If you’re preparing to take the MCAT, be sure not to ignore verbal reasoning. This is a mistake many people make – they focus on the science and math sections, but totally bomb the verbal reason section. Don’t be THAT guy.
Below is the MCAT Prep video transcript for the verbal reasoning training section.
Male: All right, so like we said, we do have some discounted options available online if you use that code. And I taught it last time, if any of you guys were here, we have classroom courses, live, online courses, which are like classroom courses, but they run online. And so basically you can do it from your home. But they are live courses. They’re not just video recordings, so you can actually talk and receive feedback from the instructor as well as talk and chat with the other students. We also do private tutoring and small group instruction. You know, if you had a group of people together that you wanted to do a more individualized sessions and have more flexibility with that, then you could set up a small group instruction. And, of course, the website and the phone number, we’ll explain all of that.
So what we’re gonna do today is we’re actually gonna talk about the MCAT verbal reasoning section. And so I think it’s a really important section to talk about in light of the recent changes that are happening in January. And so we actually already had the last MCAT test administration of this year. So it starts back up about the middle to the end of January. And so when we start up with the new MCAT, there are going to be some changes. So the biggest change is that the writing sample section has been removed. So that’s really great, because that’s an hour of time, and it’s section two, that we have to spend writing two essays. And as you guys probably know, the writing section doesn’t really count very much with medical school applications. It’s on there, but it’s not typically going to be a deciding factor for admissions. So it’s nice that that’s actually being taken out, because that’s an hour of writing that we don’t have to do.
What they’ve done, though, in place of that, is they’ve added a voluntary unscored trial section. And so it is voluntary. You do not have to do it. And the great thing about it is it’s at the end of the test. So you’re gonna have your physical sciences section, then your verbal reasoning, and then your biological sciences and then this unscored section at the end. So it’s completely optional. You’ll know that it’s optional. It will be very clear that it does not count towards your score. And this section’s actually gonna have 32 questions. They are going to have questions on psychology, sociology, and biochemistry. And this section will ask for 45 minutes.
So these are the areas that they’re adding to the MCAT. So they’re going to have this social science section with psychology and sociology. And then they’re also gonna add more biochemistry focus as well. So what they’re doing here is just testing out questions for the future when the test changes in a few years.
And so we don’t know exactly what the benefit of taking this unscored section is. There’s gonna be some sort of compensation for those people who take the section and put forth a good faith effort. We don’t know what it is. It’s probably not gonna be a discount or a refund on any portion of the MCAT, but maybe they’ll send you a gift card or something like that. But it is a good faith effort. So you can’t just put B for all of them and get whatever this compensation is. But certainly, you don’t have to do it. It’s not gonna affect your score at all.
Okay, so the first thing that we need to do is we need to talk about the overview of the verbal section. And then what we’ll do is we’ll go into kind of the strategy for approaching the passages, well, really, the section as a whole and then the individual passages. And then we’ll actually practice doing a passage together. So that will be really good. I think that the main thing that’s important for the verbal section is to really take what we’ve talked about today and practice, because it is a very long section. It does come up as the second section of the test now. It is 40 multiple choice questions. So that doesn’t seem like too much. But you have 60 minutes. And for most people, it’s gonna take the full time. And then there’s seven passages. And these passages are anywhere from 500 to 600 words on average. So they’re pretty long passages. And people typically will get tired towards the end. So it’s something that you really need to practice kind of working through the passages and the sections as a whole.
Three things that are really important to think about are the onscreen tools. These are gonna be important for all of the sections of the MCAT. But they’re especially important for the verbal section, because this is really where you’re gonna be going back to the passage a lot. And we do that in science questions. But in verbal, it’s absolutely 100% necessary to use the passage to answer the questions. So you can highlight on the screen, which is great. We’ll talk about highlighting. One of the things that people do most often that’s not really a great thing to do is highlight large chunks of text. So if you’ve highlighted the entire passage, that’s probably not going to be really helpful for you when you’re going back and trying to pull information out of the passage. So we’ll talk about ways that we can use the highlight feature to our benefit and not just highlighting everything we’re reading.
