...or do you suspect there's a system to it?(Yes, Mitchell just asked a serious question.)
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).