Today's focus is on being an active test taker, instead of a passive test taker.
Almost everyone during MCAT prep says that "I don't know how they got this from the passage!" Then you can point out the section the question addresses and the answer is now obvious. How do you keep track of everything you've read in the passage?
Many of us are passive; we read the passage then approach the questions. This is not usually the best approach, because the passage information is absorbed en-masse with relatively little degrees of specific information, leaving us to try to search through the passage for specifics to back-up our answers.
I advocate a more active approach. When you read the article, think to yourself "what kind of question could be made from this paragraph?" as you go along. I think that you will surprise yourself at how often the test writers were thinking the exact same thing. At worse, the active approach will help you become familiar with structure of the passage and where subtopics are located. This way, if you do have to scan the passage it will be easier to find specific information.
And now, onto today's topic.
As I'm reading the news today, I saw an article about "poverty porn." This refers to the tendency of using images of the poor and downtrodden to help drive donations, especially during the holiday season.
This got me to thinking about NGOs (non-governmental organizations), those groups that play a large role in trying to make the world a better place via disaster-relief, poverty . Personally, I think that the people who work for them are amazing and should get a medal. I'll also admit that I haven't looked into any arguments about the roles and benefits of NGOs. This is my personal signal to start doing some research. Gotta love the internet....it's a gold mine of material once you move past Godwin's Law.
So here is an excellent article that I found. It's an opinion page from Policy & Practice: A Development Education Review about the possible roles that NGOs can play in a society, as well as the possible future directions for NGOs.
As I'm reading it, I'm seeing all of these sections that they could take and turn into CARS passages. For example, consider this excerpt;
Unsurprisingly, the critical perspectives wrapped in this paper stirred a reaction in the development sector with Oxfam’s strategic adviser Duncan Green describing it variously as ‘ill-informed’, ‘annoying’ and ‘generalised’ with ‘dodgy stats’ and promoting the view that ‘all NGOs are evil/incompetent pawns of imperialism’ (Oxfam, 2012). Green...argued that the paper cast all NGOs in the same light in a sector that is highly differentiated with organizations performing a range of activities in very differing contexts.
This is ripe for one of the dreaded "Do you think author would agree with insert statement here" questions. Why? Look at the first word, Unsurprisingly. That is a signal that this section offers insight into the author's opinion and state of mind, which is really what the test-writer would ask you about.
As you read this article, view it as an exercise into picking out possible test questions, focusing on being a proactive test taker rather than a passive test taker.
As always, please let me know what you think. And Happy Holidays!
Article: McCloskey, S (2012) ‘Aid, NGOs and the Development Sector: Is it time for a new direction?’, Policy & Practice: A Development Education Review, Vol. 15, Autumn, pp. 113-121