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How to improve reading speed on RC?

amipp_93amipp_93 Alum Member
edited July 2015 in General 585 karma
Hi everyone!

So RC is my strength and I usually only miss 8-9 questions on the whole section and that is mostly because I run out of time! If I have time I am pretty sure I would get them all right! Any tips on improving reading speed? Or will it just come with practice as i do PTs over and over again??

thank you!

Comments

  • mpits001mpits001 Alum Member
    938 karma
    What's your strategy when you do a RC section?
  • c.janson35c.janson35 Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    edited July 2015 2398 karma
    Reading speed isn't necessarily as important as having a good understanding of the passage. You need to average 8 minutes and 45 sec for each passage in order to finish in 35 minutes, so just find a comfortable speed that fits within these constraints that still allows you to have sufficient time to answer questions. I've found that I generally spend around 3 minutes on a passage (which is probably a slow to moderate reading pace) because this allows me to make sense of the subject matter, argument structure, and author's opinion with enough clarity that I can answer some questions quickly and with enough certainty that I don't have to refer back to the passage. As for the other questions, a good base understanding and knowledge of where certain details are found in the passage really expedites the process of referring back whenever I am unsure or debating between answer choices. If you're running out of time it's probably because you're getting trapped by tricky answer choices and adding a bunch of unnecessary time to completing the questions; think of it this way: an extra 30 seconds spent debating between 2 answers on 5 questions throughout the section is a net loss of 2.5 minutes, or approximately the time it takes to get in a quick read. Spend the time upfront so that you can avoid as many of these situations as possible. I've found this approach works pretty well for me, but RC strategy is pretty personal with no widespread opinion about "the best" way to do RC. Experiment with some different ways to find which method works best for you!
  • amipp_93amipp_93 Alum Member
    585 karma
    I'm following the method outlined in the curriculum by 7sage! To read the passage and after each paragraph, jot down a few words that explain the main point of the passage. after Im done reading I go over what I wrote beside the paragraph and then answer the questions. Any tips?
  • mpits001mpits001 Alum Member
    938 karma
    It's different for everyone, maybe if you refine that strategy it may be the best for you. I got better and had more time by underlining shifts, main points/characters, and author's opinion. Underlining them allowed them to stand out more for me, visually. I also had more time to answer questions because I wasn't writing.
  • PacificoPacifico Alum Inactive ⭐
    8021 karma
    Slow is steady... steady is fast...
  • DumbHollywoodActorDumbHollywoodActor Alum Inactive ⭐
    7468 karma
    Watch JY do it for PTs 5 and 6. Slow and steady. He even re-reads parts. Always pushing it back
  • sarkisp23sarkisp23 Alum Member
    374 karma
    I agree with steady and engaged reading. If it happens to be slower then so be it as long as you read for understanding. Now, if you want to improve speed that's up to you. One thing that slows you down when reading is pronouncing the words in your head. Some people say that pronouncing is not necessary for understanding. So if you want to improve speed, try "seeing" each word and not actually pronouncing it fully in your mind. Initially, you might not retain a single shred of info, but who knows after time you may get used to it.

    Like I said it's your choice. Personally, I read steady like I'm having a conversation with myself.

    Oh, and the term is called "subvocalization" in case you wanted to google it.
  • amipp_93amipp_93 Alum Member
    585 karma
    thank you everyone!
  • newyorktimesnewyorktimes Alum Member
    58 karma
    Try using spreeder and reading the economist, New York Times opinions, wall street journal, American lawyer and scientific American. I use the 7 sage method when reading those articles
  • medianplus30medianplus30 Legacy Member
    edited July 2015 36 karma
    I would give yourself as much time as you need, and then keep cutting down the time you give yourself.

    I also was going to start reading with these speed-reading iPad apps called 'Acceleread' and 'Outreader, but I wasn't working on RC for a month. Big mistake. I took a whole PT last week, and I noticed I got 14 questions wrong. A month ago, I was at about eight wrong. I'm probably just odd, but after doing a RC section every day for about two weeks, I went from getting like 12-14 wrong to six wrong. And I was reading faster at the end of those two weeks.

