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the often overlooked essential skill for RC and LR success

TheoryandPracticeTheoryandPractice Alum Member
edited May 2017 in General 1008 karma

I believe that brushing up on English grammar is necessary for RC and LR success. JY also mentions the importance of referential phrasing and grammar in general in the CC. However, I think that it is beneficial to go beyond the grammar lessons covered in the CC and independently build a strong foundation on grammar. By a "strong foundation," I mean the ability to effortlessly capture the grammatical structure of a sentence: being so skilled to the point that one no longer needs to consciously "identify" the grammatical structure, but the grammatical structure just reveals itself to one at a quick glance. It is like unconsciously seeing the skeleton first and then filling in the flesh.

https://www.englishgrammar101.com/

This free website covers grammar pretty comprehensively, if anyone wants to check it out.

I personally have benefited a lot after seriously studying the grammar using the above website: my speed, confidence and accuracy in LR and RC have improved.

Below are my speculations on why a strong grammar foundation is critical for RC and LR success.

1) Reading accuracy. Oftentimes, the difference between the correct and the incorrect AC lies in a single word, modifier, or even a verb tense. It is really difficult to capture these subtle shell games, because they seem so random and negligible. However, if we really understand the grammar structure of a sentence, then these differences no longer appear so random. They are no longer a hard-to-find nitty-gritty detail; rather, they become structurally pronounced. For example, if we can identify not just the verb of a sentence, but also the nature of the verb (is it an action verb? helping verb? Combination of both? etc) , then the subtle differences in the ACs stand out. If we saw a helping verb in the stimulus (for example, a qualifying "may") but don't see it in the AC, we can articulate the difference in a grammatical language. We can even anticipate the wrong ACs based on the identified grammar structure.

2) Confidence and speed. As we all know, the LSAT purposefully uses convoluted stimulus structure. It is testing whether we can capture the "essence" of the stimulus while getting rid of and paying less attention to unimportant details. Therefore, when we are reading a stimulus, we practice identifying the premise and the conclusion and reorganizing the stimulus in a way that the essence of the stimulus is more pronounced.

Reading a sentence is the same thing; the LSAT purposefully employs convoluted sentences to make active reading difficult. However, reading becomes easier when we understand the grammar well. The essence of each sentence is the subject and the verb; they are like the premise and the conclusion equivalent of a stimulus (in terms of the relative importance). Identifying the subject and the verb, and then reorganizing the sentence in terms of the distilled essence-- "who did what" --improves speed and retention, because we know exactly what happened in each sentence. This in turn helps with confidence in RC and LR, because no matter what kind of complicated sentence or difficult topic is thrown at us, we know that we will be able to distill it down to the core and understand what is going on. No sentence is daunting anymore.

3) Re-organizing/ rewording the sentences in terms of the subject-and-the verb (who did what) is really helpful to avoid another LSAT trap: the difference between a language shift and a conceptual shift. In a language shift, the stimulus and the AC contain different languages, but signify/mean the same thing. The relationship among elements discussed remain the same. (For example, "Sarah bought a cookie" and "a woman purchased a pastry" contain different languages, but mean the same) However, in a conceptual shift, the language looks extremely similar, but the meaning is entirely different, because some relational aspect among the elements changes. By articulating who-did-what in each sentence, we are also distilling the key relationships among elements into the simplest form. It helps us to see the underlying meaning behind words more clearly.

If you are struggling with active reading and accuracy in general, you might want to brush up on grammar b/c of these reasons. I certainly struggled a lot with mindlessly reading a paragraph, not retaining anything, and going back to the beginning completely panicking.

Comments

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    26321 karma

    Amen! This is an excellent analysis of a much overlooked subject of enormous importance. I count grammar as being very nearly as important as logic. I've worked with so many students, and grammar is always a problem. Learning to quickly and naturally see those grammatical skeletons truly is an essential skill to LSAT success.

    Thanks for sharing!

