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2020 Winter MCAT Prep

When preparing for the MCAT, students often get sidetracked by the draw of refreshing and/or relearning science concepts they have learned previously as that serves as the lowest barrier to entry. In doing so, they forget that it is not only what you know that gets tested on the MCAT, but also how you can read, interpret, and apply new information in conjunction with your own knowledge. The AAMC outlines two separate skill sets called “CARS” and “SIRS”. The CARS skill set is covered on the accurately named CARS section, while the SIRS skill set is covered on all three of the science-based sections. It can also be said that the CARS skill set is tested indirectly on the science sections as well. Both skill sets are outlined below as described by the AAMC.

This series of ten workshops will help you understand how to identify what a question is expecting you to do and which part of each skill set you will need to apply to successfully answer that question. You will also learn specific activities you can do to build up each skill as you prepare for the MCAT.

Each session will consist of practice questions and/or passages as well as group discussions about how to approach those questions and/or passages. Be prepared with pencil and paper to use as scratch paper and for taking notes. This program targets students taking the MCAT in Spring or Summer 2020 and does not deal with the specific science content of the exam. Registration is not required. For updates like us on Facebook.

  • Tuesday CARS Prep Series
  • January 14th: Introduction to CARS
    Have you heard about the dreaded “CARS” section on the MCAT? Come learn about the basics of CARS to demystify this important part of the MCAT!
    January 28th: Test Your CARS Skills!
    Are you curious about your future CARS performance on the MCAT? Come take sample CARS questions to identify and improve on your weaknesses!
    February 11th:  Types of CARS Questions
    Did you know there are “types” of questions on the CARS section? Come learn about how to tackle each type of CARS questions.
    February 25th:  CARS Strategies
    There are countless CARS strategies. Come learn about some helpful strategies and create your own way to approach this section.
    March 10th: Common CARS Pitfalls
    Conquering CARS is difficult, but within your grasp! This session will help you avoid common mistakes in preparing for and taking CARS.
  • Thursday SIRS Prep Series
  • January 16th: Introduction to SIRS
    Science questions not only test your science knowledge, but also test your ability to reason, apply scientific concepts, and use data to make decisions. This is what the MCAT refers to as the Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skills (SIRS). Find out how to identify these different types of questions and how to approach them.
    January 30th: Knowledge of Scientific Concepts and Principles
    Using three MCAT Chem/Phys passages we will investigate the questions most people think of when they are taking science-based tests. We will learn the common question structures and strategies to attack each one.
    February 13th: Problem-Solving with Scientific Reasoning
    Using three MCAT Bio/Biochem passages we will see It’s not just what you know, but how you use it. This session will focus on how to take new information from the question or the passage, fit it into an already existing paradigm, and address questions outside of your personal scope of knowledge.
    February 27th: Analyzing Experimental Design
    Using three MCAT Psych/Soc passages we will discuss the ins and outs of how experimental details are presented on the MCAT and just what you need to be looking for. This will be a short course in experimental design terminology so you can identify everything from a confounding variable to a causation-correlation logical flaw.
    March 12th: Analyzing Figures and Tables
    Using one passage from each of the three science sections of the MCAT we will tackle some of the most complicated and intimidating equations, figures, and tables the MCAT can throw at you. Come learn why scientists present data in the way they do and how to effectively pull information out of figures and tables.

AAMC Outlined Skills
  • CARS  (Critical Analysis & Reasoning Skills)
  • Skill 1: Foundations of Comprehension
    Understanding the basic components of the text.
    Inferring meaning from rhetorical devices, word choice, and text structure.
    Skill 2: Reasoning Within the Text
    Integrating different components of the text to increase comprehension.
    Skill 3: Reasoning Beyond the Text
    Applying or extrapolating ideas from the passage to new contexts.
    Assessing the impact of introducing new factors, information, or conditions to ideas from the passage.
  • SIRS (Scientific Inquiry & Reasoning Skills)
  • Skill 1: Knowledge of Scientific Principles
    Demonstrate understanding of scientific concepts and principles.
    Identify the relationships between closely-related concepts.
    Skill 2: Scientific Reasoning and Problem-solving
    Reason about scientific principles, theories, and models.
    Analyzing and evaluating scientific explanations and predictions.
    Skill 3: Reasoning about the Design and Execution of Research
    Demonstrate understanding of important components of scientific research.
    Reason about ethical issues in research.
    Skill 4: Data-based Statistical Reasoning
    Interpret patterns in data presented in tables, figures, and graphs.
    Reasoning about data and drawing conclusions from them.