Skip to content

MCAT CARS: Is There Value in Sequels and Spinoffs?

Session 50

This is another week of drilling an interesting passage with Jack Westin, specifically about the future of Pixar.

It’s an interesting passage showing you how the author may suggest something but can make you confused. You won’t know exactly where the author is going unless you know what to look for.

If you haven’t yet, you should also check out Jack Westin’s free daily MCAT CARS passage.  Also, find all of our podcasts on Meded Media.

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

[01:47] Why Use Jack Westin’s Daily CARS Passage

CARS is one of the hardest exams a student will ever take because it’s all reading and based on new information you’ve never seen before. Whereas the other sections of the MCAT are based on science concepts that you’ve already studied. So you’re more familiar with it and more comfortable with it.

'CARS is one of the most difficult sections of any exam that a student will ever take. It's even harder than the board exams to some extent because it's all reading.'Click To Tweet

That’s where CARS becomes a problem. You’re not familiar with it and you’re not comfortable. Many people find reading a weakness especially if you’re a health/science-related major student. 

Usually, you don’t read as often in the past couple of years as a premedical student. You find it to be a weakness. This is where practice comes in so you can gain exposure to the style of this test.

Unfortunately, the MCAT doesn’t have a lot of MCAT CARS passages. They only have about around 40 practice passages.

Jack Westin has created a realistic MCAT passage for everyday of the week. That’s a total of 365 passages with 5-7 questions each. This is what you would expect on the actual exam. They have worked tirelessly to make sure it follows exactly with the guidelines of the MCAT.

[04:08] What Jack Recommends

Jack recommends combining their materials and the AAMC’s so you can feel out both of them. You’d notice they will seem very similar. Jack Westin focuses more on creating questions.

Buy the CARS special packs 1 and 2 from the AAMC. These are very important passages. As the test progresses yearly, it changes in a very subtle way. AAMC practice exams 1, 2 and 3 are the best resources you can use from the AAMC. But you don’t want to look at those near the end of your studies and you’re about to start practicing the actual exam stuff.

Jack Westin has modeled their daily passages to something you’re going to see on the actual test. In terms of quality, the very best are the AAMC practice exams. Always use that to determine where you are. The second best would be Jack Westin’s daily CARS passages and practice exam packages. The third best would be the AAMC CARS Question Packs.

'The AAMC stuff is the best – but the newer stuff, not the older stuff.'Click To Tweet

The old AAMC stuff has very subtle differences in the way they ask questions and the things they look at. Jack Westin has modeled it based on the newer stuff alongside CARS question packs. This is a great jump into the actual exam passages if you practice them everyday.

Link to article:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/06/how-pixar-lost-its-way/524484/

A well-regarded hollywood insider recently suggested that sequels can represent “a sort of creative bankruptcy.” He was discussing Pixar, the legendary animation studio, and its avowed distaste for cheap spin-offs. More pointedly, he argued that if Pixar were only to make sequels, it would “wither and die.” Now, all kinds of industry experts say all kinds of things. But it is surely relevant that these observations were made by Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar, in his best-selling 2014 business-leadership book.

Yet here comes Cars 3, rolling into a theater near you this month. You may recall that the original Cars, released back in 2006, was widely judged to be the studio’s worst film to date. Cars 2, which followed five years later, was panned as even worse. And if Cars 3 isn’t disheartening enough, two of the three Pixar films in line after it are also sequels: The Incredibles 2 and (say it isn’t so!) Toy Story 4.

The painful verdict is all but indisputable: The golden era of Pixar is over. It was a 15-year run of unmatched commercial and creative excellence, beginning with Toy Story in 1995 and culminating with the extraordinary trifecta of wall-e in 2008, Up in 2009, and Toy Story 3 (yes, a sequel, but a great one) in 2010. Since then, other animation studios have made consistently better films. The stop-motion magicians at Laika have supplied such gems as Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings. And, in a stunning reversal, Walt Disney Animation Studios—adrift at the time of its 2006 acquisition of the then-untouchable Pixar—has rebounded with such successes as Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and Big Hero 6. One need only look at this year’s Oscars: Two Disney movies, Zootopia and Moana, were nominated for Best Animated Feature, and Zootopia won. Pixar’s Finding Dory was shut out altogether.

