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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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    @maisam567- Thanks for writing. I'll deal with your paragraphs in turn:

    P1) - Unfortunately, there are not quick fixes to the CARS section and there aren't tips I can give that will cause huge jumps in score (usually). My question would be, how many passages have you done while utilizing the strategies we've outlined in this guide? You'll need to take somewhere around 60 to really start seeing improvement and I think many people don't get to where they want to be before 120. As to the difficulty of our exams, they are very difficult. We designed them this way. While it can be discouraging, I'd encourage you to focus not on the score you're getting (because while we try very hard to mirror the scaled scoring of the AAMC materials) we aren't perfect and don't have the benefit of knowing behind the scenes. Use them for tough practice when you're ready, but use the AAMC materials to gauge your actual progress.

    P2) - Each person is different, but hundreds of MCATers have used our practice tests successfully to study for the CARS. With that said, if you find that they're "too difficult" maybe save them for a week or two and try some easier passages. With percentages in the 60%s on AAMC materials, one thing comes to mind is how well you're managing your timing. Do you feel rushed on the last few passages? At this point, I would spend less time reviewing and more time doing passages. I think deep review of passages starts to get you from 80% into the 90%s, but up until then, is of limited use. I'm not saying don't review, but just review the three or four hardest passages (the ones you say bombed). Then keep doing more passages. If I were you, I'd try to get another 60 passages in before your test date. Have you used EK 101 or TPR book? Both excellent resources.

    P3) Are you pre-scanning passages? I think trying to summarize what you're reading is great as the CARS section is as much a test of translating from complicated and dense ideas to simple and approachable ones. I'd just make sure that you're not spending too much time trying to arrive at a perfect summary at the detriment of answering questions. "Knowing where things are" is so important and is exactly what we mean when we say "read" for structure.

    P4) If you are getting every question wrong in passage 9 because you don't have time, you shouldn't be spending any time on reviewing. 6 questions is 11% of your exam score. This tells me that you're timing isn't correct. My recommendation would be not to get yourself in that situation in the first place. We talk about building up to the timing/ correct pacing required to get through a CARS test. This is something you will not start with and you will likely be discouraged if you try to. I'd recommend breaking up your 9 passage full-length into three passage blocks. Add the timing together for those three passages.

    Thus if:

    Passage 1 has 5 questions, you get 9 minutes
    Passage 2 has 6 questions, you get 10.5 minutes
    Passage 3 has 7 questions, you get 12 minutes

    So for this three question block, you'd give yourself (9m + 10.5m + 12m) = 31.5 minutes total.
    You pull out your timer, set it for 31.5 minutes and then do the three passages. This will allow you to practice keeping up your speed, but if you do get behind, when you do your next block, you'll have a clean slate to practice again. This is the best way for you to practice your timing. I cannot emphasize it enough, if you are missing an entire passage because you're taking too long on earlier passages, you should not be wasting your time reviewing. You should be taking more practice passages and practicing your timing like I've instructed above.

    You primary problem is timing. Reviewing practice tests will not help with your timing. Practicing your timing is the only way you'll get back with your timing. This is something you can easily fix in a month which will undoubtedly help your score a great deal.
    Best of luck and keep the questions coming!
     
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  3. TestingSolutions

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

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    @Jsor20 - Glad to hear it might be helpful to you! Stop by and ask a question anytime!
     
  4. TestingSolutions

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

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    @LordH - There's a great thread about results on the various AAMC resources and how people did on the real MCAT. A quick (and very unscientific) glance at the results seems to say that most people did worse on the scored full-length than they did on the real thing, which might imply it's slightly harder than the real thing. But I'd be careful not to infer too much. What do you think is causing you to score lower? Are the questions harder? Are your running out of time? What's causing the drop in score? I do think AAMC materials are the best indication of performance, but in my experience, it is rare to have some do consistently well on non-AAMC material and then completely bomb AAMC material. Do you think you psyched yourself out because it was the "real deal"? I think the important question for you is figuring out what the difference is between how you did on the non-AAMC material and the AAMC material. I'd spend a little time and reflect on that and I"m sure you'll come up with a few things you can improve on next time. I'd encourage to just keep moving forward and continue to do as many passages as you can fit into your schedule.

    Please keep the questions coming!
     
  5. TestingSolutions

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

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    @Brah of Science - This is a great question! We outline the differences between how you should practice early on and how you should actually approach taking full-length practice tests on Day 25 - How to take a CARS Practice Test. I'd check it out if you feel you're to that point. The reason we recommend the timings we do early on is because most MCATers are way off on their time and to do actual CARS timing from the start would be too much of an adjustment. We think recommending the times we do, especially when you're doing only a few passages at a time as we recommend in the stair step approach to building up to a full-test, allows users to gradually change the way they approach CARS instead of a drastic shift which few can really do well. With that said, once you're to the point of taking a full-length we recommend the following concerning timing:

    - When you have your pacing down, you should be spending only 3 to 4 minutes reading the passage. If you are taking much more time than that to read a passage, you need to do more individual passages, as your pacing isn't where it should be to actually take a full CARS test. This will leave you roughly a minute per question.

