Jump to content
Premed 101 Forums

Does Anyone Tutor Cars? (Or Have Advice To Improve On Cars)


Recommended Posts

I recently wrote the 2015 MCAT and unfortunately scored an unbalanced score with my lowest section being the CARS section:

 

C/P: 128
CARS: 125
B/B: 129

P/S: 126

Total: 508

 

I know the UofC basically looks exclusively at the CARS section (with exception to academic merit); thus, I'm planning on retaking the test in April. I'm not to worried about the other sections because I feel like I won't forget much between now and then if I do some light review, but I'm looking for someone to help tutor me on CARS or suggesting a proper way (or a book?) to studying CARS so that I can be ready for it by April.

I'm not completely lost when I write CARS. I actually scored an 85% when I did the AAMC FL and didn't think that the CARS section I wrote was exceedingly tough either. Maybe I had an off day, but I don't want to take any chances here because having to retake that test again is expensive.

For reference, I studied for CARS and my other sections almost exclusively using the Examkrackers books as well as the all the practise materials that the AAMC provided. 

 

Thanks!

 


 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi there. Just thought I'd share that I had a very similar experience to you. I blame my CARS score (same as yours) due to an off-day : not enough sleep, my persistent dry eyes flaring up, and exam anxiety (notably the first time since freshman year where I had exam anxiety).

 

If I were to re-write my MCAT, I'd make sure to do practice exams under similar conditions of Test Day. For instance, I did not do any of my CARS practice passages on a computer screen, which I believe may have affected my performance. 

 

EDIT: I too was scoring very high during my practice exams; in fact, I was scoring near perfect on most of the old AAMC exams. Maybe overconfidence affected my decision-making ability? (Remember that topic in Psychology / Sociology?  :P  :P  :P )

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tons of threads like this on the mcat subreddit, plenty of quality posts in there. I'd suggest searching through those threads for tons of free advice from fellow test-takers. EK CARS is pretty decent if you're looking for a book. CARS is a strength of mine so I didn't do much other than read how I normally would and I scored in the 99th percentile in that subsection. I will say that I've always been strong in reading comprehension and formal writing, so I suppose that I've refined my abilities in those areas over my entire education. I'd say EK CARS has some decent tips that I generally agree with. I don't mind helping you out but CARS is really one of those things you have to put the time into on your own and refine over time if it doesn't come easily. Maybe try and find someone who can explain things to you in person.

 

Since it appears that you already studied from EK CARS and used the AAMC practice materials, I am not sure where things went wrong for you. Especially considering that you scored 85% on the AAMC FL. How did you score on the AAMC OG questions and the CARS question packs?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi there. Just thought I'd share that I had a very similar experience to you. I blame my CARS score (same as yours) due to an off-day : not enough sleep, my persistent dry eyes flaring up, and exam anxiety (notably the first time since freshman year where I had exam anxiety).

 

If I were to re-write my MCAT, I'd make sure to do practice exams under similar conditions of Test Day. For instance, I did not do any of my CARS practice passages on a computer screen, which I believe may have affected my performance. 

 

EDIT: I too was scoring very high during my practice exams; in fact, I was scoring near perfect on most of the old AAMC exams. Maybe overconfidence affected my decision-making ability? (Remember that topic in Psychology / Sociology?  :P  :P  :P )

 

I'm not sure if I could entirely blame it due to an off-day but based on how I had done on practise tests, I feel like I should have scored higher. For the (5) practise tests I wrote, I wrote them all under time conditions but did not write them at 8 am, usually around 9 - 10 am on a computer. Definitely felt the dryness of my eyes consistently about 4 hours into each test though.

 

Haha yes I do :) when I finished the test I thought that my CARS section went well and during I kept telling myself "this is going well, I'm killing this test...!" I knew it would bite me in the ass :P .

 

Also, does that mean you wrote the pre-2015 MCAT or that you used the old AAMC verbal questions to practise?

