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Testing Solutions' 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 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    Sorry! I've been feeling under the weather and was completely out of it yesterday. I'll be starting back up the posts today! My bad.

    @OdinSon - I think my first question would be in regards to your timing. Is it a struggle to get through one passage without having to rush? If so, then I'd continue to do one passage at a time under timed conditions until you're consistently finishing with time to spare. Then do two passages in a set together giving yourself the total amount of time for the two combined. Then three, so on and so forth. Part of the reason I recommend the stair step approach is because few students have enough stamina and endurance early on to get through nine passages without falling apart. I know I couldn't. As we build towards that goal, you'll want to make sure your timing is on track. I'd recommend a month out or so doing this rotation (assuming your pacing is good). Day 1 - CARS Practice Test, Day 2 - Review Practice Test, Day 3- Take a break from CARS. Rinse and repeat!

    @rraidermd - There is definitely a line that if crossed will lead to burn out. I think you're wise to dial the number of your passages you're doing to what feels right. You do want to be pushing yourself, but if burn out is feeling close, ease up. Great advice!

    @allantois - We are missing Day 18! My apologies. I had written most of yesterday's post ahead of time, but got slammed with a bug. I'm feeling better enough today to finish it. We'll pick up where we left off and get back on track. I'll take a look at the sub-forum and get to your question as soon as I can. I appreciate the heads up!

    ..::..

    Day 28 – How to Review CARS Answers


    We are almost there! Think about how much ground you’ve covered over these last 27 days. It has not been easy, and it’s taken a lot of work, but you’ve made so much progress. You’ve taken one of the hardest sections on the MCAT and turned it into one of your strengths! Keep up the intensity and finish strong. Today we learn how to review the different answer types.

    If you want to get ahead, and have the full “How to Review a Practice Test” summary sheet, you can download it here.


    How to Review CARS Answers:

    Reviewing CARS answers is fairly straight forward. I know it looks like a lot of steps, but it’s actually not that complicated.

    Step 1: Wait at least four hours to review your CARS practice tests.

    We recommend you grade your practice test right after you take it, but only mark down which questions you got wrong. DO NOT mark the correct answer or review the answer explanations! Try and move quickly so you don’t remember the correct answer to questions you missed.

    Step 2: Only review questions that you either missed or marked as giving you trouble.


    Step 3: Using your prediction from the last step of the question review, consider each of the answer choices and see if there are any that are obviously incorrect.

    Eliminate these answer choices, and on your scrap paper write down next to the letter in as few of words as possible why this answer choice is wrong. (Skip this step if you weren’t able to make a prediction.)


    Step 4: With the remaining answer choices, go back to the main idea sentence you wrote during your passage review and see if this helps you eliminate any of the answer choices.

    Write down on your scrap paper next to the letter why the answer choice is wrong. Don’t get bogged down in the passage details, but try to identify the parts of the answer choice that manifest the traits of an incorrect answer, as this will help you in the future.


    Step 5: If you still have any answer choices remaining, go paragraph by paragraph reading the one sentence summaries you wrote during the passage review, seeing if you’re able to eliminate any answer choices.​

    Write down why the answers are wrong if you do eliminate some.


    Step 6: If you still have any answer choices that are stumping you, now it’s time to go to the answer explanations and see what’s going on.​

    After reading the explanations, determine which type of answer choice each of the remaining answer choices is.


    Step 7: After reading the answer explanation, write a sentence or two as to what makes the correct answer right, and also why any incorrect answers you were unable to eliminate are wrong.​


    Step 8: Finally, if you're still stumped, and you’ve purchased our practice tests, you can leave your question on our questions forums on SDN, and one of our test writers will respond as soon as possible to help.


    Great job today. I know reviewing practice tests is one of the most boring aspects of MCAT prep, but it also pays the biggest dividends! Take your time. You should spend at least as long reviewing a CARS test as you spent taking it (so at least 90 minutes). Early on, especially when you’re missing and marking more questions than you will later, it may take more time. If your timing is down, and you’re doing a decent number of practice passages a week (roughly around 30 passages a week for the last six weeks of study), then there really isn’t a better way for you to spend your free time than reviewing practice passages (At least in terms of MCAT!). Keep up the hard work. Enjoy your break day today!

    Today's Assignment: Take a break! Don't do any practice passages today.

    ..::..

    Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas A. Edison
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016
    rraidermd likes this.
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  3. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    Day 29 – Putting it All Together: How to Review an Entire CARS Practice Test

    Today is going to be an easy to follow summary of the last three posts, so you have a comprehensive guide that breaks down how to review your practice tests, step by step. You can download a PDF guide here that you can print off and keep close by to walk you through each of the steps.

    We've also taken the time to develop a Review Fill in Sheet that allows you to write out these various steps in a particular logical order. You can download the Passage Review Worksheets here which you should fill out as you review each passage.


    Steps to Take Right After you Finish A Practice Test:

    Step 1: Score your answers, marking down all questions you got wrong as well as those you marked as having troubled you. BUT DO NOT LOOK AT THE CORRECT ANSWERS OR ANSWER EXPLANATIONS!

    Step 2: Put away the test and do something unrelated to CARS for at least four hours. It's ok to study other MCAT materials, but take a break before getting back to studying.​


    Reviewing the Passage:


    Step 3: Starting with Passage 1, reread the passage at your CARS pace, but without reference to time. It's ok to slow down on difficult sections.

    Step 4: Determine what kind of passage it is: Argumentative or Descriptive?

    Step 5: Read the passage again, but this time, after every paragraph, write a brief one sentence summary. A few words are enough.​

    Step 6: Next formulate the main idea of the passage by writing out the frame, the subject, and the point of the passage.​


    See Day 11 if you have questions about how to do this.

    Step 7: Write a one-sentence summary of the entire passage.​


    Reviewing the Question Stem:

    Step 8: Identify what kind of question type you're dealing with.​

    Step 9: Paraphrase the question, trying to put it into as simple of language as possible.​

    Step 10: Write down an answer prediction in as few of words as possible.​

    This won’t be possible with every question but with many it will be.


    Reviewing the Answer Choices:

    Step 11: With your prediction in hand, review each answer choice and see which you are able to eliminate as incorrect.

    For any answer choices you eliminate, briefly write down what makes that answer choice wrong.

    Step 12: With any remaining answer choices, go back to the main idea sentence you wrote earlier and see which answer choices you are able to eliminate. For any answer choices you eliminate, briefly write down what makes that answer choice wrong.​

    Step 13: With any remaining answer choices, read through your paragraph summaries and see which answer choices you are able to eliminate. For any answer choices you eliminate, briefly write down what makes that answer choice wrong.​

    Step 14: If any answer choices remain, go to the answer explanation and see what you missed. For any remaining choices answers, briefly write down what makes them wrong.​

    Step 15: Once you have eliminated all incorrect answers choices and written down why they are wrong, briefly write down what makes the correct answer choice correct.​


    Repeat this process for every question you miss or marked as troubling you while taking the test. After reviewing Passage 1, repeat this process for Passage 2, proceeding through all 9 passages.



    Once you have your timing down, reviewing your passages is the surest way to improve your CARS score, so that is why we've spent so much time going step by step through the process. Hopefully, today's post has given you a global look at the best way to review your practice tests. As you read through it, I know it seems like a lot of steps, but it isn't actually all that difficult once you do it a couple of times. You can download an easy, step by step PDF guide here and also our passage review worksheets we recommend you fill out as your review. I can't recommend it enough that you print off the passage review worksheets and fill it in as you review your passages.

    Writing it down forces you to focus and organizes your thinking in a way you wouldn't do otherwise. Great job today. Only one more day. We're going to step up the passage count to 6 passages for the last two days because you'll be taking full-lengths soon and we want to make sure you're ready!