The strike out feature is to eliminate answer choices. And so that’s where you’re actually crossing out answer choices as you’re going through the questions. So if you know that answer choice A is wrong, if you click on the words, it will actually strike it out, so you aren’t gonna look at that, and you’re not gonna get confused. So it’s a really nice onscreen feature to help you with process of elimination.
And then we also have the mark button. So mark button is typically used for questions that we know that we wanna answer, but we don’t necessarily wanna spend the time answering them now. And we’ll talk about that a little bit later. There are certain questions that we’re just not going to attempt. They may be too difficult, the passage may be too hard, or we just don’t have time. We’re never gonna leave anything blank on this test. But we’re only gonna use the mark button for questions that we’re gonna come back to and actually attempt. If we’re just gonna skip the question, we’re gonna put our letter of the day, which can be A, B, C, or D, just as long as you pick the same one each time, and move on. If we mark it, that does mean that we wanna come back and take a second look at them.
So the way to highlight, you just click and drag on the screen the same way that you would with a normal computer. And if you wanna strike out an answer, you’re just gonna right click on that answer choice. And then if you want to mark a question, there’s a “Mark Question for Later Review” button on the screen. So it’s really important, once again, that you practice taking the online tests that are offered either by the AAMC or the Princeton Review, because you’re gonna need to practice using these features. It really is important to practice actual onscreen, computer-based tests. And we do have a lot of materials, and people do, you know, buy test prep books and do practice in the books. And that’s fine. But just remember that you do need to take the actual practice tests on the computer as well, because that is a part of the test-taking experience.
Scoring, so scoring on the MCAT is very interesting. The verbal section is scored anywhere from a 1 to 15, as are the physical sciences and the biological sciences sections. The average is about an eight. Typically the average on the verbal section’s a little bit lower than the averages on the other section. A lot of people have a more difficult time with the verbal section than the traditional science. And it’s probably because we’re all science people, and that’s what we’ve been taking for the last four years in college. So the verbal section does take a little bit more practice for a lot of people.
So if we wanted to get an eight, and the average score is really good for the verbal section…if we wanted to get the average, how many questions do we need to get right out of the 40 questions that we have on the test? And the answer is we actually don’t know. It really depends on how the scale was set for that particular test administration. So they’re based on percentile ranks, and not on a set number of questions, right? So sometimes you could get 35 out of the 40 questions right, and that could be an 11. Whereas, on another test day, if you got that same amount right, that could be a 10. And it really just depends on how everyone does on the test. So you really aren’t gonna know until you get your scores back. When you do practice tests, they do score it based on that particular test administration, so you can have a good idea. But just remember that there is a little bit of difference, depending on the test that you actually take.
It’s important to remember that any time during the test, you can use the “Review” button to see the marked questions and unanswered questions. I personally don’t leave anything unanswered. If I’m gonna come back to it, I go ahead and put an answer in there and then mark it so that I can come back and review. It would be really bad if you ran out of time and you didn’t answer questions because you meant to come back to them, and you just ran out of time. So definitely, use the review button. You can use it at the end to review the ones that you wanna come back to, or you can use it at any point during the test.
So now what we wanna talk about is really ranking passages. And this is an overall strategy for the MCAT verbal question. So we have seven passages. Most people probably are not going to be able to do all 7 of them in 60 minutes, because their accuracy is really going to be sacrificed, because you’re going to try to go too quickly. It’s certainly something that you can build up to, and some people will answer all seven. But most people are only gonna answer six questions. They’re gonna use letter of the day for the last passage. But it’s not necessarily the last passage in the section. It’s the one that they think they’re gonna do the worst on. And we’ll talk about ways that we’re gonna know if a passage is easy or if a passage is difficult.
So, really, the first, you know, minute or two that you’re looking at the verbal section, you do want to rank the passages. So the basic idea here is just to do the easy passages first and then come back to the harder passages later. And that makes a lot of sense, because the easy passages are the ones that you’re probably going to get the most of the questions right. The harder passages are gonna take you longer, and your accuracy’s probably not gonna be as good. This definitely depends on each individual person, which is why it’s important to practice. But some things that we do to decide if a passage is easy or hard is…first, we wanna scan the passage text. So we’re not necessarily reading it at this point. But we’re just looking to see what it’s about.
