mcat deconstructed it s all about the verbal spring 2011
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MCAT Deconstructed: It’s all about the Verbal Spring 2011. This is the semester that counts. Session A February 12, 2011 Meeting 1. The Overview & Practice Test 3. It’s serious now.

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session a february 12 2011 meeting 1
Session AFebruary 12, 2011Meeting 1

The Overview

& Practice Test 3

it s serious now
It’s serious now

The next few months will have the most significant impact on your success or failure in your application to medical school

applying to medical school
Applying to Medical School
  • 1st thing they look at: GPA and MCAT score
    • Your GPA is pretty much set by this point
    • Your MCAT score is still wide open
    • For Texas, EY 2010: 4044 applied, 1563 accepted

For TEXAS EY 10

applying to medical school1
Applying to Medical School
  • 2nd thing they look at: What else do you have?
    • Clubs and Organizations
    • Student Athlete
    • Work
    • Family
    • Volunteer
    • Mentoring / Shadowing
    • Summer Programs
    • Letter of Recommendation
    • Personal Statement
applying to medical school2
Applying to Medical School

3rd step: The Interview

  • About 600 – 800 people invited per school
  • All who are invited are eligible and qualified applicants to medical school
  • Workshop: around the first weekend of school in the fall
now it s all about the mcat
Now - it’s all about the MCAT
  • Four Sections
    • Physical Sciences
    • Verbal Reasoning
    • Writing Sample
    • Biological Sciences
  • Computer Based Test (CBT)
  • 25 tests scheduled in 2011
  • www.aamc.org/mcat
mcat scores
MCAT Scores
  • This is a distribution of scores from recent MCAT administrations in El Paso; those in red are accepted.
  • Under 20: 2 0/2 ACCEPTED
  • 20-21: 2 0/2 AC
  • 22-23: 9 4/9 AC (5/9 interviewed)
  • 24-25: 8 4/8 AC (7/8 interviewed)
  • 26-27: 4 1/4 AC (3/4 interviewed)
  • 28-29: 4 3/4 AC (4/4 interviewed)
  • 30-31: 3 2/3 AC (3/3 interviewed)
  • 32-33: 1 1/1 AC
slide9

And these Are the 2011 dates.

Pick a date.

Pick it now.

Pay for it now.

Stick to it.

Prepare for it.

Do not change it.

Do not postpone it.

Revel in it.

Celebrate it.

Look forward to it.

Study for it.

Smash it.

January 28, 29

March 26

April 9, 16, 29

May 7, 20, 21, 26

June 16

July 6, (16, 28, 29

August 5, 6, 12, 18, 19, 23

September 1, 2, 8, 10)

physical sciences
Physical Sciences
  • 70 minutes
  • 52 multiple choices questions
  • 7 passages followed

by 4 – 7 questions each

  • Passages average 200 words in length and are often accompanied by one or more charts, diagrams, or tables
  • 13 stand alone questions
  • Physics and General Chemistry
  • http://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/preparing/
  • Followed by a 10 minute break
verbal reasoning
Verbal Reasoning
  • 60 minutes
  • 40 questions
  • 7 passages followed by 5 – 7 questions
  • About 500 words each
  • Topics include the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences
  • http://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/preparing/
  • Followed by a 10 minute break
writing sample
Writing Sample
  • Two 30-minute essays
  • No break is given between the essays
  • You are given a statement and asked to write three tasks
    • Explain the statement
    • Introduce a situation in which the statement would not legitimately apply
    • Come up with a guide for judging whether statement applies or not in individual cases
  • Read & scored twice; different readers; avg. converted to letter score
  • Followed by a 10 minute break
  • http://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/preparing/
biological sciences
Biological Sciences
  • Same format as Physical Sciences
  • 70 minutes
  • 52 multiple choices questions
  • 7 passages followed by 4 – 7 questions
  • Passages average 200 words in length and are often accompanied by one or more charges, diagrams, or tables
  • 13 stand alone questions
  • Biology, organic chemistry, and genetics
  • http://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/preparing/
3 main factors to success
3 Main Factors to Success
  • Budgeting enough time to practice
  • Practicing correctly
  • Committing to the importance of strategy
our focus
Our Focus
  • Meet only 8 Saturdays in spring semester
  • Provide you with best preparation materials available
  • Close examination of MCAT structure
  • Strategy-apply your knowledge to unique testing situation
  • Practice to become test taking machine
slide17

Success =

½ content

½ strategy

  • This is one of the hardest things for good science students to believe
  • But IT’S TRUE.
  • You all earned A’s or B’s in all the prereq classes, so why don’t you all do really well on this test?
slide18

Because it’s not

all about the

content.

and attitude
And ATTITUDE
  • I’m so scared of the MCAT.
  • I’m afraid I’m going to bomb this test.
  • The MCAT is a difficult test. However, I am preparing very well. I know how the test is structured. I know what content needs extra attention and I am developing strategies to get a great score. I am going to do well on this test.
slide20

Short term sacrifice.

Long term gain.

