Skimming in RC sections

Borscht is Best
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Skimming in RC sections

Postby Borscht is Best » Sat Aug 24, 2013 10:32 pm

I'm having a small problem with time in RC sections, and no matter how much drilling I do I often don't have time to answer the last 2-3 questions. Also, I've heard the modern RC section is much more difficult, so this is a weakness that needs addressing.

I've tried Voyager's method, which did wonders for accuracy and retention, but still leaves a little to be desired in the time department (when I'm timing myself I often just box and underline, don't waste precious seconds writing out 5 word summaries).

I've heard that a quick skim BEFORE you start in-depth reading will do wonders for organizing and predicting what the answer choices will be. Also, I've heard this method helps filter out unimportant information.

Does anyone have any experience with this method? Thoughts? Comments?

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mandyjay11
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby mandyjay11 » Sat Aug 24, 2013 10:35 pm

The 7sage Reading Comprehension method has been so amazing for me. Please try it.

bp shinners
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby bp shinners » Mon Aug 26, 2013 1:22 pm

Borscht is Best wrote: Also, I've heard the modern RC section is much more difficult, so this is a weakness that needs addressing.


This has become "common knowledge" because people run into the modern passages after prepping the older passages and come on here to complain about the increase in difficulty. In reality, the modern passages require a slightly different approach than the older ones. It's not a harder approach (in fact, I think it's easier once you get used to it), but it is different. Since people are used to the old passages, they get more questions wrong, which they equate with difficulty instead of unfamiliarity. Then, once they adjust to the new style, they view it as them improving their overall skill level instead of them just getting used to the new passages. So I would not approach the new sections thinking they are more difficult.

(when I'm timing myself I often just box and underline, don't waste precious seconds writing out 5 word summaries).


5 seconds writing out that summary while reading will save you significantly more than that when trying to answer questions. Everyone only accounts for the time they spend annotating; they never account for the time saved by annotating.

I've heard that a quick skim BEFORE you start in-depth reading will do wonders for organizing and predicting what the answer choices will be. Also, I've heard this method helps filter out unimportant information.


If you're having trouble filtering out unimportant information, organizing the passage in your head, and predicting questions without the scam, I find it hard to believe that you will magically develop these skills by implementing this method. I would spend more time trying to figure out the pattern of how they form these passages and what they ask about instead of trying to find a magic method that is going to solve your problems.

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neprep
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby neprep » Mon Aug 26, 2013 2:21 pm

bp shinners wrote:
In reality, the modern passages require a slightly different approach than the older ones. It's not a harder approach (in fact, I think it's easier once you get used to it), but it is different.


Can someone elaborate a wee bit more on how it's "different"? On a test that's largely standard and consistent, that word gives me the heebie-jeebies.

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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby bp shinners » Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:39 pm

neprep wrote:
bp shinners wrote:
In reality, the modern passages require a slightly different approach than the older ones. It's not a harder approach (in fact, I think it's easier once you get used to it), but it is different.


Can someone elaborate a wee bit more on how it's "different"? On a test that's largely standard and consistent, that word gives me the heebie-jeebies.


RC questions are moving closer to LR questions - they're stealing the tips and tricks from there to make answer choices incorrect or correct. So don't be freaked out by it - in fact, celebrate the fact that all the strategies you apply in logical reasoning are now even more useful in reading comp.

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lsatyolo
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby lsatyolo » Tue Aug 27, 2013 5:10 pm

mandyjay11 wrote:The 7sage Reading Comprehension method has been so amazing for me. Please try it.


Is this free on the website? I really hate RC right now. I find myself missing 3-4 per passage sometimes :|

Edit: it is indeed free on the website.

bilbaosan
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby bilbaosan » Tue Aug 27, 2013 9:36 pm

There are three issues with learning from RC:

1. The main problem with solving the RC questions is processing a bunch of information you'd never read on your own in your whole life (and remembering that you are not going to ever read anything like that again once you're done with LSAT makes studying it much less appealing).

2. Another problem is that it is more difficult to learn from your mistakes on RC, since in 80% your mistake is summarized as "forgot that single word at line 22" or "did not understand what this whole thing was about".

3. It is the most random section, where your score can easily score 5-8 points higher just because the most difficult (for you) passage was the first and therefore had the easiest questions.

I'd say that if you're not targeting 170+, and assuming you're making at least half of RC correct - which shouldn't be difficult for a native English speaker - it might be better to spend your efforts on LR and LG instead. Especially if your time is limited and you have to combine studying with a job.

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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby bp shinners » Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:21 pm

I strongly disagree with a lot of this post.

bilbaosan wrote:There are three issues with learning from RC:

1. The main problem with solving the RC questions is processing a bunch of information you'd never read on your own in your whole life (and remembering that you are not going to ever read anything like that again once you're done with LSAT makes studying it much less appealing).


That's the incorrect view most people start (and, sadly, end) their RC studying with. The problem isn't processing the information because that information you're unfamiliar with isn't really the point of the RC section on the LSAT. It's just filling in the proof for the viewpoints, and those viewpoints are the important part.

2. Another problem is that it is more difficult to learn from your mistakes on RC, since in 80% your mistake is summarized as "forgot that single word at line 22" or "did not understand what this whole thing was about".


That is not your mistake. Your mistake was thinking that the big picture stuff didn't influence the process of coming to the correct answer and not making a tag that would allow you to quickly find that single word in line 22. And there is no passage where you should have difficulty understanding the basic structure and the viewpoint presented. The specifics? Sure, those are complicated sometimes. But the passage's structure shouldn't they.

