The physical sciences section of the MCAT test consists of four primary types of questions, which includes comprehension questions related to informational passages, comprehension questions related to research passages, problem-solving questions, and argument evaluation questions. The comprehension questions included on the exam are designed to evaluate an individual's ability to comprehend the information included in a passage about a new concept or a research project by applying basic scientific concepts that the individual has already learned. The two types of comprehension questions found on the exam will present the individual with different kinds of passages to interpret, but the questions themselves are actually very similar and there are certain techniques that may help an individual answer these questions. First, it may be a very good idea to read each set of questions before reading the passage associated with that set of questions. This can be extremely helpful, especially when time is a concern, because it allows you to identify exactly what you should look for before you actually read the passage. Secondly, it is important to keep in mind that these passages are deliberately written to cover information that is unfamiliar to the exam-taker. In fact, many of the physical science passages on the exam deliberately cover topics or research that would never be covered in a classroom. These questions are intended to determine whether or not you can apply the information you have learned already to understand new concepts so you should focus on using what you know to understand the material rather than worrying about whether or not you knew about the topic beforehand.
Finally, it is usually a good idea to reread a section of a passage when a question asks you to explain a specific term or fact included in the passage. This is because these questions will almost always offer choices that may relate to other information in the passage or other information that you have learned previously that has nothing to do with answering the question. In other words, some of the questions found on the exam will offer choices that are deliberately designed to trick individuals that did not read the passage carefully. As a result, you may want to reread the area of the passage that describes the particular fact the question is asking about in order to make sure that you read the information correctly the first time.
Last Updated: 04/23/2012