Reading Comp Troubles

Err26
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2012 1:06 pm

Reading Comp Troubles

Postby Err26 » Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:20 am

I'm about a week away from my October LSAT and I am having lots of difficulty with reading comp so I thought I'd try coming here for advice. I literally miss more questions on RC than on all my other sections COMBINED on some PTs. If I could fix my RC troubles, I could score in the low 170's potentially, whereas I'm in the mid 160's now, so it would make a huge difference. I've got just over a week so there is only so much I can do. I'm taking a TM prep course but they are woefully weak on RC strategy. I do timed practice sections, have my own annotation system, and all that good stuff, but nothing seems to help. I have the RC Powerscore Bible and Manhattan LSAT RC book and am going through those, but there is nothing terribly revolutionary there. Does anyone have any advice or things that were really game changers for them and helped them improve their RC scores? English is not my first language, but I am fluent, so Idk if that makes a difference. I would really appreciate any advice. Thanks in advance!

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cahwc12
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Re: Reading Comp Troubles

Postby cahwc12 » Thu Sep 27, 2012 11:59 am

Here are some things that helped me tremendously with my RC:

1) I stopped annotating almost entirely. Most passages I don't mark at all. Occasionally I'll underline a word indicating author's tone (if it's subtle in the passage) or "some critics" if it's also a more minor part of a passage. Annotation is generally considered a crutch--use it if you need it, but once you become good enough at RC, you should be able to do this mentally. Ask any consistently high-scoring RCer the best annotation strategy and he will tell you: "don't." While you shouldn't expect to remember every detail of the passage, you SHOULD expect to be able to remember where those details are so you can refer back to them. Marking can help with the second but interferes with the first. Further, not marking allows me to focus more on the passage and do #2-5.

2) I read very structurally. That is not to say I don't focus on details/passage information because I read for content primarily. But as I read, I try to organize the information in my head. I try to isolate the main point early on (if it's there), or at least the initial point he's trying to make to seque into a final, main, point. Then I try to organize each paragraph as I read it into how it would fit in with the original paragraph. My focus is on content and details, but as I digest that information, I try to paint it into the larger picture of the scope of the passage. Doing this has allowed me to consistently zoom through MP questions whereas I used to even try to save them for last because I would read a passage without a consistent appreciation for MP.

3) I never zoom through the beginning paragraph of a passage. I know probably no one intentionally tries to do this, but after a while I realized that many of my mistakes in RC were from failing to find the location of a detail question or some otherwise easy question that was explicitly stated in the opening paragraph, often the first few lines. Now, when I start a passage, I read as or even more slowly than I normally read until I get into the passage where I can speed to my normal pace. Before, it would be my reading faster than normal and slowing down once I got into it. This has also helped a lot with MP and structural digestion.

4) Focus on understanding the passage. It's true that the passage won't be taken away from you, and you can always refer back to it, but really try and understand what the heck is going on in the passage. Why is the author writing this? What's his opinion on it? What does he think of critics, or of the new evidence for the theory, or of the traditional methods?

5) Try to be a predictive reader. When the passage starts out with the traditional methods of X, do you think the author is going to support this traditional method, or introduce a problem with it, or introduce a new method? Certainly one of the latter two. Now, say he introduces a new method. Do you think he'll only talk about how great it is, or qualify it by introducing some shortcomings, or what? Try to predict where the passage will go. This takes a lot of practice and doing a lot of RC passages, but it will come with practice and will help make passages easier to digest.

6) This is probably the most important and was the biggest help to me--EVERY correct answer to an inference question has textual support behind it. EVERY incorrect answer to an inference question is some kind of distortion or is otherwise irrelevant to the discussion. And all of these incorrect answer choices ultimately are unsupported. Carefully review these kinds of questions that you miss, and you'll find that in 100% of cases, there is no support behind the incorrect answer that you chose. Often it is because of some subtle one- or two-word distortion, but it will always be there. Treat both detail and inference questions as must be true / most strongly supported questions. While the ACs in an inference question don't HAVE to be 100% irrefutably true, they will always be well supported in the text, and often when support seems week it's because the support comes from multiple areas of the passage, not the one to which you are specifically referring back.

