Finally, the last piece in my set of "Improving Your MCAT VR Score" posts. This is basically just an assortment of random thoughts and tips for MCAT Verbal Reasoning (in no particular order). 1. Start Reading Years Before the MCAT - I know this is probably way too late for the majority of people interested in this blog, but reading comprehension is not learned or improved over-night. I have loved reading (mostly fiction) since I was 4 or 5 years old. During the summer, I will often start and finish a new book every other day. I think this hobby was instrumental to me scoring a 13 on Verbal Reasoning. The good news is that there are a ton of good medical books to check out and get you inspired! Check out: Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon's First Years, Intern: A Doctor's Initiation, Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science, or Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis. Not only will you be reading, these books will excite you about your possible future profession.
2. Don't Take Only Science Courses in College - Sometimes I feel that pre-medical students are a bit one-dimensional and lack a wide breadth of educational background. I was really happy that I went to a liberal arts college because I had to take English Literature, History, Philosophy, and many other humanity classes. Trust me, there will be plenty of time for biochemistry and genetics in medical school, take a course that requires active reading and paper writing. I think it will help for VR.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice - Most of my friends who are taking a year off to retake the MCAT or reapply to medical school never truly devoted themselves to studying for the MCAT in the first place. I have always believed that if you are going to do something, give it 110%. I was always in the library, and did every single one of the verbal passages in Examkrackers 101 Passages in MCAT Verbal Reasoning. I also completed over 20 full-length practice tests. Be fully prepared for the MCAT and have zero regrets going in.
4. Don't Skimp on the VR - Everyone puts so much effort into the BS and PS sections of the MCAT, but as mentioned in the first article, VR is the lowest scoring subsection of the MCAT. Don't forget about it and give it at least a third of your study time! If you have confidence about this section before going into the real deal, chances are that you will succeed.
5. Use Lumosity - Starting about a year before the MCAT, I began using a website called Lumosity. It is a basically a gym for your brain and is actually a lot of fun. It is a pretty cheap endeavor and in my opinion worth checking out. Some nights while studying for the MCAT I just wasn't in the mood to study or read serious material, so it is fun to play brain games that actually may help. Improving your memory, focus, problem solving, etc. is especially important for Verbal Reasoning. The site offers a free trial, so I recommend seeing if it works for you.
6. No Looking Back - There will be at least 2-3 extremely tricky questions on the real MCAT VR. Chances are that you will have to make an educated guess. That is OK! You can still get a very good scaled score on the MCAT even if you miss a few questions. Worrying about a question from a previous passage will only be a detriment to your overall performance.
7. Just Breathe - If you got through the SAT Verbal section, there is no reason that you can't get through this. MCAT Verbal Reasoning is beatable and it is a known quantity. There will not be any surprises. I hope that this series of posts have offered some useful information, but the key is finding out what works for you.