Communities like r/mcat and r/premed have some of the best recommendations when it comes to preparing for medical school.
although I have my own preferred strategies, it might be great to go through and select some of your best answers when it comes to improving the car section of mcat.
so that’s what I’ve done here, selecting 23 tips that I think might prove useful to those of you who are struggling.
after getting into med school, i wish i had seen some of these tips in the past!
ready to go? let’s get started…
before we dive in; If you’re looking for a quick dive into strategy and a recommendation of car resources (many of which are mentioned in this article), check out: The Best Way To Practice Cars For The MCAT (Strategy And Resources) First! >
how to master mcat cars
Here are the questions (and answers) that are probably worth reading first on your path to mastery!
How many car practice questions should I do per day?
I usually do one every day and then one day a week I do 3-5 in a row to work the stamina. however, I did this for a good amount of time (consistently for a little over two months), so if you’re studying for less time, I’d do two a day. it’s really about getting constant exposure to the point where reading a passage and answering 6 questions about it is second nature.
I like this idea of increasing stamina. Starting early and getting consistent exposure is something I recommend as well.
However, there is probably no real definitive answer.
it will depend on when you started your studies and how much time you have until the day of the exam!
yes, you can upgrade cars (but you’ll need discipline)
I went from 125 to 128 in 3 months of studying, so I definitely think you can improve. but it’s going to change the perception or the tactic in the way you approach the cars. start researching and find what works for you. I think the most important thing once you’ve found what works for you is to be disciplined and practice it every day until your head cracks.
There are plenty of anecdotes on reddit of students improving their car scores in relatively short periods of time.
You may not be able to expect miracles in a matter of weeks, but a slow routine over months will surely add up.
another reason to start as soon as possible.
how to get better at mcat cars: quick tips
1. read the questions first. do not read the responses.
2. avoid superlatives/extreme answers. if you are between two answers, always choose the more general of the two .
3. Answer as if you were 5 years old.
4. attack the passage. literally read aggressively. Also, pretend to be interested in the passage.
5. go passage by passage, don’t jump in order or grade “easy” and “difficult” passages
6. reduce the time to finish with a few minutes remaining; it is not worth having a lot of time and going back
7. do the jack westin practice passage every day
I highly recommend reading the entirety of the car tips on this reddit poster. they develop each point in more detail and do so from the perspective of someone who is rooted in the stem rather than the liberal arts.
I have already recommended jack westin free practice passages numerous times on this site!
Related: Is The Jack Westin Car Course Worth It? (plus tips for beginners!)
mcat passing strategy: reddit tips
practice under weather conditions (with these limitations)…
Do all your practice passages under time conditions and see how many questions are in each passage you are doing. then follow these time constraints.
5q passage = 9min
passage 6q = 10.5min
passage 7q = 12min
These are generous time constraints and by the end of your study you should be trying to master the easiest passages within these constraints.
in fact, flyinghindu312’s dossier; car discipline rules, has many, many excellent points.
including (but not limited to); categorize your paragraphs, leave all prior knowledge at the door and never change your answer (unless you’re 100% sure you’ve found a supporting passage) ).
definitely check it out if you have time.
get information based on data
sorting my mistakes and making an excel sheet to keep track of the most common types of mistakes I’m making, and reviewing them often helped me a lot.
good advice for analytical types. possibly labor intensive, but useful if you track performance outside of embedded programs like uworld etc.
highlight, or watch out for, conflicting words, such as except, not, but, etc. be extremely active when reading these sentences.
highlighting is controversial when it comes to car technique. many say it is a waste of time, others find it very useful.
highlighting only the contradictory words might be a happy medium between the two.
especially since the supporting sentences/passages often follow afterwards.
look for proof in the passage
I started noticing improvements when I forced myself to find proofs in the passage for each answer I chose. so i read the entire passage, highlighted the key parts of each paragraph and then read a question, thought about what answer i thought it was, but still searched the text and chose my final answer based on that… find a strategy that you like (but it should incorporate a reference to the text), then practice it a lot.
I agree that you should always look for a supporting (or proof) statement. the more you practice with the cars, the easier it will become.
how to improve the speed of cars in mcat
Speed is your best friend when it comes to cars. here are some techniques you can use to get better at it…
review first, read carefully second
I find that if I quickly read the passage instead of reading it carefully the first time, I have a similar level of understanding, but much more time to search for evidence of the passage with specific questions.
another technique worth trying but may not be for everyone.
non-native English speakers will likely benefit from a more in-depth first reading.
and there is also the technique of…
read so carefully the first time that you don’t have to go back
The best advice I’ve ever received is to read the passage carefully the first time so you don’t have to go back when answering the questions. I just read in my head out loud what helped me retain the passage. I rarely went back to him during questions. It’s not an exact science, but I developed an idea of how to answer the questions!
This is in contrast to the last point, but might be worth a try if you find yourself struggling with having to go back to the text repeatedly.
breathe and don’t dwell on it for too long
For me, the most important things I’ve learned are to read each sentence carefully and take a 2 second breath between paragraphs to mentally understand what the paragraph is about. Also, don’t dwell on one question for too long! I always used to spend too much time trying to reread and reread a paragraph to understand and this really cut my time. if you can narrow it down to 2 answer options, just choose one and continue. it’s not worth it when there might be easier passages later that you can do just fine.
being good at cars is like fighting a war of attrition. you have to be kind to yourself and use mental pauses to process everything that happens.
an attempted question is always better than a missed one.
do they hang up on you? follow your gut
what works for me is that I try to pick the answers as quickly as possible. If I find myself agonizing over a question, I’ll follow my gut, bookmark it, and move on. this way, I can usually finish the section with 30 minutes to spare, so I take the rest of the time to go back and peruse the questions that stumped me in my first step.
this is exactly what i recommend for med school exams (which are particularly mcq heavy) too.
Practicing a lot of car-like questions can sometimes have the downside of becoming overly analytical.
note that visceral response. especially if time is short.
I hate mcat cars
and if you hate cars, these tips might help…
while reading the passage, pretend you are explaining it to someone else, that helps me understand it better and read it faster.
This is a solid active recall technique that will serve you well for years into med school (and beyond). it may be useful for some, but definitely be aware of the time it may take as well.
use a friend
something that helped me was making passages with my friends who were also studying because that forced me to find evidence in the passage and explain my answer.
this builds nicely on the last point. bringing a social element to studying can help motivate you through a ton of otherwise boring passages.
you can still do it right (despite hating it)!
something to calm your nerves is that you can still fail a fair number of car questions and get a good score, that is, if you can answer 60% of the questions correctly in really difficult passages and complete the rest of the ones that needs to. find it easier, it will be set for 127-128.
finally, i thought i would end at this high point; which you could still do horribly on cars but still work fine on mcat.
Hopefully, that’s a little encouragement for those who feel downtrodden in the trenches.
Time is on your side. Play around with some of these strategies. keep practicing!
See also: How to review a car at a car dealership