Strategies for MCAT
Section-Wise MCAT Test Taking Strategies
What are the Sections in MCAT?
MCAT has four sections, namely;
- Physical Sciences
- Verbal Reasoning
- Biological Sciences
MCAT Strategies for Physical and Biological Sciences
The section on Physical Sciences tests your basic skills in Physics, Math and Chemistry. These are three different subjects that you need to increase your knowledge base in. There is more focus on the Biological Sciences in MCAT. So you must begin your preparation with it. Now, you must be wondering what your strategies for answering questions in this section are going to be. It is simple; you need to have good knowledge in all these subjects. You need to have a basic understanding of all the concepts of Biology, Physics and Math, with added focus on Biology. In the initial days of your preparation, when you have the luxury of time to clear doubts about concepts and make additional notes that are going to help you grasp the fundamentals better, you should do it. Keep in mind that MCAT is not testing you for what you know', but 'how you know it'. So instead of studying random equations and terminologies, you can try to reason them out and frequently ask yourself, 'why'. Additionally, your strategies should be directed towards honing your problem-solving skills. Your goal should be towards learning newer and improved methods of arriving to the solution of a problem. Usually, prep courses for the test focus on making students solve actual test questions thoroughly at first to help them understand the kind of questions that are asked in the exam. You can do the same if you are studying by yourself without taking the help of any prep courses. It is important that you have an open mind and can completely understand what you are reading on a day to day basis. Stay away from any kind of rote learning because it is not going to help you in any way and it will only be a waste of time. In Physics, try to visualize through your imagination, for example, the concept of momentum. Understand the functions of different cell organelles by drawing them time and again. Science is about facts and it can only be understood through imagination and practice.
MCAT Strategies for Verbal Reasoning
A lot of people face problems in Verbal Reasoning since they find it hard to connect with the passages that appear for the test. It is very normal if you feel that way. There are ways to deal with unfamiliarity of passages and the dryness of the subject-matter of passages. Usually, very obscure topics are used to test the knowledge of students in Verbal Reasoning section. This is because the test-makers of MCAT want to create an even ground for everybody who are taking the test. You will find subjects like philosophy, abstract mathematics etc. in this section of the test. In this case, what should your strategies for MCAT be like? Well, you will need to understand that you have to begin reading the editorials and other discussions given in newspapers, in order to know writing styles. These pages are very similar to the test passages and will certainly give you leverage with the subject matter if you begin reading these passages from the beginning of your preparation. Editorial pages of the newspapers have a concise and formal style of writing; the subject matter differs with every article. They are edited in a brilliant manner and verbosity is removed. Another impediment that a student can suffer in the case of Verbal Reasoning passages is that the passages have no point of reference. They may be extracted from somewhere and the level of abstraction can be intimidating. In fact, there are no titles to the passages and sometimes until the middle of the passage; you still don't know what the passage is talking about. There are no quick-fixes to this problem except for keeping an open mind and being prepared for it. Reading adheres to understanding and your strategies in this case should facilitate understanding, right from the beginning of your preparation. You can combat reading, only by reading more.
MCAT Strategies for Writing
Just the way you can combat reading by reading more, you can combat writing by writing more. Writing has been intimidating people since ages. Your test strategies at first should be to overcome this fear. Your strategies for Verbal Reasoning, as mentioned above, will be very useful in the Writing Section as well. You can take up a topic out of the editorial pages of a newspaper and practice writing for or against it. The topic needn't be something very difficult. It could be something as simple as 'whether one should vote or not?' or 'effects of globalization'. While writing, there are 3 points that you must keep in mind. They are:
- Understand the statement/topic.
- Give a counter-example to the statement/topic.
- Resolve the problem between the statement/topic given and the counter example.
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