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# Mod Nightblade's Quick Guide to RC

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Hello all,

After the critically acclaimed post Mod Nightblade's Quick Guide to CR Proficiency, and the critically not-so-acclaimed movie "Mod Nightblade goes to Washington", comes the sequel: Mod Nightblade's Quick Guide to RC!

RC is fickle; it is truly difficult to learn even for native speakers. As someone who struggled at the beginning of his studies (and, to a certain extent, the extent of my LSAT studies), I have created a guide that will hopefully help most of you speed up your answer time and increase your accuracy. This guide is aimed to help you get to the core issue of RC and allow you to refine the skills necessary to do well on RC. This is going to be shorter than my CR guide because some of this is repetitive. In addition, there are truly only two things you need to focus on to improve on RC. It is simplistic, yet difficult to master because of its uniqueness. By the way, you should stick to high quality sources (OG, MGMAT, and LSAT come to mind). If you are looking for practice, the LSAT is tremendous for practice. The LSAT covers science, history, law, and art. These are the four they always cover and is absolutely challenging to get through.

Step 1: Realizing that you have a problem:
What is this?: Well, like most of the times that you need to learn something, you have to admit that you have a problem. And that's OK! We all have problems. Some of us have bigger issues that we need to admit to than others (different topic for a different day). But luckily for you, your only problem right now is that you can't grasp RC. And good for you! By reading this, you have taken the first step. In addition, by reading this, you are attempting to comprehend what I am trying to teach you, so you are already improving your RC skills! If you did not comprehend this, reread the above.

Step 2: Know Your Premises and Conclusions:
Why?: Similar to my CR guide, the core of RC is that you must be able to understand premises and conclusions. Before attempting anymore RCs, please read my CR guide above. Think about it for a minute: If you cannot understand what the argument is using to strengthen or weaken its main point, how can you summarize the entire passage? This is like trying to run before learning how to walk; going in thinking you can outsmart the test and outlast the GMAT writers is always a recipe for disaster.

Step 3: The Actual Method:

What This Is?: This is what you have been waiting for! You have read through the above, reading borderline nonsensical and obvious ideas just to get to here. So, was it worth it? Well, let's find out! The process, similar to certain ones elaborated upon on this forum, is about getting down to the basics. The RC passages are meant to challenge you and force you to focus on ideas and phrases that do no matter. You have to focus on a few key ideas: The author's point of view and the main point of the passage. Simple, right? You just have to focus on TWO ideas in order to get the majority of RCs correct. And why is this? Because the GMAT and the LSAT are predictable. We know what the writers are testing us on. We know what questions are usually going to be asked. And we know that if we can identify these ideas early on, we can eliminate time and increase efficiency. There is usually a main point question, there is usually an author's point question, and there are usually questions about specific paragraphs and inferences. Most of this can be derived from the information that you are going to identify. In order to do this, you should follow the steps below:

1. When you read a passage, I want you to read each paragraph individually. After you read each paragraph, summarize what you read and identify it. By identify, I mean: "is this background information?, does it support an argument made in the passage?, does it argue against a potion of the passage?, does it summarize everything?" When you do this, physically write out a summary on the paper provided to you. Write "P1: summary, author's point of view" and then move on to paragraph two and repeat this process until you are finished with the passage. Once done, write out "MP" for main point and "Author's Viewpoint" at the bottom of your section summaries and summarize the entire passage using your paragraph summaries. When summarizing the paragraphs, do not write out the entire paragraph; write out a low-resolution summary. This means a sentence about the paragraph and maybe a key point or name or phrase beyond this; just enough information to jog your memory and show you where you need to go to see a piece of information if you can't remember where it is. Doing this will allow you to summarize more effectively because you will know each piece of the puzzle and have a clearer understanding of how it fits into the argument. Just look at each paragraph and say "OK, how does this fit together?". In order to summarize, you must know your premises and conclusions; you need to know what supports what, so you can identify a conclusion quickly.

