MCAT CARS Practice Passage #1 Answers

Updated: July 14, 2020

1. What is Existential Angst (paragraph 4)?

A. The feelings one has when confronted with choice

B. The state of desperation when contemplating that existence proceeds essence

C. The task of making seemingly limitless choices

D. The anxiety and regret associated with having made a choice

The correct answer is A.

Discussion

This is a comprehension question. It is best approached through going to the text and having a clear understanding and definition for the term in question. Existential Angst is described in the passage as the “daunting experience” of making a choice when “options are seemingly limitless.” Important here are two things:

1. That it is an experience (i.e. a state, an emotion, a feeling) and

2. That it is the emotion felt when having to make a choice (i.e. the process of choosing).

A: This is correct as it has both parts: the experience (feelings) felt when confronted (having to make) a choice

B: The first part of this answer is correct, as a state of desperation is definitely a feeling. However, the second part of this answer is not relevant, as Sartre never linked Existential Angst to his adage that was “existence proceeds essence”

C: The first part of this answer is incorrect as Existential Angst is about the experience when confronted with choice, not the task of making choices

D: This answer stem is incorrect as it is in the past tense. It relates the anxiety and regret (both which would be legitimate feelings for Existential Angst) to choices that have already been made, not choices that are currently available.

2. The author would most agree with which of the following statements:

A. Existentialism is a philosophy about agency and choice, best introduced through reading passages such as this one

B. Frankl’s philosophy is better than Kierkegaard and Sartre’s

C. Kierkegaard and Sartre’s philosophies were impractical when compared to Frankl’s philosophy

D. Applying the principles of existentialism to everyday life is better than just talking about it

The correct answer is D.

Discussion

This is a “Reasoning Beyond the Text” question. It is best approached through the process of elimination. Note that the tone of the last paragraph is immensely positive when compared to the rather neutral tone for the rest of the passage. Also, although this last paragraph seems to focus on Frankl’s philosophy, upon further scrutiny the positivity associated with the paragraph is actually for the APPLICATION of Frankl’s philosophy. This question is best approached using your understanding of the thesis (main goal) of the passage and process of elimination.

A: The first part of this answer characterizing Existentialism is correct. However, the author states that part of Frankl’s philosophies effectiveness is that it is a “lived experience” and more accessible this way. This implies that Existentialism is best taught through real-life experiences rather than reading.

B: Although it may seem that the author is stating that Frankl’s philosophies are better with the positive tone in the last paragraph, it is rather the APPLICATION of Frankl’s philosophies that the author is praising, not his philosophies itself.

C: This is an attractive answer choice, as the author seems to imply that because Kierkegaard and Sartre’s philosophies were born out of academia, they’re therefore less practical. However, the author does not actually compare the practicality of each of the respective philosophies, instead, saying that Frankl’s philosophy is merely more accessible (i.e. easier to understand) as it is presented as a lived experience rather than in academia, presumably as a textbook or lecture. The author does not comment on the practicality of Frankl’s philosophy itself.

D: The entirety of the last paragraph is lavish with praise regarding the application of existential philosophy in Frankl’s case. It is implied therefore that the author has a highly positive view of applications of existential philosophy.

3. Which of the following best describes the main goal of the passage?

A. To compare the different philosophies of Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Frankl

B. To show a progression of existential philosophy

C. To demonstrate how existentialism has changed with time

D. To offer an introduction to existential philosophy

The correct answer is B.

Discussion

This is a comprehension question directly asking for the main goal of the passage (i.e. what is this passage about?) This is best answered using your formulation of the thesis (main goal) of the passage and using the process of elimination.

A: Although the author certainly discusses the philosophies of Kierkegaard, Sartre, and Frankl, he does not compare (i.e. drawing relationships between them, showing pros/cons, analyzing, etc.) them. Rather, the author just offers a brief overview of each of their philosophy.

B: There is a direct progression from Kierkegaard to Sartre (Kierkegaard’s “successor” Paragraph 3) and an implied one in the last paragraph with Frankl as the author introduces Frankl as having applied existentialist principles, presumably introduced by Kierkegaard and Sartre.

C: Although the passage illustrates how various separate existentialist philosophies have developed, it does not make explicit a time component. Furthermore, the passage does not presume to offer a full overview of existentialism but rather traces a distinct progression for a few philosophers (choice B).

D: Again, the passage is not offering an overview of Existentialism as a whole as would be expected in an introduction. It focuses on three distinct philosophers and traces the author’s take on a progression of existential thought.

4. According to the passage’s depiction of Kierkegaard, which of the following policies would he most support?

A. That students should have the choice to attend either a secular or religious school

B. That Existentialism should be taught in schools

C. That World Religions should be taught in schools

D. That public funding should be provided for religious school boards

The correct answer is D.

Discussion

This is a “Reasoning Beyond the Text” question. The passages description of Kierkegaard is that he is concerned with individual agency and choice but only insofar as one’s relation to God. It is directly stated, “Christianity is seen as truth” (paragraph 2). This question is best approached using the process of elimination.

A: The author’s depiction of Kierkegaard does emphasize agency and choice (the students choice), he nevertheless saw Christianity as truth. There is also an implicit progression or growth noted from the aesthetic to the ethical, and ultimately the religious sphere. Therefore, Kierkegaard would most have supported that all students attend Christian (or religious) school where they would’ve become familiar with this truth.

B: According to the passage, Kierkegaard did not state that existentialism should be taught or even spread. Rather, it is merely an explanation and analysis of the way people are and might live.

C: Although Kierkegaard would certainly have supported teaching Christianity in schools, he would not have supported the teaching of World Religions or any other religions.

D: By providing funding for religious schools, they would be more accessible to more people. This includes Christian school boards that Kierkegaard would have supported for all students to attend, as he believed Christianity was truth.

5. Which of the following statements is least supported by the passage?

A. Sartre believed men and women were equals

B. Sartre supported laws to prevent discrimination

C. Sartre believed that a poor man could become rich if he worked hard enough

D. Sartre was denounced by the Church

The correct answer is B.

Discussion

This is a “Reasoning Beyond the Text” question. The passage describes Sartre as an atheistic philosopher who was primarily concerned above all else with choice and freedom of choice: “It is this narrowing and limiting of choice that Sartre defined as bad faith… any and all external influences that cause one to live in an inauthentic fashion… are judged to be guilty” (paragraph 3). Be careful here as this question asks for the LEAST supported (i.e. the choice that has the biggest leap in logic or lowest amount of evidence). The process of elimination here works well.

A: This is supported by the passage as Sartre is said to believe that it is “of no consequence the station, nature, and parameters surrounding one’s birth” (paragraph 4). This would imply that anything surrounding one’s birth (such as one’s sex) is not important and therefore equal.

B: Although Sartre may have believed that the nature of birth is of no consequence; he nevertheless strongly disagreed with social constructs and anything that limits choice (such as this law would).

C: This is a direct application of Sartre’s philosophy as he believed that one’s choices (such as hard work) were more important than the situation one was born into.

D: This can be inferred from the strong denunciation of faith and religion that Sartre expressed as “bad faith.” It is logical to assume that the Church would have been in disagreement with Sartre.

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