3. It is the most random section, where your score can easily score 5-8 points higher just because the most difficult (for you) passage was the first and therefore had the easiest questions.


That one is definitely true. Though I probably wouldn't use the word "random" to describe it. And a swing of 5 to 8 points is outside of what you should reasonably accept.

I'd say that if you're not targeting 170+, and assuming you're making at least half of RC correct - which shouldn't be difficult for a native English speaker - it might be better to spend your efforts on LR and LG instead. Especially if your time is limited and you have to combine studying with a job.


LR, yes. But you will have more RC questions than LG questions on your exam. Conceding those points, to me, is selling yourself short.

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Sinatra
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby Sinatra » Wed Aug 28, 2013 6:14 pm

Shinners, I like your style.

bilbaosan
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby bilbaosan » Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:10 pm

bp shinners wrote:I strongly disagree with a lot of this post.

That's the incorrect view most people start (and, sadly, end) their RC studying with. The problem isn't processing the information because that information you're unfamiliar with isn't really the point of the RC section on the LSAT. It's just filling in the proof for the viewpoints, and those viewpoints are the important part.


Let me explain. The problem with processing this kind of information comes down to:

1. Unfamiliar words or phrases (such as "merely particular" which I'm still puzzled what exactly it means). Some you can guess, some you can look up. But it slows you down significantly, and - if you have to guess a lot - makes it very hard to understand what the article is actually about. Of course first you look those words up and add them into the wordlist, but pretty soon you understand it makes no sense since those words rarely, if ever, repeat and each new test just adds another 5-10 words.

2. Unfamiliar writing style. Philosophers write their passages in a different way than scientists. This includes the difference in which types of arguments are used, how precise they are, and so on. This is why the passage explaining how the brain works or about basins of attraction are extremely easy to read (well, for me) while the passages about intellectual philosophy or legal positivism made me wonder what kind of drugs its author used before writing them. And I'm pretty sure there are people who have exactly the opposite issues. It comes from the familiarity with a specific style.

3. Different way of thinking from LSAT psychometrists. For example, in my case I really screw up on "main point of passage" questions, getting 75% of them wrong - and very often those are the only questions which I get wrong in a law/science passage. More, not only I do not understand why my answer is wrong, in most cases I don't even agree the correct answer is actually correct. To me it all comes down to "you think so vs I think so" - which makes the task guessing what exactly LSAT author would think is the main point here.

Both 1 and 2 could be addressed if the test was not time-limited. But it is.

That is not your mistake. Your mistake was thinking that the big picture stuff didn't influence the process of coming to the correct answer and not making a tag that would allow you to quickly find that single word in line 22. And there is no passage where you should have difficulty understanding the basic structure and the viewpoint presented. The specifics? Sure, those are complicated sometimes. But the passage's structure shouldn't they.


The obvious problem with tags is that you never know what to tag before you read the questions. I really doubt this is something which is even possible to master. Either you think like LSAT author (in which case you'd always mark items correctly), or you do not (in which case no reasonable amount of training would help you, and unless you're targeting 170+ you're not gonna put in unreasonable amount of training for a subject which is completely useless outside this specific application)

And the "big picture" again comes down to item 3 above, LSAT authors think differently and the things which are important for them aren't important for me. So it all ends up like that PT52 S4 Q1, where I ended up choosing between A and E, and chose A. Now, why E is a correct answer? Social and political issues are briefly mentioned in half of a sentence in paragraph 3, how come this could be main point? And nowhere it says "contemporary" either in that sentence - from all I know Sembene may have been making movies about social issues in the Ancient Senegal. And there's a visible disconnection between p.3's "his films denounce social and political injustice" and E's "his films ... comment critically on social and political issues" - to me this is a pretty large gap between those two. Every one of those alone would disqualify E as an answer, but for LSAT author those are not important issues. Well, to each their own...

That one is definitely true. Though I probably wouldn't use the word "random" to describe it. And a swing of 5 to 8 points is outside of what you should reasonably accept.


My own results range from -13 (PT51) to -2 (PT44) with the average of -7. This of course is not a reasonable swing. But then there is nothing which could be done here.

LR, yes. But you will have more RC questions than LG questions on your exam. Conceding those points, to me, is selling yourself short.


What you said would be true if RC was as easy to improve as LG. However it is not. LG is way easier to master than RC, mostly because in each case there is correct answer which is obviously correct. There could be no case where you choose between two attractive answers, which often happens in RC. And even if you got a wrong one, you can always see why and therefore improve. So in my opinion if one is not targeting 170+, spending the resources on LR/LG would bring more dividends than spending it on RC.

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neprep
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby neprep » Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:55 am

bilbaosan wrote:
bp shinners wrote:I strongly disagree with a lot of this post.

That's the incorrect view most people start (and, sadly, end) their RC studying with. The problem isn't processing the information because that information you're unfamiliar with isn't really the point of the RC section on the LSAT. It's just filling in the proof for the viewpoints, and those viewpoints are the important part.


Let me explain. The problem with processing this kind of information comes down to:

1. Unfamiliar words or phrases (such as "merely particular" which I'm still puzzled what exactly it means). Some you can guess, some you can look up. But it slows you down significantly, and - if you have to guess a lot - makes it very hard to understand what the article is actually about. Of course first you look those words up and add them into the wordlist, but pretty soon you understand it makes no sense since those words rarely, if ever, repeat and each new test just adds another 5-10 words.