    Today's Assignment: Do Six CARS Passages Consecutively, Under Timed Conditions

    ..::..

    Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas A. Edison
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016
  4. OdinSon

    OdinSon

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    May 6, 2015
    Thanks for the replies guys. I feel like my timing is good.
    My problem it that I keep getting about 2 questions wrong for each passage and I've been having a hard time breaking through this plateau. I thought that more practice would help?
    Hope you're feeling better.
     
    allantois likes this.
  5. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    SDN Exhibitor
    @OdinSon - I do think more practice will help, but I'd be curious to know if the two questions you are missing are consistently of a particular type or format. Are they usually at the end of the question set? One thing I've noticed is that students generally miss the questions at the the end of a set more frequently than at the beginning, because they start to rush towards the end. If this is the case, try to spread out your timing more evenly. Also, if timing is no longer an issue for you, it might be a good idea to start reviewing your tests in detail. We're going to spend three days on how to properly review a CARS practice test, but just to help you out right now, when it comes to questions you've missed, I recommend doing two things when reviewing: 1) Rewriting the question stem in your own words, breaking it down into it's critical parts. 2) Go answer choice by answer choice and write a few sentences about what makes the answer choice wrong, or what makes the answer choice right. It's time consuming, but it will pay off big. Please feel free to keep us posted on how you're progressing and if you have any more questions, please feel free to ask! And thank you for the well wishes!

    ..::..

    Day 30 – Advanced Study Techniques

    Finally, the last day is here! Congratulations. By spending a little bit of time each day doing passages and working on these strategies, you've been slowly investing in your CARS score in a way that cramming just doesn't allow you to do. The material you've covered over the last 30 days is enough to get you to the score you want on the CARS if you're willing to put in the time. With that said, there are a few advanced study techniques that I've come across for those wanting to achieve an ultra high (read Ivy League) CARS score on test day.

    Today, we're going to look at two advanced techniques I recommend to my students that are designed to train your brain how to think like a test writer, breakdown passages the way they do and see the ways the AAMC writes it's questions. Don't worry about this technique if your timing isn't down, or if you are short on time in your study schedule. Most people aren't going to need it to get the score they want, but if you're shooting for the 95 percentile or higher on the CARS, you'll want to give this one a try. Don't forget about your four passages today!


    Exercise 1# - Hunting for Clues:

    One of the craziest things about the MCAT CARS section is that the passages don’t seem to matter as much as one would think. One of my favorite things to do is to have my classes rip a passage out of their books and then just try and answer the questions correctly based on the clues given in the question stems alone. Surprisingly, most students score only slightly lower than they usually do despite not having read the passage. Sometimes, you have to get a little inventive and not every thought you have is going to be correct nor justified, but nonetheless, more often than not, question stems and your conjecture about them will offer you clues that are useful in answering the question if you’re paying attention. The following exercise is meant to show you how much information you can squeeze out of the question stems by simply paying close attention and by practicing “Hunting for Clues.” Let’s practice a little bit with an exercise.

    Take a look at each of these question stems from one of our passages. Get a piece of scrap paper and with each question stem write out what information if any you can garner to use to answer the questions. I’ll include what I got out of the question stems at the end of the post.

    1) According to the passage, the “Greek Experience” has what value to the modern world?

    2) The author of the passage states that “Hence death is no longer ‘loss’ in the usual sense. It no more refers to the things we lost but to our ‘loss.’” The author is most likely referring to:

    3) The passage indicates that its author would NOT agree with which of the following statements?

    4) If the author of this passage believed that history was cyclical and was likely to repeat itself, this belief would be most DISCREPANT with which aspect of the passage?

    5) Which of the following activities would the author be most likely to describe as WASTE?


    Getting Better at Hunting:

    Hunting for clues in question stems is one of the hardest CARS skills to develop. This is a very advanced skill, and you shouldn’t even begin to think about it if your timing isn’t rock solid (rock solid means you easily get through reading the passage and answering the questions without feeling rushed). With that said, developing this skill will really up your percentage correct. So how can you practice? Give the Question Sprint a try.

    The Question Sprint has four steps:

    1) Get some crappy verbal reasoning passages. I think this is the perfect way to use Kaplan’s verbal reasoning passages and practice tests. They are by far the worst material (save Gold Standard verbal) and you really shouldn’t waste your time practicing with them…EXCEPT for using them on the Question Sprint. You can pick up Kaplan’s MCAT Verbal Reasoning Strategy and Practice for around $10 and it includes something like five or six practice tests. For any of you taking a Kaplan course, I strongly recommend you ignore everything they tell you about the CARS and look elsewhere for your practice and strategy. You can use their material for the Question Sprint, but I wouldn’t recommend using it for anything else. Another possible resource is Berkeley Review’s Verbal Reasoning Passages. Their passages are significantly better than Kaplan’s, but still not up to the standards of Exam Krackers, The Princeton Review, or…Testing Solutions : ) (Please ignore shameless self-promotion)

    2) Set your clock for 20 Minutes and Start!

    3) Don't read the passages! Read the question stems and answer choices and based solely on the information provided in the two, try to answer as many questions correctly as you can. You have to take this seriously. You will receive no benefit if you don’t try your hardest to get the questions right. You've got to look for clues and construct an image of what the passage is about. Look at the answer choices and see what pathologies you are able to identify and eliminate those answer choices.

    4) After 20 minutes, go back and mark your questions right or wrong. Don’t bother reading the explanations. Notice that if you had to have the passage to answer a question correctly in every case, you should only get 25% correct, the same percentage as randomly guessing. But most test takers get anywhere from 40% up to 60% correct. This obviously shows that there is a lot of information packed into the question stems and answer choices that you can use to your advantage. Keep track of your percentages correct as a motivation to try and improve over time.​

    I recommend you do the Question Sprint every other day or two, but do not do it if your timing is not solid and do not do it if it is going to cut into other MCAT studying. This is an advanced practice technique and is not necessary to do well on the CARS.


    Answers to Hunting for Clues:

    Ok, so we’re going to go through each question stem from up above and see what clues there are that can help us get to the correct answer.

    1) According to the passage, the “Greek Experience” has what value to the modern world?

    So we know that we’re going to be comparing something having to do with “Greek Experience” and the modern world. Via this contrast, we can assume that “Greek Experience” is not referencing modern Greece and that “Greek Experience” is not identical to the modern world, as if they were the same thing, one could not contribute something to the other. The way the question is worded implies that there is a connection between the two and that this connection might not necessarily be intuitive and may even be surprising. Based on this question stem alone, you know that the passage is arguing that “Greek Experience” has something to contribute to the modern world. Because of the use of the term “value” it is reasonable to infer that this contribution is something positive (as nearly all contributions are), so be on the lookout for a connection that is positive and potentially surprising or unexpected.​


    2) The author of the passage states that “Hence death is no longer ‘loss’ in the usual sense. It no more refers to the things we lost but to our ‘loss.’” The author is most likely referring to:

    Based on this question stem, we know that the passage deals with death and loss. From the previous question stem, we learned that we were comparing ancient Greece and the modern world in some way, so this question stem would seem to imply a difference in an understanding of loss or death in ancient Greece that has since changed. It would seem that this question will hang on an answer choice that shows death or loss in ancient Greece in one light and contrast that with how death or loss is considered now. The word “Hence” is a great temporal keyword setting up a now vs. then dichotomy. Knowing your keywords will make these sorts of clues jump out.​


    3) The passage indicates that its author would NOT agree with which of the following statements?

    This is too general of a question stem. There aren’t any clues here.​


    4) If the author of this passage believed that history was cyclical and was likely to repeat itself, this belief would be most DISCREPANT with which aspect of the passage?

