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MCAT Content / AAMC Sample Test Ps Solutions

AAMC Sample PS [Web]

AAMC Sample Test P/S: Passage 1

1) We want to be careful with the verbiage as we jump into this question. We’ll look at the data in Figure 1, then we’ll jump into our answer choices. Three of the answer choices will be supported by the data in Figure 1, while our correct answer will NOT. 

Figure 1 tells us the number of words recalled and recognized by participants in the four groups.

  1. As people grow older, their ability to recall declines. We can look at the recall task bar for the three age groups and notice that black bar gets smaller as age increases. This statement is supported by the data in Figure 1.
  2. Recognition is relatively stable in adults without memory impairments. Recognition is given by the gray bars in Figure 1. We can see the bars are all relatively close together in height. That means recognition is stable in adults without memory impairments.
  3. The memory problems in Alzheimer disease are an acceleration of the aging process. We note that recall gets tougher as individuals age, but recognition is relatively stable, regardless of age. In the Alzheimer’s patients, we see the recall numbers decrease significantly (which is partly expected), but we also see recognition numbers decrease significantly. This is not something that normally happens. This statement is not supported by the data in Figure 1.
  4. Participants without memory impairments perform better in the recognition task compared to the recall task. This is supported by the gray bars in Figure 1 being taller than the black bars in Figure 1. Recognition is easier than recall for the adults. This is supported by the data in Figure 1, so the best answer here is going to be answer choice C. 

2) To answer this question, we can quickly look back at the passage and note where the author talks about retrieving words related to the words on the list.

We want to relate this finding to one of the four statements shown as answer choices. We’ll end up defining those terms and seeing which one best ties into the passage.

  1. spreading activation. Spreading activation is a theory proposed that relates storage of memories to the activation of a series of nodes. These nodes create an activation pattern of other related nodes and this is how singular events are remembered. For example, at the mention of the color red and the word “vehicle,” two nodes that may be activated at the same time to relate a personal memory of a car they owned, or a fire truck. That is very similar to what is happening in the passage. The participants are retrieving words that are related to the words on the list
  2. depth of processing. Depth of processing involves how much an individual thinks about specific information. For example, if the participants skimmed over a word on the list, that is a shallow level of processing. A deeper level would involve paying greater attention to the word. That’s not what’s happening in that last paragraph. Answer choice A remains the best option. 
  3. the serial position effect. The serial-position effect is the tendency of a person to recall the first and last items in a series best, and the middle items worst. While we see that in Figure 2, we’re not going to get tricked! We’re focused on the last paragraph and the retrieval of related words. The serial-position effect is not related to that.
  4. the existence of visuospatial sketchpad. A visuospatial sketchpad refers to holding visual and spatial information. It’s not going to be as relevant to the retrieval of related words. We can eliminate this answer choice. Answer choice A remains our best answer. 

3) This question is similar to Question 1 because we have to go back to the passage and go through the visual we’ve been given. 

This visual is comparing the percentage of words recalled as a function of position in the list. We’re focused on the group of Alzheimer’s patients, which is the solid black line. We can see the percentage of words recalled is nonexistent until the middle words in the list, then we have a much higher percentage increase. The Alzheimer’s patients were able to best recall the items at the end of the list. Let’s define the four terms in our answer choice and see which term is consistent with Figure 2.

  1. primacy effect. Primacy effect is when the items that were presented first are recalled well as they have already been encoded into long-term memory. The opposite is happening with the Alzheimer’s patients. 
  2. recency effect. Recency effect is when the items that were presented last are also recalled well as they are still being held in the working short-term memory. This is exactly what’s happening in Figure 2. This is a strong answer choice.
  3. interference effect. All memories interfere with the ability to recall other memories. Often if you are unable to recall information, another memory is interfering with the memory. 
  4. continuity effect. This is added as a distractor. AAMC does not mention the continuity effect in the content outline. Answer choice B is going to be the best option of the four listed.

