If you’re preparing for the MCAT test, it’s a huge benefit to know how to successfully tackle one of the most famously difficult segments, the CARS section.
This section of the MCAT exam tests the examinee’s critical thinking, analysis, and reasoning skills. It usually presents itself as a reading or comprehension test.
Scoring well on the CARS section is just as important as the other sections, so you need the right strategies to get the best score. There are several strategies you need to know to prepare appropriately, including:
1. Always Time Yourself
Each section of the MCAT exam is a race, and the CARS section is no exception. When practicing mock tests for the CARS section, always time yourself.
Doing so will help you improve your answering speed, giving you more breathing room for the more difficult sections.
Don’t focus on answering all the questions correctly at first; instead, focus on answering all of them within the time limit. Once you start completing the section in optimal time, start focusing on improving the pacing of the test.
Improving the timing of this section gets easier as you practice more.
2. Don’t Linger on Difficult Questions
A big mistake that many MCAT examinees make is lingering unnecessarily on difficult questions. This pitfall is as old as time itself, and you need to avoid it if you want to pass the exam on your first attempt.
In the CARS section, the questions are designed to make you spend more time on them, taking precious time away from the other more difficult sections.
Prioritize answering the easier questions first and spend time on the difficult questions at the end so that you don’t miss out on the guaranteed score. With enough practice, this will become second nature.
3. Don’t Spend Too Much Time Checking Answers
In the CARS section, rechecking your answers over and over again is a bad idea. The CARS section is split in the following manner:
- Foundations of Comprehension (30 percent of questions)
- Reasoning Within the Text (30 percent of questions)
- Reasoning Beyond the Text (40 percent of questions)
Since it’s a mixture of three different types of answers, rechecking them repeatedly will confuse you more. Time is of the essence in the MCAT exam, so it’s best to continue moving forward after spending the planned amount of time for a specific question’s length and difficulty level.
4. Treat It Like a Marathon
When preparing for the MCAT, it’s best to treat the whole exam like a marathon instead of a race. Take your time to read each question and passage and then plan how to answer them accordingly.
Even when you try mock tests, you’ll find that the time and effort to get through the exam sections will differ each time. Practicing is the only way to get accustomed to it.
5. Take Notes During the Exam
Though this tip doesn’t apply to the other MCAT sections, taking notes in the CARS section actually helps figure out the text-based answers.
Taking basic notes of the main point of the passage will help you logically cross-reference solutions quickly. To learn how to take notes properly in the exam, get your hands on MCAT prep books and materials.
6. Improve Reading Pace
A large chunk of your time spent in the CARS section of the MCAT exam will be spent reading. Your reading pace will naturally play a big role for that reason.
The better your reading skills are, the easier you’ll pick up on the meanings behind the readings. This will ultimately make the section much more manageable.
7. Find Support for Your Answer
The best way to be confident about the CARS section is to find support for your answer instead of rechecking it multiple times.
A good way to do this is to keep an eye out for supporting text within the passage to back up your conclusion. This isn’t a skill that you can pick easily, so make sure to practice a lot when preparing to do this intuitively during the exam.
Keeping Your Skills Sharp
Due to the more complex sections of the MCAT exam, most examinees don’t focus enough on the CARS section.
But if you want to do well in the exam, doing well in the CARS section is a must. Practice makes perfect in all aspects of the MCAT.