Where to Find the Main Idea in an MCAT CARS Passage


Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts

CARS 109: Where to Find the Main Idea in an MCAT CARS Passage

Session 109

Finding the author’s main point in an MCAT CARS passage takes practice. Today, we’ll give you a few tips for how to sift through the details to find it.

As always, I’m joined by Jack Westin from JackWestin.com. Check out all their amazing free resources including a free trial session of Jack’s full course to see how it’s like learning from Jack Westin himself.

Listen to this podcast episode with the player above, or keep reading for the highlights and takeaway points.

Link to the article:

https://harpers.org/archive/2020/10/reason-not-the-need-self-storage

The term “self-storage” was coined by analogy with “self-service,” but the analogy is flawed. You can pump your own gas at the station, wash your own clothes at the laundromat, scan your own groceries at the supermarket; but, as those who cannot resist the gag have pointed out, you cannot store yourself. (Some combination of municipal code, state law, and company policy will always forbid it.)

We rent a storage unit in a building three blocks from our apartment, in Brooklyn, near the East River. The building is surrounded on three sides by an electrical substation, and there is nothing else on that street, which is the last street before the water and is only a single block long. By late March, the staff is uncertain whether the facility will remain open as an essential business under emergency public-health orders. So a few hours before those take effect, we go to the unit to collect any items that could prove desirable or useful over however many months the building might be closed.

Years ago, at a Texas storage facility outside town and near the airport, one of us came across a man who sometimes lived in his unit on the sly. The units were all outdoors, just rows of roll-up shutters. The management locked the bathrooms at night, the man said, and made sure the water temperature of the faucets was unpleasant for sustained use. The man said he wasn’t homeless, though people who live in their units usually are; he ran a business out of his, something that accounted for the dense assortment of equipment hanging on the walls and involved a lot of metal grinding. They didn’t bother him about running an extension cord for his tools, and he just liked to sleep there sometimes.

It was in Texas that self-storage originated, in the 1960s. The industry has flourished since then, and the United States now has 2.5 billion rentable square feet, at least 90 percent of such space in the world; over the same period, the average size of an American single-family home nearly doubled, and the average number of occupants fell by a quarter. This suggests that self-storage was not an inevitable convenience but something else, perhaps an indicator of national psychopathology.

[02:15] Check Out Jack Westin

There are two things that separate Jack Westin from other test prep companies. First, they focus on critical thinking skills.

'This is a test-taking test. It's a test where you have to really know how to take the test.'Click To Tweet

When taking the MCAT, you really have to know how to read the passages, how to look for ideas, and how to answer the different kinds of questions they ask, not just knowing the science concepts. And once students understand that and apply that, they start noticing their scores jump, and they’re not stressed out as much about the test anymore. 

Secondly, Jack Westin gives ample support through their live office hours. And if you have questions and concerns, they’re there to help you until you’re ready. Their courses are typically 3-6 months long. But if you’re not ready for whatever reason, they can extend your access to their courses. They will help you indefinitely until you understand what you’re doing. Now, there’s a caveat to that because if you’re not putting in any work, then you’re going to have to pay to extend.

[05:28] Paragraph 1, Sentence 1

The term “self-storage” was coined by analogy with “self-service,” but the analogy is flawed.

Jack says:

Don’t get caught up in the words. They say they’re flawed and that’s the key. So they’re not self-serving. If you live in America, or even Canada, you’ve probably seen a lot of these different warehouses where you can just store stuff. That’s what self-storage is.

'The test examines you on analogies. An analogy is just presenting the same concept, the same principle in a new situation.'Click To Tweet

And they’re saying that you can’t make this analogy and self-storage cannot be analogous to self service.

[07:50] Paragraph 1, Sentence 2

You can pump your own gas at the station, wash your own clothes at the laundromat, scan your own groceries at the supermarket; but, as those who cannot resist the gag have pointed out, you cannot store yourself.

Jack says:

This is perhaps what the author is saying that self-storage is not the right term because you’re not storing yourself.