    - Only voluntarily look at the clock 1 time! I know this is so hard for test takers, but it's really the best way to do it. Look at the clock after you finish the 6th passage. You should have close to 35 minutes left. If you don't, it's time to speed up. Don't wait until your last passage to try and make up for lost time. You'll barely notice shaving off a minute from each of your remaining passages, but try and take three minutes off your last passage, and you'll probably miss at least half the questions. Look at the clock after you finish the 6th passage, you should have 35 minutes left.

    - 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 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!
    The real place we want to get you is to where you're able to spend a little more time on tough passages and a little less time on easier passages instinctively, where you're not thinking "This is a 5 question passage, only 9 minutes!!" Instead, we want you to be able to speed up and slow down based on the difficulty of the passage in front of you. Thus, the further you get along in your CARS preparations, the less and less you want to be focusing on your time and strict time limits for passages.

    Please let us know if this doesn't make sense or if you have more questions! Best of luck on your MCAT and thanks for writing :)
     
  6. Jsor20

    Jsor20

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    How would you suggest I study for taking the MCAT in january? I have about 9 months and would love to get a top score in CARS and of course other sections.
     
  7. Qoubster88

    Qoubster88 2+ Year Member

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    @TestingSolutions Hithere. I want to first of all thank you for all that you've written with the CARS passage help. I wanted to know if you can help me with a plan to follow for a month. I was trying to figure what advice you were given others in the same category but I wasn't exactly understanding.

    Any tips or schedules you recommend following would be great. I have all of the AAMC material and Kaplan (but I saw you said not to do Kaplan CARS b/c of the word search thing). My exam is 5/20 and I'm getting 124/125's on them. Thank you so much!
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
  8. maisam567

    maisam567

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    HI. Thank you for your response. I will keep doing passages then. I did PR full length CARS and those were very difficult. I couldn't manage to get through. I will keep those things in mind. I will look at your question categories again and do passages. I wasn't struggling with time before but I have been on every test I take. I think most of it might be from being anxious as well.

    What if I read the passage and have no idea what I just read? Whats the best thing you recommend in that situation? Should I go back to reading the first sentence of each paragraph and then just answer questions to the best of my ability without referring back to the passage? I feel like there are 1 or 2 passages that I will get stuck on and I find myself trying to hunt the answer or some clue in the passage. I think that plays a significant role in my timing issue. Thank you for your help and suggestions. They have been very helpful.
     
  9. Shad0w

    Shad0w 7+ Year Member

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    @TestingSolutions: Thanks for the response. I am now on day 27 and learned last week that my timing has prevented me from making the jump from more than 3 passages in one sitting comfortably. I'm running into an issue with reading comprehension where if I don't take more time per passage, I end up missing a lot of questions.

    I'm reading for an overall "tone" and try to ask questions in my head as I'm reading, but I find that it slows me down even more.... I took 3 passages out of EK's 101 Verbal Reasoning(Just finished the TPR Hyperlearning) and scored 7/17 today which is the lowest I've scored in a long time. I scored a 126 on my first take of the MCAT in Jan, and now have 1 month until my next retake... any advice on what to do?
     
  10. Arsenalfcfan1

    Arsenalfcfan1 2+ Year Member

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    @TestingSolutions I just completed the T1 test and scored a 124 and I am pretty gutted with my score. Should I ignore reviewing ( since I am not hitting my target score 126-127)and just keep doing more passages? Thank you


    Sent from my iPhone using SDN mobile app
     
  11. TestingSolutions

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

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    @Jsor20 - Being 9 months out, I'd recommend you spend the next three months reading two or three articles a day from the articles Jack Westin has compiled. I don't usually recommend "general reading" but being that far out, you'll use up all your passages too early. Around six months out, I'd start doing one passage a day from TBR (taking one day a week off). Every two weeks, I'd add another passage, slowly working your way up to 9 passages. 3 to 4 months out, I'd recommend taking a full-length practice test two or three times a week, and then reviewing each of the passages in detail. This would be the ideal way to prepare for the CARS, but few are able to dedicate this much time and keep up with the other areas of their life and medical school application. Go for it if you have the time and energy, but don't let it negatively affect other aspects of your application. Best of luck!
     
  12. TestingSolutions

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

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    @Qoubster88 - Here's an excerpt from the beginning of our guide:

    Emergency #2 – My Test is in a Month:

    I've seen people make some big gains in less than a month. It's a lot of hard work, but it can be done. Here are the keys:

    Don't waste your time reviewing your practice tests until you get into the 127 to 128 range consistently. Use the time you would have been reviewing passages to do more passages. The truth is that reviewing the rational behind correct answers benefits you very little if your time is still off, which it almost always is for anyone scoring under a 127. Once you are no longer losing easy points to the clock, then you can start to review.

    As is almost always the case on the CARS, low scores are most commonly a result of poor timing. My prescription for your first two weeks is to do 5 to 6 passages each day. Set the timer for one passage and finish the passage and question set. When the time is up, reset the timer for the next passage, and move on, even if you haven't completed the questions for the previous passage.

