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Verbal-Annotate Or Not

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princessd3

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TPR says to annotate, EK says don't because it breaks your concentration. That does make sense but, would it not be harder to locate things in the passage if you didn't map it? I mean, when you have to go back to a particular section, those who don't write in the margins, do you have a hard time locating things? Who here writes in the margin/who doesn't? Which is better?
 

docjolly

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Kaplan suggests that we annotate b/c, as TPR says, it makes finding things in the passage easier. Also, annotating helps us to have a visual summary of the key pts. in the passage. On my first diagnostic, I annotated every passage. I found this to be quite helpful when answering questions. However, I also found it to be counterproductive b/c I spent too much time writing, and not enough time answering questions...

Most of my classmates don't annotate and, from what I've gathered, still do well on the verbal section
 

princessd3

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Well accordign to EK, annotating breaks your concentration. I think that's true but I'm just worried that I might waste time searching when I have to go back to the passage to find something. But then some passages already hard to follow and you don't want to break your concentration doing anything but reading and understanding. So I don't know. Anyone else?
 

docjolly

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I personally did not find my concentration being broken when writing notes alongside the passages...If anything, my concentration was reinforced b/c my notes reflected my understanding of the passage...But I understand your pt...

If you personally find that your concentration breaks every time you annotate, then I suggest that you don't do it...How much practice have you had using TPR's method? EKs method??

Good luck!
 

princessd3

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I've been using the TPR method all along but I found that annotating takes alot of time. When I did it the EK way I was able to finish. I didn't think I was doing so well using TPR methods so I decided to try EK. My only concern was that when I needed to go back to the passage for something specific, an example or something, I might get lost. I haven't been trying EK's method for a long time. I guess I'll continue for a while and see how it works out.
 

xlithiumx

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Say no to annotation...

Just kidding, but it's my feeling that if you do not annotate, you will be better off in the long run. Here's why, if you really focus on the meaning of the passage and the "main idea" as they like to call it, you'll be able to answer most questions without looking back to the passage. There aren't tons of pure factual, look it up, type of questions in verbal, because that's not comprehension or reasoning.

So, bottom line, at least for me, annotation is a waste of time because it will detract from the congruence of the read and thus detract from my understanding of the true meaning of the passage.

Just my two cents though.
 

MeowMix

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You are not going to have time on the real MCAT to fully annotate each passage in the way recommended by some companies. This is one reason that nearly 40% of clients of one prep course reported that on the August MCAT, VR was their most challenging section.

If you try to do this, you will probably run out of time, AND you are going to miss a lot of questions. Believe me, I did a lot of experimenting last year on 11 full-length tests from 3 companies, plus 2 real MCATs (I voided my score on one of those; just did it for practice since I wasn't ready yet).

Many students do not do well on verbal because they practice on unrealistic passages using the annotation technique, and run out of time on the real thing or find the technique does not work nearly as well as on the practice tests because the questions are much more about the tone or overall main idea, instead of details. If you don't believe me, go and try to do the Confucius passage from AAMC III or the Picasso passage off AAMC V, and see whether you can annotate, get the passage done in 9 minutes, and get a good score.

If you are wondering why I feel so strongly about this, it's because I have seen so many students do badly on verbal with this technique, and they have to go back and retake the whole stupid MCAT to increase their VR score from a 6-7. They are miserable and demoralized.
 

Super Rob

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Get ahold of the old, AAMC practice passages (practice exam I, I think). Do a few of them adhering to the strategy your test prep company advocates (notations, underlining, etc). Do not worry about the time, but keep track of how long it takes you to complete the passages.

Go over your answers and explanations to see where you're going right and where you're going wrong.

keep with this strategy until you can ALMOST finish the sections in the time you'll be given on the exam. It's very important to repeat practice passages - keep going back to them and make sure you select the correct answer for each question and understand WHY you select the correct answer.

What you'll eventually find is that all of the annotating and underlining slows you down, while you can keep track of most of the information you'll need in your head.... then you can let go of them and focus more on your time strategy.

