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I did it! Verbal Reasoning-for future test takers

Guest monkey

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I recently read a post about having trouble with the verbal reasoning. Totally relate with the fustration! I know that it is past the test date now but I thought I would put this information here for future test takers. In total I have taken the MCAT 3 times. The first and second time I did well on all the sections except the VR on which I completely bombed!


1) B:10 P:10 VR:3 W:P

2) B:11 P:11 VR:5 W:P

3) B:11 P:9 VR:8 W:O


But on the last time,although I sliped just a bit on the other sections, I finally got the scores through the VR. I know these are not excellent scores but good enough to apply to most of the schools I am interested in.


How I did it..LOTS of Reading....Atlantic Monthly, Economist, New Yorker etc...all the stuff I wasn't used to reading at first but now read (even after the MCAT) on liesure time.


I have used many strategies from different books.


1)Yes it helps to annotate but this wasn't a major factor for me


2) Underlining and circling key words was useful to the extent that it would keep me focussed on what the author's argument was.


3) The most important key for me was understanding the author's opinion and story. It is easy to get focussed in on the details but I found that when I read at my own pace and understood the story, I would have to go back to the passage only minimally. I had to skip part of the hardest passage too but I think that understanding the story really increases the rate at which you answer the questions because most of the questions are argument centered and not detailed centered. If you know what the story was, even if the they do ask a detailed question it will be easier to locate.


4) Reading time: I was considering taking the test again to improve my other scores again but didn't (didn't think it was worth it). However, in my last time practicing, I always finished the test with time left. I used to try to read the passage in two minutes (when I did poorly) but I relaxed a bit after I gained confidence and read at slightly slower pace 3-4 minutes. But I still always managed to finish with good scores 9 and 10 on VR with time left (5-10 minutes).


5) LSAT books. I found these very helpful in training for the MCAT VR. The longer answer choices forces you to read only the pertinant words in the choices. For instance in the MCAT if a question says:


" Suppose it were shown that 'blahblah blah blahblah ' In the context of the passage, the author would use the information to:


a) strongly support the argument that ....by stating that......

B) weakly support the argument that.....by.....

c) refute the argument that......

d) niether use it to support or refute the his argument.


In reading the stem....already thinking about the answer cuts out alot of reading. You can select based on just the first few words of each choice if running low or if you are really confident about the answer. IF you are really clear on the story then the latter will likely be true.

If you know that the new statement supports the argument at least that would help you narrow down to a) and B). If you know the new info would be used to refute an argumnt you already have your answer without reading the "........"


6) Hard work...do practice but also look at why you got the scores you did. After I did every test I would review every question. I think about both why I chose the right answer on one question while choosing the wrong answer on another question. and then tally how many of each type of question (eg main idea) I got wrong.


That's it. Actually in hindsite I think it was more about gaining a skill as opposed to using a strategy. Hence, in a way I needed it. Good luck to future test takers!

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Guest Ian Wong

Hey, that's great Monkey!


Thanks for giving us a blow-by-blow account of your study methods. I hope they are useful for the future MCAT'ters out there. VR is the area that usually trips up most science students.



UBC, Med 3

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