Help with nailing the RC

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Help with nailing the RC

Post by sgjnkwon » Fri Jun 14, 2019 1:24 am


I've been struggling with RC for the past two months. Usually I miss 2-3 per section, but sometimes as many as 5. My goal is to consistently finish in time, averaging -1.

I'm experiencing three problems.

1) Timing
I can't seem to secure 8 minutes for the last passage and end up rushing. I'm experimenting with shortcuts such as retaining less in the first read, but that sacrifices accuracy. What have you done to get your RC up to speed?

2) Level of passage comprehension
I'm having trouble calibrating the right level of understanding of the passage in the initial read. If I retain too much, I lose sight of the structure, but if I stay too top-level, I'm prone to missing detailed inference questions. What is the best approach in balancing the initial read with work in the questions?

3) Passage identification questions (i.e. detailed inference questions)
These are a killer. Sometimes, the correct answer hinges on an obscure line in the first or last paragraph. It's easy to point to a line reference on review, but in the heat of the moment, how on earth do you spot them?

I'd appreciate any general ideas, resources or perspectives on improving on RC. Grasping at straws!


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Re: Help with nailing the RC

Post by Voyager » Mon Jul 08, 2019 3:57 am

Well, have you tried developing a notation system as you read? ... php?t=7240


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Re: Help with nailing the RC

Post by k5220 » Mon Jul 08, 2019 8:27 pm

The thing that helped me most on timing was leaving the comparative passages for last, because those are easier to rush through (at least for me, but I think it has to do with the fact that they're less dense because they're shorter).

Using a highlighter as I read was also helpful, because pencil underlining can get lost / take longer to look for

Blueprint LSAT
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Re: Help with nailing the RC

Post by Blueprint LSAT » Mon Jul 08, 2019 8:59 pm

I have the most to say about the balance between "top level" and "detail." I have some suggestions, but you are already doing pretty well so feel free to disregard if this ends up being below your level. Hopefully if it doesn't help you it will help someone else :)

I generally suggest leaning closer to the former, structural understanding, but processing the other detail in a specific way. On the first pass you want to understand all of the arguments being made. That means spotting the conclusions and classifying everything else as either evidence supporting those , or occasionally tangents/setup/background info. The extra detail will almost always be there for a reason. If you can understand why then it is easier to spot which of the details are going to come up in the questions.

For example, if we have a long, detailed description of the anatomy of a specific dinosaur it is difficult to remember/note everything in that description. But if that description immediately follows the claim "X family of dinosaur were stopped from migrating to safer environs by extreme flooding that lasted several thousand years and separated previously linked continents" Odds are the description of their anatomy is relevant because it implies something about that species' ability to cross water.

In the end, way fewer questions actually end up being purely detail-oriented than it seems on the surface. The structure is helpful far more often than not. That being said, the pure detail questions still happen so you also need to supplement your top-level understanding with a good tagging system. Quick summaries or even just notes like "example: spiders:" can tell about where each topic is discussed and minimize the chunks of the passage you need to re-read.

I would tag all of the following even/especially when they arise outside the main structure of the passage: Examples, studies, conditional relationships, causal relationships, rhetorical questions/answers, author-attributable adverbs (justifiably, understandably, etc...), and exceptions that seem slightly counter-intuitive (an environmentalist who is vehemently against strip-mining briefly mentioning one exception where it is okay to strip-mine). The test tends to ask isolated questions about these even when they aren't part of the big-picture. It isn't perfect, but tagging these specific things ends up taking the surprise out of a lot of the seemingly random questions.

The other thing that can help is seeing how closely some of the questions in RC relate to the question types in LR and beginning to handle them accordingly.

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