Today, Phil and I dive into a passage about a relatable topic – business consultants. We share how to set aside our biases to reach the author’s point.
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[03:54] Passage 6 (Questions 30-35)
Those who would proffer advice to small and medium-sized business, and ask for compensation to do so, must first demonstrate their qualifications. When considering whether or not to hire a consultant, the skeptical business owner rightly asks, “If you know how to make a business much more profitable, why are you not doing so yourself?” To respond, the consultant must first demonstrate a personal history of success at starting and growing businesses.
Note: We’re always looking for the author’s opinion and how that contrasts with other opinions and viewpoints here. Right in the middle of that paragraph, it says “the skeptical business owner rightly asks” and that right now is so important. Because not only is that telling you that the business owner feels this way, but the author agrees. So you always want to be on the lookout for the adverb which usually ends in -ly such as wisely, strangely, fortunately, etc. That gives you a window into how the author actually feels about the topic. So that’s ringing some bells.“Adverbs are so important on the MCAT.”Click To Tweet
[05:43] Passage 6, Paragraph 2
If the consultant was not a successful business owner themselves, their primary concern would be developing reliable methodologies for increasing clients’ success and then presenting an empirically verifiable track record of success with past clients. While maintaining client confidentiality is a top concern of the ethical consultant, he must be ready and able to present contact information of past satisfied clients as references to potential new clients. The consultant can then present both a general summary of his methods and a demonstration of past success.
Note: We have a contrast here, like if the consultant is not building their own businesses, they need to show that they are developing methodologies to make this work and they’ve been able to show this empirically.
Then there’s this line, “he must be ready and able to present contact information.” That’s a really bold statement when you see words like must or always. But if the passage is extreme, all of a sudden, you can have an extreme answer choice. And that opens the door to those answers that normally you’d run away screaming from. You want to be on the lookout for those as well.
Note that most of the time those fall into the author’s opinion. So there’s a viewpoint here that is from the author, and it’s a pretty extreme one.
So in the first paragraph, the author thinks business owners should be asking this question of why should I listen to you? And so that’s either got to be they ran successful businesses, or they’ve got a track record of proving that they’ve helped other businesses. If that’s the case, you must be able to give references.
[08:22] Passage 6, Paragraph 3
When a consultant cannot justify his asking price with these foundational pieces of proof, the business owner should rightly wonder at the value on offer. The New York Times exposé on the fraudulent practices of a circle of business financial consultants raises the question. Not “why would they do such a thing?” After all, fraud is nothing new, and the impulse to “easy money” drives individuals to far more criminal acts than useless consulting. Instead, it raises the question, “how were so many thousands of business owners duped?”
Note: The question is why were so many people duped and we have no idea at this point. And even if you probably have an idea, just take that info and crumple into a ball and throw it out the window.
[09:57] Passage 6, Paragraph 4
While it may seem absurd that those who have the drive, talent, and business acumen to start and grow a small or medium-sized business would then be duped by business consultants charging tens of thousands of dollars for fake services, we must remember the specific climate that permits such chicanery to occur. In the past decade, a series of high-profile pieces of legislation (the Dodd-Frank bill, “Obamacare,” etc.) altered the landscape for businesses. Such laws, and their implementing regulations, have added thousands of pages of text to the federal books. Faced with staggering amounts of information, it is entirely understandable that the small business owner would seek expert help. In the past, business owners would turn to their attorney or to a respected long-standing law firm for guidance.
Note: The last sentence has an implied contrast. In the past, this is what was done, which means that now we must be doing something different. Otherwise, they would say you do this. But they said in the past, we did this right. And so that’s an implied contrast, that’s a little bit trickier. So pay attention to that.
[11:42] Passage 6, Paragraph 5
In fact, this is exactly the practice advocated by the Association of Chambers of Commerce Executives (ACCE) and other prominent organizations built for the advancement of business interests. That is, organizations that are actually comprised of individuals who work in small businesses and who actively advocate for their interests have strong policies suggesting the use of law firms that specialize in government compliance rather than going to consultants.
Note: This whole paragraph is just saying what we should be doing. Once again, I’m expecting that this is not what we’re doing. Because they said in the past, that’s what we did.
[12:04] Passage 6, Paragraphs 6-7
How did so many savvy business owners get taken in by this recent wave of fraudulent and near-fraudulent consultants? Examining the materials and methodologies pushed by these consultants, one can see a simple but effective tactic: manipulating the ignorance and anxiety of the potential client.
When business owners are confronted with a changing legal landscape, there are two questions presented. The first is how to avoid breaking the rules. With Obamacare, new requirements for health insurance coverage left many business owners scrambling to catch up. With exceptions available only to businesses employing fewer than 24 people, even very small businesses were subject to new rules. The second question is where consultants found their edge. How can one leverage the new landscape to gain a competitive advantage? When faced with a new arena to navigate, many business owners assumed there must be a way to “cheat the system” beyond simply making sure they did not break the new rules.
Note: The passage is talking about how these business owners are so smart yet how are they all falling for this? And at the end, there are two reasons: one, people are trying not to break the law. But even more importantly, that gives them the edge to it. They’re going through this as people are trying to cheat the system, and try to benefit from that.
[15:16] Question 30
The author implies that some of the business owners who were duped by consultants:
- fell victim to their own greed.
- were blameless in seeking to simply follow the new rules.
- were angered by being depicted in the New York Times as dupes.
- would have been exempt from Obamacare.
