Are RC prep books unneeded?

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Are RC prep books unneeded?

Postby JCDante » Sun Jun 21, 2015 3:50 am

People swear by the Bibles for LG and LR, and Manhattan is highly praised for their LR book. But everywhere I look, RC books are frequently dismissed. People say that nothing is really taught in them that can't be read on a forum for like twenty minutes.

Is this true? Are there any RC books that you feel are fundamentally important to one's self-study routine?


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Re: Are RC prep books unneeded?

Postby PoopNpants » Sun Jun 21, 2015 5:14 am

I got a shit ton more out of the LG/LR bibles than I did the RC bible. I like 7sage's memory method for RC. it took awhile to get down but I found it to be effective

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Re: Are RC prep books unneeded?

Postby jetsfan1 » Sun Jun 21, 2015 8:15 am

I wouldn't say they are unneeded. I used Manhattan and found it helpful, though the marginal improvement I got from it was significantly less than books for LR/AR. What Manhattan really did was make me think critically about my approach to RC and restructure it in a more effective way. Wouldn't call it an essential part of my prep though, but I think its worth going through.

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Re: Are RC prep books unneeded?

Postby Clearly » Sun Jun 21, 2015 10:41 am

Manhattan RC guide is useful

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Re: Are RC prep books unneeded?

Postby ltowns1 » Sun Jun 21, 2015 12:16 pm

Manhattan RC was/is very useful to me. It's helping me think about RC in a more organized way that enhances my natural comprehension.

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Re: Are RC prep books unneeded?

Postby TheodoreKGB » Sun Jun 21, 2015 12:25 pm

Last edited by TheodoreKGB on Sat Aug 01, 2015 9:47 am, edited 1 time in total.


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Re: Are RC prep books unneeded?

Postby JCDante » Sun Jun 21, 2015 2:08 pm

Would the Trainer + 7Sage memory method be enough for RC prep? I don't want to buy another prep book lol (not because of money, I just don't want to have to factor in ANOTHER book into my routine that would take from PTs/review/LR+LG prep).

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Re: Are RC prep books unneeded?

Postby Jeffort » Sun Jun 21, 2015 9:16 pm

One of the main reasons people generally don't find LSAT Reading Comprehension prep books to be as significantly beneficial to ones performance as are prep books for the LR and LG sections is because the RC prep books, for the most part, don't address or go into much depth about the various specific higher level reading skills the different RC question types are designed to test.

Understanding what the different types of advanced level reading skills the LSAT RC questions are designed to test is very important and helpful so that you can re-shape/adapt your perspective, mental focus/reading and analysis priorities and general reading approach appropriately when you first read each passage to be best prepared to answer the types of questions that are asked.

The first very important (perhaps most important) thing to know about LSAT RC is that very few of the questions are designed to or meant to just test the lowest level/most basic reading skill, your ability to simply memorize/remember things explicitly stated in the passage and ability to recognize restatements of explicitly stated things in the answer choices. While there are RC questions that simply test you about/ask you to just basically regurgitate/recognize details/things explicitly stated in the passage (Which one of the following does the author mention in the passage...?), there are very few of those question types asked per RC section (around 1-5 regurgitate/recognize details/things explicitly stated in the passage questions per RC section).

What this means is that the correct answers for the overwhelming majority of the questions per RC section (roughly 20-25 questions per section) state things/ideas that are not explicitly stated in a single place/sentence in the text of the passage, or at least are not explicitly stated with extremely similar wording in the passage in one specific place/phrase/sentence/a few consecutive lines.

This is super important for adjusting your reading focus and approach when you initially read the passage. The most common problems people have (and complain about) with RC is that they don't have enough time to go back to passage to 'find the right information' to confirm or determine the correct answer for many of the questions and/or don't have enough time and/or short term memory space to memorize everything explicitly stated in the passage.