    Be sure to finish reading the passage in 3 to 4 minutes, and don't go back to reread the passage for anything while answering the questions.

    After doing two weeks of the above, for the next five days, take a practice CARS test each day. Take one break day, and then repeat the five days, taking a practice CARS test each day. Don't waste your time reviewing your practice tests until you're in the golden 127 to 128 range. This will put you 3 days out from the test. Take another break day, and then take one final practice test two days before your test day. I'd recommend not even grading this one, as an aberrant low score might shoot your confidence. If you've done the above, you'll be in good shape come test day. If you find yourself no longer struggling to finish the test in time, then you can begin to review the passages even if you haven't reached the 127 range, but don't start reviewing passages and questions beyond taking a peek at the ones you got wrong until your timing is rock solid. I know this is uncomfortable for some of you, but trust me on this one Timing is the foundation of every ultra high score on the CARS. If you don't have timing, you have nothing.​

    Regarding tips, I'd recommend you start using the AAMC materials now. There are 67 passages total (22 passages per question pack x 2 + 9 passages per practice test x 2 + 5 passages per study guide). I'd encourage you to focus on the following posts as they are the highest yield:

    Day 5 – How to Approach the MCAT CARS Section – The Passage
    Day 7 – Argumentation: Modality
    Day 9 – How to Use Keywords
    Day 11 – CARS Question Types: The Main Idea
    Day 25 – How to Take a CARS Full-Length Practice Test

    You definitely can raise your score by two or three points in a month if you work hard enough. Keep us updated on your progress!
     
  13. TestingSolutions

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

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    @maisam567 - My first question in these sorts of situations will always be, "How's your timing?" Are you running out of time or having to rush at the end of the full-lengths? What is making them difficult? Is it simply an issue of not understanding the passage or is there something else going on. When's your test/ how many AAMC CARS passages have you done? I'm sure anxiety is affecting you too. Maybe check out

    Regarding your second paragraph/ questions:


    What to Do When You Are Struggling to Understand a Difficult Passage:

    Tips for when you're taking a CARS test:

    1) The first thing you need to do is to stay calm. Don't let the "I'm not going to get into medical school" meltdown occur. Everyone that is taking the MCAT is going to be facing the same difficult passage you are and they're no smarter than you. When you realize it's a difficult passage. Take a few deep breaths to center yourself.

    2) Remember that often times, difficult passages have easy questions. What counts on the MCAT are the questions, not your comprehension of the passage. Theoretically those two will correspond, but not always. When the MCAT serves up a hard passage to you, part of what they're trying to do is get into your head and freak you out. Slow down, and realize that while the passage is hard, the questions will as often as not be much easier.

    3) You're going to want to read through the passage at a slower rate than you would for a medium or easy passage. At the beginning of your prep for the CARS, I recommend a standard set of times depending on the number of questions. As you develop a sense of the correct pace for the CARS, you can step away from those passage times and invest more time in the harder passages, while spending less time on the easier ones. Once your timing is down, I'd recommend taking 5 or even 6 minutes to read a really difficult passage, while maybe only 3 for an easy one. It's ok to read slow. It's even ok to reread a sentence or two, or even a paragraph if you think it will help.

    4) Remember that you're only going to be tested on between 20% and 35% of the content in the passage, thus 100% mastery is not necessary nor is it expected by the AAMC. Read for structure not details. I like to think of hard passages as kind of like climbing a mountain. You've got to look for your next handhold. Pick up as much information as you can,. Try to find the one idea or point you think the author is making in the paragraph, and let go of the rest.

    5) You don't have to get every question right to do really well on the CARS. You can miss up to 8 questions and still get a 128. Even if your percentage for a hard passage drops down to 50%, you've only missed 3 questions, which in the grand scheme of it all isn't really that much. The real danger is spending far to much time on a hard passage, and messing yourself up for the rest of the test. Remember that the question that keeps you out of medical school is not the one you missed, but the one you spent too much time on.
    Tips for when you're review a CARS test:

    1) Difficult passages require significantly more effort and time than easy passages review. If you find yourself with one of those passages that you feel like you don't understand at all, sit down and fight with it. Spend as much time as it takes. I highly recommend using our review method while filling out our passage review worksheets. (Download the following handouts: How to Review a CARS Practice Test and Passage Review Worksheet).

    2) If you're studying for the MCAT you're obviously a bright person. There is no reason that you shouldn't be able to understand a passage. If it takes an hour for you to get through it, fine, spend an hour. These are the opportunities for you to grow and strengthen your CARS taking skills. Struggling to understanding a difficult passage in the review phase is one of the best ways to improve your reading comprehension and developing your CARS skills.

    3) Have you been consistently doing our "Keywords Review?" This really strengthens your ability to breakdown passages and see their mechanics and flow. Take a look at Day 8 for a refresher.