 

Tons of threads like this on the mcat subreddit, plenty of quality posts in there. I'd suggest searching through those threads for tons of free advice from fellow test-takers. EK CARS is pretty decent if you're looking for a book. CARS is a strength of mine so I didn't do much other than read how I normally would and I scored in the 99th percentile in that subsection. I will say that I've always been strong in reading comprehension and formal writing, so I suppose that I've refined my abilities in those areas over my entire education. I'd say EK CARS has some decent tips that I generally agree with. I don't mind helping you out but CARS is really one of those things you have to put the time into on your own and refine over time if it doesn't come easily. Maybe try and find someone who can explain things to you in person.

 

I have been on the MCAT subreddit and have seen posts about how to improve the CARS section including one that I posted myself; however, most of them don't go beyond what I feel like I already know or have come to expect. Hence, why I'm looking to get some one-on-one tutoring from someone who has scored well on the CARS section or maybe someone to reference some material that I haven't come across, which might enlighten me on how to do better on the section as a whole. 

 

I've read through the EK books cover to cover and have tried to the best of my ability to go along with the EK strategy. E.g. "summarizing each paragraph of each passage into a sentence then coming up with a main-thesis for the overall passage" is the main idea that I took away from the EK strategy. So when I was studying, initially I would do a passage under timed conditions, and write down all my answers. Afterwards, I would read through the passage again, but slowly, physically writing out a sentence for each paragraph, and a main thesis for the passage. Then, I would go through the questions and would see if I would change any of my answers after having reflected on each paragraph individually with the written sentence summarizations and main idea. I found that I would seldom answer a question wrong if I had the time to read, write out, and summarize everything. However, the MCAT is a timed test for a reason and I'm sure most people would score a lot higher on the CARS section if they had unlimited time.

 

After practising awhile, I did not need to physically write out the sentences and would just think them in my head while writing under timed conditions. However, I would make mistakes like missing reading key information in the passage that I would have not otherwise missed had I physically written it out. Alternatively, if I came across a passage that was very obscure to me and could not get a main idea out of it I would also get questions incorrect.

 

Also, after each test I would go over the questions I got wrong and would reason through how to come up with the correct answer, which more often than not made sense. But I still feel like I am missing some main take away message, which I am not picking up from reading the EK books. I really wish I knew what I was missing :confused:  . I wouldn't say I have superior reading comprehension skills but I have always enjoyed reading. I'm thinking I may come up with a reading regime to help me hone my reading comprehension skills more as most people seem to advocate that readings lots = better CARS score. However, I feel like this comes down to test taking ability of how to approach reading comprehension rather than inherently having read a lot.

 

Did you apply this year?

 

Unfortunately no. I had meant to sign up for the last available test day that I could apply with for the application cycle and in my 3 am sleep-deprived delirium I had accidentally registered for September 23rd, when I believe I had meant to choose September 12th. I didn't realize it until I got the pre-test e-mail reminder  <_< .

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like you were doing all the right things. Only advice is to read the passages more carefully, make sure you're as alert as possible, and practice not getting hung up on words or phrases that you don't understand. My experience with CARS is that after practicing with a number of passages and orienting yourself to the style of CARS passages on the mcat, you get into a headspace where everything comes together.

 

Other advice I have is to definitely make sure that after every sentence you briefly ask yourself in your mind, "what did I just read?" and then to make sure you have a complete idea of the author's stance by the end of the passage. Then when you answer any question make sure you never deviate from your interpretation of the author's stance and that you do not select any answer that has strong language, ambiguity or is only a half-truth that in some way does not entirely, accurately represent the author's stance. This is really all that CARS is, distilled into a few sentences. (kind of seems like you are doing this--at least the first half mentioned in this paragraph, this is really all anyone needs to do).

 

Yes, reading a lot alone doesn't mean anything. It's about being able to critically reason, evaluate arguments and track them throughout a passage.

 

You know that feeling when "you're in the zone?" That's basically what you want to feel like when you're doing CARS. That same mental clarity and ease of action.

