Voyager's RC Strategy

Voyager
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Voyager's RC Strategy

Postby Voyager » Sun May 06, 2007 2:56 pm

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Hi. I regularly see people completely clueless on reading comp on one of these pre-law boards and I have posted the below a couple of times to help.

I spent some time writing out the below for other threads and thought I would add it here as well. I posted this back in July of 2006. Reading Comp should not be difficult is you have the right strategy for it. Most students (as in 90% of them) use the "read for detail" technique for reading comp. This is, of course, utterly retarded. Do lawyers memorize everything they need to know for a case they are working on? Hell no! They take notes which they use to reference the critical pieces of information.

NOTE FOR DOUBTERS: This is the BEST approach for reading comp. It works. Well. Please read everything I wrote before you pound out some half-assed retarded response along the lines of "I never took notes and got a 160! Your approach is dumb!11!eLEVenty!!ONE!!!" I did pretty damn well on this test and only missed 1 question in reading comp (which I am pissed about). Treating reading comp like the games WORKS (and I got 100% on the games... why does that matter? It doesn't, I just like telling you). You just need to practice it. [2010 edit: lol. THAT may be a bit strong in retrospect... but I do believe this method works well.]

So, what follows is my approach to reading comp. It allowed me to finish the section on the June test with a good 4 minutes to spare. I rarely missed more than 1 question on the practice tests and only missed one on the real thing (so it was not a fluke).

The reading comp CAN be approached much like the games: you need a format to use for each game and a structure to refer back to as you answer the questions. The whole trick is NOT to have to reread the whole passage each time you tackle a question. You want easy references that allow you to find critical pieces of information quickly. The trick is that the approach I use will save me between 10-20 seconds per question. If you multiply that over 26 questions, suddenly I am saving myself ALOT of time. And frankly, time is the whole trick to the passages.

You will find that each passage will cover 4-6 main points. This may occur in 5 paragraphs or 2, but as long as you identify AND HAVE A REFERENCE TAB/MARKs for certian key pieces of information it will not matter how dense the passage is.
Last edited by Voyager on Wed Jul 21, 2010 9:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Voyager
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Postby Voyager » Sun May 06, 2007 2:57 pm

You will use 2 main techniques to create references for yourself: (1) actually writing out the main idea of each paragraph and of the passage itself in the margin. This should consist of just shorthand notation. You will be surprised how many questions are quickly and easily answered by these notes ("what is the author saying in paragraph 2?"). It will also help you immediately zero in on specific paragraphs for detail questions. If you noted that paragraph 3 gives 2 examples disproving "certian critics" then if you get a question asking about types of examples used by the author you immediately know where to go.

In dense passages (with 2 or 3 paragraphs) look for natural topic shifts within the paragraphs. I guarantee they are there. Once you find them CREATE YOUR OWN NEW PARAGRAPH by just writing the point of the next section of the paragraph in the margin and putting a bracket in the text. Suddenly that rough 2 paragraph passage is now a much more manageable 4 paragraphs. And, since the dense ones turn out to often have easier content, it is now cake.

(2) Underlining and boxing. I put BOXES around all terms which have definitions and all names. That way, when a term or a certian person's view/background comes up in a question I do not have to hunt the paragraph for the definition. My eye goes to the boxes. I UNDERLINE all phrases that I think might be relevant later on. This includes paragraph and passage thesis statements as well as the author's viewpoint, among others. What I underline is based on my experience taking practice tests and figuring out what I will most likely be asked later.

One danger with both of the above is doing too much marking. If you do too much, the markings become worthless, so you will need to practice balancing having the right amount of reference notes/marks.

By doing the above I not only have handy references for myself, but I also find that I flat out RETAIN the knowledge in the passage much more easily. You become an active reader and suddenly you are able to answer questions without even looking at the passage (sometimes... and be careful with that).
Most people have the attention span of 3rd graders. Yes, this includes you. By forcing yourself to be an active participant in the passage, you end up actually reading and comprehending the text instead of just letting your eyes wander over the words.