Then we’re gonna scan the questions. Once again, we’re not reading every single answer choice. We’re not reading word for word at this point. We’re just looking to see what’s in the questions. And so after we’ve done that, well, really, the passage text…so the way that you can kind of do this very quickly is you can skim the first few lines. So you’re not gonna read the whole passage. But, typically, if you read the first few lines, you’re gonna have a good idea of what the passage is about.
If the first few lines of a passage are easily paraphrased, then it’s probably gonna be an easy passage. They’re not gonna trick you. If you understand what the passage is saying and you can put those into your own words, then you probably have a good understanding of what the passage is about. If it’s abstract or complex, so if it’s hard to understand or there are these really abstract, complex concepts that are being mentioned in the first few lines, it’s probably gonna be a difficult passage. Usually, things that start out difficult are not gonna get easier as we read them. So those are ones that we might wanna save for later.
And then with the questions, more difficult passages often have long question stems and answer choices. So the question stem is the actual question, and then the answer choices are the A, B, C, and D. And so if those are long and there’s a lot of words, that takes a long time to read. And they’re probably more difficult, especially if the overwhelming majority of questions for that passage have those long question stems and answer choices.
We’ll talk about complex questions in a little bit, but strengthen and weaken questions are a complex type of question. Complex questions typically are more difficult to answer. They take more time, and they can be actually harder. Strengthen and weaken questions are asking you to either strengthen a claim made by the author or to weaken a claim. And so those take more time and make a passage more difficult. Along those same lines, if a question’s asking you to apply new information, it is probably going to be a little more difficult. That is another complex question type.
After you’ve basically considered these, and there’s no right answer, but you’re gonna basically put numbers, you know, on your paper to say, one through seven, what order you’re gonna do them in. Once you rank them as easy or hard, you’re gonna start with the easier ones. And then you’ll just go through them in order, skipping the hard ones and coming back to those later, but once again, probably not leaving any answers blank, because if you run out of time, you certainly don’t wanna leave anything blank since there is no penalty for that.
So what we’re gonna do now is we’re going to actually talk a little bit about a passage. And we’ll talk about questions, specific question types, as we do this. And the passage is not up here yet. We’ll put them up in paragraphs. But we’re gonna talk about ranking it up front. So you guys haven’t seen the passage. If you have the slides in front of you, you may have. But I’m just gonna kind of tell you how I decided that this was a passage that was the one that we were probably gonna do second. We’re calling this “Passage Two.” So the passage text, when I read the first few lines, they seemed pretty straightforward to me. I had a pretty good understanding of them. But by the questions, they seem a little more difficult. So out of the six or seven questions, three of them are complex. And we’re not gonna do all the questions for this passage, but we’ll talk about what makes a question complex.
So it’s not the easiest passage, because we’ve got some contradictory information. The passage text seems pretty straightforward. But then the questions seem like they might be a little more difficult or time-consuming. So we’re not gonna do this one first, but maybe second or third would be a great place to do it. So we’ll do it a little bit later.
We’ve got three steps here. So we are going to preview the questions. This just means that you’re gonna read the question stems. You are not gonna read the answer choices. And you don’t need to memorize anything here. I think when we talk a lot about doing this work up front, students get a little concerned, because they feel like they’re spending a lot of time up front doing all of this extra work, when, really, they feel like they need to be reading the passages and getting through all of the questions. So our response to that is that most of us are probably not answering all seven passages, so you already have, you know, built yourself several minutes to spend throughout the entire test that you’re not gonna look at one of those passages.
So you’re gonna preview the questions. All you really wanna do here is to figure out what the questions are asking, because this is gonna help us when we read the passage. So we wanna know what the questions are about. There’s probably gonna be one that’s gonna be about the main idea or purpose. You might have one that’s about the structure of the passage. You might have questions that are about specific details in the passage. And if there’s names or dates, those are things that we wanna pay attention to when we’re reading.