The correct answers for most of the RC questions per section state things that you cannot find a direct restatement of in one place in the explicit text of the passage. Rather, the correct answers state things that are supported by/can be inferred or synthesized from one or more parts of the explicit text of the passage while the attractive incorrect trap answers frequently restate key words, phrases and ideas explicitly stated in the passage but in a way that conveys a different meaning that what is supported/established by the passage. The test writers love to use 'key words/key phrases' explicitly used in the passage in incorrect trap answers in order to make them superficially attractive since they'll jump out to test takers that read with a memorization focus while using significantly different wording/language than used in the passage to express/talk about the ideas/topic(s) in the correct answers with different/unfamiliar from the passage phrasing/words in order to make them superficially sound wrong/out of scope/unsupported/whatever.

The correct answers for the easy/low difficulty level questions are sometimes just a paraphrase of a single idea explicitly stated in the passage (testing to see if you actually understood the meaning of the explicit text and can recognize the same idea expressed with different wording). The correct answers for higher difficulty level questions state things that can/must be inferred from the combination of multiple different things/ideas stated in the passage and the relationships between the related ideas explicitly presented. The correct answers for most RC questions fall into the latter higher difficulty category, which requires understanding and analysis of the explicit substance and its organization/reasoning structure in order to make valid inferences from the relationships of the various facts, ideas, points of view, conclusions, etc. stated in the passage.

The reason I believe the above is one of the most important things to know about LSAT RC is because many people mistakenly read the passages with the wrong mindset/mental approach by mainly focusing on trying to memorize/remember everything explicitly stated rather than reading the passage with the mindset of trying to get a full big picture understanding of the substance, main ideas, reasoning structure and organization of the passage as a whole painted clearly in their short term memory before diving into the questions.

The decent RC prep books do tell you generally what types of things to prioritize (such as main topics/ideas discussed, points of view, conclusions, reasoning structure, organization of ideas presented, etc.), which is good, but I believe that also having a deeper and clearer understanding of the various higher level post-graduate reading skills the test writers specifically design the various question types to test is extremely helpful for making significant RC performance improvements.

LSAC divides the question types and skills being tested into four major categories that have a hierarchy of difficulty in terms of the difficulty level of the question types and higher level reading skills being tested:

Category 1—Recognition
Category 2—Understanding and Analysis
Category 3—Inference
Category 4—Application

This LSAC article about the specifications and skills the RC section and question types are designed to test is extremely insightful for helping to shape your reading approach priorities, focus and analysis when you read each passage in order to be best prepared to answer the questions quickly without wasting a bunch of time 'chasing ghosts' looking back to the passage many times for many of the questions trying to find a sentence or two with explicit text that says the same thing as an answer choice (or that provides sufficient direct support for an answer choice in a single place/phrase/sentence in the passage) you're tempted by or not sure about for questions other than the regurgitate details/things explicitly said questions and questions with a specific reference in the question stem.

The biggest time sucker/time wasting thing that prevents people from having enough time to fully address all the questions under timed conditions without cutting corners/rushing/having to guess on a bunch of questions is referring back to, skimming and selectively re-reading parts of the passage for many of the questions on a 'scavenger hunt' due to not having gained a good enough big picture understanding of the passage on first read before diving into the questions. Of course you should refer back to the passage for some of the questions (like ones where the stem gives you a specific line(s)/topic/paragraph/speaker reference), but not for most or a large proportion of the questions in the section.

Many people put way too much mental focus and priority when first reading the passage on getting prepared for the 'recognize'/regurgitate things explicitly said questions even though you'll only get a handful or less of those question types per RC section and not enough attention, focus and analysis while reading the passage on getting the full big picture of the important substance, ideas, and relationships presented painted clearly in their mind before heading into the questions.

Here's a link to the article from LSAC about the specifications and design of the RC question types. It's a dense read since its an academic article that wasn't written to be a prep guide per se, but if you put in the time to read and digest it well, it gives a great 'behind the scenes' view of what's really going on with the RC section, question types that are asked and the specific higher level reading skills that are being tested. ... l%2013.pdf

PS: A great example question to illustrate what I'm talking about regarding high level reading skills correct answers that require understanding, analysis and big picture synthesis inference reading skills where there's no explicit text in a sentence or two or single spot in the passage that states or directly supports what the CR says is PT 52, passage #1, question #4. The passage about filmmaker Sembène where Q#4 is a most strongly supported inference question about Sembène.

