A 520 Scorer’s Top 3 MCAT CARS Tips

June 25, 2024

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One of your MedLife Mentors, and instructor for the next Live 6-Week MCAT Strategy Course, made a video for you on his top 3 CARS strategies. 

Meet Hanes Grafe, M1:

📈 He scored a 98th percentile in CARS and loves teaching strategies for this section. 

📍 He's a Lead Strategy Mentor in the self-paced CARS Mastery Course, where he dissects a lot of AAMC's CARS passages.

(Btw, you get this CARS course for free when you join his Live Course)

🚀 He increased his score from 500 to 520 (97th percentile) in 90 days.

🤝 He has 200+ hours of MCAT tutoring experience.

✨ His students get results like this: 

"... Overall I was able to increase my score by 11 points between my first full length and my actual MCAT thanks to his help and I’d highly recommend MedLife mastery if you’re interested!" - Chiamaka Nwosu (full review

Your next 3 steps: 

1. Watch his popular CARS strategies video above or continue reading this article.

2. Learn more about his upcoming Live MCAT Strategy Course

3. You know that feeling when you hand in an exam and you know you killed it Take a few minutes to imagine having that feeling the day of your MCAT. Remind yourself that you can do it and you have what it takes.

With that said, let's get started - passing it over to Hanes!

Foundational Principles To Combat Content Overload

Hello, my name is Hanes Grafe, and in this article, I'll be walking you through my top tips to succeed in the CARS section for the MCAT. Keep reading below if you’re ready to transform your performance and score.

When I first started studying for the CARS section, I was overwhelmed by the number of tips, techniques, tricks, and strategies that I could find online. How many of you can relate to this content overload when finding the right techniques for studying for the CARS section? 

After successfully tackling this section and tutoring students in this section for well over a year now, I've learned that there are three foundational principles to follow. These three tips can be implemented to improve your score and overall comprehension of the CARS section! 

No More Zoning Out During CARS Passages

My first tip to improve your score on this section is active reading. 

Now, I'm sure you've heard of active reading, and you’re probably tired of reading it online and on Reddit. Let me explain a little bit about what I mean though! 

So, if you are effectively implementing active reading, it means that you are not getting bogged down in the details of a passage. Instead, you are being actively engaged in the overall main idea and topic that the author is trying to communicate to you. This increases your reading time AND improves your ability to work your way through the questions. 

Active reading also allows you to stay engaged in passages that would otherwise be boring and hard to understand for most students. 

I’ve found three ways to actively engage in this form of reading: 

1. Ask questions about what the passage is trying to communicate to you. 

2. Make predictions for how the authors could continue to develop their ideas throughout the passage. 

3. Notice transitions both within and between paragraphs as this can help you track the author's idea, their main idea throughout the whole passage. (The most effective way that I’ve observed!) 

Again, these active reading techniques are designed to help you stay engaged in the passage instead of zoning out. I’m sure you've noticed this effect of zoning out, where you have to go back and reread a paragraph that you just read. That's what active reading is trying to avoid.

The Four I’s in The Process of Elimination

My second tip for improving your score on the CAR section is to use a systematic process of elimination. We all know what the process of elimination is. It's a process that we can use to narrow down our answer choices when going through the questions in the CARS section. 

However, I find that most students do not have a system, a process, or even reasons for why they eliminate answer choices. That’s why I'm boiling it down to what I call the four I's of the process of elimination. 

The first I is answer choices that are insanely extremeWe can eliminate these answer choices if they use extreme words, develop an idea, or voice an idea that is extreme compared to the main idea of the passage. 

The second I is what I call answer choices that are irrelevant. A lot of times, students will call these answer choices beyond the scope of the passage, meaning that they really aren't explicitly discussed in the passage. 

So whenever you read an answer choice, ask yourself, does the passage actually talk about this topic? 

The third I of process elimination is answer choices that are illogical. These answer choices are often easy to spot because they do not make sense on the surface and they do not really relate to the logic presented in the passage. 

Finally, the fourth I of process elimination are answer choices that are incorrect. We can eliminate these answer choices when they go against what the passage is saying or the passage simply does not support the answer choice.

This leads us to our next tip because often, to find if an answer choice is incorrect, we need to use tip number three. 

Textual Support and Passage Synonyms

Tip number three is quite simple. No matter what the question is, you should always find textual support for an answer choice that you deem incorrect.

This tip may seem like common sense, but I'm often shocked by how many students never refer back to the passage when going through questions. Even for questions that seem very easy on the surface, it's best to just find a sentence or phrase in the passage that can support your answer choice.

An extra tip that I'll add to this third tip is that the AAMC often uses words in answer choices that are synonyms to words used in the passage. Therefore, I like to remind students that we're not looking for the exact phrasing of an answer choice in the passage; what we're often looking for is a similar theme or a synonym to the answer choice itself.

Action Steps For Your Dream Score

Now, I've given you these three tips, but I don't want you to get overwhelmed with them, okay? Because that's exactly what happened to me. If you recall, I was overwhelmed by the amount of tips, tricks, and techniques, and I don't want that to happen to you. 

I recommend that you take the next three days and spend one day focusing on each tip to start implementing these strategies. So go ahead, take a passage today, focus on active reading, and ask questions about the passage. 

Tomorrow, do another practice passage, and really focus on the process of elimination. Remember the four I's of the process of elimination. 

The next day, focus on finding textual support. Go back into the passage, and highlight different sections of the passage that refer back to the correct answer choice. 

Most importantly, remember that these three tips aren't a replacement for consistent CARS practice. A good way to get this consistent CAR practice is to use practice passages that can be found online, such as Jack Westin passages, or that can be bought through third parties such as UWorld or Blueprint. 

Lastly, sign up for MedLife Mastery's self-paced MCAT Strategy Course. In this course, you'll receive strategies and stories of students who have successfully taken the MCAT.

You can also sign up for tutoring sessions through MedLife Mastery. These tutoring sessions can be with me, Hanes, or another tutor who would love to walk alongside you in your MCAT journey. 

Thank you for reading this article! We hope these three tips will really sink in and that you can begin implementing them in your CARS practice.

Your MCAT Success Mentors

About the Author

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