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A person who got 180 told me he copied down RC passages with hand. Do you think it will help?

Hello everyone,
I met someone in South Korea who got 180 on the LSAT. He said he copied down four RC passages from each LSAT practice test with hand. He called it a "Dictation Exercise." He said he was able to significantly boost his LSAT score from 172 in April test to 180 in June test. Do you think copying down RC passages with hand will help? I don't think he was lying and I intend to do what he did, but I would like everyone's opinion.


  • JMPlaw19JMPlaw19 Alum Member
    144 karma

    The only thing I can think of is they used that as some form of exercise to familiarize with the language in RC or just passage structures

  • galacticgalactic Yearly Member
    690 karma

    Hey Ken -- I guess the question is what is the purported value from doing this?

  • Webby_GangnamWebby_Gangnam Alum Member
    553 karma

    @"galactic law" said:
    Hey Ken -- I guess the question is what is the purported value from doing this?

    According to the tutor, "I also had dictation exercises with the reading passages so that I can enhance my memory. I read a sentence/part of a sentence, wrote it somewhere else, and if I got even a single point wrong I did the whole sentence again from the beginning, and one sentence at a time I would finish the whole passage. After I got a 172 in April I did this exercise for the following 2 months. The June exam result was a 180 which was higher than my PT average."

  • tahurrrrrtahurrrrr Alum Member
    1106 karma

    Unless you know for a fact you have a super effective approach to this, it seems like it might be a huge waste of time in my opinion. Just because one 180 scorer did this, doesn't mean it's a foolproof effective strategy.

    It honestly depends more on if that's a learning style that's effective for you. I don't think you're going to magically learn RC skills just by writing the passages. But if writing things down helps you analyze them and you have an idea of what you'll be focusing on as you're writing, it could be worth a shot.

  • smallpullchickensmallpullchicken Alum Member
    35 karma

    I think practicing how to memorize the whole passage does help. However, I think writing it down is too much time wasted. You can achieve same effect by recording yourself saying the whole passage out loud from memory. In fact, this is an approach recommended by Loophole by Ellen (it's a LSAT LR book that some people find helpful).

  • tams2018tams2018 Alum Member
    727 karma

    I would greatly endure a hand cramp for a 180.

  • lsat_suslsat_sus Alum Member
    1417 karma


  • It would seem logical that the reading and than writing of the passage would promote thorough memorization and ultimately facilitate additional insight into the passage. Repetition of this would seem reasonable to result in enhancing understanding as a developmental process. I do think it would help a person improve. How much time you would spend on this is a matter of prioritizing the most needed improvement area.

  • LogicianLogician Alum Member Sage
    edited September 2021 2459 karma

    I do want to chime in here and say that while improving memorization can, and i'm sure will, help to a certain extent, RC is not testing rote memorization. It emphasizes and rewards structural understanding, your ability to make reasonable assumptions, how attuned you are to the authors attitude, and drawing inferences. While understanding or memorizing details of the passage may help in this process, it's not addressing the core of what RC is testing. Additionally, I will say, just because this method worked for someone who scored a 180—who outperformed their PT's—does not mean it will work for everyone else, nor can it be attributed as the sole cause of his success; this is reminiscent of a bad LSAT argument.

  • Glutton for the LSATGlutton for the LSAT Alum Member
    edited September 2021 512 karma

    @Logician Pretty much agreeing with this!

    There could a causation error here. As we know, just because two phenomena exist together does not mean that one caused the other. Another reason for why the person who copied RC passages got a 180 is because of another variable: If you're the kind of person who is willing to copy RC passages by hand, then you might also just be a highly motivated person or a person with a lot of time to spend studying for the LSAT. It might be these personality traits or life circumstances that solely (or jointly with other factors) contributed to his/her success.

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Monthly + Live Member Sage 🍌 7Sage Tutor
    27598 karma

    I think failing to tie a specific learning objective to an exercise and reflecting on how the exercise will help us achieve the objective is a big problem with LSAT (and non-LSAT) studying in general. Maybe this is a valuable exercise. I'm skeptical but also open to being convinced of its value. But to convince me, I've got to know what the learning objective is and why writing out the passage from memory, by hand, one sentence at a time is well-tailored to accomplishing it.

    That said, it's hard for me to tie this exercise to any important learning objectives. I agree with @Logician above about the relative importance of memorization in RC--particularly concerning memorization at this level of tedious detailing. I just don't see how it's a valuable skill that is worth developing. Is there some other objective that this might help with?

    Even if we concede that it is tied to some important skill and learning outcome, I'm not necessarily convinced of how this exercise would be effective at developing whatever the skill might be. It's hard to reverse engineer this part without a learning objective in mind, but I bet I can devise a better exercise for whatever learning objective you can make an argument for.

    Again, I'm open to being convinced. I'd actually love to hear some arguments in favor.

  • CashhhyyyCashhhyyy Monthly Member
    583 karma

    As someone that use to do this with textbooks, I did it because it would help me remember examples of context clues, helped with spelling, and syntax. I did this in middle school and it was very helpful for vocabulary development because you're using motor skills (he might learn better this way) it helps you remember words you didn't know and their structure used in a sentence better. Writing them down can help a lot. I don't think I would do this for RC though because the vocab is unpredictable on the LSAT.