Do you want to go to medical school? Then you have to do this and do it well.

group work
Group Work
  • A good group can significantly enhance your ability to study and improve your skills
  • A bad group can, well, you know.
  • Advantages of a good group:
    • Broaden the range of expertise
    • Provide additional structure to your studying
    • Encourage responsibilities to the group
  • Use your group to discuss answer choices, listen to each other’s critical thinking
time management
Time Management
  • Different than Timing (that’s per passage, per section)
  • This is the big picture – day by day, week by week
  • For each week, select specific days and times when you will study.
  • Treat it as a serious commitment – just like a class or a job.
  • Make it reasonable so you will stick to it.
thoughts about homework and strategy
Thoughts about homework and strategy
  • Compare strategy to going to the gym
  • The purpose, especially in the beginning, is to learn technique, strategy – NOT speed
  • First, work slowly, thoughtfully, and consistently to understand the idea behind the strategy.
  • Then, move toward increasing speed
  • Make a plan to work every single day on MCAT.
why the focus on verbal reasoning
Why the focus on Verbal Reasoning?
  • It is most students’ weakest subject area.
  • It is the area of greatest interest to admissions committees.
  • The strategy for successful navigation of VR passages can be applied to the other subject areas.
verbal reasoning content
Verbal Reasoning Content
  • Content tested is reasoning ability
  • Your ability to appreciate the main idea and points the author makes, and recognize the implications
  • Need no content knowledge for this section
  • Answers are in the passage or implied therein
  • Why aren’t you getting each one right?
verbal deconstruction
Verbal Deconstruction
  • Verbal section has 3 components
  • Passages
  • Questions
  • Answers
  • There is a strategy for dealing with each
our approach
Our Approach
  • Break down each component to see basic structure
  • Build small practice steps into overall verbal strategy
  • Apply skills to science passages
  • Demonstrate how strong content knowledge combined with strategy is the key to success
which passages to read which questions to answer
Which passages to read?Which questions to answer?
  • All of them
  • In the order they are presented

Start Finish

  • It is too easy to waste a lot of time deciding and organizing
  • STRATEGY gives you the tools to answer all the questions to the best of your ability
homework
Homework:
  • Read Preface and Part I: Key Questions About the MCAT Exam, pgs. 9-63, from the Official Guide.
  • Get out your science textbooks & notebooks.
  • Complete the Reflection handout to note any material that is unfamiliar or needs review from the diagnostic test today.
  • Prepare a detailed MCAT preparation schedule.
  • Pin up your own motivational sign.

Go for tough love message to self.

Add confidence-inspirer.

Put it where you’ll see it everyday.

Live it.

session a february 19 2011 meeting 2
Session AFebruary 19, 2011Meeting 2

Passage Deconstruction

& Practice Test 4

create your study plan
Create Your Study Plan
  • Consider your class schedule
  • Consider your employment schedule
  • Make it reasonable
  • Try to put a little MCAT into each day
  • Relate course study and preparation to MCAT
  • Use diagnostics & practice sessions to direct focused study
  • Practice passages from Official Guide
  • Combine focused study, practice passages (using strategies learned with attention to time), and connection to classes
  • ‘Relax’ with The Nation, Scientific American, Atlantic Monthly
your study plan
Your Study Plan
  • Use textbooks, course outlines, and notes to perform focused review
  • If your pace is slow, consider speed reading exercises (available online) as part of your preparation
  • Studying with a partner? Use her strengths to address your weaknesses & vice versa.
  • Avoid cramming behavior
  • Difficult material-4 hours max/day
  • Easier material-4 hours max at a time
  • Include sleep & exercise
  • Keep hydrated and nourished
get serious
Get Serious
  • Consider cutting obligations outside of school, MCAT, or work
  • Think of it as being in special training
  • Some duties can be put aside
  • Some cannot
  • Ask yourself what your leisure activities are doing for you
  • If they’re not helping, get rid of them for now
overall verbal strategy
Overall Verbal Strategy

The Passage

  • Read the Passage
  • Identify the Topic Sentence in each paragraph
  • Summarize those Topic Sentences and connect them to form the Main Idea
overall verbal strategy1
Overall Verbal Strategy

The Questions

  • Put the question in your own words and in the form of a question
  • Identify the question as General or Specific
  • If it is General, answer it in your head from the Main idea before you look at any of the answer choices
  • If it is Specific, go back to the section of the passage where the answer can be found, find the answer, and put the answer in your own words before looking at the answer choices
overall verbal strategy2
Overall Verbal Strategy

The Answers

  • Starting with answer choice A, compare it to the answer you have in your head
  • Decide NO or MAYBE for answer choice A
  • Continue to B, then C, then D – every single answer choice, every single time
  • Select the best answer from the MAYBE choices
  • Next question
the verbal passages
The Verbal Passages

Heavy Lifting Under Pressure

about the passages
About the Passages
  • About 600 words in length (Average reading speed for most adults is about 250 - 350 words per minute)
  • Humanities, social sciences, natural sciences not tested in subject areas
  • Variety of levels of difficulty
  • Need a very specific approach and that way is very different from how you have been reading in school
requirements for success
Requirements for Success
  • Must understand the passage
  • Get a sense for the author’s tone and position
  • ~3 minutes available-180 seconds
  • No time to figure it out or slow down
  • Not like academic work to this point
  • Unique situation needs unique approach
  • Time-your most precious resource

