MCAT Verbal Reasoning
Verbal Reasoning Section of MCAT Explained
In addition to checking your cognition of the undergraduate level concepts of Basic Biology, Organic Chemistry, General Chemistry, and Basic Physics, MCAT also assesses your critical thinking skills and verbal reasoning abilities. The Verbal Reasoning part of the exam comprises 40 multiple-choice questions and the time given is one hour. Out of the 45 marks you could score in the multiple-choice section of MCAT, the Verbal Reasoning part carries 15 marks, which is the same as the other two parts namely Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences. Read on to find more on the Verbal Reasoning part.
What is Being Tested in the MCAT Verbal Reasoning Section?
Verbal Reasoning assessment in MCAT has been designed to evaluate your ability and skills to understand, evaluate, assess, and apply information. The questions, are hence, designed in the form of passages or prose texts covering topics from Humanities, Social Sciences, and Natural Science topics not included as part of the Physical and Biological Sciences part of the test. Every single passage is approximately 500-600 words long and is appended with 5 to 10 multiple-choice questions based on the covered topic. These questions are not, in anyway, intended to assess your knowledge of these topics of varied nature covered in the passages. Rather, they test your skills of comprehension, your understanding of the concepts given in the passage, and your ability to quickly assess and apply the information presented. To summarize, the Verbal Reasoning part mainly tests your:
- Proficiency in reading, analyzing, and assessing information
- Ability to draw inferences and reach conclusions based on available information
- Ability to find out answers from given information
- Ability and skills to work within given timeframes
Types of Questions in MCAT Verbal Reasoning
Here are the four types of questions found in this part:
- Comprehension type: The passage and associated questions assess your ability to identify and understand the topic covered, identify evidences offered in support of the given thesis, decide the meaning of terms used in the thesis, identify and understand relationships of ideas presented, understand the assumptions given, etc.
- Evaluation type: The evaluation type passage and associated questions assess your ability and skills to judge the arguments presented in the passage, estimate the credibility and relevance of the information to the arguments or claims provided, distinguish between supported claims and that not supported based on the information available, etc.
- Application type: The questions are mainly intended to test your ability to predict results based on the facts and information presented in the passage, and your ability to apply information to solve a given problem. The passage and questions also try to test your ability to identify general theories or models based on the available information.
- Incorporation of new information type: The questions here are mainly designed to test your ability to reason the relevance of new evidence on some of the given conclusions and to identify credible and alternative solutions.
How to Prepare Yourself?
The key to success in Verbal Reasoning test is to improve your critical reading skills. The passages might include topics from a vast variety of subjects, and they are just to evaluate your reading comprehension abilities and critical thinking/ reasoning skills. The best way to prepare yourself would be through reading and coursework and familiarize yourself with the required thinking and reasoning skills.
- Take a number of practice tests and take timed tests.The official AAMC MCAT site has links to many free and paid practice tests (https://www.aamc.org/students/applying/mcat/). There are other practice tests available online and offline that could help you understand the question types and improve your ability to work within the given timeframe.
- Read a lot. Try to comprehend and analyze editorial, newspaper articles, scholarly journal articles, research papers, and so on. This could enhance your vocabulary and increase your general comprehension skills. Taking composition and rhetoric courses also might help your reading skills critically.
- There are professional programs that could help you improve your critical reading skills and score good on the Verbal Reasoning part. Two of the popular examples that focus on this part of the test are Kaplan's MCAT Verbal Edge and Princeton Review's MCAT Verbal Accelerator LiveOnline.
- Understand that you always need not read the full passage first and then only the answer all the questions. You could use a variety of methods for comprehending the given passage according to your comfort and personal style; such as reading through the passage first and then answering, skimming through the passage and questions first and then answering the questions one by one, or starting with the questions to get an idea of what is being asked and then going back to the passage. While answering, you could always refer back to the passage.