4) This is going to tie into Question 3 as we’re looking at the same figure to answer this question. 

This visual is comparing the percentage of words recalled as a function of position in the list. This time we’re focused on participants without memory impairments. We notice a higher percentage of words recalled at the beginning and end, with a dip in percentage in the middle. We talked about some reasons for this. Primacy effect is when the items that were presented first are recalled well as they have already been encoded into long-term memory. Recency effect is when the items that were presented last are also recalled well as they are still being held in the working short-term memory. The words in the middle see a lower percentage as a result.

  1. Short term memory is the activated part of sensory memory. Sensory memory, just like its name suggests, is information that’s coming in through sensory receptors. We’re not focused on sensory memory here. We’re focused on short- and long-term memory and recall.
  2. Short term memory is the activated part of long term memory. This is once again something we cannot conclude from Figure 2 in the passage. We’re explicitly asked to draw a conclusion from the figure, so we have to try and do so.
  3. Short term memory and long term memory are uniform and function similarly. We went through recency effect and primacy effect in our breakdown. The two are not uniform, but rather separate. We can see the beginning portion of the graph influenced by long term memory. The end portion of the graph is influenced by short term memory.  
  4. Short term memory and long term memory represent separate memory systems. This is exactly what we see in Figure 2. Primacy effect is when the items that were presented first are recalled well as they have already been encoded into long-term memory Recency effect is when the items that were presented last are also recalled well as they are still being held in the working short-term memory. This is why we see higher percentages of words recalled at the beginning and end-it’s because of the separate memory systems. We can pick answer choice D as our best answer.

5) Proactive interference occurs when old memories hinder the ability to make new memories. In this type of interference, old information inhibits the ability to remember new information, such as when outdated scientific facts interfere with the ability to remember updated facts. We can jump into the results from Figure 2 to help us answer this question.

In the case of the Alzheimer’s patients, there is minimal long-term memory here. There are going to be no old memories getting in the way of making new memories because there are no old memories. Primacy effect is when the items that were presented first are recalled well as they have already been encoded into long-term memory. In the case of the Alzheimer’s patients, there were words encoded into long-term memory.

  1. Yes, because their memory is weaker than all other groups, making them most vulnerable to proactive interference. Even if their memory is weaker, they are still not vulnerable to proactive interference because there are no old memories hindering the ability to make new memories.
  2. Yes, because their working memory appears to be functioning, and that is where proactive interference takes place. Working memory is also known as short term memory. It is true that short term memory works better in Alzheimer’s patients. However, proactive interference takes place when old memories hinder the ability to make new memories. Not with short-term memory.
  3. No, because proactive interference requires information, previously stored in long term memory, which can impede the learning of new information. This is consistent with our breakdown of the question. I mentioned in proactive interference, old memories hinder the ability to make new memories. If we have no stored memories, there’s no interference.
  4. No, because proactive interference requires an intact temporal cortex, and Alzheimer patients have damage to the temporal cortex. Damage to the temporal cortex involves losing understanding of certain words and losing understanding of language. However, damage to the temporal cortex is not what prevents the Alzheimer’s patients from committing information to long term memory. Answer choice C remains our best option.

 

AAMC Sample Test P/S: Passage 2

6) The author presents us with the stories of Alice and Bill in the very beginning of the passage.

We’re going to keep this information in mind and find the concept that is LEAST applicable to these stories. That means three of the answer choices will be applicable, and the one that is least applicable will be our correct answer. 