(along with neurotransmitters)

passage breakdown
Passage Breakdown
  • Words
  • Sentences
  • Paragraphs
  • Main Idea is in there somewhere, critical to understanding
  • Not a vocab test
  • Contextual clues provide some understanding of unknown words

So, we won’t worry about the words. They are not essential to understanding the passage.

sentences construct the main idea of the passage
Sentences Construct the Main Idea of the Passage
  • In MCAT land, think strategically
  • 2 Main sentence types
  • General Sentences (Topic Sentences)
  • vs Specific Sentences (Supporting Details)
  • Your goal:

Quick & Accurate Identification of

Which is Which

identifying the main idea of the passage
Identifying the Main Idea of the Passage
  • Read to quickly identify Topic Sentence
  • Skim over Specific Sentences (details)
  • Topic Sentences give the main idea author is trying to communicate
  • The main idea is the key to understanding verbal passages
  • Most paragraphs will have a Topic Sentence
  • A very few build upon previous paragraph’s Topic
identifying topic sentences
Identifying Topic Sentences
  • Tend to be general and summarize the rest of the information in the paragraph
  • As you test today, be aware of general sentences, the Topic Sentences, that will help you to understand the paragraph and the passage itself.
homework1
Homework:
  • Complete today’s reflection today & return next week
  • Read General Concepts & Chapter 8: Physical Sciences, pg. 64-86, in the Official Guide
  • Skim over your physics and general chemistry textbooks, noting main concepts, vocabulary, chapter outlines, & diagrams
  • Modify your study plan if needed
  • Practice w/ chemistry passages, pg 87-136, in Guide
  • Perform targeted review of all weak concepts & topics, based on Practice Test diagnostic reports, reflection, & passage practice
  • Practice finding Topic Sentences while reading
session a february 26 2011 meeting 3
Session AFebruary 26, 2011Meeting 3

Passage Deconstruction Continued

& Practice Test 5

statistical analysis of mcat scores
Statistical Analysis of MCAT Scores
  • Standard Error of Measurement for MCAT is +/- 2 pts
  • SE represents score range within which true achievement level probably lies
  • Total score 23?

Score range is: 21 22 23 24 25

  • Total score 26? ↕ ↕

Score range is: 24 25 26 27 28

  • Taking MCAT multiple times, expected score will fall in range 68% (confidence interval) of time.
  • When score bands overlap, performance essentially equivalent.
prep for mcat science sections
Prep for MCAT Science Sections
  • Tests ability to use prior knowledge
  • Tests science problem-solving skills
  • Requires content review
  • Requires problem-solving practice
basic knowledge
Basic Knowledge
  • Limited depth expected
  • Included in well-designed introductory courses w/ lab
  • Basic texts fully cover content (even when instructors do not)
practicing problem solving skills
Practicing Problem Solving Skills
  • Recall concepts & principles
  • Passage cues, tables, graphs can stimulate recall
  • Mastery of facts alone insufficient
  • Practice passages for text comprehension
  • Use contextual clues to understand unfamiliar material
  • Practice data analysis (graphs, tables, diagrams, figures)
  • Apply math concepts as part of your interpretation
problem solving practice
Problem Solving Practice
  • How to apply concepts and when
  • Combining basic knowledge & recalled material with information given in passage
  • Evaluating methods, evidence, and conclusions
  • Assessing the consistency of passage information
  • Evaluating validity of arguments in passages
  • Pay attention to what you’re doing right & wrong
metacognition
Metacognition
  • Understanding how you are learning
  • Making study plans
  • Monitoring your progress
  • Analyzing your errors
  • Making adjustments
  • Tailoring your preparation to weaknesses
  • Quite important in MCAT prep
focus your mcat study
Focus Your MCAT Study
  • Focus your study & practice on problem areas

Is it an...?

  • Error in recalling a specific concept?
  • Misunderstanding of the passage?
  • Misinterpretation of data?
  • Misapplication of principles?
  • Error of evaluation?
from the official guide
From the Official Guide...
  • Know your stuff AND be able to figure things out logically
  • (Skills needed by physicians)
  • Mimic exam conditions-quiet, uninterrupted practice using actual time available
  • Identify your weaknesses & attack those content areas, concepts, and analytical skills
  • Practice writing essays on computer
passage structure
Passage Structure
  • Paragraphs
  • Made of Topic Sentences with supportive sentences
  • (General vs. Specific)
  • Topic Sentences form the Main Idea of each passage
  • Understanding the Main Idea = understanding the passage
finding topic sentences
Finding Topic Sentences

Examples of paragraph structure

identifying topic sentences2
Identifying Topic Sentences

Pg 318, Official Guide---

Read the 1st paragraph in the passage.

Circle the Topic Sentence.

Why do you think it is the Topic Sentence?

What shape is the paragraph?

Do the same with the remaining paragraphs.