Then we’re going to actively read the passage. And so we’re not gonna read this passage and try to memorize it word for word. Normally, and this is a really hard thing for most of us, because when we read our textbooks at home, if we’re reading for science class or any other class, we read those textbooks because we’re gonna be expected to know that information later when we have a test. The great thing about the MCAT verbal is that we have the test already in front of us, so we’ve got our passage and our questions right in front of us. So we’re only gonna really focus on the parts that we know we’re gonna be tested on. It’s an open-book test. You know what the questions are as you’re reading it, so those are the parts that you wanna pay attention to. You’re not gonna be asked to answer questions about this in three weeks, so you don’t need to memorize every single detail. You just need to be able to find the answers in the passage. And we’ll talk about how to actively read. That’s probably the most important step to doing a verbal passage. And then we’re gonna attack the questions. So after we’ve read the passage actively, we’re gonna go and answer the questions.
So when we preview the questions, this helps give you a context of the passage. It also helps you move through the questions quickly. So you’ve already looked at them one time. So when you’re going back through and actually answering them, it doesn’t take as long. You’re also gonna skip long questions. So you know that these questions are difficult. You’ll save them to the end of that passage or to the end of the test and come back later. And then you’re gonna look for words and phrases that are related to the content of the passage. So this is gonna help you as you do your active reading.
And we’ll see this when we actually look at the questions, but this is the information that we’ve pulled out of the questions that we’re gonna answer. So we had one question that asked about Jung and Vallee’s…I think that’s how we say that…similar beliefs. So we know that when we see those names, we’re gonna pay attention to them, and we know that they have some similar beliefs. So whenever the passage is talking about how their beliefs are similar, we might wanna pay attention to that. We also have a question that’s asking about UFO-type encounters. So we probably wanna pay attention to something that’s talking about UFO encounters.
And we’re also gonna have information from the thousands of individuals in UFO research that is gonna be asked in one of the questions. So when we have this, we’re gonna pay attention to the passage when it says info from thousands of individuals in UFO research. So these are the types of things that we’re gonna be paying attention to when we’re gonna read the passage. And the rest of the details, we’re just gonna skim those so that we understand the main idea.
You’re gonna read the passage pretty quickly, three to four minutes max. Like I said, you’re not gonna memorize every single detail here. You just need an understanding of the big picture of the passage. And it’s a good idea to jot down the big picture. You’re probably gonna be asked about the main idea of the passage or about the primary purpose of the passage. So if you go ahead and write this down now, you’ve got it. So when you go to that question, you’re gonna be able to do it a lot easier.
This is another thing that people don’t like to do, because they feel like it takes up time. But you’ve got scratch paper in front of you, so you definitely wanna use that to jot down some notes. I’m not saying that you should paraphrase the entire passage. But you wanna have some ideas. You wanna be able to go back to the passage and find the information that you need. And you wanna have the main idea in front of you so that if you need to come back to it, you have it, and you don’t have to start all over. Also, it helps you to be more active when you’re reading.
You’re gonna look for the author’s argument and the major themes. So if you don’t understand what the author is actually trying to tell you by the end of this passage, there might be a later passage. You might wanna save it for later, because you’re probably not gonna do so great on the questions if you don’t understand it. So, really, finding the author’s argument…what does the author want me to think after I’m done reading this passage? And then also the major themes that go along with that. The themes are probably gonna tie into what the author is trying to tell you. And those will all help with your big picture as well.
And then we’re gonna highlight important clues. So we’ll talk about that on the next slide. Highlighting, like I said, is really important. But we don’t wanna highlight everything. We only wanna highlight things that are gonna help us get the questions right and not everything that’s in the passage.
So if we’re talking about the important clues, we’ve got several types of things that we wanna pay attention to. We want to pay attention to words that we call “pivotal words.” So these are words that emphasize a change, so words like “however” or “but.” Basically, if we highlight these words, we know that they mean “pay attention.” So “Things used to be one way, but now they’re different” or “You might think this, but you’re actually wrong. However, it’s really this way.” So those types of pivotal words really do give you clues as to what the author’s emphasizing. You’re probably gonna be asked about those things. So it’s a good idea to go ahead and highlight them so that you can go back to them very quickly.
You also wanna pay attention to comparisons and contrasts. And we saw this with one of the questions. We’re gonna be asked about how these two guys were similar. So when we’re talking about similarities, we’re gonna highlight that. Or when we’re talking about differences, we’re gonna highlight that, because that’s gonna be important when we’re answering the questions as well.
