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Paragraph Summaries - An approach to Main Point

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Paragraph Summaries - An approach to Main Point [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2012, 12:36
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Fresh Passage:
Click the link below to apply this tools learned to a sample question:
fresh-passage-pricing-in-the-21st-century-134472.html

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



According to OG – each RC passage is a unified whole – that is, the individual sentences and paragraphs support and develop one main idea or central point which the student must identify. In this article, we will discuss a technique called Paragraph Summaries to arrive at the main point of RC passage. First let’s see some characteristics of the main point:

1. It is a single line statement that expresses the intent of the entire passage
2. It is broad: scope spans the entire passage and is not limited to an example or paragraph in the passage.
3. It is precise: It most likely will not contain any specific detail that is outlined in the passage

Keep the above in mind. We will use these as we evaluate the correct and incorrect answer choices in our example.


Definitions



Here are some definitions that we will follow in this article to make reading simple and enjoyable:
1. Passage: The entire RC passage for which have to identify the main point.
2. Paragraph: For passages with multiple paragraphs, a paragraph is defined as a group of lines that are isolated by delimiters. For long passages without spatial delimiters (essentially passages with one paragraph) – a group of 3-4 lines that express a unique idea.

Paragraph Summaries and Main Point

So what is paragraph summary and how does it relate to the main point of the passage. A paragraph summary is a single line statement that summarizes the paragraph. Assuming that a passage has multiple paragraphs, the main point of your passage is basically a summary of paragraph summaries. Let’s consider a simple example in which the paragraph summaries have already been synthesized and devise the passage’s main point.

Image


Applying it to GMATPrep Problem

Image


Hopefully you would have reviewed the passage and the Main Point question. Here is how I would approach the problem.

Image


Image

Click Image if you are looking for a detailed analysis of how I arrived at paragraph summaries.


Below is the main point that I came up with by combining individual passage summaries. Note we call this - Prethinking Main Point

Image

Let’s now evaluate the answer choices and see how we can use the ‘Prethinking’ to come up with the answer.

Image

Characteristics of incorrect Answer Choices

Now that we have solved the example above, let’s review some of the characteristics of incorrect answer choices. There are 4 kind of incorrect answer choices in Main Point questions.

1) Out of Scope (OSC): These answer choices go beyond the scope of the passage and lists things that may be related to the subject of the passage but are not discussed in the passage. For example, choice A above is out of scope because it talks about emancipation of women from grief and poverty – a topic not discussed in the passage. OSC answer choice aims to try to exploit your common knowledge about the topic to force you to choose it as the correct answer. OSC choices may seem an attractive option if you have not read the passage well or understood it completely. However, OSC answer choices are relatively easy to discard if you have understood the passage well.
2) Partially scope: This answer choice will list some things that are relevant and mentioned in the passage. However, the scope of this answer choice will not cover the entire passage or author’s intent for that matter and will be limited to one or more, but not all, paragraphs. An example of the same is choice C – which only talks about information presented in paragraph 1. Note this choice may seem extremely attractive since it may present information that is factually consistent with the passage. But remember – Main Point needs to encompass the scope of entire passage.
3) Opposite: This answer choice states the main purpose but in reverse order. For example, if the purpose of the passage were to outline the benefits of cooking then the opposite answer choice would state the purpose as the downside/drawbacks of cooking. Choice B in the example above falls in this category.
4) Inconsistent: Test makers will sometimes create an answer choice that will embody the purpose of the passage but will add a modifier to that purpose that makes the entire answer choice inconsistent with the passage. Choice E above comes close to this.

Image


CORE SKILLS THAT YOU NEED TO MASTER

You are bound to encounter up to 4 main point questions in your exam. The core skills required to answer these questions are listed below.

1. Ability to Summarize: The ability to summarize paragraphs in a few words. The summary must be short and accurate.
2. Prethinking: The ability to combine paragraph summaries and come up with passage summary.
3. Terminology/Vocabulary: not a very big factor, but you need to have a basic understanding of most terms used in the language summary to select the correct language. For example, you need to know what evaluate means and how is it different from advocate.
4. Evaluate: Even when you do the above 3 correctly, the main point that you come up with during your Prethinking may not be the main point of the passage. Hence, you need the ability to evaluate the answer choices and select the one that is closest to the one that you came up with during Prethinking. Also, to be absolutely certain, you need to reject the remaining 4 for good reasons.

HOW TO ACE ANSWERING MAIN POINT QUESTIONS
Whenever you answer a main point question incorrectly, ask yourself – which core skill did I falter on? As you solve more and more questions, you may find that you make mistakes because you are not as strong in one or more core skills. This would help you isolate the problem and devise a plan to work on it. For example, if you find out that you are able to Prethink the main point correctly but still you make a mistake, then you can be certain that you either lack the ability to evaluate the answer choices or are not as conversant with the terminology. Then you can focus only on strengthening these skills to improve your accuracy

Take the e-GMAT RC Free trial to practice more (7-8 more passages)

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Last edited by egmat on 31 Jul 2013, 13:12, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Paragraph Summaries - An approach to Main Point [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2012, 12:48
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This is a really great article. Nice job! Can I put forward a slight alternative?

