Mastering section II of the MCAT

by | Jan 4, 2023 | MCAT Sections and exam tips

From: MCAT Prime

Critical analysis and reasoning skills

The critical analysis and reasoning section of the MCAT does not require any prerequisite knowledge and is easier to do well at as all the answers can be derived from the questions and only requires some analysing and critical thinking. The main thing to keep in mind with this section is to keep up with the time and not spend too much time on a single passage.

These can be classified into four main groups:

  • Prose
  • Poetry
  • Social and behavioral
  • Editorial cartoon or graphic representation

1. The best way to practice for this section is to do as many practice questions as possible under exam conditions.

2. Another way to improve your marks for this section is consistently reading the following recommended texts:

  • Metaphors We Live by George Lakoff
  • The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
  • The story of my life by Helen Keller
  • Psycho-cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
  • Thinking like a lawyer by Colin Seale
  • The analytical mind by Albert Rutherford
  • The critical thinking toolkit by Galen Foresman, peter Fosl and
  • Jamie Watson
  • Meaning of life by

    The best way to make use of these books is by analysing and thinking about the main themes and messages that the author is trying to convey. It would also be a good idea to take very brief notes as you read and express the main ideas and themes in your own words.

    3. Another way to improve vocabulary and knowledge is by actively listening to Ted Talks. The presenters always pick very interesting and divergent topics to discuss and will therefore improve your way of thinking. They also give fresh perspectives and ideas on concepts already familiar to us.

    1. Use the following websites to improve your vocabulary and your trail of thought regarding certain words:

      • Describing Words: this website has a basic tool that allows you to type in a noun and find all the descriptive words or ways to consider and describe a term or subject of interest. It’s a very interesting and easy tool to use.

        • this website is by far my favourite of all, it gives you a word and asks you to guess the meaning of it. I would suggest spending at least 10-15 minutes a day on there to improve your vocabulary overtime. It is also very easy to navigate and utilise, but highly effective.

        • Visuwords: allows you to type in a word and then gives you nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs related to the word of interest and also classifies them.

        • Freerice: is very similar to and generates random words so that you can guess their meaning. You don’t have to use both – you can pick either one or try both out for yourself and see which one works better for you.

    4. The last but not least tip to improve your reading and writing skills is by writing. If you have a group of friends you usually study with, you can use a platform or blog to write about different topics and each person can take turns each week to write a creative piece about a given quote.

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