Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Is it important to approach the different types of reading passages differently?

I'm wondering if it is important to have a different approach for example science passages as opposed to a humanities passage...


  • HarveySpectorHarveySpector Alum Member
    129 karma

    I would say no. It never hurts to be comfortable with the subject matter beforehand. But you can apply the exact same skills no matter what the topic is. If you read to understand how each sentence interacts with the one prior, and what it means to the overall paragraph and passage, then you’ll have a high level of comprehension. The biggest unlock on RC for me was when I started to read each sentence and ask myself why? As in, why did the author include that sentence and does it indicate how they feel about the subject (approval/disapproval, agreement/disagreement) because that will add do your comprehension and almost certainly be the subject of a question or two. Hope that helps !

  • sh.francissh.francis Monthly Member
    246 karma

    The approach is 90% the same. But I take a slightly different emphasis depending on the passage.

    For science passages that focus on a phenomena which are conceptually complex, I'll emphasize trying to visualize the phenomena to wrap my head around it. Happens a lot with physics and things like biology / genetics. Law related passages can present similar conceptual challenges, where you have to take a step back from pushing through the passage and make the connections.

    The other type of complexity RC trades on is the organization of elements and points of view. Happens a lot in humanities passages where there is a category X and it can be hard to track whether elements A, B and C belong in category X. This often coincides with there being multiple points of view belonging to the author and different "experts". For passages like this, I'll focus more on highlighting individual elements and points of view, and keep tracking of what belongs where.

    Science passages can be organizationally complex, but rarely is a passage both conceptually complex and organizationally complex. You can tell what type of complexity you'll be facing by a quick visual scan through the paragraph. If there are a lot of air quotes, italics, repeated proper nouns, you know its organizationally complex. That will dictate how I approach the passage.

  • valentina.soares-1valentina.soares-1 Alum Member Sage 7Sage Tutor
    edited January 24 188 karma

    Hey @faithdallo301  !

    In my experience, I’ve found that the way I approach a passage depends more on the type of structure rather than the type of content. When it comes to answering RC questions, we often come back to the passage to look for support and knowing exactly where to look based on the question stem makes things much faster and more accurate.

    Some passages are clearly putting forth an argument. They might follow the classic other people’s argument -> author’s opinion structure or contain an author arguing towards a specific point. With those, you really want to differentiate where in the passage the different parties or speakers are making arguments and where any agreement or disagreement occurs between them. That way, when a question asks me what the author is most likely to believe, I can center my focus on just the paragraph where the author is putting forth their own ideas (whether those are concessions to the other perspectives argument or their own opinions).

    Other passages have less of an argumentative structure and seem to be relaying information about a particular subject. In those cases, I like to keep track of new ideas that are presented, facts, rules, etc. and focus on tracking how the passage flows from one idea to the next.

    For example:
    Paragraph one introduces the subject of research and its purpose of application, paragraph two gives a an overview of a prior way of looking at the subject and then switches to a new way, and paragraph 3 applies that new way of thinking to a specific field and gives an example.

    Now, based on what the question stem is asking of me, I can narrow my focus to the correct part of the passage to find the support I am looking for. For example, if I am given a hypothetical situation in the question stem, I decide if the hypothetical matches the new research, the old approach, or the application and answer the question based on that part of the passage.

    No matter what your academic background is or which passage types you are more comfortable with, having a clear process and approach to reading/annotating or highlighting passages, and how you use that to answer specific question types, will ensure that you can take on a passage of any subject.

    Btw - this is exactly the kind of thing we help students with in 7Sage's tutoring program. Also, it's not just about how to find the correct answer and what strategies to use. It's about helping you diagnose the issues in your thought process, and coming up with ways to fix it.

    If you're interested in learning more, you can schedule a free 30-minute consult with one of our tutors here:

Sign In or Register to comment.