Nail the MCAT Reading Comprehension with these 4 Simple and Easy Tips
“Finish last in your league and they call you an idiot. Finish last in medical school and they call you doctor.” – Abe Lemons – US basketball player
The above quote is from the celebrated basketball player, Abe Lemons, who knew his game perfectly. He scored a whopping 599 wins during the course of his career, and though his legacy waned out in 2002, his record still speaks volumes about his unparalleled éclat. Sportsperson like him motivate us to aim high, while offering a life-long lesson touched up with a dash of humor. While it is a commonly held notion that all it takes is to pass out from a medical University and you instantly bear the seal of a “doctor”, coming out on top of your class and achieving distinctions in your studies is something that every student dreams of.
The first step for any student aspiring to become a doctor is to score well in their MCATs. It is a prerequisite for anyone striving to carve a niche in the field of medicine in US, Canada, Australia and even in the Caribbean Islands as well. Regardless of whether you are appearing in the MCAT exam to solicit admissions in a Caribbean medical school or any other, this post is your go-to guide. While there are 4 sections of MCAT that students have to pass, the section regarding the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (Comprehension) ultimately becomes the bane of most students and wreaks havoc on their overall scores.
MCAT Comprehension: The Basics
Comprehension skills are tested in 3 sections of the MCAT, but it is the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills that really test the mettle of students. Not only does this section entail you to get a firm grasp of knowledge and concepts, but also you must be able to extricate relevant information from copious passages, in addition to inferring it right to give most correct answers.
There are many strategies that you can adopt in order to come out triumphant in your MCAT’s comprehension section. I am certain that the following tips will be helpful for you in this regard.
- Reading will drastically improve your Comprehension Abilities
While seemingly innocuous, this advice will make sure that you are fully equipped with all that is needed in order to fully grasp the provided information and answer accordingly in the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section. If you are an avid reader, you will not find it hard to extract the pertinent information out of excerpts with ease. On the other hand, if you are not fond of reading, not only will the comprehension section be a nuisance for you, you will find the entire MCAT test very difficult to ace.
You must be thinking what kind of study material you should read as not every book will do. MCAT Toppers and teachers recommend reading articles which have been published in renowned scientific journals. This will escalate your comprehension of scientific jargons and keep you abreast of the most up-to-the-minute happenings in the medical world.
Discussing MCAT passages with fellow students or someone else who can guide you in this regard can come in quite handy. A person who has already passed their MCATs with flying colors can offer you in-depth support about what to learn to perfect your MCAT scores.
- Learn to Skim Through Content for Best Results
It is no secret that interminable MCAT test passages are loaded with far more information than what you will be tested on. A passage, for instance, can be laced with a copious in-depth analysis about basic Biology concepts, but surprisingly enough, most of that information will only serve to while away your time and is not really needed to answer questions. So rather than diligently peruse through each line, lest you missed something, you need to learn how to leaf through passages looking for pertinent answers after you have understood the questions.
The above mentioned practice will save your time as you will only have to find related text containing the information which you can base your answer on. So you don’t have to read each and every word of the passage but go directly to that section. Of course, this is not as easy as it sounds but you need to develop this skill over time before you take the actual MCAT.
- Timing is Important
MCAT is a lengthy test and can take up to 7.5 hours to complete. So making sure to finish it in the given time is critical to your success. Mastering your timing is an important skill so that you don’t squander too much time over the initial sections and rush through the rest. Let me offer you some insider tips which are offered by students who have already passed their MCAT tests admirably well.
First of all, you need to clearly understand how much time it takes to get through a passage and answer its interrelated questions. Time yourself so that you know how fast you can flick through a passage and answer, say 5 questions, pertaining to a 500 words section. This will help you understand the time factor as well afford you great practice with a timer running in the background. This will help you time yourself better on the big day.
- Identifying the Correct Answer
There are many ways in which you can go about identifying the answer, but there is only answer. This usually happens when a student is stuck with two answers, both of which seem correct. Most of the times it happens to students and many among them make mistakes in selecting the right answer. In the comprehension section, students are bound to make mistakes but with a simple tip, you can be sure of selecting the right answer.
The key is recognizing the correct statement among the two. And if both are correct, select the one which relates to the question. If a correct statement has nothing to do with the answer, then it is wrong. As simple as that. For long questions, read the last sentence of the question as what you need to answer is mentioned in the last part. This will save you a lot of time.