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Aug 20 2008

Trick Questions on The MCAT?

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Author: Dr. James L Flowers
Category: MCAT Prep Tips

I was recently in a session where two of the brighter students from a major university (a Pac-Ten university) were discussing their experiences with taking a MCAT prep course and their experiences on the MCAT exam. Both students had taken the same one of the big TWO commercial MCAT preparation courses.

When one of the students described that the instructor, and based on the course’s philosophy, had told him that the MCAT tries to trick you by how they write their questions…its putting it mildly to say that I was profoundly awakened from the momentary snooze that had beset me. So, I later Googled “trick questions on the MCAT” and found that there is a belief by many that the MCAT has trick questions. The Student Doctor Network has a forum discussing this question.

Categorically, my belief is there is no reason for the AAMC to trick anyone…the test is difficult enough without tricks. And, based on my experience of analyzing real MCAT’s in detail, I cannot honestly recall one question that I would seriously call a trick question. So, what might this course and instructor mean by making this statement? Whereas I cannot speak for them definitively, I will offer my thoughts:

  1. There are no trick questions on the MCAT
  2. If there were truly “trick questions” on the MCAT,
      1. There would be no effective way to prepare (too many ways to trick you)
      2. AAMC would have been sued already
  3. Any perception of trick questions is
      1. a reflection of the lack of understanding of the structure of the MCAT
      2. lack of effective preparation for the MCAT
      3. lack of skills appropriate for taking the MCAT
  4. Relying on mock or simulated exams will increase this misperception of “trick” questions on the real MCAT.
  5. So, don’t waste your time trying to determine if a question is a trick question…because there are not any.

My belief is simple. When there is appropriate preparation of content and skills using real MCAT’s, the specter of “trick questions” will magically disappear.