How I got a 132 in CARS (10-week prep!) – Cindy&039s Notebook

some background:

I know this may be hard to believe now, but going into mcat I knew cars were going to be my “weak point”. I remember studying for satellite reading and not doing as well as I wanted to (I don’t even remember if I broke 700 in satellite reading lol), but really, I knew it was because I didn’t do as many passages as I should have. So, I knew that mcat cars is really just a numbers game, no matter how many “tricks and tips” the test prep companies give you, if you don’t do the passages, you’re not going to do well. . I think in the end I did about 200-300 passages, all timed.

Going into mcat cars, I knew I was going to have to practice this section, a lot, and honestly I think I would have been happy with a 128, especially given how much reddit hyped this section up.

Reading: How to review a fl cars well

Why am I telling you this? Here’s the thing: anyone can get more than 130 in cars. If I Can, So Can You: Most people start practicing cars too late. That said, you can’t improve your score if you start practicing timed passages too late, and you can’t improve your score by reading clever tips from the test prep company.

so? what did i do?

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for the two weeks or so, i used the princeton car review book. I actually read your advice and tried to follow it (lol); however, I feel like it wasn’t working so well for me, because taking notes on each paragraph (as suggested) and writing the main lines/main ideas was taking too much time. I knew it was taking too long, because at that time I also started doing ek passages (the earlier version of verbal reasoning). I would do the entire test in a single, timed session, and I remember when I started, it was difficult to finish all 7 passages in the allotted 1 hour time (I did this because these were the “old mcat” cars, and that was the format they had , and I felt that being able to do ~7 passages is probably a good resistance workout)

Around week 3 or 4, reddit and sdn pop up, and I found the 90 day guide to a good car score on sdn. Since I was only 10 weeks old and only had 6 weeks left when I found the guide, I didn’t follow the entire 90 day plan. I would highly recommend taking a look though if you don’t know the resource, I feel like the guy had some good advice (although I think I’m giving pretty similar advice here), but if you are someone who likes the different types of problems broken down, then it’s a good read.

Personally, I didn’t benefit much from breaking down the question types (I didn’t keep many of the different question types and the strategies for navigating them), however what I found most helpful about your guide was how to to go over your answers. At some point I was probably spending as much or more time going over answers than solving problems, but as I got better, there was less I had to go through! It was definitely very frustrating at first, but as I got better (and the aamc qpack and fl cars are easier than some of the questions I was asking too – more on that later), I was spending less and less time going through the answers. and understanding the logic of aamc go a long way towards this.

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general tips

  • Take a deep breath and count to 3 before each passage. I took this from the sdn guide: you will feel all kinds of anxiety and nerves on the day of your exam, and spending a few seconds to breathe before each passage helps you clear your head. I didn’t do this perfectly on the day of my test (re: nerves), but when I remembered to do it, it helped immensely
  • not 100% necessary, but do the last passage first. I read this somewhere on reddit, but someone suggested you do the last passage first (works for the other sections too!), then go to #1. that way, when you’re halfway there, you feel a little easier knowing that you already have the last passage done. the mcat is a brain game, you just have to beat it.
  • Start your study days with cars. if I start my day with something else, it’s hard for me to do cars all day (for me, it’s so painful to do haha. I don’t enjoy it! ). after a while, it becomes a habit…
  • cars every. day. — again with the last point, make it a habit. at first, i was probably spending 1-3 hours a day. As my test day approached and I became more confident with cars, I spent less time. but in the beginning, it was definitely necessary for me to spend that kind of time.
  • try to stay engaged with the topic. it’s hard, but I tried to be at least a little interested in what the author was trying to say. that really helped retention for me.
  • as you read, ask yourself: why is the author writing this? what does the author want me to know? What does each of these paragraphs say? Here’s the key though, think about this as you read but don’t write anything down! I think I could have noted or highlighted some keywords, but that was extremely weird. typing stuff interrupts the flow of your reading and can slow it down.
  • eliminate wrong answers first; I can usually eliminate two at once, and then between the last two, a quick reference to the passage would tell me what the correct answer is.
  • always practiced timed! This is very important: do each 5-question passage in 9 minutes, the 6-question passage in 10.5, and each 7-question passage in 12 minutes. do this even when you are rendering the aamc passages (with annoying formatting). take the time so you intuitively know what 9, 10.5 and 12 minutes feel like.
  • resource breakdown

    my favorites: princeton review, ek, uworld and of course *gold standard*, aamc.

    • jack westin
      • thoughts: for those of you who don’t know, jw is probably most famous for his “mcat day ticket”. in each passage there are 5-7 questions, in a format that is the same as the aamc. you can check your answers right after, and there’s usually a discussion on the sidelines once you hit submit for each answer. This can be a good warm up exercise every day to get your brain working, but I didn’t commit to this; I only did this sporadically.
      • pros: new passage every day, serves as pretty good practice, aamc format for practice
      • cons: sometimes a bit tricky, logic not clear
      • full kaplan passages
        • thoughts: to be honest I wouldn’t use this until you’ve exhausted everything else. I really can’t recommend it because for me doing kaplan is like a glorified word search. it’s all in the passages and sometimes they have weird/confusing logic. I did his full passages because I wanted to simulate the full experience. however, I didn’t take the score too seriously and didn’t even bother to check my answers after taking them because I know it won’t be worth it.
        • pros: more practice is always good(?)
        • cons: Sort of a glorified word search…yikes!
        • princeton review-hyperlearning car workbook

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