How to Differentiate Between Harder & Easier MCAT Passages

Students often ask how they can differentiate between harder and easier passages during the MCAT exam. The idea is to get the easy MCAT Passages out of the way quickly and efficiently so that you can spend more time working through the harder passages. So how can you quickly look at each passage and tell if it’s an easy or hard one?

There are two ways. Take a look at the first and last sentence of the first paragraph and ask yourself two questions. One, is this an area or a topic that I have at least some familiarity with? And second, as I read these sentences are they really complicated sentences grammatically and with terms I don’t understand or are they easy?

These are the two criteria you want to think about it. If the passage is about a topic you have some familiarity with, there aren’t a lot of terms you don’t understand, and the sentences don’t seem to be grammatically complex, then do that passage first. On the other hand, if you’re unfamiliar with the topic, don’t recognize a lot of the terms, and the sentences appear to be really long and complex, the save it for last. Looking at the first and last sentence in the first couple paragraphs will give you an indication as to whether the MCAT passage is a harder or easier one.

And if you frequently find yourself coming across a lot of unfamiliar terms throughout the MCAT, especially in the Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills (CARS) section, check out “How to Improve Your Vocabulary for the MCAT” 

If you struggle with having enough time to complete all of the passages in a MCAT section, check out “Improving Timing on the MCAT”