Hello, my name is Lincoln Smith.
I design MCAT
courses for a living.
And I also happen to be
a 99th percentile scorer
on the critical analysis and
reasoning skills section of the MCAT.
We tend to abbreviate that
phrase into the acronym CARS.
We're going to discuss what
makes this section unique,
and what types of
passages you can expect.
These passages will be extracted
from real world journal articles,
books and magazine articles
that the exam writers
expect undergraduate students
to be reading already.
As such, you'll want to imagine these
CARS authors as real live human beings.
Try to identify their
interests, inclinations, needs.
Imagine, is this a professor
with a tweed brown suit,
smoking a pipe,
musing about armchair philosophy?
Is this a raging social
justice warrior trying to
persuade the audience to
change their viewpoint?
Is this just an artist appreciating
a topic for its own sake?
These are all things that can move you
beyond simple words on a piece of paper
into a rich real world
excerpt from literature.
Having stated that the
basis for a CARS passage
is this longer journal article,
magazine article or book,
we take a 500 to 600 word excerpt
of that for the exam itself.
All of the information necessary
to answer every CARS question
is present in the passage itself,
or the context of the question
and answer choices you
are presented with.
We might nonetheless
how could we improve our
critical reading of CARS passages
with the strategic use
of outside reading?
At this point in
your academic career,
the MCAT test writers want to
know that you are broadly engaged
in society and the events that
have shaped namely history.
As such, some passages
will be societal in nature.
They will focus on theories,
observations and trends within society.
Other CARS passages will
be historical in nature.
They will present you with
basic historical accounts,
and ask you what caused society
to come to be what it is.
to get our language straight.
Passages rooted in history are
known as social science passages.
Those rooted in society are
known as humanities passages.
Social science passages are more
factual and scientific in nature.
If you are given a CARS passage
that discusses anthropology,
archaeology, economics, education,
geography, history, obviously,
linguistics, political science,
population health, psychology,
it is a social science passage.
These topics are amenable to
demanding that the findings
are backed up by
on the other hand,
are more conversational
and opinionated in style.
They are less likely to set out
to establish fundamental facts
as they are to explore
relationships between ideas.
If you're given a CARS passage
that discusses architecture,
art, dance, ethics,
literature, music, philosophy,
popular culture, religion, or theater,
it is likely a humanities passage.
Regardless of whether this is a humanities
passage or a social sciences passage,
a CARS passage will be structured to
have viewpoints of the author presented
as well as counter arguments
from outside sources.
A good author is going to
place every single of these
constituent components to
build up to the main point.
this is known as Chekhov's gun,
or that every element in a narrative
be necessary and irreplaceable
and that everything
else be removed.
Certain CARS questions, therefore,
will ask you to synthesize seemingly
disconnected passage elements
and relate them to one another.
These question types would be like
asking you to examine a Lego structure,
but then to reconstruct a miniature
structure with a different function
using the specified
subset of the original.
Some CARS questions will even so
obscure the usage of a passage element
that it would be unrecognizable strictly
based on the passage context itself.
These are known as reasoning
beyond the text questions,
and constitute a little over
a third of CARS questions.
Recognize that reasoning behind the
text questions not only asked you
to be comfortable using the passage
elements differently than intended,
but also provide outside
context and ask you to relate
those passage elements to this
new context or vice versa.
Thus, while no outside
reading is required for CARS,
you do need to be comfortable working
with context foreign to the passage itself
as introduced by a CARS question
stem and answer choice set.
Having completed this introductory
lecture, you should be able to step
into the shoes of CARS author as
a real live breathing human being.
You should be able to delineate the topics
you're going to expect on the CAR section,
and also engage in outside reading
on your own on these topics.
Lastly, you should be able to read
CARS passages as a cohesive whole,
recognizing that every
constituent part makes sense with
respect to this whole and
the other parts themselves.