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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. maisam567

    maisam567

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    Hi Testing Solution. Thank you for the response. I bought your T1-T8 package and hopeful to improve on CARS. I have one more question. I recently just finished my content review for the sciences. I have 2 months for my exam. I am going to start practicing now using Khan Academy, NextStep and AAMC. Do you think your verbal strategy could also help me comprehend experimental passages for the sciences? I understand the content just fine but when it comes to the passages and questions, I cannot reason through effectively. People say read scientific articles...can you give me your advice briefly? Thanks.
     
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  3. Zaba

    Zaba In Omnia Paratus 2+ Year Member

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    Hi TS,

    I've bought the TS 30 Guide on Kindle and in week 2 doing 2 passages/day. I'm trying not to exhaust my AAMC resources just yet, and was wondering if the Next Step Mcat Verbal practice book (108 passages) is okay? Also do you know anything about the Gold Standard Cars practice tests? You didn't review these in the 30-day Guide so I was just curious.

    I have EK 101 and TPR verbal as well- the AAMC Verbal Pack and all the TS tests (although I'm saving the last 2 resources closer to my exam date)

    Thanks!
     
  4. TestingSolutions

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

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    @maisam567 - I definitely think the "new" MCAT is more of a reasoning test than the old iteration. In this regard, any reasoning skills/ analytical capacity you develop will be a major asset come test day. With that said, I think most students tend to spend far too much time on content review and not enough time doing practice passages. The skills you'll develop for the CARS will help on the other sections, but you'll need to do a ton of passages for the others sections to practice these skills in the various scientific contexts that you'll see on test day in the other sections. The short answer is yes, it will help you, but don't expect it to take care of the other sections. I think using a wide range of materials is best, but make sure you leave plenty of time in your studying for the AAMC materials. As to the scientific articles, I think reading through one or two a day and writing a summary of the key points (four sentences max) could be useful, but only if it does not detract from your other MCAT studies or your school work. As is the case with the MCAT overall, you'll have to work hard, but the CARS strategies and reading through scientific articles will help. They just aren't a silver bullet. There isn't one besides hard work. Please keep the questions flowing, and best of luck!

    @Zaba - I've never heard anything good about the Gold Standard exams. I dislike disparaging other companies materials, but I was not impressed with them at all. The last time I looked at them, they looked as if the articles had been copied from Wikipedia. I haven't looked at them since. I do think they have "updated" them for the new MCAT. I wouldn't be able to recommend them. As to the Next Step book. I've heard different things about it. Some people think it's pretty hard but a decent resource when used alongside others. The most critical review I've seen was on Amazon.com and this reviewer still gave the book 3 out of 5 stars. The reviewer wrote:

    I bought this book for practice, hoping that it would consist of quality material. Unfortunately, I have been disappointed so far, to the point where I feel the need to write this review. Some problems I have with the book:

    1. Some answers do not give thorough explanations. Reason for why choice A is wrong? A is wrong.
    2. Compared to actual practice tests, the questions and answers are unpolished and appear to be made by amateurs.

    That being said, the book has many passages, which is good for quick practice and warming up. For that it gets 3 stars. I would definitely use a different book for thorough CARS review. I don't want to compromise my thinking skills by reviewing their ambiguous and sometimes illogical answers.

    While I can't recommend it based on my own experience, I think it is probably a good resource that simply hasn't been around long enough to gain the same kind of reptuation that the EK101 and TPR books have. The author, I think his name is Brian, has been around and on SDN every so often, and he really seems to know his stuff. It's probably not a bad buy for the money if you're ok with the sort of things the above reviewer referenced. I'm planning on buying the book in the next month or so to do my own review. If you've got $30 laying around, I'd go for it. Best of luck and please don't hesitate to leave questions on here!
     
  5. maisam567

    maisam567

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    Hey Zaba. I have the NS Verbal Practice book and all their testing stuff. I would highly recommend. Their passages are very hard and their questions are also hard but they do an excellent job. I found that doing NS passages increased my verbal abilities.
     
  6. maisam567

    maisam567

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    Hi TS. I'm very sorry lol. I keep coming up with new questions. I just noticed that your CARS Practice is for 90 days and not 30 days. This may sound very silly but my test is in 2 months. I wanted to master all your strategies and stuff in specifically 30 days and keep doing practice for the next few weeks until my exam. What do you suggest? I am half way through NS Verbal Practice and following your technique of doing 3 passages a day and then at night I read them over looking for keywords and modalities. I'm on Day 16 (i skipped the beginning and read through it and following it) .... How should I make sure I get through your suggestions within 30 days?

    Also..I finished all of AAMC Verbal Q-Packs and scored 55-57% on both. I have your T2-T8, which haven't been touched. And I have the NS Verbal Practice--im on section 5 and it goes till section 12. Each section is like a normal 90 minute, 9 passages and 53 questions. And...I haven't been reviewing the answers that I am getting wrong (as per your guidelines). I get like 2-3 wrong per passage. I try to understand it myself....however, I am concerned because I am okay on time. I read through within 4-5 mins and do the questions on time. I find myself going back to the passage a bit but it hasn't hurt my timing. Another note--I find that if I don't highlight as I go, I get most questions wrong. Should I start reviewing the answers? Please let me know so I can properly benefit from your strategies.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2016
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  7. fara2314

    fara2314

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    Hi, I was wondering how I could apply this 30 day schedule if I'm taking the test in 50 days(about 1.5 months). How many passages should I be doing in a day? Also, when you say practice passages,do you mean passages from the verbal tests? I am using EK 101 book.Any help will be appreciated,thanks! Also,this is a retake.
     
  8. Zaba

    Zaba In Omnia Paratus 2+ Year Member

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    @TestingSolutions Thanks for your response and I look forward to reading your review.
    I myself have found the book pretty decent- a little harder than the AAMC material and sometimes more detail focused questions rather than main idea ones (like the other prep companies you mentioned in your guide).

