Day 18 – CARS Question Types: Meaning of a Term

We only have one question type left after today, and then you’ll have seen them all. I know this has been a long, boring, slog through the ins and outs of question types on the CARS, but I promise you all your hard work will be worth it as you anxiously refresh your screen to see the AAMC post your score, and then….Boom! There’s the number you want. Keep up the hard work. We’ll get there.

The Meaning of a Term Question Type:

Meaning of aterm questions are some of the easiest questions on the MCAT, but because they only show up one or two times every few tests, they aren’t all that familiar to most test takers. There will always be a reference word, phrase, or quote in the question stem which you will then be required to interpret or translate into broader, clearer or more approachable language given in one of the answer choices.

Context is going to be key, so look at where the phrase or word is used in the passage and read before and after it in order to get a sense of the author’s usage of the term. The MCAT will always provide sufficient grounds to definitively answer a meaning of a term question, so often a synonym or phrase in the preceding or subsequent few sentences will clue you into the way the particular term is being used. Come up with your own prediction as to the definition of the term before looking at the answer choices. This will make sure you’re not thrown off by any trickster answer choices the MCAT plants. Make your prediction definition broad so you’ll be sure the correct answer choice fits inside!

Examples of Meaning of a Term Question Stems:

As used in the passage, “aphrodisiac” refers to:

Which of the following phrases is most synonymous with the way in which the author uses the term “hairy” in his claim that “August 24th was a day full of hairy situations.”

The author’s use of the term “glad-handed” most likely means:

In paragraph four, what is the author’s most likely intended meaning in writing that Queen Elizabeth was crusty?

Tips for Meaning of a Term Questions:

– Beware of definitions that are common or look like they’re from the dictionary. Remember that the MCAT is a test designed to separate students so that medical schools can evaluate them. Every question is designed to do this. Accordingly, the MCAT is not going to give you a question that 99% of test takers would get right. It’s just too easy and defeats the purpose of the test. Don’t be fooled by the “too easy” answer choice.

– Come up with your own definition before looking at the answer choices. It’s harder for the MCAT to trick you this way.

We’ve only got one day left on question types. Keep up the great work and don’t forget to do your three passages today. You’ve really covered a lot of ground in the past 18 days. You should be proud of yourself. You’re investing in your future, and once you’re done with this test, you’ll never have to do it again. See you back here tomorrow.

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

“If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs.”
– Dhirubhai Ambani

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