 

Personally, I took my time reading every passage on CARS and with the questions and I finished ~15-30 minutes early and then slowly checked over my answers. You might just need to practice some relaxation skills (not sure how your test-day anxiety is?) and read more slowly--a more comfortable pace is better than trying to rush as if you take your time you are more likely to have a deeper and more correct understanding of the passage= more correct answers and more easily.

 

If you really want I can send you some readings that I have recently come across that I find challenging and that require the strong use of reading comprehension. This is in my opinion not necessary to do well on CARS, but can certainly only help as these are dense readings that I can almost guarantee are more difficult than what you would encounter on a test.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like you were doing all the right things. Only advice is to read the passages more carefully, make sure you're as alert as possible, and practice not getting hung up on words or phrases that you don't understand. My experience with CARS is that after practicing with a number of passages and orienting yourself to the style of CARS passages on the mcat, you get into a headspace where everything comes together.

 

Other advice I have is to definitely make sure that after every sentence you briefly ask yourself in your mind, "what did I just read?" and then to make sure you have a complete idea of the author's stance by the end of the passage. Then when you answer any question make sure you never deviate from your interpretation of the author's stance and that you do not select any answer that has strong language, ambiguity or is only a half-truth that in some way does not entirely, accurately represent the author's stance. This is really all that CARS is, distilled into a few sentences. (kind of seems like you are doing this--at least the first half mentioned in this paragraph, this is really all anyone needs to do).

 

Yes, reading a lot alone doesn't mean anything. It's about being able to critically reason, evaluate arguments and track them throughout a passage.

 

You know that feeling when "you're in the zone?" That's basically what you want to feel like when you're doing CARS. That same mental clarity and ease of action.

 

Personally, I took my time reading every passage on CARS and with the questions and I finished ~15-30 minutes early and then slowly checked over my answers. You might just need to practice some relaxation skills (not sure how your test-day anxiety is?) and read more slowly--a more comfortable pace is better than trying to rush as if you take your time you are more likely to have a deeper and more correct understanding of the passage= more correct answers and more easily.

 

If you really want I can send you some readings that I have recently come across that I find challenging and that require the strong use of reading comprehension. This is in my opinion not necessary to do well on CARS, but can certainly only help as these are dense readings that I can almost guarantee are more difficult than what you would encounter on a test.

 

I feel like I understand what you mean about creating a headspace for passages. It feels like after reading the passage you have to bring together arguments to come up with an idea, even if the ideas appear unrelated. They usually try to connect two/ three (seemingly) dissimilar ideas to make a compelling argument for what the passage is really based on. E.g. funding for research in the arts being analogous to funding fundamental scientific research over medical research or identification of feminism within the novels like Frankenstein.

 

I also feel like after completing a number of practise passages you start to realize certain answers (as you said) are typically never correct. It almost becomes a list of items that you have to go through to rule out answers because they are:

- worded too strongly

- go beyond the scope of what was within the passage (despite intuition)

- make reference to something that was mentioned, but you could not say with 100% certainty that the author would feel that way

etc.

 

I remember writing out a list of items that I needed to keep in mind when selecting answers. My means of answering question would be to eliminate all incorrect answers to come up with the correct answer instead of immediately searching for the correct one.

 

I'm also aware of sticking with your main idea, despite what the questions and answers may persuade you to believe. Too many times I would come across a difficult passage, created what I thought was the idea of the author, but did not feel confident enough in my idea that I would me mislead by questions and answers, which would ultimately lead me to changing my view and thus, changing my answers.

 

I don't get really bad test anxiety, but I definitely felt a bit jittery at the start of each section on test day. Timing in the past has been a problem but on test day I finished with roughly 5 minutes left. I can read faster like when I read for leisure, but I feel like I force myself to read at a snails pace when it comes to CARS passages because I'm worried if I speed read, I will miss important information. Times where I will feel really anxious and rushed is if I know I spent more time than I should have on a given passage (e.g. spent 12 minutes instead of the maximum 10). Typically, I hope that the first few passages I come across are quick and easy so that I can create a cushion (finish passage by 7 or 8 minutes) so that I won't feel rushed if I do come across a longer, more complicated passage that I need more time to complete.