    4) While we have a series of posts that go in-depth on how to review a CARS passage (Download the tip sheet above), I'll do a brief overview here:
    a) Wait at least four hours to review your practice test
    b) Read the passage once through without a timer. Keep yourself moving at a good place, but take as much time as you need to understand it.
    c) Read through the passage again but this time, after every paragraph, write a one or two sentence summary. Reread the paragraph as many times as you need until you are able to write a summary.
    d) After writing a summer for each paragraph, "Paint Your Way to the Main Idea." (Take a look at Day 10 if you need a refresher)
    - What's the frame of this passage?
    - What's the subject matter of this passage?
    - What's the point of this passage?​
    e) After "Painting your Way to the Main Idea," write down a one or two sentence summary of the entire passage.​
    5) Reviewing passages takes a lot of time and energy, especially if you're reviewing a hard passage. This is why it is important to give yourself a break and some time in between taking the practice test and reviewing it. If you're reviewing your practice test when your energy is slow and you're tired, it's unlikely you'll make much improvement or learn much, because you'll just be doing it for the sake of doing it. Work hard and struggle with these passages, and if you review them like we advise, you will improve.

    6) Finally, if you're having a complete breakdown, it's possible there is a language issue. If English is your second (or third) language, you might need to do some extra reading such as the New York Times, Economist, or a philosophy textbook for a few months before actively starting to study for the CARS. This is the only time I advise this sort of reading, but 3 or 4 months of reading one or two articles a day has helped out many of ESL MCATer.

    7) If English is your first language, but you're still having a complete breakdown, take a highlighter and go through the hard passage you're not able to understand and mark any words whose meaning you couldn't explain to a ten year old. If you have more than one or two words per passage, you would probably benefit from a vocabulary building course, as you might be losing out on a lot of meaning. It's incredible how we just skip over words we don't know without realizing it. You'll have to be diligent in reviewing your passages to make sure your vocabulary is where it needs to be at.

    8) Is it possible you have ADHD or a learning disability? The MCAT gives testing accommodations for such things. This is noting to be ashamed of. There are a ton of docs out there right now that had to face similar obstacles. It's better to find out now and get help than waiting until later.
    Best of luck and please keep in touch if there's anything we can do to help!

    @Shad0w - I think by and large all of the above applies to you as well.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2016
  14. maisam567

    maisam567

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    lol no...no learning disability as far as I know. I mean I made it through undergrad fine so i don't know...maybe a CARS disability lol. But yeah English isn't my first language so I know that language is an issue. I guess sometimes it takes an effort to think a certain way for some questions -- i.e. like with questions asking for "least" or NOT stuff but not because of learning disability lol (at least i hope not). Language develops perception and thought [linguistic determinism] :cigar: lol.


    I will refer to your passages again though. I really like how your questions align with AAMC. And someone suggested Golden Rule so i'll see if that technique helps. You must know about it.


    I do have a question about inference type questions though. I understand that they are the 'unstated conclusions' that the author makes. But I'm getting the sense that the inference should be an answer that makes logical sense with the context that is being asked in. I think I'm getting the wrong idea on how to approach them.


    I wanted to provide an example. T5 - Passage 2 - about social groups and how all intermingle. Question 7 asked about "author's belief about earliest formation of social groups." Ok so without even reading the passage, just from the question stem -- "earliest formation of social groups" -- one can probably infer that it's probably something relating to ensuring survival so basic needs like foods, shelter, water, safety. Choice A stating "....rely on each other for food and protection" makes logical sense. What I did was go to look in paragraph 3 of the passage where the author has a statement saying.."At first members....usually follow rather than lead. Sometimes under direct coercion....to partake of the advantages that such membership makes possible" So I was specifically looking for an answer where groups are working to fulfill some standard. I went for D after complicating the question because bands members are members of a group who are ensuring some type of duty. After I complicated everything, A seemed extreme just because the passage layout was casual. I don't know. But after looking at the answer, I thought to myself, all that thinking for nothing. I could've just put that and move on.



    Thank you for all your helpful suggestions. I have really appreciated your time.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016
  15. zack929bb

    zack929bb 2+ Year Member

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    Last edited: May 4, 2016
  16. To be MD

    To be MD Med School Or Bust 5+ Year Member

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    @TestingSolutions Hello, TS!

    In regards to "Inference and Implication" questions: in your guide, it says that both of them always require "unstated conclusions," however, sometimes a correct answer choice is a direct quote from the text. Could you help change our definition to fit this phenomenon?
     
  17. To be MD

    To be MD Med School Or Bust 5+ Year Member

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    Take them on the computer; there's no paper MCAT.
     
  18. TestingSolutions

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

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    @To be MD - Thanks for writing. Are you referring to AAMC materials or our practice tests? A correct answer to an implication or reference question will never be a direct quote from the passage because by definition then it wouldn't be an implication or an inference. If it's our materials, it's possible the question is mislabeled or if you're able to direct me to an example of what you're talking about, something else might be going on that I can try to clear up.

    Implication - a conclusion that can be drawn from something, although is not explicitly stated.
     
