Stimulus or Question Stem First?

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Stimulus or Question Stem First?

Postby Charlie.Home » Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:58 pm

I have always read the question stem followed by the stimulus, allowing me to key in on specifics the question stem is looking for-- in hopes of being more efficient.

What order do you read them in? Maybe this method is only more efficient on longer stimuli. Thoughts?


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Re: Stimulus or Question Stem First?

Postby Oscar85 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:00 pm

I am applying the Manhattan method, and they recommend you read question stem first. I agree with them because it allows you to know what to look for.

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Re: Stimulus or Question Stem First?

Postby 2014 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:45 pm

I always started at the beginning but that led to re-reading at times, it was just the most natural way for me to do it. I'm a quick reader anyway so I never ran into timing issues. Plus, stem first can actually take more time as you end up reading the stem twice for every question when it is not always necessary to do so.

You also get to where you can sense what kind of question it is going to be, or at least I did.


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Re: Stimulus or Question Stem First?

Postby gobosox » Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:06 pm

I read the question stem first. Helps me to focus. Only really helps me when it's parallel reasoning questions, or identify the role questions, as almost every other question type is the same in terms of how I read the question.


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Re: Stimulus or Question Stem First?

Postby skova » Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:37 pm

My instructor suggests going stem-first, but only for a basic idea of what to expect. Like, if it's an inference question, then to know that there's not much of an argument to read for, or if it's a main point question, then to know not to bother looking for a flaw.

Idk, I don't think it makes much of a difference from when I went stim first, but it's not like it's slowed me down or anything either...

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Re: Stimulus or Question Stem First?

Postby bp shinners » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:45 am

I always, ALWAYS do the question stem first.

First, you should never have to re-read the question stem. You read it, figure out what type of question it is, and develop a shorthand. So next to a MBT question, I'll write MBT. Most of the time, the reinforcement of thinking AND writing it down is enough that I remember it. If not, it takes 1/10 of the time to read my notation as it does to read the stem.

Second, if you don't know what you're looking for in the stimulus, you might waste time thinking about an answer that is to a different question. After reading the stem, I will know if I'm looking for an argument/conclusion or not, whether I need to specifically address the flaw (why waste time thinking about it in a M(ain)P(oint) question?), and if I have to do anything with the flaw.

Third, reading the stem first, I can get through a section significantly faster (I've timed myself both ways). Significantly.


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Re: Stimulus or Question Stem First?

Postby FloridaCoastalorbust » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:49 am

Question stem fist helped my pacing a massive amount. This helped me devote more time to 16-20, which led to higher LR in general.


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Re: Stimulus or Question Stem First?

Postby totaltest.milan » Sat Jul 14, 2012 11:54 am

I teach my students to read the stem first. So I guess the clear winner on the thread so far is stem first.

Shinners points are all very good; in particular if you're reading the stem more than once you're doing something wrong. Probably you're not focused enough when you're reading it. A big part of this test is the ability to maintain focus/concentration - keep that in mind as you're preparing.

In addition, different question types will require you to look at different things in the argument (structure vs assumptions vs content etc) so knowing what question type you're dealing with will let you know what you need to emphasize when reading the argument.

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