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# HOW TO DESTROY READING COMPREHENSION PASSAGES BY RHYME

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alfa_beta01 wrote:
But your approach is similar to Kaplan's. You are suggesting that we paraphrase the passages in our own words, so we will need to read the passage anyway!!!

No, thats not what I'm saying - I think you the issue is how you understand skimming.... . I'm saying PARAPHRASE THE FIRST PARAGRAPH and THE FIRST SENTENCE OF EACH PARAGRAPH. Thats it. Not the entire passage. DON'T EVEN READ the other paragraphs, just skim and write down names or dates in case they come up in the exam. If you are good at skimming text to look for names - you can do what I do, dont even bother skimming the paragraphs. Just read the first paragraph and the first sentence of each paragraph.

Quote:
Secondly, what do you mean by skimming? If I have to understand what I'm reading, there's no difference between skimming and reading. Secondly, if I don't understand anything and still read it anyways, what's the point of skimming? I very well can leave the text alone altogether!

By skim, all I mean is GLANCE. I don't read sentences.

For example: (dont read it yet, read my notes first, then try it)

If the second paragraph said:

"Though the basic concept of the strip is straightforward, Herriman always found ways to tweak the formula. Sometimes, Ignatz's plans to surreptitiously lob a brick at Krazy's head succeed; other times Officer Pupp outsmarts the wily mouse and imprisons him. The interventions of Coconino County's other anthropomorphic animal residents, and even forces of nature, occasionally change the dynamic in unexpected ways. Other strips have Krazy's simple-minded or gnomic pronouncements irritating the mouse so much that he goes to seek out a brick in the final panel."

Paraphrase first sentence: (I'll time myself)

"Strip straightforward, but author found ways to tweak. "

That took me about 20 seconds.

NOW, DO NOT READ THE REST OF THE PARAGRAPH. GLANCE OVER IT, JUST LOOKING FOR KEY WORDS. NAMES, DATES, THINGS OF THE SORT. (I'll explain why in a minute)

All I would write is: (I'll time myself again)

Herriman, Ignatz, Krazy, Officer Pupp, mouse, Coconino, residents, Krazy.

I did that in about 15 seconds. . I know that sounds crazy, but try it - just glance over it looking for names, dates, or otherwise things that might appear important - anything in capital letters for example. This includes scientific names. So if you see something like "proto-plasmic neurons" in the middle of a passage, scribble it down.

I haven't read the above paragraph, and to be honest I have no idea what it says.

In order to understand why this works you have to understand the two types of RC questions that come up.

Type 1 is general. These are questions that ask things like "The author is most concerned with" or "the primary purpose of hte passage is" or "the author would most agree with..."

IN ORDER TO ANSWER THESE YOU ONLY NEED TO KNOW THE GENERAL POINT OF THE PASSAGE. THIS POINT IS ALWAYS MADE DURING THE FIRST PARAGRAPH AND TOPIC SENTENCES (FIRST SENTENCE) OF EACH SUBSEQUENT PARAGRAPH. THATS IT. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE DETAILS BEHIND THE GENERAL POINT. IN FACT, USUALLY, KNOWING THESE DETAILS THROWS YOU OFF BECAUSE YOU'LL SEE AN ANSWER THAT LOOKS REALLY SIMILAR TO SOMETHING YOU JUST READ.

Thats type 1. Type 2 is the SPECIFIC QUESTION. These are things like "Dr. Neilsen agrees that ...." or "In 1914, the primary differences between colonial europe and the americas were... " or "The author states what about proto plasmic neurons?"

In every single case, these questions will boil down to a sentence, or at most two sentences, SOMEWHERE in the passage.... thats it. So, if you scribbled down key words, it should take you a few seconds to figure out what paragraph the answer is in and another few seconds to read the setnence it's in. The answer is always there - plus or minus one sentence.

The key to understanding this methodology is: you are not trying to understand the passage. You only need understand the first paragraph, and first sentence of each piece.

We'll do one more together.

I'll time myself and try to write down details of what I read and did not read.