    This question stem tells us a few things. The first is that based on the passage, it is not clear that the author of the passage believes that history is cyclical, and is actually likely to believe the opposite. If it were clear, there would be no need to include the word “If.” Second, there is something in the passage that conflicts with the idea of cyclical nature of history or said another way, the return of the past to the present. In thinking back to question stem 2, it could be that the Greeks believed that in loss or death the thing which was lost may come back in the future whereas the modern view is that once it is lost, it is lost forever. Or maybe the relationship is reversed, which is to say it was the Greeks who believed that something lost was forever lost. Look for the contrast and what significance the notion of a cyclical approach to history would have. Which position, that of the Greeks or of the modern world would most align?​


    5) Which of the following activities would the author be most likely to describe as WASTE?

    There aren’t too many clues here except to say that in order for you to be able to answer this question correctly, the author must take a clear position on a particular issue or set of issues that can then be applied to a new situation. Thus, the passage is likely to be an argumentative one. Beyond that, you’ll have to look at the answer choices.

    As you see, you can’t expect to score a 129+ without reading the passages, but it is surprising how much information you can get from the question stems if you’re paying attention. If you’re interested to see how well your clue finding matched up to the passage these questions were drawn from, I’ve attached the passage in full at the end of this post.​



    Hunt for clues in the question stem and answer choices! As you review your practice passages, take a moment and write down anything you're able to come up with based on the question stem and answer choices alone. What information does it give you or imply? Spend way more time and energy on this step than you think you should. You’ll be surprised how good you get at this over time and how much it will pay off!


    Thinking Like a Test Writer:

    One of the best things I ever did for developing my CARS skills was to write questions for passages. I stumbled onto this idea when I was studying for my own MCAT and was experimenting with ways to hone my verbal/CARS skills. I decided one day to take a passage from one of the verbal books I was using and to write five of my own questions, answer choices, and explanations for why the correct answer was right and the wrong answers were wrong. I know this seems like a lot of work, and it is, but doing this only a couple of times a week produced incredible results. I was able to anticipate possible questions as I read through the passages and began to think like a test writer. It was another one of those Matrix moments I referenced earlier in this series. In fact, after I finished my MCAT, it was this exercise in part that gave me the idea to start Testing Solutions, as I had gotten so good at writing questions and breakdown passages.

    Here's what you do:

    Step 1: Find a passage

    Step 2: Use our list of question types and examples (included in this post)

    Step 3: Select 3 to 5 question stems and use those examples as a basis for writing your own questions, answer choices, and answer explanations​

    ***Tip - One way to make this even more useful is to find a study buddy. Each of you writes 3 to 5 questions for the passage and then swap your question sets, do them, and then discuss the questions, answer choices, and explanations afterward.

    It's amazing how quickly you'll begin to think like a test writer if you do this exercise. It takes about an hour or so if you do it right, but if you do this 4 or 5, you'll start to develop a sense of how the test writers think. I've included examples of the different question types below.


    Question Types and Examples:

    Implication:

    The author implies that George Washington is NOT:

    The author says “As the boat began to sink, the cowards began to run towards the life rafts,” but also “many gentlemen proceeded to help the women and children into the rafts while
    remaining on the doomed ship.” These beliefs imply:

    The passage implies that the difference between World War I and World War II was primarily one of:

    Implicit in the statement “Philosophers are often derided by the masses but nonetheless are necessary for the proper functioning of society” is the idea that:

    Regarding the concept of food insecurity, the author implies:

    What does the author imply regarding the relationship between those who own capital and those who do not?


    Inference:

    Based on the author’s treatment of the US’s counter-terrorism strategies, it is reasonable to infer which of the following?

    It is reasonable to conclude that the author believes what about George Washington Jr?

    Which of the following inferences is most justified based on the author’s arguments concerning the enfranchisement of women in the early 20th century?

    Campbell’s argument that Star Wars is an example of a mythological journey allows for which of the following inferences?

    A reasonable supposition from the passage concerning the primary problem that plagues most philosophers is that:

    Apparently, both sides participating in the debate assume that:


    According to one of the positions presented, government is an “affair of invention and contrivance” and is supremely concerned with questions “of means and end.” If both of these premises are true, which conclusion is most reasonable?


    Application:

    The author would be most likely to AGREE with which of the following positions?

    It was determined that most first year Ph.D. candidates cry during class at least once. The author would most likely respond to this new information by:

    Suppose that most pirates did not want to be a pirate when they were young children. Based on the passage, the author would be most likely argue in response to this:

    Which of the following budget proposals would the author be most likely to support?

    The author would be most OPPOSED to which of the following assumptions commonly made about pirates?


    If the author is correct concerning the development of social norms in early human societies, the most likely consequence of the author’s position in regards to early childhood development would be:

    Which of the following situations would the author most likely characterize as similar to the economic conditions that led to the economic downturn of 2008?


    Integration of New Information:

    Suppose that a modern classics scholar stated that although Aristophanes’ primary goal was to make people laugh, he did have a latent political agenda and thoroughly believed that everyone ought to engage in political action. If this scholar’s statement were found to be true, what would be the effect on the author’s central thesis?

    A manuscript of Dante was discovered which showed that he did not believe in a literal hell. How would this new information affect the author’s claims?


    Which of the following findings would most weaken the author’s argument?

    Suppose that De Francesco prided himself on the clarity and accessibility of his poetry. Which of the following claims made by the author would most be called into question?

    According to one authority on constitutional government, “the individual is the primary and foundational unit of a constitutional government.” This authority would probably:

    Suppose that a survey of successful modern leaders finds that some study history while others do not. The author would most likely respond to this challenge by saying:

    In recent years, foreign intervention has led to the establishment of democracies in a range of nations across the world. The argument presented for government being understood as a product of natural history suggests that this would:



    Passage Detail:

    The author states that Picasso believed that:

    According to the passage, the American Revolutionary War was fought in order to:

    The passage suggests which of the following concerning the impact of educational reforms enacted by Reagan?

    The author believes all of the following EXCEPT:

    Based on the discussion in paragraph three, Rodin’s approach to sculpture was widely regards as:

    Which of the following claims does the author NOT make in the passage?

    Which of the following assertions most closely resembles the author’s beliefs concerning the role of the Federal Reserve in the modern US economy?


    Main Idea:

    The main idea of this passage is:

    The author’s central argument is:

    The central thesis of this passage is that:

    The author most likely wrote this passage in order to:

    Which of the following best characterizes the main idea of the passage?

    What is the author’s central concern?

    The author can best be viewed a proponent of:

    The intended audience of this passage is most likely:


    Meaning of a Term:

    As used in the passage, “aphrodisiac” refers to:

    Which of the following phrases is most synonymous with the way in which the author uses the term “hairy” in his claim that “August 24th was a day full of hairy situations.”

    The author’s use of the term “glad-handed” most likely means:

    In paragraph four, what is the author’s most likely intended meaning in writing that Queen Elizabeth is crusty?


    Author Technique:

    The author includes the fact that the Pentagon was unable to account for “what it received in return for paying out $2.3 trillion to various suppliers” in order to:

    The author probably mentions that “space exploration was not only a triumph of lone individuals but also of bureaucracies, institutions, and a political system” in order:

    The author users the term “sense” in the passage in order to:

    The author provides the information that “Bhutan decided to use ‘Gross National Happiness’ as their explicit policy goal rather than Gross National Product (GNP)” in order to:

    What is the author’s apparent purpose in mentioning astronomy?

