There’s no question that you’ve put in the time to study for both the Physical and Biological Science sections of the MCAT. You probably wouldn’t have even been thinking of medical school if you hadn’t been as proficient as you are in quantitative reasoning. However, the Verbal Reasoning section of the MCAT can be a bit tricky if you’re not used to reading speedily and aren’t able to quickly comprehend everything necessary to answer the 40 questions from the reading passages in the section in just 1 hour. The following three tips will help you feel more confident as you prepare to take the MCAT, and will drastically help improve your Verbal Reasoning score.
1. Expand Your Vocabulary
One of the many things that MCAT test takers often run into is that they are unfamiliar with words that are used in the various reading passages of the exam. Difficult words are chosen purposefully, and you’ll find that many questions depend on your ability to understand what these words are, and how they relate to the passage in context. You don’t have to read the dictionary cover to cover, however, in order to improve and expand your vocabulary as well as your command of the English language. One of the best tricks is to get ahold of a list of words or flashcards that are used to study for the GRE’s Verbal Reasoning section. Reviewing these flashcards for even 15-20 minutes daily—for example, while you’re waiting for the bus or train, standing in line at the grocery store, waiting for your date even—will help you quickly identify right or wrong answers that involve difficult words that you have studied on test day.
2. Learn to Speed Read
Most of us have reading habits that have stuck with us for many, many years (if not our whole lives); however, many of these reading habits impede our ability to perform well on the Verbal Reasoning section of the MCAT. Often times test-takers try to read slowly to really understand what’s going on in the reading passages, and pay extra careful attention to the finer details. Doing this will not improve your Verbal Reasoning score, and will likely ensure that you get a poor score on this section of the MCAT. Learning to speed read is an invaluable skill that will help you to absorb the most important information in a short amount of time. You can learn to speed read using learning software, or some other means, but acquiring this skill—which can be significantly improved upon in a relatively short amount of time—will eliminate time-wasting while you read, and train your brain to identify only the most valuable information that will surely be tested in the reading comprehension questions.
3. Study from Other Tests
Many potential MCAT test-takers rely solely on previous MCAT tests or practice books to try to prepare for the Verbal Reasoning section of the exam. This is a grave mistake! While the MCAT reading passages differ slightly from those in other graduate placement tests, it would be unwise to not take a critical look at reading passages from the LSAT, GRE, GMAT, and DAT. By reviewing the reading passages and verbal reasoning questions from other graduate placement tests, no matter what their difficulty level, you will train yourself to read a variety of topics quickly and critically. This will help you break down old reading habits, and train your brain to read on a variety of topics with relative ease. This technique is not often considered among potential medical school students, but it’s a sure way to improve and ace your MCAT Verbal Reasoning section.