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MCAT Content / AAMC MCAT Practice Exam 2 Ps Solutions


Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Passage 1

1) This question involves knowing the four structures of the eye listed in the answer choices. We’ll have to judge which would be the most important when comparing the color perception of humans and baboons.  

  1. Optic disc The optic disc is where the optic nerve connects to the retina, which you can see in the above image. It is the point of exit for ganglion cell axons leaving the eye. The blind spot you have in each eye corresponds to the optic disc.
  2. Sclera The sclera is the white, outer layer of the eye. It’s mostly for protection and form. 
  3. Fovea The fovea is the region in the center back of the eye that is responsible for acute vision. The fovea has a high density of cones. When you bring your gaze to an object to examine it intently in bright light, the eyes orient so that the object’s image falls on the fovea. This sounds like the most relevant function to color perception so far.
  4. Lens The lens is a transparent biconvex structure in the eye that, along with the cornea, helps to refract light to be focused on the retina. Answer choice C is going to remain our best option. The fovea is related to color sensation, and that is where we’d want the most similarity in eye structure.

2) First part of our passage explained how humans abruptly switched from blue to green responses at a certain wavelength in the experiment. We perceive these colors categorically as either green or blue, while baboons do not. The plot for baboons will be different; we should see a continuum and a steady increase from green to blue. 

  1. This answer choice incorrectly shows the percent of green responses do not change. The baboons are able to distinguish between the colors. This is an unlikely graph
  2. This is just the reverse of Figure 1 in the passage and shows the colors being perceived categorically (either green or blue)
  3. This is identical to the graph in the passage and also shows the colors being perceived categorically. We know that’s not the case in baboons.
  4. This correctly shows a continuous pattern and a steady increase from green to blue. Answer choice D is going to be our best answer.

3) To answer this question, we’ll look through the four answer choices presented and go through the functions of each. We want the answer choice that’s related to viewing color, or vision in general.

  1. occipital cortex. The occipital lobe controls vision, so right away we have a promising answer. We can look at our other answers and dive further in the functions if we need to get into further detail. 
  2. temporal cortex. The temporal lobe controls hearing and some other speech functions. Answer choice A remains our best option because it controls vision.
  3. somatosensory cortex. Like its name suggests, the somatosensory cortex processes somatic sensations. Our senses gather information, and the somatosensory cortex processes these sensations.
  4. motor cortex. The motor cortex functions to control and execute voluntary movement. Out of all the answer choices listed, only the occipital cortex controls vision. Our best answer is going to be answer choice A. 

4) We can get this information from the passage.

I have highlighted what I feel is going to be necessary information from the passage. We have a positive banana chip when a correct response was produced. We have an aversive (strongly disliked) procedure when there are incorrect responses. 

  1. Fixed ratio there are a set number of responses that must occur before the behavior is rewarded. This sounds like our experiment. The subject gets a banana chip after a correct response. 
  2. Variable ratio the number of responses needed for a reward varies.
  3. Fixed interval is when behavior is rewarded after a set amount of time.
  4. Variable interval the subject gets the reinforcement based on varying and unpredictable amounts of time. The schedule that is used in the color-matching task is answer choice A: Fixed ratio.


Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Passage 2

5) First thing we can do here is bring up where the author talks about assimilation patterns in the passage.

We want to find variation in a set of answer choices and make sure we relate to this final paragraph in the passage. This is ultimately going to come down to knowing your vocabulary for the behavioral section.

  1. Social status and roles. Social status refers to one’s standing in the community and his position in the social hierarchy. A role is a set of rules or norms that function as plans or blueprints to guide behavior within a particular society.
  2. Social and cultural capital. Cultural capital is the accumulation of knowledge, behaviors, and skills that a person can tap into to demonstrate one’s cultural competence and social status. Social capital includes the advantages conferred by one’s social network, such as access to professional opportunities and insider knowledge.
  3. Cultural values and norms. Values include culturally-defined standards that serve as broad guidelines for social living. Norms include rules and expectations by which a society guides the behavior of its members. Traditions and standards can vary by region, so there is variation regarding how immigrants adopt these local traditions and standards. There is geographic variation in cultural values and norms, so answer choice C is going to be our best answer.
  4. Material and symbolic culture. Material culture refers to the relationship between artifacts and social relations; symbolic culture refers to the ideas, beliefs, values, or norms that shape a society.

6) The MCAT loves well-rounded students, and this question is an example of exactly that! We’re going to consider some historical factors for why there has been an increase in population of people aged 65 and older, and why there is a projected increase as well. 

