Module 4 - Pacing yourself

  • Time on the MCAT

    Every section of the MCAT is a different kind of performance under timed conditions. If you get into trouble with time during a section, this has a way of starting a positive feedback loop. The more time is a problem, the bigger issue it becomes. There's not only the issue of running out of time, the anxiety about time can put you into a kind of fugue. You want steady even flow, a sense of engaged immersion in each section. Too much consciousness of time gets in the way of perception, recall, and clear thinking.

    No section gives people as much trouble with time as CARS, although the physical science section is a close second. The methods for pacing in CARS presented in this lesson also work for the other sections. The 30 minute "unit of flow", get-out-of-jail-free cards, Plan A and Plan B - these comprise a general method. However, there are differences between the sections that affect pacing on a granular level. These differences mostly have to do with recognizing the investments of time that save time later and recognizing the traps for time. Quantitative problems are a particular hazard in the physical sciences because if you don't arrive an an answer choice the first pass, it can be difficult to choose at all, flag the question, and move on. A passage with fifteen organic reactions in a synthesis pathway is a another kind of quicksand you'll only run into in the physical sciences section.

    The key is to have a good strategy for managing time and to practice until a steady, even pace becomes muscle memory. You know you are moving well. When you come up for air at the thirty minute mark to rest your brain for a minute, you also check in on time to be sure you're on pace. Practice and master this method now, and time won't be an issue on exam day.

Suggested Assignments

Module 4 CARS Lesson Pacing yourself.

Complete the last 11 passages (questions 66-120) from CARS Question Pack, Vol. 1 at AAMC Prep Hub under timed conditions (100 minutes).

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