Voyager
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Postby Voyager » Sun May 06, 2007 2:57 pm

Practice making notes/marks for each of the following you will be fine:

1) Main point of the passage (usually covered in the first paragraph). I actually write out a 3-5 word/symbol summary next to the text. For example, "16th legal reform=bad for women" or something along those lines. Practice identifying the thesis statement.

2) Main point of each paragraph. Same as 1. If you split a paragraph up into smaller paragraphs, you should summarize the points of both of these little paragraphs ("formalists' view" and "pro-RTT view" to take an example from one of the old tests)

3) Boxing all names and terms. There is almost ALWAYS an explanation of the person/term right after it. Now you can just find your boxed name and read the explanation that follows for certian questions.

4) Underlining key points/evidence. This just takes practice. Over time you will figure out what is key and what is not. In the beginning, if it seems important underline it. As you take practice tests you will refine your approach and underline less.

5) If, at any time, the passage tells you what the author thinks (sometimes it will do it in a sneaky manner) WRITE IT IN THE MARGIN. Most passages will have a question asking about the author's opinion. You just gained yourself a free point.

6) Look for keywords and cues. When the passage says "some critics argue..." you KNOW the passage will post evidence against them 2 sentences later. Watch for it. UNDERLINE the "some". There are tons of these key words and I do not have the space to delve into them in detail.

Finally, in addition to the above, you have to be a fast and competent reader who can read for content. The above will help, but nothing is better than just doing tons of reading passages over and over (use the above techniques when you practice... you will need the above skills anyway as an attorney so you might as well learn them now). You need to learn to read quickly and to understand the stuff quickly. If you were in the brown reading group in 2nd grade, thought reading books and writing papers was for "dorks" in high school, graduated from some shit-hole college (anything with the word "state" in the title, for example) or any combination of the previous, you will have a difficult time with the LSAT. All I can say is work on it.

Voyager
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Postby Voyager » Sun May 06, 2007 2:58 pm

Mastering the above is the formula for top performance on reading comp. It amazes me that some test prep programs don't teach this approach to reading comp. Reading comp should be just as easy as logic games after mastering the technique. I saw both of those sections as "gimme" sections.

Logical Reasoning, on the other hand is a completely different story.... that is about 10-12 different approaches you just have to learn through practice... I will also say that mastering logical reasoing, since it is MORE THAN HALF of the test is REALLY the key to a top score. If you can average only 2 wrong on each logical reasoning section, you are totally set.

I hope the above helps. Let me know if I missed anything or if you have any questions. Good luck.

One last point: if you are going to prepare for the LSAT, DO IT. That means, you need to spend AT LEAST 1 hour per day studying and should invest about 15-20 hours per week. This is assuming you are working a full time job. If you are a college student, then the summer of your junior year whould be devoted to LSAT 40 hours per week. This is THE most important criteria for admission. Do not fuck this up. No amount of "I was the rush-leader for my sorority" extra-curriculars will overcome a bad score.

Voyager
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Postby Voyager » Sun May 06, 2007 3:01 pm

2007 ADDITION:

We now have to contend with comparative reading passages. I have see example passages published by LSAC, and they are really not all that tricky.

You will use the same approach as you did for the old style passages. By the time you are done, your notes will allow you to quickly and easily compare the two passages as well as zero in on specific details.

Also, only one passage will be comparative reading. What I am trying to tell you is to not worry about it, try to find some practice questions if you like and LEARN THE ABOVE APPROACH.

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Slash2049
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Postby Slash2049 » Sun May 06, 2007 4:44 pm

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no thanks

Voyager
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Postby Voyager » Sun May 06, 2007 4:47 pm

heh. Ok. I just thought that with the volume of PMs I get about this approach both from the old links I provided as well as the interest I generated at the other site, that it might be worthwhile to sticky it.

Thanks for the well written and thought-out response, though.

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Slash2049
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Postby Slash2049 » Sun May 06, 2007 4:52 pm

there's a lot of different ideas/ways to tackle each section.

if you want people to see yours make a blog about it, but ken/mods are loathe to sticky one man's "study plan" over another.

Voyager
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Postby Voyager » Sun May 06, 2007 5:10 pm

Ah. Got it.

