In our last post we talked about the process behind mastering something; that true mastery requires Cognitive Mastery, Utilization Mastery, and Physical Mastery. In this post we’re going to talk about what that looks like for the MCAT Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills (CARS) section specifically. If you haven’t read the previous post, you should do so now before continuing on (see “How to Master Anything, Including the MCAT”)
To achieve Cognitive Mastery you have to fully understand all of the concepts needed for the CARS section. What do these include? We go over these in more detail in “What the MCAT Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills (CARS) Section is Testing” but we’ll briefly go over them again now.
First you need a thorough understanding of rhetoric. Knowing rhetoric gives you the ability to decipher what is a key sentence in the MCAT Passage and what is extraneous information. You can read more about the importance of Rhetoric in “The Key to Breaking Down a MCAT CARS Passage: Rhetoric”
Once you know which sentences are important for understanding the true meaning of the MCAT Passage and answering the following questions correctly, you need to know grammar. Why? Grammar is what allows you to break down an overly long and complex sentence down to its core. It helps you to not get lost in the jumble of words. For more on grammar, read “First Step in Improving Your MCAT CARS Score: Grammar”
Once you know which sentences are the key sentences and how to disaggregate those sentences to their core ideas, it’s time to apply Reflective Intelligence to discern what the relationship of ideas is. This skill is what allows you to understand what they key ideas of the MCAT Passage are implying, what you need to be able to infer. This is where the bulk of questions comes from. Rarely will the MCAT ask you a detail question where you can just look back in the passage to find the answer. Usually MCAT CARS questions require you to look a level deeper at what the passage as a whole is suggesting. “How to Make Sense of a MCAT CARS Passage” explores the concept of Reflective Intelligence further.
These three areas (Rhetoric, Grammar, & Reflective Intelligence) are the domains of knowledge you need to thoroughly understand in order to achieve Cognitive Mastery for the MCAT.
After Cognitive Mastery comes Utilization Mastery. Again, Utilization Mastery is achieved when you can consistently apply and use what you’ve learned about the concepts. In terms of MCAT CARS, this means being able to identify the key sentences using Rhetoric, identify the key ideas by breaking down the key sentences using Grammar, and connect the key ideas to grasp their underlying meaning using Reflective Intelligence. Once you can do this consistently, you’ll have achieved the second level of mastery: Utilization Mastery.
You can read more about applying these concepts in the following articles: “How to Analyze a MCAT CARS Passage Using Grammar” - “Identifying the Key Ideas in MCAT CARS Passages Using Rhetoric” - “Understand a MCAT CARS Passage Using the Relationship of Ideas - Part One”
Once you’ve achieved Utilization Mastery you’ll notice a decrease in the time in takes you to get through a passage. The more natural the process of analyzing a MCAT Passage is, and the more you practice it, the faster you’ll be able to work through it.
This is the last level to truly achieving MCAT CARS mastery. This level is what you’ve been working towards and it is only achieved through practice, lots of practice. You’ll no longer have to think about what to do. You’ll go from consciously working through the process (thinking “Okay first, I need to identify the key ideas. Okay, now I need to break them down. Next I need to put them all together to see what they imply.”) to doing it automatically. This is where you’ll notice your speed really pick up. Believe it or not, most of our students actually have time left over at the end of the MCAT CARS section, and this is because they’ve achieved Physical Mastery.
We’re here to help you achieve all of these levels and really put yourself in an excellent position to gain multiple medical school admissions and become a top-notch medical practitioner. Check our archive of articles and YouTube Channel for tons of free resource. In addition to that we also offer a free MCAT CARS class online once a week. We also offer intensive courses if you really want to buckle down and make sure your excel on MCAT CARS. Just let us know how we can help.