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# Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners

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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
GMATNinja wrote:
jayesh99modi wrote:
My queries:
Are the questions on an RC passage fixed? (Is the RC as a whole easy/hard depending on our performance on the previous questions?)
If YES, then how is the next question after that RC chose ? (Out of 4 questions if I get first question correct and the remaining three incorrect in RC.
Or first three incorrect and the last one correct, then how is the next question decided?)

Thank you for the kind words, jayesh99modi!

The question about RC is a good one, and I'm not 100% sure about the answer -- and as far as I know, GMAC has not publicly told us the answer to your question either, but maybe somebody can correct me on that.

There are two ways that the GMAT could, in theory, handle selection of your RC passages. The first is something called a "testlet": basically, the set of three or four RC questions is "fixed" for each passage in this scenario, so your answer to the first RC question does not impact the difficulty of the subsequent two or three questions on that passage. (And for whatever it's worth: in most cases, you'll see three RC passages with three questions each, and a fourth passage with four questions.) So if the GMAT uses "testlets" on RC, the difficulty of your entire passage would be based on your performance BEFORE you see that RC passage, because the RC questions for that passage would not "adapt" based on your performance within that passage.

The second possibility is that each RC passage actually has MORE than three or four possible questions. If this is the case, then each question after the first can be selected based on your performance WITHIN that passage.

Again, I don't have any inside information, but I suspect strongly that the second possibility is correct, since many of the RC passages in the OG (and GMATPrep Question Pack and Verbal Review) have more than three or four questions associated with them. Plus, some psychometricians (the statistician types who design standardized tests) aren't crazy about "testlets" (the first possibility, above) -- but that's a longer and much less interesting story. (Not-so-fun-fact: I spent two and a half years in a PhD program in psychometrics and education policy before I came to my senses and returned to teaching. So if anybody out there is having a hard time sleeping, I can tell you all about the three-parameter logistic model in computer adaptive testing, and you'll be knocked out instantly.)

In any case, there really isn't a big difference between those two ways of handling RC passages in terms of how they affect your score in the end. On an adaptive test, questions are selected based on your ENTIRE performance on the section up to that point -- so the difference between the two ways of handling RC would be very, very tiny in the grand scheme of things.

Sorry, that was probably a much longer answer than you bargained for!

The short short version: I think the test adapts after EVERY question -- even RC. But it doesn't really matter much, one way or another!

This query came up when I read it on Veritas Prep Material that the questions in an RC passage are fixed.
But after reading your explanation I'm clear that there isn't much scope for them to be fixed.
Thank you GMATNinja Sir for clearing my doubt.
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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
GMATNinja

Thank you so much for this article. This would help me a long way towards my Prep as RC is my weakest area.

Also all of your articles and tips are invaluable. Thanks much.
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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
Ninja ,
Thanks alot.
Do you prefer starting up with RC in verbal preparation ? , I'll be just starting off with my verbal now . Do you also run a thread for Critical Reasoning for beginners ?? Could you recommend few resources to count on for CR ?
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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
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loserunderachiever wrote:
Ninja ,
Thanks alot.
Do you prefer starting up with RC in verbal preparation ? , I'll be just starting off with my verbal now . Do you also run a thread for Critical Reasoning for beginners ?? Could you recommend few resources to count on for CR ?

CR for beginners is here, and SC for beginners is here. Both have links to resources for both question types.

In general, I'd recommend starting with RC and CR, and when you're pretty close to achieving the results you want on those two question types, you can add in SC. It can take quite a while to build your skills in RC and CR -- depending, of course, on how good your skills are to begin with -- but SC is relatively finite, and there's a limited number of high-quality, official SC questions available. So it's generally best to start working on SC only after you've made some significant headway on everything else, unless you're already close to your goals on RC and CR.

Welcome to GMAT Club, loserunderachiever!
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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
GMATNinja wrote:
loserunderachiever wrote:
Ninja ,
Thanks alot.
Do you prefer starting up with RC in verbal preparation ? , I'll be just starting off with my verbal now . Do you also run a thread for Critical Reasoning for beginners ?? Could you recommend few resources to count on for CR ?