    When the author says that “Russian nesting dolls are much cooler than was originally thought,” she is emphasizing the fact that:




    And that's it! 30 Days of CARS. You've done it! Now all that there is left for you to do are practice passages. If you've set yourself up for the 90 day schedule, you're 60 days out from test day. You've been slowly building your capacity to do more and more passages at the correct pacing, and now you've got all the strategies you need to do well on test day. You can download a PDF of the question types here! Thanks for reading through this guide and best of luck on all your MCAT testing! If you have any questions or just want to say hello, leave a post on this guide's forum here at SDN!


    Today's Assignment: Do Six CARS Passages Consecutively, Under Timed Conditions

    ..::..

    “Enter every activity without giving mental recognition to the possibility of defeat. Concentrate on your strengths, instead of your weaknesses… on your powers, instead of your problems.”–Paul J. Meyer
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2016
  6. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    Last edited: Nov 18, 2017 at 6:53 PM
  7. RaspberrySlushy

    RaspberrySlushy 2+ Year Member

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    Mar 17, 2013
    Portland, OR
    Just started reading this thread. A lot to take in and off the bat it seems way more helpful than crazy strategies about skipping passages.

    I'm just starting my prep, test in Sept, and using passages from EK 101, TPR Hyperlearning Workbook and TBR verbal. What are your thoughts on TBR?

    I just took the NS diagnostic and did worse on CARS than psych and that really surprised me as I haven't started studying/learning psych and I used to do okay on verbal on practice tests, usually an 11 sometimes a 12. My AAMC sample test was close to the same. I'm wondering if I might be one of those people who did well on science related passages and struggled more w/the others as you've described on here. Never thought to look into that. Esp b/c I was once an English major and read a lot. To be honest I always just thought my practice scores were steady and decent and I didn't think I could do much to change it. Now that I'm doing worse on the new format (got the equiv of an 8 on NS and not quite sure on AAMC but lower than I'd like), I'm ready to get to work on CARS.

    Anyway, I wanted to say thanks for posting all this! It must take a lot of time! I'm looking forward to trying this out and getting better at CARS hopefully.
     
  8. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @RaspberrySlushy - I'm just heading out the door, but I'll respond to your post this evening. Thanks for writing! I just didn't want you to think I didn't see it as I'm about to post today's lesson.
     
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  9. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @RaspberrySlushy - I love Raspberry Slushies. I don't know if you're making a reference to something else, but they are absolutely my favorite flavor, so good job on that! I think your best bet for practice passages is either EK 101 or TPR Hyperlearning Workbook. TBR Verbal is really hit or miss. I went through about a third of their practice tests when I was studying for the MCAT, and thought they were ok at best. At the end of this series, I'm going to do a broad review of all the CARS/Verbal materials out there and what I think of them. I'm obviously partial to Testing Solutions' CARS practice tests, but there are good materials out there too. I've heard mixed reviews about Next Step. There's currently a pretty rough thread going on about them here on SDN. I have no idea what to think of it, so you'll have to be the judge for yourself. But I do know the head guy over at Next Step has posted some useful stuff on here, so it's hard to say.

    Remember that with the CARS, practice is what gets you the top score. That's really it. All the stuff we're covering in these 30 days is important, but if you're not doing a ton of passages, reading these posts will be for not. At the end of this series, I'm going to post a 90 day schedule from Day 1 to Test Day that I'd recommend for CARS, so that would be just about perfect for you if you're taking in Sept. (Which I personally think is the best time to take the MCAT.) I'd recommend doing a passage or day for the next couple of weeks and read through these posts. Then once I post the schedule, take a look at it and see if it looks like it will work for you.

    Thanks for reading and your post. If you have any questions, please let us know how we can help!
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016
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  10. RaspberrySlushy

    RaspberrySlushy 2+ Year Member

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    Thank you for such a thorough reply!

    Yes, my username is a reference to something else (Breaking Bad, and the meaning is actually kind of gross, lol) but I also rreally like raspberry flavored anything, and raspberries.

    I'm thinking maybe I'll hold off on CARS until your 90-day plan and your posts on how to review. Since I'm taking in late Sept, I'm worried about running out of practice materials too soon, esp if I skip nat sci (which I think I should, think those were skewing my Verbal score above what my CARS has been so far) and toss out TBR Verbal, which would be fine with me. I'm not too surprised that you found them hit-or-miss, to me it seemed like sometimes they put "extreme" answers as correct that AAMC wouldn't ("always" answer choices and such).

    I also opened up my EK101 to find it had highlighting and underlining. I got it used awhile ago, so gotta order a new one.

    Out of curiosity, why do you think Sept is a great time to take the MCAT? I picked it b/c my school is on a quarter system so classes start at the end of Sept so I picked the last September date so I would have as much study time without overlap of summer classes and work (I work on campus), basically I'll have two months w/no class and one of those months w/no work leading up to the test day.

    Thanks again! I look forward to reading more posts!
     
  11. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @RaspberrySlushy - There are a few reasons why I think a fall date for the MCAT is better. The first reason is that many students do not give themselves the proper amount of time to study. It is so much easier to do well on the MCAT when all you have to do is MCAT for three months. I recommend to all premeds to take the MCAT in the fall of their junior year, apply their senior year, and then take a gap year doing something fun and interesting, so 1) they actually get to experience a little bit of their twenties and 2) have something interesting and dynamic to talk about in the interviews. So many students that could do well on the MCAT don't because they get sucked into this "apply early" rush, which is critically important. I just think how the academic schedule is set up for premeds, those who take a year off between undergrad are much better aligned for higher tier schools, and I think it's better psychologically. However, To each her or his own! Those are just my thoughts : ) Best of luck on all your studying and please feel free to leave questions whenever they pop up!
     
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  12. SweetSunshine2001

    SweetSunshine2001

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    @TestingSolutions so I wanted to come back and update you on my progress on CARS. I have been using your advice... taking deep breathes before each passage (including the first one), taking 15 seconds to preview the passage by reading the first sentence from each paragraph to orient myself... and I RARELY go back to the passage to reread things... That has forced me to read the passage really throughly and highlight/annotate the passage thoroughly! So it usually takes me 5 to even 6 minutes on the passage to make sure I completely understand it... then I go to questions... which I'm usually rushing on... and once the clock hits "10 minutes" ((watching the clock like a hawk)) I give myself 30 seconds to a minute to finish the questions and move on to the next passage... I found that I'm doing better using this method... but I wish I would have enough time to answer each question throughly! and also I found CARS on the AAMC FL practice test and the AAMC official guide questions (about 5 passage) significantly easier... I don't know if they're putting out easy stuff on purpose or if they changed CARS? What are your thoughts?
     
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  13. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    Sorry everybody! I thought I was done with the bug, but it came back with a vengeance! I think I'm finally done with it, so I'll be able to finish up this 30 day series. I appreciate your patience.

    @SweetSunshine2001 - Thanks for updating me on your progress. It sounds like you've really made some big strides! I'm glad to hear you've been able to put some of our tips into practice. I've got a few thoughts on some of what you described that I've outlined below:

    1) You said once the clock hits "10 minutes." How much time you spend on a passage should more or less depend on the number of questions. (A 5 question passage should be 9 minutes, a 6 question passage 10.5 minutes, and a 7 question passage 12 minute.) If you give yourself 10 minutes per passage, no matter the number of questions, you won't as easily develop your CARS pacing, because you'll have too much time per question on the 5 question passages and not enough time per question on the 7 question passages. Especially early on, do the passages one at a time, giving yourself just enough time for that one passage depending on the number of questions.