In the last paragraph, they talked about there were some people who were just trying not to break the rules. But more importantly, that second question of whether we found the edge that people were trying to cheat the system. So what the author thinks is people fell for it. So it is actually the answer choice A. fell victim to their own greed. That was something that set you up for that.
Correct Answer: A
[17:56] Question 31
Suppose a woman has recently graduated from one of the most prestigious business schools in the country, and she seeks to leverage her new degree by setting up a consulting company. The author would suggest that the woman should:
- start and successfully grow one or more of her own businesses before turning to consulting.
- develop techniques for helping a business to grow, even if such techniques border on fraudulent.
- take her first few clients for free so as to build up a list of references.
- capitalize on the ignorance and anxiety surrounding new government regulations.
A lot of times people are tempted by C, because they say you need references. But the author never said, take on clients for free, which actually makes sense. And so a lot of students want to pick that passage. But remember, the MCAT is not looking for an analyst or a reporter. You don’t need to analyze the MCAT. It does not want you to use your brain, they just want you to read and answer the questions. The first paragraph is key. It’s why you want to train yourself to look for those keywords, especially things related to contrasts, opinions, and adverbs.“Train yourself to look for those keywords, especially things related to contrasts, opinions, and adverbs.”Click To Tweet
Correct Answer: A
[21:46] Question 32
The author would most probably agree that when faced with the issue of complying with government regulations, the best approach is to:
- avoid consultants and use an established law firm when looking for ways to cheat the system.
- seek advice from legal counsel and focus on complying with the regulations.
- use the services of a consultant who has reliable methodologies.
- hire one of the consultants recommended by an organization such as the ACCE.
Let’s throw out A here because the author is not implying we’re looking to cheat the system. It does say that some people are, but not for everyone.
B seems to go along with this paragraph here where the organization actually recommends looking at those law firms. C is okay too.
D is out as well since ACCE doesn’t recommend hiring consultants, they recommend hiring legal counsel.
There’s nothing positive about consultants in this entire passage. Instead, they talk about what a consultant should be. But there’s a paragraph where it says, “in fact, this is exactly what the practice is…” and “That is, organizations that are actually comprised of individuals who work in small businesses.”
So there are not a lot of very obvious opinions where the author worded what these guys are actually comprised of. They actively advocate for the interests and they prefer law firms that specialize in government compliance, rather than going to consultants. And so there actually is like a contrast comparison between the two.
Correct Answer: B
[25:53] Question 33
The passage suggests that before the era of enormously long federal laws and regulations, a business owner was likely to:
- need little to no help from a business consultant or a lawyer.
- need help from a lawyer and no help from a business consultant.
- want more help from a business consultant but be unable to justify the expense.
- encounter business consultants who were engaging in unethical business practices.
Answer choice A feels so good. If you did not read this passage, before the “enormously long federal laws of business owners probably didn’t need as much help,” that makes sense when you’re using your brain and you’re being an analyst.“Remember that you're not an analyst in the CARS section. You’re a reporter.”Click To Tweet
Correct Answer: B
[28:19] Question 34
The author would most support using a business consultant who:
- is willing to demonstrate his past success with clients by divulging financial information about them which shows the level of financial growth achieved by using his help.
- is also an attorney.
- has credentials that suggest he is capable of helping clients gain an unfair advantage.
- has a personal history of successfully growing business and a track record of successful consulting clients.
The question is asking what would make you support a business consultant. So answer choice A goes against “while maintaining quiet client confidentiality” so that wouldn’t work. Answer choice B isn’t brought up anywhere in the passage either. C also doesn’t sound right.
Correct Answer: D
[31:25] Question 35
The relationship between seeking the advice of an attorney and seeking the advice of a business consultant when facing a new regulatory landscape is most analogous to:
- the difference between seeking legal help after being injured in an accident versus simply working out an acceptable compensation from the offending party yourself.
- the choice between using drugs or surgery to treat a medical condition.
- hiring an admissions consultant to help write a college application essay versus using the free help provided by the high school’s guidance counselors.
- electing the standard surgical procedure to treat a dangerous medical condition versus choosing a newer, more unproven, and much more expensive alternative treatment.
This is a hard harder question because this is a reasoning beyond the text question. They’re asking you for an analogy here.
Answer choice A is not comparing. They’re both services. B just isn’t right. And answer choices A and C are the same. It’s comparing paying versus free. And D is that people in the law firm have done this forever and they have your best interest at heart and what have they done, versus this shiny, new pill.
You’re just trying to look for something that matches where there’s a standard thing that worked great and everyone’s shelling out money when they shouldn’t for something.
You still have to answer the question through the lens of the passage itself. And so if the difference between those two is what they did forever, and people are doing this other thing, and it’s stupid. So just look for something that matches that. And D matches that better than anything else.
Correct Answer: D
[35:35] Final Thoughts“The biggest struggle for a lot of students with CARS is they take that analysis mentality into the CARS section and they overthink it.”Click To Tweet
The biggest struggle for a lot of students with cars is they take that mentality into the cars section, and they overthink it.
What makes you successful in the sciences hurts you in CARS. Because you have to bring in knowledge and info. You have tools and things that you can bring to analyze and interpret. But in CARS, you shouldn’t be doing those things.
You have to understand the game and what CARS is trying to test you on. And it’s trying to see how well you understand someone else’s perspective. It’s not a test of how smart, reasonable, and logical you are. It’s a test of whether you understand what’s going on in other people’s heads.
It’s a lot easier to make those mistakes because you have some knowledge about it. And it becomes a problem when you’re bringing in your own knowledge.
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