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BR on Reading Comprehension?

AJamal22AJamal22 Alum Member

Hey everyone! I wondered if anyone had any tips on improving RC when my timed score is -13 but untimed is -5. Once it's untimed, I can start to parse through the words and get more of an idea of what to answer, but during a timed section, I understand but can't evaluate between two or three really "good looking" answers. Any thoughts on how I would go about that? Also, even knowing that the passages will get more challenging, I find myself spending more time on the first two passages and then leaving the last passages to complete in a hurry, causing obvious inaccuracy issues. Anyways to improve that?


  • Firstly, keep in mind that these RC sections are materially designed to be particularly tough during the regular time allotted. The whole point of the training is so that you dont always have to rigorously parse through every single line in order to understand whats going on in the passage. While that might be necessary when going through a specific question about context or a specific part of the passage I found it most helpful to employ these tips.

    1) Theres always going to be at least 1 passage that is just not clicking for you. The content will seem hard, or impossible to understand. You NEED to recognize that they are all written in a way in which you CAN understand the argument without necessarily understanding the content to a full extent. Remember that there is a distinction between understand the general structure of an argument, and understanding the make-up of certain organism structures (or any random thing they try to confuse you with). That being said, once you understand the structure of the argument use your time to understand the KEY points. Practice identifying the Premise, Conclusions, Subconclusions, Other Arguments, and everything else JY talk about in these lessons. Get into the habit of knowing where the argument indicators are and understanding the FLOW of the authors argument. In practice that looks like this:

    Although many people think dogs are the best animal, critics have recently supported the notion that they in fact are not. This is because a dogs inability to grab things with his paws the way monkeys can is severely limiting. These critics are mistaken, grabbing things with your paws is not the only effective way to grab things. I am going to show you how the dogs ability to grab things with their teeth discredit this claim and prove them to be the superior house pet.

    Recognize the shifts in the argument as it flows. Be able to understand who is saying what, what the point of it is and youll be able to see a dramatic increase in the understanding. When you first start reading you may think that the author is going to disprove the people that think dogs are the best because he says "although" but then you see this although coming in to play with the disagreement of the critic... they then support the initial although. This is a really simple example but I can almost guarantee you that the tricky LSAT writing employ sneaky argument flow to trick you and hide it behind tricky content. DO NOT be fooled by the flow. They rarely ask you to explain something that is purely content based without relating it to the argument. In the times that they do ask you to explain something content based remember this: THE ANSWER IS ALWAYS IN THE PASSAGE. They may explain how a scientific process works such as "To successfully dispose of the toxic waste the company must dig at least 300 meters and no more than 1800 meters beneath sea level. This is because water under the surface has the highest salt concentration at these levels and the company can ensure that this salinization will neutralize the chemicals without risk of spread"

    They may ask you "which of the following would the author agree is a proper procedure"
    Now, notice this doesnt really have to do with the argument, but youll be able to find it in the text.

    Bottom line: RECOGNIZE and PRACTICE the difference between the actual content and the argument structure. You will never understand every single different passage of content but you should be able to MASTER the argument structure. Good luck and I hope this helped.

  • Burden.of.FloofBurden.of.Floof Monthly Member
    1034 karma

    What are your goals? I think that will largely dictate your approach. If your section goals are -5 timed, it might be worth it to explore skipping a passage altogether. If you see a passage and it only has 5 questions, save it until the end and then get to it only if you have time.

    If your section goals are more like -1, -0, I would try seeing if you can get your untimed score down to a -1 or -0 first. Slowing down and doing a thorough review of passages until you know you can get most, if not all of questions right untimed could be illuminating. There have been several great threads on good RC strategy. Make sure to "pre-phrase" each question before answering it, and write out Low Res, High Res, the main point, argument structure, etc., before heading into the questions. I found that pre-phrasing helped me a ton... it helped me to avoid a lot of trap ACs.

    Also worth noting, the correct answer 99% of the time will always be provable. It doesn't mean that it's explicitly stated... but it does mean that it will have language that makes it easily supported by the material in the passage. On every single question I always ask myself "is this provable?" if I find myself saying that it's just too strong and can't be supported, I cross it off and move on.

    I think everything else largely comes with experience and doing a TON of RC passages. Something I've been thinking a lot about lately is the "tempo" of my reading. Someone feel free to chime in if this doesn't make sense haha. But, I think we should be aware of the speed at which we read, and how it might change or shift throughout the course of the passage. Something I'm striving for, is flexibility with that rhythm. I don't think reading pace should be a constant speed, but I think it should slow down and get faster depending on the circumstances. These ebbs and flows are on the subtle side, however, kind of like balancing on the head of a pin. Nothing should ever slow to a crawl, or take off like a runaway train. This speed is controlled by understanding and the importance of what you're reading... whether it's integral to the structure or a detail that you don't absolutely need to internalize.

  • AJamal22AJamal22 Alum Member
    132 karma

    Thanks so much, this helps a ton. Yea, i believe I need to just practice more and more until I feel comfortable with a pattern similar to that I have seen in LR.

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