Blueprint Diagnostic Psych/Soc Passage 2

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MP 285: Blueprint Diagnostic Psych/Soc Passage 2

Session 285

Today, we dive into Passage 2 of Blueprint’s diagnostic Psych/Soc section. We’re joined by Ali 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.

[02:33] Things to Do in Between Passages

Ali recommends taking a very short break between passages and a longer one every two passages. It could be something as basic as closing your eyes or taking your eyes and looking at something distant or looking at the wall behind the screen. This can relieve the tension in your eyes.

Take a few deep breaths, forget about the passage, and think about nothing, and then go back. It’s only like five seconds but it’s extremely valuable for you to refocus away from one passage so that you can start a new one.

Moving on to our passage today, this is an experimental research-style passage or a textbook-style passage.

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In approaching this specific passage, Ali recommends looking at the general ideas rather than the specific ideas sentence by sentence.

[05:06] Passage 2 (Questions 7 – 10)

Paragraph 1

Outreach workers communicating with Black and Latino women face challenges in changing behavior with respect to HIV and AIDS transmission. The most important is the apparent perception by minority women that AIDS is a “gay white man’s problem”. From 1989-1995, AIDS cases among women is expected to increase 300 – 500%. Among women who contract AIDS through sexual activity, 77% are Black or Latina. Among intravenous (IV) drug users, the prevalence rate is nearly 50%. Among women in this category, 80% are Black or Latina. Yet when surveyed, minority women at all socioeconomic levels downplay the risk that AIDS poses. A survey of Black college student women revealed less than one-fourth insist that their partners use condoms, despite universal knowledge that condoms reduce the spread of AIDS.


Ali suggests minimal highlighting. Maybe just highlight the idea. The statistics stand out here so any time they ask about this, you know where to find it. Additionally, focus more on the new information rather than the existing information.

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[07:20] Paragraph 2

Poor minority women who live outside the law, due to prostitution or drug use, have always lived with risk. They prioritize time and attention on the risk of AIDS relative to other concerns such as protecting their children, securing financial resources, and simply acquiring basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter. Interviewees in temporary women’s housing express helplessness about changing their external circumstances, dooming outreach efforts based on proactive efforts made by these women.


Ali recommends looking for concepts that are testable on the MCAT. For this paragraph, the thing that stands out is “expressed helplessness” And learned helplessness is a concept that is tested on the MCAT.

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Another thing that stands out here is the priorities where there’s a hierarchy of what they need. They need food and shelter first before they look at all the other needs such as protection against AIDS.

Focus on “protecting their children, securing financial resources, and simply acquiring basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter.”

[09:22] Paragraph 3

Ignoring relevant cultural contexts means that simplistic government messages (e.g. “Just say no”) must fail because they ignore the reality in which AIDS is spread. Among IV drug users, a network of surprisingly tight-knit communities exist in which users provide both emotional and tangible support for one another. Such communities have their own values, roles, and status markers. Outreach workers must recognize that needle sharing, while bad, is a form of social support (sharing) that exists in all social networks. When attempting to get women to insist their partners use condoms to reduce the sexual spread of HIV, outreach workers must recognize that in some minority communities, especially traditional Catholic Latino communities, women are not expected to take control of sexual situations and decisions. Simply walking into a store and purchasing condoms risks no small amount of social censure for being seen as a “loose” woman.


Ali points out how the passage has now narrowed down its topic. We started with minority women, in general, having a much higher risk of contracting AIDS. And now, it’s narrowed down to the government outreach not working for these women.

Ali explains that the questions here are foundational concept 9, which is about demographics or the foundational concept of social stratification. These are guaranteed 7-11 questions on every single MCAT. So just there are two out of 10 total foundational concepts on the entire MCAT.

Social support is an important concept here, including emotional and tangible support. There’s a subculture of drug users and sharing needles, and these communities have their own values.

Look at the last part of the paragraph as to how traditional Catholic Latino communities are also different. Women in these communities feel more pressure to not take charge of their sexual situation.

