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How to solve main idea questions without full understanding of RC

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How to solve main idea questions without full understanding of RC [#permalink]

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New post 13 Aug 2015, 15:43
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Hi everyone.

I saw this method in "Thurdays with Ron" (January 6, 2011: ) and I really like it because of it simplicity and elegancy (usual qualities of Ron explanations).

The main idea of this technic is to does not pay attention on the 90% of passage and try to pay attention only on the flow of the passage.
Per my opinion this technic is not apllicable to all passages but it is ideal for some of them and especially to passages that are really difficult for understanding and have a lot of unusual words.

Here is the one passage from Economist and I will try to show how this technic works in practice.
We should scan the passage, omit all unknown words and pay attention on key parts (I mark them by bold font):

The models of neoclassical economics are heavily influenced by rational choice theory. People, they argue, are rational actors seeking to maximize their income-constrained utility by applying all available production factors. Therefore, according to the premises of neoclassical economics, a peasant faced with a new technology, land-holding pattern or production method which promises a possibility for higher profits would choose to employ it. In this context, the behavior of Russian 19th century peasants and their refusal to endorse European methods and technologies puts neoclassical theory in a precarious position.

And, indeed, the classical explanation for the behavior of Russian peasants goes beyond the premises of neoclassical economics and even economical science itself. Early twentieth century Russian agrarian economist Alexander Chayanov presented two explanations for the economically irrational behavior of Russian peasants. One explanation, reminiscent of the theory of moral economy, posits that Russian peasants abhorred profit-maximizing behavior and therefore socially ostracized those peasants who attempted to run their households according to European agricultural principles. His second, and theoretically more important insight, is the so-called consumption-labor-balance principle, according to which Russian peasants did not seek to maximize economic utility but satisfy basic needs and maximize their leisure time. Therefore, the amount of work they invested was not determined by the rate of return on their investment but by the ratio of workers to consumers in any given household. Once they supplied the needs of all the consumers in the household, Russian peasants refused to work as they had few material needs, believed that any extra income would be taxed by the government or taken by their lords and valued leisure more than material objects.

Chayanov’s theories reigned supreme until the arrival of 1970s agrarian historians who put economic considerations back into Russian peasant studies. They convincingly argued that decisions made by Russian peasants were driven by economic needs peculiar to their position, albeit not in ways expected by the predictions of neoclassical theory. Thus, strip agriculture was economically beneficial because enclosed farmsteads were exposed to natural vagaries, metal appliances poorly fitted Russian soil conditions, machines were too expensive for the Russian household and the knowledge level and resources of the Russian peasant were insufficient for the use of fertilizer. The risk of loss of precious time or harvest outweighed the possible benefits of new technologies. Thus, while falsifying the universalistic assumptions of neoclassical economics, agrarian historians showed that human beings are indeed utility motivated creatures.

So, what we have finally:

Neoclassical model argue that rational people are seeking to maximize income.
Therefore [here is some facts to strength this position].
But Russian peasants did not rational [word 'refusal' says about this]

Two explanation of irrational behavior of Russian peasants from Alex

Alex opinion was considered as right but then agrarian historians make opposite opinion which backs to economic explanations.
Passage agree with their opinion [They (agrarian) convincly argued - this is passage words]


So, we have theory from Neoclassical model. Russian peasants refuse this theory by this behavior. Alex made his explanations of this behavior. Agrarian made another explanations. Passage agree with the agrarians.

Let's look on the answers:

A) explaining the conceptual framework behind neoclassical economics and using Russian peasants' behavior in the 19th century to prove that economic considerations are not the only motivating power behind human behavior
Passage proves nothing; it just pass some opinions and agree with agrarian.

B) exploring two explanations for the divergence of Russian peasants' behavior in the 19th century [alex and agrarian opinions – second and third paragraph] from neoclassical economic theory and indicating his or her agreement with one of those explanations [end of the third paragraph]
This is exactly that we wrote in our short version.

