RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

WanderingPondering
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RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby WanderingPondering » Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:26 pm

Hi fellow LSAT takers!

I'm having a huge problem. I've been following pithpike's guide and recently getting into the full length practice tests. I've been able to consistently get -0/1 on the LG and -1/2 on LR. Sounds good, right? Well, except for that I constantly miss between 6-10 on the RC. Obviously this is crushing my scores from a could be Mid 170s, all the way to 166-168 range. Not good when I take into account my supersplitting (3.0) GPA.

Like some of you may be, I am pretty anal and OCD when in comes to the LSAT. But I just can't figure out how to score better on RC. I've tried not annotating and just focusing on main point/gist. But that leads me to missing all sorts of detail questions. I've also tried annotating a lot, but that ends of taking too much time and I either miss Main Point questions or have to rush/guess on the back end.

Any suggestions? We're 1 month away, I'm getting desperate, and close to freaking out.

Gratzi!

TylerJonesMPLS
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby TylerJonesMPLS » Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:55 pm

Why don't you try practicing on easier RCs? This would help you get the patterns of RCs down, and help you find out what you are doing wrong. Try using the RCs in the Official SAT Study Guide. They are shorter and simpler than LSAT RCs, but similar to the real thing. Usually, I tell people it is a mistake to use non-LSAT practice material. But with just a month to go, and a big problem with RCs, this might be a good strategy. And of course the GRE also has RCs.

It ought to be fairly easy to transfer your LR skills to the RCs. But something is obviously stopping you. Once you pinpoint what the problem is, you will be fine.

It helps me to quickly scan the first and last sentences of the RC. That way I know what the passage is about, and that makes it much easier to comprehend the whole passage in one reading. In fact, since the conclusions are generally in the first or last sentences, I can often get the conclusion/main point that way- before I've read the passage. Also, I glance at the questions and mark any passage that a question refers to, so I can pay special attention to it. It only takes a few seconds to do this, and it works really well for some people.

I hope this helps. Good luck.

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05062014
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby 05062014 » Thu Sep 06, 2012 1:08 pm

Based on the title of this thread alone, your biggest problem seems to be confidence. If you don't trust your instincts on RC, a majority of the questions will seem difficult. There are little tricks they pull on RC, but if you have honed your LR skills, those questions should not be an issue. You gotta trust yourself to do well in this section, I am finding

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cloudhidden
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby cloudhidden » Thu Sep 06, 2012 2:29 pm

[quote="WanderingPondering"]Hi fellow LSAT takers!

I'm having a huge problem. I've been following pithpike's guide and recently getting into the full length practice tests. I've been able to consistently get -0/1 on the LG and -1/2 on LR. Sounds good, right? Well, except for that I constantly miss between 6-10 on the RC. Obviously this is crushing my scores from a could be Mid 170s, all the way to 166-168 range. Not good when I take into account my supersplitting (3.0) GPA.

Like some of you may be, I am pretty anal and OCD when in comes to the LSAT. But I just can't figure out how to score better on RC. I've tried not annotating and just focusing on main point/gist. But that leads me to missing all sorts of detail questions. I've also tried annotating a lot, but that ends of taking too much time and I either miss Main Point questions or have to rush/guess on the back end.

Any suggestions? We're 1 month away, I'm getting desperate, and close to freaking out.

As someone who started freaking out about RC recently, I can understand your pain. However, my woes resulted from timing and consistency issues. It doesn't seem like you have similar issues. However, I think you might be overcompensating in one of two directions in your approach. I strongly recommend not getting OCD about the main point. I find myself better able to pick up on the gist of something when I don't consciously think about it. Why? Because otherwise, I start making unwarranted leaps and impose my own opinions rather than letting the author connect the dots.