What have you learned from this exercise?

linking topic sentences together to form a main idea
Linking Topic Sentences Together to Form a Main Idea

+

Topic Sentence

Topic Sentence

Topic Sentence

Topic Sentence

Main Idea

forming a main idea
Forming a Main Idea
  • Understanding the passage is essential
  • The key: a Main Idea, the main themes of the passage
  • Neither too general nor too specific
  • Each passage has ~3-4 points
  • Main Idea should reflect these
forming the main idea
Forming the Main Idea

Read 1st Topic Sentence.

Paraphrase its essence.

Record.

Repeat for each paragraph in passage.

Link the essences into a Main Idea.

Write the Main Idea.

forming the main idea1
Forming the Main Idea

Pg 326

Do it again.

Read.

ID Topic Sentences.

Paraphrase & jot down.

Link to form Main Idea.

Jot down Main Idea.

forming the main idea2
Forming the Main Idea

Pg 336

Do it again.

Read.

ID Topic Sentences.

Paraphrase & jot down.

Link to form Main Idea.

Jot down Main Idea.

what do you do with the specific sentences
What do you do with the Specific Sentences?
  • Nothing
  • Note where they are so you can find them later if and only if you need them
  • Do not focus on them
  • Do not try to learn them
  • Do not read them over
  • Do not memorize them
your goal
Your Goal
  • Understand the passage essence
  • Cut time spent reading passage
  • No wasted time on unneeded specifics

Big Picture?

  • Less dependent on content
  • More comfortable with structure
  • As you test today, be alert for the Main Idea, the main themes of the passage.
homework2
Homework:
  • Complete today’s reflection today & return next week
  • Review General Concepts & Chapter 8: Physical Sciences, pg. 64-86, in the Official Guide
  • Practice analyzing graphs, tables, & diagrams in Physics textbook
  • Practice w/ physics passages, pg 137-184, in Guide
  • Practice linking Topic Sentences to form Main Idea
  • Perform targeted review of all weak concepts, topics, & application, based on Practice Test diagnostic reports, reflection, & passage practice
  • Pay attention to what you’re doing right & wrong
session a march 5 2011 meeting 4
Session AMarch 5, 2011Meeting 4

Drawing Meaning from Text

& Practice Test 7

focus for understanding
Focus for Understanding
  • All passages contain understandable elements.
  • Understand everything of some
  • Understand some of others
  • Understand very little at first glance of others
  • Focus on what you know.
  • Do NOT focus on what you don’t know.
  • Find understandable nuggets.
  • Build on these.
why not focus on unknown
Why not focus on unknown?
  • You don’t have the time.
  • Spends mental energy without reward
  • Sucks your confidence
  • Focus on the unknown during focused review, not during test.
focus on what you know practice
Focus on What You Know Practice

Pg 336-

Read paragraph 1.

What is the essence of the Topic Sentence?

Paragraph 2-

Circle what you GET.

Jot down best Topic paraphrase you can

Paragraph 3-

Circle

Jot

What can you link together?

Write best Main Idea you can.

reflection
Reflection
  • How does focusing on known differ from focusing on what you do not know?
  • How can you practice this during the next few weeks while preparing?
transition words help with passage navigation
Transition Words Help with Passage Navigation
  • Common words that point direction author is going or has gone
  • Road signs of text
  • Help you decipher difficult text
  • Link understood parts w/ parts not understood
  • Tools-use them as such
slide76
“DIP”
  • What do these Transition words tell you is coming next?

AND

BUT

THUS

FOR INSTANCE

end of construction
“END OF CONSTRUCTION”
  • What do the following Transition words tell you came before?

THIRD

ON THE OTHER HAND

FINALLY

BECAUSE

more transition words
More Transition Words
  • ALTHOUGH
  • HOWEVER
  • YET
  • ALSO
  • SUCH AS
  • STILL,...
  • WHICH ARE...
  • AS FOR...
  • INDEED
  • ONE PROBLEM ....ETC
helpful pronouns
Helpful Pronouns
  • Not transitional, but aid in comprehension
  • Ex: “Peripatetics commonly appear in world literature, whether ancient or modern. They represent the wandering spirit in all of us.”
  • Be alert for pronoun links.
transitional punctuation
Transitional Punctuation
  • Colons: “as follows”
  • Semi-colons expand upon previous statement; “in other words”
  • Commas: used in listing distinct elements
  • Dashes---indicate example, explanation, or comment
  • Ellipses may indicate...editing of original text; seems disjointed? Maybe it has been cut.
  • Quotation marks “can indicate a cliché, a typical phrase or mental reaction, a misnomer in the opinion of author”
the zen of mcat
The Zen of MCAT
  • Epiphany (sudden, intuitive perception) reached, with time
  • Takes plenty of practice, like meditation
  • Transcend the content of specific passages
  • See paragraphs, questions, & answers in the paragraphs
  • Reach a “comfort” zone
  • “This is the Topic---these are supporting details.”
  • “This is the essence of this passage.”
  • “Here the author is telling the reader what results from his previous points.”
slide82
How?

Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice

Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice

Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice

Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice

Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice

Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice

Practice Practice Practice Practice Practice

from the official guide1
From the Official Guide...
  • Should you retest?
  • Sometimes...you just know.
  • Usually you don’t
  • Low scores are likely to increase in retake
  • High scores are likely to decrease
  • See charts pg 51-54
  • Surprisingly, some 23’s are getting interviews
  • Good likelihood of statistically (>2 pts) improving a 23 on retake
homework3
Homework:
  • Complete today’s reflection today & return April 2
  • Adjust your prep plan as needed
  • Read Chapter 9: Biological Sciences, Format, Types, and Outline, pg 185-206, in the Official Guide
  • Practice focusing on the known & transitions
  • Practice w/ biology passages, pg 207-276, in Guide
  • Perform targeted review of all weak concepts, topics, & problem solving skills, based on Practice Test diagnostic reports, reflection, & passage practice_____
  • Use the next 3 weeks to practice and perform targeted review on weaknesses, continuing with these techniques & tools
session b april 2 2011 meeting 1
Session BApril 2, 2011Meeting 1

The Questions Strategy

& Practice Test 8

a little transitions exercise
A Little Transitions Exercise

Pg 344-

Together let’s highlight/mark each word, phrase, or punctuation Transition/Clue.

Note: How does each help you understand the text?

the passage strategy
The Passage Strategy
  • Read passage
  • Find Topic Sentence in each paragraph
  • Summarize Topic Sentences and link to form Main Idea
  • 3 minutes available
why form your own question
Why Form Your Own Question?
  • Good Question!
  • Must understand Q in order to answer successfully
  • To understand, paraphrase in your own words
  • Forces you to process Q mentally (instead of staring blankly)
  • Signals your brain to prepare to find answer
  • Put it as a Q & the brain automatically looks for an Answer
danger danger
Danger-Danger!
  • Test stress encourages quick reading w/ assumption of understanding the Q
  • Questions can be difficult
  • Don’t only look at Q
  • Move content past eyes into brain
  • Take the Brain-On approach

Put the Q in Your Own Words

  • Practice active mental processing of questions every day
  • Goal: quick & easy, in your head, not on paper
using what you have learned
Using What You Have Learned

While testing today, pay attention to mentally processing the Questions in your own words and in the form of a question.

Pay attention to the passages, general vs. specific sentences, Topic Sentences, transitions & clues, and Main Ideas.

mcat outside the box
MCAT Outside the Box
  • Any practice with problem solving builds skills
  • Read & analyze science journals & research examples
  • Working in lab to plan research or analyze results
  • Analyze items answered incorrectly to see weaknesses
  • Practice critical thinking every day
  • Every course is an MCAT course
    • ‘Relax’ with The Nation, Scientific American, Atlantic Monthly
    • If you’re not resting your mind, you should be exercising it
homework4
Homework:
  • Print out your diagnostic report after testing today
  • Complete today’s reflection today & return April 9
  • Stick to your MCAT preparation plan
  • Think/prep MCAT throughout each day
  • Finish reading Official Guide if incomplete
  • Use the Official Guide for passage practice
  • Practice focusing on passage transitions, forming the Main Idea, and putting Q’s in your own words
  • Perform targeted review of all weak concepts, topics, & problem solving skills, based on Practice Test diagnostic reports, reflection, & passage practice
  • Work on shortening your required passage time towards goals
two types of questions
Two Types of Questions
  • Only two types
  • General-answerable from Main Idea
  • Specific-need return to passage & locate details needed
general questions
General Questions
  • Between 1 & > 50% MCAT Q’s can be answered from Main Idea
  • Frequent Q #1: “What is the main idea of this passage?”
  • Many other Q’s also answerable from Main Idea
example
Example
  • Passage IV pg 344

Main Idea: Plants differ from animals in their method of taking nourishment, plants being collector-concentrators & animals acting as scatterers; in simplistic terms & incomplete as it is to state it thus, together they are a recycling system.

(Neither too general nor too specific; includes each major point made by author)

Q 19. Based on passage information, two plants that have extremely different ratios of surface area to volume will most likely have different:

translate question as question
Translate Question as Question
  • In author’s view, what’s different between two plants with different surface:volume ratios?
  • MI: Plants differ from animals in their method of taking nourishment, plants being collector-concentrators & animals acting as scatterers; in simplistic terms & incomplete as it is to state it thus, together they are a recycling system.
  • Answerable from MI-(Since surface:volume is their functional mode of collecting/concentrating from the environment, these plants must be in different environments.)
specific questions
Specific Questions
  • Ask something about supportive details
  • Person, experimental results, places, definitions, explanations, argument presented, examples, extensions of idea, qualifications, minor points
  • Details you DID NOT memorize when reading
  • Must return to passage
  • Now have reason to examine details
  • Brain has an assignment
example1
Example
  • Q 16. The author asserts that oxygen, which is released by plants, is required for respiration by both autotrophs & heterotrophs. This assertion is most likely intended to support which of the following conclusions?
  • Translation: Which conclusion is supported by the author’s statement that O2 is needed for respiration by both auto & heterotrophs?
  • Detail-Main Idea doesn’t address O2; it was a 3rd point in final paragraph.
brain assignment
Brain Assignment
  • Return to final paragraph, see O2 discussed in relation to respiration by both as a 3rd point supporting that the author’s point is simplistic and missing several qualifications.
  • Which conclusion is supported by the author’s statement that O2 is needed for respiration by both auto & heterotrophs? The conclusion that the author’s view is simplistic & missing complete information.
specialty questions
Specialty Questions
  • Less straightforward
  • Not a question stem

