Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

5965
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Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby 5965 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:09 am

Hi,

My RC fluctuates a lot mostly depending on my interests and familiarity with passages. I really want to break this (and I need to). I've tried different methods and unfortunately am still trying with different ones. At least from what I've tried, I realized annotations barely helps except for transition key words like however, thus, etc, or numbering when necessary.

And I have a couple questions about RC strategies. First, when I read detail-oriented passages (e.g. science ones), because the information is completely new to me, I tend to lose focus or I think I focus but once I solve problems I realize I don't retain much of what I read. As a result, I end up spending too much time on reading as well as solving questions. Do you have advice for this problem? I was thinking about reading the first one or two paragraphs, going to questions, coming back to read the rest, and then going to questions, so that I can at least use the details I read when I solve questions. Has anyone tried this?

Second, I saw a tip from someone that it's better to slow down when you read an introduction. I would like to hear opinions from other top-scorers. After reading the first paragraph, do you pause at least for a few seconds, remind yourself of what the passage is about (if indicated), and continue read, or do you usually move on to the passage as long as you understood what the introduction said? Would you give more weight to the introductory passages as you read?

Aside from what I questioned, I would really appreciate any tips on RC, especially on how to organize your brain as you read and how to avoid feeling lost... Thanks!

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Mr. Elshal
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby Mr. Elshal » Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:20 am

What I did was skim the passage quickly to get an idea of the structure, the basic argument, and the content of each paragraph, then check out the questions, and then look for the answers within the passage. I didn't actually read any of the passages--it was more of a word-search. That helped me because I also tend to get caught up in the details when I'm reading these things.

I would recommend trying this on a few practice tests just to see if it works for you. I swear by it and got all my best RC scores by doing that, but most of my friends got their worst scores when they tried it.

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cahwc12
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby cahwc12 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:36 am

Mr. Elshal wrote:What I did was skim the passage quickly to get an idea of the structure, the basic argument, and the content of each paragraph, then check out the questions, and then look for the answers within the passage. I didn't actually read any of the passages--it was more of a word-search. That helped me because I also tend to get caught up in the details when I'm reading these things.

I would recommend trying this on a few practice tests just to see if it works for you. I swear by it and got all my best RC scores by doing that, but most of my friends got their worst scores when they tried it.


I apologize for probably upsetting you, but this is terrible advice and you shouldn't be giving it to anyone.

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Mr. Elshal
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby Mr. Elshal » Thu Nov 08, 2012 9:44 am

I'm not upset, but it can't be that terrible, given my score. I wouldn't say that it works for everybody, or even most people (in fact, I explicitly wrote that in my post). I do believe it's worth a practice test or two just to see if this method might work for OP. Once I started using this strategy I was getting perfect scores on every reading section. It worked well for me and it could work for others. I don't think you could say it's not even worth trying.

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cahwc12
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby cahwc12 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:07 am

Mr. Elshal wrote:I'm not upset, but it can't be that terrible, given my score. I wouldn't say that it works for everybody, or even most people (in fact, I explicitly wrote that in my post). I do believe it's worth a practice test or two just to see if this method might work for OP. Once I started using this strategy I was getting perfect scores on every reading section. It worked well for me and it could work for others. I don't think you could say it's not even worth trying.


You're the only person I've ever seen on this forum who skims passages for perfect scores.

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Mr. Elshal
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby Mr. Elshal » Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:11 am

cahwc12 wrote:
Mr. Elshal wrote:I'm not upset, but it can't be that terrible, given my score. I wouldn't say that it works for everybody, or even most people (in fact, I explicitly wrote that in my post). I do believe it's worth a practice test or two just to see if this method might work for OP. Once I started using this strategy I was getting perfect scores on every reading section. It worked well for me and it could work for others. I don't think you could say it's not even worth trying.


You're the only person I've ever seen on this forum who skims passages for perfect scores.


That doesn't really provide conclusive evidence that it wouldn't work for anyone.

Also, this probably isn't helping OP much, so we should probably get back to describing how we were able to succeed on the LSAT.

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defdef
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby defdef » Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:25 am

General advice: I read and took basic notes in the side column to help my retention (but I never referenced the notes). The notes were often near chickenscratch but it helps active-reading in my opinion. I underlined sentences/wordings that were a bit odd that I thought would likely appear in the questions. After that, either I intuitively knew the answers to the questions or I had to narrow down. For most RC questions you can almost immediately eliminate 3 answers if you have a real understanding of the passage.

