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Why we should not read questions first in RC?

edited September 2016 in General 161 karma
When I studied for other tests, people suggest to read questions first.
Why we should not do the same for this test?
What makes this test different from others?
(Do you read questions first for other tests or not?)

Comments

  • CalPoliSciCalPoliSci Member
    236 karma
    Because you will try to read for the questions instead of seeking out the bigger picture. You don't know what to look for exactly in the questions, so you may end up missing something during your read because you're intent on looking for something that's not necessarily required.

    In other words, if you read the questions first, you are reading for the trees instead of the forest when you need a healthy dose of both.
  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    edited September 2016 23929 karma
    @strasvery said:
    Why we should not do the same for this test?
    What makes this test different from others?
    (Do you read questions first for other tests or not?)


    Depends on the type of test. Generally when you read the questions first, it isn't for a specific RC test. For instance, when I took science classes in college, we often had a passage or something to read for the short answer part of the test, and I would read the questions first. Same with even history classes. So I do read the questions first when it isn't a RC specific test.

    The reasons why I don't are:

    1) It is very hard to successfully juggle 5-8 questions in your head and simultaneously go and read a passage and then remember what you have read.

    2) A lot of the questions are kind of the same ... They'll ask for the main points of the passage and the authors attitude towards whatever the passage was written about. It just doesn't seem to be worth the time and trouble to do so.

    I guess a third reason is that I and many other have tried it and found it to be more or less a waste. It is also easier to confuse yourself and infer things incorrectly doing it this way.

    That said, you got to do what works for you. I tend to think reading it carefully once and going back to "hunt" for contextual evidence to the right answers is a better, more efficient way to do RC passages.



  • I see...
    I was wodering because for GRE or some other test...I don't remember which stanndarlized test, but I was often adviced to read questions first. So I was wondering why people do differently for LSAT.
  • Plus I often miss those detail questions so I thought it could be helpful to read them first...
  • Swift777Swift777 Legacy Member
    edited September 2016 83 karma
    Agree with @CalPoliSci and @"Alex Divine" .

    I would add that given the limited amount of time you have on the test and per passage (~8:45), it is very inefficient to spend time looking at the questions first. Since the right answers are often quite subtle and differ by only a word or two, one the best ways to find the answer in RC is by elimination of the wrong answers, which you need a full context of the passage in mind to eliminate.

    You should be expected to finish reading each passage in under 3:00 min. Your main objective as you read the passage should be to glean the Author's opinion and Main Points along with Reasoning Structure. You won't be able to do this in time if you are looking for clues from the questions at the same time on your first read. A good strategy is to read the passage first, hit the questions, eliminate wrong answers, then confirm the right answer by referring back to the passage.

  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    @"Alex Divine" said:
    It is very hard to successfully juggle 5-8 questions in your head and simultaneously go and read a passage and then remember what you have read.

    Literally my main/only reason lol.
  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma
    @Swift777 said:
    Your main objective as you read the passage should be to glean the Author's opinion and Main Points. You won't be able to do this in time if you are looking for clues from the questions at the same time on your first read. A good strategy is to read the passage first, hit the questions, eliminate wrong answers, then confirm the right answer by referring back to the passage.
    Exactly! Couldn't have said it better myself.
    @strasvery said:
    Plus I often miss those detail questions so I thought it could be helpful to read them first...
    I totally hear you on this, OP. I thought the same thing at first. As a matter of fact, I took the MCATs back in 2014 and I am 99% sure I read the questions first. Though the MCAT passages (Check one out) are in my opinion a lot more straightforward than LSAT passages. Less convoluted and tricky.

    As @Swift777 said, time is of the essence and it isn't worth wasting a minute or even 30 seconds to look at the questions. I find that with 3 minutes to read the passage and 5 minutes (Or roughly :45 seconds/ question) I can find contextual evidence to prove my answer choice. Having the extra 30 seconds tacked on this part of the questions I think will be more useful.

    As you can tell if you do a lot of RC passages - They are kind of always asking for the same thing. For the things that are passage specific, i.e., "In line 12-14 when the author uses the word _______ what does he mean..." It is easier to go back to that line and understand the meaning in context, after you have read the entire thing.

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    27316 karma
    So I definitely think there is some value in knowing what the questions are going to be as you read the passage. I guess my question is, why do you need to read the questions first to know what they're going to ask? You're going to get the same 5 questions for every passage ever plus a couple of detail questions. So the value for that time spent is far too low. For detail questions, you should be reading the passage in a way that you're able to identify where you'll need to return to for the details. Even then, they give you a line cite half the time anyway. So I just see far too little to be gained by spending sweet, precious time on this.
  • Jonathan WangJonathan Wang Yearly Sage
    edited September 2016 6713 karma
    Hot take warning!

    To me, test-taking strategies can be split into two broad categories - strategies that supplement fundamentals, and strategies that attempt to substitute for fundamentals.

    Things like bubbling one spread of pages at a time, bracketing conclusions, circling indicators, skipping and coming back to hard questions later; those are strategies that supplement your fundamentals. You are still doing the 'right thing' on the question itself when you employ those tactics.

    Reading questions before reading the passage, on the other hand, tries to substitute for fundamentals. You are attempting to circumvent and shortcut through the proper critical reading process. It is a classic settle-for-less strategy designed to get people who can't be bothered to actually develop their reading skills a passable mark.

    It's the RC equivalent of reading the answer choices to an LR flaw question before you read the argument itself, so that you can try to 'narrow the field'. Not only are you likely to bias your reading of the stimulus and thus get the wrong idea a lot of the time, it's doubly bad because you're ALSO not getting practice doing it the right way, locking you deeper into a bad habit and insulating you further from true understanding.

    Reliance on that kind of test-taking gimmick is actively harmful to your improvement. Just learn to do things properly and you'll never have to worry about stuff like this.
  • Thanks for all of your input.
    By the way...If I read slow should I still take notes/underline?

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