RC - can you really get better?

Lear22
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RC - can you really get better?

Postby Lear22 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 7:50 pm

As I take a day to drill RCs I find myself thinking if doing this really helps. I am usually at -2 for most, -1 for some and -0 for a few of them. What is the general thinking here and do untimed drilling of RCs really help? At the end of the day, you either understand the passage or you don't. What are some ways to get better, and if the answer is do more RCs, than how does this help and how can you maximize RC drilling?

thanks for any advice

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nick_scheu
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby nick_scheu » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:05 pm

I'm still fairly new to this, but my sense is that it's far harder to learn RC than to learn LG. If you're -2, -1, -0, your problem is probably specific to the questions and not to the passage. Focus on analyzing why you misunderstood the question, or the answer choices on the ones you miss. Manhattan's forums are very helpful for this.

If you were -10 or -15 on RC, it would suggest a deeper problem with general reading comprehension (as opposed to the "LSAT RC Section"), and you'd be in trouble. I'd venture it would be easier for you to improve to a consistent -1 or -0 than for a -10 person to get to -2.

But again, I'm new here. :)

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TopHatToad
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby TopHatToad » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:11 pm

-2 for most passages, or sections? Makes a big difference.

Look back on all your wrong answers and identify a common thread. For some people it's a specific question type or poorly structured approach to reading/understanding the passage; for most people it's silly mistakes and failing to bring home the tough ones. Maybe you're flagging toward the end as you get tired/bored? The reason people say that RC is the least learnable section is because there are a lot more elements to consider, and some (reading speed, comprehension level) which are very difficult to change.

Lear22
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby Lear22 » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:23 pm

TopHatToad wrote:-2 for most passages, or sections? Makes a big difference.

Look back on all your wrong answers and identify a common thread. For some people it's a specific question type or poorly structured approach to reading/understanding the passage; for most people it's silly mistakes and failing to bring home the tough ones. Maybe you're flagging toward the end as you get tired/bored? The reason people say that RC is the least learnable section is because there are a lot more elements to consider, and some (reading speed, comprehension level) which are very difficult to change.



Yah I re-read the post and wanted to edit. mostly I get between -1 or -2 per passage. So in a 27Q section (if we average it out) I usually have 6-7 totall mistakes.
I also wanted to add some more info I neglected: English is my second language. I don't know if it matters here or not, but wanted to add it in.

The questions I usually get wrong are the very specific ones. I am very good at big scope and general Qs. I regularly use the cross system to take out answer choices and 95% of the time the wrong answer is one of the two that were left to pick from.

What I am wondering is will drilling do a lot of good here, or it's better to devote my time for more LR and LG drilling before I move to all timed PTs befoe Oct 10th. (taking a non-sat LSAT).
thanks!

noobishned
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby noobishned » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:45 pm

I'm also interested in what others have to say about this. I am currently stable in LG and LR, but RC gives me crazy issues I could be -3 or -8 on the total missed for that section.

I was going to start drilling but I had the same hesitations as OP..

Lear22
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby Lear22 » Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:32 am

the Q here is will drilling help or is it best to just face passages on timed PTs? I would not want to waste a day or two of prepping because I drilled dozens of RCs (although some of them can be very interesting!) to realize that the time could have been better spent drilling LG or LR

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UtilityMonster
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby UtilityMonster » Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:38 am

I went from starting around -4 RC -5 LR -5 LG to -4 RC -2 LR -0 LG on the actual test.

So, saw no improvement in RC. You should certainly devote more time to LR and LG if you want to maximize your returns.

Lear22
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby Lear22 » Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:51 am

yes, it seems to be the case all around. I wonder if there are people who got a lot better due to drilling, but started in a semi good place to begin with. That is went from -6 overall to -4 or even -2 for the section. I just think that it comes down to your actual understanding of the content. You can look for author POV and key terms or people. But anyone who was a hist or polisci major will know how to extract that information just from years of endless reading for classes.

msmith19
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby msmith19 » Thu Sep 20, 2012 1:06 pm

I went from -6 to -8 to -0 to -4 by drilling and identifying how I like to do RC. I definitely improved by drilling. There's a repetition in structure and questions that they ask that you can get familiar with, along with being able to hold a passage of information in your head longer.

