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RC strategy?

chaplin___chaplin___ Monthly Member

Do you physically jot down notes as you read under timed conditions? Notes as in a few words for each paragraph that capture important content or structure or both. Is there an effective way to do this, if effective at all?

I've tried this in the past but I'm always short on time, but maybe my system of notation is just too unwieldly, so I switched to a highlighting system but then my memory fails me.

Any advice is appreciated!


  • Lime Green DotLime Green Dot Monthly Member
    edited April 2021 1331 karma

    RC is so person-tailored. Everyone has their own preferences, and they vary widely! I had a friend/colleague who jotted small notes on the scrap paper we're allowed. Didn't go crazy, as I understand, probably ST that amounts to a lo-hi res for each para. Personally, I don't find it useful as whenever I did take notes, I hardly referred to them. Even though I often remembered what I had written, it just wasn't that helpful for me for the time invested. So I'm not exactly an advocate of it for myself.

    I do, however, highlight, and it's important how you highlight to really maximize the tool since it's also a little time investment. Some people say it's finicky, but it's the motion-to-text action that I've found really helps me stay engaged with the screen and passage, and making sure I don't block entire areas out in color... it becomes pretty useless then.

    I hunt for tonal words, surprising little details, switches in OPAs, and key bits of phrases and stick to 1 color per para., highlighting as minimally from among these categories as possible. Esp. for longer block paragraphs I will alternate every few lines with the underline tool. But having too many colors going on in one para. tends to make me forget things--self-defeating! Likewise, having an entire passage in just one highlighting color feels too monotonous and suddenly all the important things I picked out feel welded together. Not good! It can be such a fine balance. Some people do it by viewpoint, and occasionally I'll break my own rule if I feel a passage "calls" for it. But that's generally how I go about it :)

  • chaplin___chaplin___ Monthly Member
    570 karma

    Totally agree that it's so personalized. I've tried different strategies but still haven't found what works best for me. I've tried no notation at all and paraphrase each paragraph as I go, then do a quick scan of the passage and prephrase a MP before going into the questions. Then I switched to brief notation for each paragraph but similar to your experience, I don't refer to them as much as it's worth the time invested to jotting them down. So I've now settled on highlighting, specifically looking for viewpoints, shifts in narrative, qualifiers that indicate tone and degree like "ostensibly" or "suggest" along with active reading and reading for structure. But for content-specific questions, my memory fails me, so I'm just figuring out a more integrated, comprehensive approach!

  • mariposamariposa Alum Member
    14 karma

    If I am being honest with myself, what I write down I tend not to refer back to, I rely on the areas I have hi-lighted.
    However, I think the value I find in writing things down physically has to do with cementing the structure/other bits of information into my short term memory (which may be why I don't need to refer back to what I have written down as much)

  • Lime Green DotLime Green Dot Monthly Member
    1331 karma

    Ah memory, that elusive little thing that buckles under pressure and testing anxiety. I've been taking gingko biloba for just such reasons lol~~~

    Honestly just to offer a final tidbit, I've become less afraid with spending all the time I need on the passage (4-5 minutes many times) and whizzing through the Qs "trusting" the depth of my read for almost all Qs except the ones where specific lines are mentioned. I just go back for context checks, but sometimes I can still answer w/o returning.

    I also don't do well with remembering every content-specific thing, but I do much better when I'm staying with the passage long enough to think it through as I read rather than having to jump back and forth b/w Qs and the passage over and again. This has helped me up my confidence and freed some of my mental resources to focus on the read upfront, since I'm not as anxious about missing "that one important thing."

    When using my approach, I just have to refrain from "making 100% absolutely sure" when I hit the correct answer. It's not easy b/c I'm such a risk-averse person, and I do frequently and quickly skim the other A/C for tricky ones, but my money's on my read.

  • Burt Reynolds-1Burt Reynolds-1 Yearly Member Sage
    951 karma

    I agree w/ everyone - RC is such a personalized thing. I used to skip to the comparative right away to "build confidence" -- I wouldn't recommend it. I would usually take too long on a question or two and screw myself on time for other passages.

    The best way to build confidence, for me personally, is to be an aggressive reader. That means always pushing back on structure during my 1st reading. I'll briefly review structure and the MP before jumping into the ACs. I also highlight, but try hard not to abuse it. Like @"Lime Green Dot" -- I'll alternate colors for paragraphs and search for tone, OPAs, and surprising details.

    When I'm in the questions, I force myself to slow down on question stems. It really helps to recognize the difference between "according to the passage" and "most strongly supported by the passage" - RC answers always require some burden of proof and it's important to explicitly acknowledge how much proof is needed.

    And one final thing that kinda helps me -- I try to tell myself that RC is really just long form LR. We're still answering MBT, MSS, MP, and MOR questions. Personally, I kinda like LR (I know, I'm sick).

  • 2 karma

    I use a highlighting strategy to keep attentive. Oxford University has a video by Jesus College about the LNAT and ways to study for that test, which is where I found this. Simply highlight any adjectives, and adverbs. It's a lot of highlighting but it works for me, it ensures your mind does not wander in a timed setting.

  • Lime Green DotLime Green Dot Monthly Member
    edited April 2021 1331 karma

    The best way to build confidence, for me personally, is to be an aggressive reader. That means always pushing back on structure during my 1st reading.

    Yes! One of JY's mantras I always try to follow is to "contain your confusion." I know that my memory is better served when I'm not fretting over a sentence talking about some esoteric topic that conveniently also has a lot of convoluted language or jargon. I think worrying about retaining the passage too much can get in the way of actually understanding it, and tools are tools at the end of the day be they notes or highlighting.

    @"simonetta.3918"~ that's interesting, I hadn't heard of that before. Are adj/adv the only things you're supposed to highlight with this strategy? Do you find yourself erasing these marks afterwards since they served their purpose by the end of your read?

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