(Q Stem Ex: Specialty questions differ from typical questions in that they: ... )

  • Require a specific strategy
except least not
Except/Least/Not
  • Common MCAT formulation
  • Get rid of 3 right answers, find 1 wrong
  • Conditioned to find right answers
  • W/ 3 right answers & 2 wrong, can be confusing
  • Strategy: Keep in mind you are looking for the WRONG answer
  • Evaluate each answer as No (right) or Maybe (not right)
example2
Example
  • Pg. 353, Q 22: Which of the following is NOT mentioned in the passage as one of the potential benefits of children’s physical risk-taking?
i ii or iii
I, II, or III
  • Answer choices look like this:

A. I only

B. II only

C. I & II

D. III only

  • Strategy: look at each choice individually

decide whether true or false

if true, rule out answers w/o that numeral

if false, rule out answers w/ numeral

example3
Example
  • Pg. 319 Q 4: Which of the following alternatives to the catastrophic-extinction theory, if true, could also plausibly explain the extinction of the dinosaurs?

I. Blue-green algae common in the seas that covered much of the globe during the reign of the dinosaurs could concentrate iridium and release it into the environment.

II. Lightning storms common at the time of the dinosaurs’ demise were capable of igniting vegetation fires large enough to block significant amounts of sunlight with the smoke and soot that they produce.

III. Volcanoes active at the time of the dinosaurs’ demise could produce great heat and pressure, release iridium into the atmosphere, and block sunlight with huge quantities of soot and smoke.

I only

II only

I and III only

II and III only

inference imply questions
Inference/Imply Questions
  • Application questions
  • Step away from passage is very small
  • Correct answer must be provable from the passage statements or implications
  • Correct answer agrees with Main Idea
example4
Example
  • Pg. 337, Q 12: Which of the following statements about similes and metaphors is most clearly implied by the information in the passage?

A. Most people cannot avoid using similes and metaphors in daily speech.

B. Similes and metaphors bind human individuals to each other.

C. Some languages use more similes and metaphors than do others.

D. The most developed languages use the most similes and metaphors.

stay close to the main idea
Stay Close to the Main Idea

Passage’s Main Idea: We all use hackneyed similes and metaphors in order to bind ourselves to Nature and to our environment. Which stays closest to this?

A. Most people cannot avoid using similes and metaphors in daily speech.

B. Similes and metaphors bind human individuals to each other.

C. Some languages use more similes and metaphors than do others.

D. The most developed languages use the most similes and metaphors.

slide112

For Specific Questions:

Go back to the passage

Find the answer

Put it in your own words

Pg 345, #17

Pg 345, #18

question 17
Question 17
  • “Based on the information in the passage, which of the following best explains why bacteria and fungi are more crucial than animals to the completion of the decomposition process?”
  • Translation: Why are bacteria & fungi more important to the author in completing decomposition than animals?
return to passage details
Return to passage details
  • Paragraph 3-Animals as ‘scatterers’ details

-animal returns (resources) to environment in unconcentrated form

-elements no longer incorporated in organic molecules

  • Final paragraph-Bacteria & fungi details

-more crucial to completion of decomposition

-decomposition started by animals

Q: Why are bacteria & fungi more important to the author in completing decomposition than animals?

Mental Answer: They finish decomposition, breaking down organic molecules & releasing resources to environment

question 18
Question 18
  • “Assume that plants in the cactus family have maximized volume and minimized surface area to help them retain water in an arid environment. Given this, which of the following changes to the author’s assertions is the most necessary?”
  • Translation: If cacti have lo surface:vol ratios to stay hydrated in desert, which author’s statement needs change & how?
return to passage details1
Return to passage details
  • Paragraph 2-surface:volume details (statements)

-high surface area to collect resources

-high surface:vol ratio found in plants

-one of most characteristic features

Q: If cacti have lo surface:vol ratios to stay hydrated in desert, which author’s statement needs change & how?

Mental Answer: Author’s statement-High surface:vol ratio one of most characteristic features

Change-”Plants in arid environments are an exception to the fact that hi surface:vol ratios are one of the most characteristic features of plants.”

what about the answer choices
What About the Answer Choices?
  • Notice that we have not mentioned the Answer choices
  • Notice we haven’t even looked at the choices yet
  • We have dealt with the question mentally by understanding it & answering it, independent of the Answer content
  • This is a story of independence---Yours!
the question strategy
The Question Strategy
  • Put Q into your own words, in the form of a Q
  • Identify the Q as General or Specific
  • Do not look at Answers
  • If General, answer it in your head from Main Idea
  • If Specific, return to specifics section where answer can be found, find answer, & put answer in your own words
  • ~ 30-45 seconds
the answers1
The Answers
  • We dissected passages to view construction & comprehend
  • Translated questions to understand them
  • Produced suitable mental answers
  • Answers-