7) Practice, practice, practice!! Don't choose non-fiction books or the Economist over what otherwise would be your LSAT RC study time. There are 284 available RC passages to study from, and every single one of them is more useful to you for your mastery of RC than any article on the Economist or New York Times or anywhere else. Outside material is useful to read insofar as it does not interfere with your normal studying. While the newest RC passages will provide the best practice, every RC passage, even the oldest ones, are good practice for you to hone your methodology and attack.

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05062014
Posts: 437
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 11:05 pm

Re: Reading Comp Troubles

Postby 05062014 » Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:08 pm

cahwc12 wrote:Here are some things that helped me tremendously with my RC:

1) I stopped annotating almost entirely. Most passages I don't mark at all. Occasionally I'll underline a word indicating author's tone (if it's subtle in the passage) or "some critics" if it's also a more minor part of a passage. Annotation is generally considered a crutch--use it if you need it, but once you become good enough at RC, you should be able to do this mentally. Ask any consistently high-scoring RCer the best annotation strategy and he will tell you: "don't." While you shouldn't expect to remember every detail of the passage, you SHOULD expect to be able to remember where those details are so you can refer back to them. Marking can help with the second but interferes with the first. Further, not marking allows me to focus more on the passage and do #2-5.

2) I read very structurally. That is not to say I don't focus on details/passage information because I read for content primarily. But as I read, I try to organize the information in my head. I try to isolate the main point early on (if it's there), or at least the initial point he's trying to make to seque into a final, main, point. Then I try to organize each paragraph as I read it into how it would fit in with the original paragraph. My focus is on content and details, but as I digest that information, I try to paint it into the larger picture of the scope of the passage. Doing this has allowed me to consistently zoom through MP questions whereas I used to even try to save them for last because I would read a passage without a consistent appreciation for MP.

3) I never zoom through the beginning paragraph of a passage. I know probably no one intentionally tries to do this, but after a while I realized that many of my mistakes in RC were from failing to find the location of a detail question or some otherwise easy question that was explicitly stated in the opening paragraph, often the first few lines. Now, when I start a passage, I read as or even more slowly than I normally read until I get into the passage where I can speed to my normal pace. Before, it would be my reading faster than normal and slowing down once I got into it. This has also helped a lot with MP and structural digestion.

4) Focus on understanding the passage. It's true that the passage won't be taken away from you, and you can always refer back to it, but really try and understand what the heck is going on in the passage. Why is the author writing this? What's his opinion on it? What does he think of critics, or of the new evidence for the theory, or of the traditional methods?

5) Try to be a predictive reader. When the passage starts out with the traditional methods of X, do you think the author is going to support this traditional method, or introduce a problem with it, or introduce a new method? Certainly one of the latter two. Now, say he introduces a new method. Do you think he'll only talk about how great it is, or qualify it by introducing some shortcomings, or what? Try to predict where the passage will go. This takes a lot of practice and doing a lot of RC passages, but it will come with practice and will help make passages easier to digest.

6) This is probably the most important and was the biggest help to me--EVERY correct answer to an inference question has textual support behind it. EVERY incorrect answer to an inference question is some kind of distortion or is otherwise irrelevant to the discussion. And all of these incorrect answer choices ultimately are unsupported. Carefully review these kinds of questions that you miss, and you'll find that in 100% of cases, there is no support behind the incorrect answer that you chose. Often it is because of some subtle one- or two-word distortion, but it will always be there. Treat both detail and inference questions as must be true / most strongly supported questions. While the ACs in an inference question don't HAVE to be 100% irrefutably true, they will always be well supported in the text, and often when support seems week it's because the support comes from multiple areas of the passage, not the one to which you are specifically referring back.

