Main Point of Passage RC

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lawhopeful10
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Main Point of Passage RC

Postby lawhopeful10 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:20 pm

For some reason I seem to have difficulty with questions that ask which statement most accurately expresses the main point of the passage. This trouble is despite the fact that presumably this should be one of the easier questions in the RC section. Anyone have any tips.
Thanks in advance.

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dowu
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Re: Main Point of Passage RC

Postby dowu » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:29 pm

lawhopeful10 wrote:For some reason I seem to have difficulty with questions that ask which statement most accurately expresses the main point of the passage. This trouble is despite the fact that presumably this should be one of the easier questions in the RC section. Anyone have any tips.
Thanks in advance.


PREPHRASE PREPHRASE PREPHRASE

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lawhopeful10
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Re: Main Point of Passage RC

Postby lawhopeful10 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:53 pm

sorry what does that mean exactly lol?

toothbrush
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Re: Main Point of Passage RC

Postby toothbrush » Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:57 pm

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Last edited by toothbrush on Tue Sep 09, 2014 6:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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CyanIdes Of March
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Re: Main Point of Passage RC

Postby CyanIdes Of March » Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:00 pm

I've found that answering the question last helps because the other questions will have made you think about the passage for an extended period of time and will have had you use various parts of the passage. In passages where an argument is being presented, it's usually conclusion of the author's argument. Finally, the last paragraph tends to have the most valuable information for answering this question because it tends to include the summing up information/conclusions.

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lawhopeful10
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Re: Main Point of Passage RC

Postby lawhopeful10 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:02 pm

yea answering the question last might help. I might try that for the next practice test and see if it makes any difference. Thanks

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cahwc12
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Re: Main Point of Passage RC

Postby cahwc12 » Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:18 pm

I used to struggle with these questions and tried to save them for last but I realized (with the help of others here, specifically dave hall and bp shinners) that that is absolutely a terrible way to go about it.

Really, the main point is what you are reading the passage for. You look at each sentence/paragraph and try to see 'how does this fit into the passage'? If you can't do this, it's like trying to determine what the best type of tissue is for your runny nose instead of what cold medication to get.

If you're having trouble with this question, go through old RC sections and just read the passages and try to get the main points. Highlight/underline/annotate it each time you find it. It's almost always in the first paragraph, but sometimes can be in either the beginning of the second paragraph, the last part of the last paragraph, or require synthesis (rare).

Also, something that helped me a lot was SLOWING DOWN when I start a passage. Too often I would try to rush through passages only to gloss over key information early on which would only cost me later. Try to get into the passage immediately.


In short, answering the question last will probably help you, and it did help me, but ultimately it's going about damage mitigation rather than attacking the cause of the problem (poor comprehension). When you read, focus primarily on grasping that main point, and only once you can consistently do that should you move on to other nuances of the passage. After you understand what to look for and get used to doing it, you'll rarely miss MP questions and see them as freebies.

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Re: Main Point of Passage RC

Postby bp shinners » Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:40 pm

cahwc12 wrote:Also, something that helped me a lot was SLOWING DOWN when I start a passage. Too often I would try to rush through passages only to gloss over key information early on which would only cost me later. Try to get into the passage immediately.

In short, answering the question last will probably help you, and it did help me, but ultimately it's going about damage mitigation rather than attacking the cause of the problem (poor comprehension). When you read, focus primarily on grasping that main point, and only once you can consistently do that should you move on to other nuances of the passage. After you understand what to look for and get used to doing it, you'll rarely miss MP questions and see them as freebies.


Great advice, grasshopper.

Yea, when people first try to get faster, they do it by reading faster. That's the worst way to increase speed/comprehension. Instead, slow down. Read with purpose. You'll only have to read the passage once, and you'll have more stuff stick. Speed on the LSAT isn't about reading speed - it's about focus, comprehension, and confidence.

And I completely agree that hitting this question up last is mitigation, not solution. If you don't know the main point of the passage, that's going to hurt you for the other questions. Especially author's attitude questions.

Also, for MP questions, be careful with answer choices. Watch out for a single word that throws it off. They'll quite often give you something that switches a single word around. Also, make sure that any opposition viewpoint is at least mentioned somewhere in the answer, even if it's with something as simple/abstract as, "Despite continued debate, (author's viewpoint)."

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Re: Main Point of Passage RC

Postby beautyistruth » Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:27 pm

I had the epiphany yesterday that if it's between two questions that could both feasibly get at the argument of the passage, there will be one that more completely explains the passage. That one is the correct answer. Maybe I'm thick for not realizing that much sooner, but before, I always got into those situations and freaked out, thinking that there were two potentially right answers. Biggest example of this is the Main Point question in PT 47, RC #4, about pathogens. It seemed like C and E could conceivably work as the main point of the passage, but E summarized the entire passage.