The author’s point of view, attitude, and other people’s points of view, so these are basically our tone, words, right? Does the author like what they’re talking about? Do they agree with it? Do they disagree with it? Do they agree with this person or disagree with them? So those types of words that express agreement or attitude, tone, point of view, we’re gonna pay attention to those as well. It’s gonna help you with the big picture of the passage.
And then question topic. So if the question says “UFO sightings,” we’re gonna highlight that part in the passage, because we know that that’s where the answer’s gonna be to that particular question. So it’s also a good idea to emphasize or to go ahead and highlight dates anytime there’s a date or a statistic or a number. Don’t highlight the whole sentence. But if it says “1929,” go ahead and highlight that, because you might come back there. It’s a good place of reference.
So we’re gonna highlight those pivotal words as we read. But we also wanna try to figure out the bottom line. And so this is really where our scratch paper’s gonna be more important. So we’ve highlighted on the screen as we’re reading, but we’re also gonna take some notes on our scratch paper. Like I said, it’s important because you’re going to come back to it possibly. Or, also, it just helps you stay more engaged in what you’re reading.
So what we write down is the main idea of each paragraph. As soon as I see it, I say, “Okay, there are seven paragraphs here,” and I write one through seven down on my piece of paper. And I know that I’m gonna have the main idea of each paragraph there. Once again, it’s not gonna be a long paraphrase of the entire paragraph, just the main point. What you’re essentially doing is you’re making a map so you can go back to the passage. When you have a question that says, well, in paragraph two, what was that about? You know, it says, “The author’s attitude in paragraph two is one of…” Well, you know already. You have it written down on your piece of paper. Or if you don’t have a paragraph reference and you know that you’re looking for a specific part of the passage, then you have this map. And you can say, “Oh, well, that shows up in paragraph two,” or, “That shows up in paragraph three. So that’s where I wanna go back to find the answer to this question.” And this really helps you understand the logical order of the passage.
And actually one of the really mean things that the MCAT does is these passages are all from real sources somewhere. You know, someone wrote them, and the MCATs found them and put them on the test, and made the questions up about them. And so when we write essays and we want someone to really understand it or if we’re writing this for English class or whatever, we’re gonna have a very logical structure to the essay. That’s one of the things we’re graded on a lot. And if we still had the writing section on this test, which we don’t, thank goodness, but that’s something we would do. The MCAT writers like to take the paragraphs and move them around within the passage. So you’re not necessarily seeing what the author actually wrote. So they’ve basically scrambled it around to make the logical order not so logical anymore. So by jotting down the main idea of each paragraph, it makes it a lot easier to follow.
So after you’ve done that, you also wanna put the bottom line of the passage as a whole. And that’s the big picture, the attitude, the purpose. It’s gonna help you with those main idea, general type questions.
So here’s paragraph one. I’m gonna give you guys a second to read this, and then I’m gonna read it out loud, but I’ll give you guys a head start. And then I’ll talk about how I would annotate this passage with highlighting as well as what I would put on my scratch paper.
“Scientists find ready explanations for most UFO incidents in terms of known physical phenomena such as celestial bodies, electrical occurrences in the atmosphere, the warping of light rays, and weather balloons. But in the meantime, the complexity of UFO phenomena has provoked a relatively new approach to the question of their reality.”
So there’s a lot of technical terms in here. It’s easy to get bogged down. But the great thing is we don’t necessarily need to know about those yet. We already looked at the preview of the questions that we’re gonna answer. And we didn’t really see anything about celestial bodies, warping of light rays, and all of that. So as we read over that, we just kinda skim it.
What I wanna point out, though, is that we do have a pivotal word here, “but.” So I highlight that, “But in the meantime, the complexity of the UFO phenomena has provoked a relatively new approach to the question of their reality.” So this seems like a pretty important sentence here. It’s definitely more important than the first sentence we read with all of those technical terms in it. This one seems like it might be the main idea of the passage…or the paragraph, excuse me.
So here we have our scratch paper. And with paragraph one, we know that there’s a new way to look at the stuff about UFO’s, and it’s beyond these obvious physical explanations. So this is a lot easier to look at when we’re coming back to answer questions than the actual passage. So we’ve condensed it here. We’ve found out this information, because we paid attention to the pivotal word.