7) Practice, practice, practice!! Don't choose non-fiction books or the Economist over what otherwise would be your LSAT RC study time. There are 284 available RC passages to study from, and every single one of them is more useful to you for your mastery of RC than any article on the Economist or New York Times or anywhere else. Outside material is useful to read insofar as it does not interfere with your normal studying. While the newest RC passages will provide the best practice, every RC passage, even the oldest ones, are good practice for you to hone your methodology and attack.


Agree with this. I compulsively underline and I think that may have been compromising my comprehension. Also, my confidence on RC is shot after going -8 on PT 65. I started watching the Jets v dolphins game in the middle of PT 65. My elation at their come from behind win made me get owned on one of the hardest RCs I have encountered. I think it is a good idea to do an RC section each day from now on. The attention to detail required to eliminate wrong answers is easily lost if you get distracted at all or if you neglect to perfect your approach because your scores are not terrible and you view the section as a crapshoot. It may be a crap shoot but it is certainly a manageable crapshoot. Forget to manage it, and it really will fuck you over.

Lear22
Posts: 275
Joined: Wed Sep 28, 2011 10:17 am

Re: Reading Comp Troubles

Postby Lear22 » Fri Sep 28, 2012 12:56 pm

abdistotle wrote:
cahwc12 wrote:Here are some things that helped me tremendously with my RC:

1) I stopped annotating almost entirely. Most passages I don't mark at all. Occasionally I'll underline a word indicating author's tone (if it's subtle in the passage) or "some critics" if it's also a more minor part of a passage. Annotation is generally considered a crutch--use it if you need it, but once you become good enough at RC, you should be able to do this mentally. Ask any consistently high-scoring RCer the best annotation strategy and he will tell you: "don't." While you shouldn't expect to remember every detail of the passage, you SHOULD expect to be able to remember where those details are so you can refer back to them. Marking can help with the second but interferes with the first. Further, not marking allows me to focus more on the passage and do #2-5.

2) I read very structurally. That is not to say I don't focus on details/passage information because I read for content primarily. But as I read, I try to organize the information in my head. I try to isolate the main point early on (if it's there), or at least the initial point he's trying to make to seque into a final, main, point. Then I try to organize each paragraph as I read it into how it would fit in with the original paragraph. My focus is on content and details, but as I digest that information, I try to paint it into the larger picture of the scope of the passage. Doing this has allowed me to consistently zoom through MP questions whereas I used to even try to save them for last because I would read a passage without a consistent appreciation for MP.

3) I never zoom through the beginning paragraph of a passage. I know probably no one intentionally tries to do this, but after a while I realized that many of my mistakes in RC were from failing to find the location of a detail question or some otherwise easy question that was explicitly stated in the opening paragraph, often the first few lines. Now, when I start a passage, I read as or even more slowly than I normally read until I get into the passage where I can speed to my normal pace. Before, it would be my reading faster than normal and slowing down once I got into it. This has also helped a lot with MP and structural digestion.

4) Focus on understanding the passage. It's true that the passage won't be taken away from you, and you can always refer back to it, but really try and understand what the heck is going on in the passage. Why is the author writing this? What's his opinion on it? What does he think of critics, or of the new evidence for the theory, or of the traditional methods?

5) Try to be a predictive reader. When the passage starts out with the traditional methods of X, do you think the author is going to support this traditional method, or introduce a problem with it, or introduce a new method? Certainly one of the latter two. Now, say he introduces a new method. Do you think he'll only talk about how great it is, or qualify it by introducing some shortcomings, or what? Try to predict where the passage will go. This takes a lot of practice and doing a lot of RC passages, but it will come with practice and will help make passages easier to digest.

6) This is probably the most important and was the biggest help to me--EVERY correct answer to an inference question has textual support behind it. EVERY incorrect answer to an inference question is some kind of distortion or is otherwise irrelevant to the discussion. And all of these incorrect answer choices ultimately are unsupported. Carefully review these kinds of questions that you miss, and you'll find that in 100% of cases, there is no support behind the incorrect answer that you chose. Often it is because of some subtle one- or two-word distortion, but it will always be there. Treat both detail and inference questions as must be true / most strongly supported questions. While the ACs in an inference question don't HAVE to be 100% irrefutably true, they will always be well supported in the text, and often when support seems week it's because the support comes from multiple areas of the passage, not the one to which you are specifically referring back.