Targeted to your questions: I was actually opposite to you (I had more trouble with passages where I was familiar with the topic because I allowed my bias to interfere with the vacuum that is the lsat) but I would recommend just not worrying too much about the complex vocabulary and try to focus on what's happening. Also, do as many practice RCs as you possibly can to familiarize yourself with their topics/structure.

As for slowing down, I would say I read everything at the same pace taking notes in the manner I described above. If you aren't already a "reader" I don't know how much it will help you, but I have been a habitual reader of the Economist for many years and it is often recommended here as helpful for improving your RC-related reading skills.

5965
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby 5965 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:54 am

defdef wrote:General advice: I read and took basic notes in the side column to help my retention (but I never referenced the notes). The notes were often near chickenscratch but it helps active-reading in my opinion. I underlined sentences/wordings that were a bit odd that I thought would likely appear in the questions. After that, either I intuitively knew the answers to the questions or I had to narrow down. For most RC questions you can almost immediately eliminate 3 answers if you have a real understanding of the passage.


Thank you for your advice! I haven't done marking information that might appear in the questions because I was too busy absorbing the material, but maybe I should try! Although I've tested all past PTs, I am a bit frustrated that I still don't have an intuition about what will be asked... Or would it be because I haven't practiced what would appear on the test? And also I have another question for you. How many times do you allot reading+taking notes? Thanks in advance!:)

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defdef
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby defdef » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:03 am

5965 wrote:
defdef wrote:General advice: I read and took basic notes in the side column to help my retention (but I never referenced the notes). The notes were often near chickenscratch but it helps active-reading in my opinion. I underlined sentences/wordings that were a bit odd that I thought would likely appear in the questions. After that, either I intuitively knew the answers to the questions or I had to narrow down. For most RC questions you can almost immediately eliminate 3 answers if you have a real understanding of the passage.


Thank you for your advice! I haven't done marking information that might appear in the questions because I was too busy absorbing the material, but maybe I should try! Although I've tested all past PTs, I am a bit frustrated that I still don't have an intuition about what will be asked... Or would it be because I haven't practiced what would appear on the test? And also I have another question for you. How many times do you allot reading+taking notes? Thanks in advance!:)


You've tested all 67/68 PTs? I would imagine you'd have picked up on some of the question types by now, but if not, I think you need to go back and review. Start by trying the test least familiar to you and then reviewing the answers in depth (through books, online sources, youtubes, etc).

As for speed, I would only take a minimum of time (1:30 total or so taking notes, if even that). Remember that though the material is important, the answers are more important. You aren't supposed to really KNOW the passage but just understand the point and structure of it.

5965
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby 5965 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:14 am

defdef wrote:You've tested all 67/68 PTs? I would imagine you'd have picked up on some of the question types by now, but if not, I think you need to go back and review. Start by trying the test least familiar to you and then reviewing the answers in depth (through books, online sources, youtubes, etc).

As for speed, I would only take a minimum of time (1:30 total or so taking notes, if even that). Remember that though the material is important, the answers are more important. You aren't supposed to really KNOW the passage but just understand the point and structure of it.


Wow 1:30? That's really short! I guess you are a pretty fast reader? When you say 'just understanding the point', does it mean that understanding main points of each paragraph and go back to the passage if needed when solving questions?

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defdef
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby defdef » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:25 am

5965 wrote:
defdef wrote:You've tested all 67/68 PTs? I would imagine you'd have picked up on some of the question types by now, but if not, I think you need to go back and review. Start by trying the test least familiar to you and then reviewing the answers in depth (through books, online sources, youtubes, etc).

As for speed, I would only take a minimum of time (1:30 total or so taking notes, if even that). Remember that though the material is important, the answers are more important. You aren't supposed to really KNOW the passage but just understand the point and structure of it.


Wow 1:30? That's really short! I guess you are a pretty fast reader? When you say 'just understanding the point', does it mean that understanding main points of each paragraph and go back to the passage if needed when solving questions?


I meant 1:30 just with the note taking. I reckon the entire passage took about 3 minutes for me. I never worried much about time on RC (only timed LG religiously), so I'm not too sure. By understanding the point, I mean that after I read it I could easily summarize it to a third party if need be. Someone I know who studied for the lsat actually framed it like that to me, that he would imagine summarizing the passage to a friend after he read it. I didn't do that, but it may help you.

bp shinners
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby bp shinners » Thu Nov 08, 2012 12:29 pm

5965 wrote:I haven't done marking information that might appear in the questions because I was too busy absorbing the material, but maybe I should try!


