Day 2 – Breaking Down the MCAT CARS Section

What Happened to Verbal Reasoning:

Of all the major changes the MCAT has undergone in the new roll out, the MCAT CARS section has changed the least. It is very similar to the old MCAT’s Verbal Reasoning section, in fact, early reports of the released practice materials by the AAMC indicate many of the practice verbal passages made the trip over to the new MCAT. With that said, there are some significant changes. Let’s take a look:

MCAT CARS Section Breakdown:

1) 9 Passages

  • Passages either have 5, 6 or 7 questions

2) 53 Questions

3) 90 Minutes

4) Passages are of two types – Social Sciences and Humanities

Social Science Topics

– Anthropology
– Archeology
– Economics
– Education
– Geography
– History
– Linguistics
– Political Science
– Population Health
– Psychology
– Sociology

Humanities Topics

– Architecture
– Art
– Dance
– Ethics
– Literature
– Music
– Philosophy
– Popular
– Culture
– Religion
– Theater
– Studies of Diverse Cultures

5)The new MCAT CARS section does not have natural science passages, unlike the old MCAT verbal section.

Interpreting your MCAT CARS Score:

The new MCAT CARS section is scored on a scale from 118 to 132. The AAMC expects the average test taker (notice not applicant, nor matriculate) to score a 125 on the CARS section. Thus, you’ll want to be in the 127-129 range to have a reasonably competitive CARS score. This correlates roughly to getting somewhere between 77% to 86% of the questions correct i.e. 41 to 46 questions. (Remember the MCAT is a scaled test, so the conversion from raw score to scaled score depends on your performance and that of your fellow test takers on your particular test day.) A 129 and up is going to be a competitive score at any school in the country which is equivalent to 88% correct and up (47+ questions).

Interpreting your MCAT Score:

Since this is a guide for the CARS section, I won’t spend much time on it here, but just so you have an idea, now that the new MCAT has four sections, each being scored 118 to 132, the new composite score range for the MCAT is 472 to 528. So in rough terms:

499 is the new 25* and 508 is the new 30**

Further AAMC Resources:

Are you someone who likes to dork out on details? I’ve included a few links from the AAMC so you can dig more into the niceties of the CARS section, just in case that’s your jam.

AAMC MCAT CARS Content Overview PDF

AAMC MCAT Essentials PDF

Don’t forget to do your passage for today, and thanks for reading. See you tomorrow!

Today’s Assignment: Do One CARS Passage Under Timed Conditions

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
– Winston Churchill

* Corresponding to the 49th percentile
** Corresponding to the 79th percentile

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