The hardest part for me was 'unlearning' how I read. I was always making inferences (unsupported ones) about the author's tone and intentions and reading between the lines. The LSAT wants you to stick EXACTLY to the text. You need to have physical evidence for every answer choice you put down.

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RCinDNA
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby RCinDNA » Thu Sep 20, 2012 1:18 pm

Lear22 wrote:As I take a day to drill RCs I find myself thinking if doing this really helps. I am usually at -2 for most, -1 for some and -0 for a few of them. What is the general thinking here and do untimed drilling of RCs really help? At the end of the day, you either understand the passage or you don't. What are some ways to get better, and if the answer is do more RCs, than how does this help and how can you maximize RC drilling?

thanks for any advice


Yes, it is possible, but the gains vary across individuals, and for the most part, it is harder to change someone's reading habits than to improve your ability on a single task or reasoning type. I'll put it this way, if you are getting -5 on LG and -5 on RC with -0s in all LR sections and only had two weeks to prep, I'd tell you to focus on LG since it is far easier to pick up lost points in LG. Untimed drilling helps you find your individual "style" and helps you develop confidence to return to the passage when necessary since trying to keep all the details in your head is difficult for most people.

Maximizing Drilling: Read each passage as if it's your job. The question types are generally consistent in this section, so the main task is to ID the info you will be asked about and keep the structure of the passage in mind as you read. There are other posts on this topic so you might want to run a search for them: Mike Kim posted some great advice on the approach to this section. I can vary between -0 and -6, so I definitely understand how frustrating this section is. Generally, as soon as you lose focus, you need to find a way to get back on the "job" very quickly because boredom or getting lost in technical details will kill you or cause you to hemorrhage points in this section. Generally speaking, you need to look out for the author's viewpoint (this is usually indicated with word choices or clear evaluative statements/soft Ad Hominems), conflicting opinions/viewpoints, the main points of each paragraph and how they tie into the overall mainpoint and pay attention to where words appear in the passage. On Comparative Reading, you need to ID what ideas/terms are used in each passage, the structure of both, the viewpoints of both authors and common viewpoints. Keeping these things in mind consistently makes you an active reader.

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Zensack
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby Zensack » Thu Sep 20, 2012 1:52 pm

Just like any other section, there are ways to improve on RC. The two big ones are practice, and reviewing misses to find common mistakes. You also need to change what you try to pull from the passages. Author intent is not important in most college reading (excepting of course philosophy courses), but it's huge on the LSAT; some sections will have multiple questions that you need to figure this out to answer correctly on a regular basis (choose an appropriate title, author would agree with..., purpose of phrase X, and identify conclusion). Clock management will come into play for some people.

bp shinners
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby bp shinners » Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:28 pm

You can most definitely get better at RC.

The biggest gains you can get come from recognizing features of passages likely to show up in answer choices.

The list I look out for while reading (outside of the viewpoints, which are paramount):
1) Hypotheses/theories/examples
2) Comparisons
3) Very strong statements
4) Commonly held beliefs/trends/common knowledge
5) Assumptions/errors pointed out in arguments
6) Lists of any kind

Lear22
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby Lear22 » Thu Sep 20, 2012 9:42 pm

bp shinners wrote:You can most definitely get better at RC.

The biggest gains you can get come from recognizing features of passages likely to show up in answer choices.

The list I look out for while reading (outside of the viewpoints, which are paramount):
1) Hypotheses/theories/examples
2) Comparisons
3) Very strong statements
4) Commonly held beliefs/trends/common knowledge
5) Assumptions/errors pointed out in arguments
6) Lists of any kind


This is helpful though I try to find these clues as well when I am reading. Do you undeline or highlight when reading? I also find that when I read with the pencil or marker folliwing the words I read faster and comprehend more.

msquaredb
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby msquaredb » Fri Sep 21, 2012 7:19 am

I have been studying for months now and my reading comp is no better than when I took it cold. My cold PT was -1 and I now score about -3 each time. It is like clockwork. I always miss something. Unlike LR I don't even realize I am missing it.

