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A Guide on RC Improvement

Lucas CarterLucas Carter Alum Member

RC success is a function of knowing what to read for and a healthy balance of focus and confidence. Without confidence, it is hard to really focus. Knowing what to read for helps to build confidence, which increases your willingness and ability to focus.

I will briefly discuss how you can practice knowing what to read for below. This is difficult at first, but gets easier with repetition- the more you do it, the faster and more accurate you become.

First, why RC? Why does LSAC care to test us on RC and what do they really want us to do?

In law school, we will be reading tons of cases written by judges. It will be our job to discern the main point of the case, determine what the judge really thinks, and how they build their argument. Once we have this understanding, we can (with the help and insights of professors) analyze the strength of the argument and think about its implications.

The LSAT tests our ability to identify the main point or thrust of an argument, discern the authors’s view, and be able to see the author’s logical progression to the main point or conclusion, in other words to map the blueprint of the argument.

The questions are almost all based around these elements. By reading with the intent of figuring these things out before the questions, the questions fly by. This is analogous to making up front inferences during Logic Games.

RC is hard because we are not used to reading and thinking in this manner. Most of the things we read, we just skim.

So here is a template to fill out when you read RC. Filling this out yourself will get you in the habit of consciously thinking about the things LSAC requires of you. The more you do this, the better your ability will become. After writing these things out many times, you will eventually be able to hold these elements in your mind. This is how comfort, speed, and accuracy is built. So focus on filling this template out untimed at first. Then hit the questions. During the questions, you will find that you have thought about many of the concepts asked if you already.

So here is the template:

Paragraph #1 Low Resolution Summary:

Author’s separate paragraphs to signal a shift in ideas. Each paragraph is the reporting of a different idea. We want to identify what that idea is.

We are looking to summarize the takeaway from the paragraph. This will show us 3 or 4 different ideas. Then we take these ideas and examine how they relate. The relationships of the paragraphs come together to allow us to see the takeaway of the whole thing.

P2:

P3:

P4:

Main Point? - What does the author want you to take away from this? What are they trying to argue, show, or tell you about?

Author’s tone? - Where do they show their opinion and what is it? Pay close attention to when the author is speaking versus when they are telling you about the opinions of others. Do not conflate the 2!

Argument Structure?-

How does each paragraph relate to one another? Use your low res summaries to tell a story. For example: Paragraph 1 tells us about a strange phenomenon, Paragraph 2 then gives us Jones explanation for the phenomenon, Paragraph 3 introduces Kate and she offers a different explanation for the phenomenon, Paragraph 4 ends with the author telling us why they think Kate’s explanation is better than Jones’.

Analyzing an RC passage and doing this is time consuming and even draining- for harder passages it will take me sometimes 1.5 hours to fully feel like I have a full understanding of the passage. This is normal, take your time and shoot for quality of training over quantity. Knowing deep down that you have a true understanding of the passage is how you develop confidence! Like I said earlier, this process will start out slow and painful, but it will pay off if you stick with it.

Once you have completed the template, and feel comfortable with it, you are ready to hit the questions.

More so than LR, you need to take your time to fully understand the question stems, or what is being asked if you. For example, in LR a stem may ask you which AC most strengthens the argument. You can read this and know your task in about 2 seconds because you have seen hundreds of these. However, an RC stem is more likely to be unique, specific, and its meaning may turn on a single word. So it is important to take your time with stems.

Use Pre Phrasing! After reading the stem, answer the question in your own words. Think about what a credited answer choice might be. For example, if the question asks you what an author would most likely agree with, think about what you know about the author’s opinion. This type of conscious thought before looking at answer choices will make you less prone to traps and more efficient. It also forces you to full understand the question stem. I found that many of my mistakes were a product of not understanding the task at hand.

Steps:

1.Fill out template untimed (this will take forever at first)
2. Analyze the questions. Read the stem and pre phrase before looking at answer choices. Write out justifications for every answer choice, right or wrong.
3. Take a break, reset your brain, repeat
4. Check answers/grade
5. Over time this will become easier and you can try doing 2 passages in one sitting
6. Once you can do 2 passages in one sitting and go -1 or -0 per passage, you are ready to add in timing
7. Complete a 35 minute strictly timed RC section. Pick the 2 passages you found most difficult and complete the template and question justifications, untimed.
8. Keep an excel sheet tracking your results, timing, and takeaways. Before you take a timed section, revisit this sheet and set intentions/ goals going into the section.

Comments

  • Law and YodaLaw and Yoda Alum Member
    4090 karma

    I struggle with RC the most and really appreciate you posting this! Do you have any skipping suggestions/things you found beneficial when you would be taking an RC section during a PT?