All right, paragraph two. I’ll give you guys a second to read it. And then I’ll read it as well.
“Could it be that accounts of UFOs are related to the many psychic and paranormal experiences recounted by human beings throughout history? Certainly, the reports of these strange objects and their occupants, who sometimes convey social messages to humans, have a mythical and often visionary quality.”
So with that one, we didn’t really have any keywords there that I wanted to pay attention to or that we felt like we should pay attention to. We didn’t have those pivotal words or really anything from our answer choices…or questions rather. So we just go straight to our scratch paper, and we jot down what we think that passage or that paragraph is about. So there’s a mythic quality of UFO reports like other stories of paranormal events. So that’s great. We don’t wanna spend a whole lot of time here, because I can already tell this paragraph is not that important. There’s a mythic quality like other paranormal events. Well, we probably all knew that. It doesn’t really tell us a whole lot here. So we’re just gonna move on.
With paragraph three, this is a lot longer, so I’ll give you guys a few seconds to read it, and then I’ll read it for us. We wanna pay attention to…like I said, I see a name already that we had in our answer choices or our question stems. We wanna pay attention to our pivotal words and those kinds of things.
“In his book ‘Passport to Magonia,’ Jacques Vallee traces the many parallels between the ancient myths of all cultures and today’s stories of UFOs. He goes on to propose that UFO experiences are paranormal in nature and are the space age equivalent of a phenomenon that assumes different guises in different historical contexts. Vallee suggests that human life is controlled by imagination and myth and that paranormal experiences are the means by which man’s ideas about himself and his universe are constantly shaped. Such experiences, he adds, become especially important in times of social stress. In his view, the UFO phenomenon is the present-day tool in this control system. The great mystery is whether this control is part of man’s genetic makeup or whether it is imposed upon him from without, through alien intervention.”
So there’s a lot more going on here. So this might take you a little bit longer to highlight and paraphrase, unlike paragraph two, which was a lot shorter. So once again, we didn’t really have a whole lot of words that we wanted to highlight, other than maybe that guy’s name to know that’s where we’re talking about him. But basically paragraph three says that Vallee says UFOs are part of the basic imagination and myth-making. So it just tells us about his viewpoint. And we know that his viewpoint is that they’re part of this imagination that we all experience.
With paragraph four, a little bit longer as well, we see that it’s talking about Carl Jung, so we’ll pay attention to that, and I’ll give you guys a second to read it, and then I’ll read it for us as well.
“Psychiatrist Carl G. Jung, who’s widely known for his theories concerning the human psyche, also proposed this supra-normal explanation for UFOs. In a book published in 1958, ‘Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies,’ Jung suggests that UFO phenomenon is a manifestation of man’s collective unconscious, a repository of archetypal images and impressions that surface in symbols, dreams, and myths, and predispose man to produce very similar ideas regardless of time or place. Jung regarded UFOs as psychological projection of man’s hopes and fears in an uncertain world.”
So once again, with that one, I’d probably highlight Jung’s name. There was a year there, but, you know, nothing that really is gonna tell us about the author’s tone or attitude. All of this so far has been pretty just informative, but not necessarily…we don’t really know about the author’s point of view yet. So paragraph four, you could just say that UFOs are a manifestation of basic human fears and desires. That’s a nice short way to sum this up. And that’s a pretty long paragraph. And now we know what it’s about without having to go back and reread the whole thing.
“Vallee’s ideas are similar to Jung’s in many respects. But he differs by accepting the reality of UFOs in the sense that UFO witnesses have been exposed to a real event. In the February 1978 issue of ‘Fate,’ he suggests that what they experienced is some sort of change in the electromagnetic energy in their immediate vicinity. The change in energy may be produced by the witness himself internally and spontaneously by some external agency.”
So we’ve got these pivotal words, “But he differs,” and also… Sorry, let me go back really quickly. We have “His ideas are similar in many respects.” So we were being asked about that, and then now we have these comparison words, “he differs.” And so when we come up with what we think it’s about, it’s a good idea…this is probably what this paragraph is talking about, “Unlike Jung, Vallee thinks UFO witnesses have actually experienced a real event.” So that’s the difference between the two. They both talk about this paranormal, mythic quality. But Jung doesn’t think that they’ve actually witnessed a real experience, whereas, Vallee does. So now we understand what the difference is between the two theorists are.