    2) This connects to point 1, but especially early on, I'd recommend setting the clock for the time for the one passage your doing, start the clock and do the passage without looking at the clock again until your timer goes off. "Watching the clock like a haw" usually does not pay off. It makes you nervous and distracts you from keeping your focus on the task at hand. One of the major reasons I recommend practicing as much as I do and in the way I do is to develop an intuitive sense of the correct timing and pacing on the CARS. When I took the MCAT, I looked at the clock one time (and only one time) on the verbal section, after completing passage 5. I'll discuss the correct timing strategy in a later post for when you're actually taking the real thing come test day, but for right now, let your timer keep track of the time and you focus on answering the questions in front of you. I promise that after not being able to finish one or two passages, you'll naturally get the feel of the correct timing without having to pay attention to the clock.

    3) I think it is great that you've been able to limit how often you're going back. That is such a hard thing to do, so you should really count that as a victory. I think as you transition into the final stages of your practicing, it would be better for you to shoot for 3-4 minutes for reading the passage. I don't recommend students highlight the passage except in cases of unique terms, names, or to note a particular position, and I very much am against taking notes. The CARS is simply too fast paced of a test to make it worth your time, and 80% of your notes won't help you answer the questions any ways. This is one of the those scams that Kaplan and TPR in particular perpetuate. I'd recommend letting go of highlighting and annotating and I bet that you'll drop down to 3 or 4 minutes without changing anything else. This will give you the extra few minutes you need to really raise your percentage correct per passage.

    As to the AAMC materials, I'd recommend picking up their two practice CARS question sets. The one FL alone won't be enough passages to get a sense of what the CARS will be like. I've heard from many students that they actually think the new CARS is a little more difficult. From the passages I've done myself, I think the two sections are roughly identical, in fact many of the practice passages released by the AAMC for the new CARS are old practice materials they released for the verbal section.

    I think you're doing great, so I don't mean any of this as critical, there just my thoughts on how you might continue to improve. Keep up the hard work! And please keep me updated!
     
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  14. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    Opps...forgot the passage document! Here you go!
     

    Attached Files:

  15. matthew87922

    matthew87922

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    Verbal always been my weakness, I consistently get 3, 4 on this section when I was prepare for the old version MCAT (because of this, I voided my score on the real test). I feel desperate and don't know what to do. I read few tips, so I took a lot of humanities courses and read tons of articles trying to improve my reading and comprehending skills. It really helped me, indeed. However, it only rised my socre to 5. :(

    Few weeks ago, I read your thread and I did not really believe what you said at the first place. I know there are no ways I can go, so I give a try. I just finished day 9 today, and can't wait to share my feeling with you. I did 4 passages today and only get 6 wrongs from 23 questions! For others, it maybe nothing. But to me, it is a big deal. I really appreciated what you done here, thank you so much!

    You said when you prepare for the test, you did 50 practise test, is that equivalent to 450 passages? I know it am not a smart guys, but I willing to dedicated myself to beat this monster. But I do not know how to get so many practice passage? Can you give my some advices or links?

    The material I do have right now is
    1.Princeton Review Hyperlearnimg
    2.Examkracker 101
    3. AAMC self-assessing verbal passages (about 30 passages)
    4. 5 Testsoultion practice test

    Some people suggest me to do GRE/LSAT/GMAT... passages in local libraies. Do you think it's really worked?

    I am going to take 2015 MCAT on August 6, do you think I can socre 12 or 13 on CARs? (I even never dream about it before)
     
  16. Labrat07

    Labrat07 2+ Year Member

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    I have one question. I think it's a good idea to review passage that's not AAMC but I don't think it's valuable to review questions from other companies. Should I do review passage only for now until AAMC practice passage for question reviews?
     
  17. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @matthew87922 - Thanks for writing, and I'm glad to hear that some of the tips and strategies we've provided have helped. One of the last posts I'm going to write will be a complete survey of all the MCAT CARS content available and what I think of them. I think you have a pretty good list there, although I don't know if I'd rank Testing Solutions as fifth : )

    It is really hard to say what score is or isn't achievable for you specifically but I have definitely had many students turn around really poor CARS scores in a few months time. I'll also be publishing a 90 days CARS schedule too, so maybe take a look at that. I'd recommend staying away from the GRE/LSAT/GMAT materials, as crappy MCAT Verbal passages are better than content from other tests that doesn't represent the kinds of passages or question types the AAMC uses on the MCAT. After we finish this 30 day series, feel free to leave questions on this thread and we can work together to sort out a plan for you moving forward. Thanks for reading and leaving a post!

    @Labrat07 - I think this is a really important question. For most prep materials, it's not that useful to review their answer explanations, except in rare cases. I think it is always a good idea to review AAMC's answer explanations, as it allows you a window into their thinking. With that said, (having read every explanation to every verbal question ever released by the AAMC), their explanations aren't always that great. I'll emphasis that it's critical to have your timing down before you ever start thinking about reviewing your passages. Then, I recommend using the reviewing outlines I went over in the last three posts. 75% of the questions you miss or mark to review will answer themselves if you review the passages and question stems like I recommended, thus you won't have to even look at the answer explanations. For the remaining 25%, you have the answer explanations to clear up any remaining confusion. I will say, that most people who use our practice tests say they get a lot out of our answer explanations as we try to weave in our strategies and tips into the explanations, so you know how to approach similar problems in the future.

    I believe it is valuable to review our questions and passages, because I think the answer explanations are good and can teach you to test better, but that is not the case for most companies. EK101 is really spotty, especially towards the last few tests, while I thought TPR was too detail focused in their explanations, lacking any generalizable strategies.

    Hope this helps! Thanks for reading and leaving a question. I think you make a really good point that is overall, very valid!
     
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  18. Avengerz

    Avengerz

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    Hi, I just wanted to say this is great thread and I will for surely be implementing these techniques and guides during my CARS studying.

    However, I have had a little situation myself and it has forced me to take the MCAT next summer. So until then, I have decided to study just CARS this summer to prepare for it.

    However I had created a schedule myself, but I will be waiting for you to release your own 90 day schedule soon enough.

    Until then I had a few general questions concerning your guide and practice resources:

    Q1A: You mentioned somewhere the Kaplan/TBR verbal isn't the greatest? I have around 23 Practice Tests that I may have acquired for Kaplan (just for the verbal section) and I also have The Berkeley Review Verbal Book - do you think they are still worth doing? I have read reviews that some people found them very helpful and some not really. I'm thinking the more passages, more practice, the better you get at CARS? What do you think?

    Q1B: If you think I should 'ditch' The Berkely Review BR book, do you think I should just do those passages first to get 'pacing' right? and then do a mix of EK101/TPRH later on in the CARS schedule (note I want to keep the 23 Kaplan tests that I have acquired, because they seem like a valuable resource and)

    Q2: In the beginning should I just do 1 passage a day until I 'start' getting the pacing right, then move on 2 passages per day, then 3 etc... So I'm wondering should I integrate full length practice tests (consisting of 7 to 9 passages) every now and then?

    Q3: You said not to review any passages in the beginning until you have your timing down. Does that mean you should just check how many you got right? e.g. I do a 7Q Passage under 12 minutes, check answers (just to see if they are right or wrong) and then later on the 'course/'Cars Guide' start reviewing them in depth once I have the timing down?

    Q4: When I do multiple passages together (e.g. 3,4,5,6,7 etc..) should I put the total time to the amount of what each passage should be and then add them together? e.g. I'm doing a 3 passage 'bundle', 2 of them are 6Qs and 1 7Q, therefore 10.5+10.5+12=33 mins? Also do you maintain the 9, 10.5, 12 timing rule throughout the whole practicing until the very end?

    I'd would really appreciate if you could give some input! Looking forward to the 90 day schedule and to get a 129+ on the real MCAT Cars section!

    P.S. Sorry for so many questions.
     