But why focus on these strategies at first when you will end up discarding them later? I found they helped me a lot! They forced me to focus on the important information from each paragraph and to tie it into answering the questions. On the actual exam, however, time is a HUGE factor so you'll have to adapt your strategy to the constaints.
 

DrBodacious

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Annotate in your head if you can, it saves time. At least for me, I don't write that fast. The only thing that might come back to haunt you is if you skip one or two questions on a passage and have to come back after reading a few other passages... But it's better to get through all the passages and just skip over the tough questions then map out the passages but not get through all the section. What ever you do, practice your method before hand. I just circled stuff TPR style, w/o annotating.

P.S. I actually did some tone annotating. i.e. putting a + sign next to paragraphs that had a positive tone and a "neg" next to negative passages. Symbols like that can work without taking up time, but writing out a sentence or phrase is a different story.
 

kohlmayberrry

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I believe that annotating is EXTREMELY important, but how you annotate is also important. If you are writing big long sentences then yes, you are probably wasting time. When you annotate, it should be no more than 3-4 words. You just want to annotate so that you can somewhat tell where things are if you need to go back into the passage, which you usually do.
 

LoneCoyote

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When I tried to switch over to the TPR annotation thing my scores dropped 2-3 pts on the verbal. I tried for awhile, then bailed and went back to underlining and circling, and I did well on the real thing. So I vote no on annotating. Try it and see if it seems to be helping you, but if it isn't I wouldn't stay with it for too long.
 

2112_rush

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I don't think I would have had time to annotate. As it was I finished the VR section just before time was called.

Try each method on some practice sections (timed) and seee what works for you.
 

Wahooali

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Originally posted by 2112_rush
I don't think I would have had time to annotate. As it was I finished the VR section just before time was called.

Try each method on some practice sections (timed) and seee what works for you.

Exactly. Don't worry about whatever whomever says you should do. Do whatever method works best for you. If annotating breaks your concentration don't do it. Personnally, I find it helps to take a second to summarize in my head what I just read to make sure I didn't zone out, and make a note of what I just reviewed. Just do a lot of practice passages trying out the different methods and make a note of how they worked time and accuracy wise.
 

CH3CH2OH

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Originally posted by Cerberus
annotation does nothing for me

Circle or underline important things, annotation will only slow you down
i second that.
i'm taking kaplan and they say to annotate everything, not just verbal. it takes way too long. i just underline important stuff.

that being said - try doing all three (ie. nothing, underline/circle, annotate) and see what works best for you.
 

chameleonknight

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I never made any marks in VR, and I got an 11.

The trick is to do what works for YOU.

PS Ek is far and away the best prep...
 

ASDIC

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I have done a lot of verbal passages trying to figure out what my weakness are and finding the best strategy.
you are right...i dont have time to sit and annotate the passages and go bak read everything.

My strategy is simple:

0) Many people say well you shud spend some time figuring out which passages to do first. This is a total waste of time and it never works. Instead you have to be very tight on the time.

1) Read the entire passage very very quickly and comprehend as much as you can. A lot of people have trouble with this.

Therefore, I suggest people read the editorials on the NY Times as rapidly as they can without losing comprehension.

For the 2 easy passages dont spend more than 2 min each
4 medium passages shud be no more than 2.5 min each
2 medium hard passages shud be no more than 3 min each
1 killer passage shud be no more than 4 min

So total passage reading time comes out to 24 minutes.

Dont waste time annotating! circling etc

2) Once you finish reading the passage you have to make sure that you know 4 things:

a) MAIN IDEA

b) LOCATION OF STUFF in the paragraphs. So if the author is giving an example or a contrast or an extension you should be able to figure out in what paragraph it is.

c) A MAP of the paragraphs...try to connect these paras between each other...so how similar or different is paragraph 3 to 2?

c) TONE of the author: is he against it? for it? supports parts of it? is neutral? she is against certain things but not everything? he is hopeful? she is not hopeful?

3) Then go to the questions. Read the question slowly (but not too slow) and carefully. CIRCLE the key words such as EXCEPT, WEAKEN, STRENGTHEN, AGAINST IT, FOR IT, etc. Dont read the choices as of yet!