    @maisam567 - thanks so much for the input! I feel the same way about these passages in terms of difficulty. Sometimes it's a confidence drain tbh.
    I Also bought their strategy and practice books for all the subjects and found them tough- but very helpful! NS style of questions (for the sciences) are very similar to the actual mcat.
    Good Luck on your up coming exam!!
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2016
  9. fara2314

    fara2314

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    @TestingSolutions Also how many questions should i typically bee getting right per passage? that is in relation to the AAMC scoring system.When you say do practice passages,do you mean we should pick out passages from the verbal tests (EK 101). How can I convert my equivalent score that way?

    Thank you!
     
  10. fara2314

    fara2314

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    @TestingSolutions
    Hi, I was wondering how I could apply this 30 day schedule if I'm taking the test in 50 days(about 1.5 months). How many passages should I be doing in a day? Also, when you say practice passages,do you mean passages from the verbal tests? I am using EK 101 book.Any help will be appreciated,thanks! Also,this is a retake.
     
  11. TestingSolutions

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

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    @maisam567 - While our schedule is 90 days long, you'll notice that the last 60 days are simply doing and reviewing practice passages and tests. Since you're fifty days out, I'd recommend finishing the 30 day guide but add one extra passage to each day's homework assignment. Then when you're done, start using up your remaining CARS resources as best you can. If you can get through all 30 days, you'll be better off longer term in your prep, because you'll be able to catch silly mistakes easier.

    If you're not feeling rushed when you're taking the passages, you can go back to the passage as needed. My recommendation of not going back to the passage is only for those who are consistently running out of time or rushing the last few passages. Also, if your timing is down, it starts to make sense for you to review your passages. Take a look here Day 29 – Putting it All Together: How to Review an Entire CARS Practice Test. Highlighting is usually not a good idea. I'd recommend going back after you take the practice test and highlight what you think you missed. If you start to review your practice tests and passages as we outline, you'll find you won't need to highlight as much when you take the real thing. Please don't hesitate to ask more questions!
     
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  12. TestingSolutions

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

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    @fara2314 - I've included a table that roughly (very roughly) converts a raw CARS score to a scaled one. Realize that each test is different so these values can't be relied on to be the case 100% of the time.

    [​IMG]

    You'll notice that to get in the 129+ range, you're going to need to be around 90%+ correct. When I say "do practice passages" I mean do passages out of any of the resources we recommend: Here's our Review of All CARS Materials Available on the Market! I wouldn't worry about converting your raw scores to scaled scores. It won't be useful unless you're taking 9 or more passages and even then, you want to be focusing on reviewing the passages and questions than what particular number you got, because there is no guarantee that it will correlate well with the real MCAT. You can really only use the AAMC materials for that.

    As to how many passages you should be doing a day, after each post in this guide we have a recommended assignment. If you only have 50 days left, I'd recommend you add one extra passage on top of what we recommend in this guide to make sure you do enough passages before your test date. Best of luck!
     
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  13. Astra

    Astra 5+ Year Member

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    3 questions!

    1. When doing timed passages, should I stimulate testing environment or is it Ok if I leave up your argument guidlines ( Days 6, 7)?

    2. Is the EK 101 passages ok to use with this plan? I am currently on Day 7 and am doing their passages. ( I plan to buy your CARS set closer to the test date because I wanna save the better material for last)

    3. I take my exam on April 23rd. I am currently on Day 7. Is there anything I should do or modify to the plan? Once I finish the 30 day plan, I plan on doing CARS passages daily to keep up practice.

    Thanks a lot for your support and amazingly written guides!
     
  14. DoctorRealtor

    DoctorRealtor 2+ Year Member

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    @TestingSolutions

    Hi,

    Thanks for this immense resource. I have one question. You suggest not going back to the passage until after you have answer all the questions.

    Given the new testing format where only one question is shown at a time, if the question were to be a detail question should you just answer it, mark it and come back if you are not sure, or go refer the the passage detail in the moment and then answer? My thinking is by marking it and going back, you'll lose time clicking through various pages and having to go through the details later on.

    Thanks!
     
  15. fara2314

    fara2314

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    @TestingSolutions What good CARS practice materials can I get to practice online? I got the EK101 workbook and I just started working on the passages as I just started with your 30 day plan.The passages are good but I worry that I would get to comfortable practicing with paper;seeing as the exam is an online exam and I've always practiced online,how can I get good passages to practice online? Or are the EK101 passages online? What are your suggestions? My exam is in 50 days,so I feel like practicing on paper won't be as helpful.What are your suggestions?

    Thank you for your help!
     
  16. Arsenalfcfan1

    Arsenalfcfan1 2+ Year Member

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    @TestingSolutions Hi am currently at the 5 passages a day stage with TBHR and I am still getting mostly 4/7, 3/6 and sometimes 5/7 or 4/6. I honestly fee discouraged and I do not know what I am doing run do you have any advice? Thank you


    Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile app
     
  17. TestingSolutions

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

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    @Astra118 - Thanks for writing and great questions!

    1) It's ok to leave the argument guidelines up for a week or two worth of passages. When you get to the point where you are taking full-length practice tests, you don't want to be using it. Until it's second nature though and you're not taking full-lengths, you're ok.

    2) Overall, EK101 is a great resource. Note that roughly a 1/3 of their passages (the natural science ones) are no longer valid for the CARS section. I'd recommend you skip these. Also, tests 11 through the end of the book of a much poorer quality. The explanations aren't as good and scores generally drop significantly from the average on the first 2/3 of the book. Also, the quick answer key for the tests towards the book have errors, so be sure to use the long form answer explanations to grade yourself. Besides that, I think EK's passages are good although sometimes not very representative of the CARS (they can be quite interesting which most of the CARS passages are not).