If you haven't been doing this, you've been going about the RC section all wrong. The only notes you should take are things that are likely to show up in the questions. And it's utterly predictable:
1) Widely held beliefs/traditional theories/myths/etc...
2) Comparisons
3) Very strong statements
4) Surprising/shocking/counterintuitive information
5) Lists of characteristics/examples
6) Anyone's viewpoint

If you pull those out, you'll hit 90% of the questions.

Also, for science passages, if you're getting lost in the details, don't - they won't matter. There might be one question on the crazy science of the passage, but you're going to have to go back to find that specific information anyway. No use committing it to memory (which you'll forget anyway). Instead, note where it got sciency (I usually just write 'science' next to the margin so I can find it if it shows up in a question) and move on.

Also for science passages, all you really have to understand is how the experiment got us from the old theory to the new theory. The general structure of the passage is, "We used to believe X, but then we did experiment Y, and now we believe Z." If you can explain to me how Y got us from X to Z, even if you can't explain the science, you're golden.

A.Taarabt7
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby A.Taarabt7 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:35 pm

in for more advice



also how do u guys tackle comparative passage, same way as regular or do u have different tactics?

cslouisck
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby cslouisck » Fri Nov 09, 2012 12:29 am

bp shinners wrote:1) Widely held beliefs/traditional theories/myths/etc...
2) Comparisons
3) Very strong statements
4) Surprising/shocking/counterintuitive information
5) Lists of characteristics/examples
6) Anyone's viewpoint

If you pull those out, you'll hit 90% of the questions.


Understanding the questions is an excellent place to start. You're almost always going to get a "main point" question after the end of the passage, too, which, because it's predictable, gives you a bit of breather.

As for approaching the passage itself, I typically read through it taking mental note of the main point, where the argument changes, and what if any conflicting viewpoints appear. That's typically good enough to answer 2-3 questions. Maybe other folks will disagree, but the remaining questions rarely call for inferences that aren't strongly supported by the passage. RC is unique in that the answers to the question almost always exist somewhere in the text, so understanding how the same idea might be stated differently will go a long way.

And to that end, I'd suggest simply reading more every day, particularly blogs with some form of opinion. You'll improve your reading speed, comprehension and ability to identify/evaluate arguments.

For the comparatives? I dunno. Seemed like they involved the same approach. I didn't realize the comparative passage existed until a week before test day and so studied using only the regular ones. Everyone on TLS kept saying RC had gotten harder since most of the PrepTests have been issued, and I didn't really believe them until I got !Kung. But after going -1 on the whole section, I'm pretty confident the same strategies apply to all of them.

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Tiago Splitter
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby Tiago Splitter » Fri Nov 09, 2012 1:29 am

I am a big fan of trying to rip through a few of the RC passages/questions in 5-6 minutes. Don't let yourself take more time than that, and just see how you do. It might come out better than you expect. People seem to take way more time than necessary to read through passages and answer questions.

before2day
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby before2day » Sat Nov 10, 2012 12:56 am

Tiago Splitter wrote:I am a big fan of trying to rip through a few of the RC passages/questions in 5-6 minutes. Don't let yourself take more time than that, and just see how you do. It might come out better than you expect. People seem to take way more time than necessary to read through passages and answer questions.


remember when you gave me this advice a while back? haha well....

i thought you were crazy... and I went through about 30 passages untimed, then about 10-15 timed, before i started PTing. THEN, after all of that and fluctuating anywhere from -0 to -8 on RC, I tried your "rip through" approach. and I like it. For me, I realized that I was spending way too much time on details. I've learned that when I don't understand a specific point, most likely the passage will elaborate on it in more detail if it truly is significant to the main point/scope but if not, no sense in slowing down to understand it.

5965
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby 5965 » Sun Nov 11, 2012 2:57 am

Thanks all for your advice!

I have another question. When passages compare multiple methods/theories or introduce/explain a theory/policy, often questions ask about details. Do you number those details that describe characteristics as you read? Or do you rather pause in the middle and try to absorb? I noticed in ID questions sometimes I spend too much finding details and I wonder if it's because my annotation method is wrong.