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cahwc12
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Re: Main Point of Passage RC

Postby cahwc12 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:54 pm

There are often trap answers that are perfectly true statements about the passage, but miss the main point. Typically they'll encapsulate the main point of a paragraph or something like that. Simply being aware that this tendency exists should help a lot in mitigating them as traps.

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PDaddy
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Re: Main Point of Passage RC

Postby PDaddy » Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:27 pm

lawhopeful10 wrote:For some reason I seem to have difficulty with questions that ask which statement most accurately expresses the main point of the passage. This trouble is despite the fact that presumably this should be one of the easier questions in the RC section. Anyone have any tips.
Thanks in advance.


Read actively, and look for the passages to paraphrase the MP in some way. The information in the passage is designed to get at something...what is it? The passage will paraphrase it in one or more sentences, and it doesn't have to be at the beginning or the end. The MP can be at the end of the first paragraph (as I have found it often is) or buried in the middle of the passage.

Also, the answers to all of the questions actually support the MP; they "fit" with it. Hence, the correct answers to certain questions can lead you to correct answers on others. This is why nailing the MP is so crucial. Think of the correct answers as "building-blocks" to a puzzle. Based on the correct answers to certain questions, certain answers to other questions have to be wrong.

What does "reading actively" mean?

First, it means reading at a methodical, scholarly pace, noting keywords and viewpoints as well as the twists and turns in the passage. It also means pausing at the end of each paragraph and (1) either giving a short, distilled analysis of the the paragraph or (2) paraphrasing it as it is written.

This is especially important to do at the end of the first and last paragraphs because noting how those two paragraphs are connected can help identify the MP. Plus, the MP is often split between those two paragraphs (i.e., delivered in "segments" or "parts").

You must anticipate at the end of each paragraph what direction the passage will go in the following paragraph. This will help determine the purpose of each paragraph and understand why certain concepts are mentioned (you are certain to be questioned about author's or subject's "purpose" once or twice).

It doesn't matter if you are wrong in your prediction as to what the passage will do next; what matters is that your brain stays engaged. In fact, you are more likely to retain information if you are wrong in your prediction than if you are correct. Think about it. Don't you tend to remember things that surprise you much better than you remember things that do not? RC works the same way. If you are reading actively and anticipating the twists and turns, you will especially remember those that surprise you.

Example: A passage begins by discussing a famous Jazz artist and her unique contributions to music, even giving you a list of those accomplishments. You summarize this in your head. At the end of the first paragraph, STOP for about 10 seconds!! Anticipate what the second paragraph will look like. Will it expound on how she accomplished her feats? Will the author present an alternate point-of-view from less impressed music critics? Just make up something in your head, it doesn't matter where the passage actually goes. What matters is that you are reading actively; by making a prediction, you are certain to remember the large amount of info that follows. Do the same thing at the end of each paragraph. This trick helps readers retain information.

Secondly, you must read with a critical eye. Ask questions as you read, and look to get answers. Wrestle with the information in some way. Feel free to personalize the arguments and disagree with the opinions, but do not use any special knowledge to answer the questions. Even if the answers to your personal questions never come, you are more likely to retain the information as a whole and equip yourself with assumptions and inferences made by the author(s) and subjects.

This is crucial for answering "inference" and author/subject "opinion" questions (ex: "Based on information supplied in the passage, the opponents of the Tectonic Plate Theory would agree with which of the following?").

Thirdly...read more and write less!

Once you are comfortable identifying "lists", MP's, definitions/vocabulary, and various points-of-view, discard as much as possible the practice of writing things down in the margins.

Practice it vigorously when you begin training, but discard it later...wean yourself off of it, because it eats up your time.

You are much better off taking fewer notes and using the extra seconds you gain to slow down and read actively. I may circle names and dates, and/or bracket key information, but that's as far as I go. I can tell you that the majority of strong LSAT takers do the same thing. Many eschew note-taking altogether. Slowing down will make returning to the passage virtually unnecessary once you attack the questions. You should use an average of 3.5 - 4.5 minutes (sometimes 5 minutes) to read any passage. Four minutes is usually plenty of time to get through 5 - 8 RC questions.

The one exception for 99% of test-takers are "location questions" ( a "concept reference" or "specific reference" where the line number and concept are given and you are asked to make an inference regarding the "purpose" of the concept's appearance in the passage). Use Princeton' Review's "two-finger method" to attack those.

Hope this helps. I sucked at RC when I began (missing 6-10 points in every RC section), but I never scored fewer than 24 points in a RC section once I began applying these methods, and I often missed just one or two questions.
Last edited by PDaddy on Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:14 am, edited 3 times in total.

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lawhopeful10
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Re: Main Point of Passage RC

Postby lawhopeful10 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:50 pm

Thanks for all the replies, I am going to follow the advice given and see how the next couple practice tests turn out and the main point questions specifically.




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