Strategy

CARS

The tried-and-true advice of much CARS preparation is to jot down a summary of each paragraph as you read through a passage. Once you develop your own shorthand and get a feel for this process, it can help immensely with reading comprehension.

Over time, you should aim to have your paragraph summaries be as short as possible– five to seven words or fewer– along with an overarching main idea or “goal” that the author had in mind while writing the given passage.

Some students also value highlighting, which can be useful to spotlight keywords within a passage, such as that those elucidate an author’s argument, suggest a contrast between ideas, or showcase an opinion.

These skills can only be cultivated through consistent practice. I recommend either a daily CARS passage or reading an article from a well-known periodical. See the Schedule pages and the CARS page for more information.

There are also several instructional videos available online, including:

Science Passages

Similar to CARS, forming paragraph summaries for science passages is the conventional tried-and-true strategy.

Here, I also recommend making shorter and shorter summaries as you grow accustomed to the length and often disorienting jargon of science passages.

When encountering a formula or a complicated problem (such as picking out the sequence of amino acids that contains the highest positive charge), I of course suggest writing out the problem on scrap paper. By and large, though, be wary of spending too much time summarizing.

You might also find it helpful to peruse instructional videos on YouTube, such as

Timing

Do not plan on performing subtraction in your head or, even worse, memorizing a table of prescribed times to have a certain number of passages complete. Instead, I followed these simple guidelines:

C/P, B/B, P/S

  • 1:00:00 mark, 20 questions complete
  • 0:30:00 mark, 20 questions complete
  • 0:00 mark, done!

CARS

  • 1:00:00 mark, three passages complete
  • 0:30:00 mark, three passages complete
  • 0:00 mark, done!