    3) I'd possibly bump your "homework" passage assignment after each day up by one passage. So if we say to do three passages, do four. This will get you to doing more passages sooner since your date is a little closer.​
     
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  18. TestingSolutions

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

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    @DoctorRealtor - This is a common misunderstanding and we've done our best to try and make it clear, but our advice not to go back to the passage is ONLY for those who are running out of time and having to rush through the last few passages. If you're not having to rush, it's fine to go back to the passage. In terms of hard questions, if you spend more than two minutes on the question, it's time to move on. As we like to say, the question that's going to keep you out of medical school is not the one you get wrong, it's the one you spend too much time on. If you get four questions wrong at the end of the test just to get one right at the beginning, you can only do that once or twice without sinking your score. That's why we recommend to mark hard questions and come back to them later. The time spent clicking between screens is small peanuts compared to the time wasted on the two or three questions that almost everyone gets wrong anyway. We just finished analyzing the most recent AAMC CARS practice test and you could miss TWO questions and still get a perfect score (132). Three questions wrong got you a 131. You had to miss 5 questions or more to get knocked out of the 99th percentile.

    Hopefully we've answered your questions! Please ask some more if we didn't! Best of luck on your MCAT
     
  19. TestingSolutions

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

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    @fara2314 - I do think there is something to be said about the importance of practicing under the testing conditions you'll face on test day. I was pretty intense with my preparations, so I actually scanned the EK101 practice tests (not solutions, I used the book for those) and turned the tests into PDF. I then opened the same PDF test twice, putting them side by side using the left for the passage and the right for the questions. It probably took 30 minutes to scan them all in. For me it was worth it, but you'll have to decide if it is for you. Kaplan has their CARS practice tests online but I really can't recommend them.

    We are currently working our hardest to get our online platform up so we can offer our tests online. They are accessible though on the computer via the free kindle eReader app, and while the format is a little different (due to Kindle limitations) most people don't mind taking them and find it useful to practice on their computer. Ok enough of the 3am infomercial : )

    Oh...and of course there are all the AAMC resources which absolutely 100% must do before even considering taking the MCAT for a total of 376 CARS questions. I cannot recommend the AAMC resources enough.
     
  20. Astra

    Astra 5+ Year Member

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    Thanks for you wonderful reply!

    How am I doing if I am missing 1-2 questions per passage?

    I seem to always finish early. I want to cut down on these mistakes lol
     
  21. betterfuture

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    @TestingSolutions, I first off want to thank you for your work on writing and putting together a study plan for improving on CARS. Even if I may not follow through on every single thing on the plan, I do incorporate a few of the strategies and tips in my CARS practice and they are great. I just had a few questions for you.

    Q1) I have come across TestingSolutions exams on Amazon and was wondering if I do purchase them, then how long do I have access to them? I did read a substantial amount of your post, but did not get through to the last few pages of this thread so I apologize if you have already answered this question somewhere.

    Q2) I have few different prep books that I use for the CARS practice such as EK 101, TPR, Kaplan, and most importantly, the official AAMC material. However, I feel since I am not that strong in this section, I do not want go straight into practicing with the passages, like as you said, with keeping timing down first and then going back to the passage, if time is left over. The reason I say that is because I have a problem with understanding dense, complex passages so it takes me a good amount of time to really get a feel for what the passage means. It is not that I do not understand the passages, it just takes a LONG TIME. Secondly, with the strategy I mentioned above, I feel like I might exhaust my materials too soon and I will not have materials left over at the end when test day nears. Hypothetically speaking, if I do not improve my CARS, I fear I will not have anything left over to practice. I know this may seem stupid. Like material is meant to be used not just saved. But still, any advice/comments on this.

    Thank you and if I have any more questions, I will be sure to post them here.
     
  22. TestingSolutions

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

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    @Arsenalfcfan1 - Are there any particular types of questions you're missing? Or is it an issue of timing? Are they are sorts of passages in particular that you're struggling with? Also, how many passages have you done up to this point. It usually takes around 70 or even 80 before most people start to see major improvement. Let us know some more of the details and we can dig into your results more. What you're experiencing is not uncommon. You just have to keep doing passages and trying your best to consistently implement the strategies we outline here.

    @Astra118 - That really depends on what your goals are and how long you have until your test. Based on our own analysis of the AAMC scored practice test, missing 9 questions will still get you a 128, whereas if you're missing 2 questions per passage, missing a total of 18 will get you probably a 124ish. I think if you're mid-way through your study plan, you're in great shape. If you're taking your test in a week, you're still in good shape if you're close to 1 question wrong per passage. I'd recommend continuing to try to improve your overall approach to the CARS instead of staking too much on your particular score for one practice test or passage.

    @betterfuture - Thanks for writing. I've addressed your questions below.

    Q1) - Once you buy the practice tests, they are yours forever. We are trying our best to migrate our practice tests onto an online platform, but it is slow going. Anyone who purchases the bundle now will receive access to the online platform when we release it, we're just not sure when that is.

    Q2) - I would encourage you to find a happy median between the hyper-vigilant "memorizing every detail of the passage" approach and the skim "barely read the passage approach." You want to be spending less than four minutes reading a passage. It's ok if it takes longer at the beginning, but be sure you're pushing yourself through. You always want to be reading for structure, not detail. Don't try to memorize or "get" it all. The questions will only ask you about roughly 25% of the material covered in the passage. What you really want to have is a clear picture of what the main idea of the passage is. We go over this in detail on Day 11 – CARS Question Types: The Main Idea. If you can master our "Painting to the Main Idea" technique, you're going to find those dense passages not being as difficult to get through, even if you don't master every last detail.
    As for materials, here's our Review of All CARS Materials Available on the Market! I'd recommend you save your AAMC materials until the last 1/3 of your studying. So if you're doing a 3 month plan, don't start AAMC materials until month three. This allows you to make your silly mistakes with inferior materials. With our top four recommendations on our review list, you'll have more than enough material to get you to where you want to go. Please do keep the questions coming!
     
  23. mnhockey7

    mnhockey7

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    @TestingSolutions

    Hi there,

    I am wondering if you can give me some advice in regards to reading comprehension. I am struggling to understand the main idea/focus of the more difficult and dense passages that I encounter, which in turn my scores plummet on the passages because I simply cannot grasp the main idea of whats happening. I have never been a reader and am not well versed in the philosophy subjects and others similar, etc which I think is a disadvantage to start with.

