Introduction: How to Use This Master Course:
My name is Nick Zehner. I’m the lead content writer for Testing Solutions, LLC. I’ve spent well over 1,700 hours analyzing the AAMC’s released verbal and CARS practice materials and writing practice passages. I’ve written 80+ passage and question sets from the ground up, and I scored in the 99% percentile on the MCAT. I was an instructor and a private tutor for one of the country’s largest MCAT prep companies, teaching students from Harvard, MIT, and Boston University among others in the Cambridge/ Boston area. I got tired of their often sub-par materials and highway robbery approach to preying on pre-med fears to make a buck (One of my tutoring students paid $175 an hour to work with me, and the company paid me $30. The students weren’t the only ones getting ripped off.), so I left a few years ago to start Testing Solutions, LLC. I recently graduated with a master’s degree from Harvard University studying philosophy of religion and I’m currently a first-year medical student at Stanford University’s School of Medicine (2016).
For most students, the CARS section will be the most difficult section they’ll face on test day. As pre-meds, most of us know how to study. We know how to memorize details and facts, and how to apply what we know under new conditions. We are not; however, particularly good at the soft skills the MCAT CARS section tests. To make matters worse, most students do not know how to study for the CARS section. They don’t know what to practice, how to review, how many passages to do or even when to do them. They do some passages here and there, try this strategy then that, but they never get to the point that they feel comfortable or adequately prepared to do their best on the CARS section. This guide will answer all your questions and even some you didn’t know you had. It’s meant to be exhaustive and provide you with everything you need to know to achieve an ultra-high CARS score. It is your step by step guide to getting you from the couch to MCAT CARS success.
Students have been using this guide on the Student Doctor Network (SDN) since April 2015. At the time of this printing, the thread has received over 200,000 views. To offer just a sampling of the sorts of things SDN users are saying about our thread about this guide:
“After reading a decent segment of your guide [this] morning and focusing on modalities, I was able to score 82% on a 4 passage block w/o running out of time. This is a drastic improvement so thank you!”
As you’ll see shortly in our proposed schedule, our recommendation is that you give yourself 90 days to prepare for the CARS section. The first 30 days are spent learning and applying the lessons in this guide and then the remaining 60 days are used for honing your skills by doing practice passages and taking full-length exams. Over the next 30 days, we’ll cover bite-sized lessons that will break down the MCAT CARS section into easy, actionable steps you can take that are designed to pay big dividends in a relatively short period of time. We don’t promise miracles, but if you work hard and apply our time-tested principles, you will do better. If you work hard and invest the time, you will do well on the CARS section.
We’ve written this guide with the hopes that it will be the only one you’ll need to get the score you want on the CARS section. We’ve read most of the other guides out there and the major forum threads on MCAT Verbal/ CARS. We’ve gathered the best ideas so you don’t have to. We’ve weeded through the junk and have solidified the lessons, tips and tricks that have worked for my students and many others over the years. With that said, we’re unable to change the reality that the most important factor in determining your CARS score is the number of passages you do. I did over 400 passages when I was studying for the MCAT. Unfortunately, there is no way around it. You have to do a ton of passages in order to strength the skills the CARS section tests. But if you read this guide one day at a time, master everything we discuss, AND do way more practice passages than you think anyone should ever do, you will do well on the CARS section. The key is to give yourself plenty of time to integrate the lessons of this guide and to do a truck load of CARS practice passages. If you’re able to do this for yourself, you have everything you need to do well on the CARS.
One final note, if you have a question about this guide or the CARS section in general, we keep a forum thread open on SDN where any student can ask any question for free. We’ll usually respond within a day. So if any questions come up, head over to our SDN thread and ask that question!