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General questions relating to LSAT Reading Comprehension.
 mo_wan
  • Posts: 26
  • Joined: Jul 09, 2018
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#49048
Hi,

So I'm having trouble improving my score. My timing, and accuracy is still off. How I am or was preparing was to spend a day per week reading 3-4 passages untimed (usually hard science), and then one timed section the same day. I have been doing this for about 3 weeks now. Then after every paragraph try to paraphase what was just said. Then pause after the whole passage, and ask myself what the mainpoint was. Just recently I added that after every paragraph I also go through the VIEWSTAMP points, and mark down any areas where they might ask a question about. But my score is still fluctuating. For example, for one timed section and one practice test, I got through 3 passages and scored about 15/20. On another practice test, and timed section I got through 2 passages and I had to rush the third cause I didnt have much time and ended up getting 10/17 or so. Im I preparing the wrong way? Should I be timing myself during the paragraphs? Also how you would suggest reviewing timed RC passages? My average score is about 13. My goal is 3 passages at about 18 correct.

My workflow is as follows when timed, is this correct?:

Read paragraph, try and paraphase while reading. At the end of every paragraph quickly state to myself the structure and a brief summary. Once I'm done the whole passage I ask myself what the main point was? The authors tone?
 Adam Tyson
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#49370
It looks to me like the main issue for you is over-working the passages, mo_wan. It looks like you are putting in too much thought, time, and effort in the reading portion of RC, which is preventing you from getting to the more important task of answering the questions.

It seems to me that you are treating VIEWSTAMP as a process that you need to go through, and that can be very helpful in the review portion of your practice, to help you learn what you could have done better, but it is not the best way to use that tool under timed conditions. Instead, I want you to think about VIEWSTAMP as being a guide for what you should be looking for and taking note of as you read. Here's what I mean:

I just pulled up an RC passage at random, and it is the first passage from December 2005, about cave paintings. I start reading, and right away I see that the author finds the issue to be "intriguing". That indicates something about the author's tone - he's intrigued! - and his viewpoint, so I just note in the margin VA to indicate the viewpoint of the author, and perhaps circle the word "intriguing," and I keep on reading. A little further along I see something about "some anthropologists" and their viewpoint, so I mark that in the margin with Vanthro (I have to distinguish this A group from the author somehow). I am also now on alert for our author or some other people to perhaps disagree with these folks, because that is classic LSAT structure - "some people say something, but they may be wrong, and here's why." Right after their viewpoint we see their argument, and I mark it with "arg" in the margin. Further on still I see that the author used the word "curiously," and that's another viewpoint indicator and also introduces a problem with the argument we just heard about, so I would circle that and take another brief note. And so on.

You see that I am not talking about the details here, nor am I stopping to summarize. My goal is simply to mark up a map of the passage that will later be used to point me towards where I should look to find answers to questions. I can use these notes to find information that will help me answer questions about what the author thinks or feels, or what those anthropologists believed and why, and I can weaken or strengthen their argument if asked because it will be quick and easy for me to find and read that argument if I need to do so.

Don't stop and analyze along the way! The read-through is just a quick trip for familiarization, to get the lay of the land. You want to pick up enough to prephrase the main point and the tone, but that's about all. Then, with each question you should expect to go back into the passage to find the evidence you need to prephrase when you can and to sort the losers from the contenders.

For example, question 4 of that passage asks me why the author mentioned that the paintings were inaccessible. I don't remember why he said that, but I remember where he said that because I noted it - that was the "curiously" claim - so now, before even thinking about looking at answer choices, I am going to go back and read that section again. When I do, I form a prephrase along the lines of "he said that in order to cast doubt on the earlier argument and make way for the alternate hypothesis mentioned next." With that prephrase in mind, I head into the answers to sort them into losers and contenders, and answer B is a slam dunk!

I'll tell you that in a typical RC section with 27 questions, I go back to the passage as described above at least 22 times, probably more. That's where I am spending my real time and effort in RC - finding evidence to answer questions, rather than reading slowly and carefully and analyzing what I read.

Shift your focus away from comprehension and analysis, and towards marking up a map like leaving a trail of breadcrumbs to find your way back to the important things you will later be asked about. Don't skim - you still have to read every word in order to know what's where - but don't re-read or linger and think too much about what you read. Use VIEWSTAMP to help you recognize what those important things are that are worth notating as you read.

Give that a try, and give it a fair shake over at least half a dozen passages, because adapting to a new approach takes time and effort and can be a painful process at first. Once you have developed the habit, I expect that you will find yourself moving more quickly through the passages, taking more time on the questions but being more confident and accurate in selecting answers, and ultimately not only increasing your accuracy but also your overall speed because you are not wasting time on things that are not directly related to the task at hand and you are not stuck debating between answer choices. You will answer more questions, and get more of them right.

Let us know after a week or so how that's going! I think you'll be pleased with the results. Good luck!
 mo_wan
  • Posts: 26
  • Joined: Jul 09, 2018
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#49655
Hi Adam,

Thanks for the reply. I am little abit unclear though on what you mean exactly. So this was the prep I mentioned when I am untimed. Should I continue doing untimed passages the way I am ? But when it comes to timed exercises add more emphasis on viewstamp structure in making a roadmap and maybe speed up my reading? Or should I switch my prep to timed passages only (i.e give myself 11mins for a passage and answers) following the outline you mentioned, then just go back and review how I was?


The following link is where I got some of the techniques I've previously mentioned.

lsat/viewtopic.php?t=15552[/url]

Cheers
 Adam Tyson
PowerScore Staff
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#49716
Aha, I see! Sorry, I misunderstood and thought you were doing this all timed. Okay, it's great that you are trying some of those exercises that Dave wrote about, as they are great. I would recommend that you start focusing more on timed passages as I described, but do return to those exercises in between to continue honing those skills, especially the one where you mark where in the passage you expect to find the answer to each question, as going back and actually finding the answers in the text (or finding text that allows you to support the answers, in most cases, since they will usually not be direct quotes from the passage) is probably the most important step in the whole RC process. As I stressed in my prior response, while it is important to have and to build a strong memory, it is still incumbent upon you to go back to the passage and get evidence, over and over and over again in every RC passage. It's an open book test, so you don't have to rely on your memory of what you read!

In short, do more timed passages where you apply all the techniques you have been learning, and do untimed exercises to improve your skills. Predict questions, note key ideas and information, read questions, prephrase, and base all your answers on evidence rather than on memory.
 hrhyoo
  • Posts: 39
  • Joined: Oct 08, 2019
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#72221
Hi Adam,

I am also experiencing huge fluctuations on my RC section scores and was looking for advice as to how I could improve my RC score in general. I was very surprised to learn from your post that you refer back to the passages as many times as possible. I was doing it the opposite way: read very carefully the first time so that I save time by not going back to the passage or refer back only when necessary. I now realized that this technique was probably why my scores have been everywhere. On good days, I am able to retain a lot on memory to correctly answer questions and other days I probably couldn't remember much.

I am going to force myself to try your way and I really hope I could improve within 5 weeks since I will be writing the test in January 2020!!!

Thanks a lot for giving me hope!

Cheers,


Hanna

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