We tackle Passage 2 that is all about external locus of control with migrants! Follow along with the handout on our blog post to hone your psych/soc skills!
We’re joined once again by Clara from Next Step Test Prep who is here week by week as we try to dive into and dig the passages piece by piece so you can come in the exam room ready to crush your MCAT! Be sure to check out all of the other podcasts we do on MedEd Media Network to help you along this medical school application journey.
[02:26] Passage 2
Born in a mid-sized city in Senegal, Moussa’s family emigrated to the U.S. when he was less than a year old. Moussa’s father was an engineer and his mother, a math teacher, Moussa and his parents were the first members of his extended family to leave for the West. Emmanuel was born in a rural village in Nigeria and emigrated to the U.S. when he was five. His parents were laborers and Emmanuel arrived in a neighborhood where many members of his extended family had settled for years. Both students showed very high promise early in school but both ran afoul of authorities early in their teenage years due to the activity with local youth gangs and low-level crime activity.
Faced with a majority culture that forbids the harsh child-rearing techniques they would have used at home, Moussa’s and Emmanuel’s parents despaired about the effect Western permissive culture was having on their boys. In response, Moussa’s parents sent him back to Senegal to finish his high school years in an elite, but strict private school Emmanuel’s parents could not afford such an option.
To study the effect of sending adolescent male children back to Africa during that tempestuous time in life, researchers interviewed both Moussa and Emmanuel as adults. They then asked them for referrals to other members of their communities who had gone through a similar experience, or would know someone who did. In this manner, they were able to find hundreds of subjects to interview regarding their experience as black immigrant children in the U.S.
Researchers hypothesized that children who had been sent back to Africa during adolescence would more likely exhibit an external locus of control compared to children who stayed in the U.S. throughout childhood. The findings, surprisingly, exhibit the opposite: those adults who returned to the home country for some or all of adolescence were more likely to exhibit internal locus of control, whereas those who stayed in the U.S. were more likely to exhibit a larger disparity between front-stage and back-stage behaviors.
[04:53] Question 5
Which sociological concept is LEAST applicable to either or both of Moussa’s and Emmanuel’s experiences?
(A) Majority culture vs. minority culture
(B) Peer pressure
(C) Affirmative action
(D) Social reproduction
C is the correct answer here. A fair proportion of students miss this one mainly because they don’t know what affirmative action is, which refers to institutionalized behaviors intended to help underprivileged minority groups. With college applications, for example, if there’s a minority group that has a pretty low proportion in that college. Then they might introduce policies to favor that group because that group may be suffering through conditions preventing them from succeeding.
[06:44] Question 6
The main purpose for including subjects like Emmanuel in the study is to:
(A) add the variable of parental socioeconomic status to the study.
(B) increase the overall sample size to add statistical power to the findings.
(C) act as a control group of immigrant youths who had not been sent back to Africa.
(D) operationalize the definition of the behavior of sending adolescents back to Africa.
The correct answer here is C. The tempting one here is A. Just because he has a different socioeconomic status doesn’t mean that’s the purpose of why he was included. But he was included as a control group. The main focus was to study children being sent to Africa.
MCAT passages are usually based off of scientific journal articles or at least modeled after that. And that’s the perfect example of the purpose of the study. So you can highlight the whole thing or at least a small phrase in there to remind you that that’s the purpose.
[09:48] Question 7
Based on the discussion at the end of the passage, which of the following statements would most likely be made by someone like Moussa?
(A) “I succeed in school primarily because I come from very educated parents.”
(B) “My admission to an elite university in England was based primarily on luck.”
(C) “I am extremely concerned with how I am perceived by my peers in school.”
(D) “When I succeed on a test, it is because I am a good student who studies hard.”
The correct answer here is D. People can do well in Psych/Soc even without understanding the meaning of every term. And there’s this funny curve that as you learn more and more about the details of the meaning of each term, you tend to psych yourself out.
[12:14] Question 8
If researchers only compared Moussa and Emmanuel and found that Moussa had a strong internal locus of control, but Emmanuel had an external locus of control, could they conclude that being sent back to Africa caused the observed difference?
(A) No, because Moussa already had an internal locus of control as such a personality trait is determined wholly genetically.
(B) No, because a comparison of only two subjects could involve any number of compounding factors.
(C) Yes, because with a thorough interview and personality inventory, the researchers could account for any other differences.
(D) The question does not provide enough information to determine.
The correct answer here is B. You need to understand research and statistics here and data more than anything else. They throw C here but only two people are not just enough.
[14:32] Question 9
After moving to the U.S., Moussa’s father’s socioeconomic status would primarily be determined by which of the following?
(A) His occupation as an engineer
(B) His gender
(C) His status as an immigrant
(D) His IQ
The correct answer here is A assuming he was able to work as an engineer here. We have to assume in this case.
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