“Jung’s and Vallee’s theories seem supported by an analysis of the stories told by UFO abductees. Under hypnosis, those who experienced time loss are able to remember all the details of their sojourn aboard an alien vessel. Although their accounts vary greatly in detail, they describe a similar chain of events. The person sees a shining light, is guided to the vessel, often in a semi-conscious, almost out-of-body state, is physically examined, enters into telepathic communication with aliens, and finally returns home.”
So pivotal word, “although,” so their accounts vary greatly, but then they’re similar in these chain of events. So those are the things that we wanna pay attention to, our comparison and contrast words. So paragraph six really talks about how both of the theorists are supported by similarities between the stories that are told by the abductees. So even though these are different people, there are a lot of commonalities between their experiences.
“What is truly fascinating is that the same sequence of events is described by hypnotized subjects who have never had the experience of a UFO encounter but have simply been told to imagine one. This in no way denies the validity of the testimony of the real witnesses. Rather, it suggests that the human mind is programmed to think a certain way in response to certain stimuli. Apparently, any number of stimuli can produce the particular state of consciousness susceptible to UFO-like experiences. Such stimuli might be mind-altering drugs, a brush with death, perhaps the physical charge of a ball of lightning, or an actual, physical encounter with a flying saucer.”
So here, we’ve got words like “but” or “rather,” so those may be important, “But these people were told to imagine one.” It doesn’t mean that the other people aren’t telling the truth. It just means that maybe there is some sort of programming of the human mind. And when we write down our main idea of that paragraph, that’s actually what we have. There may be something common to all humans that creates these similarities in different events.
So by really actively reading, we’ve done a lot of the work up front. And like I’ve said, most people are not really happy about doing all of this. They think it takes a long time. And it does, which is why practice is really important. But going through the questions is a lot faster if you do it this way. And also, if you’re gonna get more questions right, I think it’s probably worth the time. Most people would agree with that.
And then I think this is the last paragraph. “The events described by the people who have returned to a normal state of consciousness, whether from death’s door or from a hallucinatory or hypnotic state or a religious trance, are amazingly similar, incorporating light, the guide or abductor, the examination, the messages, and so forth. All this suggests the likelihood of some common matrix in the mind that can be triggered to allow paranormal experiences of the kind involving UFOs.”
So there’s a comparison here. They’re amazingly similar, which we’ve already talked about with the last paragraph. And so, really, paragraph eight, there’s something about the human mind that leads us all to have paranormal experiences or leads us as humans. So that’s a pretty good summary of the passage.
And so now what we wanna think about is the bottom line. So this is something that sums up the major themes we’ve already identified. And we’ve already done most of the work here. So I think a good way to summarize this is that UFO encounters may be paranormal experiences that arise from basic human [inaudible 00:36:08].
Female: Oh, keep going.
Male: I don t know. Keep going? The technology, I don’t understand it. Okay, so this is kind of our bottom line. You should come up with your own. And it will incorporate all of the paragraph summaries that you’ve had.
So now what we wanna talk about is question types. So this is not the time to skim. When you are actually answering the questions, you’re gonna read it word for word. When you were previewing the questions, you just skimmed it to see what was in there. When you read the passage, you read it pretty quickly. You just wanted the main idea of each paragraph. When you read the questions, you’re going to read them verbatim, word for word. This is not the time to skip over things.
So there’s three basic types. You have your specific questions. Those are questions that are gonna ask you about specific information from the passage. So you’re gonna go back to the passage and grab that particular information out of there. And the map that we’ve made of the paragraphs is gonna help us do that. General questions ask about the main idea and the attitude or the primary purpose. Our bottom line is gonna help us answer those. And then complex questions are these more difficult, time-consuming questions that are gonna ask us to strengthen or weaken the author’s argument or to apply new information to what we already know and answer a question about that. So these are ones that you might wanna save for the end. They take a little bit longer. Typically, they’re more difficult, because there’s that extra step there where you’re having to do something more.
