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Understanding Law Related Topics & Concepts for LR/RC #help

pugloverpuglover Monthly Member
in General 148 karma

Hi everyone. I'm coming from a psychology background, and I feel like I'm struggling to understand some of the legal jargon that's on the LR/RC sections. Some simple terms I understand, but for a lot of concepts I need some basic review to comprehend what's being said in the passages. I'm not really sure where to start. It's hard to tell where to begin when looking online for articles or lists of words, because I don't want to waste my time learning terms that might not show up on the exam.

Does anyone have any resources, websites, articles or advice for how to navigate this weak point of mine? Someone gave a good tip to read for structure and context. Any other tips are more than welcome. Thank you all greatly!

Comments

  • Slow is FastSlow is Fast Alum Member
    edited April 2021 445 karma

    I've been told that RC passage subject matter doesn't matter--at least it shouldn't. The LSAT isn't designed to test your understanding of a topic or general reading skills. It's far different from the kind of reading and internalization we've been taught to do all our lives (to read for meaning, understanding, and retention). Rather, the LSAT is designed to test your critical reading skills. It's goal-oriented, and the goal is very specific. You only need to read as much as is necessary to reach the right answer. If you read too much for detail, you waste time; if you skim and read too little, you get the question wrong.

    Consider the RC passage like a layer cake: each paragraph is a layer and the LSAT can construct as many layers as they want. The structure of any layer cake is the same, with each one stacked atop another (with a minor difference being that a passage builds as you move down the page).

    No matter how much LSAT tries to dress up the many different cakes (i.e., different passages) with various decorations like subject matter or additional fluff, they're all the same basic structure. If you can cut through the frilly decorations with which the LSAT has dressed up a passage, you're just left with the bare argument structure and the relationship(s) of each paragraph to the others.

    A study buddy mentioned that they read Supreme Court decisions to acclimate to the law language. It might be useful to give yourself a bit more familiarity with the topic, but I think that time is better spent practicing RC. Legal decisions, while convoluted and unwieldy, are at least written with the purpose of expressing a point. They are written to explain a decision and to have it understood. LSAT passages, on the other hand, are written deliberately to confuse and obfuscate the point. I personally don't find it useful in my studying, in terms of content and time, to bring in extra reading. However, I recognize everyone learns differently, so reading outside material may be helpful.

    I think it's fine to be slow on RC if you're just starting. For initial practice, I'd do the low-res summary recommended by 7Sage/JY with the addition of writing down the purpose/function of each paragraph.

    As far as understanding concepts and terms--the LSAT is a standardized test. The language has to be accessible to a wide range of the population signing up for this exam. Very rarely will they use a term without providing context to help you figure out what it means/how it's being used in the passage.

    If it's basic vocabulary/"SAT words" that give you trouble, keep a running list of the words & their definitions. Review the list every week or so.

    Hope that helps. :)

  • pugloverpuglover Monthly Member
    148 karma

    Thank you for this explanation. This explanation helps out a lot, and I really appreciate the cake comparison. I really appreciate your help! Thank you, this does clarify a lot of my concerns.

  • Forever Addicted to CoffeeForever Addicted to Coffee Monthly Member
    540 karma

    As a chemistry Ph.D., I certainly understand what you are going through. For a while, art and law passages on the RC felt impossible.

    The best way that I found to acclimatize myself to these different topics and concepts were reading old art and law passages. The really old ones from prior to PT36. Read them with intensity and pay really close attention to referential phrasing. Aim to understand every single sentence. If you read a sentence and have no idea what it means, stop, look it up on Google, and continue. Practice doing the low-resolution summary. Do this completely untimed.

    A good routine that I found a while back was to begin my LSAT studying for the day with one untimed art or law RC passage. You may not even have to bother with the questions. Just aim to completely understand the passage.

    After a while, I noticed that I don't have to do that anymore. Now my RC score doesn't fluctuate based on the topic of the passages, but rather the difficulty of the passage + questions themselves.

  • Slow is FastSlow is Fast Alum Member
    445 karma

    @puglover glad it helped! I also agree with @"Forever Addicted to Coffee" --it's really a matter of continued exposure to the various passage types and understanding their structure.

  • pugloverpuglover Monthly Member
    148 karma

    @"Forever Addicted to Coffee" said:
    As a chemistry Ph.D., I certainly understand what you are going through. For a while, art and law passages on the RC felt impossible.

    The best way that I found to acclimatize myself to these different topics and concepts were reading old art and law passages. The really old ones from prior to PT36. Read them with intensity and pay really close attention to referential phrasing. Aim to understand every single sentence. If you read a sentence and have no idea what it means, stop, look it up on Google, and continue. Practice doing the low-resolution summary. Do this completely untimed.

    A good routine that I found a while back was to begin my LSAT studying for the day with one untimed art or law RC passage. You may not even have to bother with the questions. Just aim to completely understand the passage.

    After a while, I noticed that I don't have to do that anymore. Now my RC score doesn't fluctuate based on the topic of the passages, but rather the difficulty of the passage + questions themselves.

    This also helps out a lot! I will certainly have to try it out. Thank you.

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