It's attached at the bottom.

First paragraph:
Time taken to read and take notes: 1 minute 20 seconds

My notes: Solar ponds circulation incomplete + high salt concentration that increase w/ depth. This traps heat. Low water traps heat, higher water insulate. Heat thus retained at depth.

Second paragraph:
Time taken to read first sentence and paraphrase: 27 seconds.

My notes: Artificial pond made in dead sea to test its ability to convert heat to electricity.

Second paragraph SKIMMING:
Time taken to SKIM and write down key words: 17 seconds.

My notes: water. solar ponds, chemicals, penetration, algae

(NOTE how quickly that was done. SKIM SKIM SKIM)

Third paragraph:
Time taken to read first sentence and paraphrase: 9 seconds.

My notes: Algicide proposed to control algea.

Third paragraph SKIMMING: 16 seconds.
My Notes: Dead sea, chemcials, lucrative, tourist, contaminated.

Fourth paragraph first sentence: 15 seconds.
My notes: Recent exp more promising for controlling algea

Fourth paragraph skim: 24 seconds.
My notes: repress, distortion, bouyancy, storage layer, destroyed , evaporation, diluted, algea.

Total time taken: 3 MINUTES 20 SECONDS

Thats pretty decent, maybe even a bit slow - but notice how quickly I ate up the remaining paragraphs. I skimmed paragraphs 3 and 4 in under a minute....

Its not about READING the paragraphs. Just skimming. You may have noticed that my skim notes are out of order - words that come later are first... the reason this is the case is because I let my eyes see a word, write it down, if it then sees another word that I didnt see, even if its before, i write it down. I know that finding the word again will take me a few seconds - if you can write them in order, all the better. I found that I can be much faster if I just glance and write - even if its out of order.
How did I do it so fast? I have not read a single sentence (other than the first sentence) in paragraph 2,3 or 4. I have no idea what details are in there - but I do know what they generally talk about BECAUSE I WROTE DOWN THE FIRST SENTENCE, WHICH ALWAYS INTRODUCES THE PARAGRAPH'S TOPIC. That's all I need to know to answer a question like:

"What is the author primarily concerned with?"

Well, without even looking at answer choices, I know he's primarily concerned with salt water ponds and their suitability to generate electricity.

I know this because he introduces them in the first paragraph, mentions an expirement in #2, cites a possible solution to some problem in #3, and then says theres a better solution in paragraph #4. I know all this just by reading hte first setnence of each paragraph. I do NOT know WHY or WHAT the better solution is - but if I get asked, I know where to look. (It'll be somewhere in paragraph #4)

QUESTION: The primary purpose of the passage is to:

(a) discuss ways of solving a problem that threatens to limit the usefullness of an energy source.
(b) explain the mechanisms by which solar heat may be converted into energy
(c) detail the processes by which algae colonize highly saline bodies of water
(d) report the results of an experiment designed to clean contaminated bodies of water
(e) describe the unique properties of solar ponds in the dead sea.

Can you see which one it is?
Look again at the first sentences and the first paragraph.

(1) Solar ponds retain heat
(2) Artificial pond made in dead sea to test its ability to convert heat to electricity.
(3) Algicide proposed to control algea.
(4) Recent exp more promising for controlling algea

What story is this telling? There are some ponds, there's one in the dead sea, theres some problem with it, algicide is one solution, but there is a better one. Look again at the answer choices.

Do you see it?

(b) explain the mechanisms by which solar heat may be converted into energy ------- Well no, that doesnt really jibe with the topic sentences... He mentions it, but the topic sentences aren't describing a mechanism, they decribe a problem.

(c) detail the processes by which algae colonize highly saline bodies of water ---- No, again, theres not much discussion of processes in the topic sentences. The guys talking about a problem.

(d) report the results of an experiment designed to clean contaminated bodies of water --- Possibly, but this is really only part of the passage probably. I dont know for sure, because I haven't read it, but again if you look back at the notes, he's not so much reporting as much as suggesting something.

