MCAT CARS prep is one of the most challenging aspects of your MCAT prep. As the name suggests, the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) section is designed to test your analysis and reasoning skills, rather than specific academic knowledge. Students often don't know how to study for this section, or if it’s possible to study for CARS at all.
That is where professional MCAT CARS prep courses come in. In this blog, we will tell you all about these CARS prep services and how they can help you improve your reading comprehension, critical analysis, and reasoning skills. We also give you a step-by-step guide for finding the ideal MCAT CARS prep course for you.
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What Makes MCAT CARS so Challenging?
Studying for the MCAT, in general, is quite tricky, but it is especially so for the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills (CARS) section. This is mainly because of what it assesses and the passages that it uses to do it. Most of the passages on the MCAT CARS are related to social sciences like psychology, politics, and sociology, or humanities subjects, i.e., philosophy, literature, or ethics. Not only are these passages complex, but they typically also use sophisticated vocabulary.
Having a very basic understanding of the topic discussed in a passage might make reading it a bit easier, but it doesn't necessarily give you an advantage when it comes to answering the questions on the MCAT CARS. According to the AAMC, this particular section of the exam is designed to "...test your comprehension, analysis, and reasoning skills by asking you to critically analyze the information provided in passages," meaning that what really matters is your ability to understand what is written in the passage in front of you and come up with an answer to the question posed using that information alone.
Students often don't realize that even though you can't study the material you will read about, you can work on the skills you will be tested on. MCAT CARS prep should increase your MCAT reading comprehension, improve your critical thinking and analysis skills, and build strategies to help you read actively and faster.
The reality is that while we all use our critical thinking skills daily, certain professions require us to use them more often than others. As a physician, you must read complex clinical information, make decisions based on that data, and explain your reasoning to your patients or colleagues. This requires strong critical reasoning abilities, and critical thinking is like a muscle: the more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. To prepare for something like the MCAT CARS, you need to know which workouts will best exercise this muscle. MCAT CARS prep courses and tutors are like personal trainers who can help you achieve your goals.
Want to practice with a practice CARS passage? Watch this video!
Do You Need an MCAT CARS Prep Course?
We can't answer this question for you, but we can help you figure out your answer. Whether or not you need an MCAT CARS prep course boils down to how well you think you will do without one. If you have not taken an MCAT diagnostic test yet, we recommend taking one and then using the MCAT Scaled Score Calculator to convert your raw practice scores to MCAT scaled scores and see how your score measures up.
Taking a diagnostic test will allow you to see how well you could do on the exam, but it will also give you an idea of how much you can improve. For example, if you notice that you seem to struggle with the same question type every time during the test, you might want to consider enrolling in a prep course to work on that issue and improve your overall score.
Furthermore, medical school admission statistics tell us that many medical school admissions committees pay special attention to your score on CARS, in addition to looking at your overall MCAT score. So, once you’ve looked at your total MCAT score and performance on the diagnostic test, focus on how you did on the CARS section. If your results leave room for improvement, you should consider investing in professional MCAT CARS prep.
Enrolling in an MCAT CARS prep course and working with an MCAT CARS tutor can help you develop your reading comprehension, time management, and analytical skills, all while helping you expand your vocabulary and learn question and answer strategies.
Here’s a few questions to ask yourself if you’re weighing whether you need an MCAT CARS prep course:
- Do I struggle with passage-based exam questions? Am I a slow reader or do I struggle with reading comprehension?
- Was my MCAT diagnostic test score lower than I wanted in the CARS section?
- Is the CARS section of the MCAT my weakest section?
- Am I unsure how to begin preparing for the CARS section?
- Is my CARS score important to the medical schools I’m applying to?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, an MCAT CARs prep course could be a valuable tool to add to your exam prep.
What MCAT CARS Prep Helps Students With
MCAT CARS prep courses, tutors, and resources can help students with the specific skills they need to ace this section of the exam. CARS does not test your knowledge but your thinking, so preparing for it means developing a set of skills and practicing with CARS passage-based questions.
MCAT CARS prep is useful in developing your skills in these particular areas:
What to Look for in an MCAT CARS Prep Course
If you've decided that professional MCAT CARS prep is worth investing in, you need to know what kind of preparation service is ideal for you. After all, it is only worth it if it actually helps improve your MCAT CARS score. There are several different factors that you should pay attention to to figure out which prep service is best for you, and we will talk about those factors in the next section. But first, there are three key elements that every good MCAT CARS prep service should include.
Want to see an overview of the sections below first? Take a look at this infographic:
#1: Qualified & experienced consultants
You are not only going to be paying your hard-earned money for this service, but you are also trusting them to help you with something that will play a role in deciding whether you get into medical school. So, the first thing you want to be sure of is that the MCAT CARS prep service you are using has qualified and experienced consultants and instructors.
Take the time to look into the company you want to work with. Pay attention to their "about us" page, as this is usually the section that will tell you about their experts and philosophy. You should also look for their success rate and success stories, as these will tell you how well the students they have helped in the past did. Additionally, you should check credible websites like Trustpilot to determine if the previous students had a pleasant experience. Independent reviews are one of the ways to find out if a company is truly worth working with.