2. Unfamiliar writing style. Philosophers write their passages in a different way than scientists. This includes the difference in which types of arguments are used, how precise they are, and so on. This is why the passage explaining how the brain works or about basins of attraction are extremely easy to read (well, for me) while the passages about intellectual philosophy or legal positivism made me wonder what kind of drugs its author used before writing them. And I'm pretty sure there are people who have exactly the opposite issues. It comes from the familiarity with a specific style.

3. Different way of thinking from LSAT psychometrists. For example, in my case I really screw up on "main point of passage" questions, getting 75% of them wrong - and very often those are the only questions which I get wrong in a law/science passage. More, not only I do not understand why my answer is wrong, in most cases I don't even agree the correct answer is actually correct. To me it all comes down to "you think so vs I think so" - which makes the task guessing what exactly LSAT author would think is the main point here.

Both 1 and 2 could be addressed if the test was not time-limited. But it is.

That is not your mistake. Your mistake was thinking that the big picture stuff didn't influence the process of coming to the correct answer and not making a tag that would allow you to quickly find that single word in line 22. And there is no passage where you should have difficulty understanding the basic structure and the viewpoint presented. The specifics? Sure, those are complicated sometimes. But the passage's structure shouldn't they.


The obvious problem with tags is that you never know what to tag before you read the questions. I really doubt this is something which is even possible to master. Either you think like LSAT author (in which case you'd always mark items correctly), or you do not (in which case no reasonable amount of training would help you, and unless you're targeting 170+ you're not gonna put in unreasonable amount of training for a subject which is completely useless outside this specific application)

And the "big picture" again comes down to item 3 above, LSAT authors think differently and the things which are important for them aren't important for me. So it all ends up like that PT52 S4 Q1, where I ended up choosing between A and E, and chose A. Now, why E is a correct answer? Social and political issues are briefly mentioned in half of a sentence in paragraph 3, how come this could be main point? And nowhere it says "contemporary" either in that sentence - from all I know Sembene may have been making movies about social issues in the Ancient Senegal. And there's a visible disconnection between p.3's "his films denounce social and political injustice" and E's "his films ... comment critically on social and political issues" - to me this is a pretty large gap between those two. Every one of those alone would disqualify E as an answer, but for LSAT author those are not important issues. Well, to each their own...

That one is definitely true. Though I probably wouldn't use the word "random" to describe it. And a swing of 5 to 8 points is outside of what you should reasonably accept.


My own results range from -13 (PT51) to -2 (PT44) with the average of -7. This of course is not a reasonable swing. But then there is nothing which could be done here.

LR, yes. But you will have more RC questions than LG questions on your exam. Conceding those points, to me, is selling yourself short.


What you said would be true if RC was as easy to improve as LG. However it is not. LG is way easier to master than RC, mostly because in each case there is correct answer which is obviously correct. There could be no case where you choose between two attractive answers, which often happens in RC. And even if you got a wrong one, you can always see why and therefore improve. So in my opinion if one is not targeting 170+, spending the resources on LR/LG would bring more dividends than spending it on RC.


I think that if your general attitude towards RC is that the correct answers are based on the subjective perspective of one author and the only way to score perfectly on this section is nothing short of oracular insight into someone else's mind, then you are setting yourself up to perform poorly.

The test isn't assembled, nor the questions written, on the basis of one one man or woman's fancies. Each question is heavily vetted by teams of people (for content, clarity, grammar, possible biases, etc.) and then pretested. During the pretest, it is statistically established that the question accurately discriminates ability. Wile reviewing incorrect answers, agreeing to disagree with the LSAT isn't an option; even if it's a doozy of a question, enough high-ability test takers have answered it correctly to sufficiently corroborate LSAC's rationale behind the correct answer, so what did you miss?

Of course, there are times when a question slips through the cracks and can be contested successfully. But this is rare, so it's safer to assume the question is fine and it is your approach that requires amends.

magickware
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby magickware » Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:21 am

bilbaosan wrote:
bp shinners wrote:I strongly disagree with a lot of this post.

That's the incorrect view most people start (and, sadly, end) their RC studying with. The problem isn't processing the information because that information you're unfamiliar with isn't really the point of the RC section on the LSAT. It's just filling in the proof for the viewpoints, and those viewpoints are the important part.


Let me explain. The problem with processing this kind of information comes down to:

1. Unfamiliar words or phrases (such as "merely particular" which I'm still puzzled what exactly it means). Some you can guess, some you can look up. But it slows you down significantly, and - if you have to guess a lot - makes it very hard to understand what the article is actually about. Of course first you look those words up and add them into the wordlist, but pretty soon you understand it makes no sense since those words rarely, if ever, repeat and each new test just adds another 5-10 words.

2. Unfamiliar writing style. Philosophers write their passages in a different way than scientists. This includes the difference in which types of arguments are used, how precise they are, and so on. This is why the passage explaining how the brain works or about basins of attraction are extremely easy to read (well, for me) while the passages about intellectual philosophy or legal positivism made me wonder what kind of drugs its author used before writing them. And I'm pretty sure there are people who have exactly the opposite issues. It comes from the familiarity with a specific style.

3. Different way of thinking from LSAT psychometrists. For example, in my case I really screw up on "main point of passage" questions, getting 75% of them wrong - and very often those are the only questions which I get wrong in a law/science passage. More, not only I do not understand why my answer is wrong, in most cases I don't even agree the correct answer is actually correct. To me it all comes down to "you think so vs I think so" - which makes the task guessing what exactly LSAT author would think is the main point here.