  19. my045881

    my045881 2+ Year Member

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    Hey,

    First off, I just bought your practice tests because I could really use more CARS practice. And thank you for guide, I will be incorporating it in my study schedule starting tomorrow.
    I am sorry if you have answered these questions already but I have 2 questions:

    1. Whenever I am making my 5 word summaries for the each paragraph, I personally feel like they take more time and are unimportant. I feel like they just distract me. Do you think that this is because I need to do more practice questions so the I can become more comfortable, or should I drop this habit. I feel like highlighting keywords and thinking about the paragraphs as I read keeps me engaged without slowing me down. I know that your guide says to write a few words down. Is this really necessary. Should I try to "learn" this new habit (I never really took notes-even in my AP English classes), or just drop it and stick to what I have been doing my entire life. but then I think, maybe the MCAT is another beast, and just I don't know better.

    2. I am not sure if you can help me with this, but I have been having the same problem lately and I don't know how to correct it. I always narrow down my answer choices to 2, but I sometimes pick the wrong one because I overthink the question. I keep telling myself, " well it could be that the author is saying........"
    What can I do to fix, if anything?
     
  20. To be MD

    To be MD Med School Or Bust 5+ Year Member

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    Hello TS friends,


    You guys are right; it wasn't from the AAMC. The question came out of TPRH's practice exams in ye olde workbook.

    I totally see your point. Thank you :).
     
  21. greatchanges

    greatchanges 2+ Year Member

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    Hi! First thank you so much for this guide. I was very lost when it came to CARS because of all the CARS "Tips & Tricks" out there. In short I will follow this guide and ignore the Kaplan/TPR verbal books minus any practice passages.

    My question:

    I am in the middle of completing my over all study schedule/guide and am trying to figure out which FL's makes the most sense. In regards to this CARS guide (and CARS practice) do you think utilizing TPR and Kaplan FL's instead of the EK and the Next Step FL's is an adequate trade? I checked out this whole thread and also this discussion here about the EK FL but I am still on the fence considering they are a bit pricey but will spring the money if you think its necessary.

    Also, do you think the EK & NS FL's will be an adequate trade for the Kaplan and TPR FL's for the other sections? I would do them all but i wont have time.
     
  22. jmiz

    jmiz

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    Hello. I am planning on following your guide to prep for MCAT CARS. I will be taking my exam in June. I am using the examkrackers verbal 101 passages and just completed the first passage on their practice test 1- about empathy and animal experimentations. I would appreciate it if you can give me your thoughts on my issue with two of the passage questions: namely Q2 and Q4. I thought both questions contained correct answers that were too vague and highly doubt the mcat answers would be as such: both answers target same theme of animals not being able to communicate with humans effectively by nonverbal means, yet they do not specify the interaction and leave it as animals communicate effectively (which I then assumed then meant with each other and automatically eliminated them as correct answers). Thanks for your help. I am now on D8 of your guide, and am mainly working to try to get down my time.
     
  23. Zaba

    Zaba In Omnia Paratus 2+ Year Member

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    @TestingSolutions Hi TS,

    Gold Standard has 5 Cars test available for purchase. I did one today and just got slaughtered :( I have been practicing as per your guide using EK passages and NS passages (saving the AAMC ones for weeks closer to my exam) and have seen improvements in terms of timing; however, today I felt rushed, missed one whole passage and was sort of panicking through the rest of test. The passages in the GS test seemed to be quite lengthy in comparison to other resources and difficult in subject matter. This was my first day taking a FL Cars section. Prior to this, I have completed multiple passages in a row finishing just on time with no seconds to spare.
    So two things:
    Should I continue taking practice passages or go on to FL tests? Maybe try something different from GS
    What do you think of the new GS Cars section?
    (i'm using them because I purchased some stuff from GS and they are part of the package- figured it may just be good for extra practice)

    Thanks again for this thread- It's invaluable!!
     
  24. TestingSolutions

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

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    @Shad0w - Sorry for the slow response! You some how got lost in the mix. I'd recommend the same for you that I did for a previous user:

    Best of luck on studying. I can't encourage you enough not to rush taking the MCAT. Don't sit for it until you're ready.
     
  25. TestingSolutions

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

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    Since I'm assuming that the "EK 101 online pdf" you're referencing was not purchased from Exam Krackers, I'm not going to comment on this, as I don't want to come across as supporting using copy-right infringed materials. In general though, I think it is best to use materials and test settings that closely correlate with what you're going to face on test day.

    Best of luck!
     
  26. TestingSolutions

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

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    @my045881 - Here are my thoughts:

    1. We only recommend that you summarize sentences when reviewing passages. You shouldn't be trying to do them while you're actually taking the test. That's the advice of other companies and it is bad advice. Practice summarizing passages/ paragraphs when you're reviewing as we outline on Day 29 – Putting it All Together: How to Review an Entire CARS Practice Test. To be clear, our guide says to write words down when you're reviewing, NOT when you're taking the test.
    2. This is a common problem. One of the best ways to deal with having two answer choices left is to pick the answer choice that is "LEAST WRONG." Don't look for the one that is correct, but eliminate the answer choice that "feels" or seems more incorrect. An answer on the CARS has to be 100% correct, so if there is anything incorrect about it, it can't be right.
    Best of luck and please keep the questions coming!
     
    my045881 likes this.
  27. TestingSolutions

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

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    @greatchanges - I'm not as well versed about the other sections of the MCAT regarding different test prep companies' practice tests. I do think EK has the most accurate full-lengths available. My understanding based on the opinions I hear from friends and on SDN is that TPR's full-lengths are more difficult while Kaplans' are less difficult. In terms of FLs, I think you're probably fine. In terms of CARS practice, I can't recommend it enough: use the tried and true resources. AAMC, EK, TPR, (and I would argue Testing Solutions). For test prep companies, CARS practice passages are so easy to get wrong and many do. I wouldn't recommend going cheap on them. FLs in general is a little bit different, because no test is perfect, but there are definitely superior CARS practice materials and those are the materials you should be using.