Unfortunately, I just don't have the time to set up a blog.

I spent enough time on those guides as it is.

Thanks for the suggestion, though.

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nonunique
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Postby nonunique » Sun May 06, 2007 5:11 pm

You don't have time to copy and paste?

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Slash2049
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Postby Slash2049 » Sun May 06, 2007 5:12 pm

time required to set up blog:

copy and paste the posts from your guide into posts in your blog.
Last edited by Slash2049 on Sun May 06, 2007 5:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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nonunique
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Postby nonunique » Sun May 06, 2007 5:29 pm

excellent use of the large font...bravo.

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nonunique
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Postby nonunique » Sun May 06, 2007 5:33 pm

so, it is more indicative of your fading vision than of your good nature?

Voyager
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Postby Voyager » Sun May 06, 2007 5:42 pm

Ah. Had no idea that existed. Thanks.

law05
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Postby law05 » Sun May 06, 2007 10:03 pm

Thanks for writing this all out, I hadn't seen it before. I am writing in June and am hoping to improve speed and focus in RC before then... I'll definitely try some of your suggestions.

law05
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Postby law05 » Mon May 07, 2007 2:15 am

I did two RC sections tonight using your method. It didn't improve my time (still at least 10 minutes for me to geth through a passage + questions, grr), but it did seem to help me understand the passage more and make the questions easier to answer. It's not like RC is the bane of my existence-- I already have decent accuracy-- but some answer choices that would have normally tripped me up I was able to rule out quickly and easily. Bottom line, I was more confident in my answers so I didn't linger on them with worry as I normally would.

I think I will subscribe to your method and keep working on my timing. Thanks again!

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M20009
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Postby M20009 » Mon May 07, 2007 9:03 am

I don't believe the f- word is needed, mister.

monkban
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Postby monkban » Mon May 07, 2007 9:16 am

I already have decent accuracy-- but some answer choices that would have normally tripped me up I was able to rule out quickly and easily.


So I gather it improved your score?

Voyager
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Postby Voyager » Mon May 07, 2007 12:02 pm

With practice, it will greatly increase speed as well.

It takes time to master what to mark and how to mark it.

law05
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Postby law05 » Mon May 07, 2007 12:46 pm

monkban-- I missed 1 question of the ones I got to on the first section I took, and 0 on the second. I didn't get to the 4th passage on either section. So my score still sucked due to guessing on the last passage, but my accuracy was good for the ones I did get to. (Fwiw, after time ran out I kept going and didn't miss any on the 4th passages.)

Usually I miss anywhere from 0-4 of the questions I get to, depending on how often I get lucky in choosing between two tempting answers. So it was on the low end and it took less agonizing to get there.

Writing notes took time but I think I'll get better at it.

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Ralph Wiggum
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Postby Ralph Wiggum » Tue May 08, 2007 12:21 pm

while i think much of this RC plan is just basic common sense, i DID find the suggestion to box names and key terms helpful. -0, -0, -1 on my last 3 RC sections. thx!!

monkban
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Postby monkban » Tue May 08, 2007 2:12 pm

Ralph .. that's great and very encouraging. But how did that compare to your RC sections *before* you started the new boxing/underlining system? Thanks.

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Ralph Wiggum
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Postby Ralph Wiggum » Tue May 08, 2007 2:38 pm

Ralph .. that's great and very encouraging. But how did that compare to your RC sections *before* you started the new boxing/underlining system? Thanks.


RC was always my best section i guess. 1-2 wrong before....now 0-1 due to a combination of practice and adopting a couple of voyager's tips. but i'm also answering questions faster and with more confidence. for instance, i used to have to skim the whole passage to find a specific name referenced in a question...now i just quickly scan my boxes. hth.

caughtinasong
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Postby caughtinasong » Mon May 28, 2007 6:19 pm

thanks for taking the time to write all this out...i'll try this method tonight and let you know how it goes.

thanks again!

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LogicGamesAreInhumane
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Postby LogicGamesAreInhumane » Wed May 30, 2007 10:23 am

Voyager,
whats the avg number of minutes you spend on the passages before heading to the questions? this method so far has me at about 5 minutes.




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