CR for beginners is here, and SC for beginners is here. Both have links to resources for both question types.

In general, I'd recommend starting with RC and CR, and when you're pretty close to achieving the results you want on those two question types, you can add in SC. It can take quite a while to build your skills in RC and CR -- depending, of course, on how good your skills are to begin with -- but SC is relatively finite, and there's a limited number of high-quality, official SC questions available. So it's generally best to start working on SC only after you've made some significant headway on everything else, unless you're already close to your goals on RC and CR.

Welcome to GMAT Club, loserunderachiever!

sir, Are there any sources to practice RC. Recent test takers have enumerated that level of RC is tougher in real exam than those in official guides and Question packs.
And since we expect something around 3-4 passages , we need to wire our mind for the same during preparation. Many suggest LSAT RC but its very different as compared to Gmat RC. So kindly suggest something in this regard.
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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
GMATNinja

I have setup a spreadsheet in which I will start noting down the main idea, structure, tone and purpose of each item I read.
For the structure/flow, could you clarify whether there is a difference between the purpose of the passage and WHY the author wrote the passage?

Thanks.
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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
GMATNinja Charles any chance you or anyone in your team had a chance to create fake tests on the new GMAT Prep software. It lets the user hide the menu up top but the downside is that once the user hides the menu he/she can not see the question numbers. Any way out to hide the clock but still be able to see the question number.

As always I appreciate your excellence and help to this global GMAT community.
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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
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Rocket7 wrote:
GMATNinja Charles any chance you or anyone in your team had a chance to create fake tests on the new GMAT Prep software. It lets the user hide the menu up top but the downside is that once the user hides the menu he/she can not see the question numbers. Any way out to hide the clock but still be able to see the question number.

As always I appreciate your excellence and help to this global GMAT community.

Ooh, great question -- I hadn't actually played with the new GMATPrep online system until I saw your post.

(And for anybody who isn't sure what Rocket7 means by "fake tests", the full story is here: https://gmatclub.com/forum/experts-topi ... 44293.html. At the moment, the post still refers to the old, non-online software, but we'll post an update at some point.)

As far as I know, there's no way to show the question number while hiding the timer. So here's what I'd recommend: go ahead and hide that menu at the top that shows the time and the question number. And then just keep track of the question number on your scratch paper. If you're using process of elimination on all of the verbal questions -- and everybody should do that! -- then you're probably writing "A B C D E" on your page, anyway. And as long as you stick the question number in front of the "A B C D E", you should be able to keep track adequately.

And if that doesn't work perfectly, it's not the end of the world to occasionally unhide the menu so you can see the question number.

I hope this helps!
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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
Great post GMATNinja..!!

I am quoting you verbatim
for the part which struck me most.

" Don’t fall in love

Whenever you do anything on the GMAT verbal section, you should always look for four wrong answers – not one right answer. If you try to take shortcuts with this process, I can promise that you’ll make mistakes, especially on relatively difficult questions.

The easiest mistake to make on GMAT RC (or CR!) is this: you read the question, and an answer pops into your head. You immediately notice that, say, answer choice (B) sounds an awful lot like what you were thinking. So you choose (B), and you don’t really read (C), (D), or (E).

Meanwhile, there’s some little tiny modifier in (B) that makes it wrong. One word can completely change the meaning of an answer choice, right? But if you fall in love with (B) immediately – and fail to use process of elimination – you can easily make a careless error. And careless errors on easy questions can quickly ruin your day on an adaptive test.

So don’t fall in love. Instead, always make sure that you’ve found four wrong answers, not one right answer. Unfortunately, this means that you’ll have to read every answer choice if you want to eliminate four of them. But on an adaptive test, that’s an investment that you absolutely need to make, on every single verbal question."

Posted from my mobile device
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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
Thank you GMATNinja for considering my post worthwhile

Btw how is junior ninja doing?
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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
gmatexam439 wrote:
Thank you GMATNinja for considering my post worthwhile

Btw how is junior ninja doing?

