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How long did it take you to improve RC? (e.g. -9 to -4)

ltypku23ltypku23 Alum Member

Hi 7Sagers,

I am currently drilling RC as it's my weakest section. Although I [feel] it's improving slightly and slowly, I am not sure if it's true or just my feeling since it's not shown in my scores yet.. I am wondering how long it took you to improve your RC (e.g. reduce the wrong ones by about half)? Either in terms of hours or number of RC sections would be a good measure that's helpful for me.

Also, what strategies or changes of your habits made that difference?

I felt frustrated when I still got -9 after two weeks of drilling (about 8 passages per day).. And not sure if there's something wrong with my strategy. I felt I spent too much time on each questions and always had about 4 questions unanswered when time's up. But not sure I I could overcome this, because if I rush through the passages, I will get more wrong answers.. When I do BR (only my circled and unanswered ones), I got -6 to -3. At this stage, should I focus on time management or analyzing the passage when I drill?

Thanks very much!


  • keets993keets993 Alum Member 🍌
    edited October 2018 6045 karma

    If you're doing 8 passages a day and still getting -6 to -3 on BR then you're probably not BR-ing thoroughly enough. It means you still don't totally understand the passage(s) that you are doing untimed. The strategies and reading skills that you use during BR should aid you in timed passages. So I'd suggest doing maybe 4 passages a day and reaaally thoroughly blind review them. What's your BR process like for RC?

    Try to skip 4 questions (1 per passage) that you think is just a time sink. This can be based on analytics of the types you miss or your feeling at the time where you think it's a time sink and see how that affects your timed score.

  • ltypku23ltypku23 Alum Member
    75 karma

    Thank you very much @keets993 ! I did rush through some passages during BR without totally understanding them. So your suggestions really make sense!

    Re) BR process - I finish the skipped ones first and then review the circled ones. Then check the answers and found that oh shit I missed this and that word/ sentences (most of my wrong ones are like this). And then the next one. I feel I already understand the structure/ main idea pretty well when I work on timed passages, so I don't review the structure again to save time. Does this sound insufficient to you?

    I feel as long as I spend enough time on each passage, I'll be able to get things correctly, but under a time limit, it's a totally different story and I don't feel any specific strategies I used in BR really aided me in timed passages. Or it may be fair to say I don't think I have specific strategies that I used in BR, because I mainly go back to passages and finish/check the answers that I missed/circled and that's it...

  • Pride Only HurtsPride Only Hurts Alum Member
    2186 karma

    Doing lots of RC can help but not if you're using the same approach. I'd switch it up to figure out your "sweet spot" For example, some people are better off reading the passage in 2 minutes and spending more time on the questions. Others do better spending more time on the passage because they can utilize the memory method very well. The most improvement, I think, happens when you figure out what works for you. That takes a lot of analyzing. I would go back to the earliest RC passages you were doing two weeks ago and try redoing them! 2nd time around should be aiming around a -2. You won't remember the right answers but you'll find it much easier to work through the passage and your brain will focus on the important parts. Redoing passages should help you read for structure on new passages.

  • Victoria.Victoria. Member
    553 karma

    Developing a strict process/approach for RC has saved my sanity a bit although I can't say how much it's helped my score - but I'll share anyway in case it helps you. After going through the Trainer I've decided to 1. read the passage only for the overall main point(s) and 2. for the "why" of each paragraph I.e. why it's included/how it serves the main point(s) of the passage. Then when I turn to the questions I 3. "find it" i.e. find the specific part of the passage that the question is referring to and reread, 4. cautiously eliminate (crucial part of my process, eliminate only what you're certain is incorrect, leave what the AC's you're unsure about and 5. Verify i.e. check the answers you have left against the text in the passage, choose the best choice (leaning more towards the answer choices that don't overemphasize (ex: always, every, all people, etc.) and then move on from the question, which is something I always have trouble with but trust your process and circle if you're still unsure so you can come back if you have time. Using this process I've been able to finish redos of sections on time missing an average of 3 questions per section and leaving none blank. Again, I can't say how much this has helped my score since I've burned through so many RC sections that I'm now just redoing sections, but this process has helped me to stay grounded and not freak out during a section and it has helped my timing quite a bit. I used to never ever finish RC sections on time, getting to every question even during and after a few weeks of just doing RC sections and exploring different methods so I know just how you feel (my range was -12 to -5 during this time and since the beginning of my studying but BR was always way less than this with no trend in passage or question type). The trainer really helped me to understand what reading for structure really means and gave me the tools to develop and implement this strategy, so if anything I hope this helps you to develop your own. I think the key is consistemcy/good habits when it comes to how you approach every passage you encounter so that you can go into autopilot and not stress about tiny details

  • ltypku23ltypku23 Alum Member
    75 karma

    Thank you very much @"Pride Only Hurts" and @"Victoria." !
    Very helpful suggestions! I think consistent + good habits are definitely what I am looking for.
    So my follow-up question is: how did you find your "sweet spot" or right habit that works for you?

    For example, I spent ~4 min on passages and had -4 for answered questions with -4 unfinished questions, and the total is -8. Then I spent ~2 min on passages and more time on questions, and I got -7 for answered questions with -1 unfinished questions, so the total is still -8. There's always this trade-off so I really don't know which method would work for me, and how I can find the "sweet spot"...

    Thanks again!!

  • keets993keets993 Alum Member 🍌
    6045 karma

    Re) BR process - I finish the skipped ones first and then review the circled ones. Then check the answers and found that oh shit I missed this and that word/ sentences (most of my wrong ones are like this). And then the next one. I feel I already understand the structure/ main idea pretty well when I work on timed passages, so I don't review the structure again to save time. Does this sound insufficient to you?

    Do you spend time going back to the passage and rereading it?

    Here's my BR process for RC. I generally go through each passage and make a low res and high res summary. Then, I try to pick a main point for each paragraph and how it connects to the rest of the passage. I see if there's anything that indicates the tone of the author and also try to anticipate what the next paragraph will be. While you've already read the passage, it's good to get into the habit of anticipating, so that it becomes more intuitive during timed conditions. I also ask myself questions constantly while I'm reading the passage. "Why is this theory outdated?" oh because of x. "Is this a bad thing?" this keeps you engaged in the process.

    Then I go through the questions. For explicitly stated questions, I indicate which one I was most likely to choose and then actually go back to the passage and disprove the four wrong answers. I never allow myself to get an 'explicitly stated question' wrong in BR because there's no excuse for missing it untimed. The passage is right there for you to disprove the wrong answer choices. Every RC question is supported by the passage.

    Majority of the time, the only time I get questions wrong in BR is if I've misunderstood a passage. I ask myself why this was, why did I miss the tone or purpose. Was it because the subject matter threw me for a loop? Was it an inference question that was just so subtle that I never would've gotten in a million years? If so, how can I make sure I don't make this kind of mistake with a different passage.

    I also compare the questions I got wrong timed to how I did in BR and what I can do next time to increase my accuracy.

  • ltypku23ltypku23 Alum Member
    75 karma

    Thank you so much for typing the detailed steps @keets993 ! I have to admit that I was not patient enough to do what you said and as a result rushed through the passages during BR. I'll try the thorough method of BR you explained for sure!

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