Stand-Alone Science Questions, Explained

Posted in: MCAT

February 7, 2019 | by Alexis

To achieve a competitive score on the MCAT, you need to be as prepared as possible. Study the material, but also take the time to understand the test itself. Make sure that you’ve studied each of the sections and both of the questions types to know what to expect.

How is the MCAT structured?

The exam itself has four sections.

  • Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems
  • Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills
  • Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems
  • Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behaviour

Three of the sections have a (usually human) biological context: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems; Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems; Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behaviour. These sections test your knowledge of basic concepts with an emphasis on critical thinking, scientific reasoning, and problem solving. These sections have both passage-based and stand-alone questions.

What are stand-alone or independent questions?

Stand-alone questions aren’t attached to a reading. They are, however, still multiple-choice. They will test your basic science knowledge.

How many stand-alone questions can you expect?

Thirty-five percent of the questions on the MCAT will be stand-alone questions meant to test your basic science knowledge. These questions will appear in the three science-based sections: Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems, Biological and Biochemical Foundations of Living Systems, and Psychological, Social and Biological Foundations of Behaviour. They will not appear in the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section.

What do stand-alone questions ask?

You will be asked to show that you understand basic science concepts and principles by doing the following:

  • Recognizing correct scientific principles
  • Identifying the relationships among closely-related concepts and between different representations of concepts (e.g. verbal, symbolic, graphic)
  • Identifying examples of observations that illustrate scientific principles
  • Using mathematical equations to solve problems

How should you prepare for the stand-alone questions?

You should review the material, but you should also study how to approach MCAT multiple-choice questions. Make sure that you review the material well in advance, and that you practice answering MCAT-style multiple choice questions.

How should you prepare for the MCAT?

They’re designed to be deviously difficult, but there is hope. Qualified instructors at Prep101 can help you to practice, and can give you feedback as you go. Visit Prep101.com for more information about intensive sessions.

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