RC Improvement, One Month Out

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tmon
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RC Improvement, One Month Out

Postby tmon » Mon May 02, 2011 11:03 pm

I need help. Any suggestions welcome. Planning on the June test.

I've been studying since February. Dropped my LG score from -7 to 0. Dropped my LR from -7 per section to around 3 (and still improving hopefully). But RC has been far less responsive to the work I've put in. My average is around -6. I used to consistently score 6-8, and now just score erratically, once in a while -4, other times back to -7. So in a sense it seems I've learned and improved, but not in any way I can count on, come test day.

My plan for RC so far has been to mostly just do full sections, and of course doing those in context of full practice tests periodically. I've gotten through maybe 40 sections, I'd estimate. I go over my answers, compare to the passage, and note what information I either didn't absorb or couldn't find fast enough. A lot of my problem seems to be timing. I often shortchange the last section, giving it 6ish minutes, because I've taken too long on the other three. I feel that my improvement in the LG section has come because of drastic improvements on the easy games so I can finish in 5 or so minutes and bank time for the harder games. Is that what I should be pushing for more than all-around improvement? I don't really seem to grasp which passages are going to be easier until they're done though. I don't think I've ever finished a passage and its questions in much less than 7 minutes, if that.

Basically, if you were in my position, one month before the test, how would you study for RC?

Edit: also of note: I've gone through the Manhattan RC guide, but not Powerscore, as I haven't heard much use in that. I found Manhattan's to be generally useful and use it while going through the passage for the most part.
Last edited by tmon on Tue May 03, 2011 8:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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greenchair
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Re: RC, One Month Out

Postby greenchair » Mon May 02, 2011 11:50 pm

i have a very similar problem... would like to hear from people about it.

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Strange
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Re: RC, One Month Out

Postby Strange » Tue May 03, 2011 12:12 am

Ditto. RC is my main obstacle to a 170+ score at this point

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IronSkadden
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Re: RC, One Month Out

Postby IronSkadden » Tue May 03, 2011 10:11 am

I thought I had RC locked down (was regularly scoring around -3). But I can't seem to score above -6 on the new, harder RC sections (after PT 44 or so).

I've read the RC Bible over the last few days. I'm taking a PT tomorrow. I hope the RCB techniques yield improvement...

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tmon
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Re: RC, One Month Out

Postby tmon » Tue May 03, 2011 10:39 am

I'm all about going through material I've already done as a way of realizing what I'm doing wrong.

In that vein, I went over the Manhattan guide again last night--mostly just the final exercise and the answers/explanations for why right and wrong answers were correct/incorrect. I'm going to focus on reading the questions/answer choices a bit more thoroughly as I do a couple sections tonight. My hypothesis is that at least part of my problem stems from pushing for speed too hard (a problem I was having with LR) which results in actually taking longer and being inaccurate. This seems especially relevant on some questions where the answer choices are very similar, but there are many times where most of the answers don't strike me as incorrect.

Where are all the RC pros to tell us how they improved? :lol:

sharrin7
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Re: RC, One Month Out

Postby sharrin7 » Tue May 03, 2011 7:35 pm

tag/bump

Tabemaju
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Re: RC Improvement, One Month Out

Postby Tabemaju » Tue May 03, 2011 11:18 pm

I've done a bit of everything over the past 4 months to improve my RC scores, but the only thing that has worked well for me is to drill passages. I typically do a full timed section per day and the two things I focus primarily on are timing and annotating. On reviewing a section, I look at how my annotating could have improved, what words/opinions/etc I missed that were important. I have become more consistent, but I still want to make more progress over the next month (I've gone from -8 average to around -4). I think the trick is finding a balance between speed and understanding. In the beginning, I was either reading too fast and having to look through the passage too much while doing the questions for things I didn't absorb, or I was reading too slow and having to fly through the answers (which sucks once you get to a "on line 43, they meant..." questions). Unfortunately, my timing still sucks, especially when I'm not entirely focused.

A lot of people on the boards recommend something like the Economist. But it's no substitute for the real thing. I've been an active reader of the Economist for over a year, and it obviously didn't make my RC section any easier. If I were a year out, I'd probably develop some techniques toward speed reading, it may have helped me find a better balance between speed and understanding. Now that I'm a month out? My only plan is to drill, drill, drill.

skippy1
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Re: RC Improvement, One Month Out

Postby skippy1 » Tue May 03, 2011 11:26 pm

There are a lot of good tips on RC in the LSAT forum.