C) comparing the explanations of Chayanov and 1970s agrarian historians for Russian peasants' behavior in the 19th century and showing how both these explanations challenge the assumptions of mainstream economical science
agrarian were agree with economical science, only Alex opposite economies’ opinion

D) questioning the legitimacy of neoclassical economic theory while upholding the assumptions of general economics by arguing for the theories set by agrarian historians in the 1970s of Russian peasant behavior in the 19th century
Passage do not question anything

E) detailing neoclassical economic theory and presenting two possible explanations that have been given for Russian peasant behavior in the 19th century that contradicts its assumptions
This answer miss point that passage agree with agrarian. This is quite big part (logically not by by volume of text) to miss it


So with such technic we can solve main idea question even if completely didn't understand topic of the passage.
And this is at least one correct question per completely incomprehensible passage ;)
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How to solve main idea questions without full understanding of RC.
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How to solve main idea questions without full understanding of RC [#permalink]

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New post 13 Aug 2015, 15:56
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Here is another passage in which IMO this technic is perfectly worked:

In the 1980's, astronomer Bohdan Paczynski proposed a way of determining whether the enormous dark halo constituting the outermost part of the Milky Way galaxy is composed of MACHO's (massive compact halo objects), which are astronomical objects too dim to be visible. Paczynski reasoned that if MACHO's make up this halo, a MACHO would occasionally drift in front of a star in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a bright galaxy near the Milky Way. The gravity of a MACHO that had so drifted, astronomers agree, would cause the star's light rays, which would otherwise diverge, to bend together so that, as observed from Earth, the star would temporarily appear to brighten, a process known as microlensing. Because many individual stars are of intrinsically variable brightness, some astronomers have contended that the brightening of intrinsically variable stars can be mistaken for microlensing. However, whereas the different colors of light emitted by an intrinsically variable star are affected differently when the star brightens, all of a star's colors are equally affected by microlensing. Thus, if a MACHO magnifies a star's red light tenfold, it will do the same to the star's blue light and yellow light. Moreover, it is highly unlikely that a star in the Large Magellanic Cloud will undergo microlensing more than once, because the chance that a second MACHO would pass in front of exactly the same star is minuscule.


So, what we have finally:

1) Bohdan Paczynski proposed a way of determining .... [some new theory]
2) Paczynski reasoned that .... [support of theory]
3) Because ... some astronomers have contended that .... [because of something this theory was argue by others astronomers]
4) However .... [author of passage doesn't agree with astronomers]
5) Thus .... [theory is good because of previous word "however"]
6) Moreover .... [and here is one more reason why theory is good]

So we see that first two parts is about new theory, then some dispute from other astronomers and last half of passage support theory.

The passage is primarily concerned with:

A) outlining reasons why a particular theory is no longer credited by some astronomers
this answer miss parts 4-6. Incorrect

B) presenting data collected by a researcher in response to some astronomers' criticism of a particular line of reasoning
theory was created before critisms. Incorrect

C) explaining why a researcher proposed a particular theory and illustrating how influential that theory has been
We have only fact of theory and not reasons why it was created. Incorrect

D) showing how a researcher's theory has been used to settle a dispute between the researcher and some astronomers
theory procreate a critism so it can't be used for settling of this dispute. Incorrect

E) describing a line of reasoning put forth by a researcher [1-2 parts] and addressing a contention concerning that line of reasoning [3-6 parts]
Correct
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How to solve main idea questions without full understanding of RC.
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Re: How to solve main idea questions without full understanding of RC [#permalink]

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New post 15 Aug 2015, 11:06
awesome explanation ! thank you :)
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Re: How to solve main idea questions without full understanding of RC [#permalink]

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New post 15 Aug 2015, 11:20
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Re: How to solve main idea questions without full understanding of RC [#permalink]

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New post 31 Aug 2015, 09:01
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Cool stuff 8-) .
I would like to know whether you used the same technique to write the steps(1-6) in your exam.
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Re: How to solve main idea questions without full understanding of RC [#permalink]

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New post 31 Aug 2015, 13:29
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gocoder wrote:
Cool stuff 8-) .
I would like to know whether you used the same technique to write the steps(1-6) in your exam.


Hello gocoder.

I never use this technique even in CATs. For me work only strategy of bb:

"I prefer this strategy (it helped me to get from inconsistent 50% correct RC to about 80-90% and eventually in 96th percentile in verbal). It is outlined in various amount of details in Kaplan, PowerScore, and MGMAT books.

The idea is fairly straightforward - while critically reading the passage, you build a mental map, stopping to paraphrase after each paragraph and at the end to quickly summarize the passage. The strategy also involves critically reading - meaning constantly asking why a certain sentence/phrase is there, how they add to the development, and change the tone. It is important to master each of these elements before actually trying to put the entire strategy together. At first it does feel awkward - almost like wearing an armor suite that is clunky and seems useless - useless until GMAT shoots an arrow at you that is. Some of my challenges were questions such as - why do I need to stop (waste valuable time) and paraphrase the passage? (that answer comes in gradually). Also, how to actually stay interested and keep my thoughts from wandering around as I read? And finally - how to read critically? It took a while to learn to pick every word and notice subtle differences in tone (words such as however, but, still, and examples help reveal author's true intention). I trusted the strategy and strangely enough it worked. I could see improvement within just a week. My performance became a lot more consistent and the strategy was becoming a lot more natural. I was also starting to catch little traps planted in the text and noticing tone a lot more than before."