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  19. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @Avengerz - Thanks for these really great questions! I'll take them one by one.

    1a) With the time table you have, I think using Kaplan and Berekely Review makes a lot of sense. When I was studying for the MCAT, I took all of Kaplan's verbal section tests they had on their online platform as well as all their practice full-lengths. I have a low opinion of their material, because I just don't think the questions they emphasize are the ones that you'll see on the MCAT come test day. With a time table like you have, the more practice the better and that includes Kaplan and TBR. I'd start with Kaplan, go through all their materials and then move on to TBR. This again is assuming that you aren't going to take the MCAT until next year. If that's the case, then using their material is a good idea, but not if you will be trading EK, TPR, or our practice tests for Kaplan or TBR, because you'll be trading down in terms of quality. If it's not either/or but rather and/both, I think it's a great idea.

    1b) If you have enough time to do everything, I'd do everything. It's not that their material is worthless, it's just that it isn't worth that much compared to what else is out there. Like I said above, I'd start with Kaplan, then TBR, and then next spring start up with our 90 day plan.

    2) I'd start with 1 passage a day with the correct timing. After a week or so, up it to 2 passages a day, but reset the timer after every passage. This will allow you to build up your endurance/ stamina, but will still allow you to train for getting your pacing down. I like to think of the timer as the bumper rails on a bowling alley, hopefully you don't have to use them, but they come in handy if you do. After a week or so of 2 individual passages a day, up it to 3 individual passages a day. When you feel like your timing is getting pretty good, and you aren't having to rush and you aren't running out of time, do all three passages together at once, which is to say instead of doing the passages individually and resetting the timer after each, add up the total time you're going to give yourself for the three passages and then do them consecutively. After a week or two at 3 passages a day done together, up it to 4 passage sets per day. Once you're timing is good for 4 passages, you're ready to switch over to full-lengths. I wouldn't start taking full-lengths until your pacing is down, because it will mess up your brain in terms of building your CARS intuitive pacing.

    3) I think it's fine to mark what answers you got right and wrong, and it's even ok if you want to look at the explanations for the ones you got wrong quickly, but some companies recommend spending literally hours of time reviewing a test when your timing still isn't down. It's just bad advice. Until you're no longer struggling to complete the CARS on time, you should be doing more practice passages under timed conditions, not wasting time reviewing. I'd give yourself 5 minutes to mark answer right or wrong and to look up the answer explanations if you're particularly curious.

    4) I think I got ahead of myself and answered this question earlier. I recommend that up until the middle of your third week of doing passages (the "3 passages per day" week) you reset the timer after each passage. Sometime that week, when you really feel comfortable with your timing, do the 3 passages as a set. On your fourth week, when you're doing 4 passages per day, you should be doing them all together. In today's post I'm going to talk about the timing strategy you should do when taking practice tests.

    Please keep the questions coming! It makes the thread more interesting and more useful for others. Thanks for reading!
     
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  20. First, thank you so much for doing this! I'm starting this for my September mcat and am super excited. On day one when you mention the breakdown for the timing, is that time spent reading the passage, or is that passage with questions? If not, how would recommend distributing time for passage reading and time for answering questions? Thank you!!
     
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  21. rraidermd

    rraidermd 2+ Year Member

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    The day one is talking about for reading the passage and answering questions altogether. For me personally, i spend longer reading, a little over half my time on the passage so i can answer questions without having to look back.
     
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  22. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @ipokeyoupoke - As rraidermd said, the timing includes reading the passage and answering the questions. I think rraidermd is 100% correct in terms of spending longer on reading so that one doesn't have to look back to the passage when answering questions. Ideally, you'll be spending somewhere between 3 and 4 minutes max on reading the passage. CARS passages are 500 to 600 words, and most people read at a rate of 200 words per minute, so it should only take an average person 3 minutes max to read the longest of CARS passages. I include a little of extra time, as reading a CARS passage usually takes a little more energy, than reading your everday newspaper article. Thanks for reading and keep the questions coming!
     
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  23. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    ...
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016
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  24. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    ...
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016
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  25. Futbol99

    Futbol99 2+ Year Member

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    Thank you @TestingSolutions for this amazing resource. Unbelievable amount of great information and has provided so much confidence and something to work towards, rather than saying I suck at this section. I'm on day 15 so far.

    I have a question regarding timing. I still can't seem to get that down. So far I've only been using the TPRH resource, I have been doing 2-4 passages a day since I started and have done 25 passages so far. I started with timing each one, but last few days I've been doing 4 at once, and this is when I found it more difficult to keep track of timing.
    I seem to spend a bit more time on the question portion. I think in terms of reading, when I am taking my time as I read and think about the author's points, summarize paragraphs in my head, think about possible questions, highlighting names and places, I can read a passage anywhere between 5 - 8 mins depending on complexity of the topic. It's a little bit edgy but I feel very good when I understand a passage and really helps me answer questions. However when it comes to the questions, sometimes I get hung up on how specific a question is, or how close the answer choices are, and accidentally I always find myself going back to the passage (I'd know where it is) to double check and spend too much time back and forth. I know this isn't something you recommend. I end up finishing a passage 3-4 mins over every time, but get on average 1 wrong per passage.
    I want to practice to speed up to finish on time, but keep this accuracy. I feel like I always need to go back to the passage...but if I speed up, I always feel like I am not getting the right idea and would jinx myself as I am reading.

    So before I move onto better resources, I really want to make sure I am working towards improving my time. Anything from experience you can think of to help me out with this?
    Would very much help me!! Thank you
     
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  26. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @Futbol99 - Thank you for your kind words and taking the time to write! I think it's great you're focusing on your timing as this is the bedrock of a great CARS score. You should take comfort in your only getting an average of 1 question wrong per question as it shows that you have the capacity to do well. It sounds like managing your time over 4 passages is asking too much of yourself right now, so I'd scale it back to doing only two passages at once and see how that feels. You can still do another 2 passage set if you want to get in 4 passages per day. I think you're spending too much time reading. It's critical not to skim, and you do have to read slow and thoroughly, but if you're taking 6 minutes to read a passage (or more), that's how long it would take the average adult to read it twice (600 words x 2 / 200 words per minute = 6 minutes). I'd rather see you get your passage reading down to 4 minutes or less consistently and miss one or two questions more a passage to start out with than to be training yourself to not have enough time to finish the last two passages of the CARS.

    Your best bet is to set a timer for 4 minutes and read the passage. When the timer goes off (no matter what, stop) then set the timer for the remaining number of minutes you should have for that passage and question set (e.g. if it's a 5 question passage, 9 minutes total - 4 minutes for reading = 5 minutes for questions.) I guarantee after a week of this, you will not be having trouble getting through your passages on time, and I'd be willing to bet you won't see much of a drop on your average questions per wrong per passage. Great questions. Please keep us updated on your progress and let us know if there is anything we can do to help!

    *Sorry, I haven't posted Day 29. I've been traveling, but I should have time to get it up today.
     
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  27. Thirsty4MD

    Thirsty4MD 2+ Year Member

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    This is awesome. Thanks for all the work you're doing.

    I'd like to know when you think you will be done with the digital non-kindle format. I'm writing the MCAT in September so as long as I know I can invest in the digital version of your resources by August, it would be perfect!
     
  28. matthew87922

    matthew87922

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    Hi, I am using your technique to practice CARS for almost 20 days. I really appreciate what you done here. And there are two questions I want to ask you.

    1. I follow your strategy for 13 days. However, I still can not finish the passage on time (one or two minutes behind).
    2. In the beginning, I can see there is improving, but my performance starts decline recently, what should I do? ( I was score at 73%, but now only 50%) :(

    I do four passages for each day because my real test on Aug 6th. Do you think I should do more passages for everyday practice?