Dont spend more than 1 minute reading the question and the choices.
So 60 questions x 1 min = 60 min...i hope you dont take 1 min on every question. Because you will need time to bubble in the choices, look at the watch and turn the pages. So on average you will take 45 seconds to answer the question. So you will have 4.5 minutes to do all that stuff.

4) Without looking at the choices try to think what the answer could be...this can be applied only to certain questions. And this shud take no more than a few seconds. If the question does not allow you to think of answer early on then look at the choices.

5) Start with the last choice and go upward (d, then c, then b and then a). Why? because the test makers set the potential traps in the early choices.
Here, you have to assess the STRENGTH OF EVERY STATEMENT. Sometimes there will be choices that are wholly supported by the passage...but you have find which choices are strong, stronger and strongest. The strongest choice will be the correct answer. However look out for extreme choices that often exxagerate what the author says. As a result overstatements and understatements often trip us into think that they could be the right answers.

A couple of words can totally weaken the choice so look out for those words that may contradict the passage AND/OR weaken the passage

6) circle every choice that you made and bubble in the choices in blocks (say every 3 passages). Dont try to bubble in every time you answer the question because it will break you concentration. Also dont try to bubble after you do all the questions...there are some proctors you can never trust...who will sometimes end the section early! ( it happened to me on the SAT)

Hope this helps.
 

farley is god

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Originally posted by thekegalman
...there are some proctors you can never trust...who will sometimes end the section early! ( it happened to me on the SAT)

yikes. I don't think that would ever happen during the MCAT...
at least I've never heard of it happening.

Your point (1) is a good one. A lot of people underestimate the importance of reading higher level newspapers and magazines, but I think that's the best long-term prep that one can have.

So if you don't already do it: START NOW!

Of course, the MCAT's only a month and a half away :wow:, so my advice is as follows:

For me, annotating is a waste of time. Circle names if it makes you feel comfortable, but that's about it. EK is right in saying that looking for "keywords" (or "triggers" as my TPR instructor called them) breaks your concentration. On every paragraph of every single passage, without exception, you should find yourself reading for the main idea. Again, as EK says, you will remember the details. Of course, discering the main idea is a sort of art which only practice can perfect.

Regarding skipping around: if you find yourself running out of time, then by all means cherry pick your passages. However, it's pointless to spend time analyzing the difficulty of a passage if you're going to have time to do them all anyway. I'd rather spread the hard passages out than have them all to do at the very end.

But I'm sure that's nothing that hasn't already been said.

Good luck.
 

kohlmayberrry

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I don't think starting with D instead of A is necessary becuase the quesitons tend to switch up a lot (i.e. that don't always place the "trick" answers within A and B, they switch it up a lot).
 

ASDIC

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yeah thas tru...i was making a point actually. because sometimes if they put A as the trap choice, people will think that it looks good, choose it and move on.
 

PhillyEaglesFan

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Bracket and circle.

Don't underline. Because when you underline you tend to drift off and think of irrelevant things pizza, cheese, Iraq...mmm, Iraq
 

princessd3

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Thanks for the responses. They've been very insightful. I'm convinced that I shouldn't annotate. When I used to do it I never actually went back and looked at the notes I made in the margin...not once. I have one concern though. Anyone find it harder locating specific information in the passage without mapping it. I like the idea of understanding the passage better because I didn't break my concentration with all the writing but I find myself fishing like crazy for certain examples etc.
 

turtlepower

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I took TPR last year and followed their system and did fine. HOWEVER, I am using EK exclusively this year (retaking not due to VR section) and decide to give their strategy a try. It was extremely hard to follow at first. I felt compelled to underline or write things, but I gripped my pencil tightly and promised myself I would give it a few weeks. At first, my score went down because I was having trouble getting used to reading only for main idea. BUT, after becoming comfortable with the strategy I have had a consistent increase in my score.

I also make myself answer most of the questions without going back to the passage, which works for probably 6-7 of the 9 passages. There always seems to be one or 2 that are more detail-oriented.

This is just my experience...
 
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