2.
Identifying the author's point. This can be a little more difficult, but is still easy enough to do. The author's point of view will be either expressed clearly when the passage says "I believe.................." or it’ll be hidden. It hides it by providing it as a counter-point to an argument made in the passage. For example, "Jack says X, but he really meant Y". The author's point is the final portion of this, and expresses the main idea. Terms such as "however, unless, therefore, although, and but" are all indicators of this (see my guide for conclusions and counter example indicators, as this is 100% what you will use to identify the author's view point").

Going Back: This may be the single-most important step in this process. This is why you annotate the items above, so go back and look at your notes! Do not look at the question for two minutes and guess; go back to your summaries and the passage and see how they overlap and where you need to look to get each answer if it isn't already written out in one of your summaries. This is the point of writing out the summaries; you can look back with accuracy! This will speed you up and allow you to be more accurate!

Further information: When the passage asks you to look back at lines X through Y, this is where the premises and conclusions come into the most. You are going to use this to help your answer the question in context, much like you would do with a CR question. Further, when going back for a question like this, read a few sentences before the start of the quote, and a few sentences after (I like to read the entire paragraph again).

Understanding Terms and Ideas You Don't Know: This is a big problem on the GMAT and the LSAT because students think they need to know every word. They don't. For example, down below, I review an RC passage about science. It discusses P and S waves, among other scientific ideas that I don't know. To get around this, just know the general idea. As I note below, I say there are two different waves and they help prove something. That is the purpose of the sentence: It wants to strengthen or weaken something. Neither we, nor anyone else at GMAC, care about the scientific ideas listed in the passage. We don't need to know the difference UNTIL we are asked to do so. Then reread the sentence and get to know the subject.

Step 4: Blind Review:
Why?: Similar to CR, you have to review after you have completed your passage. Please see my CR guide for a breakdown of what Blind Review is and what you can do with it. Try to summarize the points above and reevaluate each portion of the passage and question and see where you went wrong, if you did go wrong somewhere.

Summary:
2. Summarize each paragraph
3. Identify the Author's Viewpoints
4. Summarize the entire thing
5. Answer questions and look back at the passage

And that is it! There is no magical way to get better at RC other than to practice! Use this method and you will see improvement!

Example: https://gmatclub.com/forum/in-most-eart ... 00099.html

In most earthquakes the Earth’s crust cracks like porcelain. Stress builds up until a fracture forms at a depth of a few kilometers and the crust slips to relieve the stress. Some earthquakes, however, take place hundreds of kilometers down in the Earth’s mantle, where high pressure makes rock so ductile that it flows instead of cracking, even under stress severe enough to deform it like putty. How can there be earthquakes at such depths?

-- Background info; And argument talks about certain earthquakes and then sets up main question: the depths of earthquakes

That such deep events do occur has been accepted only since 1927, when the seismologist Kiyoo Wadati convincingly demonstrated their existence. Instead of comparing the arrival times of seismic waves at different locations, as earlier researchers had done. Wadati relied on a time difference between the arrival of primary (P) waves and the slower secondary (S) waves. Because P and S waves travel at different but fairly constant speeds, the interval between their arrivals increases in proportion to the distance from the earthquake focus, or rupture point.

-- Beginning to answer the author's question; And Wadati discovered new way measure certain waves (P & S) to measure speeds and distances

For most earthquakes, Wadati discovered, the interval was quite short near the epicenter, the point on the surface where shaking is strongest. For a few events, however, the delay was long even at the epicenter. Wadati saw a similar pattern when he analyzed data on the intensity of shaking. Most earthquakes had a small area of intense shaking, which weakened rapidly with increasing distance from the epicenter, but others were characterized by a lower peak intensity, felt over a broader area. Both the P-S intervals and the intensity patterns suggested two kinds of earthquakes: the more common shallow events, in which the focus lay just under the epicenter, and deep events, with a focus several hundred kilometers down.

