Improving Your MCAT VR Score – Part 2 – The Right Way to Approach It
In part 1 I cleared up some misconceptions about MCAT Verbal Reasoning. In this post, I am going to tell you exactly how I went about scoring a 13 on VR. These are some awesome (and battle tested) Verbal Reasoning MCAT strategies. It is often said that the simplest method is the best method, and my recommendations are nothing if not easy. There are no secret techniques and it doesn’t require any special skills. So without further ado, here are my 6 recommendations for taking MCAT VR:
1) Don’t Skip Passages or Questions – Some test-prep companies suggest skipping “hard” passages or coming back to questions if you are not positive about the answer. I am telling you to do the opposite. As we discussed, time is an issue on this section for the majority of MCAT test-takers. Start with the first passage and continue on from there in order. Of course there will be questions you are not 100% certain on, but I want you to choose your best guess, “mark” the question, and if you have time come back to it.
2) Attack Each and Every Passage – What are you most interested in? Your answer should be: “Whatever the passages on my MCAT are about.” You have to read every word of every passage with complete concentration. If you read actively, you will remember where abouts in each passage details or ideas are discussed – a kind of mental map of passage information. Luckily, the passages are not very long. This may take practice for some people.
3) Highlight Sparingly – I think we all know that just because you highlight everything in your book or notes doesn’t mean that you actually learned anything. The same is true here. I used highlighting to emphasize thesis points, or as a kind of “X-marks the spot” for my mental map. Too much highlighting wastes time and is not useful.
4) Really Read the Questions and All the Answer Choices – You have gotten this far, and actively read 600 words about some random topic. Don’t make stupid mistakes by misreading a question or not completely looking at each and every answer choice. I guarantee that with some experience you will immediately be able to eliminate one terrible answer choice from every question.
5) Refer to the Passage as Necessary – This will probably be the most controversial of my recommendations, but it just makes sense. All of the information that you need is right there on the computer screen! I probably referred back to the passage on about 30-40% of my VR questions. Using my mental map (and the highlighting to guide me) it takes no time at all to quickly find the pertinent information.
6) Don’t Waste Time Watching the Clock – After your weeks of preparation and practice, timing shouldn’t be an issue. I used the 14 practice tests in Examkrackers 101 Passages in MCAT Verbal Reasoning to get my timing down. Go to the library and take each of the 14 tests in exactly 60 minutes. I only looked at the clock once. I knew that I needed to be finished with my 2oth question before a half hours was up.
That’s it…there are no excuses for faulty-preparation for VR and not exposing yourself to as many VR passages as humanely possible.
If you are dominating VR using a different method….that’s great! Don’t change it! Different people have different Verbal Reasoning MCAT strategies. However, if you are struggling I really hope that you will give my method a chance. It won’t work for everyone, but it really helped me, and it is extremely simple. The hardest part is the creation of the mental content map, but I believe that every pre-med should be able to do it for 600 word passages. Stay tuned because in part 3, I will show you my method in action, on an actual VR passage with questions.