All right, so we’ve got some questions that we’re gonna look at. We’ve got a specific question, which is number eight. We’re gonna do that first. Then we’ll have a general question, which is number seven. And we have complex questions 9, 10, and 11. I think we’re just gonna do number 11, though, together. So this is the order that you should do them, though, because if you answer all the specific questions first, then you’re gonna have a pretty good idea about the general questions. If you’ve answered all of the detailed questions, you’re gonna understand the main idea of the passage. And then those complex questions, you’re gonna save for the end when you have a little bit of extra time.
So question number eight, “According to the passage…” So we know this is specific. It’s telling us to go back to the passage, and we should always remember that. “Jung and Vallee share similar beliefs about UFO encounters, except that…” So we’re gonna go back to the passage that talks about the similar beliefs that they have. But we’re looking for the one that’s not similar between the two. So this is an except question. This is why it’s so important that you read it word for word, because you’re looking for the one that they don’t share similar beliefs about.
So if we look at answer choice A, “Jung believes that UFOs are paranormal experiences.” Well, that is true. It is a paranormal experience according to what the passage tells us about Jung. B, “Vallee believes that UFO-like experiences have been reported since ancient times.” That’s also in the passage. He does tell us that. C, “Jung accepts the reality of UFOs.” And then D, “Vallee believes that the UFO encounters may be due to real events.”
Sorry. Sorry. So D is the answer. So they don’t share similar beliefs with that, because Jung does not agree with Vallee. So that’s not a similarity between those two.
For question number seven, we have a general question. This one is just the main idea of the passage. So our bottom line said that they’re a paranormal experience that humans have. So answer choice A, “UFO sightings are a recent phenomenon.” Number one, that is way too narrow to be the main idea of the passage. And, number two, that’s just not true. The passage does not say that. Answer choice B, “The paranormal theory presents an explanation for the sighting of UFOs.” So that could be the answer, because we do talk about the…basically the whole thing is an explanation behind UFO sightings. C, “It’s highly improbably that the earth has been visited by extraterrestrials.” The author never makes a statement to us about whether or not he thinks that’s probable. He actually even says that some people can be hypnotized to believe that they’ve seen UFOs. But that still doesn’t discredit the people who actually say that they’ve seen them. And then D, “No concrete evidence exists to substantiate the existence of UFOs.” And that is not the main idea of the passage. We don’t really talk about that when we’re going through the paragraph summaries or the bottom line of the passage.
And then we have a complex question. And this is complex, because as you see, it is a Roman numeral question, and these are ones that we typically don’t like, because they are more difficult. They definitely take a lot longer. So “If the United States government released sealed documents that revealed secret missions involving the test flights of American spacecraft, this evidence could be used to support.” So now, we’ve also added information. So this is a Roman numeral question, and it’s also a new information. So now, the United States government has released these sealed documents that involve the test flights of American spacecraft. So would this support Vallee’s theory that they’re based on physical realities? And this is how we set up our scratch paper. We basically wanna have I, II, and III down there, and evaluate each one individually.
So that would be true, right? Because this would be an actual physical reality if there was an American spacecraft being tested. For II, “Jung’s theory that archetypal images are always the source of UFO sightings,” that’s false. That would not support that. This is not saying that these images are always gonna be the source of the sightings. But in this one particular instance, it may have been.
And so that leaves us…actually if we look, the only one that doesn’t have two in it is answer choice A. So we don’t really even need to look at answer choice three. But if we look at that, “UFO enthusiast theories that UFOs exist,” that doesn’t really work at all, and that’s not what we’re talking about. So the answer is A.
So we talked about two fundamental techniques. So, really, we talked about one, and then the other one we just did. Active reading, so we wanna get the major theme of each paragraph. We wanna get the bottom line of the passage. And then we wanna read the questions carefully. And then process of elimination is what we did when we actually just did the answer choices. So we struck out the ones that we knew weren’t right. And then that left us with the right answer.
So that’s basically a, you know, pretty short but good overview of the MCAT verbal section. Does anyone have any questions? All right, well I would encourage everyone to go to the Princeton Review website and do the free diagnostic tests. They are really helpful for gauging where you’re starting at. And then you can certainly do additional tests to see your progress as you study. Thanks.
Male: Do I hit this?
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