CARS Section Approach: Map, Reflect, Locate and Re-Read, Apply

by Lincoln Smith

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    00:01 We'll call our CARS session approach, map, reflect, locate and reread, apply.

    00:08 I'll show you how to blueprint a CARS passage, focusing on keywords that will clue you in to arguments being laid and constructed as well as where viewpoints are being expressed.

    00:20 Then, we'll get to the question set as quickly as we can to most effectively use your time.

    00:27 Lastly, with each question we're going to decide whether to take the detail-oriented approach or a big picture approach with caveat that most questions will include a little bit of both strategies.

    00:39 So, when we get to the passages, I'll have this legend up on the screen to show you words that draw distinctions between 2 concepts, words that connect different ideas, words that have a positive or negative connotation, words that kind of sharpen a point or soften a point.

    00:56 And just with these 6 basic categories of keywords, we should be able to detail how arguments are built and constructed within CARS passages.

    01:06 Occasionally, I will use a different color of highlight to indicate when an alternate point of view is introduced that is of particular importance.

    01:14 You can have 2 different types of highlights on your MCAT.

    01:18 With the traditional highlight feature being on the computer-based test but also the strike through tool, not many students know with the same strike through tool you can use to strike out wrong answer choices can be used in the passage itself to effectively give you 2 highlighting options.

    01:37 We've already drilled that if you are down to 5 minutes in 1 passage on your CARS section, you are going to want to spend the majority of those 5 minutes on the questions.

    01:46 But even at the beginning of your section, you're going to want to focus on reading the passage in a structured and organized fashion and then getting straight to the questions.

    01:55 In the CARS passage walkthroughs that we'll be doing shortly, we'll reflect this philosophy.

    02:00 And here's really where you can start to improve your score demonstrably with this small shift in technique.

    02:06 When you get to the questions in that focused and organized fashion, you should already have a general idea of the big picture of the passage and its main viewpoints and counter the arguments then think of the questions themselves as clues to direct you to the correct context to answer them within this understanding.

    02:26 And then guess what? It's okay to go back and re-read specific context that a question requires for you to answer.

    02:35 There is a point where you do want to understand the passage concept at a more in-depth level.

    02:42 But that's at the point at which the question asks you to do so.

    02:46 You don't want to spend your time understanding every single detail within a CARS passage the first read thru.

    02:52 Save that level of depth for the questions.

    02:56 The gold standard for answering a CARS question is to point to a specific item of context to answer.

    03:03 Indeed, when you look at the solutions for a CARS question, there will nearly always be context that is cited to show you that an answer choice was correct.

    03:13 Nonetheless, maybe 20-30% of CARS questions can be answered at more of a big picture approach where your understanding for the central thrust of a passage and how the passage was stitched together can allow you to directly answer a question without pointing to a specific item of context.

    03:34 Let's summarize our approach to CARS passages and question sets and then we'll jump in to some real life practice.

    03:41 First, map out your CARS passage whether in your head or on your scratch paper according to keywords which construct arguments.

    03:50 Put those arguments into the mouth of an arguer and try to reflect on your overall purpose or main idea of a passage.

    03:58 Then jump straight to the questions and locate necessary context to positively cite the source for your answer when possible.

    04:06 When not, try to apply a big picture approach for a few questions when searching for context might slow you down.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture CARS Section Approach: Map, Reflect, Locate and Re-Read, Apply by Lincoln Smith is from the course CARS Passage Walkthroughs.

    Author of lecture CARS Section Approach: Map, Reflect, Locate and Re-Read, Apply

     Lincoln Smith

    Lincoln Smith

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