There’s something worse than physics on the MCAT

Hint: it’s not chemistry.
Photo courtesy of Nic's events on Flickr

Ever since I started studying for the MCAT, I’ve been worried about the physics section.

Apparently it’s just an irrational fear. Whenever I’ve brought it up here in my blog, most commenters have assured me that the physics questions are so basic, Forrest Gump could answer them all correctly and have enough time left over to start narrating his life story to the person sitting next to him. Which, of course, is why everyone who writes the test gets a perfect score on the physics section.

It turns out I might have been worrying about the wrong section. Apparently the lowest-scored section on the MCAT isn’t the physical sciences. Or biological sciences. It’s the verbal reasoning section.

According to this chart from the AAMC, verbal reasoning had the lowest mean score among test takers in 2010. The physical sciences, which consists of general chemistry and physics questions, had a mean score of 8.3. The verbal reasoning section had a mean score of 7.9 (this is on a 15 point scale). And Examkrackers claims that the average score on verbal reasoning is a 61 per cent.

For some reason I always thought that verbal reasoning was the section that most people could expect to score decently on. Perhaps it’s because, unlike the physical or biological sciences, there isn’t any specific background knowledge required.

But after looking at some practice problems, I think I’ve realized why it’s the toughest section. Most of the questions were apparently designed by Confucius, with some editorial input by Yoda and Master Po.

For instance:

1. According to the passage, an image is a versatile tool that:

A) is always visual, never abstract.

B) can be either abstract or visual.

C) is always abstract, never visual.

D) is neither visual nor abstract.

That leaves me with a new hobby for this summer. Instead of whining about physics, like I’ve been doing for the past couple months, I plan to whine about verbal reasoning instead.