I have posted this before...but here we go:
Reading Comprehension Appendix
Once you have learned the basics about RC, it is important to practice your timing, your understanding of the passages and practice answering the different types of questions. RC is the “least studied for” section by many LSAT students. In my opinion this is a mistake. Work through these reading passages by “genre” or “section type”. Review your answers after you have read the passage under timed conditions (only give yourself 8 minutes to work through the section, add another 45 seconds if you are using a bubble answer sheet to record your answers).
It is really important to not only familiarize yourself with these reading passages, but to also get a thorough feeling of timing and what it takes to get through the entire RC section in under 35 minutes during the test while answering as many RC correctly as possible.
Though I am not a Reading Comprehension Expert, I am going to share my study notes with you that I compiled while preparing for the LSAT.
Common Themes in Passages:
1) Presenting two contrasting views or ideas or explanations on a particular subject and explaining each. It is important to note whether the author favors one side or the other or is neutral. Mark the places in the passage where the different viewpoints are located. Many times wrong answer choices involve information presented for the other viewpoint.
2) Detailing the history of a particular subject, discussing the various ‘cause and effect’ relationships and other influences on the resulting consequences. Again, note the author’s opinion regarding the different viewpoints, including if the author is neutral.
3) Often the author’s viewpoint is given with only one word, an adjective, an opening word for a sentence or a descriptive phrase. For example, “Unfortunately, the scientist X is mistaken…”
As you read each paragraph, not in the margin any important information or words that give a quick indication of what the paragraph is about. At the same time, underline parts in the passage to mark key signal words, names of people, and key phrases.
The first paragraph is usually the most important paragraph in the passage because that is where the author introduces the topic and scope of the passage, along with the purpose and main idea.
In any passage, pay attention to the third of the entire passage and also the first and last sentence of each paragraph as the questions tend to focus on these parts of the passage.
List of Important Annotations/What Should be Underlined:
1) Topic – the subject matter of the passage is usually revealed in the first paragraph.
2) Scope – the specific area of the topic the author is concerned with is usually revealed in the first paragraph.
3) Purpose – why the author is writing the passage, will sometimes be found in the first paragraph, but can appear later on.
4) Main Idea – the author’s opinion or conclusion, can be found anywhere in the passage.
Be aware of signal words: *
1) Evidence – since, because, studies have shown
2) Conclusion – therefore, thus, clearly, so, hence, consequently, as a result, accordingly
3) Contrast – however, although, even though, but, nevertheless, on the other hand, rather than, yet, while, alternatively
4) Sequence – first, second, third, next, in addition, also, another, lastly
5) Comparison – similarly, analogous, also, likewise, parallel
6) Examples or Lists – for instance, for example, such as
7) Words in Italics or “Quotes”
* I tend to underline and mark up the text more than other people. I also tend to mark the signal words and list (1), (2), (3) on the side of the text if I come across a list of something in the text. Most likely, there will be a question referring back to the list.
Some people outline each paragraph, making notes in the margin to allow you to locate key facts, including notes that summarize the paragraph very briefly. The summary can be one sentence or a key word or two that will help you remember what the paragraph is about. (I will at most make a one word, abbreviated note on the side of the paragraph because I find that if I outline more, I run out of time.)
Circle or Underline Words that Indicate Tone – circle words or phrases that indicate the author’s attitude toward the topic discussed in the passage.
1) Global Questions – are concerned with the topic, scope and purpose. You should predict the answer before going to the answer choices.
These types of questions usually ask for: the main idea, the author’s primary purpose, a general summary, or it can ask you for an appropriate title for the passage.
Most incorrect answer choices for the main idea will paraphrase a portion of the passage. Be careful not to choose an incorrect answer because you recognize something from the passage. Make sure that it does not just paraphrase one portion of the passage.
Global questions can ask about the structure of the passage: “most accurately describes the contents of the passage” or “accurately describes the organization of the passage”.
As soon as you determine that any portion of the answer choice does not match the passage, the choice is WRONG!
Global Questions can also ask about the author’s tone. When answering tone questions, determine if the author has a positive, negative or neutral view.
2) Detail Questions are concerned with specific information reference that are either indicated by line or subject of the particular paragraph in the passage. The answers to these questions can be found explicitly in the text. Make sure to refer back to the text when you come across these types of questions. Do not try to answer from memory. Always read a couple of sentence prior to and beyond the reference.
3) Inference Questions ask you to choose an answer choice that must be a true conclusion based on the information that is presented in the passage. The answer choice is not found explicitly in the passage, but must be deduced based on the text. An inference must be based on the passage’s topic and scope, as well as match the author’s tone.
Unlike inference questions found in LR sections, inference questions in RC can be based on minor details. In RC passages, the correct answer choice can usually be pre-phrased from information presented in the question stem.
4) Logical Reasoning Questions are similar to logical reasoning question types found in the LR sections, or the questions may ask for the function of a detail or a statement in the passage.
Question stems: “the author … in order to illustrate which one of the following claims”, “which one of the following, if true, would most support…” or “the primary purpose of the paragraph (or particular sentence) is”.
Common Wrong Answer Types:
1) Outside the Scope are answer choices that discuss ideas that are not addressed in the passage or information never discussed in the passage.
2) Contradiction choice is the opposite of what the author says in the passage or is the opposite of what the author believes.
3) Irrelevant to Question are ideas in the passage but do not respond to the question being asked.
4) Distorts, the answer choice misrepresents information in the passage either by exaggerating the information or mixing up the information.
5) Too Narrow, the answer choice discusses only part of the passage the question is concerned with.
6) Too Broad, the answer choice discusses the part of the passage in terms that are too general or vague.