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# HOW TO DESTROY READING COMPREHENSION PASSAGES BY RHYME

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HOW TO DESTROY READING COMPREHENSION PASSAGES BY RHYME  [#permalink]

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05 Jun 2006, 19:14
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HOW TO DESTROY READING COMPREHENSION PASSAGES BY RHYME

There is a magic bullet for RC passages.

What? There's a magic bullet? Surely you lie rhyme!

I do not. Here it is: Don't read the passage.

Suprised? It works. The primary purpose of the RC passages are not to test your knowledge of grammar or theories or anything like that - they test your ability to RETAIN INFORMATION. Problem is, you've got a few minutes to read a passage on some of the most boring crap ever, and you somehow have to remember it? It can't be done.

So, how do you beat the RC down to it's knees and kick it in the groin?

You only read parts of it.

Lets try this with a long passage attached. (DONT READ IT YET!!)

Oh good god, thats atrociously long! So what do you do?

Step 1: Read the first paragraph and rewrite the key points. Rewrite in your own words.
Step 2: Read the first sentence of each subsequent paragraph. Rewrite in your own words.
Step 2a: SKIM the paragraph looking for key words - names, dates, key words. Write these down underneath the key sentence you wrote for each paragraph.
Step 3: Answer the questions.

NOW TRY THIS ON THE ATTACHED PASSAGE BEFORE YOU READ MY NOTES BELOW

What did your notes look like?

My notes might look something like this:

Black Death severe epidemic, ravaged 14th cent Europe. Intrigured scholars since Gasquet 1893 study. Gasquet contends epidemic intensified political / religious upheaval that ended middle ages. Later, Coulton agreed but oddly attributed a good thing to the BD - propersity as a result of less competition for food, shelter and crap.

1930s, Evgeny Kosminksy claimed epedemic as not a key player.
World War, Marxist, fedualism

Role of BD also challenged in other way.
Twigg, Sherwburry, trade ship, havoc, bubonic, nile, 1912

Although Twigg cites conditions needed for BD, he ignores too much and is faulty in his logic.
Speculation, fault, trade ship, rodents, animals, europe

..........................

Now I've boiled the entire thing down to a few sentences. Try re-reading the first sentences now if you are confused about the point of the passage. Whats the passage saying? DB was bad, lots of people have studied it, one guy argues it helped end the middle ages, some other guy said it helped foster prosperity, someone else argued against that, some other guys cahllenged it too, some guy named Twig is wrong. Ok, so the authors talking about the DB, and specifically some different theories about it. No problem.

What happens though when you get the question:

"Which of the following statements is most compatible with Kosminksy's approach to history as it is presented in the passage?"

Easy. Find Kosminsky in your notes. Oh, there he is, in the second paragraph. Ok, now go look back at the second paragraph. Find his name. Read ONE sentence around his name. If you don't see the answer, read TWO sentences. If it's not in either of those sentences, see if his name comes up somewhere else in the passage. The answers to the specific questions become REALLY REALLY EASY if you use this method. Why? The GMAT LOVES to test your ability to remember the impossible.

What are the answer choices for this question?

Quote:

(a) The middle ages were ended primarily by the religious and political upheaval in fourteen century europe
(b) The economic consequences of the BD included increased competition for food, shelter and work.
(c) European history cannot be studied in isolation from that of hte rest of hte world
(d) The number of deaths in the fourtheenth century has been exaggerated
(e) The significance of the black death is best explained within the context of evolving economic systems.

Do you see the GMAT's trap? They do this ALL the time with specific questions like this one. "OOOH OOH I REMEMBER READING ABOUT HOW THE MIDDLE AGES WERE ENDED BY RELIGIOUS UPHEAVAL... ILL PICK THAT." Or, maybe you don't remember that and you pick B becuase IT LOOKS FAMILIAR AND YOU REMEMBER IT. How many names came up in this passage? A half dozen? Evgency, Coulton, Gasquet, Twigg, Shrewsbury! The gmat is trying to trick you to do one of two things - either (A) pick based on what you remember or (B) worse, make you go back and re-read half the Oops passage.

You will do neither of these.