    Basically, I am wondering if you can give me tips or strategies on how to better develop the main idea in my head which will then translate to more points come test day on very unfamiliar passages that are difficult to comprehend? I have finished walking through your program and I have seen improvement however. I just struggle terribly when it comes to the difficult and dense passages and I know if I can't improve on this I am F#%$#$ when it comes to test day as has happened in the past! Haha.
     
  24. Keekzmyster25

    Keekzmyster25 2+ Year Member

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    Thank you for your help thus far! I have been integrating your tips into my study regimen and has been working. But I still get several problems wrong. Luckily, most of the questions I've been wrong are where I am stuck 50/50 between answer choices. Any tips on how to frame my thought process in these situations to choose the better answer? Anything helps. Thanks again!
     
  25. Arsenalfcfan1

    Arsenalfcfan1 2+ Year Member

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    Last edited: Mar 7, 2016
  26. maisam567

    maisam567

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    Hey mnhockey...I can kinda offer something. I highly doubt TestingSolution would agree with me so obviously take his word over mine. But I was struggling with this as well. What I suggest is read the verbal passages for a week and try to sum up what you read and write it down. Of course, this is bad advice for the CARS section but I think reading it and then writing it down assimilates what you read. You are training your brain to sum up all that info. No more than a sentence. Think...if you had to pick ANYTHING from that paragraph, what would it be? Try doing this for a week and then completely stop and train yourself to do it automatically. I kinda do it now as I read. My sociology professor made us write 1-2 sentences summaries of an entire chapter and it was hard. ANOTHER THING -- this is actually what TS actuallly does recommend --> when you go back to review the passages, color the keywords. I do this everyday before going to sleep. I go back to read the passage I read in the morning, and I have the list of Keywords that TS gave. I color in as I read. This has helped me tremendously because I'm more aware of where and how the passage is switching gears or continuing or even watching out for modalities as I read --> which leads me think of the author. Also...remember that while you are reading the passage, you should constantly look out for the author's opinion. So after I read the passage once and color in the keywords, I read it again -- paragraph by paragraph and sum every paragraph in a few words. I, then write down what type of passage it is (argumentative or descriptive)....think of the Focus, Subject and Point for that passage. Then write a one sentence summary. It's tedious but it may help. Check out TS's Day 26. Goodluck!
     
  27. TestingSolutions

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

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    @mnhockey7 - I think a good place to start would be with our Day 11 – CARS Question Types: The Main Idea post. We describe a technique we call "Painting to the Main Idea." Have you tried this? It can be more difficult to do with the more dense passages, as there is more to keep track of, but if you continue to apply these principles and practice articulating the main idea for easier passages, you will work your way up to the harder ones. If I had to distill all the advice we give in this series it comes down to two things:

    1) Make sure your timing is solid. You cannot do well on the CARS if you're rushing through the last couple of passages.

    2) Once your timing is down, review your practice tests thoroughly as we describe on Day 29 – Putting it All Together: How to Review an Entire CARS Practice Test. If you use our approach of going back to the passages after you complete the test, re-reading them, and then filling out our review worksheets, you will get better at grasping the main idea and organizing what's going on in the passage. It's practically impossible not to.
    Overall, there are no easy or quick fixes on the MCAT. I wish I could give you some "tips" that would instantly change your score, but there aren't any. You're probably going to have to do 120+ passages to get to the score you want, and that includes doing everything we outline here in terms of keyword reviews and filling out or review worksheets for each passage you do. Unfortunately, preparing for the CARS section is very time consuming. Best of luck and please keep your questions coming!
     
  28. TestingSolutions

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

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    @Keekzmyster25 - This is a very common problem. One important question is whether or not, after reading the answer explanation, if you see it. Does it make sense why you got it wrong? I highly recommend that you mark any question that you get down to this 50/50 situation, even if you get the question right. For any CARS question that you do not 100% see which is the right answer, there is a problem in your reasoning and technique. This means there is an opportunity to improve hidden in each of these questions. When I was studying, I kept a piece of scratch paper beside me and any question that I got down to the 50/50 on, or even if I was completely lost, I marked these questions for intense review. For each question like this, I would read through the explanations and then write out a couple of sentences for what I was missing or getting caught up on. The key to overcoming these sorts of questions is to track down the reason why you were stuck. It is critical to write this sticking point down as it forces you to have clarity on what it is. If you just say, "Oh yeah, silly mistake. I wasn't thinking," you've just robbed yourself of a small (or possibly large) gain in CARS ability. Keep the questions coming!
     
  29. TestingSolutions

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

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    @Arsenalfcfan1 - It's very difficult to make any sort of predictions about how you'll progress. I've had many students have seen huge gains within two months. I've also had students who didn't. In your case, your problem doesn't sound like it is timing. If that is the case, then progress basically comes down to two factors. How many passages you do and how well/ thoroughly you review those passages. If this is the case, I'd encourage you to focus your attention on the three posts below. Make sure you are using our review protocol (outlined on Day 28) for each passage you review. I'd recommend printing off our downloadable worksheets (which are free and can be used with all practice materials).

    The key is to both do passages and then ask yourself why you made the mistakes you did. If your timing is on track, focus in when you review and look at those questions that trouble you and that you get wrong. Best of luck!
     
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  30. TestingSolutions

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

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    @maisam567 - I think summarizing what you read is a great idea. I think the only concern I have is when you do it. If you practice doing this during the test, you'll rob yourself of a practicing the correct pacing for the test. Summarizing in written form can take a lot of time. I don't think there is nothing wrong with doing this, especially early on, I'd just recommend you keep in mind the timing issues. The "If you had to pick ANYTHING from that paragraph, what would it be?" advice is EXCELLENT! I think this is such a useful frame to use. What is the one take away for this paragraph? Such a great idea. Good advice!
     