This thriving expansion of high-quality animated storytelling would not have been possible without Pixar. The studio literally reinvented the genre with Toy Story, the first computer-generated 3-D-animated feature film. Each subsequent Pixar release offered new feats of technical wizardry, from engineering the delicate trajectories of millions of individual strands of fur in 2001’s Monsters, Inc. to capturing the wondrous interplay between light and water in 2003’s Finding Nemo.

Even as others gradually caught up with Pixar’s visual artistry, the studio continued to tell stories of unparalleled depth and sophistication. Pixar’s signature achievement was to perfect a kind of crossover animated cinema that appealed equally to kids and adults. The key was managing to tell two stories at once, constructing a straightforward children’s story atop a more complex moral and narrative architecture. Up, for example, took a relatively conventional boy’s adventure tale and harnessed it to a moving, thoroughly grown-up story of loss, grief, and renewal.

[07:26] Paragraph 1, Sentence 1

A well-regarded Hollywood insider recently suggested that sequels can represent “a sort of creative bankruptcy.”

Jack says:

You don’t need to know exactly what bankruptcy means but it’s obviously a bad thing.

[08:05] Paragraph 1, Sentence 2

He was discussing Pixar, the legendary animation studio, and its avowed distaste for cheap spin-offs.

Jack says:

This is where a lot of students may be confused because it sounds like Pixar doesn’t like it but “avowed” actually suggests that they do. They like this tasteful, cheap spinoffs. If you didn’t get this, that’s okay. But they should clear it up as you keep reading.

Some students may not know what Pixar is. There’s a clause that says “the legendary animation studio.” If they something followed by a clause, it means they’re defining it for you. 

'You're not required to know things from the past. You just need to be able to learn on the spot which is what CARS is all about.'Click To Tweet

[09:40] Paragraph 1, Sentence 3

More pointedly, he argued that if Pixar were only to make sequels, it would “wither and die.”

Jack says:

The author is pointing to Pixar and sequels, the author saying if they only made sequels, they won’t last. It seems confusing but keep reading and they’ll clear it up.

[10:16] Paragraph 1, Sentence 4

Now, all kinds of industry experts say all kinds of things.

Jack says:

Just keep reading what the author is trying to tell us.

[10:33] Paragraph 1, Sentence 5

But it is surely relevant that these observations were made by Ed Catmull, the president of Pixar, in his best-selling 2014 business-leadership book.

Jack says:

We’re introduced to a new name who’s the president of Pixar. And who can better support this idea than the actual president of the company?

So the author wants you to know this point that the insider said but even supported by the leader of this company. Cheap spin-off is actually similar to a sequel but they’re actually using a negative connotation to sequels.

[12:00] Paragraph 2, Sentence 1

Yet here comes Cars 3, rolling into a theater near you this month.

Jack says:

It’s ironic how the president is suggesting that sequels would kill them but they’re actually making sequels. It seems off.

[12:35] Paragraph 2, Sentence 2

You may recall that the original Cars, released back in 2006, was widely judged to be the studio’s worst film to date.

Jack says:

We’re given a date here about Cars. And if the movie was bad, then why would they make this cheap spinoff?

[13:13] Paragraph 2, Sentence 3

Cars 2, which followed five years later, was panned as even worse.

Jack says:

We’re given this picture of not very good movies but they keep getting sequels.

[13:25] Paragraph 2, Sentence 4

And if Cars 3 isn’t disheartening enough, two of the three Pixar films in line after it are also sequels: The Incredibles 2 and (say it isn’t so!) Toy Story 4.

Jack says:

The point of this paragraph is that they’re still making lots of sequels.

[14:14] Paragraph 3, Sentence 1

The painful verdict is all but indisputable: The golden era of Pixar is over.

Jack says:

We can probably assume why this is and it’s because of too many sequels. It brings us back to technology. This is probably because the technology is going to be different and this generation will have a new means of looking at it. So this probably another reason to make a sequel.

[16:19] Paragraph 3, Sentence 2

It was a 15-year run of unmatched commercial and creative excellence, beginning with Toy Story in 1995 and culminating with the extraordinary trifecta of wall-e in 2008, Up in 2009, and Toy Story 3 (yes, a sequel, but a great one) in 2010.

Jack says:

This is confusing because they say Toy Story 3 is a great one. Why is the author saying that? It makes the author seem more reasonable. And you’re more likely to believe them. That’s what CARS is all about – believing the author.

'When you answer these questions, you have to pretend you're the author. You have to pick what the author would pick.'Click To Tweet

[17:40] Paragraph 3, Sentence 3

Since then, other animation studios have made consistently better films.