    I'm probably going to be using those apps soon.
  • littlesnickerslittlesnickers Legacy Member Inactive Sage
    271 karma
  • sarkisp23sarkisp23 Alum Member
    374 karma
    Great article @sockstcat thanks for that!
  • nye8870nye8870 Alum
    1749 karma
    How many words are there in an RC passage? 7Sage basically suggests a 3 1/2 min run-through. I am just curious how we (average 300 wpm 60% comprehension readers) are ever going to finish all four passages in addition to answering 27-28 questions in 35 mins.
  • c.janson35c.janson35 Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    2398 karma
    @nye8870 the idea is to really digest and comprehend the material up front so that the questions are much easier to go through. This approach really minimizes the amount of time spent on the questions. If you spend 3:30 on each passage reading, that leaves you with 5:15 to answer all of the questions, on average. Just like games, though, the amount of time spent on passages may vary with the level of difficulty.
  • nye8870nye8870 Alum
    1749 karma
    @c.janson35 Thanks. I agree fully. The problem for me (and I suspect others too) is that in order to achieve that deeper understanding which makes the questions move by quicker, I realistically need a lot more time than 3.5 min. For what it is worth...I generally get right almost every question I am able to answer. Sadly, I usually miss one entire passage and all its questions. +1or2 for the guesses. I will keep trucking along though. I have no choice.
  • c.janson35c.janson35 Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    2398 karma
    @nye8870 yea I used to feel pretty overwhelmed by the RC section because of time issues, so just keep at it and you'll get a better feel for the passages! Just don't get too bogged down in the details. Look for underlying relationships such as how a sentence/paragraph functions as support for the author's argument and cause and effect relationships within the premises. I used to try to remember every little detail in each passage which really impeded my overall understanding. As Mike Kim would say, "Try to focus on the forest, rather than the trees!" Also, if you continually ask yourself, "why is the author telling me this?" it might help you to uncover the underlying structure faster, too.
  • KimberlyKKimberlyK Alum Member
    217 karma
    Is it advisable to pretty much skip context? I've noticed (I'm still new) that on the MMS and MBT questions now that I can quickly recognize the context I am getting more correct as well as noticed decrease in total time I spent on questions. But I can see there may be issues with this method of scanning/reading.
  • ENTJENTJ Alum Inactive ⭐
    3658 karma
    @amipp93 Make sure to read for structure.
  • J.Y. PingJ.Y. Ping Administrator Instructor
    edited July 2015 13406 karma
    Spotlight on @c.janson35 's excellent comments.

    If you're running out of time on RC, it's not because you can't read the passage fast enough. It's because you're waffling b/t answers. You do that because you don't read well - be it the passage, the question stem, or the answers.

    Focus on reading well. Focus on reading for structure.

    Advice on how to read faster targets casual reading. If you've done any RC at all you'll know all too well that the speed limit is not set by how quickly your eyes can move across the page, how many words your eyes can snap in one shot, or whether you're subvocalizing. Rather, the speed limit is set by lack of subject-matter familiarity and the dense grammatical structure. In other words, the bottle neck is not the input bandwidth, it's the processing speed. Focus on improving processing speed with generally reading difficult articles. In addition to what @newyorktimes mentioned, these sites have very interesting and difficult to read articles:
    http://aeon.co/
    http://nautil.us/

    Here's one about cause and effect:
    http://aeon.co/magazine/philosophy/could-we-do-without-cause-and-effect/

    Here's one about our favorite subject - synesthesia:
    http://nautil.us/issue/26/color/the-girl-who-smelled-pink
  • nye8870nye8870 Alum
    1749 karma
    Thanks J.Y.!!
  • c.janson35c.janson35 Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    2398 karma
    @"J.Y. Ping" thanks for the shoutout! I'm just happy I can contribute to this awesome 7sage community!
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Legacy Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @c.janson35 said:
    If you spend 3:30 on each passage reading, that leaves you with 5:15 to answer all of the questions, on average. Just like games, though, the amount of time spent on passages may vary with the level of difficulty.
    Quick, someone put this on a poster! Or consider getting it as a tattoo ... o.0