#2: One-on-one sessions and personalized feedback
Another important aspect of a good prep service is personalized feedback and one-on-one sessions. We know that not every student loves these sessions, but one-on-one time with consultants or instructors is very important. While classroom learning is valuable in many instances, when it comes to an exam as important as this one, you want to make sure that you have your instructor's undivided attention and that they are giving you strategies and advice to address your specific needs.
We recommend looking for MCAT CARS prep services that either include one-on-one sessions or, ideally, that only offer private sessions between you and the advisor you are working with. This is the best way to guarantee that you get the most out of the prep service.
Working with a tutor or instructor without other students means that you will always be comfortable with the pace of the class because it will be decided based on what you need. It also allows your instructor to identify which learning strategies and tactics work better for you and which ones don't. Moreover, it gives you direct access to your instructor so that you can get help as soon as you need it. For example, suppose you have trouble understanding something. In that case, in a one-on-one session, you can easily ask the instructor to go over it as many times as you need them to, while in a classroom, you would need to consider everyone else's time.
#3: Homework assignments and practice tests
The best way to gauge your progress is to test yourself, so we recommend looking for a prep course that includes homework assignments and practice tests. These will allow you to keep track of your progress as you study and prepare for MCAT CARS. For example, if you've been enrolled in an MCAT CARS prep course for a few months and your practice test scores are not improving, your instructor might decide that it's time to switch to a new MCAT CARS strategy or learning method. On the other hand, if you do not have any tests or homework assignments, you might not notice that the current approach is not working until much later.
Furthermore, homework assignments and tests give you and the instructor a chance to figure out what areas, sections, or subjects you are struggling with so that they can help you improve. Perhaps you have trouble with a specific question type or passages from a certain subject area. They can look at your scores and different assignments to see if any patterns emerge, then work with you to address the issues.
Step-by-step Guide to Finding the Ideal MCAT CARS Prep Course
Now that you know what key elements to look for in a prep course, you need to consider all the relevant factors like your budget and schedule to find the right course for you. We recommend that you follow this step-by-step guide:
We suggest that you keep notes or make a spreadsheet comparing the different prep courses that you are considering. You can choose to assign a point to each prep service for every need of yours that it meets and remove a point for anything that does not work. In the end, the prep course with the most points is the one that would be ideal for you!
Preparing for the MCAT CARS is daunting, but when you are doing it under the guidance of the right person, it can be a lot easier, and it can have a significantly positive impact on your score. That is why it's important to give yourself the time to research and find the right MCAT CARS prep service: one with one-on-one sessions, practice tests and assignments, good reviews, and experienced experts to assist you. If you follow the guidelines provided above, you will have no trouble finding your ideal MCAT CARS prep service.
If you’re looking for the best MCAT prep or need guidance preparing for the CARS section, we can help. BeMo offers a 90-day MCAT 520 guarantee, meaning that if our MCAT prep doesn’t help you score 520 on your MCAT within 90 days of enrolling, your enrollment is free. We’ll turn your fees into credits you can use for any of our other services, including medical school application review or CASPer prep. Our prep is 100% customizable, so if you’re only looking for CARS prep, you can ask us, or check out our Ultimate Guide to MCAT CARS book right now.
1. How hard is the MCAT CARS?
We won’t sugar coat it for you, it can be pretty hard. However, one of the reasons why it is challenging for most students is that they are under the false impression that they can’t prepare for this section when in fact they can and should! That is where professional MCAT CARS prep comes in.
2. What does the MCAT CARS assess?
The MCAT CARS is designed to evaluate your comprehension and critical reasoning skills.
3. Why is it hard to prepare for MCAT CARS on your own?
MCAT CARS is especially difficult to prepare for because it evaluates specific cognitive skills, rather than your knowledge of a particular subject. So, to prepare for it, you need to be working on improving your critical thinking and reading comprehension skills, which is very difficult to do without the right tools.
4. Do I need professional MCAT CARS prep?
Only you can answer that question. If you’re not sure, we recommend taking a practice test and seeing how long it takes you to complete it and how well you do on it. If you find that you struggled while writing the test or that your score could be better, then investing in professional help is a good idea.
5. How expensive is professional MCAT CARS prep?
The cost varies greatly depending on the services that you need, and who you are working with. That said, most prep services offer payment plans such as installments for comprehensive packages to make things easier on you and to make sure you are getting your money’s worth.
6. How do MCAT CARS prep courses help students?
They provide students with access to additional resources, as well as strategies to help them with reading comprehension and critical thinking skills. This saves students time and stress, and the tools they need to improve their score.
7. What factors should I consider when I’m looking for an MCAT CARS prep course?
You should at the course instructors’ credentials, their reviews, and whether they offer personalized service. Then you should consider your budget, your schedule, and how much time you have to prepare for MCAT CARS. All of this information should factor in your decision.
8. Why is BeMo’s MCAT CARS prep program worth it?
In addition to offering all of the great things that a good prep course needs to have, BeMo offers a lot more! For example, we actually put our money where our mouth is. Meaning that we have a guarantee that if you follow our guidelines and strategies but don’t do well on the MCAT, you will get your money back.
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