  31. maisam567

    maisam567

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    Feb 25, 2016
    Hi Testing Solution,

    I recently started doing the TS 2-8s. I have been performing significantly worse than I was before. I am stressing out and don't know what to do and was wondering what you recommend. I was doing Nextstep passages before and not doing as bad. I read through all your strategies and review the passages and questions how you recommended. I will do another read through this week. My test is about a month away and I don't think I will improve with the way I'm moving. When I read through the passage, I do read slow..it takes me about 4-5 minutes to read thru. I do highlight as I go as I feel like there are different points where the author expresses his opinion and if I don't, I find myself forgetting small claims. The questions you ask definitely require a lot of thinking so I'm running out of time constantly. I get like 1-2 right per passage and before I was getting 1-2 wrong...but now its the opposite. What do you recommend I change? I am doing about 3 passages a day. Spend 30-33 mins doing them then at night I go thru read them again and write down main idea, frame subject point stuff. Look at the questions over and then read through your explanations.
     
  32. JDOGGG

    JDOGGG 2+ Year Member

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    @TestingSolutions

    Hi! I just found out about you guys and was upset that I found out after already studying for months for my mcat. My mcat is in exactly 52 days from today (May 6) and I have already been working on the CARS for about a month. I have already read through this thread and all 30 of your posts. I naturally have been taking a similar approach to you in the broad sense of reading the passages and thinking more what the authors message is and how he can test me and trying to put the whole passage together in my head as I read it. I previously was working on EK 101 and got to about test 10. All were timed accordingly based on the new mcat. I started off by getting 8's, then 9's, then 10-9-10-10-10 and eventually 11's. but once I got to the 11th test, the logic became unsound and very arbitrary (just like you said in your post which I was very GLAD to hear). So basically I wanted to ask what approach should I take towards the rest of my time prior to test date as far as CARS goes. I have been doing 30 min practices every time I study based on the times you said depending on # of questions (5, 6, 7) and I take a full test every sunday. BUT I really liked the drawn out method you have for your program. and I know its a 90 day thing, but I want to be thorough and I already have the experience as far as practice goes (up to this point at least). so I want to incorporate your first 30 day program but obviously it would need to be modified somewhat since if I do the 30, I dont have another 60 days to practice, only 21 or so. So should I focus more on the second half of your first 30 days? I havent really approached the 2 types of passages and the question stems stuff. the questions I usually miss are the ones where they ask you to compare a situation in the passage with another totally different situation (as an example of the passage situation) ex: Freud and eriksons theories of identity can be compared to... A)cat and goats, B)shoes and socks, etc..

    so if I could get an idea of what to focus on let me know! I already bought your 5 test set and have all the aamc stuff, but I wanted to save the aamc 40 passages for another 2 weeks or so since its the best material!

    thanks in advance!!! you're advice is awesome!
     
  33. fiza76

    fiza76

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    Thank you so much for all of these amazing tips and for creating this guide. I have been practicing for a few weeks now, I have got my timing under control and have improved by 1 point, but now I am stuck in the 123 range and it has been like this for two weeks, should I start reviewing my CARS to see where I am losing my points.
     
  34. Pardia19

    Pardia19 2+ Year Member

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    Dec 12, 2013
    Hi @TestingSolutions
    First I wanted to thank you for the detailed instructions.
    I consistently score around 40- 50% on CARS, no matter what the source is. I usually do Ok on timing when there are not as many passages ( 4-5 passages), but I took a full test and ran out of time on two CARS passages and scored 123. I am currently on day 27, started to review like you suggested. Do you think I should do anything differently or should I continue with your instructions as posted?
     
  35. TestingSolutions

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

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    I'm really sorry for the slow response. Unfortunately, I've been sick all week.

    @maisam567 - This is a common thing we hear. When we designed our tests, we made them more difficult than the real CARS section. Unfortunately, in some cases, we went overboard. We've corrected it in the current set of tests. Basically, we made some of our passages too hard. They're stilll great for practice and will help you score better, but they can be a real bear to face and can lower your spirits if you don't know this ahead of time. oYou can download a pdf with scaled conversions for each test which will give a better conversion to what your CARS score is. Most of our tests mirror the MCAT really well. We have a few passages that are really hard which can skew your ultimate score. We maintain that practicing within harder passages will help you on the real thing, but as you said, it can be discouraging. Don't get stressed out about it and take a look at the scale conversion. You'll see that you're probably on track. I'd recommend you up the number of passages you're doing a day. You should really be trying to get your reading time per passage down to 3 or 4 minutes. Review each passage using our passage review worksheets. You can download the Passage Review Worksheets here. Print a ton off and use them every time. If you're timing is no longer an issue, doing in depth will help you see your score improve, but don't try and do it all when you're taking the test. Do it while you're reviewing. This is when you'll see the most improvement!
     
  36. TestingSolutions

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

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    @JDOGGG - Don't worry too much about not having 60 more days to study. If you've been studying CARS for awhile, that will help. I think there are two points to check in on. 1) How's your timing? Are you consistently finishing the test without having to rush? If this is the case, then move on to point 2) how are your reviewing your practice tests? I think you should be upping your CARS practice to a practice test every other day. Take a test one day, review it the next day. It's time to do as much material as possible and then to review it in great deal. I know I say this in a lot of posts, but I cannot recommend using our free pdf Passage Review Worksheets for each and every passage. It takes time, but it is impossible to not improve if you invest the time. As to the comparison questions, whenever you get one of these questions while you're practicing flag it by circling it so you're sure to review it in-depth and then spend an extra 30 seconds on it than you normally would. I've found that these two simple steps will usually remedy particular question type problems on their own. Best of luck and please do keep the questions coming!
     
  37. TestingSolutions

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

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    @fiza76 - Absolutely start reviewing if your timing is down and you're not having to rush to finish! Use our free pdf Passage Review Worksheets to review each and every passage. I'd also recommend going through our posts one by one trying to integrate the strategies we outline. Best of luck and keep the questions coming!

    ...

    @Pardia19 - Doing well on timing on 4 to 5 passages but having issues on a full-length is common. I'd encourage you to continue with our incremental approach of adding a passage only when you're able to finish on time. It is very hard to maintain focus and correct pacing for 9 passages in a row. If you're able to do it for 5 passages. Try 6. Once 6 becomes easy, do it for 7, so on and so forth. You're going to have problems though if you just try and jump up on your own without the proper foundation. I wouldn't focus on anything else besides doing practice passages until you're timing is down cold. If you're reviewing, the single best thing you can do is to use the Passage Review Worksheets I've referenced in the last few posts. They take some time to fill out, but they are the best way to improve, second only to getting your timing down. Please keep the questions coming and let us know how we can help!
     
