VIQW RC Strategy - Visualize, Interest, Question, & Write

aydinjkarasapanaydinjkarasapan Alum Member
edited January 12 in Reading Comprehension 109 karma

Started off with a -7 reading comp on my diagnostic and now I'm down to the 0 to (-2) on recent PTs with very little variability based on the section's difficulty. Thought I'd share what works for me.

The RC section is famously the least 'learnable' LSAT section, especially relative to the LG section. Even being good at RC, being thrown into a section feels a lot more shaky then starting a new never before encountered LG section. There is a feeling in LG that you have a reliable and consistent procedure that you can use to get the right answers, and the absence of a similarly clearly defined and reliable procedure for RC is easily felt and has shaken my confidence in attacking a RC section before.

I present for your consideration the VIQW (Vick-double-"u") method.


This was largely adapted from the method outlined in the course sections on RC, with some additions of my own.

Visualizing helps occupy the mind while reading in a way that helps retain attention and focus on written details. Visualize here could be replaced with something like Imagination + Context. For example if I'm reading the passage discussing the merits of IP law protections for software to stop people stealing video game code I might pause briefly to imagine a scenario in my mind where I download a game that is clearly just a reskinned version of Minecraft with the same codebase directly ripped from it. Or in a passage on prescriptivist vs descriptivist grammarians I might play a little imaginative game in the background where I try to picture in my head what I think a prescriptivist would look like versus a descriptivist based on details in the passage. Maybe I'm crazy for this one, but this strategy really helps keep my mind engaged in the background in a way that creates additional interest in the material, and therefore helps with recall and drawing connections between different details in the text.

Interest is in my opinion, key to RC success. If you are not in the top 1% of intellectual curiosity and not innately gifted at RC, then your success in this section will depend on you becoming a master salesperson. I strongly believe that if you can answer this question "Why do I want to know about what this passage is speaking on?" in the affirmative honestly, this can make a huge difference. If you accept the proposition that you don't care what these passages say for the most part, that they suck and you just have to grin and bear it until you can start answering questions and be done with this section, you are 100% shooting yourself in the foot. You need to think about the things you think are worth considering and learning about, then figure out a way to quickly draw a connection between the passage and your interests and be able to give a one-two sentence answer for why what this passage has to say matters and is worth paying attention to--other than to just get you a good score.

The third pillar is Questioning. Ideally ask questions as you are going through the text. Did the author just make a claim--why are they making it--is it something they are trying to persuade us of, or is it being presented as a generally accepted fact that they are using to support some other claim they have made. At the very least each paragraph you should pause and ask yourself: "what is a question that is answered or attempted to be answered in this paragraph?" This will help contextualize the text, help you with main point and other question types, as well as with recall.

The last pillar is something I learned about LG recently which led me to go from -6 to -9 range to a consistent 0 to -3 range. The point of the methods you use in LG, such as rule translation and diagramming is to allow you to distribute the cognitive load of thinking through LG problems. The LG games method and procedure is actually a manually operated analog computer that you use to reduce the amount of computations you have to make in your head at the same time, and to reduce the amount of information you store in your head at the same time. Think of it like this--if your RAM maxes out your computer, its CPU slows down--in other words when its short term memory is full is becomes slower at computing information, slowing down your performance. What you write down in an LG game reduces the amount of information you need to have concurrently and readily accessible in your short term memory at any given moment, and gives you a way to solve for some problems through writing out scenarios on gameboards--reducing the amount of stress on your internal mental processing and improving the quality of what you are computing in your head.

So long story short, I think this same logic can apply to RC. So I recommend getting scrap paper and writing jot notes per paragraph. Every time you read a line and it interests you write out a short jot note (no more than 5 words) that will remind you of that thought when you look at it again in a minute. Likewise when you notice a claim that seems like a conclusion of an argument the author is making, or a claim that answers some question raised earlier in the passage make a short jot. Writing helps improve recall, that's a given. But my shot in the dark is that this actually helps you think through the material as you read it as well.

Sorry for the wall of text, just wanted to write a post that would have helped me if I saw it a few months back. Best of luck to everyone, especially fellow January LSAT writers! We can do this :)

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