Before I do, it is very important that to emphasize the monumental value that taking notes on RC passages has added to my personal RC experience. It makes it so much easier to process the questions that come later. Now, my point is that summarizing paragraphs into single concise sentences is both too difficult and not as helpful as implied here. Sure, that's a useful technique, but very often, trying to get all the points (and many times they're contradicting) of a paragraph into a single sentence is a time wasting effort. Instead, I like to write down (in shorthand) the topic sentence and each supporting point, which usually equates to three shorthand sentences per paragraph. This method is surprisingly quicker as it's less intensive and also offers a more complete reference guide.
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Re: Paragraph Summaries - An approach to Main Point [#permalink] New post 13 Jun 2012, 14:30
Expert's post
Dear Vandy,

You put forward a great point - thank you for bringing it up. Everyone has a certain ability to read and comprehend. This ability is the point till which you can read and comprehend without writing things down on paper. We call this ability your "Takt time" (or Takt ability to be more precise)- a term taken from the German word Taktzeit which translates to cycle time. Defined quite simply, "Takt time" is the amount that one can read efficiently before one needs to write things down. Note that every individual has his/her own "Takt time". Furthermore, through our alpha and beta trials, we have proven that this "Takt time" can be improved provided people follow our reading strategies. This is the reason that we emphasize a whole lot on reading strategies (we have 3 concept files and reading exercises devoted just to reading efficiently)

Furthermore, if you look at how I came up with the paragraph summaries (click on Image, you would notice that I do the same thing in mind. Its just that my "Takt time" is better as I follow active reading strategies and do quite a bit of reading.

Overall, you bring out great point. I will probably cover Active Reading - To improve your "Takt time" in another article. Thank you for bringing this up.
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Re: Paragraph Summaries - An approach to Main Point [#permalink] New post 14 Jun 2012, 11:47
vandygrad11 wrote:
This is a really great article. Nice job! Can I put forward a slight alternative?

Before I do, it is very important that to emphasize the monumental value that taking notes on RC passages has added to my personal RC experience. It makes it so much easier to process the questions that come later. Now, my point is that summarizing paragraphs into single concise sentences is both too difficult and not as helpful as implied here. Sure, that's a useful technique, but very often, trying to get all the points (and many times they're contradicting) of a paragraph into a single sentence is a time wasting effort. Instead, I like to write down (in shorthand) the topic sentence and each supporting point, which usually equates to three shorthand sentences per paragraph. This method is surprisingly quicker as it's less intensive and also offers a more complete reference guide.


Can you elaborate your method for this passage ? I mean what would be your short hand notes and 3 line summary ? You can chose another passage if you desire so.
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Re: Paragraph Summaries - An approach to Main Point [#permalink] New post 14 Jun 2012, 20:12
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Thank you for the article. This is very useful, one of the most comprehensive analysis of the main point questions that I have seen. I am very excited with the analysis of wrong answer choices. I hope it helps me improve my performance on this question.. Please write more such articles
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Re: Paragraph Summaries - An approach to Main Point [#permalink] New post 23 Jul 2012, 00:18
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Great Article. You guys are really doing excellent job. Do you have more articles on RC for other types of questions as well?
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Re: Paragraph Summaries - An approach to Main Point [#permalink] New post 31 Jul 2012, 06:51
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Hi Folks,

Thanks a lot for liking the article and for your responses. We have created two new passages on the same topic but different main points. The idea is to show that passages written on same subject matter can have different main points. So apply the framwork presented in this article to solve these two new main point practice questions on the following link:

twin-passages-for-precticing-main-point-question-136605.html

Thanks. :)
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Re: Paragraph Summaries - An approach to Main Point [#permalink] New post 09 Jan 2013, 22:24
egmat wrote:
Fresh Passage:
Click the link below to apply this tools learned to a sample question:
fresh-passage-pricing-in-the-21st-century-134472.html

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------



According to OG – each RC passage is a unified whole – that is, the individual sentences and paragraphs support and develop one main idea or central point which the student must identify. In this article, we will discuss a technique called Paragraph Summaries to arrive at the main point of RC passage. First let’s see some characteristics of the main point:

1. It is a single line statement that expresses the intent of the entire passage
2. It is broad: scope spans the entire passage and is not limited to an example or paragraph in the passage.
3. It is precise: It most likely will not contain any specific detail that is outlined in the passage

Keep the above in mind. We will use these as we evaluate the correct and incorrect answer choices in our example.


Definitions

Here are some definitions that we will follow in this article to make reading simple and enjoyable:
1. Passage: The entire RC passage for which have to identify the main point.
2. Paragraph: For passages with multiple paragraphs, a paragraph is defined as a group of lines that are isolated by delimiters. For long passages without spatial delimiters (essentially passages with one paragraph) – a group of 3-4 lines that express a unique idea.