 

If you can send me some readings, I'd be really grateful. I'm really just looking to attempt anything that I haven't already done to try and improve my score. I could keep on doing what I was doing before, which might improve my score, but it could very well just maintain it too.

 

Also, how often did you use the highlight function in the CARS section? That is one aspect of the test, which I know, chews up time but I feel compelled to do so incase I get a very information-specific question (which only happens once or twice out of the whole test). I try to only highlight dates, names and main ideas, but this could vary depending on how disciplined I feel at the time (some passages appear barely highlighted, while others are radiating bright yellow).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm, yes it's important to definitely be confident in your assessment of the main idea. If I remember correctly, I only highlighted things that stood out to me such as key words that reflected tone of the author or the beginning of their argument or signalled any nuances that they may have had in their position. I also remember highlighting some facts or pieces of information that through practice, I thought may be helpful to mark off so that way when answering questions I could orient myself to the passage and find the relevant section that the question was specifically referring to. I agree with what you said re: variance in amount of highlighting between passages.

 

I think you've been doing a lot of the right things, maybe you just got a really crappy CARS section on test day? How did you score on the AAMC official guide questions re: your CARS score and how did you score on the AAMC CARS question packs?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hmm, yes it's important to definitely be confident in your assessment of the main idea. If I remember correctly, I only highlighted things that stood out to me such as key words that reflected tone of the author or the beginning of their argument or signalled any nuances that they may have had in their position. I also remember highlighting some facts or pieces of information that through practice, I thought may be helpful to mark off so that way when answering questions I could orient myself to the passage and find the relevant section that the question was specifically referring to. I agree with what you said re: variance in amount of highlighting between passages.

 

I think you've been doing a lot of the right things, maybe you just got a really crappy CARS section on test day? How did you score on the AAMC official guide questions re: your CARS score and how did you score on the AAMC CARS question packs?

 

Who knows really. It sounds like a cop out of an answer when people ask why I scored so low, but that's basically how I feel. On the CARS question packs I believe I scored 78% on the CARS Volume 1 as I was getting used to AAMC's questions over the wording of EK. Then on the CARS Volume 2 I scored 83%, while on the official guide I had also scored 83%. Following the question packs, I took the AAMC FL test a week out from my exam and scored 85% on that CARS section. 

 

EDIT: The only other alternative plausible explanation is that everyone has gotten quite competent with the new CARS or that my CARS version was extremely easy, forcing the standard up. So even if I did get ~80% on my exam, everyone else must have gotten 85%+. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...

I recently wrote the 2015 MCAT and unfortunately scored an unbalanced score with my lowest section being the CARS section:

 

C/P: 128

CARS: 125

B/B: 129

P/S: 126

Total: 508

 

I know the UofC basically looks exclusively at the CARS section (with exception to academic merit); thus, I'm planning on retaking the test in April. I'm not to worried about the other sections because I feel like I won't forget much between now and then if I do some light review, but I'm looking for someone to help tutor me on CARS or suggesting a proper way (or a book?) to studying CARS so that I can be ready for it by April.

 

I'm not completely lost when I write CARS. I actually scored an 85% when I did the AAMC FL and didn't think that the CARS section I wrote was exceedingly tough either. Maybe I had an off day, but I don't want to take any chances here because having to retake that test again is expensive.

 

For reference, I studied for CARS and my other sections almost exclusively using the Examkrackers books as well as the all the practise materials that the AAMC provided. 

 

Thanks!

 

 

 

 

Woah were you a TA for BIOL331? Pretty sure I had you as my TA. Anyways I don't think the practice AAMC was very representative. I got a 90something on practice CARS but only ended up with 126 for CARS.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...