(e) describe the unique properties of solar ponds in the dead sea. - Well, definetly not. For starters, i dont remember it saying solar ponds in the dead sea were the only ones that existed, plus, again, the word Dead Sea doesnt come up much in the topic sentences.

(a) discuss ways of solving a problem that threatens to limit the usefullness of an energy source. - Hmm ok, that makes sense. There is a pond, there is an experiment to check it as an energy source, there are some solutions to that problem, but one solution is better. Yea, thats exactly what he's saying.

Now say you got a specific question:

"According to the passage, the growth of algae was considered a threat to the sucess of the artificial pond near the dead sea beacuse the algae..."

(a) produce excess oxygen that lowers water temperature
(b) restrict the circulation of the pond
(c) enable heat to escape through the upper level of the pound
(d) prevent light from penetrating to the lowest level of hte pond
(e) prevent accurate measurement of the heat collected in the pond.

How do you solve this given that YOU HAVENT EVEN READ THE PASSAGE?

Just find where Algae and Dead sea come up. Dead sea comes up first in the second paragraph - we know this because I wrote it in my SKIM NOTES for the second passage.

Did the word algae come up?

Lets go look at what I wrote as my SKIM notes for paragraph two.

My notes: water. solar ponds, chemicals, penetration, algae

Yea, there it is. If your notes are lucky, you might notice that I wrote down the words algae and penetration... gives you a pretty huge hint what it might be, but thats kind of dumb luck... so lets pretend I didnt write that down.

How do we find the answer?

Find the sentence with algae in the second paragraph, because that's where we first saw Dead Sea.

"An immediate threat to the sucess of the venture was the growth of algae".

Ok, that doesnt give us the answer, what about the sentence right next to it.

"Water in solar ponds must be kept maximally transparent to allow penetration of light to the deep storage area."

Ok, look back at the answer choices.

The answer should jump out at you now. It's D.

It's not A because theres NO MENTION of oxygen.
Its not B becuase theres NO MENTION of circulation.
It's not C becuase theres NO MENTION of heat
Its not E because theres NO MENTION of measurement.

The only answer that even has words that match words in that sentence is D.

Now how much did you read to answer that? TWO SENTENCES.

How long did it take you to find them? 10, maybe 20 seconds. Tops. 20 more seconds to read them. You've answered the question in under a minute.

How long do you think it would have taken to find that answer otherwise? I mean, all the other options SOUND reasonable right? Circulation was mentioned in paragraph 1, heat definetly came up somehwere, and there might even be a mention of oxygen somewhere I missed.

the point is this:

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO READ THE PARAGRAPHS TO GET THESE RIGHT. ONLY READ THE FIRST PARAGRAPH AND FIRST SENTENCE. SKIM THE REST. AND BY SKIM, I MEAN 20 SECONDS, KEY WORDS, DONT EVEN READ THE SENTENCES, JUST WRITE DOWN SCRIBBLES.

With time, you can get really really fast at it.
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Thanx Rhyme for your wonderful post.I think it makes sense to approach the passages your way.
I'll give it a try and let's see if it works for me....
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Thanks for the detailed explanation Rhyme; I will give it a shot and see how it goes. By the way any idea how long it might take to master this approach?
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alfa_beta01 wrote:
Thanks for the detailed explanation Rhyme; I will give it a shot and see how it goes. By the way any idea how long it might take to master this approach?

I took to it quickly... id say after about 6 or 7 RC's (passages, not questions) I had it down.

At first you will be slow...but dont fret if it takes you 6 minutes at first. Give it a good try. Take an afternoon, pick out a few RC's and try it.... don't just give up after two. After you've tried doing three or four passages (answer the questions too - taking notes is only half the equation - you stil have to practice finding the answer from your notes) - try timing yourself. It will probably take you five or six minutes. Thats OK. After you've done that, do one or two more, then time how long it takes you to get through the passage - and seperately time how long each question takes you. As you get the hang of it, you'll realize that the questions themselves can be solved pretty darn fast.

