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I get the Idea

LSAT Leader
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2018 3:58 pm
Points: 31

This was the problem that I was afraid of running into. My answers do not fully match up with what the book says is the answer. I like on 31 we are supposed to be learning the idea of where passages are headed. In chapter three from page 53-62 we are supposed to tell who is speaking in a passage at different times. Again I get the idea of the structure and purpose of the paragraphs drill starting on page 91. I am just scared that if my answers do not match up, then I am going to be doomed on this section. This was probably my main reason for not wanting to read Reading Comprehension. I feel like I ma failing with the exercises so I am going to fail that part. Any tips? Any ideas? Any help is appreciated.

Jonathan Evans
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
Posts: 681
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:12 pm
Points: 570
Location: DFW, Texas

Hi, LawLover,

Just to clarify, do your prephrases not match up with the credited response, or are you selecting the incorrect answer choices?

With respect to prephrases, understand that on Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension especially, you will frequently encounter situations in which your prediction or expectation does not precisely match the correct answer.

It is always a wonderful feeling when we hit the nail on the head, but a successful, useful prephrase does not need to do this all the time. A good prephrase does a couple things:

  • It prompts you to engage with both the question and the passage/stimulus to make sure you're looking for evidence and analyzing the information available.
  • You predict what you would like to see in a correct answer. This prediction can be as precise as the exact statement you wish to see in the answer. It can also be a broader idea, such as "I need to find an answer that agrees with the critic's viewpoint in the passage."
  • You use this prediction/expectation to separate answer choices into contenders and losers. It's not going to be 100% on the money every time on your first pass. Just get rid of the stuff that is clearly wrong. Then do closer analysis with the remaining answer choices, returning to the passage/stimulus and question as necessary to find evidence and refine your understanding of the task.

With prephrases, you're looking for something detailed enough to be helpful without getting hung up on perfection.

Some questions will be almost impossible to come up with precise prephrases, such as:

    "Which of the following can be properly inferred based on the information in the passage?"

On RC, the possible answers to this question are almost limitless. In contrast, you should be able to make a very precise, narrow prephrase for a question such as:

    "According to the passage, what event prompted Camus to leave Algeria in 1956?"

You will likely want to find the exact answer to this question.

The bottom line is not to get discouraged; Reading Comp is an art as much as a science. It takes practice. When you're reviewing your work if you feel as though you're missing the point or are unable to come up with good prephrases, go through the steps again to try to diagnose exactly what's not working right and what you could modify in your approach to improve. If you're getting bogged down in the passage and are missing the main point, experiment with your annotations and reading speed. Make sure you're maintaining 100% focus on assessing the ViewSTAMP information as you read and not getting distracted. If you are not finding the correct information to answer a question, ask yourself what you could have done differently to avoid this issue. Was there a concept reference you missed? Was there some evidence about a viewpoint you overlooked?

Improving on Reading Comp comes through trial and error, review, and practice. It's an incremental process. Above all, remember the first advice we give students about RC: Change your attitude about reading! Get positive. Get confident. Get interested in what you're doing. If you're starting to drag or feel burnt out, take a break. Come back to it later. Stick with it. You've got this!