You need to not only understand the overall purpose, but also the purpose behind any dissenting opinions. I find that reading for those different sides and/or progressions in the passage naturally improves my ability to spot some of the details as well, because you have to pick up on some of those details to understand what those details support. You can view an RC passage in some ways like many smaller supported conclusions that in turn support a larger conclusion. That might help your mind link up RC with LR, because if you can crush that section, it's just a matter of time before you dominate RC.

Finally, with a month left before the test, you might find Manhattan's guide particularly helpful, because it's short and to the point.

johnmuir1
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby johnmuir1 » Thu Sep 06, 2012 2:42 pm

I agree that the Manhattan LSAT reading comp book is pretty great. I also was scoring super low on the RC sections because of timing and getting hung up on all of the details. Manhattan LSAT, I thought, did a good job of breaking the process down into bite-sized pieces that I could easily incorporate into my own routine. Especially this late in the game, I think it might be useful for you to reevaluate your attack mode.

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Cerebro
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby Cerebro » Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:09 pm

Also, unless you're approaching the section with enthusiasm, you're probably leaving points on the table. If you find yourself wanting to practice LG or LR and procrastinate on RC, even though you seem to have those sections already under control, then you need to adjust your attitude just a smidgen.

The RC section is the most interesting section on the entire LSAT. Would you rather read an Advertiser's phoney claims and identify the flaw, or something 1000% more interesting (and therefore cooler), such as how Miles Davis was such a brilliant musician, he defied critics attempts to categorize his music? Would you rather figure out the order that the clowns got out of the small car at the circus, or read about a breakthrough in biochemestry that led scientists to better understand an important factor that influences nerve growth?

But, really, "RC - Section of Death"?

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cloudhidden
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby cloudhidden » Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:15 pm

Cerebro wrote:Also, unless you're approaching the section with enthusiasm, you're probably leaving points on the table. If you find yourself wanting to practice LG or LR and procrastinate on RC, even though you seem to have those sections already under control, then you need to adjust your attitude just a smidgen.

The RC section is the most interesting section on the entire LSAT. Would you rather read an Advertiser's phoney claims and identify the flaw, or something 1000% more interesting (and therefore cooler), such as how Miles Davis was such a brilliant musician, he defied critics attempts to categorize his music? Would you rather figure out the order that the clowns got out of the small car at the circus, or read about a breakthrough in biochemestry that led scientists to better understand an important factor that influences nerve growth?

But, really, "RC - Section of Death"?


I agree with everything you said except your point about clowns- having them in a game would rule!

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RCinDNA
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby RCinDNA » Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:44 pm

WanderingPondering wrote:Hi fellow LSAT takers!

I'm having a huge problem. I've been following pithpike's guide and recently getting into the full length practice tests. I've been able to consistently get -0/1 on the LG and -1/2 on LR. Sounds good, right? Well, except for that I constantly miss between 6-10 on the RC. Obviously this is crushing my scores from a could be Mid 170s, all the way to 166-168 range. Not good when I take into account my supersplitting (3.0) GPA.

Like some of you may be, I am pretty anal and OCD when in comes to the LSAT. But I just can't figure out how to score better on RC. I've tried not annotating and just focusing on main point/gist. But that leads me to missing all sorts of detail questions. I've also tried annotating a lot, but that ends of taking too much time and I either miss Main Point questions or have to rush/guess on the back end.

Any suggestions? We're 1 month away, I'm getting desperate, and close to freaking out.

Gratzi!


Mike Ekim's post offered some guidance on the specific skills he felt were needed to do well in RC. There is no magic bullet to make the passages easier; I agree with Cerebro, johnmuir1 and cloudhidden in terms of overall approach. You basically need to familiarize yourself with discrete skills that help with particular questions and be engaged enough to do them all in a focused way throughout the entire section. Sounds harder than it is. There really are only 4 or 5 types, and most of these are variations on LR questions, so general strategies you've already learned actually apply.

1) Once you recognize the overall reasoning structure of the passage, it basically makes it easy to answer the main point and the structure of the argument questions. For example, if you can identify the main point of each paragraph, you will know what the right answer on the main point questions should contain - if the last paragraph is a critique of another paragraph, then any answer that doesn't contain some reference to a disagreement, critical reception or the counter-argument is likely to be wrong.

