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Timing Techniques on Reading Comp Section

Hi, so I've been having trouble building a consistent timing strategy for the RC section. Sometimes, I think I'm taking too long on certain passages but after I blind review I see that I am like 3 minutes faster than the suggested time. A lot of times I could have taken longer to have a higher accuracy rate, but I didn't, unfortunately. How do I know on which passages to slow down on? I use my intuition most of the time. I find that I'm just as accurate on blind review as on the actual drill or test practice but I want to get better and finish the section on time. I hope this makes sense. I just want to improve my accuracy rate as much as possible with a good timing strategy. I would appreciate any advice.


  • maco4538maco4538 Core Member
    edited April 22 317 karma

    RC tests your ability to organize information strategically. Successfully mapping out a passage sets you up for success for reference questions, viewpoint questions, main point, primary purpose, virtually all of it.

    For easier passages, organization will be an easier process because they have a visible structure. If earlier on in the passage you can anticipate the arguments' structure (e.g., compare/contrast, evaluate, explain) then go a bit faster. For example, if you know the author is trying to challenge of viewpoint, have your reading goal be to determine what that viewpoint is, in exact terms, and what specific points the author is making to challenge the viewpoint, and what evidence are they using to make those challenges. If the author is trying to propose a solution to a problem, have your reading goal be to determine the issue in exact terms, what causes the issue, the author's solution, and what specific evidence does the author cite to support their position. These elements should not be detailed in your mind, rather noted in the paragraph for referencing. Keep in mind, if the arguments' structure is easy flowing, take that as a sign that this is meant to be an easy passage.

    Hard passages are hard because they are poorly structured. if by the end of the first paragraph you can't anticipate the argument structure then read carefully. Take it as a sign that this is a high-level passage and go slow - the argument is likely implied or convoluted. In this case, the reading goal is to know the authors conclusion by the end of the passage. Once you've ID the argument backtracks and find the structure. it takes more time but the hope is that you've gotten good at processing the easier passages that you are afforded the time needed to process the harder passages.

    Science passages can be difficult for a different reason. Science passages can either be science related or scientific. Science related passages will have an argument structure, in that case see the above. Scientific passages, however, require you to visualize and keep track the moving parts of a system and make inference. Organizing the structure will help you greatly but will only get you so far. If its about a development in the field then track that progress. If its an explanation of a phenomenon, then track cause and effects. The added stresses are the inference questions - that's where visualizing what is being described is so vital to scientific passages. Therefore, take your time with scientific passages and utilize the argument structure strategy for science related questions.

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Live Member Sage 🍌 7Sage Tutor
    27710 karma

    How long we spend on the passage read is the upshot of many smaller decisions throughout the passage. So maybe you read a sentence like, "The sky is blue because ozone is blue, and there is a thin layer of ozone in Earth's atmosphere." If you understand that, great! Move to the next sentence. This isn't a time management decision. It's just that we read it, understood it, and have nothing else to do. "Fast," therefore, is not a decision we're making: It's a consequence of easy comprehension.

    Now, maybe the next sentence reads: "However, when the sun has the positioning such that it appears very low on the horizon, more of the atmosphere is traveled through by the light from the sun which is bent to greater extremes by the greater curvature of the atmosphere causing a magnification effect--which is why when it's lower in the sky the moon has the appearance of being so much bigger--while, at the same time, having the result of scattering different wavelengths across the spectrum as more particles of gas, dust, pollutants, and migratory birds are hit by the light which both has the tendency to obscure shorter wavelengths of the sun's light like blue while causing the scattering of longer wavelengths like red, pink, orange, and yellow thus resulting in the causing of the sun and sky to have the appearance of having taken on these colors even though sunlight is actually white and there are no particles in the sky which naturally present between red and yellow on the light spectrum."

    That's a terrible sentence. It goes on for way too long and it is riddled with interjections, passive voice, and nominalizations that make it a lot harder to follow. You can probably pick up the gist of its meaning, but harder subject matters are going to require a lot of work when presented this way. That work is going to take time.

    The pacing of our work actually doesn't change. It's just that one sentence requires little work that is so easy it probably doesn't even register as work. The other sentence requires tons of work that may be quite challenging. We aren't really speeding up or slowing down, there is simply more or less work.

    This is the one time I ever say this, but trust the test writers here. They named this section "Reading Comprehension" because they intend to test how well we comprehend the readings they provide. They're good at their jobs. So start by comprehending the reading. That will take how long it takes. I average 4 minutes per passage. For time management strategy on the Q&A's, we just do the math. A 4 minute average passage read means I've got about 42 seconds per question. This is where I make my strategic adjustments. I have to be quite aggressive, but that's okay because I understand the passages. It is better to be aggressive with comprehension than cautious without. If you truly comprehend the passage and then don't perform well in the questions, it's a matter of learning how to better process the questions and answer choices. That is something you can study and improve. But a section strategy that is built on rushing the passage read is one that's built on compromised comprehension. And if we trust the test writers to test our reading comprehension, we should not score well on a well-constructed test if we don't comprehend the reading.

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