On the MCAT, timing is everything. About 75% of the questions in the MCAT science sections are passage-based (along with 100% of questions in the CARS section).

stack of books

Learn how to read through a passage faster AND more efficiently—the first time. Apply these reading strategies to any reading passage you encounter on the test from Physics to CARS.

1. Focus on big ideas and skim the details.

Don’t get bogged down in long descriptions. Practice using the clues provided in the author’s wording to distinguish the major claims from the (potentially irrelevant) details.

2. Hit the right pace.

If you read too fast, you won’t get anything out of the passage, and will end up rereading the entire passage as you answer the questions. If you go too slowly, however, you will lose focus or overthink what you are reading.


3. Don’t try to memorize.

Remember: this is essentially an open book test. You will be going back to the passage for the facts you need for the questions.

4. Practice reading in chunks of words.

Rather than “sounding out” each word in your mind as if you were reading out loud, think about seeing the words in groups of two or three to get a sense of what is being said. When you are answering the questions, however, always read word-for-word.

5. Push your eyes forward towards the end of the sentence.

Keep up your momentum. Don’t linger on or ponder every word.

6. Visualize as you read.

When you hit an important point in the passage, create an image in your mind that captures the author’s meaning.

7. Sit back and relax!

If you have your nose up against the screen, it is harder to think about the “big picture.” You will get tired and stiff, and it will be harder to keep focused.

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