Lessons

Exam Day Tips

Pack food high in carbs. Use the 10 minute tutorial to reproduce your cheat sheet for that section on a scratch paper, so that you have some strategic guidelines with you during the exam. Do light exercise and stretches during the breaks, such as pushups, squats, and yoga. Yogic headstands are also wonderful to get the blood flowing properly again. To prevent eye strain, look along the edges of your… Read More »Exam Day Tips

Mental Stamina Tactics

We are very focused at the start, and we are very focused at the end.  The middle is where we lose it. Here are some solutions: Empty your mind at the start of every passage by reading a few buzzwords from passage, closing eyes, taking deep breath, squeezing palms as you exhale, and mentally repeating the buzzwords in your head. This will prime yourself for the passage at hand and… Read More »Mental Stamina Tactics

Anxiety Management Tactics (Part 2)

As a quick piece of advice, to quickly get a high level overview of something, you might want to use the following four questions (or 4 Qs, as I call them): What is it? Where does it come from? What is it for? Why does it matter to my life? These are four questions that children often ask when faced with a new object. It’s a great way to understand… Read More »Anxiety Management Tactics (Part 2)

Anxiety Management Tactics (Part 1)

I define anxiety as the desire to not be in the present moment. Whenever you feel anxious, ask yourself “what is it about this present moment that I do not desire?” For example, “I have no idea what any of these concepts mean.” Clarify that this is an anxiety that is necessary to feel at the present moment. You do this by asking yourself if this anxiety represents a real… Read More »Anxiety Management Tactics (Part 1)

Accountability Tactics

Accountability is hard. It’s even harder when you’re by yourself. Therefore, I recommend with a large amount of emphasis that you do NOT study alone! Use your family. Use your friends. Use our forum. Do everything in your power to humble yourself by admitting to other people that you need help, are stuck, or even just to brag about something you have figured out! There are very few things that… Read More »Accountability Tactics

Study Scheduling and Time Management (Part 1)

The way I like to break down studying for the MCAT is into two phases. Phase 1: Solidify your knowledge of the 31 AAMC Content Categories (https://aamc-orange.global.ssl.fastly.net/production/media/filer_public/f7/e5/f7e57fb2-44fa-4c00-83dd-c17cee034c47/mcat2015-content.pdf) Solidify your strategic knowledge of how to solve the 7 categories problems listed above (https://students-residents.aamc.org/applying-medical-school/article/mcat-2015-sirs-overview/) Phase 2: Conduct practice passages and exams under increasingly stricter timed conditions Review and correct your mistakes, drill the lessons you learned, try another exam Continue to maintain… Read More »Study Scheduling and Time Management (Part 1)

2 Things That High Level Critical Thinkers Do (without even knowing it)

They categorize problems in their head and relate them to problems that they have similarly done in the past. The MCAT has a finite number of categories of problems. Each of these categories of problems has a specific way of solving them. These students understand that principle. They do not think that there is an endless amount of problems that the AAMC MCAT test writers can come up with. They… Read More »2 Things That High Level Critical Thinkers Do (without even knowing it)

The 3 Skills AAMC Tests You In CARS

Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) contains 3 skills. CARS Skill 1: Foundations of Comprehension CARS Skill 2: Reasoning within the Text CARS Skill 3: Reasoning beyond the Text In layman’s terms… CARS Skill 1: Foundations of Comprehension Did you understand the main conclusion of the passage? Did you understand the author’s tone of voice (antagonistic, neutral, supportive) regarding various claims made in the passage? CARS Skill 2: Reasoning within the… Read More »The 3 Skills AAMC Tests You In CARS

Answer Choice Selection

When answering questions, use bracketing to eliminate the weaker answer choice between two answer choices. Use MS;LR (most support; least rationalization) to select the strongest answer of the two. Students often believe that the more difficult an answer choice is to understand, the more likely that this answer choice is the correct one. This is not a good tactic. It is rooted in insecurity and a lack of self-confidence. Always… Read More »Answer Choice Selection

Common Passage Structure

You can quickly predict the layout of the passage by considering the following common argument structure: Context First Major Shift in Tone Main Thesis Proof Conclusion

“Highlighting”/Reading for Relevant Keywords

You can use your highlighter to help improve your reading comprehension by highlighting words and phrases that indicate a relevant detail: Conclusive “Therefore” “Thus” Emphatic/Normative “Should” “Must” Definitive “Is” “Are” Contextual “Common belief” “As important as ___ is” “While ___ may be true” Shift in Tone “But” “However” “Yet” First Person “We” “I” “My”

Speed Reading Tactics

More words does not mean more important. Often the bulk of the passage contains examples and evidence for the main ideas as opposed to the main ideas themselves. Therefore, you can skim these sections of the passage. You can quickly find the main idea by reading the concluding paragraph, if not simply the concluding sentence of the passage.

CARS Step-by-Step Approach

Scan the passage and/or title for buzzwords to see what type of passage this will be. Read the conclusion and predict the point of the passage. Pause at the top of the passage to remind yourself of your predicted point of the passage. Ask yourself at least one question about it to become an active reader (ie. “why does the author think ___ is so important?”) Read from the top… Read More »CARS Step-by-Step Approach

CARS Problem Category #7: How Author Would Respond to Hypothetical Situation

“How would the author respond to this new situation?” The correct answer to this problem will be determined by the author’s conclusion as well as whether or not the new situation is relevant to the author’s conclusion. If relevant, then the author will either respond with support or discouragement.

CARS Problem Category #6: How New Information Affects Argument

“Let’s assume a new bit of information comes out. If true, how does this affect the author’s argument?” The answer choices usually contain strengthen, weaken or does not affect. If there are two answer choices that are the same, cross them out. Then ask yourself “does this information relate to the conclusion of the passage?” If yes, ask yourself “does it contradict or support it?” The answer to that question… Read More »CARS Problem Category #6: How New Information Affects Argument

CARS Problem Category #5: Additional Support Needed

“Which of the following claims made in the passage would be best improved by additional support?” These answer choices will either be claims that were NOT made, claims that WERE made with NO additional support or mention, or claims that WERE made WITH additional support or mention. The correct answer would be the claim that WAS made with NO additional support or mention.

CARS Problem Category #4: Least Supported Claim

“Which of the following is LEAST supported in the passage?” Three of the answer choices will be claims made within the passage. One of the answer choices will be a claim that was not made. The claim that was not made is the correct answer.

CARS Problem Category #3: Purpose of Phrase

“Why does the author use this example?” The answer to this question is found at the beginning of where that example was first mentioned in the passage. Look to the claims immediately preceding the beginning of the example. The answer will usually be “the example was used to support the claim made in the previous sentence.”

CARS Problem Category #2

“What is the author’s tone regarding this claim?” The answer choices can be either positive (+), neutral (0), or negative (-). Usually the answer choices will have two of the same kind. Eliminate these. If the claim is relevant to the conclusion, then it will be either positive or negative. If not, then it will be neutral. In Social Science passages, the tone is usually more neutral, except if the… Read More »CARS Problem Category #2