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Course: MCAT > Unit 1

Lesson 1: Critical analysis and reasoning skills (CARS) practice questions

CARS overview

Master the MCAT's critical analysis and reasoning skills section with Jennifer Riley's expert guidance. Learn about the three question types, foundations of comprehension, reasoning within the text, and reasoning beyond the text. Discover how these skills are vital for future physicians to reason through clinical information.
Visit us (http://www.khanacademy.org/science/healthcare-and-medicine) for health and medicine content or (http://www.khanacademy.org/test-prep/mcat) for MCAT related content. These videos do not provide medical advice and are for informational purposes only. The videos are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen in any Khan Academy video.

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  • leaf red style avatar for user Sreeja J
    Since what grade would you start to practice MCAT? I'm in gr.10, I want to be a doctor, and should i start learning all this?
    (8 votes)
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  • leaf yellow style avatar for user Neurosurgeon1
    What grade do you need to score to pass your MCAT?
    (8 votes)
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    • piceratops sapling style avatar for user Katherine Terhune
      You don't "pass" or "fail" the MCAT. You get a score and percentile range, and med school use that as a factor in deciding whether to accept you. My advice would be to look up the average scoe for the latest matriculated class at the schools you are interested in. You'll run into the issue of the scores will no longer align because the MCAT has changed, but it can give you a percentile range to aim for, and you can look up the percentile range for the 2015 test to get a score range you should aim for.
      (27 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user Nasser King
    I don't understand how American colleges work i am not in US but i am study now in my final year in high school and i want to prepare for mid test in US should i learn mcat to enter mid school if not what should i learn to be ready to enter mid school in US, and please give me very explained info, also should ACT/SAT exam prepare me to mid school.
    (2 votes)
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    • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user Samantha
      Here is the college step process:
      You go to the college's website, and find the APPLY NOW link that most college websites have (might be worded differently) and CLICK ON IT! You then set up an account and fill out your application and click SEND. They might ask for your transcript (which tells what classes you took and what your grades were in high school.) So ask your parents/ school/ college to send your transcript in to the university.
      Early Enrollment usually ends in November (All this means is that you get a response within the next 2-3 weeks. You get an answer sooner in the year and can prepare for college. After Early enrollment, there is regular enrollment, which usually ends between January and May depending on the college. It takes a little longer to get a response and less of a garentee to get in. You usually apply in 12th grade.

      Wait for a response from the colleges.

      I would highly recommend taking the SAT or ACT if you haven't already... They occur almost monthly. You don't have to take both. But ask the college you want to go to which one they prefer. I am only taking both because they test different things. The SAT tests logic and the ACT tests knowledge. I am taking both to see which one I am better at/ got the highest score from. Even if you take both and send both in, the colleges will only accept the highest score, so you can take it as many times as you want to get the score you want. You typically take your SAT or ACT during the last 2 years of high school. It is mandatory for most colleges.

      The Average SAT score is 1000.. Poor is 840 and under... Excellent is 1200 and above... (Scale is 400-1600)

      The Average ACT score is 20... Poor is under 16.... Excellent is above 24... (Scale is 1-36)

      I hope this is a point of reference!

      I wish you the best of luck in your college process!
      (17 votes)
  • leafers ultimate style avatar for user Jerry J. Français II
    Does CARS performance reliably predict medical school or USMLE performance?
    (3 votes)
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  • aqualine ultimate style avatar for user Maite Roque
    I'm about to start my first year of college now. Should I start preparing for the MCAT already?
    (5 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user Tammy Trammell
      Even if you're already a pretty high achiever, I would still recommend spending your first semester focused on your first semester. Even without the rigorous course load demanded of medical focused students, it's a steep learning curve.
      You'll want to learn the ins and puts of what your school offers, reassess how your personal study habits from high school apply to college courses, really start your GPA strong, get a routine down for non college stuff, and (of course) panic over your first Finals like all good Freshmen. (My laptop CRASHED!)
      It won't hurt to look over the MCAT like when you skim a chapter before seriously diving in, but don't be too quick to overcommit your first semester.
      (3 votes)
  • blobby green style avatar for user hopkinstl
    What grade would I start wanting to practice taking the MCAT? I am currently a Sophomore in high school but I will have enough college credits to get my associate degree before I graduate high school. I want to become a Neurologist and help put people at ease and treat them because coming from a person that has psudeosezuires I know it is very challenging and stressful. Should I start learning all of this now?
    (5 votes)
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  • piceratops seedling style avatar for user leahkidron
    How much CARS practice should you do?
    (4 votes)
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  • male robot hal style avatar for user Patrick Pham
    When do you take this test?
    (2 votes)
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  • piceratops seedling style avatar for user erneaslemon136
    Are all questions multiple-choice?
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user thiennu15
    I seem to keep missing 2 out of 4 questions for CARs questions. What would you recommend to do to improve?
    (1 vote)
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    • piceratops tree style avatar for user Ludo
      CARS is one of the hardest sections to see immediate improvement on but the longer you keep practicing the better you will be! Just keep doing a few practice passages a day (3-4 if you have time) and you should see improvement over a couple of weeks-months :) best of luck!
      (5 votes)

Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hello, my name is Jennifer Riley, and I'm a cognitive scientist who studies text comprehension and reasoning. The goal of this video is to help you better understand the new section of the MCAT, called the critical analysis and reasoning skills section. Its main purpose is to figure out how well you can understand and reason about the things you read. In this part of the test, you'll read nine passages. Each one is about 500 to 600 words long, and you'll usually be asked between five to seven questions about each passage. In total, you'll go through 53 questions in 90 minutes. That means you have about 10 minutes per passage, on average. In terms of the topics that you'll be reading about, approximately half of these passages will come from the humanities, such as literature, philosophy or ethics. The other half will come from social sciences, such as psychology, sociology or economics. For example, one of the passages that's in the Khan Academy MCAT collection discusses how people negotiate deals with one another, and when they believe they are getting a fair deal. Another passage is about how computers, rather than just being tools used by humans, might actually be changing the way that humans think. The passages come from a lot of different areas, and are meant to stretch your mind a bit. You'll probably find that the topics of these passages will be unfamiliar. You're not expected to already know about any of these topics. Sometimes the writing styles will be complicated. Some words may be new to you, and some passages may be tough to understand. Just remember, everything that you need to know to answer the questions will be in the passages. You're not expected to know any background information. In fact, to do well, you really need to just focus on the passage, and not information that you already know from elsewhere. There are three types of questions you'll be asked to answer in this section. The first type is called foundations of comprehension. These questions mainly ask you to answer questions about the author's intended message. They'll ask you about the overall idea, or about why the author used specific words or phrases, or why the author organized the passage in a specific way. The second category is called reasoning within the text, and these questions mainly ask you to think about the reasoning within an author's argument, such as, what claim is an author trying to support with a piece of evidence? Or, is an argument flawed? The third category is called reasoning beyond the text. Questions in this category ask you to apply ideas from the passage to new situations, or to think about how the author's main message would change if there were new information to consider. This new information will be given to you in the question. About a third of the questions will come from each category. You should expect about 30% foundations of comprehension questions, 30% reasoning within the text questions, and 40% reasoning beyond the text questions. People often wonder how the skills that are tested by the critical analysis and reasoning skills section will ever be useful for a future physician. These questions are on the MCAT because doctors need to be able to reason through a lot of clinical information. For example, these skills are needed when you need to analyze information to come up with a treatment plan that makes sense for a patient, and also so that you can explain your reasoning to others, including the patient, family members, or other members of your medical team. For more information on this section of the test, and on each of the question types, be sure to see the other videos in this section, which I hope will help you, too.