Both 1 and 2 could be addressed if the test was not time-limited. But it is.


I just wanted to approach the general attitude behind this entire post.

You'd have a point if I wasn't a history major who never once took a bio or chem or any science course whatsoever after I graduated from high school.

My worst passages aren't science ones. In fact, they tend to be the easier ones. Why? Because their structure tends to be so amazingly simple. Instead, I have a hard time with the ones that have incredibly vague structure in them.

On my diagnostic I got a -3 on RC. I jump between -0 and as high as -7, though that hasn't happened once I got a good bit of practice for RC in. Now I vacillate between -0 and -4, depending seemingly on mood and level of concentration.

The fact of the matter is that the RC is looking for two specific things- Your ability to understand structure and your ability to understand details.

The subject matter and its supposed difficulty only matters if you let it. But once you understand that you're reading something written by someone to make a specific point, then it should be a lot easier to find the main point, etc. You're not reading something written by a robot- it's written by someone who wanted to say something specifically.

I fail almost exclusively on understanding and digesting details, and this is no different for for the simplest passage to the hardest ones. I just don't have a great handle on remembering details, and as such I get bogged down on the questions that ask for specifics.

In comparison, structure questions mess me up only when the passage seemingly has no structure that I can find. This is, fortunately, rare.

You might find it helpful to read articles on The New Yorker and random editorials and stuff on the Atlantic. The writing style is generally similar, and it may help you understand that the writer has a point that they want to make, and that you're not really going to need to disagree with them regarding that. You can certainly disagree with the author regarding what he/she says, but you can't really disagree with someone over what the author wanted to say in a given article.

bp shinners
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby bp shinners » Thu Aug 29, 2013 2:23 pm

bilbaosan wrote:Let me explain. The problem with processing this kind of information comes down to:

1. Unfamiliar words or phrases (such as "merely particular" which I'm still puzzled what exactly it means). Some you can guess, some you can look up. But it slows you down significantly, and - if you have to guess a lot - makes it very hard to understand what the article is actually about. Of course first you look those words up and add them into the wordlist, but pretty soon you understand it makes no sense since those words rarely, if ever, repeat and each new test just adds another 5-10 words.


There shouldn't be enough of this going on to impede your overall understanding of the passage. A word or two here or there? Sure. But if the general vocab is giving you issues, then you're going to have problems with more than just reading comp. There really should not be 5 to 10 words per test that you can't figure out given the context.

2. Unfamiliar writing style. Philosophers write their passages in a different way than scientists. This includes the difference in which types of arguments are used, how precise they are, and so on. This is why the passage explaining how the brain works or about basins of attraction are extremely easy to read (well, for me) while the passages about intellectual philosophy or legal positivism made me wonder what kind of drugs its author used before writing them. And I'm pretty sure there are people who have exactly the opposite issues. It comes from the familiarity with a specific style.


I strongly disagree that the writing style is as varied as you're making it out to be. I think you're letting your familiarity with the content influence the way you view the writing style. That's the surest way to get confused.

3. Different way of thinking from LSAT psychometrists. For example, in my case I really screw up on "main point of passage" questions, getting 75% of them wrong - and very often those are the only questions which I get wrong in a law/science passage. More, not only I do not understand why my answer is wrong, in most cases I don't even agree the correct answer is actually correct. To me it all comes down to "you think so vs I think so" - which makes the task guessing what exactly LSAT author would think is the main point here.


If you're approaching the test with this mindset, you're going to have huge issues. The right answers aren't correct because somebody thinks differently than you; they're correct because they're correct. You're not trying to get inside the head of the person who wrote the question; you're trying to find an answer choice that accurately summarizes the main point. If you don't think the correct answer is actually correct, there's nothing I can say except you are wrong and you won't improve until you accept that maybe you don't understand the material as well as you think you do.


The obvious problem with tags is that you never know what to tag before you read the questions. I really doubt this is something which is even possible to master. Either you think like LSAT author (in which case you'd always mark items correctly), or you do not (in which case no reasonable amount of training would help you, and unless you're targeting 170+ you're not gonna put in unreasonable amount of training for a subject which is completely useless outside this specific application)


Nope. I've trained way too many people to tag the correct stuff who were scoring from the mid-130s to the 170s to think that it's even difficult, let alone impossible, to master.

And the "big picture" again comes down to item 3 above, LSAT authors think differently and the things which are important for them aren't important for me. So it all ends up like that PT52 S4 Q1, where I ended up choosing between A and E, and chose A. Now, why E is a correct answer? Social and political issues are briefly mentioned in half of a sentence in paragraph 3, how come this could be main point? And nowhere it says "contemporary" either in that sentence - from all I know Sembene may have been making movies about social issues in the Ancient Senegal. And there's a visible disconnection between p.3's "his films denounce social and political injustice" and E's "his films ... comment critically on social and political issues" - to me this is a pretty large gap between those two. Every one of those alone would disqualify E as an answer, but for LSAT author those are not important issues. Well, to each their own...


Yes; it seems they are thinking correctly and you are thinking incorrectly ;-).

For the question you cite, nothing you mention it directly contradicts (E), and each of those issues is addressed in another part of the passage. Social and political issues come up in the first sentence, the second sentence, and pretty much the entire passage after line 48. To which the entire passage was building up.

So they're not thinking differently than you; it seems you're just overlooking a lot of information in the passage.

My own results range from -13 (PT51) to -2 (PT44) with the average of -7. This of course is not a reasonable swing. But then there is nothing which could be done here.