2) Once you know which questions require you to return to the passage and the code words that will alert you to that particular concepts/sections are important, you will not be overwhelmed by the multiple paragraphs or infodumping that some passages drop on you. This helps especially with the questions regarding attitudes of the author, "how is the use of A in line X different from B in line Y?"-type questions and whether or not particular people would agree or disagree with particular statements.

3) Also, I find that when you are getting rushed, it becomes easy to forget that this is one of those sections where you can confirm that the answers are right. Sometimes, just having the confidence to go back to the passage and re-read a line or concept will lead you to the right answer faster than trying to eliminate the wrong ones or recall what the passages said.

I suggest that you drill a few sections untimed and pay attention to where shifts in wording occur, where indicator words appear plus how they are worded and at first, not annotating at all: just plot out a general outline of the passage and get used to the idea of keeping a general idea of the structure in the back of your head so you have a global appreciation for it as a whole. Marking things up, underlining things and keeping detailed notes actually made me disengage whereas constantly thinking "Oh, this is the main point or role of Paragraph 2, oh, it sounds like the author is dis/agreeing with that guy, oh, they just re-used this word in a different context, main point or role of Paragraph 3, etc" keeps you in hyper critical mode.

Also, I forget the posters name, but s/he had a great comment about their approach to get a 180: Basically, they bought their A game to every section and passage, and relentlessly applied the skills they learned. It was like a battle, and they approached every single question as if the test makers had a trick to take that 180 from them. It seems more like they are testing your efficiency: the ability to isolate important information and summarize key points from moderate-sized bodies of information. Unless you had an eidetic memory, I doubt anyone would be able to recall all of this info under an 8 minute time crunch.

Basically, one approach doesn't work because you need multiple skills to knock out particular question types.

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cloudhidden
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby cloudhidden » Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:46 pm

Marking things up, underlining things and keeping detailed notes actually made me disengage whereas constantly thinking "Oh, this is the main point or role of Paragraph 2, oh, it sounds like the author is dis/agreeing with that guy, oh, they just re-used this word in a different context, main point or role of Paragraph 3, etc" keeps you in hyper critical mode.[/quote]

My experience as well. But I still underline and circle a few things out of habit and because that doesn't separate me from the passage nearly as much as annotating.

bp shinners
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby bp shinners » Fri Sep 07, 2012 12:52 pm

WanderingPondering wrote:I've tried not annotating and just focusing on main point/gist. But that leads me to missing all sorts of detail questions. I've also tried annotating a lot, but that ends of taking too much time and I either miss Main Point questions or have to rush/guess on the back end.

Any suggestions? We're 1 month away, I'm getting desperate, and close to freaking out.

Gratzi!


Have you tried annotating a moderate amount?

Honestly, the specific/details of the passage that will show up in questions/answers is unbelievably predictable. Spend some time after checking your answers going back to the passage and seeing where the answers/questions came from. I guarantee that if you start tracking those features, you'll start to notice a pattern of what shows up in questions. Then, when you've got the pattern down, just note those things.

For instance, the following are very likely to show up as a question:
1) Lists of characteristics
2) Commonly held beliefs
3) Assumptions pointed out in an argument
4) Surprising or unexpected/counterintuitive information (like an anarchist supporting government)

Outside of the general viewpoint questions, those cover a majority of the specific detail questions. Anything else is probably superfluous.

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twenty
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby twenty » Fri Sep 07, 2012 4:38 pm

Went from PTing around 168 to 175+ almost overnight after "figuring out" RC.

For me, what worked is really simple. With other sections in the test, it pays to be thinking really hard about the subject matter. With RC, you can't clench your fists and white-knuckle through it. You actually have to read the passage.