    Best of luck and keep your questions coming!
     
  28. TestingSolutions

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

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    @Zaba - Thanks for writing. While I haven't looked at the GS CARS materials in a while, they really weren't the best the last time I did. It's possible that there have improved, but if you haven't already used the major CARS names, I'd recommend using them. I'd recommend stair stepping your number of passages up, because if you're missing a whole passage due to panic, you've still got some ground to cover before taking a FL is a good idea. What's the highest number of passages you've completed in a row without running out of time?

    I'd recommend continuing to do practice passages and try one of the other big names (EK, TPR, Testing Solutions) instead of GS. Also, have you tried some of the AAMC CARS passages? These are a must! I'm not qualified to speak on their new materials, but I haven't heard good things in the past. While history isn't always a indicator of the present, if there are tried and true materials you haven't used, I'd recommend you use them.

    Best of luck and keep the questions coming!
     
  29. TankedForAuston

    TankedForAuston

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    Do you by any chance have a link to testimonials for this program? I'm willing to put in the work to improve in CARS and I'm three months out of my exam so this fits nicely with my schedule. I just want to make sure that I'm committing to the best possible method for myself.
     
  30. Zaba

    Zaba In Omnia Paratus 2+ Year Member

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    Thank you for your response @TestingSolutions !

    I can do 4-5 passages with in time but only with a minute left or so. Its between 5-6 for some reason I run out of time so panic sets in and actually slows me down- so I'm unable to finish it just or just not concentrate as well on the rest of the exam.

    I am about 45 study days out from my exam. I have been using EK101 passages/NS verbal 108/few TPR. I also have the TS solution tests but am trying to get my timing in check before I take the full length TS tests. They are factored into the plan you have laid out in the TS Cars 30 day guide. I was on day 36 and decided to do the 9passages from GS because I had them available and also because I have been Doing a lot of practice with the other material (EK/TPR etc) before discovering your guide.

    I had taken the MCAT in August and scored a 122- :( a lot has to do with timing (missed 2 passages and rushed through the others). I used the AAMC pack and dissected it to a tee during practice. I tried doing th material again but I feel my results are a bit skewed because I have seen those passages and answers before.

    Should just try to stick to 6- until I get my timing down?
    Verbal isn't my strongest suit, however the timing causes me to panic and then I can't seem to really focus through out the rest of the exam.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2016
  31. TheHound

    TheHound 2+ Year Member

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    @TestingSolutions - Hi, any advice regarding using Next Step's 108 passages for extra practice? Has anyone had the chance to go through this book, and if so how would you rate quality of passages / questions ? I'm writing in 97 days and was considering doing more than just 1 or 2 passages as recommended by the schedule, and having already done some of EK and TPR I'm considering using Next Step.

    Also - is it wise to go through the old verbal tests from AAMC 3 - 9 ? I realize these contain science passages, but aside from that they would probably be very representative of what we're likely to see on the actual CARs section..

    Appreciate the advice!
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2016
  32. Onach

    Onach

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    I finished the guide with some great results by the 30 day mark, I was doing 5 passages with good timing and usually got only 3-5 questions wrong each time
    However when I started doing practice tests (Testing solutions) I was doing way worse, struggling to keep up with timing (both my fault and the kindle platform that is not super easy to maneuver) and two tests in a row I got a little over 50% correct. What am I doing wrong? what should my course of action be?
     
  33. Onach

    Onach

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    I finished the guide with some great results by the 30 day mark, I was doing 5 passages with good timing and usually got only 3-5 questions wrong each time
    However when I started doing practice tests (Testing solutions) I was doing way worse, struggling to keep up with timing (both my fault and the kindle platform that is not super easy to maneuver) and two tests in a row I got a little over 50% correct. What am I doing wrong? what should my course of action be?
     
  34. D4n21

    D4n21

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    Hi Testing Solutions, I've been doing the Keyword review for a few days now and I just wanted to clarify. Do we highlight EVERY verb, adverb and adjectives? There always seems to be a lot of orange on my pages (I do check with google to make sure I'm not accidentally highlighting nouns)
     
  35. D4n21

    D4n21

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    Hi Testing Solutions, I've been doing the Keyword review for a few days now and I just wanted to clarify. Do we highlight EVERY verb, adverb and adjectives? There always seems to be a lot of orange on my pages (I do check with google to make sure I'm not accidentally highlighting nouns)
     
  36. theonlytycrane

    theonlytycrane 2+ Year Member

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    @TestingSolutions

    Is it appropriate to ask about a question from T1 here? I can also PM if that's more appropriate.