With that question, if you refer back to the passage and myopically skim for keywords, phrases and individual sentences that appear related to wording of the three answer choices that aren't clearly out of scope/easy to eliminate with certainty ( AC's (A), (C) & (D) - (B) & (E) should be easy to eliminate just from a basic superficial reading of the passage), you'll find nothing in the passage that superficially appears to directly support the wording of the CR and can easily end up wasting a lot of time chasing ghosts on a scavenger hunt to find explicit supporting sentences or phrases with keywords that sound like they directly relate to the wording of those three AC's, or just (A) & (C) if you are heavy handed and hastily eliminate (D) on first read because of the phrase 'social strata'.

It's really easy to get lured in by AC (C) and waste time finding and re-reading the stuff about critics that's at the beginning and end of the passage and/or waste time re-reading other parts of the passage that seem related to AC (A) since Moscow and Western Culture are mentioned in the first paragraph and then end up getting frustrated comparing that stuff to those AC's because nothing 'clicks' to adequately support either of them as being correct. Those two function as great time wasting distracter trap answers because they are loaded with memorable keywords used in the passage, thus attracting you to them and tempting you to jump back to re-reading the keyword related parts of the passage instead of giving much if any attention to CR (D) because it superficially doesn't sound attractive.

Notice that the substance of what the CR says is something that is never explicitly said or specifically addressed/focused on in the passage and that it also contains a phrase that never appears in the passage which includes a word never used in the passage: '...drawn from a broad range of social strata'. Social strata is never explicitly discussed or even mentioned in the passage and you need to understand the meaning of the phrase in order to recognize and understand that (D) is a valid inference supported by the numerous details presented in/scattered throughout the second paragraph of the passage that describes some of the characters in his films. Tons of people eliminate the CR (D) immediately after reading it and box themselves into debating between trap answers (A) & (C) because (D) superficially sounds like it's out of scope of what the passage covers since there's no text that explicitly focuses on the idea that there's a 'broad range' of characters in his films and also since 'social strata' is never mentioned or discussed and the word 'strata' never appears in the passage.

Even though the passage never expressly said anything of the sort in any particular sentences, the second paragraph as a whole inherently establishes the inference by describing several different characters from Sembène’s films (but for a different purpose than to establish the inference for Q #4, the details about the characters are presented to tell you that his characters can be traced back to traditional and are similar to types of characters found in West African storytelling) including defining what types of people they were in society (a thief, a corrupted civil servant, a member of the elite, a street merchant). People gravitate towards and mostly end up wasting time debating between trap answers (A) & (C) and referring back to the passage to try to find supporting text for one of those AC's because some of the topic keywords in those AC's relate to things explicitly discussed in the passage.

One might argue that answering this question correctly and quickly with logical confidence/certainty would require that you had memorized the details paragraph #2 is filled with since the inference is a synthesis of many of those details. However, that's not actually the case if you had read and analyzed the passage up front properly for big picture reasoning structure and organization and had just done the simple analysis steps after each paragraph during first read of the passage. One of those basic but oh so helpful steps is to pause for a few seconds after you read each paragraph and simply summarize it in your head, make a note (mental and/or in the margin) about what the main topic of the paragraph is and the main point/purpose of the paragraph. A basic 2-3 second mental summary of paragraph #2 could be something simple like 'Topic: details about the variety of types of characters in S's films. Main point/purpose: tell us they're similar to character types from traditional West African storytelling'.

With that very basic quick and dirty 2 second summary of paragraph #2 in mind from it being the main thing you remembered/memorized from first read about that paragraph and what main topics the passage talked about, you could easily home in on (D) and immediately know which paragraph to go back to and re-read if need be to confirm that 'social strata' is supported by simply noticing the words thief, civil servant and elite in lines 23-24.

All in all a nasty high difficulty level big picture synthesis inference CR that's a great example to illustrate some of the high level big picture reading skills tested that are essential to achieving a high RC section score. It's also a good question to illustrate that reading the passage with the mental focus of figuring out and retaining the big picture of the main ideas the passage conveys, keeping track of the organization of information and reasoning structure while not getting bogged down in myopically focusing on and trying to memorize the details is essential for performing well in the RC section under timed conditions.

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