CARS Help

ds07164
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:36 pm

CARS Help

Postby ds07164 » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:41 pm

Dear fellow students and administrators,

I am retaking the MCAT due to a lackluster score my first time through. I particularly struggled with the CARS section, and am also struggling with it again in my prep. After completing Express Lesson 2 in which the instructor goes through a passage and a set of questions with it, I feel like I should be doing much better on CARS than I am. When the instructor goes through the passage and questions they all make sense. When I do it on my own however, this is not the case. I do struggle with a slow reading speed, and I tend to blame that for most of my woes on the CARS section (about 180) words per minute. Does anyone have any advice, or went through a similar situation? Any advice is valuable at this point.

Thanks
NS_Tutor_Andrew
Site Admin
Posts: 512
Joined: Mon May 23, 2016 1:47 pm

Re: CARS Help

Postby NS_Tutor_Andrew » Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:28 pm

Hi ds07164,

I'm really glad to hear that the CARS tips in Lesson 2 made sense! How to improve on CARS is a big question, and CARS is an area where students open keep improving throughout the entire prep process. That said, here are a few tips that might help, based on what you shared:

First, it's probably not about how fast you're reading as much as it is about what you're noticing. A reading pace of 180 words/min is absolutely fine -- it puts you on pace to read the average CARS passage within 4 minutes. The trick is to build up a sense of what you should be noticing. The key to building this skill is constant practice *and review*. In particular, for each question, including those you get right, you should make a specific point of noticing specifically what part of the passage you have to consult to answer a question, and how that information is deployed. Over time, this will help you gain a sense for what words or phrases are likely to signal that the author is making a testable point, and that will help you guide your attention as you read.

Often, students learn to read for information, but for CARS, you primarily want to read for arguments. Even the most dry-seeming CARS passage will contain some type of argument, even if it's not especially obvious. Look for places where the author disagrees with someone, or where you could imagine a reasonable person disagreeing with the author, as well as words that signal particularly positive or negative tone.

Turning to the questions themselves, here are a few suggestions that might help. First, when taking the test, it can help to step back and take a moment to reflect on what exactly the question is asking. What will the correct answer look like? What do you need to look for to find it? Taking a second to reflect like this can help avoid being distracted by tempting, but ultimately incorrect lines of reasoning. Second, when you review, be sure to analyze the logic of the wrong answers as well as that of the correct answers. After a certain point, you will start seeing that incorrect CARS answer choices often follow a predictable logic, like taking something the author says out of context, including a word that does appear in the passage but in a way that doesn't answer the question correctly, or making too extreme of a statement. Once you start seeing these patterns in CARS answer choices, you will be able to identify incorrect answers more effectively.

Hope this is helpful, & best of luck!
Andrew D.
Content Manager, Next Step Test Prep.
Nanda
Posts: 4
Joined: Mon Oct 23, 2017 11:25 am

Re: CARS Help

Postby Nanda » Fri Dec 01, 2017 4:00 pm

Hello, I feel exactly the same way. I actually asked myself if I posted this comment (question).
Let me tell you what happened to me when I took the mcat, I practiced a lot (not enough I found out later), I was feeling comfortable with my scores on the practice exams. But I have that insecurity about my reading speed ( my pace in CARS section in general) and when I saw the length of the passages on the real MCAT I "freaked out" and this destabilized me completely. I could not pay attention to what I was reading... The passages were much longer than what I was used to on the practices (I took Kaplan), even the one from the AAMC. I felt so bad in the CARS section that I was done. I'm still trying to figure it out how to increase my score and my confidence ( which is very important, in my opinion), I practice every day at least 2 passages. Sometimes I get 100% of the answers correct and other times I got they all wrong, and guess what? When I got the majority correct, I focus on the author (I try to really incorporate his ideas and intentions) it may take longer, but I answer the questions quicker and more accurate. If you want we can talk (chat) and find a way to help each other overcome this. I'm looking for a study group.
hermione264
Posts: 1
Joined: Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:13 am

CARS Help

Postby hermione264 » Thu Jan 25, 2018 11:22 am

Since the beginning of the year (1-1-2018) I have been doing 2 passages per day and have dutifully been doing my LLJ. However, my CARS section is not getting better, it is getting worse point by point. My reading speed, just as you say in the lesson videos and other resources is not the issue. Some of my missed questions it is because I eliminated the answer, others it is because I chose the wrong one between the two. Lately, I make assumptions about the text, which is not good, but then for the next passages, I am suppose to assume. I am starting to get very frustrated as I feel that given the practice, my scores on each passage (therefore overall) should be improving, not the other way around. Does anyone have any recommendations? I get an average of 15 wrong (missed and guessed) per passage. Thank you!
NS_Tutor_Andrew
Site Admin
Posts: 512
Joined: Mon May 23, 2016 1:47 pm

Re: CARS Help

Postby NS_Tutor_Andrew » Mon Jan 29, 2018 2:56 pm

Hi hermione264,

I'm sorry to hear that you're plateauing in CARS! One thing to keep in mind, though, is that MCAT progress (& especially CARS progress) is not perfectly linear. Sometimes you work, work, work, and then something clicks that helps you break through to another level. So I would suggest that you keep working on it and try to identify forward-facing strategies (that is, what should you do next time?) as well as doing a postmortem.

Based on what you shared, one issue I'd suggest focusing on would be what to do when you are going back and forth between two answer choices. This is a pretty common situation to be in on CARS problems, and it can often be a source of difficulty for students. One problem that many students run into is choosing the answer choice that seems the most interesting/attractive because it seems like the "best" answer, although then it turns out to have a problem buried in it that makes it incorrect. If this sounds like something that's happening to you, one technique would be to shift from picking the "better" of 2 remaining answers to trying to eliminate the incorrect one. That is, look for the answer choice that is wrong, not the answer choice that is "best". This may help shift your thinking in a way that promotes success.

Best of luck with your CARS review! Keep at it, and don't hesitate to reach out with specific CARS-related questions.
Andrew D.
Content Manager, Next Step Test Prep.

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