  38. Shad0w

    Shad0w 7+ Year Member

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    @TestingSolutions
    Love the guide so far, on day 11 and I'm taking the MCAT on May 20th(Jan 23rd retaker with 126 CARS score). At this point I can answer all the questions within the time limit and go back to answer questions I wasn't quite sure about but I have two questions for you:

    -How many times should we be reviewing a passage using the keyword strategy for those of us who consistently finish on time?
    - On the last MCAT I took, I finished with about 15 minutes left on CARS ( Had not seriously gone through all the testing solutions stuff, so I probably did not read the passages as much as I should have- felt SUPER confident in 90% of all my answers though.....). I ended up going back to all my marked questions but I found that it was difficult to change my answers to something better because I had forgotten the details of the passage. This is not the case when I do one timed passage in one sitting, because the details are fresh. What do you recommend? Marking questions for one passage, then when I get to the last question of that passage, go back before continuing the rest of CARS?

    I appreciate your response!
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2016
  39. plukfelder2017

    plukfelder2017 2+ Year Member

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    Hi Testing Solutions,

    I wanted to drop in to thank you for your guide and dedication to the SDN MCAT forum. I started dedicated CARS preparation for the 7/22 MCAT on 3/29. My first 4 (3 passage) scores placed me between the 50-60 percentile which was quite alarming. However, after reading a decent segment of your guide today morning and focusing on modalities I was able to score 82% on a 4 passage block w/o running out of time. This is a drastic improvement so thank you! I had a few quick questions for you, one of which actually has to do with when I should incorporate T1-T8 into my schedule.

    I am not able to follow the schedule that you had posted simply because I am a non-traditional student who is taking 3 courses (biochem, physio, orgo) with labs this quarter, 2 of which should be ending by 5/12. I will also be taking a compressed TPR course from 5/16-6/17 to secure my content review and enforce discipline during the intermediate leg of this study block.

    I am going to orient my final preparatory schedule in the following manner and am wondering if you think my plan of attack is appropriate?

    Complete EK 101 (3-4 passages a day) by 4/30 at latest
    5/1-5/16 (EK Verbal 30 minute lectures 1-5 and next step verbal 3-4 passages a day prior to start of my TPR class
    5/16-6/4 (TPR CARS Workbook Completed w/ 3-4 passages per day)
    6/4-6/27 complete your T1-T8 exams and the AAMC CARS QP during this time. I will starting my last 26 day peaking period on 6/27, where I will complete 9 practice exams and all AAMC material heading into the examination. This 26 day peaking period is word for word off your sample schedule.

    In addition, since your exams are only available via kindle reader, would I actually have to purchase a kindle or does Amazon have a kindle program that one can download on a standard computer to access the exams?

    Once again I am grateful to you for your assistance.

    ~Plukfelder2017
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2016
  40. TestingSolutions

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

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    @Shad0w - Glad to hear you're finding the guide useful. I think the duration of using the keyword review depends on how well you're "seeing" the changes in the passage. Do the words "always," "but," "and," and "never" jump out at you like road signs? If they don't, you'd probably benefit from a little more time doing the keyword review. Usually after reviewing around 20 passages or so, most people find they're seeing the words and don't need to do it anymore or at least all the time. It might be useful to then do the keyword review every two or three passages. It all depends on where you're at with seeing the keywords. As to your second question, I think there are two strategies on this. When you are taking practice tests, I'd recommend you mark any question you're not 75% sure that your answer is correct. This allows you to optimize your review time. I call these questions "troubled." If you're not sure, or they take too long, you should review why. When you're actually taking the MCAT CARS for real, I would be more conservative with the questions you mark just for the reason that you say. It's better to mark the hardest questions for review and move on after spending two minutes, while investing more time on those hard and medium questions that feel do-able. Remember that you can miss 10 questions and still get a 128. Mark only the hardest questions when you're taking the CARS thus limiting the number you have to go back to. It's better to spend the time on those questions you're likely to get on your first pass of the passage than coming back 40 minutes later. Another technique you can use is to mark the questions and then before moving on to the next passage, quickly going back to the questions you marked in that passage to see if you can answer them. Often, information you'll use to answer one question may help with another, or information in the question stem may shine light on the one thing you weren't seeing before. I always recommend doing a brief 30 second review of the questions you've marked in the passage before moving on. You'll be surprised how many question's you'll pick up that way. Please keep the questions coming!
     
  41. Shad0w

    Shad0w 7+ Year Member

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    May 25, 2010
    @TestingSolutions

    Thanks for the response. That makes a lot of sense. It sounds like I marked too many questions and did not utilize the "30 second review before answering and marking" strategy because I had over a dozen marked . New question though: did you find yourself able to answer a very hard, marked question, 40 minutes or so after the first pass of an MCAT CARS section or did you utilize the strategy of looking back at the end of a passage to answer questions that were hard?
     
  42. JDOGGG

    JDOGGG 2+ Year Member

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    May 20, 2014
    @TestingSolutions thanks for the response! I have taken your advice. I did a full test (timed) every day actually. I finish exactly in the amount of time I am allowed to for the CARS (90min). I literally finish every test exactly as the time expires. Like, I answer the last question right before the end, with maybe 10-15 seconds left. Its kinda weird because I do that almost every time. I thought it was a random thing until I realized I allocate my time based on how fast I finish the easy passages. I finish about 3 passages out of the 9 within 6 min. So I tend to take my time more on the longer/harder ones. I am not sure if thats a good thing so I would like to see what you think. My biggest fear is obviously taking too much time and not finishing in time, since Im so borderline time wise already. but I have no issue investing the right amount of time for the questions. I dont feel rushed. to be honest I havent reviewed as much as you said. I LITERALLY dont have enough time for a full time job and review the passages how you say. I do it for a few passages where I get a ton wrong but even then I have to study other material as well. I do prioritize verbal since it is my worst (all other sections i get 127+ already), but I can only put in about 2-2.5 hours a day at max for verbal which doesnt allow me to take a full test AND to thoroughly do the revisions.