Paragraph Summaries and Main Point

So what is paragraph summary and how does it relate to the main point of the passage. A paragraph summary is a single line statement that summarizes the paragraph. Assuming that a passage has multiple paragraphs, the main point of your passage is basically a summary of paragraph summaries. Let’s consider a simple example in which the paragraph summaries have already been synthesized and devise the passage’s main point.

Image


Applying it to GMATPrep Problem

Image


Hopefully you would have reviewed the passage and the Main Point question. Here is how I would approach the problem.

Image

Click Image if you are looking for a detailed analysis of how I arrived at paragraph summaries.


Below is the main point that I came up with by combining individual passage summaries. Note we call this - Prethinking Main Point

Image

Let’s now evaluate the answer choices and see how we can use the ‘Prethinking’ to come up with the answer.

Image

Characteristics of incorrect Answer Choices

Now that we have solved the example above, let’s review some of the characteristics of incorrect answer choices. There are 4 kind of incorrect answer choices in Main Point questions.

1) Out of Scope (OSC): These answer choices go beyond the scope of the passage and lists things that may be related to the subject of the passage but are not discussed in the passage. For example, choice A above is out of scope because it talks about emancipation of women from grief and poverty – a topic not discussed in the passage. OSC answer choice aims to try to exploit your common knowledge about the topic to force you to choose it as the correct answer. OSC choices may seem an attractive option if you have not read the passage well or understood it completely. However, OSC answer choices are relatively easy to discard if you have understood the passage well.
2) Partially scope: This answer choice will list some things that are relevant and mentioned in the passage. However, the scope of this answer choice will not cover the entire passage or author’s intent for that matter and will be limited to one or more, but not all, paragraphs. An example of the same is choice C – which only talks about information presented in paragraph 1. Note this choice may seem extremely attractive since it may present information that is factually consistent with the passage. But remember – Main Point needs to encompass the scope of entire passage.
3) Opposite: This answer choice states the main purpose but in reverse order. For example, if the purpose of the passage were to outline the benefits of cooking then the opposite answer choice would state the purpose as the downside/drawbacks of cooking. Choice B in the example above falls in this category.
4) Inconsistent: Test makers will sometimes create an answer choice that will embody the purpose of the passage but will add a modifier to that purpose that makes the entire answer choice inconsistent with the passage. Choice E above comes close to this.

CORE SKILLS THAT YOU NEED TO MASTER

You are bound to encounter up to 4 main point questions in your exam. The core skills required to answer these questions are listed below.

1. Ability to Summarize: The ability to summarize paragraphs in a few words. The summary must be short and accurate.
2. Prethinking: The ability to combine paragraph summaries and come up with passage summary.
3. Terminology/Vocabulary: not a very big factor, but you need to have a basic understanding of most terms used in the language summary to select the correct language. For example, you need to know what evaluate means and how is it different from advocate.
4. Evaluate: Even when you do the above 3 correctly, the main point that you come up with during your Prethinking may not be the main point of the passage. Hence, you need the ability to evaluate the answer choices and select the one that is closest to the one that you came up with during Prethinking. Also, to be absolutely certain, you need to reject the remaining 4 for good reasons.

HOW TO ACE ANSWERING MAIN POINT QUESTIONS
Whenever you answer a main point question incorrectly, ask yourself – which core skill did I falter on? As you solve more and more questions, you may find that you make mistakes because you are not as strong in one or more core skills. This would help you isolate the problem and devise a plan to work on it. For example, if you find out that you are able to Prethink the main point correctly but still you make a mistake, then you can be certain that you either lack the ability to evaluate the answer choices or are not as conversant with the terminology. Then you can focus only on strengthening these skills to improve your accuracy

Take the e-GMAT RC Free trial to practice more (7-8 more passages)

Image

Image





Hey, its such a nice article for main point, I have lil understanding problem in the doc, please find the below line that i have underlined, could be so kind to elaborate the same to me.

The sentimentalized concept of female benevolence bore little resemblance to women's actual work, which was decidedly unsentimental and businesslike
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Re: Paragraph Summaries - An approach to Main Point [#permalink] New post 15 Jan 2013, 12:25
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Loved reading your post.
Can you please discuss timing for RC passages as well ?

I'm able to answer passages in all Mock CAT's, however I found that the ones on actual GMAT were really tough and dense.
This severely affected my Verbal score. Any points on timing in RC are welcome.

Thanks and Regards,
Charu
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Re: Paragraph Summaries - An approach to Main Point [#permalink] New post 23 Sep 2013, 01:04
3. Terminology/Vocabulary: not a very big factor, but you need to have a basic understanding of most terms used in the language summary to select the correct language. For example, you need to know what evaluate means and how is it different from advocate.

Could you ellaborate on the highlighted portion...
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Re: Paragraph Summaries - An approach to Main Point   [#permalink] 23 Sep 2013, 01:04
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