Now, go back and read only two sentences around the word Evgeny Kosminsky. Do you see the answer? There's only one possible answer that even COMES CLOSE. Lets say you have no FRICKING CLUE what the hell Kosminsky is trying to say, even if you HAVE NO Oops CLUE, there's only one option that has a very similar word to those two sentences. "economic" and "economically". How easy did that become?

Now what if they asked you a general question?

Quote:

The passage is primarily concerned with:

A) Demonstrating the relationship with the bubonic plague and the black death
B) Interpreting historical and scientific works on the black death
C) Employing the black death as a case study of disease transmission in medieval Europe
D) Presenting aspects of past and current debate on teh historical importance of the black death
e) Analyzing differences between capitalist and marxist interpretations of the historical signficance of the black death

No !@(*!(#@ problem. Remember how you broke down the passage in to a few sentences? What did it say? Did you write bubonic plague anywhere? No, not in any of your key sentences. Eliminate A. Is there any mention of case studies anywhere? No not really, so eliminate C. Did you write down anything about capitalists? No, eliminate E. Ok, so you are down to B and D. Look back at your sentences - is the author interpreting things for you or just telling you that there are different views? In other words, is he interpreting or presenting? He's presenting. Answer is D.

Did you get both these questions right? Hopefully you did. Did you notice how you never actually read the !@(#!(@ passage?. Cool eh?

I really hope that made some sense. In my mind, this is the fullproof way of DESTROYING the RC on the GMAT. You can obliterate it if you take the time to do this stuff. Oh and don't forget, its much faster to read twelve sentences than to read 70.

Someone pointed out a stickied verbal thread called "USeful verbal documents" or something like that. In there, it says this about RC:

Quote:

Try to read the whole text of the passage once, if possible. Many people think you should just skim the passage or read the first lines of every paragraph, and not to read the passage. We believe this is an error: if you misunderstand the main idea of the passage, you will certainly get at least some of the questions wrong. Give the passage one good read, taking no more than 3 minutes to read all of the text. Do not read the passage more than once â€“ that wastes too much time. If you have not understood it completely, try to answer the questions anyway.

A few comments. First, I'm not advocating you skim the passage. I'm advocating you read the entire first paragraph and the first sentence of each subsequent one, and then skim. What I find shocking in the advice above are two things:

1) "If you don't the main idea of the passage you will certainly get at least some of the questions wrong."

Not necessarily. This is only true if you get a bunch of general questions, but you are EQUALLY likely to get a bunch of specific questions - where your understanding of the whole passage is not important.

2) "Do not read the passage more than once â€“ that wastes too much time. If you have not understood it completely, try to answer the questions anyway."

Good Lord. Who came up with this strategy? Read the whole thing once, if you don't understand it, try anyway! You want to talk about a sure fire way of NOT getting things right? Think about it... the whole POINT of RC is to test your ability to retain information, the whole POINT of the questions is to try and force you to go back multiple times and re-read sections again and again. According to the strategy posted in the word doc in that thread, you should just read it once and then "do your best"? Sorry, but this has got to be some of the worst advice I could imagine.

Reading the whole passage once will do a few things:

(1) It will take more time than my method, AND you won't have any notes at the end!
(2) You will GUARANTEE confusion. There is a reason the GMAT picks dry scientific passages and not passages from some Tom Clancy novel. (Even though those suck too). It's because they are PACKED with information, often TERTIARY information - it's meant to be hard to digest this stuff. On top of it, they suggest 3 minutes to read AND understand the text?

The advice they give sounds familiar. It sounds like Kaplan. Read the whole thing! Then take notes! Then answer questions! HAY GUYZ, ITS 75 MINUTES YOU KNOW? It's crazy advice.

Theres one more thing I want to say about RC.

You know those questions about "The author infers....." or "It can be inferred...." ?

I'm going to try and find an example of this tonight if I can, but when they say that, they really DONT want you to infer much. They really just want you to find what the author said. I can't explain this very well without an example, but I will look for one. If anyone knows of one in the book somewhere, just PM me it or give me a page/probl # or post it here.
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HOW TO DESTROY READING COMPREHENSION PASSAGES [#permalink]

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06 Jun 2006, 16:05
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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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07 Jun 2006, 15:12
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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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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!!!

The problem with paraphrasing in your own words is that it takes time! I can't afford to paraphrase a 500 word passage in 50 words in less than 5-6 mins and it hardly leaves me any time for answering the questions.

