Reading Comprehension: Questions first? Structure?

nblumen
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Reading Comprehension: Questions first? Structure?

Postby nblumen » Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:00 pm

I know that there have been a lot of RC topics and I have read through them, but there are two questions I still wanted to ask.

1.) There seems to be a mixed consensus as to whether skimming the questions first helps you pay special attention to what you need to know in the passage or if it is just a waste of time. For those who scored high on the RC section, what is your suggestion?

2.) Every prep book I've read talks about the necessity of understanding the structure of each passage. I'm not really sure what is meant by this. Does this mean to just note things like where a contrasting view is offered or if there's an alternative suggestion/recommendation at the end?

I'm in a Kaplan course right now, but have also been reading through Powerscore LG Bible, Nova, and Princeton Review books. The last practice sections I took were: 96% LR, 88% LG, but only 70% RC. I'd really like to get my RC score up, but I'm not sure the best way to study for this or the best techniques to practice. Pacing seems to be a big problem of mine ever since I starting using Kaplan's method and so I think I might steer clear of their RC advice, especially because my RC scores have been declining ever since my diagnostic.

Thoughts?

Manhattan LSAT Noah
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Re: Reading Comprehension: Questions first? Structure?

Postby Manhattan LSAT Noah » Fri Aug 05, 2011 2:46 pm

I'll leave #2 for others, as that's a huge topic (it's the basis of our RC book), but for #1, I would not recommend skimming the questions. In my opinion, that strategy is based on an answer-focused read of the passage, but what you want is a great read focused on the passage's structure and where the different parts fit into that. Plus, if you actually can hold on to the issues you're looking for, you're very likely to not catch what the passage is really about.

I don't actually see skimming the question even really helping you pay attention to the topics referenced there - I don't have good enough a memory to keep those topics in mind, especially when I'm "getting into" a passage, and a majority of the questions are based on an understanding of the passage in general, something you might miss (missing the forest for the trees sort of thing).

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lrslayer
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Re: Reading Comprehension: Questions first? Structure?

Postby lrslayer » Fri Aug 05, 2011 8:38 pm

nblumen wrote:I know that there have been a lot of RC topics and I have read through them, but there are two questions I still wanted to ask.

1.) There seems to be a mixed consensus as to whether skimming the questions first helps you pay special attention to what you need to know in the passage or if it is just a waste of time. For those who scored high on the RC section, what is your suggestion?

2.) Every prep book I've read talks about the necessity of understanding the structure of each passage. I'm not really sure what is meant by this. Does this mean to just note things like where a contrasting view is offered or if there's an alternative suggestion/recommendation at the end?

I'm in a Kaplan course right now, but have also been reading through Powerscore LG Bible, Nova, and Princeton Review books. The last practice sections I took were: 96% LR, 88% LG, but only 70% RC. I'd really like to get my RC score up, but I'm not sure the best way to study for this or the best techniques to practice. Pacing seems to be a big problem of mine ever since I starting using Kaplan's method and so I think I might steer clear of their RC advice, especially because my RC scores have been declining ever since my diagnostic.

Thoughts?


i would say no to skimming questions because it is a waste of time. you really won't remember the questions as you are reading the passage. the important thing to do while you read is what you are asking in part 2 or your question. you need to thoughtfully read the passage and consider what you read in each paragraph. what was the paragraphs role in the passage as a whole? is it giving background info? does it hold the main thesis? is it an example that supports the thesis? you should be able to read the passage and label it in a way similar to the following (not necessarily the same structure)

paragraph 1: background info, thesis
p2: counter argument
p3: supportive evidence for original argument
p4: example of a case that supports original argument
p5: conclude and ties up loose strings

this was not based on a real passage, just made up on the fly. so you can see that you need to know the purpose of each paragraph and write that next to it. this will also help you find info for questions that you may need for the questions. also, remember that some passages may not have much of an argument and are just informative. i hope this gives you a VERY brief idea of what they mean by structure!

nblumen
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Re: Reading Comprehension: Questions first? Structure?

Postby nblumen » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:00 pm

thank you for the advice. i know that most of my books recommend underlining or circling "key words" to help indicate structure, but i often find that when i follow this advice, i end up with nearly half of any given passage marked up. having so many things underlined or circled kind of defeats the purpose of marking the passage up at all because it's equally as difficult to find the information i am looking for. do you have any suggestions as to how to go about marking up a passage more efficiently?

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lrslayer
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Re: Reading Comprehension: Questions first? Structure?

Postby lrslayer » Fri Aug 05, 2011 9:38 pm

nblumen wrote:thank you for the advice. i know that most of my books recommend underlining or circling "key words" to help indicate structure, but i often find that when i follow this advice, i end up with nearly half of any given passage marked up. having so many things underlined or circled kind of defeats the purpose of marking the passage up at all because it's equally as difficult to find the information i am looking for. do you have any suggestions as to how to go about marking up a passage more efficiently?

personally, i just write one thing next to each paragraph. like,
mp- main point
a- argument a
b- argument b or counter argument
ex- example (i will put ex a if it supports a or ex b if it supports b)
bg- background info
im sure you get the idea, main thing is to do what works for you.
for me, this helps make the structure clear and helps me quickly reference back where answers are in the passage.
i rarely mark within the passage unless its the thesis or some amazingly important sentence.

