Blueprint Diagnostic Psych/Soc Discrete

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MP 286: Blueprint Diagnostic Psych/Soc Discrete

Session 286

This week, we take a deep dive into Blueprint diagnostic’s Psych/Soc discrete questions. 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.

[01:59] Nailing the Psych/Soc Discrete Questions

Ali says a lot of them are content-based, but not all of them. You can still reason through some of them. And there are also some that cannot be answered without your reasoning skills. There are also times you might have to analyze a graph.

The pressure is you need to get all 15 of them. Looking at the way this section is scored, the curve is usually much tighter than Chem/Phys and Bio/Biochem.

[03:11] Question 11

Researchers conduct an experiment to test the Cannon-Bard theory of emotional arousal. A simulated car crash is used in which the subjects were shown video of an oncoming vehicle. Which of the following results best supports the Cannon-Bard theory?

A.Subject spots oncoming vehicle ⇒ Subject feels fear ⇒ Subject heart rate rises

B.Subject spots oncoming vehicle ⇒ Subject feels fear and subject heart rate rises

C.Subject spots oncoming vehicle ⇒ Subject heart rate rises ⇒ Subject feels fear

D.Subject feels fear ⇒ Subject heart rate rises ⇒ Subject thinks “I am afraid”

Thought Process:

Ali says there’s one item here that will help you eliminate some of the wrong answers.

Ali says there’s one item here that will help you eliminate some of the wrong answers. For all theories of emotion that are tested on the MCAT – the James-Lange theory, the Cannon-Bard theory, and the Schacter-Singer theory of emotion – your physiological response is either faster or as fast as your emotional response. It’s never slower.

And so, answer choice A is not the correct answer because the heart rate rises last. And answer choice D is also not it. The heart rate would rise either with or ahead of the feeling of fear. And so, you’re left with answer choices B and C.

The James-Lange theory of emotion is when the physiological change is what causes our emotional change. And answer choice C captures this description.

The Cannon-Bard theory of emotional arousal is like your heart rate going up in a situation where you’re seeing a car coming towards you, and your emotional state, like feeling afraid. They’re independent and they happen in parallel. They both occur, they occur at the same time, but there’s no cause-and-effect relationship between the two. And so B is the correct answer here because it captures that.

Correct Answer: B

[08:59] Question 12

A psychiatrist performing a mental exam shows a list of 10 unrelated images to the patient and asks the patient to memorize them. The exam continues and a few minutes later the psychiatrist requests that the patient describe as many images as he can recall. If most of the remembered images come from the beginning and end of the list, this is an example of:

A.the recency effect.

B.the serial position effect.

C.the cognitive bias effect.

D.the primacy effect.

Thought Process:

Looking at the answers, if you think about remembering the last few being remembered, you’d think about the recency. Then if you only remembered the first few, then that refers to the primacy effect. We can then get rid of answer choices A and D.

So we’re left with the serial position effect and the cognitive bias effect. Now, this is one of the cases where the meaning of the words does not match up specifically with the theory. But this is about the position on the list. The beginning, the middle, and the end position, and we tend to remember more the beginning and end. B is the correct answer here. It’s not cognitive bias where you’re biased to the beginning and the end of the list.

Correct Answer: B

[13:11] Question 13

A physician accepts a new job and finds that for the first several months of work most of her effort is spent learning the mechanisms by which doctors, patients, insurance companies, and the government (at federal and local levels) interact to deliver and pay for care. She particularly notes that the influence by the hospital’s legal department often supersedes that of other important administrators who hold MD’s. Her experiences and observations most closely reflect what theory of sociology?


B.Conflict theory

C.Feminist theory

D.Symbolic interactionism

Thought Process:

Ali says that one of the skills you want to build for the MCAT is having that Plan B because there’s no way you’re going to know the content of every single question. But that’s fine. That’s why sometimes you have to be able to reason through the answer choices. Be able to reason through the question stem to eliminate partially the correct answer.

C – Feminism is the obvious one that’s out here because no women’s issues or women’s rights were posed in the question stem.

D – In symbolic interactionism, there needs to be a symbol such as a high five or thumbs up. There needs to be a symbol and it has to be an interaction between two people. It’s about the interaction between individuals, and not about the role of social groups or different institutions within a society. Therefore, we eliminate D.

B – Conflict Theory is such an attractive answer choice. Conflict theory is where one group is dominating another group, or there is systematic inequality between these two groups, to the point where we have class between groups of people.

One group is making more decisions than another, but that does not mean there is systematic inequality between the doctors and the lawyers in the hospital. There’s no suggestion that the doctors are lower class than the lawyers in the system.

Conflict theory, at its core, is about competition over limited resources and there’s no limited resource here. It’s not like the hospital has a pool of money that they can only give to one group and the lawyers are getting 90% of the money and the doctors are taking 10%

A – This is the correct answer because this is an example of this would be different departments with different functions. Decision-making is the function of lawyers.

Correct Answer: A

[19:40] Final Thoughts

The MCAT is much more than just knowing the answers. It’s about understanding how the questions are written, how the passage is written, and how the answers are written to get the right answers.

Again, don’t forget to check out Blueprint MCAT to get this half-length diagnostic test for free!


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