  • galacticgalactic Yearly Member
    edited September 2021 690 karma

    @Ken_Kim_Seoul I think taking what @"Cant Get Right" is talking about with a "learning objective" can help you tweak your plan here.

    Rather than focusing on being able to write an entire RC passage from memory without messing up a single word, perhaps a better idea is making your learning objective to read a passage and be able to sum it up in your own words - almost in a conversational manner.

    Like you read a dense passage about blockchain technology, and then are able to describe what you just read in a way that would make sense to your grandmother. Acquiring this kind of skill would help your RC score much more than the skill you were initially talking about.

    And ultimately, the 7Sage low res strategy would be perfect at taking this skill of summarizing in your own words and turning it into a valid testing strategy. Meaning - when the clock is ticking you won't have time to write a full personalized summary of each paragraph/passage - but you will have time to jot your quick low res summaries down. And because you spent time honing your ability to remember and summarize, you will be all the better at crafting your low res summaries.

    Does that make sense? Hope this helps.

  • BlueRiceCakeBlueRiceCake Alum Member
    edited September 2021 302 karma

    I'm gonna try it for a week and I'll message you what I think next Tuesday lol. After all you don't really know until you try

  • Lime Green DotLime Green Dot Alum Member
    edited September 2021 1376 karma

    I will admit, it is an interesting approach! It might also be part culturally influenced. I taught in Korean public schools before where, to learn English, teachers told students to copy down short reading passages or paragraphs, word for word, as a learning exercise (kind of like this 'dictation exercise').

    Of course, this wasn't done to the exclusion of other means of learning, and my students hated it lol, but those I taught proved themselves to be quite bright overall and very, very good at testing. I know ESL ≠ LSAT, but it seems to have worked for at least one person. Maybe worth a try?

    By the way, does anyone else think this feels reminiscent of Ellen Cassidy's blind translation approach (which I now do for every LR section & have reaped huge benefits from)? Perhaps the act of copying a passage down forces you to "see" and take into account words, phrases, or even whole sentences we might otherwise breeze past, things that might even be operative to our understanding or getting a very tough question right. If I were to do it, the better version of this exercise might be to paraphrase then write down each sentence in my own words to ensure I've really understood it. This is not unlike blind translation. Perhaps it's just a more fine-grained take on HI-res summaries.

  • Lime Green DotLime Green Dot Alum Member
    edited September 2021 1376 karma

    A couple of articles I came across related to this discussion:


    Bearing in mind the goal in RC, as others have mentioned, is not strict memorization, there are still other things to glean from these articles about the benefits of writing things out by hand.

    For example, quoting one of the articles, a researcher said, "We found a specific activation pattern with handwriting that makes the brain open for learning" and "When handwriting, fine and precise hand movements are involved, and this sensory-motor integration, the larger involvement of the senses, is beneficial for learning."

    Not necessarily intended as cases in point for this kind of exercise, but maybe as ones to at least consider?

  • initium novuminitium novum Alum Member
    edited September 2021 55 karma

    In the past, I waited until the last moment to take my real estate exam. If I would’ve waited one more day I would’ve had to take a 64 hour course all over again. So, we had two books. The main instruction manual and a summary book of the main instruction manual. Over the weekend I typed out the whole summary book including recreating the tables in MS Word. I took the test on that Monday and past without any issues. I do believe that these methods of handwriting or typing do really help retain information and/or structure of information.

  • vam621vam621 Alum Member
    102 karma

    This actually sounds like a phenomenal idea. Can you please PM me, anything else he told you?

  • fin..501fin..501 Alum Member
    125 karma

    I find it really surprising how supportive this thread has been for this approach.

    This is definitely one of those things where the person you were talking to gave an example of one study approach they actually did use, but it wasn't their primary or first approach, it was just an interesting approach, so they told you about it. I'm guessing this person completely exhausted many other much more efficient approaches to learning RC before moving onto this one. At the very least, this person had already done every single RC section from every LSAT prep test, maybe more than once, which is a lot more than most can say. I would get there before I would ever consider copying down RC by hand. (I say this because I can't imagine this person is copying down RC sections as they read them for the first time. That seems like a waste of LSAT sections and someone shooting for a 180 is probably not wasting study material.)

    Just think about how JY and others say you should think about RC... Focus on the big picture, come back for details if you have to, but don't get bogged down. Think about what copying passages word for word encourages... extreme detail orientation and completely losing track of big picture as you literally hand write individual details.

    I just don't see this strategy as promising, and I think it's an example of misreading a fun fact as valid advice. Maybe... if you've done and reviewed every RC passage at least once, you could consider this strategy.

    Something similar that might actually help: read passages fully, and then try to write out structure and flesh it out as much as you can from memory. This encourages you to develop retention skills and greases up those neural connections that actually apply to the LSAT.

  • LunananaLunanana Alum Member
    44 karma

    I think writing down the whole passage might be helpful, but I don't think it is the writing that helps. Instead, it is the mindset when actively reading and analyzing every sentence or word that is in fact at work while copying the passage. But if you want to train your mind to be more actively engaged in the reading, then there are other more efficient ways to accomplish this goal. In my opinion, copying the whole passage seems to be the least efficient way to do it.

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