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!

Please elaborate a bit on the approach for skimming as I can't seem to grasp the same.

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12 Jul 2006, 20:13
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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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Let me know how they work for you.

Are my explanations clear?

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Verbal RC Help [#permalink]

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09 Jul 2006, 18:18
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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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13 Jul 2006, 10:37
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cant wait for the day i am done with gmat and drunk

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Lexis, I'd be happy to but its been like two years since I took the GMAT, so I really don't remember the details.

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Re: HOW TO DESTROY READING COMPREHENSION PASSAGES BY RHYME [#permalink]

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Thank you and Just Summing up a strategy many have applied and successful

Strategy 1: GMAT Reading Comprehension is not a speed reading contest!

Give yourself 2.5 minutes for short passages, and 3.5 minutes for long passages. Every time you read a passage, set a timer for this time, so that you get used to it: you will find that these times let you read at a relaxed that allows for thorough comprehension, while still affording a minute per question.

Strategy 2: Map, don’t memorize!

Strategy 3: Take notes!

Strategy 4 : Read the first question first

Strategy 5: Read!

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I am also going through same issue! If I don't read passage properly can not answer many questions; Off course, reading passage properly and still making mistake is different beast all together! Though, I found that skimming and partially reading, in the end, may take more time, partially due to re-reading, and partially due to lack of confidence! Though, I believe both techniques has its plus and minuses.

Consider the time when you finish answering first question for around 400 word paragraph.

Style 1: Reading properly: Read paragraph 4-5 min, answer first question 1 min so 5-6 min for first question

Style 2: Reading first paragraph and first sentence successive paragraph.. 2-3 min answering first question 1-2 min.. So first question could be answered in 3 to 5 min..

Depending on paragraph, one of the techniques may work better than other, but when you are really rushing and willing to accept lower hit rate to speed up second techniques may be better as you can cut your losses by skipping question that you can not answer in a min or so.. So take a hit and move on!

So I have decided to use both techniques! Read properly and skim! And planning to practice and dynamically changing as per situation.

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08 Jun 2006, 13:44
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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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Re: Verbal: RC help! [#permalink]

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Expert's post
Great thread. I thought I'd bump this one too.
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Re: Verbal: RC help! [#permalink]

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03 Nov 2009, 08:20
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Hello!

I'm going to jump into this spirited thread for a second to see if I can help add some nuances to rhyme's point. He's right, in most ways: reading the entire passage, especially reading it as you would read any other important set of paragraphs in your life, is a waste of time on the GMAT. Do not read to memorize, do not read for serious retention, and do not get caught up in details, lists, lengthy justifications, scientific jargon, or any other complexities, on your passage read. Read the passage with a light, open mind, catching the basic idea of the points and noting the organization (e.g., "ok, this first paragraph explains why this guy's theory about market inefficiency has been overlooked, the second one says why it shouldn't be, the third gives an example of a useful place it could be applied.").

While we try to avoid the word "skim," rhyme is right in that one should NEVER sit down to read the passage as if he or she were sitting in their living room with a pipe and a smoking jacket. The passage is there for REFERENCE. The questions will force test-takers to go back and pick at certain details with a fine-toothed comb, or to draw inferences from single sentences or thoughts. Its not high school or college, where you read the textbook and are then tested on it without being able to go back. So the first read is merely meant for orientation and to get a decent grasp on the subject matter, the author's intentions, and the basic structure.

At Knewton, we recommend an exercise that is so simple that most test-takers don't usually even think about it. Try reading ANYTHING like a GMAT passage; read a news magazine, a short story, your favorite blog, an ad on the bus, the back of an oatmeal box, anything, with the same level of alert referential reading as you expect from yourself on the GMAT. Read it through ONCE, asking yourself as you go, "why is this being written? What is it about? How is it organized? What are the major takeaways?" If you're feeling really good, go back and ask yourself inference questions "The primary concern of this passage is to..." or "The 'investors' in line 6 are most likely to agree with which of the following statements?" or even "which of the following situations is most analogous to the situation outlined in the passage?" Note which details seem the most 'testable' to you. Note points of view: who believes what? What do they use to justify those beliefs?