I apply this strategy but not completely. I do not paraphrase each paragraph, but if I have some problem with understanding of sentence I never go further: I reread it, I reread previous and next sentences. When I understand current sentence I go further. It quite scary technique because sometimes I spend like 5-6 minutes per one passage but after this I can very quickly answer to questions and sometimes even without checking answer with passage. If I did not understand passage then I just try to guess.

I really like this approach but I read a lot and have good speed of reading so this is not the strategy that you can develop during some months.
In contrast with latter Ron's strategy can be easily developed during some weeks so it is worth to pay attention on it if you do not like reading.
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Re: How to solve main idea questions without full understanding of RC [#permalink]

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New post 11 Dec 2015, 15:32
Harley1980 wrote:
gocoder wrote:
Cool stuff 8-) .
Some of my challenges were questions such as - why do I need to stop (waste valuable time) and paraphrase the passage? (that answer comes in gradually). Also, how to actually stay interested and keep my thoughts from wandering around as I read? And finally - how to read critically? It took a while to learn to pick every word and notice subtle differences in tone (words such as however, but, still, and examples help reveal author's true intention).



Could you detail this abit more....
I am stuggling to keep my interest up...
i many a times.. wander and realised i missed time :(

so, really appreciate if you could brief a lil bit more on
1. how to keep yourself interested
2.how to ready critically (subtle difference..)
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How to solve main idea questions without full understanding of RC [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jul 2016, 12:17
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snowygari wrote:
Harley1980 wrote:
gocoder wrote:
Cool stuff 8-) .
Some of my challenges were questions such as - why do I need to stop (waste valuable time) and paraphrase the passage? (that answer comes in gradually). Also, how to actually stay interested and keep my thoughts from wandering around as I read? And finally - how to read critically? It took a while to learn to pick every word and notice subtle differences in tone (words such as however, but, still, and examples help reveal author's true intention).



Could you detail this abit more....
I am stuggling to keep my interest up...
i many a times.. wander and realised i missed time :(

so, really appreciate if you could brief a lil bit more on
1. how to keep yourself interested
2.how to ready critically (subtle difference..)


Hello snowygari

I was absent a lot but maybe you still need it.

1. how to keep yourself interested
Try to predict what will be next - write it
Try to make a simple short phrase that descript the paragraph - write it.

These two technics will keep your mind up.

At first, it takes too much time. But this is ok. When you have read about 50-70 RCs you will make it automatically even without notes.
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How to solve main idea questions without full understanding of RC.
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Re: How to solve main idea questions without full understanding of RC [#permalink]

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New post 30 Aug 2016, 03:25
Hi Harley

Can you help me decode the following passage

Historians who study European women of the Renaissance try to measure “independence,” “options,” and other indicators of the degree to which the expression of women’s individuality was either permitted or suppressed. Influenced by Western individualism, these historians define a peculiar form of personhood: an innately bounded unit, autonomous and standing apart from both nature and society. An anthropologist, however, would contend that a person can be conceived in ways other than as an “individual.” In many societies a person’s identity is not intrinsically unique and self-contained but instead is defined within a complex web of social relationships.

In her study of the fifteenth-century Florentine widow Alessandra Strozzi, a historian who specializes in European women of the Renaissance attributes individual intention and authorship of actions to her subject. This historian assumes that Alessandra had goals and interests different from those of her sons, yet much of the historian’s own research reveals that Alessandra acted primarily as a champion of her sons’ interests, taking their goals as her own. Thus Alessandra conforms more closely to the anthropologist’s notion that personal motivation is embedded in a social context. Indeed, one could argue that Alessandra did not distinguish her personhood from that of her sons. In Renaissance Europe the boundaries of the conceptual self were not always firm and closed and did not necessarily coincide with the boundaries of the bodily self.
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Re: How to solve main idea questions without full understanding of RC [#permalink]

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New post 14 Sep 2016, 22:19
Very helpful!

Thanks!
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Re: How to solve main idea questions without full understanding of RC [#permalink]

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New post 11 Jan 2018, 03:51
I tried but the method does not work for me. I still need some details to visualize the passage. I only read the role of each sentence.
I keep the information from each sentence in the same way I go through inference questions in CR.
Re: How to solve main idea questions without full understanding of RC   [#permalink] 11 Jan 2018, 03:51
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