  1. The increased immigration rate since the 1950s. While there has been an increased immigration rate, the immigrants mentioned in the passage are mostly children, not individuals aged 65 or older.
  2. The increased fertility rate after World War II. This is a very likely answer as it relates to the baby boomers, which is the generation of babies born after WWII. There was a big increase in fertility rate at this time, and these individuals are now over the age of 65.
  3. The sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. The sexual revolution is more a change in the way of thinking about how sex is perceived. This did not increase fertility rate like answer choice B. 
  4. The relative deprivation of the Great Depression. Deprivation would likely have the opposite effect on the population. Fewer children would be born. Answer choice B is going to remain our best option.

7) First thing we’re going to do to answer this question is define conflict theory. Conflict theory is a way of studying society by focusing on inequality between different groups and sees social life as a competition and focuses on the distribution of resources and power between these groups. Conflict theory views change as abrupt and revolutionary; that change and revolution is the result of inequality. In the conflict perspective, change comes about through conflict between competing interests, not consensus or adaptation. The passage did talk about demographic change affecting the US healthcare delivery system, but we want to explain this from the perspective of a conflict theorist. 

  1. This is more describing social constructionism. Social constructionism is a perspective that focuses on how knowledge and experiences are not real, but exist because individuals and society give them meaning. This collective meaning provides the reality we live in. Ideas, like health and disease for example, are defined and shaped over time by society, and therefore subject to different cultural norms.
  2. This is more functionalism. Functionalism promotes solidarity and stability in a community but cannot account for the individual or any social changes
  3. The focus on social support here might be a symbolic interactionism perspective. Symbolic Interactionism focuses on small scale perspectives with small interactions between individuals. It explains how individuals act in society and can be expanded to look at the interactions of larger social groups to explain social change
  4. A conflict theorist would focus on a discrepancy in political power base on generational status. They would focus on the allocation of resources. Answer choice D is going to be our best option here. 

8) This is going to be a content question that’s tangentially related to the passage. We can define the four terms given as answer choices and pick the one that is most likely to increase as the US population ages.

  1. the dependency ratio. This is a mathematical comparison of the number of people aged less than 14 and above 65 who are not part of the labor force, compared to those aged 15-64 who are part of the workforce. As we have a larger percentage of the population over 65 years of age and high birth rates, this ratio will increase. 
  2. the social gradient in health. This refers to how wealthy people are found to live longer on average than middle-class people, and middle-class people live longer than poor people.
  3. the life course perspective. Life-course theory views aging as changes in social, psychological and biological processes with time. Answer choice A is more obviously going to change with an aging US population. 
  4. the intersectionality of medicine. All individuals have multiple aspects of identity, and simultaneously experience some privileges due to their socially valued identity statuses and disadvantages due to their devalued identity statuses. This is not going to increase with increased age.


Exam 2 P/S Solutions: Questions 9-12

9) The theory of linguistic relativity states that the structure of a language influences the way its speakers conceptualize the world. The canonical example of studying linguistic relativity is in the area of color naming. Sapir and Whorf would believe that people whose languages partition the color spectrum along different lines perceive colors in a different way.

  1. All languages have a word for “up” and a word for “down.” While this may or may not be a true statement, we’re supporting the linguistic relativity hypothesis here, which doesn’t happen with answer choice A. This would be support for linguistic universalism. 
  2. Humans are better at learning words for primary colors than for secondary colors. Humans can learn the words just fine, it’s a matter of actually defining these colors and names. If you know three colors for three shades of green, you’re able to distinguish and point out those shades of green when you see them. Just because green is a secondary color does not mean we’re any worse at learning words for green.
  3. Some languages do not have words for “right” and “left.” Reasoning here is similar to answer choice A. While this may or may not be a true statement, we’re supporting the linguistic relativity hypothesis here. The structure of these languages influences how speakers conceptualize the world. 
  4. Humans are better at distinguishing colors for which their language has a name. This is the classic example for linguistic relativity hypothesis. I mentioned this earlier when going through answer choice B. If you know three colors for three shades of green, you’re able to distinguish and point out those shades of green when you see them. If you’ve never heard of the name or word for something, it’s difficult to comprehend. Answer choice D is going to be our best answer. 

10) First thing we’re going to do here is define a source-monitoring error. A source-monitoring error is a memory error in which the source of a memory is incorrectly attributed to some specific recollected experience. For example, the fictitious names are going to be fresh in the participants’ minds, so they might incorrectly believe they remember the name because it is a famous person they’ve heard of. There’s no real confidence in how the name was learned: either through hearing about a real famous person, or from seeing the fictitious name the previous day. While they might recall some of the old fictitious names as famous, that likely doesn’t mean they will forget the celebrity names as famous. 


Answer choice A reflects these observations. The individual will still recognize the celebrity names as famous people. They will incorrectly recognize some of the old fictitious names from the previous day as famous people because they do not recall how the name was learned. And lastly, there will be very few new fictitious names that the participants will recognize as a famous person. Answer choice A is our best answer.

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