Step one, realize you have all the time in the world. You don't need to make it in 8:45. It's better to get all of the right and guess on the last two questions than get 7-8 wrong but finish everything. Plus, the last passage might only take you 6:00 minutes. Who knows.
Step two, realize you're reading the passage. As practice, I assume I was reading it to be able to present a speech on the subject. Don't just look for details. Don't just skim. Read it.
Step three, and most important, realize you're understanding the passage. Read the first paragraph, or maybe the first half of the paragraph. Stop. Ask yourself, "Do I completely understand what the passage is saying?" If the answer is "whuuuuno", REREAD IT. Don't figure that it will make sense once you get to the questions.

I saved tons of time because 1) I wasn't looking at the clock all the time, 2) I was like a honey badger giving a speech later on (hint: he don't care) and 3) I rarely had to go back to the passage because I remembered everything.
Last edited by twenty on Fri Sep 07, 2012 8:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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cloudhidden
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby cloudhidden » Fri Sep 07, 2012 4:45 pm

twentypercentmore wrote:As practice, I assume I was reading it to be able to present a speech on the subject.



I'm going to try this when I review a passage, that might help me out.

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Cerebro
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby Cerebro » Fri Sep 07, 2012 4:49 pm

twentypercentmore wrote:Step one, realize you have all the time in the world.


Image

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Funkycrime
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby Funkycrime » Fri Sep 07, 2012 4:54 pm

cloudhidden wrote:
Cerebro wrote:Also, unless you're approaching the section with enthusiasm, you're probably leaving points on the table. If you find yourself wanting to practice LG or LR and procrastinate on RC, even though you seem to have those sections already under control, then you need to adjust your attitude just a smidgen.

The RC section is the most interesting section on the entire LSAT. Would you rather read an Advertiser's phoney claims and identify the flaw, or something 1000% more interesting (and therefore cooler), such as how Miles Davis was such a brilliant musician, he defied critics attempts to categorize his music? Would you rather figure out the order that the clowns got out of the small car at the circus, or read about a breakthrough in biochemestry that led scientists to better understand an important factor that influences nerve growth?

But, really, "RC - Section of Death"?


I agree with everything you said except your point about clowns- having them in a game would rule!

PT 38. It's your lucky day my friend.

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Zensack
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby Zensack » Sat Sep 08, 2012 2:11 pm

RC is my strong section right now. The way I approach it is:

Take your time. RC actually has less reading than LR and simpler passages than LG
Do the passages in order. Any kind of skipping around just eats up clock; you won't be able to tell which passage is easiest, and if you partially complete a passage's questions you'll waste a lot of time rereading
If a question mentions a specific paragraph, glance back at it.

As with any weak section, review your errors and look for systematic similarities. It's a bit late for this if you're an October taker, but just read books. Train your brain to deal with meaty reading in unfamiliar subject areas.

WanderingPondering
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby WanderingPondering » Sat Sep 08, 2012 6:03 pm

Thanks for the replies everyone!

I went back and really looked through the Manhatten RC book and realized I wasn't looking out for understanding the argument structure, seeing what side evidence fits in and distinguishing it from pure background info. And of course, the author's viewpoint is most important.

I went ahead and (on schedule) took PT 56 and only missed 1 question on the section. Obviously small sample size, but hopefully I'll be able to turn the corner and consistently score well in the coming month. Bumped my score on it to a 175 level.

Thanks for the help guys and gals. I've been really focused the last couple months and was going to have an anxiety attack if I couldn't get this under control.

Also have been reviewing every question and writing out why each answer choice is right/wrong.

And whoever said be in a good frame of mind and attack the question is definitely right. The LSAT is no place for the passive test taker.

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05062014
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby 05062014 » Sat Sep 08, 2012 10:59 pm

I scored a 172 on PT 54 today. I missed 4 out of my 5 points on RC on the group-think passage. I thought RC was my strength, but it has been fluctuating too much. Don't get too comfortable with this section.

