Blueprint MCAT Full-Length 1: Psych/Soc Discrete 2

Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts

MP 235: Blueprint MCAT Full-Length 1: Psych/Soc Discrete 2

Session 235

We are now on the second set of discretes. We talk about where discretes show up in relation to passages and how to mentally prepare for them.

We’re joined by Dorothy from Blueprint MCAT. If you would like to follow along on YouTube, go to

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

[02:32] Tips When Moving to Discrete Questions

Sometimes a passage comes early or later than expected, but usually it’s about two to three passages before you get to your set of discretes.

Hopefully, after two or three, you’re ready for some discretes. Dorothy calls them as a brain break, which means that it’s just a break from reading a ton and having to synthesize passage information as well.

'Cleanse your palate, but also all the information that you need in order to answer the question is in the question stem.'Click To Tweet

Sometimes, they’re purely discrete in the sense that they’re asking a question. And you just have to figure out what concept is relevant and bring that in and apply it. Sometimes, there will be a little bit more reasoning with the question stem itself. Then use some of that information in order to answer the question as well.

But essentially, it’s a standalone question so you have to figure out what it’s asking you and what you need in order to answer it.

[04:15] Question 27

A psychologist assessing the willingness of subjects to spend a full weekend volunteering to clean up a local park decides to measure the effect of the foot-in-the-door technique. Which of the following would be a way to use this technique?

  1. Ask subjects to first sign a petition in favor of cleaning up the park
  2. Tell the subjects that their next-door neighbor has already agreed to volunteer to clean up the park
  3. Ask the subjects to recall the last time they personally made use of the park
  4. Remind the subjects that as members of the community, one of their civic duties is helping to maintain public spaces

Thought Process:

The foot-in-the-door technique is basically having people do little things that get them to say yes. And once they’ve said yes enough, they’re now going to do this thing. And si, answer choice A is the only one that really does this.

'Signing petitions is a classic example of this foot-in-the-door technique. Get them to agree to a smaller commitment first, and then build up to a larger one.'Click To Tweet

Correct Answer: A

[06:22] Question 28

In a study about attitudes towards higher education, four subjects are asked to rank the relative importance of higher education. All four participants rank higher education as “very important” or “extremely important” on the survey. Which of the following participants is most likely to experience cognitive dissonance as a part of this response?

  1. A master electrician who has significant advanced on-the-job training but no degree
  2. A day laborer whose own education stopped at seventh grade and whose family includes no one who has attended any college
  3. A high school math teacher who encouraged his own son to skip college and focus on learning a trade to “save all that wasted tuition money”
  4. A university professor with two doctoral degrees who has actively advocated for significant reform in the country’s higher education system

Thought Process:

Cognitive dissonance is essentially a feeling of discomfort where you have inconsistency between your beliefs and your actions. And so, we’re looking for contradictions here. They have one belief, but they also have another belief. And those two beliefs are at war with each other.

And so with C, where a high school math teacher who encouraged his own son to kind of skip out on college because it’s not worth the money, but then they still rank higher education as super important, that’s a contradiction there.

Correct Answer: C

[11:50] Question 29

Poor prenatal nutrition for mothers can lead to delayed cognitive development in children. Poor prenatal nutrition is correlated with lower socioeconomic status. A child born to a mother in which of the following neighborhoods is most likely to fall behind in elementary school?

  1. A neighborhood with large, close-knit groups of extended families
  2. A neighborhood with high levels of violent street crime
  3. A neighborhood in which individual homes are widely separated
  4. A neighborhood with no racial diversity

Thought Process:

Out of all of the answer choices above, crime is most closely linked to lower socioeconomic status. The others are kind of either out of scope or opposite of what we’re looking for here.

Correct Answer: B

[14:06] Question 30

Casinos maximize the amount of money that people are willing to put into slot machines by making sure that the slot machines pay out jackpots on a reinforcement schedule that is the most resistant to behavior extinction. These machines use which reinforcement schedule?

  1. Fixed-ratio
  2. Variable-ratio
  3. Variable-interval
  4. Continuous

Thought Process:

Interval deals with time periods. For instance, it’s after every five minutes. If it’s a fixed interval, it’s saying every five minutes you get a payout. Variable interval is, it might be five minutes, 15, 20, or however long it takes. You’d never know and that’s what keeps the behavior from going extinct.

Variable ratio is more relevant here because it’s based on the number of times something happens rather than an amount of time.

Fixed-ratio is for example, you’re a factory worker and you get a reward after every 100 shoes that you make or something like that. So it leads to a high response rate because you’re getting to that next 100-mark. But there’s some pauses in behavior. It’s not quite as resistant to extinction, because people know the number of things they have to do in order to get that reward.

Continuous is like continuous reinforcement which is great for teaching someone a new thing. So we often give dogs treats to rollover or to sit when we’re first training them. It’s the quickest way to teach someone a new behavior. But when we talk about intermittent or partial reinforcement schedules, we’re more talking about how we keep them from forgetting that behavior.

Correct Answer: B

[17:00] Final Words of Wisdom

Dorothy stresses that Psych/Soc is all about definitions and being familiar with terminology. So it’s great to use flashcards. The more you familiarize yourself with these terms, think about examples and scenarios, and the better you’ll do on the section.


Meded Media

Blueprint MCAT