If you don't think there's anything that can be done there, then there isn't. But you're giving up on a lot of points that you don't have to.

What you said would be true if RC was as easy to improve as LG. However it is not. LG is way easier to master than RC, mostly because in each case there is correct answer which is obviously correct. There could be no case where you choose between two attractive answers, which often happens in RC. And even if you got a wrong one, you can always see why and therefore improve. So in my opinion if one is not targeting 170+, spending the resources on LR/LG would bring more dividends than spending it on RC.


To each their own. I would probably recommend spending sufficient time on every section.

Your attitude is definitely preventing you from scoring as well on the LSAT as you can. I have had plenty of students who come into my class refusing to accept that they might be wrong on some issues, and they want to fight against the correct answers. This is self-defeating because, first off, the answers are correct for an objective reason, and a ton of people get them right because they are the right answers. And second, even if that wasn't the case (but, again, it is), since the test is so important you should try to adapt your thinking so that you can scores well on it is possible.

bilbaosan
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby bilbaosan » Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:19 pm

neprep wrote:I think that if your general attitude towards RC is that the correct answers are based on the subjective perspective of one author and the only way to score perfectly on this section is nothing short of oracular insight into someone else's mind, then you are setting yourself up to perform poorly.

The test isn't assembled, nor the questions written, on the basis of one one man or woman's fancies. Each question is heavily vetted by teams of people (for content, clarity, grammar, possible biases, etc.) and then pretested.


And the majority - if not every single one - of those people are US-educated native English speakers who grew up in the US culture.
This brings up the bias which is extremely hard to detect, such as assuming, for example, that everyone knows the basic baseball rules (for analogies) or how the dorm wings are structured.

You might want to read this paper to see how LSAT could be biased with you not seeing it at all.

Sure, we have to take it the way it is - but if anyone wants to sue LSAC for discrimination (including for example the prohibition of dictionaries, WTF?), I'd plaintiff in.

drewmm
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby drewmm » Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:30 pm

bilbaosan wrote:
neprep wrote:I think that if your general attitude towards RC is that the correct answers are based on the subjective perspective of one author and the only way to score perfectly on this section is nothing short of oracular insight into someone else's mind, then you are setting yourself up to perform poorly.

The test isn't assembled, nor the questions written, on the basis of one one man or woman's fancies. Each question is heavily vetted by teams of people (for content, clarity, grammar, possible biases, etc.) and then pretested.


And the majority - if not every single one - of those people are US-educated native English speakers who grew up in the US culture.
This brings up the bias which is extremely hard to detect, such as assuming, for example, that everyone knows the basic baseball rules (for analogies) or how the dorm wings are structured.

You might want to read this paper to see how LSAT could be biased with you not seeing it at all.

Sure, we have to take it the way it is - but if anyone wants to sue LSAC for discrimination (including for example the prohibition of dictionaries, WTF?), I'd plaintiff in.


Saying that there are cultural biases that make some people less likely to have knowledge that would be helpful on the test is very different from saying that finding the right answer is a subjective thing.

Objections like this are certainly reasonable. But I think that they carry less weight than similar objections to the SAT and ACT. The LSAT is, after all, an admissions test for professional schools that are training people to pursue jobs primarily within the US. A bias towards English speakers and those familiar with the culture isn't necessarily indefensible.

bilbaosan
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby bilbaosan » Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:17 am

bp shinners wrote:There shouldn't be enough of this going on to impede your overall understanding of the passage. A word or two here or there? Sure. But if the general vocab is giving you issues, then you're going to have problems with more than just reading comp. There really should not be 5 to 10 words per test that you can't figure out given the context.


Yes, the art or philosophy general vocabulary is indeed problematic since I don't read anything about those topics. This is what makes me question the whole purpose of those passages. You don't expect the knowledge of terms such as "surrealism" or "protagonist" to be so important in legal education that it needs to be tested.

If you're approaching the test with this mindset, you're going to have huge issues. The right answers aren't correct because somebody thinks differently than you; they're correct because they're correct. You're not trying to get inside the head of the person who wrote the question; you're trying to find an answer choice that accurately summarizes the main point. If you don't think the correct answer is actually correct, there's nothing I can say except you are wrong and you won't improve until you accept that maybe you don't understand the material as well as you think you do.


The idea behind my thinking is that the passages often (if not always) are written by someone else, not LSAT authors. They just create questions around it. How do the LSAT authors know THEY got the main idea of this passage correct? The answer is that they do not; they just guess and rely on 170+ test takers having the same guess. This is what makes the answer correct.

Nope. I've trained way too many people to tag the correct stuff who were scoring from the mid-130s to the 170s to think that it's even difficult, let alone impossible, to master.


How many of them were not native speakers? I'm pretty confident most natives won't have an issue with main point questions; LsatQA always marks them as lowest difficulty.

Yes; it seems they are thinking correctly and you are thinking incorrectly ;-).
For the question you cite, nothing you mention it directly contradicts (E), and each of those issues is addressed in another part of the passage. Social and political issues come up in the first sentence, the second sentence, and pretty much the entire passage after line 48. To which the entire passage was building up.
So they're not thinking differently than you; it seems you're just overlooking a lot of information in the passage.


But nothing directly contradicts A either!
It is easy to kick off the answers which directly contradict the passage, but then you end up with two (sometime even four) answers and all of them are about the passage.
Even your own explanation here basically confirms that we're looking at the same passage and see different things. I don't see anything about social issues in the first or second sentence, and pretty much anywhere except this single sentence starting at line 48.