One thing that improved RC for me was to read actively. Mark (circle, underline) dates, definitions, opinions, examples/illustrations of a concept etc. This might slow you down at first but if you keep it up, you'll get get faster at it plus you'll be improving comprehension. Also, when you read other articles for practice in magazines, read the same way.

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tmon
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Re: RC Improvement, One Month Out

Postby tmon » Wed May 04, 2011 12:01 am

Thanks for the replies. This is all useful information.

I did two sections of RC tonight--and I think it might be most useful to do at least 2 at a time so I can learn from mistakes and immediately implement what I've learned. I think one of the great skills necessary for improvement is being able to diagnose what's keeping you from improving. After my first section (-6) I realized that two of my wrong answers were from not properly reading a question and/or AC. An additional wrong answer came from misunderstanding a key thrust of the argument in another passage. So at least half of my wrong answers were from simply not reading closely enough.

On the second section, that became my focus, and I think it helped quite a bit. I got a -2, which is the best RC score I've ever earned. While I'm nowhere near ready for June, this is a great step.

More suggestions welcome! Keep 'em coming :mrgreen:

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IronSkadden
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Re: RC Improvement, One Month Out

Postby IronSkadden » Tue May 10, 2011 10:37 pm

Though I've yet to test this on the newer PTs (45 - 62), I believe I've significantly improved in RC after reading the Powerscore RCB. In the past 2 days I've taken four RC sections:

PT 21: -0
PT 20: -1
PT 19: -5
PT 18: -0

Before the RCB, I averaged around -3 on the old RC sections and then -5 on the newer tests. I had never completed a perfect RC section. Now I've completed two.

Though many people say RCB is of dubious value, it is working for me...

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Kimchi_smile
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Re: RC, One Month Out

Postby Kimchi_smile » Tue May 10, 2011 10:42 pm

Strange wrote:Ditto. RC is my main obstacle to a 170+ score at this point


I'd have gotten close to 180 if RC didn't exist. :lol:

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BrightLine
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Re: RC, One Month Out

Postby BrightLine » Tue May 10, 2011 11:08 pm

IronSkadden wrote:I thought I had RC locked down (was regularly scoring around -3). But I can't seem to score above -6 on the new, harder RC sections (after PT 44 or so).

I've read the RC Bible over the last few days. I'm taking a PT tomorrow. I hope the RCB techniques yield improvement...



I had the same issue, I was -2 on RC from my diagnostic and improved to -0/-1. But those newer tests knocked me back to -4/-5. The only thing that I thought that helped was to go through every single one of the "new" RC until I got better at them.

Ultimately my test was undisclosed so i don't really know how I did. Actually, having an undisclosed test really helps you not obsess over questions you should not have missed.

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tmon
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Re: RC Improvement, One Month Out

Postby tmon » Tue May 10, 2011 11:14 pm

IronSkadden wrote:Though I've yet to test this on the newer PTs (45 - 62), I believe I've significantly improved in RC after reading the Powerscore RCB. In the past 2 days I've taken four RC sections:

PT 21: -0
PT 20: -1
PT 19: -5
PT 18: -0

Before the RCB, I averaged around -3 on the old RC sections and then -5 on the newer tests. I had never completed a perfect RC section. Now I've completed two.

Though many people say RCB is of dubious value, it is working for me...


Any specific skill you've honed that you think is key to your improvement? I've read the Manhattan guide, which I think is helping me figure out the argument and general structure stuff, but I've still got major timing issues. Is the RCB good at anything in particular in your opinion?

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IronSkadden
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Re: RC Improvement, One Month Out

Postby IronSkadden » Tue May 10, 2011 11:29 pm

RCB stresses keeping track of the viewpoints of everyone in the passage. It seems simple, but it provides insight into many different areas (author's pov, tone, structure of argument, main point, etc).

