Day 16 – CARS Question Types: Integration of New Information

Today, we’re going to take a look at one of the most difficult question types on the CARS, the integration of new information question type. These make up about 15% of the questions you’ll see on test day (around 5 questions), so while they aren’t the highest yield area to pick up points if you’re still struggling to break 125, if you’re shooting for that 127+ score, you’ll need to have these down. Don’t forget to do your three passages today. We’ll get you to the CARS score you want. Just trust me and do the work!

The Integration of New Information Question Type:

As you might suspect, an integration of new information question does exactly what you might expect. It gives you new information and then asks you to integrate that information in a particular way regarding the passage. The MCAT may ask you how the new information affects the passage or the author’s central argument. Does it weaken it? Strengthen it? Have no effect? In some ways, integrationquestions are the opposite of the application type we looked at yesterday in that application questions require you to apply the passage outwardly, whereas integrationquestions require you to determine the internal effects on the passage of new outside information.

Integration questions ultimately come down to asking you about claims made by the author in the passage. The new information will either affect one or more of these claims or it won’t. If it doesn’t, there’s no effect, nothing changes. If there is an effect, this is the place where the MCAT will want you to make an evaluation. Thus, the two critical steps for integration questions are to 1) identify the claim(s) in the passage that are affected by the new information provided in the question stem and 2) evaluate the ways in which these claims are effected.

A strong sense of the structure of the passage and the various subtopics discussed will make it much easier for you to identify the important claims, so keep up your practice on reading for structure.If you develop your capacity to identify support the author gives for his or her claims in the passage, you will be better prepared to evaluate how these claims are affected by the new information. By far, the most common way for new information to affect a claim is by either strengthening or undermining the support the author gives that claim in the passage. Thus, after you identify the claim in the passage, search for the support the author gives. Then cross reference this support with the new information given in the question stem. Most of the time, the right answer will just jump out at you.

Examples of Integration of New Information Question Stems:

Suppose that a classics scholar stated that although Aristophanes’ primary goal was to make people laugh, he did have a latent political agenda and thoroughly believed that everyone ought to engage in political action. If this scholar’s statement were found to be true, what would be the effect on the author’s central thesis?

A manuscript of Dante was discovered that showed that he did not believe in a literal hell. How would this new information affect the author’s claims?

Which of the following findings would most weaken the author’s central argument?

Suppose that De Francesco prided himself on the clarity and accessibility of his poetry. Which of the following claims made by the author would most be called into question?

According to one authority on constitutional government, “the individual is the primary and foundational unit of a constitutional government.” This authority would probably:

Suppose that a survey of successful modern leaders finds that some study history while others do not. The author would most likely respond to this challenge by saying:

In recent years, foreign intervention has led to the establishment of democracies in a range of nations across the world. The argument presented for government being understood as a product of natural history suggests that this would:

Tips for Integration of New Information Questions:

– One of the ways the MCAT will trick you is to correctly connect the new information with the right claim or argument in the passage, but then misrepresent the effect the new information has. For example, if the new information strengthens the author’s claim, the MCAT will tell you it undermines it or has no effect. Many test takers will see the point of connection and via the power of suggestion accept the effect the MCAT gives without further thought. Don’t fall for this. The MCAT will often alter one of these three elements to create an incorrect answer choice: the new information, the information in the passage, or the effect this new information has on the passage information If you can keep each of these parts clear and distinct in your mind, you shouldn’t have any trouble getting these sorts of questions correct.

– An easy way to narrow down your answer choices is to first make a quick pass through, looking for tricksters that have no connections to the passage or the new information provided. The correct answer choice will require both. An answer choice that has a connection to one or the other is not enough as the question is asking you to integrate this new information or said another way, to connect it to the passage correctly.

– Look to the support the author gives his or her central claims in order to evaluate how the new information affects the passage. The far majority of integration of new information questions deal with the central thesis of the passage, so if you find yourself struggling to find the connection point for the new information provided, look to the main idea for help.

– With integration of new informationquestions, you always have to be sure that you’re answering the question in front of you, not one you’ve made up. It’s very easy to grant yourself too wide a gate to walk through. The CARS is a very logical, step by step, test. Every answer choice has clear and defensible reasons for why it is either right or wrong. Don’t get too loose with your approach to these types of questions.

– There are three parts to answering an integration question. 1) the new information, 2) the relevant passage information, and 3) the connection between the two. The CARS has to give you, at least one of these pieces and then will ask you about one or both of the others. If you can train yourself to identify these three pieces, integration questions will become your favorite type on the MCAT. EASY POINTS!

Great job today! I know it’s a lot to take in. Try to “integrate” as much of this information as you can, but the key for right now is to make sure you’re doing your three passages a day. Little by little, the gains will build up and before you know it, you’ll be a CARS pro. Keep up the good work and don’t forget your three passages for today.

Today’s Assignment: Do Three CARS Passages Individually, Under Timed Conditions

“In order to succeed, your desire for success must be greater than your fear of failure.”
– Robin Williams

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