---always 4 choices

---1/4 chance of correct answer with just guessing

Goal-improve odds by minimizing choices

the answers strategy
The Answers Strategy
  • Starting with answer choice A, compare it to the answer you have in your head
  • Decide NO or MAYBE for answer choice A
  • Continue to B, then C, then D
  • Select the best answer from the MAYBE choices
  • Next question
  • 15-30 seconds
example 17
Example-#17
  • Answer in your head: Bacteria & fungi finish decomposition, breaking down organic molecules & releasing resources to environment
  • Choices:

A. Bacteria & fungi are more compact than animals. No or Maybe

B. Bacteria & fungi add more oxygen to decomposing material than do animals. No or Maybe

C. Bacteria & fungi break down organic molecules better than do animals. No or Maybe

D. Bacteria & fungi enable animals to initiate the decomposition process. No or Maybe

example 18
Example-#18
  • Answer in your head: ”Plants in arid environments are an exception to the fact that hi surface:vol ratios are one of the most characteristic features of plants.”
  • Choices:

A. The difference between plants & animals is not fundamentally about modes of nutrition. No or Maybe

B. Some autotrophs are able to collect diffuse resources with a low ratio of surface area to volume. No or Maybe

C. Cactus plants constitute a third part of the recycling system in addition ot collector-concentrators & scatterers. No or Maybe

D. Plants that have a high ratio of surface area to volume require concentrated resources in the environment. N or M

answers strategy
Answers Strategy
  • Strategy is very simple
  • Focuses on improving odds
  • Works by eliminating wrong answers
  • Is not a task of finding the RIGHT answer
  • Think of answering by choosing the best Maybe
  • Educated guess
  • Frees you to move forward instead of wasting time or fretting
content strategy
Content + Strategy
  • Understanding passage & question most important
  • Not brain surgery
  • Able to answer General Q’s from Main Idea, Specific Q’s from returning to details
  • Sometimes need strategy beyond content
  • Wrong answers sometimes look and sound wrong
moving down the answer choices
Moving Down the Answer Choices
  • A – No or Maybe?
  • B – No or Maybe?
  • C – No or Maybe?
  • D – No or Maybe?
  • Every single question
  • Every single time
  • If not sure, make it a Maybe---why not?
  • If don’t like it, No
  • Become a Test-Taking Machine, Lean & Green
what now
What Now?
  • Look at Maybes
  • Probably only 1 or 2 remain
  • Easier to look at 2 choices instead of 4
  • Odds in your favor
  • Return to passage if needed or to Main Idea
  • Make your decision of the Best Maybe
  • Move on
  • Think: Test-taking Machine
six verbal question types
Six Verbal Question Types
  • Main Idea
  • Detail
  • Inference
  • Application
  • Tone
  • Logic
main idea
Main Idea
  • Alert: “The author’s main purpose …”, “The main idea of this passage is …”, “The general theme …”
  • Description: Ask for a restatement of the author’s main point
  • Strategy: Look for the answer that best matches the scope of the article, look for too broad or too narrow or distortions as NO answers. Get a main idea when you finish reading the passage, answer this question before looking at the answer choices.
detail
Detail
  • Alert: “According to the passage, …”, “Based on information in the passage, …”
  • Description: Require you to recall a specific point from the passage; MAYBE answers will be those that approximate information directly from the passage
  • Strategy: Look back at the passage
inference
Inference
  • Alert: “It can be inferred from the passage that…”, “The author suggests that …”
  • Description: Make a SMALL logical leap from the passage that would be consistent with the main idea
  • Strategy: MAYBE answers are consistent with the passage but not quite a simple restatement of information already presented
application
Application
  • Alert: “The passage was probably written by …”, “The example in paragraph 2 would be most similar to …”
  • Description: Take an essential idea from the passage and relate it to a different context; may involve analogies or metaphors;
  • Strategy: MAYBE answers translate an idea from the passage into a new context
slide133
Tone
  • Alert: “The author’s attitude can best be described as …”, “The author would likely agree with …”, “The tone of the passage is best described as …”
  • Description: Identify the author’s attitude about a passage’s subject matter; may be focused on a detail or the whole passage
  • Strategy: Have a sense of the tone for the passage before looking at the answer choices
logic
Logic
  • Alert: “The third paragraph serves to …”, “Which of the following would strengthen the author’s point?”, “The author raises the point in paragraph 3 in order to …”
  • Description: Analyze the function of certain portions of the passage; how does a particular detail serve the passage; sometimes about overall passage structure.
  • Strategy: MAYBE answers support the integrity of the passage
mcat math
MCAT Math
  • Don’t get caught up in the details
  • Round to make the arithmetic easier
    • Round Up / Round Down
  • Scientific Notation
  • Proportions / Inverse Proportions
  • Graphs

*** think trends and estimates, not specifics

more passage reinforcement
More Passage Reinforcement
  • Hardest part for science majors – want to focus on:
    • The details
    • The parts you don’t understand
  • Do exactly the opposite – focus on:
    • The general
    • The parts you do understand
winning approach
Winning Approach
  • Energy
    • Pull up your chair
    • Sit up straight
  • Focus
    • How you practice is how you will take the test
    • Train yourself to concentrate and focus
  • Confidence
    • Be confident in your preparation
  • Timing
    • Every single passage
    • Every single question
tactics reinforcement
Tactics Reinforcement
  • Take a five second break when practicing
    • Between each passage in the beginning (not during PT)
    • And before the first one – be in control
  • Read every word
    • Read for general idea
    • Note - but don’t memorize - details
  • Construct a main idea
    • Note main idea of each paragraph
    • Link them together for main idea of the passage
going back
Going Back

Use when you

  • Are regularly finishing the exam on time
  • Know what you are looking for
  • Know where you can find the answer
  • Most used, should be least used
  • Can waste a lot of time
be careful for
Be Careful For...

