Day 17 – CARS Question Types: Attitude

Over the next two days, we’re going to take a look at two different question types that occasionally show up on the CARS, but may or may not be there depending on the test you get. These are going to be particularly important for those of you shooting for 128+. If your timing is still rough or if you don’t feel like you have a good grasp of the other question types yet, I’d read through these next two posts, but not spend too much more time on them until you get the other pieces of the puzzle into place. Remember your three passages for today!

The Attitude Question Type:

Attitude questions are the seemingly highly subjective questions asking how the author “feels” about a particular topic. In some cases, the MCAT might ask you about how someone represented in the passage or a school of thought might feel about this or that topic. There are also passages where you’re asked about what two or more differing positions might think or feel about each other.

The key to answering these questions correctly is keeping an eye out for value judgments made by the author concerning the different parties in the passage. Look back to your keyword list and familiarize yourself with terms that imply a particular judgment. Does the author seem uninterested or bored? Is the author angry or is she more hopeful about the future? One of the best ways to deal with these questions is to think of a scale of 1 to 7 and try to place the author somewhere on that scale. I like to think of it in terms of colors. Is the author red, blue or green? Be sure to do this without looking at the answer choices first, as they might color your judgment.

After deciding where you think the author resides, then look at the answer choices. If you believe the author to be in the red zone, you can immediately eliminate any blue or green answer choices. This will at worst leave you choosing between two answer choices. Is the author angry or irritated? It’s wise to err on the side of being conservative on the CARS, so if you’re having trouble deciding, pick the weaker of the two claims. There will always be clear evidence to support an extreme attitude, and if you can’t find it, it’s probably because it’s not there. Remember that on the MCAT, extreme answer choices are frowned upon! The moderate answer is almost always correct. (Unless it’s not, but you’ll know when that’s the case based on the passage, because extreme answers require extreme passages and support.) So by first deciding whether the author is negative, neutral, or positive, and then by deciding whether the author is conservative, moderate or extreme, you should be able to eliminate at least two answer choices if not three. This makes answer these sorts of questions fairly easy. Just think of this negative, neutral, positive spectrum, and you’ll already be half way to a correct answer!

Examples of Attitude Questions:

1) The author’s attitude towards Chinese art is best described as:

A) Objective and neutral
B) Interested and accepting
C) Supportive and hegemonic
D) Disinterested and academic

2) The attitude of the author concerning Morante’s La Storia can best be described as:

A) Objective
B) Approving
C) Skeptical
D) Hopeful

Tips for Attitude Questions:

– Look for value judgments made by the author.

– Rank the author on a 1 to 7 scale and color code him or her before looking at the answer choices. Then color code the answer choices and eliminate the ones that don’t match up

– If you’re having trouble deciding, go with the more conservative and moderate answer choice. The MCAT will always give you clear support for extreme answer choices. If it’s not there, it’s probably not the right answer.

Great job today! We have only one more question type and then you’re done (with question types)! Attitude questions are some of the trickiest on the CARS, but if you practice seeing them in terms of colors, they usually aren’t that difficult. 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

“Winners are willing to pay the price that losers won’t.”
– Anonymous

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