Also in comparative passages, when a question asks which of the following is supported by one or both, do you solve it right after reading the first passage, which means you have to eliminate the answer choices twice, or do you solve it after reading them both? Thanks in advance!

bp shinners
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby bp shinners » Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:49 pm

5965 wrote:Do you number those details that describe characteristics as you read? Or do you rather pause in the middle and try to absorb? I noticed in ID questions sometimes I spend too much finding details and I wonder if it's because my annotation method is wrong.


I number those characteristics as I read. Sitting there absorbing them is a waste of time. Plus, writing it out usually makes it stick better than trying to 'absorb' it.

Also in comparative passages, when a question asks which of the following is supported by one or both, do you solve it right after reading the first passage, which means you have to eliminate the answer choices twice, or do you solve it after reading them both? Thanks in advance!


I always read them both, then go to the questions. It's significantly more time-efficient, and the passages (since they're half the length) are usually not all that complex.

Chips
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby Chips » Mon Nov 12, 2012 12:09 am

For those of you decent at RC, how often do you return to the text to check on answer choices?

vegso
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby vegso » Mon Nov 12, 2012 8:09 am

Chips wrote:For those of you decent at RC, how often do you return to the text to check on answer choices?


Depends on how quick I'm going, once you've done enough of them you have a good idea of how much time you can take on a question. So if you hit that 99% sure of an answer almost instantly (and it's not a main point etc question) then it's not much of a problem to double check and can save you a point here and there. If there's a reference to the passage 100% of the time.

But on average for RC I feel say out of 24 questions I might check 4~ questions that aren't a direct reference question

theycallmefoes
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby theycallmefoes » Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:16 pm

Just out of curiosity, do those of you who do really well on RC mentally pronounce the words as you read? Or have you broken yourself from the "subvocalization" habit?

Personally, I think that if you know how to attack the passages in the correct way (i.e., have a good idea of what information will be important for answering questions, as previous posters have explained), then the actual speed with which you read will be relatively irrelevant.

But I could be wrong - perhaps RC masters do read very quickly (and do not subvocalize), and this is what allows them to aggressively and accurately answer the questions. Thoughts?

bp shinners
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby bp shinners » Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:48 pm

theycallmefoes wrote:Just out of curiosity, do those of you who do really well on RC mentally pronounce the words as you read? Or have you broken yourself from the "subvocalization" habit?

Personally, I think that if you know how to attack the passages in the correct way (i.e., have a good idea of what information will be important for answering questions, as previous posters have explained), then the actual speed with which you read will be relatively irrelevant.

But I could be wrong - perhaps RC masters do read very quickly (and do not subvocalize), and this is what allows them to aggressively and accurately answer the questions. Thoughts?


Breaking yourself of sub-vocalization takes months, if not longer. And it's very easy to fall back into the habit of sub-vocalizing even after you get used to not doing it.

I intentionally read more slowly when doing an RC passage so I don't miss anything. I'm not worried about time because I know that I'll nail all the questions as long as I don't skip over anything in the passage. So speeding yourself up on RC is, paradoxically (at least in my opinion) all about slowing yourself down and getting it right the first time through.

5965
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby 5965 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:34 am

Hi,

I came up with another question. For me, the most time-consuming questions seem to be those specific inference questions (without line references) that are broadly phrased as 'it can be inferred'. I know I can find it "somewhere" in the passage that gives me a clue to the answer, but if the question is broadly phrased, I have to navigate the entire passage, ending up wasting too much time. Would you suggest I just skip those questions? Do you think I'm having this problem because I don't notate properly? Or because of test-anxiety? Or because I simply lack short-term memory? lol I would appreciate any suggestions:)

bp shinners
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby bp shinners » Tue Nov 20, 2012 8:20 pm

5965 wrote:Do you think I'm having this problem because I don't notate properly?


This. You should be able to, at the very least, narrow down which paragraph that question/AC is asking about. If you can't do that, you're not creating enough of a table of contents for yourself.

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CyanIdes Of March
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Re: Seeking advice for RC from top-scorers

Postby CyanIdes Of March » Thu Nov 22, 2012 3:58 pm

I'm also fluctuating quite a bit on this section. Anywhere from -2 to -9, killing my score. I'm going to try to take BP's advice over the next week and hope some intense drilling will at least mitigate the fluctuations. I don't currently notate at all because I didn't think it was helping me but I think that may have been because my notation system wasn't really a system as much as it was me randomly underlining things I thought might be important, but for some reason usually never were.




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