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What to do when faced with a hard RC Passage?

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Joined: 11 Oct 2012
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What to do when faced with a hard RC Passage? [#permalink] New post 06 Nov 2012, 08:17
Hi all,

So I've been practicing some RC questions, and I've noticed that either they go extremely well or extremely bad. For example, I noticed while going through the OG that I either got 100% of the questions right in a passage and completely understood what the author was saying, or I'd crash and burn and only get 60%+ correct. I was wondering if there are tips for handling passages that are trickier, especially when they ask detail questions? I seem to be acing questions that deal with the author's style/tone/implications, etc. but I struggle when they ask for specific details because if I can't understand what is going on, then it's hard to answer questions that ask specifically what is going on based on the passage. I think I can do the other questions because I am good at understanding the structure of the passage, but sometimes, we run into tough ones, so I'm wondering how to handle it when it comes up on the real thing. If the OG is any guide, it seems like LOTS of GMAT questions are specific details, so I need to get better at this asap.


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Re: What to do when faced with a hard RC Passage? [#permalink] New post 08 Nov 2012, 06:45
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It sounds like you are doing a good job of focusing on structure over details in your initial read and that is why you are doing well on the general questions. On specific questions, you have to get back into the passage and really understand the details. When you hit a specific questions, you should know pretty quickly where to find the information in the passage. You must re-read that section of the passage to gain the detailed understanding you didn't get during the initial read. Specific questions don't require you to re-read the entire passage, just the paragraph or section of a paragraph that relates to the topic in the question.

Remember some key principles regarding RC on these specific questions. To start, your process is not to find the correct answer but rather to eliminate the wrong answers. Many people use this elimination methodology on Sentence Correction, but it's every bit as valuable on RC questions. As you are eliminating wrong answers, you should be very concerned with each word in the answer choice. Correct answers on RC can't be mostly correct. The GMAT creates good wrong answers by taking true statements and invalidating them with an incorrect term or two (ie extreme language like must, cannot, etc.). Lastly, beware of the "inference" specific questions. These inference questions require that you go back to the passage and re-read the specific section, but your answer won't be explicitly stated in the passage. Instead, the answer to these inference questions is something that has to be true based on the information on the passage.

Practice makes perfect on RC questions. Remember the techniques and get plenty of practice.


Kyle Widdison | Manhattan GMAT Instructor | Utah

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Re: What to do when faced with a hard RC Passage? [#permalink] New post 07 Nov 2012, 14:21
This post was

My tactic is to look long and hard at the first sentence of every paragraph, in GMAT style passages this is normally the key, and if it is not it will be the sencond sentence. The rest of the paragraph is normally explanation of that point, often in deliberately confusing language.

So in short try and pick out the key point at the beginning of each para, that will give you the overall sense, then you can go back through and find the detail.

Former GMAT Pill student, now on staff. Used GMATPILL OG 12 and nothing else: 770 (48,48) & 6.0

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Re: What to do when faced with a hard RC Passage?   [#permalink] 07 Nov 2012, 14:21
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