    in good news. my scores have been improving. its funny because your practice tests are sooooo hard. they are exactly the type of questions/passages that I have noticed are on aamc. but they focus on the hard questions about 80% of the time. which I dont mind because they make me envision the entire passage every time I read a question. I finished all of your test and to be honest with you my scores did improve on your test but they were terrible overall. I started out at a 122 and only bumped up to a 125 by the end haha. but Im not sad because the difficulty made me focus so much on the passage and understanding in (in you 30 day method) that I honestly understand every passage more or less regardless of how convoluted the language may be. I know this because my score on the actual aamc material is over 83% correct (which I gander is about an 128ish) and I also get 127-128 on all other practice material I use (TPR FL, Kaplan FL). this improvement started this week actually and its pretty exciting!!!

    my new plan, until my test, is to take a full CARS every other day and in between days I do the corrections (for as much as I can given the time) and I also take a full test every sunday anyway. but this is the best I have ever done at verbal to be honest with you. It feels good reading these passages now and I get it a lot better. I honestly think I might be able to get in 129-130 range prior to my test which would be something I didnt think was possible considering I felt I could never improve in this section.

    and thanks again! I know I rambled a bit, I just wanted to explain my current state as thoroughly as possible. Im still over a month out (may 6) so plz answer the 2 questions I had. the one regarding the time in which i finish (first paragraph) and the one about my study plan going forward. oh and if you think maybe I should prioritize corrections more. honestly I could finish the test faster (maybe 3-5 min left) but since I still manage to finish the whole test I would like to take my time like I have been. let me know either way please! your input has been awesome and its shown in my progress!!
     
  43. TestingSolutions

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

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    @plukfelder2017 - I think your schedule looks good. I'd encourage you to alternate between our practice tests and the AAMC materials in your last phase (6/4/-6/27). Our practice tests are hard. We made them that way so you kill the CARS, but it's important to also use the AAMC CARS materials so you know exactly where your real MCAT performance is.

    Amazon offers a free Kindle eReader app for any and every device/ operating system. When you buy our bundle, instructions are included regarding how to get set up. It will take less than three minutes and is very easy. There are no additional costs besides the bundle. Best of luck and please don't hesitate to ask more questions!
     
  44. TestingSolutions

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

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    @Shad0w - I did both. The one final glance before moving on to the next passage strategy is good if there was a question or two you had down to 50/50 or just weren't 100% sure. Often, answering the other questions will give you just enough of a bump to get you to the right answer. For the "very difficult" questions, stepping away for a half an hour can be a huge help. The reason the question is very difficult is in large part because you're missing something. Every single question on the CARS is answerable. The issue is that we miss questions because we miss the "key piece" in the passage. It's unlikely you see the missing piece after spending 3 or 4 minutes on a question with no progress. You could probably spend another 3 or 4 minutes and still have nothing to show for it. Coming back later is kind of like a hard reset. You'll be looking at the question with a fresher set of eyes and might see the missing piece. Best of luck and keep the questions coming!
     
  45. LordH

    LordH 2+ Year Member

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    Nov 3, 2015
    Hi TestingSolutions,

    What do you recommend when a question requires you to locate a term or phrase in the passage that doesn't exactly echo the main idea?

    For example, a question would be something like "the author mentions important aspect in regards to:"

    I often find myself looking thru the passage once or twice before finding the phrase from the question stem. Any tips about how to approach these types of questions? They aren't necessarily hard questions, but I feel like I lose a lot of time because of this.

    Thank you!
     
  46. TestingSolutions

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

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    @JDOGGG - I'm so glad to hear of your improvement! Great job. Your hard work is paying off. I'll answer you questions one by one.

    1) This is exactly how you should approach CARS timing at the advanced level. The timing recommendations I give at the beginning of this guide are to train you to get yourself moving through the passages. Most people start out not even getting to the last 1 to 2 passages and that's with rushing through the others which equals a terrible score from the get go. At this point, you should be dialing in your time investments to your intuition of the difficulty of the passages, because this will allow you to start picking off those really hard questions that few people get right. The reason they get them wrong is that they don't have enough time to think about them. By speeding up and slowing down depending on difficulty, this will give you the time you need to use the reasoning skills you've been developing.

    2) I think your study plan is on point. I'd really recommend the other day schedule. Few people are able to take a whole practice test and then review it in the way they should. One thing I'd recommend regarding reviewing is to only review questions that you a) missed and b) found difficult while taking the test. I'd recommend keeping a piece of scratch paper close and writing down the questions that you aren't 75%+ sure you got right, questions that took you a long time, or questions that you had no idea on. Sometimes you'll get those hard ones right just by chance and you'll miss out on the opportunity to learn if you just review based on which ones you get wrong. For the questions though that weren't a challenge for you and you knew you were going to get right, it's a waste of your time.

    3) I'd recommend that you start moving towards leaving yourself 3 to 5 minutes at the end to give yourself some cushion. On "Day 25- How to Take a CARS Practice Test" in our guide we write, "

    - You should continue to push yourself on your practice tests and passages. Just because you've got your pacing down doesn't mean you can rest. The best MCATers actually take the CARS slightly faster than the pace we've been training at. It's easier to shave off those last few minutes, so that's why I set the goals I do for you early on, but now that you've got those down, it's time to push yourself. Your goal should be to try to finish your first pass of the CARS section by the 5-minute warning, giving you plenty of time to go back to the questions you marked.

    - After you finish your first pass of the CARS section (hopefully by the 5-minute warning mark) before going to your marked questions, click the review button and make sure you have an answer choice selected for every question. When I was taking my AAMC practice tests, on three different tests, I had accidentally not selected an answer even though I had done the question. Don't let this happen to you!
    Keep up the great work and keep the questions coming!
     