To each their own. I would probably recommend spending sufficient time on every section.
Your attitude is definitely preventing you from scoring as well on the LSAT as you can. I have had plenty of students who come into my class refusing to accept that they might be wrong on some issues, and they want to fight against the correct answers. This is self-defeating because, first off, the answers are correct for an objective reason, and a ton of people get them right because they are the right answers. And second, even if that wasn't the case (but, again, it is), since the test is so important you should try to adapt your thinking so that you can scores well on it is possible.


I don't fight with the answers which are objectively correct. It is the answers which are "correct" for no obvious reason which piss me off. And only RC section has those.

And we are not disagreeing on your second point. The people for whom the test is very important are those targeting 170+, and they would reach their goals better if they study all sections. For the rest who is not targeting even 170 in my opinion it is better to skip studying RC altogether assuming you're at least half decent there.

Did anyone really got 130?

magickware
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby magickware » Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:19 am

bilbaosan wrote:And the majority - if not every single one - of those people are US-educated native English speakers who grew up in the US culture.
This brings up the bias which is extremely hard to detect, such as assuming, for example, that everyone knows the basic baseball rules (for analogies) or how the dorm wings are structured.

You might want to read this paper to see how LSAT could be biased with you not seeing it at all.

Sure, we have to take it the way it is - but if anyone wants to sue LSAC for discrimination (including for example the prohibition of dictionaries, WTF?), I'd plaintiff in.


I'll add in another fun fact-

I"m an immigrant who came here when I was 6, left for Korea at 8, then came back at 12 and lived here since.

And I still got a -3 on the RC the first time I tried it.

I know that this doesn't necessarily address the point you made, but I feel that it partially does. At least the premise that "if you're not a native speaker you'll have a hard time on the RC" has one tiny hole punched in it, ya?

It's known that the LSAT is discriminatory. It discriminates against blind people, for example.

But I sure has don't know baseball rules, or football rules. I don't know how dorm wings are structured either.

And that article is bull. It ignores the fundamental point that you can replace whatever the hell is written in the questions with anything and the question will still stand. The only relevant thing is the structure and the logic presented.

Could one make an argument that the test-makers are racist/sexist/w.e based upon the questions shown in that study? Sure.

Could you seriously make an argument that the narrative content of a question so disturbs people that it prevents them from doing well? Perhaps, but then one has to wonder whether they get the point of the LSAT at all.

Why would you focus on how the test makes you feel about yourself when you should be striving to notice the logical structure presented in the question over what it says?

Besides, taking a study that was written about the test before its "modern" rendition in 91 is a little self-serving mate.

bp shinners
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby bp shinners » Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:44 pm

bilbaosan wrote:And the majority - if not every single one - of those people are US-educated native English speakers who grew up in the US culture.
This brings up the bias which is extremely hard to detect, such as assuming, for example, that everyone knows the basic baseball rules (for analogies) or how the dorm wings are structured.


I have no idea how dorm wings are structured, and my knowledge of baseball is pretty limited. I also can't think of many questions where either of those would matter. Knowledge of how insurance and lotteries work has come up before on the LSAT, so you might have a point there, but I'm pretty sure insurance and lotteries work the same everywhere. They just might have a different prevalence in other societies.

You might want to read this paper to see how LSAT could be biased with you not seeing it at all.


That article applies to an older version of the test; the modern LSAT is almost painfully politically correct. Additionally, that analysis of the question about Fred is laughable.

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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby bp shinners » Fri Aug 30, 2013 12:56 pm

bilbaosan wrote:Yes, the art or philosophy general vocabulary is indeed problematic since I don't read anything about those topics. This is what makes me question the whole purpose of those passages. You don't expect the knowledge of terms such as "surrealism" or "protagonist" to be so important in legal education that it needs to be tested.


I guarantee you that you did not need to know what Surrealism meant unless they give you enough information in context to figure that out for yourself. And if you don't know the definition of basic words such as protagonist, you're going to have issues at an American law school. If your point is that people who don't speak English well won't do well on the LSAT, I completely agree.


The idea behind my thinking is that the passages often (if not always) are written by someone else, not LSAT authors. They just create questions around it. How do the LSAT authors know THEY got the main idea of this passage correct? The answer is that they do not; they just guess and rely on 170+ test takers having the same guess. This is what makes the answer correct.


First off, while not definitive proof, the fact that so many people agree on a certain interpretation certainly suggests that there is support for that interpretation. And if your argument is that we can never know if we understand what somebody else has tried to communicate in the written word, then there's no point to argue with you in the written word.

How many of them were not native speakers? I'm pretty confident most natives won't have an issue with main point questions; LsatQA always marks them as lowest difficulty.


I would say I've trained at least two dozen non-native speakers in the LSAT throughout my career, and they may have had to work harder at it, but those who put in the time definitely learned how to make it work for them.


But nothing directly contradicts A either!
It is easy to kick off the answers which directly contradict the passage, but then you end up with two (sometime even four) answers and all of them are about the passage.
Even your own explanation here basically confirms that we're looking at the same passage and see different things. I don't see anything about social issues in the first or second sentence, and pretty much anywhere except this single sentence starting at line 48.


I was just arguing against your points for the one answer choice; I wasn't doing a complete explanation for the entire question. And I didn't argue that we were seeing different things; I argued that one of us was wrong in what they were seeing.

For answer choice (A), we learn in lines 8 through 11 that Sembene's originality lies most strikingly in having adapted film to the needs of West African culture. That's not what (A) says is the basis of his originality, so it's wrong.

