MCAT Multiple Choice Questions, and MCAT Distractors, Explained
MCAT multiple choice questions are unlike any other multiple choice questions you’ve faced before: the choices are diabolical. Each possible answer is deliberately chosen to use a common error in assumption or judgement. Every option is a trap.
The distractor options are designed to confuse
Each wrong answer in an MCAT question is designed to follow a predicable error in reasoning.
Even the correct answer often looks wrong
The correct answer is frustratingly ambiguous, particularly in the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section. Often, you only know to choose it because the other answers are even worse. At times, you’ll be looking for the least wrong choice. Most science students, who are trained in their undergrad to seek correct answers, need to get used to this ambiguity.
Sometimes you’re looking for the best, or “least wrong” answer
On the MCAT, you’re often looking for the “best” answer – not the “ideal” answer. This is especially common in the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section where nuance and ambiguity are pervasive. On easy and medium difficulty questions, the “best” answer will usually be correct in the strictest sense of the word. But on more difficult questions, the “best” answer may be quite weak and is only identifiable as correct because the other answer choices are even worse. The idea – that you’re looking for a “least wrong” answer—takes time to adjust to.
How this can hinder your score
If you’re looking for the truth, the correct answer that fits perfectly, then having to settling for the least wrong answer will slow you down. Your MCAT preparation, therefore, needs to take this into account.
How to study for the MCAT
Prepare yourself for the test. This means more than just reviewing the science. Prepare yourself to answer MCAT-style questions. The best way to do this is to practice. The best way to practice is with experts. Visit Prep101.com to find out more about our expert instructors and intensive sessions.