I Didn’t Get the Score I Wanted Psych/Soc Section

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MP 298: I Didn't Get the Score I Wanted Psych/Soc Section

Session 298

We cover how to handle not getting the score you wanted in the Psych/Soc section of the MCAT.

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

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

[03:19] Why Some Students Do Poorly on Psych/Soc

All sections on the MCAT are scaled and equated as per the AAMC. In a sense, you get percentile-based scores. So if everyone finds the psych/soc section easy, ultimately, your score is still measured based on the percentage of other students that you did better than.

The reason students do poorly in the Psych/Soc section is not that they lack the fundamentals, but more about they’re not giving the section the respect that it deserves.

For people who have timing issues, this is usually because they either reread it several times or they read very slowly, although that’s rare. That being said, timing in psych/soc can absolutely be a barrier to people, and more often than not, stems from either not giving it the respect it deserves.

“A major skill that psych so that the AAMC uses psychosocial as a vehicle to test is experimental and epidemiological study design.” 

[07:27] What to Focus On

Before you trust your section’s performance to it, Alex recommends cross-referencing it with a trusted resource to make sure the information in there is correct. You can use, for example, the Blueprint modules or books, or cross-reference it with Khan Academy material, or the AAMC official content outline.

But once you’ve done that, it is worth acknowledging that for many students just memorizing the content of that isn’t enough.

Similar to the other sections, it’s not just memorization. It’s the understanding of things so they can manipulate that data in your head based on the unique scenarios and situations that these passages and questions are putting you in.

Therefore, it’s important to have a generalized understanding of a concept as opposed to memorizing its definition. Can you map it to equivalencies across a number of different examples as opposed to just what the definition is?

“If your plan for psychosocial is just to memorize 300 pages worth of facts and wander into the test, you need to make sure that your assumption is validated by full-length exams.”

[11:00] The MCAT is a Critical Thinking Analysis Test

“The MCAT is not a content test, it’s a critical thinking and analysis test.”

A critical thinking and analysis test is about being able to know the information and know it in a way that you can look at it from the top-bottom, left to right, front and back. Then you can understand that that thing you’re looking at is the same thing. You can answer the questions no matter how it’s shining the light on that thing.

Alex uses the analogy of studying French where you have to study grammar, history, speaking, and writing. Then you show up for the final exam with a pencil in hand. You sit down and look at the page, not realizing it was an architecture test because you thought it was a French test. That assessment isn’t wrong. It is a French test in that the test is in French. But ultimately, you need to know about architecture to pass the class.

Using this analogy, the MCAT is the architecture test. It is a reasoning test that just happens to use science and content as its grammar. It is a reasoning test expressed using the language of science. And if you study nothing but the language of science, it’s not enough in the same way that studying French grammar won’t let you ace a French architecture course.


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