The first sentence talks about "sociopolitical commitment". That is objectively about social issues. The second sentence says that his films are meant to "raise their awareness of the past and present realities of their society." Again, that is objectively about social issues. The idea that starts in line 48 begins a thought that continues through the rest of the paragraph. Again, it is objectively about social issues.

I'm not trying to beat up on you; I'm trying to break through this block you have that's preventing you from improving on the section.

I don't fight with the answers which are objectively correct. It is the answers which are "correct" for no obvious reason which piss me off. And only RC section has those.


All of the answers on the LSAT are objectively correct. The sooner you accept this, the better you'll do on the test.

And we are not disagreeing on your second point. The people for whom the test is very important are those targeting 170+, and they would reach their goals better if they study all sections. For the rest who is not targeting even 170 in my opinion it is better to skip studying RC altogether assuming you're at least half decent there.


Then we'll have to just agree to disagree.

Did anyone really got 130?


Statistically, many people get a 130 every year.

bilbaosan
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby bilbaosan » Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:56 pm

magickware wrote:I"m an immigrant who came here when I was 6, left for Korea at 8, then came back at 12 and lived here since.


With all due respect, this means you finished the middle school here, and went through the high school and the college? You're a native speaker then.

And I still got a -3 on the RC the first time I tried it.


If this is your typical result, then I guess RC just works for you. From reading this forum it is pretty clear that -3 on RC is a serious achievement even for a native speaker, and most of them won't achieve it. For someone to get it the first time he tried, well maybe you're kind of person who goes to Yale. Kudos to you, but then you must understand you're not majority.

It's known that the LSAT is discriminatory. It discriminates against blind people, for example.
But I sure has don't know baseball rules, or football rules. I don't know how dorm wings are structured either.


I'm not sure I understood you. You finished schools and college here, and you don't know basic baseball rules?
All I know about baseball is that a dude throws a ball, another dude hits it with a bat and sometime runs. That's all; I have no idea why he runs and what is he trying to achieve.

And that article is bull. It ignores the fundamental point that you can replace whatever the hell is written in the questions with anything and the question will still stand. The only relevant thing is the structure and the logic presented.


I'd love to see how this works with the "author attitude" or "main point" questions.

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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby neprep » Fri Aug 30, 2013 4:06 pm

bilbaosan wrote:
I'm not sure I understood you. You finished schools and college here, and you don't know basic baseball rules?
All I know about baseball is that a dude throws a ball, another dude hits it with a bat and sometime runs. That's all; I have no idea why he runs and what is he trying to achieve.



I'm here 21 years and have no clue about baseball. I'm still waiting for the LSAC to do a logic game about golf: A player is selecting 9 holes to play during a round of practice, with the round's total being a par 30, and each hole being either a par 3, par 4 or par 5. There can be rules about how holes of different pars are ordered. It would be sublime.

Can someone write one? PLEASE. I'll pay you in New Yorker subscriptions.

bilbaosan
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby bilbaosan » Fri Aug 30, 2013 4:09 pm

bp shinners wrote:I have no idea how dorm wings are structured, and my knowledge of baseball is pretty limited.


Then how would you do P37 S3 Q1-5? I had absolutely no idea what this whole setup is about until I googled "dormitory wings".

That article applies to an older version of the test; the modern LSAT is almost painfully politically correct. Additionally, that analysis of the question about Fred is laughable.


This wasn't about the political correctness, it was about different biases and how easy they are to spot. The whole point was that if you're not the target audience of the bias, it is incredibly hard to even spot it.
And I don't understand why you say the analysis is laughable. In my opinion she did her job correctly - and obviously her goal was not to analyze the logical structure of the argument.

bilbaosan
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby bilbaosan » Fri Aug 30, 2013 4:44 pm

bp shinners wrote:I guarantee you that you did not need to know what Surrealism meant unless they give you enough information in context to figure that out for yourself. And if you don't know the definition of basic words such as protagonist, you're going to have issues at an American law school. If your point is that people who don't speak English well won't do well on the LSAT, I completely agree.


Well, you need to know a) this is the art style to start, and b) this is different from postmodernism or realism. You don't need to know the exact difference, but if you look at the word "figugjehrtgtt" in the art article, how'd you feel?

"Protagonist" is not the basic word, especially for the LEGAL education. I've been living in US for close to decade now, I've been an engineer for close to twenty years, and read (and wrote) a lot of tech documentation, I've filed over 100 pages with the courts, and I've been reading the court decisions for years (including most SCOTUS decisions) - and I don't remember ever hearing or reading this word before.

I'd agree with you if we were talking about the test to study art. But it is not. The test is supposed to measure one's ability to study law, not art. How does the knowledge of word "protagonist" relates to such ability? I'd really like to hear the LSAC experts testimony on that.

First off, while not definitive proof, the fact that so many people agree on a certain interpretation certainly suggests that there is support for that interpretation. And if your argument is that we can never know if we understand what somebody else has tried to communicate in the written word, then there's no point to argue with you in the written word.


The main problem here is that the question answer IS subject to interpretation. This is what makes it subjective. In LG, for example, no question is subject to interpretation, it is either right or wrong. It doesn't matter if 10 people or 10 million people agree that B is correct answer - and it shouldn't matter. But it certainly does for the main point.

I would say I've trained at least two dozen non-native speakers in the LSAT throughout my career, and they may have had to work harder at it, but those who put in the time definitely learned how to make it work for them.