Also, to the people who said they have all the time in the world completing this section - has trusting your recall not bitten you in the ass before? I know that there have been instances where my memory has served me well, but also many instances where not looking back at the passage would have royally screwed me over. The latter is especially the case with questions that require you to infer based on what X, Y, or Z said or the position they took. sigh

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LSAT Hacks (Graeme)
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Sun Sep 09, 2012 10:27 pm

I've thought a lot about RC, as an LSAT tutor. It's the hardest section to improve on, and the toughest to teach. You can improve by focussing on two things:

1. Improving baseline reading speed. I don't mean reading uncomfortably fast. I mean, increasing the speed at which you can comfortably read. I can read at around 600 WPM, for example.
2. Improve retention. Often, people read passages and don't remember anything. You need to make sure you remember what you read.

I'm the moderator of Reddit's LSAT forum, and I've written a couple of guides that cover these two points. I'd repost them here, but they're formatted in markdown. Here are the links:

http://www.reddit.com/r/LSAT/comments/u ... rehension/
http://www.reddit.com/r/LSAT/comments/v ... urself_on/

bp shinners
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby bp shinners » Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:59 pm

graeme wrote:1. Improving baseline reading speed. I don't mean reading uncomfortably fast. I mean, increasing the speed at which you can comfortably read. I can read at around 600 WPM, for example.


I completely disagree with this point. There just aren't enough words on the RC section for 'slow reading' to be an excuse for poor performance - usually, it's a lack of focus instead of slow reading. I've never had a student who read so slowly that they couldn't get through the passage when I sat down with them and made them read it in real time - they were just using 'slow reading' as an excuse for poor performance.

Also, people need to focus on the content, not speed reading gimmicks that will probably just trip them up (you list 'Stop subvocalizing' as a tip on your Reddit page - that takes time, practice, and a TON of effort to do permanently).

In short, your time is much better spent actually figuring out how to do RC, not spending time trying to learn to speed read these passages.

2. Improve retention. Often, people read passages and don't remember anything. You need to make sure you remember what you read.


This tip is much better, but meaningless without context (and you can just copy and paste that Reddit page here, if you want).

I would add:
2a. Learn which features of passages are likely to show up in questions. If you know you're going to have to remember certain information later, you can make a note of it. Making a note is a process that reinforces memory.

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LSAT Hacks (Graeme)
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:54 am

I've sat down with students, ran them through Spreeder, and had them make very rapid gains both on RC and with reading speed. You don't need to hit 400-600 WPM to see an improvement. Getting from 200 WPM to 250 WPM is a 25% improvement, and a very typical increase with a few small shifts in technique.

Average time to read a passage will go from 2:00 to 1:36. That doesn't seem like much, but that's just on one read of the passage. I find retention is boosted most effectively by re-reading sections of the passage. That all goes quicker when you boost your reading speed. Reading the questions is faster too.

The increased speed + improved skimming abiliites that come from reducing subvocalization also let you locate information in the passage much more quickly. About half the questions can be answered with a line reference. And fast readers can find any piece of information in the passage in 2-5 seconds.

Increased reading speed is definitely more of a long term project, but you can make very good gains in a month. And I'm only talking about five minutes a day of speed work, combined with the other change in technique I mentioned (reading from an indented position).

I want to be clear that I'm not talking about "gimmicks" that make you read faster but hurt your comprehension. I read comfortably at 600 WPM with better comprehension than most. It's because of using the same techniques that I recommend.

bp shinners
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby bp shinners » Wed Sep 12, 2012 12:04 pm

graeme wrote:I want to be clear that I'm not talking about "gimmicks" that make you read faster but hurt your comprehension. I read comfortably at 600 WPM with better comprehension than most. It's because of using the same techniques that I recommend.


But the time period that most students have to get ready for the LSAT isn't going to allow them to reach that 600WPM threshold; they're going to just pick up a gimmick or two. And that time spent working on 'reading faster' could be better spent actually prepping for the test.