7) Practice, practice, practice!! Don't choose non-fiction books or the Economist over what otherwise would be your LSAT RC study time. There are 284 available RC passages to study from, and every single one of them is more useful to you for your mastery of RC than any article on the Economist or New York Times or anywhere else. Outside material is useful to read insofar as it does not interfere with your normal studying. While the newest RC passages will provide the best practice, every RC passage, even the oldest ones, are good practice for you to hone your methodology and attack.


Agree with this. I compulsively underline and I think that may have been compromising my comprehension. Also, my confidence on RC is shot after going -8 on PT 65. I started watching the Jets v dolphins game in the middle of PT 65. My elation at their come from behind win made me get owned on one of the hardest RCs I have encountered. I think it is a good idea to do an RC section each day from now on. The attention to detail required to eliminate wrong answers is easily lost if you get distracted at all or if you neglect to perfect your approach because your scores are not terrible and you view the section as a crapshoot. It may be a crap shoot but it is certainly a manageable crapshoot. Forget to manage it, and it really will fuck you over.


I agree with all of the above, but at the same time every time I finish a PT or a timed RC I am left without any clear understanding how I can take this and make it better the next time I face this section. I am really at a point where I do not know what can be made better and it's almost a hit or miss for me. I can have -5 in one PT and have 1 or 2 mistakes on each passage, and then I can get a passage that I crapshoot all over and only get 1 question right out of 5 or 6 which totally makes the entire section a disaster. I read through many many threads about RC here and heard many recs on how to make it better. But at the end of the day you either read and understand, or you don't. So I am left wondering how can this get better? I must say that RC has been the most frustrating part of my prep simply because I don't see tools that I can take, learn and use against it to get better.

Any thoughts or help with this?

dba415
Posts: 87
Joined: Wed Feb 23, 2011 9:50 pm

Re: Reading Comp Troubles

Postby dba415 » Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:40 pm

Great tips posted on here. While I still suck at reading comprehension, it has certainly helped me to think about:

1. Structure of the passage
2. Many questions at MBT/SMBT questions.

I will underline at lot, but a lot of times that is not for annotation but for me to remember key details more the first time reading the passage.

Be conscious of what the passage is saying. Go back and re-read a paragraph if you don't understand it. It is way better when you go back and read and have a competent grasp of the passage than trying to do the questions without it.

For the MBT/SMBT questions, the answers are there. Sometimes, (most actually), the answer is basically one small sentence in the entire passage, but that's all that is needed. Other times, they are tougher, it requires a small inference by putting 2 and 2 together in a passage. Also, eliminate obviously wrong answers. It helps you key into the things that you need to look for in the passage. Look for the weak answers as well, as they are more easily proven correct.

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05062014
Posts: 437
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Re: Reading Comp Troubles

Postby 05062014 » Sat Sep 29, 2012 8:08 pm

cahwc12, very good call on not annotating/marking. It seems like the RC section is built to separate the neurotic over achievers from those who actually enjoy reading. I fell into the former group for far too long while going through an RC section. It is still hard to just sit there and read without doing something (circling shit or underlining), but there is a subtle point in each passage, especially on the newest passages, that I could not catch while underlining. I have resorted to hiding all writing utensils from sight until I am ready to attack the questions.

The content truly is unimportant as a few questions ask you to go searching for things in the passage, and a majority require a synthesis of everything you just read. Even the inference questions seem to be much easier if you just understand the big picture of the passage. I write more around questions now. Basically, i am finding that you need to constantly remind yourself of what you know so that you don't assume things that are too tangential to what is in the passage. I really wish I tried this before I only had two PT's left, but this approach seems much more promising for me and I am sticking with it. I have slowed down a bit in order to read and reread a passage if i need to (this is a much more efficient endeavor when the passage is not all marked up and the initial read through is much more productive), but that is where working old passages to speed up my comprehension-without-annotation approach may be just enough to make things work




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