[08:29] Paragraph 1, Sentence 3

(Some combination of municipal code, state law, and company policy will always forbid it.)

Jack says:

It’s saying you can’t just sleep in the self-storage place.

[08:53] Paragraph 2, Sentence 1

We rent a storage unit in a building three blocks from our apartment, in Brooklyn, near the East River.

Jack says:

The author here is talking about their story of renting a storage unit.

[09:10] Paragraph 2, Sentence 2

The building is surrounded on three sides by an electrical substation, and there is nothing else on that street, which is the last street before the water and is only a single block long.

Jack says:

It’s just a description of the building.

[09:30] Paragraph 2, Sentence 3

By late March, the staff is uncertain whether the facility will remain open as an essential business under emergency public-health orders.

Jack says:

So this is a COVID article here and just more information about this specific building.

[09:46] Paragraph 2, Sentence 4

So a few hours before those take effect, we go to the unit to collect any items that could prove desirable or useful over however many months the building might be closed.

Jack says:

The author is going and getting the items that supposedly weren’t useful ever before because they were in storage, but maybe, they’ll need them now.

The second paragraph is more about description. It’s a great way of looking at it. They’ll probably never test you on this paragraph. But you just have to read it, understand it, and move on.

[10:40] Paragraph 3, Sentence 1

Years ago, at a Texas storage facility outside town and near the airport, one of us came across a man who sometimes lived in his unit on the sly.

Jack says:

The author here is talking about someone who did live in a unit.

[11:00] Paragraph 3, Sentence 2

The units were all outdoors, just rows of roll-up shutters.

Jack says:

Again, more description of the building.

[11:11] Paragraph 3, Sentence 3

The management locked the bathrooms at night, the man said, and made sure the water temperature of the faucets was unpleasant for sustained use.

Jack says:

The management is trying to make it not hospitable for someone to live in a unit.

[11:30] Paragraph 3, Sentence 4

The man said he wasn’t homeless, though people who live in their units usually are; he ran a business out of his, something that accounted for the dense assortment of equipment hanging on the walls and involved a lot of metal grinding.

Jack says:

Just more description.

[12:03] Paragraph 3, Sentence 5

They didn’t bother him about running an extension cord for his tools, and he just liked to sleep there sometimes.

Jack says:

Just another description telling that the person wasn’t homeless and just liked to sleep there sometimes.

[12:19] Paragraph 4, Sentence 1

It was in Texas that self-storage originated, in the 1960s.

Jack says:

We’re given a little history lesson of self-storage units.

[12:28] Paragraph 4, Sentence 2

The industry has flourished since then, and the United States now has 2.5 billion rentable square feet, at least 90 percent of such space in the world; over the same period, the average size of an American single-family home nearly doubled, and the average number of occupants fell by a quarter.

Jack says:

We have tons of tons of storage space, more than 90% of the total in the whole world, which is crazy. And just a history lesson of our houses getting bigger, and the average number of occupants fell by a quarter. So homes are getting bigger and there’s less people in them. But we still need all of this space for junk.

[13:29] Paragraph 4, Sentence 3

This suggests that self-storage was not an inevitable convenience but something else, perhaps an indicator of national psychopathology.

Jack says:

The author suggests that self-storage units are not necessary but more a reflection of how crazy people are.

If you get stuck in the middle, trying to think about the stories, you might lose sight of this. You have to keep reading, don’t give up, and read until the end. Because a lot of times, they’ll give you the points at the end of each paragraph, or at least the end of the passage. But most of the time, they give it in the middle of the passage. So if you don’t find it immediately, that’s okay. Just keep going.

“In most MCAT passages, the important points are made most of the time in the middle of the passage.”Click To Tweet

Links:

Meded Media

Jack Westin

Link to the article:

https://harpers.org/archive/2020/10/reason-not-the-need-self-storage

paperbackfront_245x245

DOWNLOAD FREE - Crush the MCAT with our MCAT Secrets eBook