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# Need input from Reading Comprehension Wizards

Author Message
VP
Joined: 05 Jul 2008
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27 Oct 2008, 19:57
Fellows,

I understand that it is NOT easy to help others with RC. How ever, I am wondering if any of you RC wizards would like to share your approaches and how you spot wrong answers for different type of Questions.

Main idea ( MGMAT talks about a point system. MGMAT recommends to assign 2 points to the stuff that shows up in first paragraph and I have been burned by that on some occasions)

Inference Questions

Primary Purpose of the passage

Any other Question types and their strategies
If you have any questions
New!
Senior Manager
Joined: 20 Feb 2008
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Location: Bangalore, India
Schools: R1:Cornell, Yale, NYU. R2: Haas, MIT, Ross
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27 Oct 2008, 20:37
2
KUDOS
icandy wrote:
Fellows,

I understand that it is NOT easy to help others with RC. How ever, I am wondering if any of you RC wizards would like to share your approaches and how you spot wrong answers for different type of Questions.

Main idea ( MGMAT talks about a point system. MGMAT recommends to assign 2 points to the stuff that shows up in first paragraph and I have been burned by that on some occasions)

Inference Questions

Primary Purpose of the passage

Any other Question types and their strategies

Hi,
By no means am I an RC Wizard, but from my own experience(through practice) I have concluded the following:

1. Main idea: When they ask you for the main idea, your answer must point out the general point that the author is trying to make. This will most likely include an answer choice that encompasses the point or the purpose of writing the passage. Answers could include, pointing out new advances in research, drawing a historical comparison or presenting a new idea.

2. Inference questions: These are most likely answer choices that would be more conclusive in nature. So your passage may contain certain facts or you will likely get an idea about how the author feels about certain issues, does the author agree with these issues, does the author favour an idea, and you should use the facts of the passage or reach this answer. There are clues that you could look for in the passage.

3. The primary purpose: These answers tend to be more specific in nature. You will get answer choices that are more general, however, pick the answers that are more specific or paraphrase certain facts that have been mentioned in the passage. Therefore you use the passage to draw an answer and this requires active reading.

4. Other question types tend to be in the form: In relation to line (21-23), the authors purpose in line (43-44) is......
These require you to go back to the passage and reread these two sections and choose the right answer, I would label these as more specific in nature, or the author mentions all of the following EXCEPT.....Again you would need to go back to the passage and find these FACTS or STATEMENTS.

The way I like to attack RC questions is seperate the passage into paragraphs and just map/draw what each paragraph is trying to convey. Example if a paragraph begins with However... then the author is adding a new idea or presenting an opposing point, or perhaps a point that may weaken the previous paragraph. Sometimes paragraphs are divided into FOR/AGAINST an idea that has been introduced in the first paragraph, or each paragraph may be divided into examples of a phenomenon an author has described int he beginning.

While reading the paragraph I would try to read actively and try to get the structure of the paragraph in relation to the entire passage and also write down main examples, or facts that stand out in the paragraph. So essentially you have a skeleton. I know MGMAT guides ask you to make a skeleton, however I feel that some passages are easier and you would spend less time just reading the passage and getting an idea of what the author is trying tot ell you. You will end up reading certain areas in the passage again depending on the question type.

Well this is just from my experience and what I implement. However you may develop an approach to RC questions with practice and things just become second nature to you.
So good luck and keep practicing.
Cheers.
VP
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27 Oct 2008, 21:45
Truly a good post ventivish ! +1!

Disclaimer : I am not an expert or whiz at RC. Take a pinch of salt while you read this post.

RC is just a bigger CR.

From my experience ... RC requires good understanding of the material presented. If you understand what is written, you have won half the battle. I spend a good amount of time reading the passage (~3-5 mins depending on length and density of the passage).

Apply your CR skills. They are crucial for RC.

1) Read closely. Concentration is important.
2) Understand the premises/conclusion of the passage.
4) The wrong answer choices are formulated just as they are for CR. Some are Out of scope, some are half right-half wrong, some are enticingly close to the language (use the words used in the passage but they state things not in passage) etc.

One thing that has immensely helped me was suggested by someone on this forum, try to take (or at least fake) interest in the information presented. Takes some time to develop, but this skill helps

The RC passages can be VERY BROADLY classified into three types
2) Humanities related (social science, art, history etc.).
3) Science/Environment related.

The question types can be broadly classified into two types
1) Global
2) Partial

1) Global questions :

a) Primary Purpose of the passage
b) Main Idea
c) Structure
d) Conclusion
e) Inference (This may be global or partial)
f) Most/Least supportive (This may be global or partial)

2) Partial questions :

a) Bolded portion (I was informed GMAT has stopped using line 23-25, line 12 kind of questions)
b) Particular detail/process from a paragraph.
c) Inference
d) Most/Least supportive.

Global questions require us to know the general outline of the passage.
Partial questions require us to go through particular (nit-picky) details presented.

Sometimes the passage is just too dense, try to get as much as you can from the passage (just as we do with dense CRs)

I guess this is getting a bit long and boring. I'll stop. I hope this helps at least a bit
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28 Oct 2008, 01:39
From what I have observed :

2 types of questions -

(1) General
(2) Specific

(1)
- Primary Purpose of the passage
- Central Theme of the passage
- What is the purpose of xxx (para number) eg. what is the purpose of 2nd para to the entire passage?
- Main Idea
- Tone of the Author
- Structure/Organization of the passage

For Such questions you'll have to read the entire passage.

(2)
Any question apart from (1) falls under this category. Its specific - you dont have to read the entire passage, you have to hunt for keyword in the passage and match it with the Question Stem (which will also have the keyword).

P.S > Not a wizard by any means Struggling with RC though.

-Pawan
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28 Oct 2008, 03:21
I would reccomend Jeff Sackmann's verbal bible to anyone who is struggling with the subtelities of RC . Its worth a read , may be more !
VP
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28 Oct 2008, 08:11
Thanks guys!
Manager
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29 Oct 2008, 10:32
Ventivish gives good advice. I won't describe the whole RC method here -- it IS our business and our product, after all -- but there are a couple of points I'd like to make.

First, the "points system" mentioned in the first post appears to be an attempt to provide a semi-mechanical algorithm for finding the "right answer" without having to think too hard. This is a waste of time: The whole point of RC, especially the "global" questions such as purpose and main idea, is that you have to understand the fundamental, central content of what you are looking at. Your first task is to see what the author's REAL main point and underlying purpose are. That means thinking. Looking at keywords and first sentences of paragraphs can help, but they are only clues. Actual understanding is what counts.

Second, "close reading" as you would do in CR is not a good idea on your FIRST reading of the passage. The time when you do careful and close reading is when a particular question asks for a detail or depends on a detail. At that point, you closely read the detail and its context, not the whole passage.
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Kaplan Canada LSAT/GMAT/GRE teacher and tutor

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29 Oct 2008, 17:28
I am one of those people who have to read the passage closely the first time. It may appear to take more time at first, but I find the questions way easier when I thoroughly understand the passage before hand. I then double check my answers with a quick skim through, usually knowing exactly where to find the answer. Taking notes is a waste of time for me as well.

I tried the princeton review method, kaplan method and powerscore method but I do better with my own method.

btw, that read the question first method on CR doesnt work for me either. I think the key is just thoroughly understanding and paraphrasing in your mind.
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29 Oct 2008, 17:35
Check my recent post about RC in case u missed it!

http://gmatclub.com/forum/1-t72189
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Re: Need input from Reading Comprehension Wizards   [#permalink] 29 Oct 2008, 17:35
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