    A word of encouragement ... LSAT reading has made me a better reader overall. For instance, I was reading that article in the New Yorker about how Seattle is going to fall off the face of the earth next week or something. Not only did it make me appreciate the fact that I fled the Left Coast for Texas, I was able to learn some real earthquake science by pretending like the dense science stuff was an RC passage. If I can learn something about Riddled Basins of Attraction, and understand it well enough to answer 7 questions on it, then I can learn about topics I previously assumed were beyond the scope of my comprehension.
  • c.janson35c.janson35 Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    2398 karma
    @nicole.hopkins Haha that tattoo sounds like a decision one would only make after having too many mangoritas during a blind review session
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Legacy Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @c.janson35 said:
    Haha that tattoo sounds like a decision one would only make after having too many mangoritas during a blind review session
    Oh man ... @nye8870 make sure you inform your family members that under no circumstances should they take you to any tattoo parlor during or immediately following a BR call.
  • nye8870nye8870 Alum
    1749 karma
    Ok Ok...no more Mangoritas!!
    Does a tattoo on your forearm of all the valid/invalid argument forms count as cheating?
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Legacy Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @nye8870 said:
    Does a tattoo on your forearm of all the valid/invalid argument forms count as cheating?
    I was thinking the same!
  • PacificoPacifico Alum Inactive ⭐
    8021 karma
    "Here's one about our favorite subject - synesthesia:"

    This thread smells great! :P
  • c.janson35c.janson35 Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    edited July 2015 2398 karma
    For those into longform science-y articles, here's an interesting one about itching and the science of perception:

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2008/06/30/the-itch
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Legacy Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @Pacifico said:
    This thread smells great! :P
    Your profile pic tastes like brownies ... plz 2 explain ???!
  • lschoolgolschoolgo Member
    edited July 2015 274 karma
    Same issue as well, find that 3.5 min is not enough to understand the passage well enough to fly through the questions, and taking 5 min on the passage read doesn't make one understand it well enough that one can finish questions in the remaining 3.5 or so mins. It leaves only 3.5 min for the questions which is not enough considering one needs to go back for some questions to the passage.

    This is mainly true for tough passages with very understated thesis such as pt57 Willa Cather passage (took me 8 mins to wade through the questions after having spent 4.75 mins reading the passage making the total time spent on the passage to be 12 mins 45 secs. And I was retaking the section/passage having seen it before), Noguchi passage, Kung women, Chinese talkstory one, pt71 deliberate practice etc.

    So seems like reducing subvocalization, increasing reading speed can help?


    Also articles on sites suggested don't have the same level of complexity as lsat passages which are heavily edited for complexity. It's much easier to read these articles at fast pace and understand them than lsat passages.


    @c.janson35 @"J.Y. Ping"
    @nye8870 said:
    @c.janson35 Thanks. I agree fully. The problem for me (and I suspect others too) is that [b] in order to achieve that deeper understanding which makes the questions move by quicker, I realistically need a lot more time than 3.5 min. [/b] For what it is worth...I generally get right almost every question I am able to answer. Sadly, I usually miss one entire passage and all its questions. +1or2 for the guesses. I will keep trucking along though. I have no choice.
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Legacy Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    7965 karma
    @lschoolgo said:
    Also articles on sites suggested don't have the same level of complexity as lsat passages which are heavily edited for complexity.
    To practice reading for RC, read a lot of RC passages.

    It's as simple as that. I think we all read some "hard stuff" in college. If you didn't, well, good luck on life and things.

    But to get into the groove for RC, reading a lot of RC passages is your ticket to ride. Of course, don't read from PT's you haven't taken/plan to take :) It might even be worth putting together your own "RC Bundle"—at least of the passages themselves! And then ... you guessed it ... Read them, practicing your active reading skills. Watch videos of JY doing RC sections. Engage with visual cues, tactile learning, etc.

