? about verbal section

For those of you who have taken the mcat before… what verbal test prep materials did you feel best mimicked the actual exam? I’m already aware of the aamc materials, more curious as to how the kaplan, PR, examkrackers, etc… stuff matches up.
Also curious as to what techniques people found to be most useful. For example, did you go through and read all the questions first, then attack the passage? I’m finding this technique to be a waste of time for numerous reasons: 1) often the there are many questions and they are of significant verbiage, so remembering them while trying to focus on the passage seems like an impossible task. 2)many of the questions are of the “the author suggests” or the passage “implies” type, which require you to understand large portions of the passage if not the entire passage, so why not just read the whole thing right off the bat? 3) when i’m so focused on the questions I tend not to read the passage for structure or style, I go through skimming, looking for details that might quickly answer one of the questions, this often doesn’t work for many of the questions (see #2) and i end up not only having to reread the questions again, but also having to reread the passage.
Does the technique described above require a lot of practice? Have i given up on it too soon? What have been your experiences with it?
I know people need to use what works for them, but, I want to know what techniques others are using, anything unusual or different?
Any help would be appreciated

I prepared with a few different books, and as far as the verbal section goes, I found them all to be very close to actual MCAT questions. I did practice a lot to build up my speed, and I did NOT read the questions first. I knew that once I was in the test situation, I might read but be nervous enough to not read carefully. So I made a point of quickly summarizing in my head where the essay was going after each paragraph. I tried to read and interpret and draw conclusions about tone and implications at the same time. It's very difficult to do when you are nervous. So I really do think practice helps, even though I think a lot of people blow off practicing for verbal very much. I ended up doing EXTREMELY well on that part, which really helped me in my overall score. Don't underestimate the importance of that section to application committees.

caveat - I've always done well on these types of tests so YMMV
I used examkrackers materials, practice tests and AAMC practice tests.
I followed the EK verbal strategy as needed.
Well see the results in June sometime.

You can use just about any test prep book for preparing for the verbal section. I went to my local public library (not school library) and checked out test prep books for the GRE, LSAT, GMAT, VCAT, DAT, OAT, as well as specific reading comprehension test preparation books.
I think the key to the verbal section is to practice, practice, practice so that you can increase your speed and accuracy. I also did not read the questions first but rather just started with the passage being sure I understood what I was reading, sometimes summarizing difficult sentences in my head before I continued to be sure I was comprehending the passage.
As far as the questions go, I also found it helpful to go with gut instinct – both for eliminating wrong answers and picking the correct ones. If you feel that one answer is probably wrong, XXXX it out so that you don't accidentally waste time re-reading it (sometimes the answer selections are long and by re-reading it you waste extra time) and contemplating it when you are fairly sure it is the wrong answer. Don't try and second guess yourself…your intuition can be fairly accurate.
Once again, I suggest practice, practice, practice. Keep doing these passages; as many as you can get your hands on. Soon you'll be able to predict what the questions will be before you have finished the passage.

Hi all, thanks for the advice, I appreciate it.
I was curious, were any of you able to make significant progress in your verbal scores during your studies, i.e. did practicing significantly increase your score from your first practice test to the actual thing?
I ask only because I’ve heard that its possible to make small improvements, but overall nothing that could be considered substantial. What do you think? anybody out there increase their score from say 7 to a 12???

Hi gundersd,
I took the Kaplan prep class and found their library materials extremely helpful in preparing for the verbal section. Also, I did all of the AAMC practice items and tests (except I&II). I think doing a lot of passages will help you.
My strategy was a lot like Laura’s. I did NOT read the questions before the passage, and I summarized the passage in my head as I went along. If I couldn’t summarize the paragraph (didn’t get it), I would re-read it. I underlined facts that I thought might come up in the questions (dates, names, etc).
Kaplan suggested summarizing each paragraph in writing, but I found that to be too time-consuming and I never looked at it. Summarizing in my head helped me keep it straight and find things easily.
Also, if I didn’t know the answer to a question, I would mark out the answers that seemed wrong, circle the question, and then finish the other questions. If I had time left in the passage (9 minutes per passage!) I would try the circled questions again. If not, I would make my best guess and move on. Don’t get hung up on any one question. And don’t try to go back to questions from previous passages - you will forget the details so it’s better to guess and forget about it (in my experience anyway).
When taking practice exams, I marked any question where I wasn’t 100% sure about my answer. Then I went over the solutions for these questions as well as the ones I missed. This definitely helped me understand how the test-writers think.
I did make good improvement in Verbal. On my Kaplan diagnostic, I got an 8 or 9 (hadn’t studied at all at that point) and on the real thing I got a 13-15.
Good luck!

I can't say I really improved my score too much on verbal from studying. I usually practiced at least at a 12 level, and my real MCAT score was 13-15. I don't think you can really improve your reading comp. skills, but working on speed will really help. When I actually took the MCAT, I finished with absolutely no time to spare. I was literally marking the last question when time was called. Many of the students around me didn't get to all the passages.

I took the test twice prior to August of last year. Both times I scored maudlin 7's. I was paniced trying to figure out why I was doing so poorly on the test when I was scoring 10's in practice.
Well, I hired a tutor from Princeton. Walked in and took one of PR's practice tests. scored an 11. Scratched head. Talked with tutor and basically tried to follow a simple plan I did at the practice:
Take a minute and read each passage's first line or two. Determine which are about
History, Science, Math, et al.
Music or Philosophy
Politics or Current events.
Fluff esoteric crap.
Then I attacked the history, science stuff and tried to immediately answer a question or 2 from the passage without reading it at all. Read fast thru the passage. Got the remainder of the answers.
Read the Music or Philosphy passages and answered Q's.
Always, always, get the fluff esoteric crap last. Bubble all C's or B's or something if you have to at the end, but hit it last.
Did the same thing last Aug…scored a 9.
Not bad improvement for basically not doing much more than talking to someone 10 minutes about it.
Oh yes, do passages. Lots of them.

You hit the nail on the head when you stated that many questions are of the “‘the author suggests’ or ‘the passage implies’ type”. For me, realizing this was the key to the verbal section. For my prep I didn’t take a course, and used only AMCAS materials. The key is to become familiar with the “tone” questions. If you get them wrong in practice tests, go back and figure out WHY. The whole key to this section in MY OPINION is to master how the framers of the MCAT think. Tone questions are really nothing more than opinion, and it’s the opinion of the MCAT authors that count. If you train yourself to think like they do, you’ll get the “correct” answer!!
So use AMCAS materials when preparing for verbal. Don’t bother to skip around. In my opinion this works in other sections, but for the verbal it’s just too time-consuming. Plow straight through the passages. Read the passage FIRST. Don’t bother marking up your test book too much (again, takes too much time), just make a little tick mark next to facts or big ideas. THEN answer the questions, and bubble your answers in the scantron sheet all at once after each passage.
In the real test (April 2001) I finished with about 30 SECONDS to spare, and scored a 13-15.