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Problems with Humanities/Diversity Passages

adrian.mikoadrian.miko Alum Member
edited October 2014 in Reading Comprehension 191 karma

I find that I really struggle with Humanities/Diversity passage types. Especially when they talk about a particular author/artist...
I usually score -1 or -2 on all other passage types, but these tend to give me the most difficulty, getting up to 3-5 questions wrong per passage...

Anyone else have/had this problem?
Any hints on how to improve on these passage types?


  • amanda_kwamanda_kw Alum Member
    383 karma
    Hello, as an Ethnic Studies major in college I do really well on these passages. I think it might help to read some background in the topic. When I am reading passages like these, I am constantly making analogies to past works I have read. Like, oh, that is like this racial formation, or the concept of the other, or the great migration (where millions of African-Americans moved from the rural south to the north). (all of these topics have wiki pages).

    The foundational text for my major was Omi and Winant's Racial Formation in the US. Here is a [PDF of a chapter]( (7 pages) and the [wiki on on Racial Formation theory](

    As for passages about specific authors or their works - it's helpful for me to focus less of the person - and treat the person like "some people" or "theory a"/ "theory b" for opposing views, and focus more on what the author wants to say and if the author agrees with what they are saying or not.

    Let me know if that helps or if there are any other q's you have.

    Also, if do you better in science or economics passages, can you let me know how you do that? Those are the passages that always get me stuck - in getting questions wrong or at the very least I spend way too much time on them.
  • Will EdwardsWill Edwards Alum Member Inactive Sage
    175 karma
    I second what Amanda is saying, background is key. You can also try checking out an Art History book from the library. I read something like Art History of the 19th Century when I was having similar problems. Took the mystery out of it for me.
  • 82 karma
    I think it's important to realize that what you are reading is factual information. I'd assume everyone knows this, but are they really aware of it, you know. Miles Davis and bebop music are real. Nisa, the Story of a Kung Woman has a wikipedia page. You just have to find a way to get interested. Go find a passage that you really had trouble with and go do some research on it. I think it will give you a piece of mind to really see that it's not something so obscure that clever little LSAC employees are writing up behind locked doors somewhere in Area 51.
  • adrian.mikoadrian.miko Alum Member
    191 karma
    Thank you everyone.... I'll be sure to do some research and read more about these topics. Hopefully it will help me attain some background knowledge and comfort with these passage types.

    Amanda, as for the Economics/Science passages; I am actually a Finance Major. Even still, there are times that I have to try and clear my mind from what I learned in school and focus on what the author provides me with. Many times my background knowledge drives me away from the passage to make too many real world assumptions. I focus on the theory the passage attempts to explain/agree with, or counter. As well as the regular, opponent/proponent/author views.

    I find the best way to approach science passages is to actually focus on the hypothesis, implications, as well as key terms. When I first started these passages I was too focused on the details (definition of a "pitchblende", for example. PT 37, Passage 2).

    Then I realized I was better off not focusing on these details, but rather remembering where they are located within the passage, just in-case a question did come up regarding it. For the most part I would approach these like any other passage type, focusing on the different views (science passages usually have an old school of thought, and a new hypothesis provided with evidence that just so happened to revolutionize/change scientific theory... pretty predictable)

    When reading these, I usually go step by step:
    - Okay, so this is the old view, why does it suck?
    - Why is the new hypothesis any better?
    - What do the critics say about this new hypothesis / study
    - What evidence does the passage provide?
    - Authors view.... Neutral/Agree/Disagree?

    Hope this helps!
  • adrian.mikoadrian.miko Alum Member
    191 karma
    Still can't improve on this... :(
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