Day 27 – How to Review CARS Questions

Yesterday, we looked at how to break down and review a CARS passage. I recommend you review every passage you do from here on out like we did yesterday. Today, we’re going to look at how to review CARS questions. If you’ve got your timing down and your reading comprehension is strong, what we’ll cover today will be a critical step in getting you into the 129+ range. If you’ve made it this far, you’ve come a long way, and you’re in the top tier of MCATers.

If you want to get ahead, and have the full “How to Review a Practice Test” summary sheet, you can download it here.

The Why of Reviewing:

I’ll just say it again here to remind you and drill this lesson home. We don’t review CARS passages to learn anything. We review CARS passages in order to build good habits and to see where our CARS process is breaking down.

How to Review a CARS Question:

The first step of effective question review begins when you’re taking your practice test. I recommend that if you are not at least 75% sure you’ve answered a question correctly that you mark that question to review later, regardless of whether you get it wrong or right. If it’s confusing you, there’s a reason it’s confusing you, and that reason is your key to improving your CARS score.

So mark a question for review later if:

– You can’t eliminate at least two answer choices
– You aren’t at least 75% sure that you’ve answered a question correctly
– You are spending a lot of time on a question
– You have no idea what the answer is
– You mark the question in order to come back to it later in the test

This technique will save you a lot of time when you review your practice tests, as you’ll only review your “trouble” questions and the ones you got wrong. You won’t waste time on the ones you knew you were going to get correct (and that you did get correct). As your CARS skills improve, you’ll only be reviewing 5 to 10 questions per test. Which isn’t that many.

Step 1: Wait at least four hours to review your CARS practice tests.

We recommend you grade your practice test right after you take it, but only mark down which questions you got wrong. DO NOT mark the correct answer or review the answer explanations! Try and move quickly so you don’t remember the correct answer to the questions you missed. If you do, this will hamper your review later on.

Step 2: Make a list of all the questions you got wrong or that you marked as “trouble” while taking the test.

For each question…

Step 3: Identify what kind of question type you’re dealing with.

Step 4: Paraphrase the question, and try to put it into as simple of language as possible. What is the question really asking you?

The MCAT is notorious for making easy questions hard by disguising them in complicated language. If you’re able to learn how to look past all of that extra junk, you’ll find your CARS practice tests getting easier each day. So much of the CARS is simply learning how to translate complicated language into simpler language. Practice this and you’ll be golden.

Step 5: Using your paraphrase, write down an answer prediction in as few of words as possible.

This won’t be possible with every question, but with many it will be.

And that’s it for reviewing question stems. The final piece of your review is to actually dig into the answer choices which we’ll go over tomorrow!

Remember to do your five practice passages for today and be sure to review each of the passages and questions as we’ve learned. It might be uncomfortable at first and take more time than you’d like, but 1) you will get faster the more you review and 2) besides getting your timing down, reviewing practice tests is the biggest opportunity to raise your score. At the end of this three-day mini-series, I’ll explain how to review an entire practice test, putting all of the pieces together.

Today’s Assignment: Do Five CARS Passages Consecutively, Under Timed Conditions

“There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.”
– Helen Keller

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