Watch for traps like

  • Word for word answer choices
  • Going exactly to the line reference
  • Falling for the simple ‘feel good’ answer
  • Getting stuck on one really hard question - don’t sacrifice five easy questions for one difficult one
types of no answers
Types of NO Answers
  • Roundabout – moves around the question but doesn’t answer it
  • Beyond – not in the passage but beyond it
  • Contrary – contrary to the main idea
  • Simpleton – too easy
  • Unintelligible – if I don’t understand it, it must be the correct answer
  • Too General or Too Specific
  • Too Extreme – never, always, must, only
  • Inconsistent with the main idea
until april 30
Until April 30
  • Practice Test 10
    • What’s your goal?
  • Biology
    • Have you identified areas of strength and weakness?
    • Are you where you want to be?
  • What content is next? How are you going to prepare?
  • Verbal practice, practice, practice
  • Physical Sciences-focused content review
slide143

Short term sacrifice.

Long term gain.

Do you want to go to medical school? Then you have to do this and do it well.

homework5
Homework:
  • Print out your diagnostic report after testing today
  • Complete today’s reflection today & return April 30
  • Think/prep MCAT throughout each day
  • You can take a break for Easter-one day only-enjoy!
  • You should be finished with the Official Guide text
  • Use the Official Guide for passage practice
  • Practice the Answers strategy, N vs M
  • Perform targeted review of all weak concepts, topics, & problem solving skills, based on Practice Test diagnostic reports, reflection, & passage practice
  • Work on shortening your required question time towards goals-1 minute Q & A
session b april 30 2011 meeting 4
Session BApril 30, 2011Meeting 4

Wrap Up

& Practice Test 11

answer choice considerations
Answer Choice Considerations:
  • General vs. Specific
  • Extreme vs. Mushy
  • Politically Correct
general vs specific
General vs. Specific
  • 2 types of sentences
  • 2 types of questions
  • 2 types of answers
  • General Q’s have General A’s
  • Specific Q’s have Specific A’s
general vs specific answer strategy
General vs. Specific Answer Strategy
  • Topic Sentences from Paragraphs
  • Frequent choices
  • Too specific
  • Not Main Idea of Passage
  • No
ex pg 353 20
Ex: pg 353, # 20

20. Of the following statements, which one best describes the central theme of the passage?

A. The hazards that children face in their everyday lives are exaggerated partly because of the “risk anxiety” that pervades contemporary life.

B. A child who successfully takes on physical risks will be more likely to undertake risks in other areas of learning.

C. People need to consider the positive aspects of risk-taking behavior when they develop safety regulations for children’s play areas.

D. A result of increasing restrictions on children is that they lack opportunities to make their own decisions.

never must everyone
Never/Must/Everyone
  • Vs. Sometimes/Frequently/Many people
  • Extremes more difficult to prove in passage
  • Tend to not be true
  • Weakest point of statement
  • Point of attack
  • Uncommon
ex pg 327 5
Ex: pg 327, #5

5. Which of the following best describes an assumption made by the passage author in the first paragraph?

A. Ten percent of all U.S. novels produced in the 1820s were best sellers. (No, author doesn’t say that)

B. The most innovative figures in U.S. culture are often the most misunderstood. (No, doesn’t say that)

C. Before the 1820s, U.S. writers were unable to earn a living by their writings. (Maybe)

D. Cooper was the only U.S. author writing during the 1820s. (No, extreme & hard to prove; author states he marketed 10% of all period’s writings.)

p c not controversial
P.C./Not Controversial
  • Usually controversial answers are No’s
  • Depends upon passage, author’s viewpoint, & question
  • Some authors in MCAT land take the controversial position
  • Maybe’s can also be controversial
ex pg 353 21
Ex: pg 353, #21

21. Information in the passage most strongly suggests that the author believes that people who are resistant to children’s physical risk-taking: 

A. do not allow their children to play in their backyards because they consider it to be unsafe. (Maybe)

B. insufficiently acknowledge the positive aspects that may result from children taking physical risks. (Maybe)

C. have less opportunity to gain confidence and self-esteem through coping independently. (No)

D. are mistaken when they consider the consequences of physical hazard to be dire. (a bit controversial w/ non-controversial author: No)

attitude reminder
Attitude Reminder
  • ‘I’m so scared of the MCAT, I’m going to do so badly on the MCAT… ‘
  • Brain hears it, brain believes it

“The MCAT is a difficult and important test. However, I am preparing very well. I know how the test is structured. I know what content needs extra attention and I am developing strategies to make my score even better. I am going to do well.”

slide155

Short term sacrifice.

Long term gain.

Do you want to go to medical school? Then you have to do this and do it well.

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