theonlytycrane

5+ Year Member
Mar 23, 2014
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Medical Student
I want to try to develop some better MCAT practice material that is more inline with real research-article based questions. When I was practicing I usually felt a bit overwhelmed by the research article, but then slightly more comfortable when I saw the questions. I'm hoping to emulate that type of feel. Here's a sample with 4 questions. Feel free to provide feedback and let me know what you think :)

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3787416/

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1. The DNA probe likely consists of all of the following EXCEPT:

a) phosphate groups
b) ribose
c) a thiol group
d) nucleotides

2. In Scheme 1, at which carbon does redox chemistry occur?

a) 1' of ribose
b) 2' of ribose
c) 3' of mannose
d) 5' of mannose

3. When the DNA probe was wired onto the GCE/PPI-AuNP platform, the S atom acts like a:

a) Lewis acid
b) Lewis base
c) Bronsted-Lowry acid
d) Bronsted-Lowry base

4. Poly(propyleneimine) dendrimer (PPI) likely contains all of the following atoms EXCEPT:

a) oxygen
b) carbon
c) hydrogen
d) nitrogen
 
Jul 15, 2015
101
38
Status
Pre-Medical
Going to take a quick shot at the questions, then provide my feedback below.

1) b
2) b
3) b
4) a

The passage is more complex than anything the MCAT would present, but I think that's deliberate on your part. In a way, this is good because it trains the reader to look for specific information and skim over irrelevant parts. On the other hand, it makes it very difficult to get a coherent idea of the passage, which may make it nearly impossible to answer big picture or methodology-based questions such as "How would the addition/removal of [a part of the experiment] affect the results?" or "Identify the null hypothesis:" I like the incorporation of amino acids, functional groups, and gen chem redox.

I think it would be helpful to have an introductory paragraph - as most experimental MCAT passages and all research publications do - to provide background information for the reader so we have context for the experiment. The word "Abstract" threw me off a bit, because this reads like the first paragraph of a Results section. This actually reminded me of some of the Next Step MCAT C/P passages on the first four practice FLs, so you're definitely on the right track. I think if you add that introductory paragraph to give context, and perhaps even a short sketch of the basic methods (which I would bet the paper you quoted likely provides), it would be pretty damn close to the real exam.

I'm not sure if anyone else does this, but I actually scroll straight to the bottom of an experimental passage to see if the title of the paper is provided and which journal it was published in. The title can reveal a lot about the experiment's results and goals if it's worded in certain ways. I'd recommend listing at least the first couple authors and the journal, if not the title.

Hope this helps.
 
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