A lot of students want to know when MCAT passages get to their main point and oftentimes they think that it’s not until the mid or last paragraph. Unfortunately, they’re wrong. You can almost always find the main point of the essay in the thesis paragraph.
MCAT Passages have a predictable structure, a gross morphology, just like your body does. The structure of your body falls into the domain on Physiology. The structure of an essay, or MCAT Passage, falls into the domain of Rhetoric. Master rhetoric and you’ll be able to know what is where in an MCAT Passage, including the main point.
We explain the importance of rhetoric in another blog post: “The Key to Breaking Down a MCAT Passage: Rhetoric.” And then we actually take you through that process in “Identifying the Key Ideas in MCAT CARS Passages Using Rhetoric.”
Rhetoric is one of the fundamental skills you have to really master in order to do well in verbal reasoning. The good news it that there’s a very predictable pattern to essays and MCAT passages. For the past 2,000 years, formal speaking and writing has been done in the same way. Why’s that? Because it’s the best way to make a point, the best to way to convince someone of something, and the best way for an author to lay out ideas. And there are very specific rules in doing this. So if you can learn and understand the rules of how essays are written (rhetoric), then you’ll be able to truly comprehend what the passage is about. Total comprehension is key to being able to answer the MCAT questions following each passage correctly.
It’s your verbal reasoning skills that are the main indicator of how well you will perform on the MCAT Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills (CARS) section. Rhetoric is knowing how essays are written and not only will Rhetoric allow you to perform better on the CARS section, but it will also help you in the other sections since they consist of essays and passages, albeit of a different subject matter.