That's as vague answer as it could only be (as we're disagreeing what is the reasonable ROI for those who put in a lot of time, not whether putting in a lot of time brings in any return), but thank you anyway, as I guess this is not really public information.

I was just arguing against your points for the one answer choice; I wasn't doing a complete explanation for the entire question. And I didn't argue that we were seeing different things; I argued that one of us was wrong in what they were seeing.

For answer choice (A), we learn in lines 8 through 11 that Sembene's originality lies most strikingly in having adapted film to the needs of West African culture. That's not what (A) says is the basis of his originality, so it's wrong.

The first sentence talks about "sociopolitical commitment". That is objectively about social issues. The second sentence says that his films are meant to "raise their awareness of the past and present realities of their society." Again, that is objectively about social issues. The idea that starts in line 48 begins a thought that continues through the rest of the paragraph. Again, it is objectively about social issues.


Yep, you're right. After rereading A and 8-11 again I see now that A does not really match 8-11, so it must be wrong, and this leaves E as the only answer which doesn't contradict the passage while being meaningful enough for the main point. Now I still have no idea what "sociopolitical commitment" is, but then it doesn't matter anymore. Thank you for the explanation!

Then we'll have to just agree to disagree.


Which is fine as well. Besides that, main point (like Parallel) questions usually contain long answers, so they take a lot of time to read and understand.

Statistically, many people get a 130 every year.
[/quote]

Interesting. I tried once to do the test in an attempt to get zero correct answers. Should have been fairly easy, but still got two correct :(

bp shinners
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby bp shinners » Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:27 pm

bilbaosan wrote:Then how would you do P37 S3 Q1-5? I had absolutely no idea what this whole setup is about until I googled "dormitory wings".


That game gives you everything you need to know regardless if you don't even know what a dormitory is. There are four dorms and each is split into a North part and a South part. Again, if you're not familiar of the definition of "wing" as a section of a building, it might take you an extra second or two to figure it out. But they give you enough context to do so.

This wasn't about the political correctness, it was about different biases and how easy they are to spot. The whole point was that if you're not the target audience of the bias, it is incredibly hard to even spot it.
And I don't understand why you say the analysis is laughable. In my opinion she did her job correctly - and obviously her goal was not to analyze the logical structure of the argument.


I'm not going to get into a debate about a random law review article. If you buy her argument, cool.

bp shinners
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Re: Skimming in RC sections

Postby bp shinners » Fri Aug 30, 2013 7:37 pm

bilbaosan wrote:Well, you need to know a) this is the art style to start, and b) this is different from postmodernism or realism. You don't need to know the exact difference, but if you look at the word "" in the art article, how'd you feel?


You should have been able to tell that it was an art style in context, and the fact that there is a different name for it than postmodernism or realism tells you that they are different. if I saw a sentence that said, "Dali painted almost exclusively in the figugjehrtgtt style, which had certain key differences from kjhuiogyf and pupfgrdturtj,", then I would assume that the f one was an art style that is different than art styles such as k and p.

"Protagonist" is not the basic word, especially for the LEGAL education. I've been living in US for close to decade now, I've been an engineer for close to twenty years, and read (and wrote) a lot of tech documentation, I've filed over 100 pages with the courts, and I've been reading the court decisions for years (including most SCOTUS decisions) - and I don't remember ever hearing or reading this word before.

I'd agree with you if we were talking about the test to study art. But it is not. The test is supposed to measure one's ability to study law, not art. How does the knowledge of word "protagonist" relates to such ability? I'd really like to hear the LSAC experts testimony on that.


It's general knowledge of the English language that is being tested. You never know what words are going to show up in a case. When you're entering a profession that requires a deep understanding of the importance of language and the subtleties of it, it's important that you have a deep understanding of the importance of language and the subtleties of the language in which you are going to practice. "Protagonist" is a word that is in regular use in the English language, so it's fair game for a test that serves as an entrance exam for a profession that requires fluency in the language.

The main problem here is that the question answer IS subject to interpretation. This is what makes it subjective. In LG, for example, no question is subject to interpretation, it is either right or wrong. It doesn't matter if 10 people or 10 million people agree that B is correct answer - and it shouldn't matter. But it certainly does for the main point.


There is absolutely no way I'm going to convince you that you're wrong, even though I am sure that you are, so we should just drop this point.

That's as vague answer as it could only be (as we're disagreeing what is the reasonable ROI for those who put in a lot of time, not whether putting in a lot of time brings in any return), but thank you anyway, as I guess this is not really public information.


My answer wasn't vague - I was saying that I have experience in the area in which you're questioning my experience. I wasn't trying to back it up with numbers. I don't have specific ROI data because I have no reason to collect that specific information, but the point is that any increase in points is a worthwhile ROI until you start talking about hundreds of hours.


Yep, you're right. After rereading A and 8-11 again I see now that A does not really match 8-11, so it must be wrong, and this leaves E as the only answer which doesn't contradict the passage while being meaningful enough for the main point. Now I still have no idea what "sociopolitical commitment" is, but then it doesn't matter anymore. Thank you for the explanation!


No problem! And it does matter, because you can learn from stuff like this and take it to the future parts of the LSAT. Even if you don't know what sociopolitical commitment is, English is very much a language of root words. So you might not know the exact definition of sociopolitical commitment, but you can be pretty sure that it has to do with social and political issues since they share roots.


Interesting. I tried once to do the test in an attempt to get zero correct answers. Should have been fairly easy, but still got two correct :(


Haha, yea, this test can lead to crazy results sometimes. Not because it's subjective, but because people's approaches to it can be ;-).




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