    Thank you very much!
     
  29. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @matthew87922 - If you're still having trouble finishing the passages on time, I'd recommend scaling back the number of passages you're doing to 1 or 2 per day for the next week or so until you get more comfortable. It really is possible to overwork yourself, especially early on. My experience has been that when the pressure is off in terms of the number of passages, students are better able to get their timing down. You have plenty of time for an August 6th test date. I'd recommend giving yourself 3 or 4 minutes to read through the passage, and then not return to it when answering the questions, no matter what. This will straighten out your timing within a week or two. As to your second point in regards to performance, until you're timing is down, don't worry about percentage correct. I know this is hard to do, but you have to take one thing at a time, and with you having over two months until your test day, you have plenty of time.

    I wouldn't recommend doing more passages until you get your timing under control. Give yourself 3 to 4 minutes to read the passage, and then the remaining amount of time for answering the questions. Keep us updated on your progress and thanks for writing.

    @Thirsty4MD - Thanks for writing! We really can't put a solid release date for the digital non-kindle format, but anyone who buys our tests now, will receive access free to the non-kindle format when it becomes available, so maybe that will affect your decision making. Sorry I can't provide more details than that, it's unbelievably complicated building an online digital platform from the ground up. Thanks for your interest!
     
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  30. brenasuarus

    brenasuarus "Do you know what the chain of command is?" 2+ Year Member

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    Thanks for all the hard work you've been putting into this, it's been helping me a lot. I'm currently only on day 8, but this has been helping me wrap my head around the CARS section extremely well so far.
     
  31. Altius Premier Tutor

    Altius Premier Tutor SDN Lifetime Donor Lifetime Donor Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    A friendly word of advice....you'd be very smart to get that "official AAMC/MCAT Program" logo off of the front cover of all of your books ASAP before the AAMC sues you. They don't mess around; they've sued students before for sharing www.e-mcat.com accounts, distributing practice materials, etc.
     
  32. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @brenasuarus - Thanks for the kind words! Keep up the hard work. You'll get there!

    @Altius Premier Tutor - Thanks for the feedback. The first sentence of every one of our books reads, "MCAT® is a registered trademark of the American Association of Medical Colleges, which neither sponsors nor endorses this product," so I hope its clear that it was not our intention to in any way imply that our material is official. We actually got the idea to use such a logo from a Princeton Review book we saw with the intention of communicating that the MCAT is a trademark of the AAMC, and we literally have not thought about it since. But on a second look, I see how someone not paying attention, despite our clear disclaimer on the first page of the book, might take its presence to imply that the AAMC endorses our product. So we've removed the logo from all of our material. If anyone who bought our material did so thinking it was endorsed by the AAMC, simply message me and I will refund 100% of your money and you can keep the tests as an apology for unintentionally creating a confusing situation. Thank you again for your feedback and taking the time to write.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2015
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  33. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    ...
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2016
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  34. rraidermd

    rraidermd 2+ Year Member

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    Can you let us know when T6 practice test will be posted?
     
    Avengerz and Profound like this.
  35. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    We just launched the T6 today. It's available via Amazon.com and is now included in our bundle package.

    Thanks for your interest! And let me know if you have any feedback on how we can make this guide better and more clear.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
  36. winter00

    winter00 2+ Year Member

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    Hi TestingSolutions,

    I have been reading and following your schedule so far and I am on Day 11. Great job with the analysis! I have a couple quick questions.

    I have noticed immediate improvement in my timing issues when I prevented myself from looking back at the passage. I am current using TPR hyperlearning to burn through to get my timing down pat. However I noticed that with the timings you posted (ex. 12 minutes for a 7 question passage), I find myself reading the passage and answering the questions without going back with 3:30, 4:30, and 5:30 minutes to spare for 5, 6, and 7 question passages respectively. I end up going back at that point to the questions I've marked. This has been helping me catch wrong answers but I am wondering if this is the wrong approach/interpretation to your CARS strategy? Basically, I go through the passage and answer all Questions even if I need to guess (I mark these ones) before going back.

    Also for your suggested timings, I noticed that no matter how you combine the passages, you end up getting 93 minutes instead of the required 90 minutes. Was this on purpose as if I followed your timing strictly using 9 minutes for 5 questions, 10.5 minutes for 6, and 12 minutes for 7, I would be 3 minutes over time.

    Thanks,
     
    twinBqt likes this.
  37. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @winter00 - These are really great questions, so I appreciate you taking the time to ask them. First of all, you've really accomplished a lot getting to the point of having 3:30, 4:30, and 5:30 respectively, left over when you finish a passage. At this point, I'd recommend (if you haven't already) start combining passage sets, so you are timing two, three, or four passages all at once. As you've pointed out, the initial "training" timing strategy does not add up to 90 minutes, but rather 93. This is because, on the real CARS, you may well spend more than 9 minutes on a 5 question passage and a lot less than 12 on a 7 question passage. My goal in recommending these timings early on is to help those students who always find themselves rushing through the last two passages, thus missing the last 10 or 12 questions.

    If you've gotten to the point of having that much time left over, you've reached the point of focusing less on the clock and more on the passage and answering the questions. I'd recommend allowing yourself to look back to the passage while doing the questions and see how that affects your timing and percentage correct. There is nothing inherently wrong with looking back at the passage, except when it costs way too much time. As you learn when and how to look back to the passage, you'll find yourself not spending much more time and yet you'll be picking up another one or two questions correct per passage. You're in a really good place. My recommendation would be to do passages in sets now, not to focus on the clock (maybe check one or two times while doing the passage), and to allow yourself to look back to the passage on a limited basis.

    Finally, I go into the details of how to actually take a CARS test (including my recommended timing strategy) on Day 26.

    Great questions! Thanks for reading and writing.
     
    twinBqt likes this.
  38. rraidermd

    rraidermd 2+ Year Member

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    I am on Day 16 now of your CARS guide and I am just wondering if I should be panicking. My test is Sept. 23 and so far, I feel like my timing is pretty good but I consistently keep missing 2-4 questions on the passages. The weird thing is that when I'm answering I'm almost sure that I get them right or that my logic is reasonable to the author's, or very close. So I'm assuming this more has to do with my answering strategy? It's very discouraging and unnerving to be doing this bad on CARS passages. Also, I have taken the MCAT twice already and only scored a 7 and 8 on verbal. Verbal is pretty much the reason I have to retake the MCAT again. :( Do you think I should be backing off to 2 passages a day since I keep missing questions? Any advice would be appreciated.
    Thanks
     
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2015
  39. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @rraidermd - I understand why you'd be worrying, and you're not alone in that, but Sept. 23 is still over three months away. I think you've given yourself plenty of time to get to where you want to go. It is not the time to be panicking in the least. I think my first question would be to ask what you mean when you say that your timing is pretty good. How long do you usually take to read the passages? For right now, you should be shooting for around 3 to 4 minutes per passage. How's your timing on questions? Do you feel rushed to get through them? When you have a detail to a question you're forgetting do you have time to go back? My strategy about not going back to the passage is just one for those who aren't finishing the test on time, but for those whose timing is correct, going back to the passage in an efficient and limited way can really increase your percentage correct. My advice would be to continue on with two passages a day, timed separately, and if you are consistently finishing each passage with time to spare, to allow yourself to start going back again. You have plenty of time. This CARS section is truly a marathon and not a sprint. Gains in scores are rarely dramatic in a short interval. This is the reason it is such a hard section for so many, because it takes determination and discipline to improve. You can do it though. I've seen many students is similar situations as you get to the score they wanted. You've got plenty of time. Just keep up the hard work!
     