You will also notice that I wrote down some verbs, not just dates or names. I forgot to mention this in the above.... I write down words that seem like key words as well ... important looking verbs (so not things like "is" or "are" or simple things - verbs with basically little meaning) but verbs like "penetrate" or destory, etc.

If you want to compare notes / approach, post an RC here and I'll be happy to try it.
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Thanks for the help Rhyme; really appreciate it. Will bug you in case I have more queries or require help
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Dude - you are awesome! awesome! I will give these kungfu techniques a try and see what happens.

Thanks
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Let me know how they work for you.

Are my explanations clear?
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rhyme wrote:
Let me know how they work for you.

Are my explanations clear?

They are clear and I tried 3 passages using the technique but still need to get used to it. Maybe will give it a shot over the weekend and see how it goes.

Right now I am using up a lot of time hunting for key words and writing them down. And worse, since I am in a hurry, I tend to miss out on a few keywords and have to invariably read the 'skimmed' para(s) again. I guess I will get better with practice.
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writing notes on the pad takes a lot of time..
because most of the time if i write quickly, i dont understand my handwriting......
so what i have done in the past is something similar to yours... but i kind of make a mental map of the comprehension..

is that enough? or should i force myself to make written notes?
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yep my own handwrittings makes me confuse more than paragraph so I am not going to write! though I now started using note of some noun and dates for ex.. para 1, 1962, NMS(Namibu Malibu Srivastava), RC(Robert Chhenee)... so in case I get specific question I can quikly I know where to re-read!
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Ryhme and others-

This strategy works well most of the time for me, but when I have a questions like:

The passage above discusses all of the above EXCEPT:
(a)...(e)

I get stumped, obviously because I have not read the entire paragraph. Most of the times, reading the first lines of paragraph 2 and higher is not enough to answer such questions, and I find my self having to re-read the paragraph JUST FOR this type of question. Do you have a strategy to combat such questions on RC?
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walletless wrote:
Ryhme and others-

This strategy works well most of the time for me, but when I have a questions like:

The passage above discusses all of the above EXCEPT:
(a)...(e)

I get stumped, obviously because I have not read the entire paragraph. Most of the times, reading the first lines of paragraph 2 and higher is not enough to answer such questions, and I find my self having to re-read the paragraph JUST FOR this type of question. Do you have a strategy to combat such questions on RC?

I've found that 90% of the time, these questions come from a paragraph that contains lists. For example, and I dont have GMATPrep installed anymore so I cant say for sure exactly what the passage was, but if you take the exams you'll see it sooner or later...

It says something like:

"People in new england did not believe in religion as part of state, whereas those in england felt strongly that it should. Individuals in england also felt that the lowest class should not be allowed to vote, the exact opposite of traditional england. The new england economy was sparse and heavy in argiculture, a stark contrast to the old country."

I keep an eye out of these lists as I skim.... more often than not these are grouped tightly like this. My notes might say:
NE: not religion and state, E, yes. E, lowest vote, NE, no. E economy spare + argi, E, no.

Sometimes its hard to find them while skimming. What I usually do then is I look at the question options and tackle it backwards. So for example maybe the question says something like:

"The author says all of the following about new england except:"

(A) It's economy was based primary on agricultural products ...
(B) ...
etc

I'll take option 1, pick a key word, i.e. argiculture, and scan the text for it.
When I find it, ill look at options 2 or 3 and see if sentences near the sentence I found with "agriculture" contain anything in the other options. Usually, you'll find that it does. So now its just a question of comparing a half-dozen or so sentences to 5 options on the right...

Sometimes option A is the wrong one - so if I dont find option 1 in the text, ill scan for option 2. The trick is not reading the whole thing but rather picking a key word from the answer choices and scanning for it. You don't have to pick from option 1, if theres a better key word in option 2 or 3 or 4 or 5, scan for that.

