MCAT® CARS Section: Critical Analysis And Reasoning Overview

MCAT® CARS Section Overview

CARS Section Breakdown

The Critical Analysis And Reasoning (CARS) section is the fourth and final section to appear on the MCAT exam is worth 25% of your total score. This section includes 9 passages from various disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, followed by questions that lead you through comprehending, analyzing, and reasoning about the material you have read.

  • Humanities Passages - 50%
  • Social Science Passages - 50%

CARS Question Structure

These passages are relatively short, typically between 500 and 600 words, but they are complex, often thought-provoking pieces of writing with sophisticated vocabulary and, at times, intricate writing styles. Everything you need to know to answer test questions is in the passages and the questions themselves.

  • 53 multiple-choice questions.
  • 9 passages each with 5 to 7 associated questions.

CARS Timing & Pro Tips

Students have only 90 minutes to complete this challenging MCAT section, and many find this time constraints to be very challenging.

  • Spend less than 3 minutes reading each passage.
  • Don’t get bogged down by small details.
  • Focus on the main point of the passage
  • When stuck between 2 answers, select the one that goes along with the main point the best.

Ace The CARS Section with Private MCAT Tutoring

Many students mistakenly believe that one cannot study for the CARS section of the MCAT® and that scoring well is simply a matter of luck. Nothing could be further from the truth!

Dr. Stuart Donnelly has developed several strategies that will help you to master even the most difficult CARS passages. These proprietary method (unavailable elsewhere) show you the most efficient approach, allowing you to spend 80% of your time answering questions rather than getting bogged down in irrelevant passage details.

Stuart academic credentials and teaching experience are second to none. He has a Ph.D. from Oxford University, 20 years of MCAT® tutoring experience, and is the author of several critically acclaimed test prep books.

Many leading educators consider Dr. Donnelly “One of the most qualified and experienced MCAT tutors in the country.”

Private MCAT® tutoring with Dr. Donnelly is available in person at his San Diego-based office or online via Zoom, so contact Stuart today to schedule your FREE consultation and take your CARS score to the next level.

Contact Dr. Donnelly Today!

MCAT® CARS: Concepts Tested

CARS Skill 1 (30%): Foundations of Comprehension

The topics of some passages in the Critical Analysis and Reasoning Skills section will be familiar; some will not. Some questions may ask you about the overall meaning of information in the passages or the author’s central themes or ideas; others may ask you to select the definitions of specific words or phrases as they are used in context. These kinds of questions help you build the foundation that will allow you to think in new ways about concepts or facts presented in the passages.

  • Understanding the basic components of the text.
  • Inferring meaning from rhetorical devices, word choice, and text structure.

CARS Skill 2 (30%): Reasoning within the Text:

Questions that test Reasoning Within the Text ask you to integrate distant passage components into a more generalized and complex interpretation of passage meaning. It’s important to remember that Reasoning Within the Text questions do not ask you to provide your own personal opinion. You may, in fact, disagree with the author’s overall conclusion yet find that the conclusion is a reasonable inference from the limited information provided in the passage. The content of the passage or new information introduced by the questions should be the only sources you base your responses on.

  • Integrating various components of the text to increase reading comprehension.

CARS Skill 3 (40%): Reasoning Beyond the Text:

Reasoning Beyond the Text questions require you to use one of two analysis or reasoning skills, which in a way can be thought of as two sides of a single coin. Questions assessing the first set of skills ask you to apply or extrapolate information or ideas presented in the passage to a new or novel situation — for example, extending information the author presents beyond the actual context of the passage.

The second set of skills involves considering new information presented in a test question, mentally integrating this new information into the passage content, and then assessing the potential impact of introducing the new elements into the actual passage. Reasoning about new, hypothetical elements should cause you to synthesize passage content anew and alter your interpretation of the passage in some plausible way.

  • Ability to apply or extrapolate ideas from the passage to new contexts.
  • Assessing the impact of introducing new factors, information, or conditions to ideas from the passage.