Getting up to speed on RC is increasing your ability to take in information without READING in the traditional sense, which is what rhyme is after. Happy hunting!

p.s. here's a sample:

Quote:
1) The author of this post's primary purpose is to
a) Supplant rhyme's theory of 'skimming' reading comprehension passages with his own
b) Discuss useful GMAT test-taking strategies and offer relevant examples that are useful to test-takers
c) Encourage test-takers to supplement rhyme's reading comprehension suggestions with practical exercises
d) Raise doubts as to GMAT test-takers' ability to read entire RC passages and answer questions in the allotted time
e) Suggest a variety of practical strategies with which to create sample GMAT inference questions

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Re: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TECHNIQUE!!! [#permalink]

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14 May 2011, 06:37
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Vorskl wrote:
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED TECHNIQUE!!!
I must admit when 4-5 months ago I first read Rhyme's method, I thought it was just bullshit and I would never ever use it because I needed to read the passage thoroughly.

And... it took 2 live tests and months of preparation to become a true believe in this technique. IT DOES WORK AND WORKS GREATLY! Rhyme, thanks for enlightement!!!

Hey, just saw this... thanks!

Glad to see it helped.

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Re: Verbal: RC help! [#permalink]

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Dear Rhyme,

I partially agree with your idea. This is exactly what I did to get a 29 in TOEFL ibt reading. I would call it a wise note-taking which can help you 1) grasp the whole idea by reading most important sentences and 2) navigate to the exact location of the detail asked in detail questions. However, it doesn't guarantee that you'll never need to return to text to read a FULL paragraph. My opposite idea is rooted in your sentence "the main point of each paragraph lies in the 1st sentence", which I believe not to apply to all paragraphs. The concluding sentence may be at least as important as the topic sentence to which you are pointing. To my mind, it's better to skim the rest of the paragraph NOT just to hunt for numbers, specific names and so on, but to get any info expected to help you answer the questions. There's no doubt that the 1st sentence (and the last of course) must be paid better attention compared to the middle sentences, but it doesn't mean that the middle sentences are inferior enough to be abridged to some discrete, isolated key words. I believe investing on reading the passage patiently is not sth to worry about since it can help you regain the lost time by not needing to flash back to the text when started to answer the questions. To be more specific, I didn't get the meaning of ALGAE when reading your notes but immediately could guess the meaning while reading (not skimming the paragraph= not reading your notes= but reading the paragraph patiently).
Moreover, in this case, when you have both a mental map and notes at hand, you can start the question with higher self-confidence compared to when you jump to the questions with just some notes and a shattered understanding of the text (as you yourself have admitted in your post and my experience with ALGAE)

One point I wish to emphasize here is the importance of improving one skill in your reading, everybody!
I would call it your mind's ability to control your eyes speed, or EMASA (Eye movement automatic speed adaptation), my own acronym . I DO believe that after reading enough of texts and getting familiar with question types, your eyes can be intelligently adjusting their own speed to reach a balance between time saving and good comprehension. That is, your reading style can be a combination of reading attentively and skimming at the same time, alternatively based on what you are reading at the moment. E.i. your eyes unconsciously know that they should speed down when reading through,say, definitions and they also know that they should speed up while reading about, say, an example of a phenomenon you just digested in the last sentence.

I haven't yet started GMAT RC. I will later update when I have gone through it. But this is what I have come to understand about RC after several years of voraciously reading English literature and other stuff (hold my BA in English literature). I don't consider a big difference between GMAT RC and other RCs expect the time constraint, which as I said can be alleviated by keeping in mind that spending on reading is compensated by a high ROI in answering the questions without referring to the text.

Hope it helps!
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Re: Verbal: RC help! [#permalink]

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23 Jul 2011, 13:21
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the best strategy is do 10 RC daily in the last 30 days of exam...so that you keep momentum before exam in RC

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HOW TO DESTROY READING COMPREHENSION PASSAGES BY RHYME [#permalink]