When answering questions for this type of passage, Ali recommends taking this specific situation and putting it under a general category that you memorize. Identify the most prevalent questions in textbook-style passages. There’s no experiment for you to analyze so you should be able to answer at least four questions here.

[13:57] Question 7

Which of the following best explains the decisions on priority made by women who live outside the law?

A.Piaget’s stages

B.Kohlberg’s stages

C.Freudian defense mechanisms

D.Maslow’s hierarchy

Thought Process:

Ali suggests reading the question and referring back to the passage if you need to. In this case, we do need to because it’s a specific question from the passage. Then formulate a prediction, like a general idea of where we’re going with this.

We have basic needs that come at the expense of higher needs. There’s the pyramid of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The bottom one is food, shelter, and water. And that’s what we have here in the passage. So D is the correct answer here.

Correct Answer: D

[15:59] Question 8

The women’s housing interviewees discussed in the passage most likely lack:



C.self-worth. understanding that AIDS is sexually transmitted.

Thought Process:

When you go back to the passage, you could see how we highlighted “helplessness.” So among the answer choices above, look at what can be tied to “learned helplessness.” And this is where you need to know the content.

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Self-esteem and self-worth are similar so can cancel them right off the bat. Answer choice D doesn’t have to do with anything. And so we’re left with B. Self-efficacy is specifically about your ability to control your environment or to finish a task.

Self-esteem and self-worth can be true in this situation, but they’re not necessarily true in this situation. This is how AAMC can get us sometimes, and so, you have to be able to look for something based on the information in the passage. Try not to think too far away from the question or from the passage.

Correct Answer: B

[20:04] Question 9

A person who is well-known in his local subculture of IV drug users is highly regarded by his fellow addicts and receives support in the manner mentioned in the passage. This support is best described as:

A.cultural capital. capital. instance of social reproduction.

D.deviance from the majority culture but a norm in the subculture.

Thought Process:

Answer choice D describes the situation but it doesn’t answer this question.

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Ali explains that this is because we’re looking for the type of having higher status or being supported by members of your subgroup. And so, this is some sort of capital. Now, we’re down to whether it’s a cultural capital or a social capital.

Cultural capital is more about things that will help you succeed like a college education or speaking multiple languages. In this case, this is not about the cultural capital of these individuals. This is about their social ties and their social status. So it’s more of a social capital.

Even if you don’t know what a term means, you can still use your common sense for a lot of these foundational concepts 9 and 10. For instance, reproduction involves multiple generations. And so, you can eliminate social reproduction based on common sense use. And social reproduction refers to how culture can go from one generation to the next.

Correct Answer: B

[25:13] Question 10

A Latina woman in the circumstances described in the third paragraph is most likely attempting to avoid what phenomenon?

A.A looking-glass self

B.A formal social sanction



Thought Process:

Based on the third paragraph, without looking at the answers, someone who’s trying not to be seen as a “loose woman” is some kind of a stigma. So you’re trying to avoid stigma.

Now, looking at the answer choices, stigmatization is then the correct answer.

A – Looking glass self is the most distant of the answer choices from the current situation. This is how we perceive ourselves. It includes how other people perceive us. But it’s a totally different concept of being labeled by society. It’s a way of how we build our self-concept.

B – A formal social sanction refers to breaking an actual law. This is an attractive answer choice because other women described in the passage were actually afraid of formal social sanction, which would be using drugs and prostitution. This is found at the beginning of paragraph two, where it says, “Poor minority women who live outside the law, due to prostitution or drug use, have always lived with risk.” This is why you have to go back to the right place in the passage that will give you the point.

Correct Answer: D

[28:39] Final Thoughts

Ali is actually against double-checking your answers because when you review your answers from a place of anxiety. You’re in this state that encourages you to second-guess yourself and you don’t want to do that. Have confidence in your predictions.

If there’s something you genuinely struggle with as you’re doing it, then flag it and come back to it at the end of the section. Just don’t forget that this is a time test. And even though the timing of the psych/social section is not the tightest compared to Chem/Phys or CARS, you still need to move on.


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