    IMO ... Don't worry about "sub-vocalizing." I wouldn't try to hone in on that one factor. You will likely subvocalize "less"—or rather, more specifically—with a lot of practice.
  • PacificoPacifico Alum Inactive ⭐
    8021 karma
    Yeah people that have read even a decent variety of college level stuff and above should have few problems, but without that foundation, reading The Economist is not going to get you there. The only reason to read that or Science/Nature/New Yorker is to familiarize yourself with the general vocabularies of different disciplines so that when you hit a cosmology passage you don't take on a self defeating attitude by being overwhelmed. That's why I previously recommended audiobooks. You don't need to learn everything about every topic, but it greatly helps to be somewhat comfortable with most topics, and passively listening to audiobooks during a commute can definitely deliver in that department.
  • c.janson35c.janson35 Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    2398 karma
    @lschoolgo this is some great advice:
    @nicole.hopkins said:
    And then ... you guessed it ... Read them, practicing your active reading skills. Watch videos of JY doing RC sections. Engage with visual cues, tactile learning, etc.

    IMO ... Don't worry about "sub-vocalizing."
    Yes, sub-vocalizing impedes reading speed, but as we discussed above reading speed isn't the main culprit behind not finishing passages in the same way that not being able to physically write rules fast enough isn't the cause for not finishing a logic game section. Yes, you could probably write faster by using some journalistic shorthand in the same way that you could probably read faster by eliminating your sub-vocalization...and if the LSAT was a test of reading speed then you would probably want to spend the time and effort at doing just that. Thankfully it's not, and I get to listen to the little voice in my head read (i.e. vocalize) RC passages about fancy pictures, dead dolphins, and lichenometry without worrying if I am operating at my maximal reading speed capacity.

    But there's a bright side! There's a secret trick behind the reading comprehension section, and that is: comprehending what you read. And I don't mean understanding the meaning of every word of every sentence in every passage--this is something that is neither necessary nor sufficient to achieving a high RC score and getting too bogged down by the passage's density will likely undermine your efforts anyway. Understand why the author is writing, why it is important to them, and how the things they are saying relate to each other. Reading is an activity because it is done actively. You have to be engaged. It doesn't matter how fast you can read--if you don't truly understand why the author is writing and why the author is organizing the material in the way that is laid out in front of you on the page, then you won't have success in this section. It's that simple, really.

    And here's a good test to see if you're truly comprehending: as soon as you are done reading the passage, you should be able to explain to someone (or to yourself) exactly what you read without referring back to the passage, and you should be able to do so quickly and concisely. Putting the passage into your own words is a sign that you understand what you're talking about, a technique neuroscientists call "elaboration." It boils down to this: "Discussing new information in your own words and connecting it to things you already know makes learning more efficient and longer lasting". Moreover, the act of retrieving the information from your short term memory strengthens the neural pathways involved in encoding memories, so summarizing what you read (in terms of main point, author's opinion, argument structure, etc.) without looking at it works doubly.

    The thing about this is it's hard! It takes a lot of mental effort to meet this particular challenge when instead we would rather saddle up next to elaboration and retrieval's better looking and more comforting sibling, re-reading. We do this because it is easier; we think "if I just read this passage or this section one more time I will be able to rattle off exactly which cereal grains were cultivated on the 17th century Irish countryside and I'll be able to cruise through the questions." But it doesn't matter how many times you re-read a passage or a section if you are doing so passively.
    @lschoolgo said:
    This is mainly true for tough passages with very understated thesis such as pt57 Willa Cather passage (took me 8 mins to wade through the questions after having spent 4.75 mins reading the passage making the total time spent on the passage to be 12 mins 45 secs. And I was retaking the section/passage having seen it before
    Yes there are some passages that are insanely difficult and truly opaque, but you won't have more than one of them in a certain test section so don't use these passages as a sort of indicator that you need to speed up your reading process.

