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Physics Strategies
#1 Posted : Tuesday, June 07, 2011 4:36:24 AM
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I was wondering if anyone had any strategies on how to tackle physics questions. I know in the verbal reasoning lectures, we learn how to answer questions. Does anyone know any tricks that can be applied to the physics portion of the MCAT? I find myself spending too much time calculating/solving the problems instead of eliminating answers etc.

#2 Posted : Monday, June 27, 2011 7:28:49 PM
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Hi Albalks – I’m sorry no one has responded to your post – it must have been missed somehow :s

MCAT Physics is certainly tricky, but mainly because in my experience, students simply put up mental road-blocks by saying “I can’t do physics.” For me personally, I am a biologist, yet forced myself to “love” physics so much during my own MCAT preparation (years ago now) that I ended up teaching it soon after! My advice therefore first and foremost is to have a positive attitude about physics – you can do it! Lol

Second, I worry that you (and other students) may not yet have bought into the idea that MCAT Physics is NOT undergrad physics. In undergrad physics, you were expected to calculate detailed equations and to memorize a huge body of information. Here in MCAT physics, it is quite the opposite – you will never have to calculate huge difficult expressions and you certainly should not be memorizing details since you will always see “something new” on test day!

In lieu of this, I would suggest considering the following points:

-Focus on understanding relationships in equations – if one variable goes up, will the other also go up or go down?

-Expect and embrace the unexpected…indeed, I am essentially giving you permission to drastically limit the amount of memorization you have to do for the MCAT. If you have read your study guide and CC, been to class, and written maybe a one-page equation sheet – I would suggest that you do not need to go back and review anything else except when stuck on a problem!

-Ask yourself honestly – how much time are you spending reviewing your ICE’s, AAMC exams, and 1001 Questions? This is by far the most important aspect to MCAT Physics Preparation. One suggestion I have would be for you to review an ICE as though you were preparing to stand in front of your class and “teach” the other students how to write MCAT Physics passages/questions. What strategies would you want to get across? What passage/question information would you want to elicit from the students? What concepts would you want to review? What student questions might you anticipate and want to prepare for? In essence, mark up at least one of your ICE’s with a huge amount of “marginalia” with the intention of walking into a classroom and “reviewing” the entire ICE for over a hour…if you do this exercise right, I think it will benefit you greatly.

-Finally, don’t focus on the details in an MCAT passage – just like in VR, you can take the same approach in Physical Sciences….eliminate answer choices, accept 50/50 outcomes as good, go with your gut feeling, and for goodness sake (lol) if you decide that a certain answer is correct (or incorrect) don’t try to justify it…select the answer (or eliminate it) and move on!

Anyway, I hope some of this helps – it is tough writing down a bunch of strategies on a forum, so if you (or anyone) want to chat by phone next week (after my holidays)…please send me a PM so we can arrange a time!


P.S. I will now be away until July 6th - so I'm not ignoring anyone if you PM/e-mail me :)
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