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Reading Comp: Highlighting and Underlining Strategies

gahe1999gahe1999 Monthly Member
edited January 27 in Reading Comprehension 41 karma

What are peoples strategies for marking up a passage?

Do you use the different highlight colors + the underline tool for different, specific types of information?

I've just started studying RC and am trying to come up with as system for marking up passages that makes it easier to go back and find info when I'm on the questions. I am curious as to what worked for others.

As of now, all I have is that I am going to underline time indicators. (Such as: before, after, until recently, now, back then, previously, etc.)

I know some people feel like it could be a time suck, but I have such a hard time being engaged with the passages I think using the tools will make me actively think about what information falls into what category and how it all fits together. I'd love others' input on this as well.


  • ryan.lattavoryan.lattavo Member Sage 7Sage Tutor
    102 karma


    I think your strategy for marking up a passage should be directly tailored to whatever keeps you the most engaged, i.e., actively reading, with the passage. I think one essential thing to highlight is always the main point of the paragraph you read. Once you have a low-res summary in mind, try and match your summary to something in the paragraph that you can highlight.

    Really, the main issue you're going to have to balance is between highlighting too much and highlighting nothing at all. Its a nuanced thing that takes a lot of time to develop! Play around with a bunch of different strategies until something you like clicks. I like your idea of doing time indicators, but I think you could benefit more by highlighting referential phrasing instead. (This, that, this claim, etc). That'll point you in the same direction as time indicators (i.e., toward an idea transition or shift in perspective) with much more concise highlighting.

    If you wanted to dive deeper into this, schedule a free consult with a tutor. We'd love to talk to you more about highlighting in RC:

    Hope this helped,


  • paigebarsukovpaigebarsukov Alum Member
    edited February 4 99 karma

    I found highlighting/underlining a complete waste of time for me - but I'm just one data point. Thought I'd chime in, though, because my score significantly improved when I stopped but I rarely see anyone else talk about how underlining/highlighting might not be the best strat for everyone.

    I went from between a -8 and -11 average on RC to between -0 and -4 after I stopped highlighting. Obviously highlighting wasn't the only reason for the jump, but I think it was a significant one. For me, I found reading the paragraph then stopping for a few seconds to summarize in my head what I read and the key points was more effective. Plus, you save a ton of time if you can cement key points in your head rather than having to look back to your highlights.

    I see you said you have a hard time staying engaged - have you tried to stop after every paragraph to summarize in your head? Highlighting may be the correct method for you still! Just putting my 2 cents in.

  • gahe1999gahe1999 Monthly Member
    41 karma

    @paigebarsukov thank you for this!!! I really really appreciate anyones thoughts/advice on this and hearing what worked for them!!

  • sh.francissh.francis Monthly Member
    246 karma

    Highlighting a lot is helpful in the beginning, especially when you are building up your fundamentals in RC. I used different colors for a while too, and it helped me learn to create visual maps of the passage.

    While you're in the earlier stages you can use your highlighting strategy more as a developmental tool to help you build your skills. As you progress and the test date approaches, you can switch your highlighting strategy to something more tailored to game day -- pare back the amount you highlight if you think it's not worth the time it's taking. I stopped using different colors after a while but I know there are 170+ scorers who highlight intensively using multiple colors and those who barely or don't highlight at all. It's a highly personal choice and I think RC opens itself up to a lot of individual styles.

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