The key to scoring in the top 20% on the MCAT Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills (CARS) section is to first know what the MCAT CARS section is testing. MCAT CARS measures your ability to read and analyze texts aka: your verbal reasoning skills. This can be broken down into four parts.
First, you need to be able to select the main ideas in a text. What is the point that the author wants to make.
Second, you have to identify those key ideas that support the main idea in the text. You have to distinguish between what’s relevant as opposed to what are just extraneous details.
Third, once you’ve identified the main idea and the key sentences that support it, you need to be able to analyze the key sentences to get their clear meaning. This requires the ability to distinguish what is critical as opposed to what is extraneous within a sentence.
Finally, you need to be able to see what the relationship is between the key ideas. The whole is always greater than the sum of its parts, and the relationship between the key ideas will imply or suggest important ideas not explicitly stated in the text.
This is just an introduction to the four critical parts of analyzing an essay. In future blog posts we’ll be going into each in much more detail. We’ll also be discussing why the MCAT CARS Section is so important and why it is becoming the most heavily weighted section on the MCAT.
Remember, there are no test-taking techniques or shortcuts in order to learn how to analyze a text. It’s all based on the fundamentals of analytical reasoning, understanding language, and the structure of essays. To increase your MCAT CARS score you need to improve your Verbal Reasoning Skills. And how do you do that? We’ll be covering that in our next post.