    Edit: Going to post on the T1 thread :)
     
  37. greatchanges

    greatchanges 2+ Year Member

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    Hello @TestingSolutions,

    Thank you for the guide and all the work you have put into this. I have a few questions:

    I just started with the first thirty days and I am on day 2. I have read through most of this thread so I have found that a common theme in this program is to prioritize timing first.
    • So far I am finishing my passages with 2+ minutes to spare. I usually go back and look at the questions I starred in this time should i do this?
    Since I am only on day 2 I have not read any strategies to employ yet. So I am literally just pacing my self and ensuring I finish on time. I am also employing what ever skills I have used in the past for similar passage based exams.
    • However, it seems those skills I have been using in the past don't work well here because I am missing 3-4 questions on every passage is this normal?
    Lastly, I have shared this program with a family member who is also studying for this exam and upon speaking with him he has shared with me alternate theories in regards to focusing on time first vs (CARS strategies) accuracy first. He is taking a Kaplan course and apparently their teaching him and his class that focusing on timing for CARS should happen after they learn how to answer questions accurately employing w/e Kaplan's strategies are. Apparently this Kaplan class is teaching them that focusing on time is not the best thing to do because while you may be finishing on time you aren't answering accurately.
    I understand that there are multiple paths to get to the same place and that there is no such thing as one size fits all however, I was wondering if you could comment on Kaplan's flipped rational regarding when to focus on timing when preparing for the CARS section.

    Personally, I am partial to the strategy you have here because in a broader sense it makes sense timing would be such an issue for so many people. I know it is wise to just stick with what I have started and have confidence in my self and the path I have set on I guess I am naturally just second guessing my self based upon what I have heard and the fact that I have been finishing my passages on time with seems like a lot of time to spare while unfortunately answering questions inaccurately.
     
  38. TestingSolutions

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

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    @TankedForAuston - I think your best bet would be to read through these posts. Most people include a sentence or two about how they've used this guide and what results its produced. In terms of our practice tests, you can check out the 250+ reviews on Amazon.com by clicking here. Best of luck and please let us know how we can help!
     
  39. TestingSolutions

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

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    There's a few different ways to deal with this. I'd recommend you do five passages as a block and then do a sixth passage immediately following the five passage block, but reset the clock. This way, you're building the stamina of doing six passages in a row, but the timing is still separate. Just keep practicing and eventually the panic will go away. Just try your best to focus on the passage in front of you and keep yourself moving.

    You've still got plenty of time. I'd continue doing the 5 + 1 approach to passages every day until it gets more comfortable. I'd stay clear of the GS exams. EK101 or NS, but if you have them TPR would be what I would do next. Our exams are great, but they are difficult. I would leave those until later and focus on working up to them. I'm not sure reusing the AAMC question packs is going to be much use to you if you remember them so well. Keep the questions coming! You're doing it just keep it up
     
  40. TestingSolutions

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

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    @TheHound - I've heard reasonably good things about them, but I haven't used them myself. I"d really recommend going through EK and TPR first, or rotate between the three. I'm not going to comment on the old verbal tests because legally there is no way someone should still be able to access them without copyright infringement. With that said, I do think many of the passages are similar if not directly carried over. Don't even think about taking the MCAT without doing the CARS question packs, the study guide, and the two practice tests.

    Best of luck!
     
  41. TestingSolutions

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

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    @Onach - Realize that our practice tests are designed to be around 20% harder than the AAMC. Many people who score in the 60s on our tests score in the mid to high 80s on the real thing. We believe practicing with heavier weights makes for easy lifting on test day. I would only use AAMC materials to actually gauge your performance, because every other test prep company (including us) is just giving you their best approximation of the test. If you want to know where you're at for the real thing, I'd take 6 to 9 AAMC CARS passages and see how those feel.
     
  42. TestingSolutions

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

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    @D4n21 - Sorry for the very slow response. The "key" to doing the keyword review is to be highlighting the words that are important. When it comes to verbs, adverbs, and adjectives, you don't need to highlight all of them, just the important ones that are meaning. With other keywords, such as "and," "but," "always," etc. you want to highlight them all, but by doing verbs, adverbs, and adjectives, you're basically going to be highlighting 80% of the page which defeats the purpose of developing your intuition about what's important and what's not.

    I'd recommend doing the Keyword review with two or three of your passages per day and continue to do so until your timing is down. When you jump up to 5 or 6 passages at a time, then it's probably ok to move on to a full review like we discuss in our later posts. Sorry again for the slow response.
     
  43. TestingSolutions

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

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    Thanks! I'll answer it over there.
     
  44. TestingSolutions

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

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    I think returning back to the harder questions when you finish early is a great idea. With that said, if you're very confident that you got those questions right, I'd put that time in your pocket and use it later in the test on the hardier passages. This is the best way to jump your score, because you're able to pick up those last 20% of questions that are much hardier that most people miss.