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RC IS SOMETHING THAT YOU HAVE IN YOU OR YOU DON'T.
READ ONCE CAREFULLY AND BE A SCHOLAR..
DONT BE USIAN BOLT. YOU WONT BE ABLE TO ANSWER A SINGLE QUESTION IF YOU BELIEVE IN SPEED READING AND CURSORY GLANCES.
PAUSE FOR A FEW SECONDS IF FANCY UNKNOW WORD COMES. FIGURE OUT A GUESSTIMATE MEANING BASED ON CONTEXT.
KEEP READING . TAKE NOTES PARAGRAPH WISE AND THE ANSWER. YOU WILL GET IT RIGHT (GIVEN YOU KNOW WHAT RC IS ALL ABOUT).
IT ALL ABOUT MAPPING. WHAT INFO IS DISTRIBUTED IN WHAT PASSAGE.

rhyme wrote:
HOW TO DESTROY READING COMPREHENSION PASSAGES BY RHYME

There is a magic bullet for RC passages.

What? There's a magic bullet? Surely you lie rhyme!

I do not. Here it is: Don't read the passage.

Suprised? It works. The primary purpose of the RC passages are not to test your knowledge of grammar or theories or anything like that - they test your ability to RETAIN INFORMATION. Problem is, you've got a few minutes to read a passage on some of the most boring crap ever, and you somehow have to remember it? It can't be done.

So, how do you beat the RC down to it's knees and kick it in the groin?

You only read parts of it.

Lets try this with a long passage attached. (DONT READ IT YET!!)

Oh good god, thats atrociously long! So what do you do?

Step 1: Read the first paragraph and rewrite the key points. Rewrite in your own words.
Step 2: Read the first sentence of each subsequent paragraph. Rewrite in your own words.
Step 2a: SKIM the paragraph looking for key words - names, dates, key words. Write these down underneath the key sentence you wrote for each paragraph.
Step 3: Answer the questions.

NOW TRY THIS ON THE ATTACHED PASSAGE BEFORE YOU READ MY NOTES BELOW

What did your notes look like?

My notes might look something like this:

Black Death severe epidemic, ravaged 14th cent Europe. Intrigured scholars since Gasquet 1893 study. Gasquet contends epidemic intensified political / religious upheaval that ended middle ages. Later, Coulton agreed but oddly attributed a good thing to the BD - propersity as a result of less competition for food, shelter and crap.

1930s, Evgeny Kosminksy claimed epedemic as not a key player.
World War, Marxist, fedualism

Role of BD also challenged in other way.
Twigg, Sherwburry, trade ship, havoc, bubonic, nile, 1912

Although Twigg cites conditions needed for BD, he ignores too much and is faulty in his logic.
Speculation, fault, trade ship, rodents, animals, europe

..........................

Now I've boiled the entire thing down to a few sentences. Try re-reading the first sentences now if you are confused about the point of the passage. Whats the passage saying? DB was bad, lots of people have studied it, one guy argues it helped end the middle ages, some other guy said it helped foster prosperity, someone else argued against that, some other guys cahllenged it too, some guy named Twig is wrong. Ok, so the authors talking about the DB, and specifically some different theories about it. No problem.

What happens though when you get the question:

"Which of the following statements is most compatible with Kosminksy's approach to history as it is presented in the passage?"

Easy. Find Kosminsky in your notes. Oh, there he is, in the second paragraph. Ok, now go look back at the second paragraph. Find his name. Read ONE sentence around his name. If you don't see the answer, read TWO sentences. If it's not in either of those sentences, see if his name comes up somewhere else in the passage. The answers to the specific questions become REALLY REALLY EASY if you use this method. Why? The GMAT LOVES to test your ability to remember the impossible.

What are the answer choices for this question?

Quote:

(a) The middle ages were ended primarily by the religious and political upheaval in fourteen century europe
(b) The economic consequences of the BD included increased competition for food, shelter and work.
(c) European history cannot be studied in isolation from that of hte rest of hte world
(d) The number of deaths in the fourtheenth century has been exaggerated
(e) The significance of the black death is best explained within the context of evolving economic systems.

Do you see the GMAT's trap? They do this ALL the time with specific questions like this one. "OOOH OOH I REMEMBER READING ABOUT HOW THE MIDDLE AGES WERE ENDED BY RELIGIOUS UPHEAVAL... ILL PICK THAT." Or, maybe you don't remember that and you pick B becuase IT LOOKS FAMILIAR AND YOU REMEMBER IT. How many names came up in this passage? A half dozen? Evgency, Coulton, Gasquet, Twigg, Shrewsbury! The gmat is trying to trick you to do one of two things - either (A) pick based on what you remember or (B) worse, make you go back and re-read half the Oops passage.

