RC Main Point - How Should I Change My Approach?

LittleTree
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RC Main Point - How Should I Change My Approach?

Postby LittleTree » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:01 pm

I did a little research before writing this and found a few other people having issues with Main Point questions but didn't find the information covered in those threads particularly useful. I keep missing MP questions in RC passages even though I am generally a high scorer. I score on average -2 to -3 on a section and my last 5 PTs have all been 170+.

For some reason the bulk of my misses are on MP questions. I analyze my answers afterwards and can figure out the right one (I'm generally down to 2 appealing answers), but sometimes the correct answer wasn't even one of the few I was choosing between. I find this unsettling because I am correctly answering most of the detail-oriented questions and not missing very many overall. I thought MP questions would be "free points."

Other relevant info: I haven't read a RC book but do a fair amount of notation. I box terms/people, write MPs of paragraphs off to the side, and even try to write what I think the MP of the passage is at the bottom. Generally finish RC sections between 32 and 34 min.

Any pointers? Thank you in advance.

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cc.celina
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Re: RC Main Point - How Should I Change My Approach?

Postby cc.celina » Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:22 pm

Oh goodness. This is exactly my story. I would miss like, 2 out of the 4 of the MP questions on every RC section for a while. Luckily you can get over it and RC ended up being the only section I -0ed in June. Hopefully some of this will be helpful to you:

- Awareness is a big part of solving the problem, so congrats! From here on out, you are going to pay a lot of attention to main point questions, which is one of the best things you can do at this point. Consciously prephrase the main point while you are reading the passage (because you KNOW the question is coming), and take a little extra time on them since you have a minute or three to spare.

- Recognize that there's a subtle difference between questions that straight up ask you the main point of the passage, and questions that ask for a summary. There's a good bit in SuperPrep about this, if I recall correctly. (Superprep is totally worth the investment.) Pay attention to which one the question stem is asking for, and respond accordingly.

- If you're down to two answer choices, don't try to figure out which one is right. It's much easier to figure out which one is wrong. Often, one of the clauses in an incorrect answer choice will be reversed, making the entire answer choice wrong, or similar sort-of subtle things like that. Process of elimination is your friend when none of the choices match your prephrase, because there are a million ways to word the right answer, and the only concrete way to know which is right is to figure out which ones are wrong.

- When I realized I was missing a lot of MP questions, I started saving them till last. After reading the passage once, I usually had a pretty decent grasp on the passage. But after reading it and THEN doing all the more detail-oriented questions, I usually had a much better sense of what each individual paragraph was saying. Try this out, and see if you get better results. MP questions demand a high level of familiarity with the passage, which you'll have after answering the other 5 questions.

- DRILL. A LOT.

Hope this helped!

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theprophet89
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Re: RC Main Point - How Should I Change My Approach?

Postby theprophet89 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 11:17 pm

cc.celina wrote:When I realized I was missing a lot of MP questions, I started saving them till last. After reading the passage once, I usually had a pretty decent grasp on the passage. But after reading it and THEN doing all the more detail-oriented questions, I usually had a much better sense of what each individual paragraph was saying. Try this out, and see if you get better results. MP questions demand a high level of familiarity with the passage, which you'll have after answering the other 5 questions.


This is money. I have the same problem with MP questions and find myself referring back to my answer near the end of the questions because I realize how much I learned about the passage from all the previous questions.

Great advice!

LittleTree
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Re: RC Main Point - How Should I Change My Approach?

Postby LittleTree » Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:51 am

Thanks for the advice! I just have the superprep book lying around but I'll start working through it tomorrow. I'll also try answering MP questions last.
Thanks again.

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Br3v
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Re: RC Main Point - How Should I Change My Approach?

Postby Br3v » Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:08 pm

Just wrote this in antoher thread.

DH from Velocity put it ebst when he said for MP RC questions, the answer is typically what you would say when after reading you turned to someone and said "I just read a passage about blank" Sounds obvious, but what was the main point!?

JohnV
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Re: RC Main Point - How Should I Change My Approach?

Postby JohnV » Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:20 am

You probably found my post during your search because I recently made this same topic. I've made improvement by reading "main point" as "conclusion" is most cases. This would be opposed to, say, reading "main point" as a summary, which is something I had been doing for a while before and was getting the majority of them wrong.

I also agree with reading the MP last if you aren't seeing improvement. I sometimes skip it if the answer isn't coming to me because reading the rest of the questions/answers leads you to think about the passage and with that comes a better understanding of the MP.

bp shinners
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Re: RC Main Point - How Should I Change My Approach?

Postby bp shinners » Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:00 pm

In general, the correct MP answer is going to have a few elements:
1) Nothing in it is false/outside the scope of the argument
2) The Author's viewpoint is the focus of the correct answer
3) If there are other viewpoints, they're referenced in some way (even if it's just, "Despite some arguments to the contrary, AUTHOR'S VIEWPOINT")
4) Every single paragraph of the passage has something to say about that answer

If you can find an answer that has these elements, it's the right one.

LittleTree
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Re: RC Main Point - How Should I Change My Approach?

Postby LittleTree » Wed Aug 08, 2012 6:53 pm

Update: Yesterday I went -3 with 1/3 being MP. Today I was -3 and 2/3 were MP.
Trying hard and taking advice into consideration. Visiting my mother today, she had a look at the questions and was able to get all 3 with little trouble (she has no LSAT background), which was a bit demoralizing. Troubled because I could make real improvement in my RC if I could get this type.

Edit: on my phone, made a few mistakes

Voco90
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Re: RC Main Point - How Should I Change My Approach?

Postby Voco90 » Wed Aug 08, 2012 7:03 pm

The advice that's been given thus far is great. I'll add in my .02.

One thing I do at the end of every passage is stop for about 5 seconds, and try to articulate the structure of the passage. Before I get to that point, however, I make sure to do the same thing after every paragraph. In this way, I quickly review each paragraph and how it fits into the greater passage.

By the end of the passage, when I articulate the structure, it is easier to recall smaller nuances (because I took some time to review them during my initial reading). Thus, when the main point question comes around, I'm able to eliminate answers that are too heavily weighted towards one section of the passage. This, in addition to that careful review, usually makes the right answer more obvious.

Another thing I do is constantly ask, "where is this going?" I know this may seem obvious, but this is part of that constant, active review that I've been talking about.

This is what has worked for me, and I hope it can help you as well.



(FWIW, I used to have the exact same problem... but not anymore -- I just finished a section in 25 minutes, with no misses... Keep chugging!)


*Edited for clarity




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