Straw_Mandible wrote:As for RC, I don't fear getting too caught up on the details because I'm reading with a purpose. The purpose is to understand the argument(s)/main points and to know the structure of the passage inside and out, so that I can quickly and easily find any tidbit the questions may ask about. And don't be fooled by the idea of "background information"--every word is relevant, and every word is fair game. You just have to be able to make a quick assessment of the relative centrality of what you're reading at any given time (in relation to the main points), in order to properly understand the overall reasoning structure. But any amount of time invested in getting a clearer understanding of reasoning structure is going to pay out huge dividends on the questions. The better you know the passage, the faster you can rule out wrong answers and zero in on the relevant information to confirm correct answers. So trying to speed through and gloss over details to get a snapshot of the "main point" is going to do you a severe disservice. Spending time on the details helps you develop a stronger understanding of the passage as a whole.
My father had a professor in London who said to him, "You Americans are always trying to discover what's relevant. What you fail to discover is that the whole f**king world is relevant."
Were your gains mainly from understanding the reasoning structure more thoroughly, or being more able to do the detail questions (or both)?
I think when I read a passage I get a rough understanding of the main arguments (I maybe wrong), but I have the most trouble doing local questions where I have to find the details. In those questions, I spend a large amount of time going back and forth on my contender choices and the text, and a lot of times I get them wrong nevertheless.
What are your thoughts on this?
Congrats on your breakthrough
Yeah, if you're wasting any time searching through the passage for details, that means you didn't spend enough time on your initial read.
I'm going to play with semantics for a minute here, and emphasize the fact that every passage is nothing more than a collection of details. To understand "reasoning structure" means that you understand how these details interact with one another to form a central argument, position, or purpose.
So the answer to your question is right here:
Spending time on the details helps you develop a stronger understanding of the passage as a whole.
Provided that you're able to do a little bit of high-level analysis and make an accurate assessment of how each detail fits into the passage as a whole, you'll realize that none of the 'minutiae' are unworthy of your time. Every word is relevant. Your task is to figure out in what way
it is relevant. If you're able to read with that purpose in mind, the section should go very smoothly.