Jack says:

The author is showing competition here.

[17:50] Paragraph 3, Sentence 4

The stop-motion magicians at Laika have supplied such gems as Coraline and Kubo and the Two Strings.

Jack says:

Some examples of the animation studios and the films they’re making.

[18:08] Paragraph 3, Sentence 5

And, in a stunning reversal, Walt Disney Animation Studios—adrift at the time of its 2006 acquisition of the then-untouchable Pixar—has rebounded with such successes as Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, and Big Hero 6.

Jack says:

More examples of animation studios making good movies.

[18:47] Paragraph 3, Sentence 6

One need only look at this year’s Oscars: Two Disney movies, Zootopia and Moana, were nominated for Best Animated Feature, and Zootopia won.

Jack says:

Animation studios winning best-animated picture.

[19:05] Paragraph 3, Sentence 7

Pixar’s Finding Dory was shut out altogether.

Jack says:

Finding Dory is a sequel to Finding Nemo. So this paragraph talks about the movies Pixar has made and how they’re not creating good films and the examples of other animation studios making great movies.

[19:40] Paragraph 4, Sentence 1

This thriving expansion of high-quality animated storytelling would not have been possible without Pixar.

Jack says:

The author is saying that Pixar is the leader of all this. It sounds confusing that the author is promoting Pixar now. He/she is reminiscing how Pixar used to be great. So it’s still consistent. You just have to be careful with the way the author says it.

[20:28] Paragraph 4, Sentence 2

The studio literally reinvented the genre with Toy Story, the first computer-generated 3-D-animated feature film.

Jack says:

The author is giving us the breadth of Pixar and what they did for the genre.

[20:55] Paragraph 4, Sentence 3

Each subsequent Pixar release offered new feats of technical wizardry, from engineering the delicate trajectories of millions of individual strands of fur in 2001’s Monsters, Inc. to capturing the wondrous interplay between light and water in 2003’s Finding Nemo.

Jack says:

This paragraph is talking about the technical feats of Pixar.

[21:28] Paragraph 5, Sentence 1

Even as others gradually caught up with Pixar’s visual artistry, the studio continued to tell stories of unparalleled depth and sophistication.

Jack says:

There’s more praise on Pixar’s past here and people were catching up to the technical side of things. And the storytelling was still unparalleled.

[22:39] Paragraph 5, Sentence 2

Pixar’s signature achievement was to perfect a kind of crossover animated cinema that appealed equally to kids and adults.

Jack says:

The author is saying that although for kids, the writing works for adults as well.

[23:05] Paragraph 5, Sentence 3

The key was managing to tell two stories at once, constructing a straightforward children’s story atop a more complex moral and narrative architecture.

Jack says:

The author explaining the signature achievement of two stories in one.

[23:28] Paragraph 5, Sentence 4

Up, for example, took a relatively conventional boy’s adventure tale and harnessed it to a moving, thoroughly grown-up story of loss, grief, and renewal.

Jack says:

Here’s an example of a movie.

[24:05] The Big Picture

The big picture is that Pixar is done. That’s still the idea. But the author is soft with Pixar. He likes Pixar. Keep in mind that even though the author doesn’t like Pixar today, at least they still respect Pixar tremendously and what it’s done for the industry.

This last paragraph does something that a lot of MCAT passages do which is going into a new tangent. The tangent is the idea of the narration and how they try to relate it to children and adults. This is not going to help us understand the big picture.

You may also be confused because the author seems to be going off in this new direction. That’s okay. But if they asked a question about it, you will know where they talked about it. The key is understanding it.

[25:25] The Hero’s Journey Related to Personal Statements

Based on this last paragraph, there is this older authority and this younger, naive character. Almost every movie follows the same hero’s journey – just different characters, different backstories, different storytelling. But it’s the same story over and over again.

If you relate this to the personal statement, if you’re concerned the admissions committees might get bored hearing about your story, no. You just have to tell your story because they want to know your story.

When you think of Toy Story, the adult is the toy. Woody is the mature one. You can definitely change it up and make it new even though it contains the same themes.

Links:

Jack Westin

Jack Westin’s free daily MCAT CARS passage

Meded Media

Link to article:

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/06/how-pixar-lost-its-way/524484/

Listen to Other Episodes

paperbackfront_245x245

DOWNLOAD FREE - Crush the MCAT with our MCAT Secrets eBook

0 Shares
Share
Tweet
Pin
Share