    Final piece of advice: when you study, especially when you are drilling/practicing RC, do so all out. Don't skate by with a superficial read. Finish reading and explain to yourself or a friend or the wall what you just read and why it's so important that the author would spend his or her time telling you about it. Hone this skill. It's definitely humbling to finish a passage that you just read and not have the ability to concisely explain its purpose for existing--its that feeling of reading a paragraph or a page of a book and getting to the end and thinking "what did I just read? was I alive?". Don't bring this confusion (or existential worry) with you to the questions. While your'e practicing, prove to yourself you have sufficient mastery of each passage, and do this again and again and again until the feeling of being active and present when you're reading is ingrained and you just seem to "get it." This is how you will improve not only your speed on RC, but also your accuracy.

    Good luck!

  • amipp_93amipp_93 Alum Member
    edited July 2015 585 karma
    thank you all so very much, i feel much better about this!!! Now to apply all the strategies and kill RC!!
  • DumbHollywoodActorDumbHollywoodActor Alum Inactive ⭐
    7468 karma
    This is a great thread.

    Read. Read. Read some more.


    Then read even more. Work on being active. Work on reading for structure. But, most important: Just read.
  • nicole.hopkinsnicole.hopkins Legacy Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    edited July 2015 7965 karma
    @c.janson35 said:
    There's a secret trick behind the reading comprehension section, and that is: comprehending what you read.
    Love this! And you are 100% correct! Honestly, I've never thought about it in this way. Simple and elegant. And what does comprehension mean for us? Well...
    @c.janson35 said:
    Understand why the author is writing, why it is important to them, and how the things they are saying relate to each other.
    ...I think this is getting at what comprehension means for the LSAT. It's about understanding the reasoning structure: what are the conclusions drawn, what is the support given, and why does the author argue in this way. Hmmm the first two sound a lot like LR ... Recalling @pacifico 's excellent point that LR is the "tide in the harbor."
    @c.janson35 said:
    And here's a good test to see if you're truly comprehending: as soon as you are done reading the passage, you should be able to explain to someone (or to yourself) exactly what you read without referring back to the passage, and you should be able to do so quickly and concisely.
    I read the passage, boxing who/what/when/where and marking pivots. I "string together" what I've boxed following that read. And then I tell myself in my head what the passage is about, what the main points are/were, and say why the author has written this. Then I move into the Q's. About 3:30 total reading time.
    @c.janson35 said:
    It takes a lot of mental effort to meet this particular challenge when instead we would rather saddle up next to elaboration and retrieval's better looking and more comforting sibling, re-reading.
    I mentioned above that I do look back over my notations before I move into the Q's, which is a sort of re-read. But really there is one main read and then a review of notations.

    FWIW, I'm typically 0-2 in RC. This has come with a lot of practice and finding a reading strategy/mindset/notation strategy that is repeatable and that gets results.
  • Julia LJulia L Alum Member
    354 karma
    was looking through the threads for some more advice on RC, this is a WEALTH of wisdom here :)

    in other news @nicole.hopkins, as someone who lives in seattle, i'm happy to report it did not fly off the face of the earth... yet...... and i'm also happy to report the LSAT has made me a much better reader in general life as well!
  • Faaabs93Faaabs93 Alum Member
    edited August 2015 82 karma
    For me it was just a combination of trying different methods.

    The past week i've been doing nothing but drilling RC with different annotation methods. At first, I was writing down 10 word summaries on the side of the paragraph. I'd get -1 or -2 on the whole section, but not have enough time to bubble.

    Then I tried a different method, and a different one, and a different one. I settled on 7sages technique, but found that as I kept doing more RC, I was getting sufficiently faster just from the practice.

    So my suggestion, perhaps try another method of annotation. If that doesn't work, just keep drilling RC passages. They'll really help your speed.

    Honestly though, if you have a bad day with RC don't get too upset. Yesterday I went -12 on a section doing a PT, but then today I did 4 separate RC sections and got an average of -4. Everyone has bad days. Just look at why you made such mistakes, and work on them.
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