  • twssmithtwssmith Alum
    5120 karma

    Thanks @TheoryandPractice for sharing:)

  • Daniel.SieradzkiDaniel.Sieradzki Legacy Member Sage
    edited May 2017 2301 karma

    @TheoryandPractice Thank you very much for sharing this! I feel that so much focus is given to question types and logic, that a lot of other things are overlooked. Grammar and argument types are two big examples of this. These underappreciated topics are crucial to doing well on this test.

    As you pointed out, the LSAT writers love to add an extra level of difficulty by using convoluted language and grammar. As J.Y. says, this artificial difficulty can make things hard even if you understand the underlying logic. Thus, a solid understanding of grammar combined with logic can overcome both of these challenges and lead the student to the right answer with confidence. Thank you for helping others to achieve this!

  • akistotleakistotle Member 🍌🍌
    9361 karma

    Thank you @TheoryandPractice for pointing this out!

    The reason why I miss so many points is precisely because of my lack of this essential skill!! :(

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    Gracias for sharing, friend! I think it is an essential, and way overlooked part of this test!

  • danielznelsondanielznelson Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    4181 karma

    In a language shift, the stimulus and the AC contain different languages, but signify/mean the same thing. The relationship among elements discussed remain the same. (For example, "Sarah bought a cookie" and "a woman purchased a pastry" contain different languages, but mean the same)...

    This alone is where so many inferences lie. Should you catch these, the passage changes from a bazillion ideas to only several key, repeated ideas.

    Great post!

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    edited May 2017 23929 karma

    Another over looked theory that I've mentioned on here before that improved my RC score is utilizing the variation of the method of LOCI in the passage.

    It's all about memory, visualization, and staying engaged. And the (modified version) of the theory of LOCI (completely compatible with JY'd memory method, LSAT Trainer, MLSAT) tends to work so well because you are IN your story.

    I'm my opinion we tend to get too technical and re-invent the wheel when its comes to RC. The best part is you can do both. But make any passage you read a blockbuster movie in your head. At the very least, you'll be engaged with the material!

  • Brazil020511Brazil020511 Alum Member
    429 karma

    Quick question: did you start at part 4: sentence parts? Or did you start from the beginning?
    -Thanks

  • DumbHollywoodActorDumbHollywoodActor Alum Inactive ⭐
    edited May 2017 7468 karma

    Agreed. This is great. I find that I mostly tutor grammar and argument forms with my students. 7sage's curriculum is more than sufficient for logic. What really throws people is understanding what the argument and answer choices are even saying.

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    @DumbHollywoodActor said:
    Agreed. This is great. I find that I mostly tutor grammar and argument forms with my students. 7sage's curriculum is more than sufficient for logic. What really throws people is understanding what the argument and answer choices are even saying.

    I agree totally and don't mean to through the baby out with the bath water, so to speak. I just think students would benefit greatly if they were able to put incorporate themselves into the story. It can help with questions from main point, author's tone, etc. There's not doubt this is a panacea, but visualizing the story ins way that includes a fictional you can help a lot!

  • TheoryandPracticeTheoryandPractice Alum Member
    edited May 2017 1008 karma

    @zil020511 definitely the beginning! Understanding the noun types and verb types are so helpful for RC

  • TheoryandPracticeTheoryandPractice Alum Member
    1008 karma

    @"Alex Divine" hey! What exactly is the theory of LOCI?

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    edited May 2017 23929 karma

    @TheoryandPractice said:
    @"Alex Divine" hey! What exactly is the theory of LOCI?

    The Method of Loci is an effective mnemonic device, or a trick to aid in memory storage and retrieval. The effectiveness of the Method of Loci relies on visualizing mental images to associate with the material that needs to be remembered.

    The truncated version is to associate new information with places you are familiar with using visual imagery.

    Youtube videos like this can explain it a lot better than I can, haha.

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    This 180er uses a very similar version of this technique for RC.
    Check out this video. this is more or less what I do, but it's personalized with @"nicole.hopkins" 's annotations. And if you master the 7Sage's method method you'll have little problem locating specific details.

    It takes a while to speak to what works for you. But man this was such a game changer for me re: RC

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