But I'm going to leave it at that, as we're just going to inherently disagree on this point.

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LSAT Hacks (Graeme)
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:59 pm

You're right, there's no way they'll reach 600 WPM from 300 in just a couple of months. I perhaps should have been clearer that I'm talking about a 25-75 WPM boost. But I also only think students should spend 5 min a day doing this, and make a couple of one-off changes in technique.

By the way, I'm interested in hearing more about how you get students to focus. That seems to be an issue for many students, so it would be great to have a method for them. Do they manage to stay focussed after you're no longer there, too?

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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby darkarmour » Wed Sep 12, 2012 11:51 pm

graeme wrote:I've thought a lot about RC, as an LSAT tutor. It's the hardest section to improve on, and the toughest to teach. You can improve by focussing on two things:

1. Improving baseline reading speed. I don't mean reading uncomfortably fast. I mean, increasing the speed at which you can comfortably read. I can read at around 600 WPM, for example.
2. Improve retention. Often, people read passages and don't remember anything. You need to make sure you remember what you read.

I'm the moderator of Reddit's LSAT forum, and I've written a couple of guides that cover these two points. I'd repost them here, but they're formatted in markdown. Here are the links:

http://www.reddit.com/r/LSAT/comments/u ... rehension/
http://www.reddit.com/r/LSAT/comments/v ... urself_on/


There are 30 real LSATs out there for a reason, to read all those reading comprehension passages until you improve all skills involved with it. When I studied, I found that doing so many RC sections drastically helped.

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boredtodeath
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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby boredtodeath » Thu Sep 13, 2012 2:28 am

From my own personal experience, and talking to friends that took the test, it seems that people who do well on RC have a harder time with LG and vise versa, and I think it ultimately comes down to those two sections testing completely different skill sets.

OP, you seem like a person who is going through a RC passage and attempting to annotate everything, make sure you know the conclusion, main point, etc etc as opposed to simply READING. As someone who has been consistently getting -0/1 on RC, I can tell you that the way I approach it is to simply read the passage the way I read anything else in life. I don't annotate anything, the only real "analyzing" I do while reading is to make sure I paraphrase the main point of each paragraph in my head (ie. paragraph two says "this"). That's it. Read it as fast as possible so that you understand everything the author said and then move on to the questions. I go back to the passage a few times during the questions as well to make sure I have the right answer and I still finish with a couple of minutes on the clock. I just think it's better to read the passage completely and go to the questions than to sit there over-analyzing each sentence the author writes.

This may work for you or it may not, my skill set seems perfectly matched to RC and LR as well, so I do well on them (more so RC) without having to exert myself as much. I'm sure it works the same for some people on LG (not me!). So take my advice with a grain of salt.

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Re: RC - The Section of Death. HELP!

Postby beautyistruth » Thu Sep 13, 2012 5:06 am

TylerJonesMPLS wrote:Why don't you try practicing on easier RCs? This would help you get the patterns of RCs down, and help you find out what you are doing wrong. Try using the RCs in the Official SAT Study Guide. They are shorter and simpler than LSAT RCs, but similar to the real thing. Usually, I tell people it is a mistake to use non-LSAT practice material. But with just a month to go, and a big problem with RCs, this might be a good strategy. And of course the GRE also has RCs.


Different things help different people, and if your issue is primarily a confidence one, then perhaps using SAT study guides would help. I will say though, on a whim, I took a look at the reading section in my little brother's SAT guide. After prepping for the LSAT, it's uselessly easy. The language was laughably simple and a handful of questions are easy vocab words. E.g. "Why did the narrator use a mint in paragraph 4." Answer, "to counteract bad breath." (This passage was about a cheese taster). If you need the confidence boost, and it helps, then sure. But I think that the SAT passages are far too easy for anybody trying to prep for the LSAT. I'd recommend trying Superprep A, if you haven't taken that test. That reading section was incredibly easy.




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