Also, it's helpful to remember that most answers have to be supported by the passage. If an answer only "seems" like it could be right, it will be wrong in many cases. This doesn't apply to strengthen/weaken questions or parallel reasoning questions or a number of other questions.

ebm3q
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Re: RC Improvement, One Month Out

Postby ebm3q » Wed May 18, 2011 12:42 pm

This seems to be a common problem. I have also had the same difficulty. I am basically facing the same problem and here is what I have done. I read Manhattan, which is useful, but can be misleading. I felt it made me focus too much on identifying the two sides of the argument, even if it wasn't so clear in the beginning, which took my focus off of the details I was reading.
With that in mind, I took the useful bits from Manhattan and combined them with Voyager's suggestions. Implementing Voyager's notations with Manhattan's strategy helps. I think the key is to stop after each paragraph, notate what that paragraph was about/its role in the argument on the side, and then move on. It forces you to think about it.
However, I am still having timing issues with the more difficult passages, so the only advice for that I can offer is keep doing sections. It helps me to do 3 sections in a row. You can see what traps you fall into.
Lastly, keep in mind that early tests are drastically different with regards to RC difficulty. I can finish early tests -0 with a lot of time to spare and I struggle with the newer ones ( i.e. 37 minutes or so -4ish). At this point, use the early ones to practice attacking a passage and making your notations consistent. But, remember, that until you are hitting your goal on the newer tests you probably need to do more work. Recent is definitely better in this case in my opinion.

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DaisyLafayette
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Re: RC Improvement, One Month Out

Postby DaisyLafayette » Wed May 18, 2011 1:06 pm

I have gone over the powerscore book but not the Manhatten....is it worth the money to get or should i just stick to analyzing passages??

This is also the section where I score most erratically- my last three[ -1-0, -5!] I have found that adding a fifth section and giving myself 40 minutes has helped with my timing difficulty. Also I go over each passage and type out words or word phrases that I am not totally comfortable with, as LSAT definitions can sometimes differ from common use. The questions are also ripe for analysis as they recur over and over so really understanding what they are asking for and then the meaning of the answers helps.

some of these passages are the devil. hope the above helps

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DaisyLafayette
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Re: RC Improvement, One Month Out

Postby DaisyLafayette » Wed May 18, 2011 1:07 pm

oo and ebm3q- what is the voyager rc?

ebm3q
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Re: RC Improvement, One Month Out

Postby ebm3q » Wed May 18, 2011 1:10 pm

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=7240

A technique written by a TLS user. It tends to be recommended around here for RC. It is a good overall strategy, but supplement with what works best for you. I found when I used this the first time, I spent too much time writing. So modify as needed, of course.

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DaisyLafayette
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Re: RC Improvement, One Month Out

Postby DaisyLafayette » Wed May 18, 2011 1:16 pm

awesome!! thank you so much!

rubydandun
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Re: RC Improvement, One Month Out

Postby rubydandun » Wed May 18, 2011 3:04 pm

it's strange, but what really helped me was:

Putting my pencil down and not annotating at all, unless it's COMPLETELY obviously going to be asked about (e.g., author's thesis).

Writing and annotating was distracting me and taking too much time. Still, I barely finish RC on time so it's a huge problem but another thing I've learned is to lose battles with grace and just skip WTF problems.

Here's my basic strategy (went from -6 to around -2 or 3)

-Do the first passage no matter what (generally the easiest), then skip around, doing longer passages first (e.g., don't save an 8-question beast for last).

-Read each paragraph, putting the main ideas into my own words (creating synonyms and putting difficult sections of a passage into your own mental words does WONDERS, because oftentimes this forces you to truly comprehend the material and prevents you from picking trap answers that mimic the wording, and not the meat, of a portion of the text)

-at the end of each paragraph, ask yourself what role the paragraph plays in the overall structure - is it a hypothesis? a previous state of affairs that's now under reconsideration? a viewpoint that will be razed to the ground in the next paragraph? Just background information? Outline of a problem?

-anticipate what is going to happen next

-track viewpoints and the evidence for each - be very skeptical, involve yourself and read very very carefully as you would on a LR problem.

-at the very end of the passage - spend 15 seconds analyzing what you just read and the structure - oftentimes you will forget what was said at the very beginning of the passage, which leads to missed Main Point questions.

and also, very generally: why was this written and what is this person trying to tell me?

Last point: realize that the right answer will often be very ugly, especially inference questions. They are true but phrased in a way that makes them look very wrong, too extreme, etc. But at the end of the day, when all else fails, use the author's POV as your barometer when choosing between 2 answer choices.

Best piece of advice I got in RC was to treat RC passages like a longer LR problem.




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