    I think using techniques that have worked for you in the past is a great idea. As you say, there is no magic formula. We do outline some habits that are not good to develop, but you'll get to that within the next couple of days, so I wouldn't worry about it. Integrate new techniques as you can and unless it's explicitly said not to do something, you're probably fine.

    In regards to Kaplan, I'll put it this way. If you are rushing through the last three passages (18 questions) and you only get 50% correct, even if you get 75% correct on the other parts of the test, you're looking at a 125 or 126 at best, which is not the score most people want. Besides, most people do much worse. "Strategies" will pick you up maybe 5 or 8 questions extra, which is great, but those 5 or 8 questions are so much hardier because you're changing a lot about how you're taking the test. Correcting your pacing is much, much easier, so it gets your score up quickly and from day one you're taking your practice passages at the correct pacing instead of doing 50 or 60 passages at the wrong pace before you even start thinking about pacing. I think they have no idea what they're talking about when it comes to CARS, but that's just my two cents. Best of luck!
     
  45. majinpatrick

    majinpatrick

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    Hey @TestingSolutions ,

    I am about to begin my MCAT studying for August 20. I have previous written the old and new exam both twice (scored 6, 5, 124, 124 on CARS). I have tried a variety of strategies and found them only somewhat helpful. Would your 30 Day CARS Guide be appropriate for me? It sounds like this is for those who are aiming to score extremely high, but I personally would be very happy with 128 as I am Canadian.

    Perhaps you can give me some guidance based on your past experiences teaching students using this program.
     
  46. Onach

    Onach

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    Do you recommend going over the testing solutions guide again? I have 4 weeks until my test
     
  47. kryptonxenon

    kryptonxenon

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    I have recently started preparing for the MCAT and definitely think CARS is a weakness of mine. I took 3 practice CARS exams from EK 101 and got around 26/40 correct on those. I've decided to not use up this material until a few more months because of your advice that these are good practice. I have been doing passages in TBR Verbal (averaging between 70-75%) and NextStep (averaging between 65-70%). I've been trying to incorporate the strategies you suggested, and I certainly feel like I get a better understanding of the passages and feel more confident when picking answers. However, I am still making a lot of mistakes. I understand that this is a process and will take time for me to get better, but I was just wondering what your opinion of the TBR and NextStep CARS materials is. Since I've averaging slightly higher on these compared to EK 101, can I assume that I am improving my CARS skills. Or would you say that I still haven't make much progress yet?

    I've been averaging about 5 passages for the past 10 days (so not a long enough time) but am starting to get worried that my score will not improve by August.
     
  48. phixius12345

    phixius12345 2+ Year Member

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    @TestingSolutions Thank you so much for all of your hard work in helping all of us struggling with this section. I'm honestly amazed that you have been so consistent in helping everyone with answers to our questions.
    I have two questions for you. One: my timing isn't completely down yet, but I'm getting very close. Do you think it would benefit me to review the passages I do by summarizing each paragraph in the passages? I know you said not to until my timing is completely down, but I feel like it would give me a head start on getting used to summarizing parts of the passage and would be good practice. I will listen to your advice though if you advise me not to!

    My second question is: I read on one of your posts that you did 400+ passages to get to the point of being a master :) However, for a majority of the guide it advises to only do 2 to 3 passages a day until full lengths. Would it be ill advised to do more passages in the beginning? How would I be able to get to the 400+ range like you? I want to put the work in, but I'm not sure how I should set up my practice. My MCAT is in 3 months. Could I reach the 400+ mark in that amount of time?

    Thank you so much in advance!
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2016
  49. phixius12345

    phixius12345 2+ Year Member

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    Hey just thought I'd help you out until your question is answered :). Not sure if you got a chance to look at it already, but He/She has a pretty detailed breakdown of all of the CARS practice materials on the first page of this guide. Don't be discouraged if your scores aren't improving yet! When people say that it takes time and practice it really does. You'll feel like you're beating your head against a wall for awhile..and then things will just start clicking and you'll stop making as many mistakes. The key is once you get to this stage, don't stop practicing cars because your skills will dull quickly lol. I learned this the hard way. Keep practicing and it will pay off :) Good luck!
     
  50. BatmansDoctor

    BatmansDoctor 2+ Year Member

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    Jan 15, 2015
    Is the timing correct? There are 90 minutes and 53 questions for CARS. That's 1.7 minutes per question. So 5 is 8.5 minutes, 6 is 10.2 minutes, and 7 is 11.9 minutes. Which I rounded to 8.5, 10, and 12 since it evens out. So 9 minutes, and 10.5 minutes for 5 and 6 questions would seem dangerous to follow since you're giving yourself even more time. Am I missing something here?
     
  51. kryptonxenon

    kryptonxenon

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    @phixius12345 Thank you for the advice! I've noticed that over the last few days I have been doing worse than usual. I did terrible on one of the NextStep full length CARS sections so that might have something to do with it. I'm going to take an EK exam tomorrow and hopefully I can go into it with the right mindset. Ever since my ~48% on that CARS section I've been feeling super distressed when I sit down to go through passages.
     

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