  40. truffles90

    truffles90

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    Hey, do you know when all your practice tests will be coming out? I am looking to buy it would rather wait till they're all out so I don't have to go back and buy the new ones just for convenience's sake.
     
  41. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @truffles90 - We're going to try to have T7 out by the end of next week, but we're not 100% on the other test release dates just yet. Just so you know, anyone who buys our bundle package now will receive all future tests we release for free, so in fact by buying now, you'd actually be getting a deal as the price of the bundle will likely go up some as we add more tests. To get your free copies of the new tests, you'd just need to email us at [email protected] and we'll give your copies for free.

    Thanks for writing and following the thread!
     
    TheAnonymous likes this.
  42. matthew87922

    matthew87922

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    Really appreciated what you have been done here. I started to do 4 passages for last two days, but every time I can not finished on time, always 5 mins behind. (My pace was good when I do 3 passages). What should I do? Just back to 3 passages? My test is on Aug 6, so I kind of anxious here.
    Another question is that, do I still need to count how many questions for each passage on the real test? And distribute my time for each passage? Is that going to waste a lot of time?
    Thank you!
     
  43. bartzx3

    bartzx3 Banned Banned 2+ Year Member

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    Hey, because you stress getting the timing right, on the exam, should I skip ahead questions so I can determine how many questions there for that passage? On the new exam, we only get to see one questions at a time.
     
  44. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @matthew87922 - Are you finding you're running 3 or 4 minutes behind when completing 3 passages? You say your pace is good with 3, so this just might be some growing pains. I'd recommend spending the next couple of days continuing with 4 passages, but really focusing on pushing yourself and not wasting time triple checking. Maybe scale back a little bit on how often you're revisiting the passage (if you're revisiting it at all) and also be on the look out for spending too much time on hard questions. With running 5 minutes over, you're easily missing out on 3 or 4 questions, so 3 or 4 questions wrong is much worse than 1 hard question wrong that 90% of test takers are going to miss anyways. You've got plenty of time from now until August 6th to get your CARS under control. Just keep working at it. Keep doing your passages every day and trying to implement as many of the strategies we've outlined here as you can. Don't try to bite off too much at once. Start with letting go of hard questions and getting your timing down. Once these two pieces are in place, focus more on question types and strategies, how you're reading the passage, and breaking down arguments. Little by little, you'll see your score go up.

    As to the "count the number of questions piece," you absolutely do not want to do this on the real test. My timing strategy is for training only. On Day 26, I go into the actual testing time strategy I recommend once you graduate to doing actual full-length practice tests. On the real thing, some 5 question passages are going to be harder and require more time than an easy 7 question passage. The timing strategies I outline are to develop your pacing intuition, on how more or less a correctly paced CARS test feels. Come test day, you'll be responding intuitively to how much time you should spend on hard questions. So, count the questions until you get to Day 26 and are ready to move on to actual practice tests under test day conditions.

    Thanks for writing!

    ...

    @bartzx3 - I mentioned this in my previous response, but the timing strategy I recommend based on the number of questions per passage, is simply a way to train you for the correct CARS pace. Come test day, you won't be focusing on the number of questions, but instead on relying on your pacing intuition you've developed while practicing. A tough question might require more time than an easy question. But if you've practiced correctly, you'll have a sense of when you need to keep moving. On Day 26, I discuss how you should approach taking practice tests and what you should be doing come Test Day. Until then, counting the number of questions is critically important. Thanks for reading and the great question!
     
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  45. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    A lot of you asked if we'd update you when we released our T7 practice test. We've now released T7.

    Please keep the questions coming! Don't let this thread die. How's everything going? Any questions or feedback? Keep up all the hard work!
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
  46. Profound

    Profound 2+ Year Member

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    @TestingSolutions I've read through your guide and you have some great stuff here. My test date is about 2 months away and I'm spending a lot of time on CARS. I'm taking the new exam solely because of CARS so I'm going to do it right this time. I've been doing 3-5 passages a day and I'm going to step it up to full 90 minute sections soon.

    What I really need help with is how to deal with those really dense passages. I know that I will encounter one during my test and I need to find a way to at least vaguely understand what is going on instead of blindly putting answers. How would you recommend approaching this problem? Do you have any method to improve comprehension on tough passages?
     
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  47. Glazedonutlove

    Glazedonutlove 2+ Year Member

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    Not sure I agree with your time interval plan but otherwise looks good
     
  48. TestingSolutions

    TestingSolutions Eating CARS for Breakfast Since 2013 Exhibitor Classifieds Approved 2+ Year Member

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    @Profound - Thanks for writing and reading the thread. With 2 months to study, I suspect that what is now a dense passage for you will within a few weeks feel less so, but nonetheless, my recommendation is to push yourself through the passage one your first pass and give yourself more time when doing the questions to come back and then take more time to read and possibly reread the pertinent sections. When I'm doing a hard, dense passages, the first thing I do is remind myself that every other person taking the test with me that day is facing this same hard passage and it isn't any easier for them. This is really important, as it frames the importance of the passage for you but also reminds you that you're not the only one that's going to struggle with the passage. Everyone is! Then, my strategy is to treat it like climbing a mountain. Push your way through the passage and look for handholds, points you do understand. Try to understand as much as you can, a little piece here or another piece there. I know it isn't easy, but as you practice doing this, you'll be amazed at how good you get breaking down a passage into bite sized pieces. Overtime (and you have 2 months) you'll see major improvements in this area if you keep up your practice.
    Keep us updated and let us know how it's going as your date gets closer.

    @Glazedonutlove - Just to be clear, the timing recommendations outlined in the post you referenced are for practice purposes only. On day 26, I outline the actual timing strategy you should have. The reason I include those timing recommendations at the beginning is because my guide recommends you start by doing one passage a day, but the amount of time you should give yourself to do that passage at the correct CARS pacing depends on how many questions there are. Over time, the goal is to develop a CARS timing intuition. Come test day, you will already have this intuition hard wired into your brain, and you'll just know when it's time to let go of a difficult question. Harder passages are going to require more time and easier ones, but in the beginning when most students often leave one or even two passages completely blank, it's critical to get the correct timing down. Thanks for writing and I'll go back to clarify this point in the post. We really appreciate the feedback, and your allowing us to clear up a unclear point!
     
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  49. Sboadi

    Sboadi 2+ Year Member

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    I've Exhausted pretty much all of TPR Hyperlearning and Examkrackers Verbal books last time I took the MCAT. I have all the new Princeton Review Books now for my retake. Is TPR verbal good for practicing your strategies?
     
  50. mnhockey7

    mnhockey7

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    Do you recommend taking all of your Testing Solutions tests as a "Full Length"? (I'm sorry I haven't read through the entire article if posted already..!) Thanks for the outline as well... seems like a wonderful schedule with amazing tips/tricks to improve.
     
  51. geauxmed

    geauxmed

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    I understand that we should wait a day before starting the reviewing process, but how many days are you recommending we spend going over the same passage? Your guide implies 3 days, unless I misunderstood and you do advise reviewing the passage, questions, and answers in one sitting. Clarification is appreciated! I am almost positive my score is suffering because of the way I review passages I took (or lack of).

    Well now I see you've advised against reviewing passages if scores are low. I typically get 60-70% of questions correct on a timed full section; my scores on individual passages range widely. Anyway, I don't really feel comfortable with not going over my incorrect answers. However, I also don't feel comfortable spending hours going over a section test when I could use that time to practice on another. Like I said earlier though, I do believe my low scores is related to my method of reviewing (which is just reading answer explanations.) It also seems weird for me to take a whole day off from doing any CARS practice.

    My test date is August 5th. I took the old MCAT twice and scored a 6 on verbal both times. Your help is much appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2015

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