In case anybody is wondering about the post mentioned above, gmatexam439 wrote a great post about his approach to improving at RC. If you're struggling on RC, I think that it can be incredibly valuable to read about the experiences of a test-taker who suffered through RC recently, and had to work pretty darned hard to improve. The post is available here: https://gmatclub.com/forum/preparing-fo ... 69893.html.

And thank you for asking about the junior ninja, gmatexam439! She's doing well. Seven and a half months old already, and already showing ninja-like eating skills. Her command of quadratics and parallelism still need some work, but that's cool.
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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
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GMATNinja wrote:
gmatexam439 wrote:
Thank you GMATNinja for considering my post worthwhile

Btw how is junior ninja doing?

In case anybody is wondering about the post mentioned above, gmatexam439 wrote a great post about his approach to improving at RC. If you're struggling on RC, I think that it can be incredibly valuable to read about the experiences of a test-taker who suffered through RC recently, and had to work pretty darned hard to improve. The post is available here: https://gmatclub.com/forum/preparing-fo ... 69893.html.

And thank you for asking about the junior ninja, gmatexam439! She's doing well. Seven and a half months old already, and already showing ninja-like eating skills. Her command of quadratics and parallelism still need some work, but that's cool.

haha ... I wish that she grows to be a super ninja like her dad!
Now is the time to concentrate on bhindi masala perhaps .... parallelism can wait though
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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
This article is very useful and it actually works. But there is a big problem here. If I want to completely comprehend the passage, read all answer choices for all questions, this will take me around 20 mins for a long passage and 15 mins for a short one. This is really the case for non-native students. You know it can''t be acceptable because you have no time. How can you solve this problem? Thank you.
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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
GMATNinja, What could be the approach for longer passages of around 600-650 words? The above mentioned approach has been really helpful to me in shorter passages, but for longer passages, my accuracy dips down. Also, if a passage contains mostly data based questions, does looking for structure helps, or is there a different approach that can be taken?

Thank you.
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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
Awesome, appreciate it! I found trying to force yourself to read it "for fun" is extremely helpful as well.
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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
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chiragjain507 wrote:
GMATNinja, What could be the approach for longer passages of around 600-650 words? The above mentioned approach has been really helpful to me in shorter passages, but for longer passages, my accuracy dips down. Also, if a passage contains mostly data based questions, does looking for structure helps, or is there a different approach that can be taken?

Thank you.

I'd argue that the framework laid out in this article probably becomes MORE necessary on longer passages. If the passage is longer, then it's even easier to lose track of the big picture (i.e., the structure of the overall argument and the author's purpose), and let the passage turn into "factfactfactfactfactfactfact."

I'd bet anything that the dip you're seeing on longer passages is mostly because you're not able to keep up with the overall point of the passage -- maybe that's just a general concentration problem, but it's also possible that you're just not paying enough attention to WHY the author is writing the post, and that's likely to cause trouble.

Unless you're seeing really, really easy questions, it's incredibly unlikely that you'll see a passage that doesn't ask you -- in some way -- about the overall point of the passage. The overwhelming majority of passages will explicitly ask you a main idea or primary purpose question. And once you get to, say, 700-level questions, nearly all of the questions themselves require you to understand the overall point of the passage.

For example: at the highest levels, you won't get asked to just regurgitate what the author says in, say, line 17; instead, you'll be asked to analyze the author's statement in line 17 in the context of the overall passage.

So unfortunately, there's really no way to avoid understanding the big picture of the passage if you want to achieve a super-high score. There might be other frameworks for understanding that big picture, but understanding the facts alone -- without grasping the broader context -- can only hurt you. And that might be especially true on longer passages.

I hope this helps a bit!
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Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
Thanks GMATNinja... it is really helpful!!

I have been struggling with RC and this post made the journey smoother and more comprehensive
Re: Experts' Topic of the Week, 5/22/17: Ultimate RC Guide for Beginners [#permalink]
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