Examining a common piece of RC advice

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Blueprint LSAT
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Examining a common piece of RC advice

Post by Blueprint LSAT » Thu Feb 07, 2019 4:29 pm

I often hear people say that a good way to prepare for Reading Comprehension is to read a lot of other similar materials.

While I'm not going to say that a subscription to the New Yorker is a bad idea, I thought I would ask people what they think of this advice?

Here is my take: I think it only helps so much and it is useful to understand why it helps.

There is a very real reason that the LSAT RC sections are structured they way they are: you are going to be asked to read that way A LOT starting day 1 of law school. You will be briefing cases. That involves finding the holding of the case, which facts were relevant and how the law was applied.

Reading a lot of academic literature will help improve your vocabulary and familiarize you with the tone and structure of persuasive writing but it won't necessarily focus you in on the things you need to be focused on in order to parse a reading comprehension passage quickly and understand what is important.

In learning the LSAT and in Law School you are essentially learning a new dialect of English. That is the part that increasing and changing your real-life reading can help with, so by all means, go ahead. It certainly can't hurt. But to get to the higher percentile RC scores you are going to have to do more. You need to practice changing the way you read, not just what you read.

You should be looking for arguments and how the people making them are supporting them. The author of a reading comprehension passage is usually making an argument just like a judge writing an opinion in a case. As a 1L you are going to drown unless you can find a way to pay attention to facts only as they critically relate to the judge's argument. So in RC, always be looking for why a piece of information is being given. What argument does it relate to? Does it support or undermine that argument?

Just like judicial opinions, the RC passages are heavily edited down already. You can't just read the first and last sentence and get the gist. But if you have an entire 25 lines about the fine membrane of a particular insect's wings, that is there for a reason. Be looking for why the author is telling you the detail. That is often far more important than the detail itself. Once you have that you can usually make a quick note (in case you need to come back for the detail later) and move on.


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Re: Examining a common piece of RC advice

Post by Seanathon » Thu Feb 28, 2019 11:13 pm

I completely agree with your take. The RC passages are hard for a couple reasons: t

1.) The syntax and vocabulary are a little bit more complicated than most people are used to and,

2.) It's hard to know at first what information is going to be useful to you in the questions.

Reading similar materials like the New Yorker or the Economist or some of Chomsky's essays helps to solve the first problem; but, you still need to get a feel for what the author wants you to glean from the passage and why.

Totally agree, OP

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