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Another Unorthodox RC method that some might reject but it could save you from your RC nightmares

crystal0712crystal0712 Monthly Member

OK, HEAR ME OUT. Something that helped me go from -7/9 to -4 on RC is, and some might be against this but we get desperate sometimes, actually skipping a passage all together, specifically the comparative passage. NOW BEFORE YOU HATE ME FOR THIS, JUST SEE WHAT I HAVE TO SHARE.

I always struggled with timing on RC, and when I read faster, my accuracy went down. So what my tutor taught me is as you go through the section, read the passages slowly, take your time really understanding what the passage is saying, and don't move on to the questions until you have a good understanding. Then, do the questions as normal. When you get to the comparative passage, pick a letter and answer that letter for all the questions. Don't even read the passage or questions, just fill in the letter and move on. Go back to in-depth reading and answering for the rest of the passages.

What you might find is because you skipped a passage, you'll have about 3-6 minutes left over to go back and review the skipped comparative passage (this will fluctuate as you get more confident with RC). When you go back to the comparative, don't read the passage, but skim over the questions and see which you can answer without actually reading the whole passage. These will be questions like ones that only deal with passage A/B, ones that reference a specific area of passage A/B, or structure questions that you might be able to point out. Look at the answer you selected while skipping and see if the answer makes sense. If it doesn't, change it to one that does make more sense or simply a different one.

Normally, with selecting the same letter for all of a passage's questions, at least one is going to be right. After that, your review with your extra time should help you get one or two more right. Now, the key to this strategy is that you must work on getting all of the questions right on the other passages that you took your time on. This might sound scary, but you might surprise yourself on how much you can understand and answer when you give yourself the time. If you get all the other passage problems correct, and you get at least one right with your skipping due to all of them being the same letter, you will automatically go down to -6/7 depending on how many questions the comparative passage has. Add the questions that you might get right from your second quick review of the comparative and you can bring that down to -4/5.

I HATED RC and I never thought I could conquer it, but this strategy has allowed me to be so comfortable with it because I can slow read and really understand the passages which makes the questions a lot easier, while still using analytical skills, that are easier to master than speed reading, to squeeze out those extra points. If anyone has any questions, please reach out to me. I'd love to help a fellow RC strugglers :)

Comments

  • tahurrrrrtahurrrrr Alum Member
    1092 karma

    This is a very good idea, though I would argue for skipping the passage with the least amount of questions instead of definitely the comparative. You could still employ some of the same strategies you mention for skipping the comparative in skipping any passage. Answer the same option for every question, then go back for detail oriented questions if you have time.

  • LawyeringForLifeLawyeringForLife Alum Member
    278 karma

    I see it as a viable strategy when you can't handle timing and you are targeting a 150-160 score.
    If you have higher goals, run from this like the plague. There is no shortcut for taking the time to put in the work and develop the skills. It may take you week, months, years.
    Every "trick" is just a crutch - you are better off standing on your own feet.

  • luckysat1luckysat1 Alum Member
    167 karma

    I average about -1 to -2 on RC and have achieved -0.

    If this approach works for you then great and, depending on score target, a fairly reliable -4/-5 on RC might be good enough, in which case it's maybe a no-brainer. I agree that this is a 'low scorer's'" approach. At the end of the day, if you want to be in 160/170 territory you need to get through everything.

    Personally, I have concerns about skipping the comparative passage and then revisiting them in this manner. Mainly because, generally, I find the comparative passage the easier of the four because it's typically very easy to grasp an argument that is only 1-2 paragraphs long instead of one that is 2-4 paragraphs long.

    Additionally, the questions in comparative articles tend more often to revolve around structural differences, language choices or others stuff just plain easier to identify. Questions like 'both passages use the following words EXCEPT' are commonplace and easy points as it's a straight word search. Ditto 'Both articles attempt to address the following'. These are really easy questions. For that reason, I would never want to risk dropping points on the comparative passage.

    Time is definitely an issue, though. Personally my favored approach, the one I continue to use is:

    • Spend 30 seconds establishing the subject matter of the four sections. Then begin with the section that contains subject matter that is most unfamiliar to you. In my case, usually anything 'hard science' is harder, anything literary is easier, but a lot of it comes down to whether I just happen to know anything about the subject under discussion. The idea here is to begin with the more difficult passages so you don't feel the time crunch as much and can relax a bit more.

    • Always start with the passages with the most questions where possible. This is simple common sense. If you aren't 100% sure you'll get through everything in good time, you better make sure you at least get through the passages that will equip you to adequately answer 7/8 questions instead of burning time for a return of 6 questions. Even if this only makes a difference of a point or two, that can be a huge score difference!

  • sarakimmelsarakimmel Alum Member
    1488 karma

    Agreed with other posters, skipping comparative, when it could have 7-8 questions is ill advised. If employing this strategy, choose the passage with the fewest questions. Risking not answering 5 questions is one thing, sacrificing more it’s another. If you do have only 5 minutes left, I’d argue that’s plenty of time to read the final passage and give at least some of the questions a real shot. Only when you’re down to the last 30 seconds or less should you consider straight up guessing.
    To be honest, it makes more sense to me to skip 4-5 questions that are time sinks if pressed than an entire passage. It is infinitely easier and more strategic to come back for one-offs, like to might in LR, that you might have gotten wrong no matter what than to know you’re likely to get most of the ACs wrong on a given passage.

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