You will do neither of these.

Now, go back and read only two sentences around the word Evgeny Kosminsky. Do you see the answer? There's only one possible answer that even COMES CLOSE. Lets say you have no FRICKING CLUE what the hell Kosminsky is trying to say, even if you HAVE NO Oops CLUE, there's only one option that has a very similar word to those two sentences. "economic" and "economically". How easy did that become?

Now what if they asked you a general question?

Quote:

The passage is primarily concerned with:

A) Demonstrating the relationship with the bubonic plague and the black death
B) Interpreting historical and scientific works on the black death
C) Employing the black death as a case study of disease transmission in medieval Europe
D) Presenting aspects of past and current debate on teh historical importance of the black death
e) Analyzing differences between capitalist and marxist interpretations of the historical signficance of the black death

No !@(*!(#@ problem. Remember how you broke down the passage in to a few sentences? What did it say? Did you write bubonic plague anywhere? No, not in any of your key sentences. Eliminate A. Is there any mention of case studies anywhere? No not really, so eliminate C. Did you write down anything about capitalists? No, eliminate E. Ok, so you are down to B and D. Look back at your sentences - is the author interpreting things for you or just telling you that there are different views? In other words, is he interpreting or presenting? He's presenting. Answer is D.

Did you get both these questions right? Hopefully you did. Did you notice how you never actually read the !@(#!(@ passage?. Cool eh?

I really hope that made some sense. In my mind, this is the fullproof way of DESTROYING the RC on the GMAT. You can obliterate it if you take the time to do this stuff. Oh and don't forget, its much faster to read twelve sentences than to read 70.

Someone pointed out a stickied verbal thread called "USeful verbal documents" or something like that. In there, it says this about RC:

Quote:

Try to read the whole text of the passage once, if possible. Many people think you should just skim the passage or read the first lines of every paragraph, and not to read the passage. We believe this is an error: if you misunderstand the main idea of the passage, you will certainly get at least some of the questions wrong. Give the passage one good read, taking no more than 3 minutes to read all of the text. Do not read the passage more than once â€“ that wastes too much time. If you have not understood it completely, try to answer the questions anyway.

A few comments. First, I'm not advocating you skim the passage. I'm advocating you read the entire first paragraph and the first sentence of each subsequent one, and then skim. What I find shocking in the advice above are two things:

1) "If you don't the main idea of the passage you will certainly get at least some of the questions wrong."

Not necessarily. This is only true if you get a bunch of general questions, but you are EQUALLY likely to get a bunch of specific questions - where your understanding of the whole passage is not important.

2) "Do not read the passage more than once â€“ that wastes too much time. If you have not understood it completely, try to answer the questions anyway."

Good Lord. Who came up with this strategy? Read the whole thing once, if you don't understand it, try anyway! You want to talk about a sure fire way of NOT getting things right? Think about it... the whole POINT of RC is to test your ability to retain information, the whole POINT of the questions is to try and force you to go back multiple times and re-read sections again and again. According to the strategy posted in the word doc in that thread, you should just read it once and then "do your best"? Sorry, but this has got to be some of the worst advice I could imagine.

Reading the whole passage once will do a few things:

(1) It will take more time than my method, AND you won't have any notes at the end!
(2) You will GUARANTEE confusion. There is a reason the GMAT picks dry scientific passages and not passages from some Tom Clancy novel. (Even though those suck too). It's because they are PACKED with information, often TERTIARY information - it's meant to be hard to digest this stuff. On top of it, they suggest 3 minutes to read AND understand the text?

The advice they give sounds familiar. It sounds like Kaplan. Read the whole thing! Then take notes! Then answer questions! HAY GUYZ, ITS 75 MINUTES YOU KNOW? It's crazy advice.

Theres one more thing I want to say about RC.

You know those questions about "The author infers....." or "It can be inferred...." ?

I'm going to try and find an example of this tonight if I can, but when they say that, they really DONT want you to infer much. They really just want you to find what the author said. I can't explain this very well without an example, but I will look for one. If anyone knows of one in the book somewhere, just PM me it or give me a page/probl # or post it here.

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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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