-- Further answer of author's question; And Wadati saw pattern based on epicenter and the two distinct patterns

The question remained: how can such quakes occur, given that mantle rock at a depth of more than 50 kilometers is too ductile to store enough stress to fracture? Wadati’s work suggested that deep events occur in areas (now called Wadati-Benioff zones) where one crustal plate is forced under another and descends into the mantle. The descending rock is substantially cooler than the surrounding mantle and hence is less ductile and much more liable to fracture.

-- Answer to the author's question; And showing what Wadati showed in order to resolve the final question about how they physically occur

MP: Wadati helped show and explain how and why deep earthquakes occur.
Author's View Point: Author didn't really identify an opinion. He just explained a position. He doesn't necessarily agree or disagree with it. I did not note a single author's point above, indicating there is probably no preference and that he remained neutral. This is not to say that the author didn't say anything. He did; He explained something, as noted above.

Thanks nightblade354 for the amazing guide. Just 2 questions i wanted to ask:

1). Don't you think skimming the content and key words robs you in a big way when the question asks you to comment on a small line/statement in between the passage, especially now finding that tiny statement would take away a lot of time and we might end up with lesser time at our disposal.

2). What should be the ideal time taken to read a passage and time time taken for answering lets a say a single question based on it.
Current Student
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Youraisemeup, I think you missed the point of my guide a little bit. I wrote it not with the intent that you skim, or skip, but that actively read for key features of the passage so that when they come up you can answer them quickly. I am in no way advocating a skim or skip process, because, as you pointed out, you can miss key information. For the latter portion of your first question, I talk about how to approach these types of questions under the "further information" part of my guide.

As for your second question, it truly does vary. In the end, a good ballpark has been take no more than 2:00 per question, so if a passage has 5 questions you should aim for about 10 minutes or less (and this might be a little high).
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Was wondering if you can help with some LSAT material for RC practice?
I've been trying to find some online with explanations but to no avail. Also, cant really order a book to practice for 2 reasons- 1. Its for GMAT practice and I want to focus on solving these problems on a computer screen rather than on paper.
2. In midst of this pandemic, don't really want to risk exposure by ordering something online.
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dushyantkanal

Was wondering if you can help with some LSAT material for RC practice?
I've been trying to find some online with explanations but to no avail. Also, cant really order a book to practice for 2 reasons- 1. Its for GMAT practice and I want to focus on solving these problems on a computer screen rather than on paper.
2. In midst of this pandemic, don't really want to risk exposure by ordering something online.

dushyantkanal, see here for our LSAT RCs: https://gmatclub.com/forum/search.php?s ... ag_id=1321
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I am trying my level best to follow your strategy regarding RC. But below things are happening with me.

1/ Maximum times i can comprehand passages but not options from questions. Why this is happening?

2/ i am trying to practice like a real GMAT ;SO, i am trying to do verbal+quant simultaneously.

I.e... MORNING To Evening--- 1 HOUR (for WSJ & ECONOMIST)+2RC+SC concepts+ 9-10 CR+ 2RC

Late Night-QUANT.

that's my routine but i can't fulfill it as i can hardly solve all questions from sub-600 RC. As a result, i am getting demotivated.

Posted from my mobile device
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Great post. I am practicing LSAT passages from old LSAT official papers with Kaplan explanations for the corresponding papers and I take about 17 minutes to do an LSAT passage with 80-90% accuracy. For the GMAT passages, I take about 13-14 minutes to complete the passages.
Could you also mention how can someone increase speed on RC passages??
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freyamehta
Great post. I am practicing LSAT passages from old LSAT official papers with Kaplan explanations for the corresponding papers and I take about 17 minutes to do an LSAT passage with 80-90% accuracy. For the GMAT passages, I take about 13-14 minutes to complete the passages.
Could you also mention how can someone increase speed on RC passages??

By practicing the method, you should see some speed improvement. If you don't, then I recommend practicing some more CR questions. By focusing on concentrated arguments, you can see RC-argument structure more easily.
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