Post an example and I'll walk through it if none of htis makes sense...
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Thanks Rhyme -

I will post a real example soon. For now, for the example above on solar ponds, if there was a question like:

The author mentions the following about Algae EXCEPT:
a) They interfere with collection of heat in solar ponds
b) They get destroyed in hot water
c) Frequent absorptopm of water by algae cause them to change shape and affects their mobility
d) They affect the salinity of solar ponds
e) They scatter and/or absorb light

How would you approach this? Considering that you have almost spend close to 3.5 minutes reading, skimming and taking notes for the paragraph, and you still do not have enough information to answer this question, it would take a lot of time (atleast a minute, if not more) to find each keyword in the paragraph and read the sentence accompanying it. I seem to be missing something very obvious here.

I completely made up this question based on the example you have above (about solar ponds). I will post a real question from OG or GmatPrep soon too.

Thanks again,
Walletless
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Ok, here is a passage from OG:

--------------------------------------------------
Archaeology as a profession faces two major prob-
lems. First, it is the poorest of the poor. Only paltry
sums are available for excavating and even less is avail-
able for publishing the results and preserving the sites
(5) once excavated. Yet archaeologists deal with priceless
objects every day. Second, there is the problem of illegal
excavation, resulting in museum-quality pieces being
sold to the highest bidder.
I would like to make an outrageous suggestion that
(10) would at one stroke provide funds for archaeology and
reduce the amount of illegal digging. I would propose
that scientific archeological expeditions and govern-
mental authorities sell excavated artifacts on the open
market. Such sales would provide substantial funds for
(15) the excavation and preservation of archaeological sites
and the publication of results. At the same time, they
would break the illegal excavatorâ€™s grip on the market,
thereby decreasing the inducement to engage in illegal
activities.
(20) You might object that professionals excavate to
acquire knowledge, not money. Moreover, ancient arti-
facts are part of our global cultural heritage, which
should be available for all to appreciate, not sold to the
highest bidder. I agree. Sell nothing that has unique

(25) artistic merit or scientific value. But, you might reply,
everything that comes our of the ground has scientific
value. Here we part company. Theoretically, you may be
correct in claiming that every artifact has potential scien-
tific value. Practically, you are wrong.
(30) I refer to the thousands of pottery vessels and ancient
lamps that are essentially duplicates of one another. In
one small excavation in Cyprus, archaeologists recently
uncovered 2,000 virtually indistinguishable small jugs in
a single courtyard, Even precious royal seal impressions
(35) known as/melekh handles have been found in abun-
dance---more than 4,000 examples so far.
The basements of museums are simply not large
enough to store the artifacts that are likely to be discov-
ered in the future. There is not enough money even to
(40) catalogue the finds; as a result, they cannot be found
again and become as inaccessible as if they had never
been discovered. Indeed, with the help of a computer,
sold artifacts could be more accessible than are the
pieces stored in bulging museum basements. Prior to
(45) sale, each could be photographed and the list of the
purchasers could be maintained on the computer A
purchaser could even be required to agree to return the
piece if it should become needed for scientific purposes.
It would be unrealistic to suggest that illegal digging
(50) would stop if artifacts were sold on the open market.
But the demand for the clandestine product would be
substantially reduced. Who would want an unmarked
pot when another was available whose provenance was
known, and that was dated stratigraphically by the
professional archaeologist who excavated it?
------------------------------------------------------------

Question:
The author implies that all of the following statements about duplicate artifacts are true EXCEPT:
(A) A market for such artifacts already exists.
(B) Such artifacts seldom have scientific value.
(C) There is likely to be a continuing supply of such artifacts.
(D) Museums are well supplied with examples of such artifacts.
(E) Such artifacts frequently exceed in quality those already catalogued in museum collections.
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Hi Rhyme -

I am not sure if you missed my previous post. I am just bumping the thread, in case you did not notice.

Thanks,
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Yea, I did. I'm drunk at the moment, so I wont try to do it now cause I'll make a mess of it. I'll try to get to your post tomorrow. Sorry for the delay.
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rhyme wrote:
Yea, I did. I'm drunk at the moment, so I wont try to do it now cause I'll make a mess of it. I'll try to get to your post tomorrow. Sorry for the delay.

Hehe I COMPLETELY understand that :D Thanks for the update!
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