Lear22
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby Lear22 » Fri Sep 21, 2012 10:55 am

msquaredb wrote:I have been studying for months now and my reading comp is no better than when I took it cold. My cold PT was -1 and I now score about -3 each time. It is like clockwork. I always miss something. Unlike LR I don't even realize I am missing it.


I agree with you. I think getting better at RC is possible but it really depends on your starting point and the experience you have extracting info from texts. And, at the end of the day, it really comes down to either you understand what they are saying, or you don't. I think 'global' Qs are easier to get better at, but those are the ones I always get right. Getting better through drilling on specific Qs (what did the author mean by... would they agree with...) is harder IMHO because it's based only on either you remember and understand the passage or you don't, and that's where I find the section so hard to get better at.

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cloudhidden
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby cloudhidden » Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:08 am

I don't think you can drill particular questions in RC like you can on LR. In this regard, RC is more like LG; consistent improvement comes from finding more efficient ways to get to the same outcome. Look at it this way, many people would still struggle on LR with unlimited time, but give them indefinite time on LG and RC and you may have a different story.

For me, my consistent -1 to -3 on RC have resulted from having done a plethora of passages. I can read them almost effortlessly, except when I get distracted by technical science. The main obstacle keeping me from absolute mastery has been the time crunch. Granted that's still a major obstacle.

Lear22
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby Lear22 » Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:22 am

cloudhidden wrote:I don't think you can drill particular questions in RC like you can on LR. In this regard, RC is more like LG; consistent improvement comes from finding more efficient ways to get to the same outcome. Look at it this way, many people would still struggle on LR with unlimited time, but give them indefinite time on LG and RC and you may have a different story.


I agree and for me drilling Q types and untimed LR sections did a world of good. I took a break from taking timed PTs (that will end on Monday as I go back to them until I take the exam Oct 10th) and just drilled and drilled. And it does work. On the other hand, I find it less useful with RC simply because what you're saying. If you overall do a good job but need to just tune your RC skills, I just don't know how to do it (go down to -1 in each passage for example)

chadbrochill
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby chadbrochill » Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:23 pm

cloudhidden wrote:I don't think you can drill particular questions in RC like you can on LR. In this regard, RC is more like LG; consistent improvement comes from finding more efficient ways to get to the same outcome. Look at it this way, many people would still struggle on LR with unlimited time, but give them indefinite time on LG and RC and you may have a different story.


Agreed, I need to start putting more emphasis on time per passage like I do with LG

bp shinners
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby bp shinners » Fri Sep 21, 2012 3:26 pm

Lear22 wrote:This is helpful though I try to find these clues as well when I am reading. Do you undeline or highlight when reading? I also find that when I read with the pencil or marker folliwing the words I read faster and comprehend more.


I never highlight. I underline any statement that reflects the author's viewpoint. As far as the list from above, I will rewrite that stuff in my own words in the margins. It helps me remember better, gives me an easier-to-read statement to go back to when I come to a question that references it, and it makes me think twice or three times about what I'm writing, which only aids comprehension.

Yes, it slows me down on the passage. But I fly through the questions.

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buddyt
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Re: RC - can you really get better?

Postby buddyt » Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:07 am

For me, I never studied RC, yet my score improved over time. (There's a paradox question in there--wow, can't wait to stop studying for this stupid test). I attribute that increase mainly to two things:
- It has been my experience that improvement in LR translates to improvement in RC, and not just for the obviously-LR-related questions like weaken/inference/etc. I've been studying LR the hardest this time around, and I feel it's helping my RC.
- I've internalized that the important things to mentally note in the passage are opinions (Smith contends...), shifts in opinion (but his critics claim...), missing assumptions, etc. Basically all the LR-type stuff. That's what you ought to be looking for. This makes even the hardest science passages easy; if I encounter a super long word that I have no idea what it means, I'll just mentally abbreviate it with the first letter of the word as I'm reading and try to understand it in the context of the argument in the passage.

tl;dr as you study LR, RC will come as a byproduct




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