  47. TestingSolutions

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

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    @LordH - This is a great question. I think there are a few ways to deal with this. The first is in how you generally approach reading the passage on your first pass. It's important that you not read for details but overall structure just for this very reason. If you have a general sense of where to go for "XYZ," such as, it's in the last 1/3 of the passage, this will help speed you up. If you're reading for every single detail, you're unlikely to have the mental bandwidth to remember these structural elements. Beyond this, if a particular phrase, word, or idea is used in the passage that seems especially unique, I'd recommend highlighting it as it's likely to be the subject of a question. I'm not a huge fan of highlighting as I think it can distract the test taker, can slow him or her down, and at some point (when you have 8 highlights) really diminishes in its usefulness. With key words or phrase, highlighting can be useful. Finally, if you are searching for an idea, pick out an uncommon word related to the idea to look for in the passage. If you're looking for a sentence or phrase describing Prescott's strategy at the battle of Bunker Hill, terms like "Bunker Hill," "American Revolution," and "battle" are going to be far too general. Looking for the word strategy is probably your best bet as even searching for "Prescott" could bring back a number of distractions. The key is to thoughtfully select one word and then look for that word. And obviously, you don't want to be reading the passage, but scanning it.

    Best of luck and let us know of any other questions you have!
     
  48. maisam567

    maisam567

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    Feb 25, 2016
    Hi Testing Solution,

    I followed your strategy and the way to analyze and I guess I have seen some improvement but not much. I was getting 2-4 wrong per passage before and then when I was following your strategy in the beginning, I went up to almost 65% and was very happy but then after that my scores have been varying a ton. You really helped me with recognizing keywords, picking up the main idea, constantly asking why, and the structure of the passage. I try to remind myself of the main idea as I'm reading again and again and I highlight anywhere I feel the author changes direction or indicates an opinion. I think I've lost faith in doing well in CARS though. I started doing TS passages but they were soooo hard. Most of the passages were very difficult to understand. I would find myself going back constantly and re-reading still being unclear. When it came to the questions, I was having trouble with the questions and answers so I didn't think I was learning anything as my scores started to gradually fall. Timing was and remains an issue. In your sets I was getting like one or two right but when I was taking my FL exams, I was progressively getting worse. SO then I went back to NS Verbal Practice and I'm back to 55-60%. I did up till TS 7. I've been scoring 124-125. On average I get like 1 or 2 wrong per passage. There's always one passage that I get everything right in. And then there are 1-2 passages I totally bomb -- especially every last passage of the FL on CARS because of time. I always have to rush the last passage because I get about 10 minutes to do Passage 8 and 9 on every FL. But I think if I had time then I would say that I'm averaging 60%-ish.

    My exam is scheduled for May 6th. That is exactly 4 weeks. I don't know how to move forward at this point. I have 2 sections left from the NS Verbal Practice book. My scores in those fluctuate between 50-65%. I did TS 3-7 in which I was scoring very very low. I did AAMC CARS QPACK 57% and 56%. And got 62% on CARS AAMC Sample Test 2 weeks ago. I was thinking of going through the QPACKS again so I can start to focus on AAMC question types. TS questions are very close but so much harder that I cannot use it effectively to my benefit or I guess I don't know if it's worth doing them. What do you think? In the beginning when I started reading your strategies, I printed the keyword sheet and went through each passage in the NS and marked keywords heavily so now I can recognize them better. For question types -- It's easy to tell if the question is an Application type or main idea but inference/implication are hard to tell. With the TS Verbal, it was even harder to sense what category of question something was. I would think inference but your solution would write passage detail etc etc. I was even missing main idea questions. So that's why I had to make better use of my time. I felt like when I did different full length exams, I was able to reason through so much better than doing CARS on a normal day of studying because the passages were more comprehendible so I was able to see where my reasoning went wrong and where it was right and if I got the main idea/authors point. I really wish TS were a bit easier in that sense because your advice is amazing and many have benefitted. I wish I had too :/

    These days I have been reading through and kind of mapping the passage in my head. I highlight few words in each paragraph in case I have to refer back. I have been trying to move quick and I am getting better at boiling down to two answers. From there its a guess game. Before I was spending nearly 2-3 hours just on CARS because the technique of reviewing each passage and question we got wrong became very tedious as I got 20+ wrong out of 53. Another thing that I have been doing is that for every question, I just remind myself of the main idea and pick an answer closest to the main idea/argument of author. I'll go back to the passage if its asking for a particular piece -- which is quick because I know exactly where things in the passage are from me getting better at highlighting. And lastly, I read the first few sentences of each passage twice as those tend to the main idea OR leading to the main idea. For the couple passages that I bomb, I find that I failed to understand the author.

    Sorry for this rant lol. I wanted to hear your opinion on my situation. Also, what do you recommend we do when we start the first passage. I seem to have trouble comprehending the first passage as its an adjustment after C/P but then I'm fine as the section goes on except I run out of time for Passage 9 so that's always completely wrong. And -- what do recommend we do if we have 5-8 minutes left for the last passage? I spend 3-4 minutes on reading and then get like 2 minutes to finish all the questions.
     
  49. Jsor20

    Jsor20

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    Feb 22, 2016
    This was very impressive. Thank you.


    Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile
     
  50. LordH

    LordH 2+ Year Member

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    Nov 3, 2015
    Hey TS,

    Thanks for your help! I'll be sure to keep this in mind!

    Another question: what do you think about the difficulty of the AAMC scored FL CARS and the first half of AAMC QPACK 1? After using your guide, I've been building confidence on CARS because I've been consistently scoring high on EK Verbal and TPR Verbal Hyperlearning. I've even done a decent job at NS (I'm honestly aiming for 126-127 since my sci scores are pretty high). However, I saw a huge drop in % correct on the AAMC FL Scored and AAMC Qpack vol 1 (first half) for CARS. Could you provide a little insight on the difficulty of these? I'm writing my test soon and I'm worried because maybe all this time, I've only gotten better at non-AAMC material :\
     
  51. Brah of Science

    Brah of Science 2+ Year Member

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    Sep 30, 2014
    Hi Testing Solution,

    I have a question about timing. When using your timing for a full length, the time comes out greater than 90 minutes. I was just wondering how we should approach full length test in comparison to doing passages individually?

    Thanks!
     

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