While trudging along studying for the MCAT, I came across something in my Kaplan Advance 528 book that made me realize something important about the MCAT — the importance of being able to write a good essay.
Yes I know, AAMC took the essay portion off the MCAT. But the ability to think like an essay writer remains an important aspect of the exam.
The MCAT is composed primarily of passage-based problems. When you read the passages there are certain methods that help provide a deeper understanding of the subject matter in order to properly answer the questions.
First of all, you have to be able to figure out what the key concepts are in each paragraph and then determine how each concept functions in its own paragraph as well as the passage as a whole. Hmm… this kind of sounds like what has been beaten into my head all these years of liberal arts education. The structure of the essay is a thesis, and then x number of paragraphs that bring up separate parts of the argument but always relate back to the thesis.
Secondly, you have to be able to understand whether the author is placing a positive or negative spin on a subject, and what arguments are meant to bolster or contradict the subject matter. Developing your essay writing skills helps you become familiar with the type of language that is used for these elements.
This is Especially Important For CARS
The CARS section is all about ready the passage quickly and being able to come up with an overall main point (AKA the thesis) and a short summary of each paragraph. If you can figure out how everything ties to the main point of the passage, you will have a much easier time figuring out the answers.
When you are reading a CARS passage, you need to be thinking like the author Unlike the rest of the MCAT, scientific facts and knowledge won’t help you.
As science majors, we like to think of proper essay writing, and the humanities in general, as a waste of time. But really that couldn’t be further from the truth. Good essay writing is essential to forming arguments, thinking structurally, and, as I have argued in this post, giving you an edge on the MCAT.