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EarlCat
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Re: Reading Comprehension: Questions first? Structure?

Postby EarlCat » Fri Aug 05, 2011 11:01 pm

I also don't preview the questions. It's not that it's a bad thing to do necessarily, but, for me at least, I forget what the questions said halfway through the passage, so it's of little help. Also, a lot of your RC questions are going to be very general, such as, "Which of the following would the author most likely agree with?" Previewing that question doesn't really help to flag anything within the passage unless we also burn a bunch of time previewing the answer choices as well.

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clouds101
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Re: Reading Comprehension: Questions first? Structure?

Postby clouds101 » Sat Aug 06, 2011 1:53 pm

I found that previewing questions after the first paragraph works well for me.

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RainMan
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Re: Reading Comprehension: Questions first? Structure?

Postby RainMan » Fri Jul 06, 2012 9:13 am

The reading comprehension is meant to test your ability to brief a relatively short reading in a short period of time. I find that it isn't necessary to capture every detail in the passage because once you read it, you can mark it and forget about it. The key to the reading comprehension is knowing what questions are going to be asked, and pinpointing the key arguments and details before even starting on the questions. Because time is such a factor on the whole test, I would make abbreviations and minor notes throughout the reading, but enough to let you know where to look when you are attacking questions. Actively reading is key, but do not try and memorize everything in the passage. Understanding the argument does not require you to do so and for questions that are more specific you can just refer back to the reading and your annotations. Hope this helps and good luck. Also, drilling RC is the best way to achieve a higher score. Do 4-5 sections a day and review. I found pithypikes method to be quite effective.

Oscar85
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Re: Reading Comprehension: Questions first? Structure?

Postby Oscar85 » Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:11 am

I would advise against not skimming the questions first. I think they will affect the way in which you read, possibly causing you to look for the "important" material in the question while failing to gather a cohesive understanding of the text. Generally, all questions will be the same: they will ask you for the main point, they will ask you to reference a part of the text, they will ask about what a critic would agree/disagree with, what the author would agree with, etc. I think all of this could be accomplished through the use of successful annotation, because you can quickly reference that which you underlined/annotated in the text.

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cc.celina
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Re: Reading Comprehension: Questions first? Structure?

Postby cc.celina » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:29 pm

To chime in, I agree that you shouldn't read the questions first. As to #2, most people have been saying they annotate in some form. Just wanted to let you know that I never annotate and rarely missed more than 2 on RC by the end. When I tried to annotate I had the same problem - I just underlined and circled too much, so it didn't help me at all. Annotating might work for you, in which case by all means do it, but it might not, and don't be afraid to drill a couple passages with different strategies to see which one works best for you.
Last edited by cc.celina on Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Honey_Badger
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Re: Reading Comprehension: Questions first? Structure?

Postby Honey_Badger » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:33 pm

I started out studying for RC by skimming questions first and then after missing some, experimented by not reading them at all before the passage. It definitely helped, as I found that I was not only wasting time (even a few seconds) reading the questions, but as I read the passage I was thinking about the questions and not really focusing on the passage/meanings, etc. itself.
You have enough time to try different methods to see what fits best for you.

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NoodleyOne
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Re: Reading Comprehension: Questions first? Structure?

Postby NoodleyOne » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:42 pm

I'm a -0 to -2 RC guy, but what works for you will be up to you.

I started annotating, and like others have said, I tended to underline too much and it was less than helpful, especially since the passages tend to be really dense. What I started doing after that was kind of speed read the passage. Not skim, mind you, I read it completely, but I did it very quickly. Then I referred back to the passage as necessary for questions that ask for individual pieces of evidence, but I had a solid enough grasp to be able to answer most of the "big picture" questions that are offered. I think if you read slowly and deliberately without intending on coming back to the passage, you'll face the same problem as when you read the questions first... you may lose some pertinent information. So yeah, read it quickly but don't hesitate to come back to it. Even with the constant referral to the passage, I still finish with normally ~5 minutes to spare with a rate of -0 to -2 almost every time (went -1 on the June test, fwiw).

bp shinners
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Re: Reading Comprehension: Questions first? Structure?

Postby bp shinners » Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:51 pm

nblumen wrote:thank you for the advice. i know that most of my books recommend underlining or circling "key words" to help indicate structure, but i often find that when i follow this advice, i end up with nearly half of any given passage marked up. having so many things underlined or circled kind of defeats the purpose of marking the passage up at all because it's equally as difficult to find the information i am looking for. do you have any suggestions as to how to go about marking up a passage more efficiently?


After reviewing your answers for accuracy, go back through the passage. One underline/highlight/circle at a time, go through each thing you marked and see if it helped you answer a question. For the vast majority of your markings, the answer will be, "No." Do this a few times, and you'll start to see what you're marking that is superfluous to the passage. Stop marking that feature.

As far as skimming, definitely don't. It's a crutch, and a bad one at that (Why is it a bad one? Because half the questions are going to be too generic to guide you AND these questions are things you should be noting anyway - viewpoints, author's attitude, main point - as they're always asked about, and the other half is going to point you to where you need to look or be about features that you should have put a note next to - like a list of features, causal relationships, or commonly-held beliefs). Instead, spend the time to compare what you're marking to what's being asked about, and before long you'll be able to predict most of the questions as you're reading the passage.




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