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Author Topic: Is RC really just about reading well?  (Read 1311 times)

Mitchell

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Is RC really just about reading well?
« on: October 19, 2008, 08:59:35 PM »
...or do you suspect there's a system to it?

(Yes, Mitchell just asked a serious question.)
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booyakasha45

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Re: Is RC really just about reading well?
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2008, 01:37:02 AM »
Understanding what to read for and how to approach the passages with respect to diagramming and underlining is more important than being a good reader.

wkjr

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Re: Is RC really just about reading well?
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2008, 01:55:36 AM »
i've never diagrammed or underlined a single rc passage and i routinely missed 0 or 1 on timed pt's (having taken 20+) - will i back that up on the real thing?  we'll see in five days...but i don't see any need for gimmicks or tricks...for me anyway - maybe other people are different - incidentally...funny story from test day - we were getting signed in and seated and some guy in the back of the room says "does anyone have an extra highlighter?" - i had to restrain myself from saying, "what the hell would you need that for?" - again, i'm probably just different and weird  (and i'm definitely better at rc than lg)

booyakasha45

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Re: Is RC really just about reading well?
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2008, 03:46:35 AM »
I don't 'diagram' per se, but I do write down key things, like a word or two on the main point of each paragraph, and words that describe the paragraphs in relation to each other, usually like 'counter' or 'support' or whatever. I also underlined proper nouns or obscure, jargony words, because they tend to pop up in questions asking what the author did or did not say. It's a pain to sift through large portions of the passage trying to relocate information you need to answer an otherwise thoughtless question, with an answer directly verifiable from the passage, verbatim. I didn't have a particular science for RC, but my approach became fairly uniform as I did more and more passages. It's basically guaranteed that you will need to understand the main point, the various arguments presented, how the arguments are related, and the author's individual viewpoint on the issue(s) he discusses, which may not be explicitly stated, for each RC passage. Maybe some people are good enough readers that they will do well on RC even without focusing on specific things they should be looking for in each passage. Personally, I knew that I couldn't rely solely on reading skills to get me through RC, so I studied it until the section became easy and predictable because I knew exactly which parts of each passage were 'important,' according to the LSAT. This allows you to save time, because you will intuitively skim through obviously unimportant technical rhetoric that you might otherwise get caught up on processing.

I think it's debatable that reading well is helpful in ascertaining the information that RC questions require. Academic reading tends to be fact-oriented, while the RC section is based on your understanding of the author's argumentation in general (i.e. structure, method, view points, etc. ). Most people probably do not read for generic structure in their every day lives, which is why I think it's important to systematically approach RC. The section itself isn't hard, but I know a lot of people who make the mistake of not studying RC, because they thought there was no room for improvement, since their reading abilities were not going to drastically change before the LSAT. This simply isn't true.

wkjr

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Re: Is RC really just about reading well?
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2008, 03:55:13 AM »
that's definitely solid advice, and i certainly didn't mean to try to take away from the very plausible idea that a person can get better at lsat reading comp - if you suck at it (like i sucked at logic games when i first started), you should probably try SOMETHING different - the main point i'm making is i constantly see people saying you HAVE to do this or that to do well on the section - that kind of ridiculous generalizing just goes over the top - if i missed more than 2 on oct 08 i'll come back here and retract my statements (but for the record i'm not terribly worried bout it)

booyakasha45

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Re: Is RC really just about reading well?
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2008, 04:05:48 AM »
I agree with you entirely. People shouldn't try to force a generic model on RC passages. Relying on a shortcut or template is too restrictive and prevents people from fully understanding what they are doing, which means that they'd be completely screwed if the LSAC threw them some sort of curveball, because rigid models are unadaptable.

I'm also not saying it's necessary to study RC. I wish I were as lucky as you, because 3 months of reading passages about the most asinine garbage imaginable is not something I'd elect to do if I didn't have to, and something I hope I will never have to do again.

Bottom line is, there is no real set approach for RC like there is for LG and LR. People need to figure out what works best for themselves through practice, unless they are confident in relying solely on their innate reading abilities.

wkjr

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Re: Is RC really just about reading well?
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2008, 04:13:19 AM »
totally understandable...it's funny, though, the more i studied the more i liked the rc for the side benefit of learning new asinine stuff...like i actually had a conversation with one of my architecture friends about some architecture history passages...that was fun...and that's about the only useful advice i could dare to give anyone on rc....try try try to somehow trick yourself into enjoying it - when i stopped being stressed by lg's and started to "like" them (as much as possible for me) i found myself doing better - attitude isn't everything, but i think it's something?

booyakasha45

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Re: Is RC really just about reading well?
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2008, 04:24:47 AM »
I had to do the same thing with RC. If I didn't prepare myself for this section with massive amounts of self-deception, I probably would have wasted half of my time rereading sentences that I missed due to sheer boredom. Kind of like what happens with my academic readings, but without the chance to go back and reread and with the addition of 5-8 obnoxious questions at the end, to make me reflect on and revisit the godawful passage I had hoped to never look at again.

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Re: Is RC really just about reading well?
« Reply #8 on: October 20, 2008, 12:11:42 PM »
One of the most important things to get from an RC passage is its position in the big picture of the argument - is it a claim, an opposition to a claim or a rebuttal to an opposition?  That helps keep things straight in your head.  You can usually get that from the first paragraph.  If not, you will get it from the very beginning of the second paragraph. 

Next, watch for a thesis statement.  Some have it.  Some do not.  If they have it, get it.

Next, watch the flow of the argument.  How is the author constructing his/her case?  Don't worry nearly as much about the details of the argument.  Treat it like an open book test.  (Because, it really is an open book test).  If you need details for an answer, you want to be able to look back at them.  There is no reason to work those from memory.

Last, watch for a conclusion.  Some have it.  Some do not.  If they have one, it is very helpful (obviously). 

It should not take more than one to two minutes to get this from a passage leaving plenty of time to answer the questions.  All that other stuff - about reading questions first, etc., is more for people who are "gaming" the RC section rather than doing it the way it is designed to be done.

RC has nothing to do with speed reading or reading dense material.  It is about reading argument (something we lawyers do every day of our lives).   
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tcwhat

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Re: Is RC really just about reading well?
« Reply #9 on: October 20, 2008, 03:56:19 PM »
...or do you suspect there's a system to it?

(Yes, Mitchell just asked a serious question.)

It's mainly about answering questions well.