK CARS101. I find that I usually get 4-5/7 on these, and i never seem to show any improvement on them. I also have been doing the NextStep FLs and I consistently get demolished on their CARS sections as well (126-127).

    Amount a month ago I scored 77% on the CARS section of the AAMC sample test (saving the scored FLs for closer to my exam)

    I'm just wondering if you have any suggestions as to how I might bring myself to improve on EK?

    For TS CARS I almost never go back to the passage to answer questions, which i really like because I end up finishing on time, often with extra time in the bank. But sometimes it seems necessary to go back to the passage with EK, as some of their questions can be very detail oriented. I've been trying everything, form narrating the author's voice in my head, to r/o the wrong answers.
     
  11. Thoroughbred_Med

    Thoroughbred_Med 2+ Year Member

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    Jan 1, 2014
    MDApps:
    I am certainly not TS, but I won't be the first to tell you that the new EK 101 CARS has flaws, even more than its previous 101 Verbal edition I would argue. I think 4/5 out of 7 on their passages is pretty good, considering their wildly-stretched inference questions. The logic in their inference questions seem to stretch much further than AAMC's.
    I wouldn't worry too much about it. Definitely don't change what you're doing or anything. Maybe consider switching to another more established resource like TPRH Verbal?
     
  12. mattns

    mattns 2+ Year Member

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    May 7, 2014
    Kelowna, BC
    Unfortunately I did TPRH already. But I'm finding that i do better on EK if i look back to the passage sometimes, so maybe i'll just keep with that strategy.
     

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