  • BlindReviewerBlindReviewer Alum Member
    855 karma

    @Yoda I wrote out my tips for RC here a long time ago: https://7sage.com/discussion/#/discussion/20999/thank-you-7sage-all-my-advice

    But from what I remember off the top of my head, recording myself taking RC sections helped me see what I was doing with my timing, and also learning to let passages take more time if they required more time was very helpful. That is, I originally started to get really stressed if I was on passage two and I had already passed my quota of ~18 minutes or whatever. Some passages are designed to take longer than others, and you have to believe that the section will balance itself out. That being said, I think skipping comes with experience and knowing whether you'll be able to answer a question, but I usually gave myself two dips back into the passage and after that it was a circle and move on.

  • Lucas CarterLucas Carter Alum Member
    2793 karma

    @"Law and Yoda-Brandi" said:
    I struggle with RC the most and really appreciate you posting this! Do you have any skipping suggestions/things you found beneficial when you would be taking an RC section during a PT?

    I find that pre phrasing is important to skipping. This is because when you pre phrase, you force yourself to determine if you understand the question and the relevant part of the passage. If you cannot pre phrase or if the question asks about a part of the passage you really struggled with, then you can just skip right away.

    For example, suppose we have a science passage about Gamma Rays. Maybe you understand the structure of the argument and main point but not the details. If a question stem asks about the details of how Gamma Rays behave, just skip before dealing with the ACs. If you really do not understand the concept, the ACs will only make it worse and trap you, while sucking your time.

    So, know what you know and don't know and skip aggressively based around that. Do not be afraid to get out of a question entirely if you end up hating all of the answer choices.

    Lastly, do not feel bad or ashamed about skipping- see it as an opportunity to save time and dodge bullets. Each passage usually has 1 very difficult question. Do not beat yourself up over it if you are not getting it. See it as a luxury that you will give yourself a chance with if you have time at the end but do not need to get correct.

    To flush this out let me give an example:

    Student A is against skipping. He read online that you should just do everything in order because it will be fresh in your mind. There are 4 really tough questions on this RC section: #4, #13, #22, and #27. Student A cannot remember the detail that the question stem in #4 talks about. He spends 40 seconds in the passage looking for it. On #13, he dislikes all the answer choices and goes into the passage to find a resolution. This takes another 40 seconds. #13 and #22 are similar, each using 40 additional seconds. So Student A has burned nearly 3 minutes by not skipping the 4 hardest questions. Sure, maybe he ended up getting a few of them correct, but they are inherently very difficult so he likely still missed 2 of them. The real problem is the time spent. Now he must make up for those 3 minutes somehow. This will manifest itself in rushing through reading passages or question stems/ACs; as a result, being vulnerable to make silly mistakes on easy questions.

    Student B is a skipper. On #4, #13, #22, and #27, she nopes right out of them when she realizes she does not understand what is being asked of her or dislikes all ACs. Instead of ruminating over these, she saves those 3 minutes. This gives her less timing pressure/stress and allows her the ability to not need to rush in understanding passages or doing the other questions. She is less liable to silly mistakes. She gets through the section with 2.5 minutes left over. At this point her mind is in a different spot than when she struggled with those 4 questions. Maybe some time away from them or something in the other questions helped 1 or 2 of them click. She has 2.5 minutes to battle it out and try to pick off a few of them. She avoids having to rush on the easier questions. She recognizes that there will be really tough questions and is cool with missing a few of them; she will miss them quick, giving her time to crush the easier ones.

  • TrusttheprocessTrusttheprocess Alum Member
    751 karma

    Dude you always post up amazing stuff!!!

  • lexxx745lexxx745 Yearly Member Sage
    3190 karma

    Great tips! I think something important to note and a clear consensus is that RC is the hardest to improve. I think the maintakeaway is that reading is a skill you develop over your lifetime. Besides the skipping strategy, I dont think there are TOO many things you can do to really improve your RC score

  • Law and YodaLaw and Yoda Alum Member
    4090 karma
  • Andrew_NeimanAndrew_Neiman Alum Member
    258 karma

    Damn Lucas with the fire man. Thank you

  • Lucas CarterLucas Carter Alum Member
    2793 karma

    @Trusttheprocess said:
    Dude you always post up amazing stuff!!!

    @Andrew_Neiman said:
    Damn Lucas with the fire man. Thank you

    Thanks for the support, guys! I probably have a legitimate addiction to this test----at least it benefits some, lol.

  • force users lawyerforce users lawyer Yearly Member
    40 karma

    thank you !

  • Glutton for the LSATGlutton for the LSAT Alum Member
    375 karma

    Saved. Thanks!

  • GSU HopefulGSU Hopeful Monthly
    1644 karma

    Saved as well. Thank you!

  • galacticgalactic Yearly Member
    edited September 2021 690 karma

    Thanks for this @"Lucas Carter" . Bumping because of both the value here and the recent frequency of RC questions on the forum.

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