  1. Meritocracy A meritocracy is an ideal system based on the belief that social stratification is the result of personal effort—or merit—that determines social standing. High levels of effort will lead to a high social position, and vice versa. From the stories in the passage, we can assume the work that Alice and Bill put in is what got them success. 
  2. Intergenerational mobility refers to the phenomenon whereby a child attains higher or lower status than their parents. This is the case with both Alice and Bill. This is applicable to both stories.
  3. Social reproduction refers to the emphasis on the structures and activities that transmit social inequality from one generation to the next. In the cases of Alice and Bill, they managed to overcome social reproduction and had substantial success. 
  4. Relative poverty. Relative poverty is a measure of wealth inequality, describing an individual or group’s wealth relative to another individual or group. We got to see the struggle Alice had to go through compared to others, just to get to school. Relative poverty was applicable to the stories of Alice and Bill.

7) The research design is covered in the second and third paragraphs of the passage. The author says the research design utilized a snowball sampling selection method. Snowball sampling includes participants recruiting additional subjects for the study. The author actually says “new participants were enrolled in the study using the contacts of existing participants.” Let’s go through the four statements and find a potential weakness in this design.

  1. The researchers did not assess demographic variables, such as age or gender. This likely would not have been assessed prior to getting any sample of people. The biggest thing the researchers needed was a group of Pathmakers and a path of Followers. This is not a weakness in the study’s research design.
  2. The subjects are linked through social networks, leading to sampling bias. This is the biggest risk in snowball sampling. The participants are enrolled in the study using the contacts of existing participants. There is sampling bias which occurs when the study population is not representative of the general population.
  3. In-depth interviews are time consuming, which results in researcher fatigue. This is not something that is a potential weakness of snowball sampling. The in-depth interviews would happen regardless of the recruiting method. Answer choice B remains a superior answer choice.
  4. A small sample does not allow for quantifiable data, which limits data analysis. This is not a potential weakness. The sample is still the same size, regardless of how the subjects were obtained. In this case there are 100 subjects. There is no indication there would have been more than 100 subjects if snowball sampling wasn’t used. Answer choice B is our best option. 

8) First thing we’re going to do is find out what the author says about Followers in the passage. 

Followers originated from favorable socioeconomic backgrounds, unlike Alice and Bill. Ultimately, the researchers compared internal loci of control and emotional well-being of Followers and Pathmakers. A likely reason would be for comparison purposes, but we will go through our four options and see which one would be the main purpose.

  1. to provide an additional set of variables for the researchers to analyze. While this is a true statement, this is not the main purpose for including the Followers in the study. The variables actually mean something in the context of the study which is what we’re looking for in an answer.
  2. to allow the researchers to increase the study’s sample size. Reasoning here is going to be similar to answer choice A. There is a reason behind the larger sample size. The Followers weren’t included just for the sake of increasing the sample size. 
  3. to allow comparisons for testing hypotheses related to paths to success. This is the answer we’re looking for. The Followers were included for a specific purpose-to actually compare to the Pathmakers and to test hypotheses related to paths of success. The Followers provided valuable data.
  4. to provide a different operational definition of the dependent variable. Adding additional subjects to the study is not going to change the definition of the dependent variable, or change the dependent variable at all. The locus of control was the dependent variable in this study. That did not change by including the Followers. Our best answer here is going to be answer choice C.

9) First thing we’re going to do to answer this question is recall the hypothesis stated in the last paragraph of the passage.

Locus of control is the extent to which someone believes they control the events that affect them. Alice came from very little and eventually became the CEO of a large corporation, so we want a comment from Alice’s perspective, and within the context of the hypothesis.

  1. I worked very hard because I came from a poor family. This answer choice is attributing success to an external factor. Pathmakers, like Alice, have stronger internal locus of control. 
  2. I did well in school because I had excellent teachers. This is once again attributing success to an external factor. Remember that Pathmakers have stronger internal locus of control. 
  3. I got my first job because I was very lucky. This is once again attributing success to an external factor. Pathmakers have stronger internal locus of control. We can eliminate this answer choice.
  4. I am successful because I am a responsible person. This is the only answer choice that is consistent with Alice having stronger internal locus of control. The other answer choices attributed success to external factors, but answer choice D correctly lists a statement that would likely be attributed to a subject like Alice.

 

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