LSAT Reading Comprehension Practice is required to do well on the LSAT Test. Watch the video below and get an LSAT Tutor.
LSAT Reading Comprehension Practice [Video Transcript]
Okay. Welcome, everyone. Thanks for joining. Thanks for taking time out of your Saturday night. I understand there is a Democratic debate going on. I am not watching that, and obviously you all aren’t either. So I’m going to take you through a slide deck. I’m going to teach you my notation strategy.
Please feel free to ask questions. You can either do that, as many of you are already doing using the questions box in your little dashboard there, in your control panel. You can also raise your hand. Feel free. If you have a question that would be better asked verbally, please take advantage of that feature.
So before we begin, let me make sure that we don’t have any pressing questions. I’m seeing a lot of people asking about timing. Here’s the question, “Should I be using different color pens or pencils for this webinar?” No. I personally don’t. I don’t really advocate using a highlighter just because like why switch between using a highlighter and a pencil? You’re just going to add some seconds to your time. But yeah, I’m seeing a lot of questions about time, so we will be definitely be addressing that.
Okay, let me just make sure no other…so, yeah, I can see your questions, folks, but other people cannot see your questions. I’m the only one, so you’re safely anonymous here, whether you want to be or not.
So let’s get started. Okay. It’s Hammer Time. All of the content in this, plenty of it I’ve developed. All of the actual LSAT content comes from the June 2007 test, which is available for free. If you don’t have it, you can get from LSAC, or you can get it from 7Sage. I recommend getting the 7Sage one because it has the logic games. It’s very nicely formatted on two pages as reflects the state of the most recent tests.
So welcome. I’m Nicole Hopkins. I am the owner and sole proprietor of I Love LSAT, which is I offer in Dallas, Fort Worth and virtual LSAT tutoring. My specialty is reading comp. I also tutor LR. I don’t tutor logic games, except a little bit in person. But I’m available for any kind of that high-level LSAT stuff, setting up study schedule, talking about burnout. Believe me, I was the queen of burnout for a while – how you recover from it.
And I’m just betting that a lot of us are really looking forward to taking the December test in how many days? I don’t know. I’m not keeping a countdown and you probably shouldn’t either because…oh, 21 days. Thank you, Amanda. So three weeks.
So let’s get started here. Just to give you a lay of land, we’re good, this is our agenda. Please ask questions as you have them. I will fill them as it makes sense to do so. And if my audio starts cutting out, as it’s liable to do because of the internet, you all can just maybe let me know and I’ll pause and let the lag catch up.
What I’m talking about here, this is both for folks who are just starting out and for folks who are LSAT veterans. My thinking is that if you can get one or two takeaways that help you, that maybe gain you back some time or some points, then my work is finished here.
But I wouldn’t be teaching this notation strategy if it didn’t work for me, and if it didn’t work for my students. I think this is the best thing out there. Any notation strategy is arbitrary. That goes for logic games, that goes for RC, but it’s all arbitrary. So you can do whatever you want, but if it’s helped you, then that makes me really happy.
So we’re going to go over just a section overview so that we’re working with the same vocabulary. Then I’m going to talk to you about the high-level strategic stuff. Then we’re going to talk about how and why to turn the passage into a toolbox, and what strengths that’s going to draw on. I’m going to show you my notation strategy. We’re going to talk about doing your one job in reading comp, and then I’m going to give some tips for implementation. Time permitting, we will do some work on an actual passage and questions. Okay, let’s go.
Okay, so reading comp. You’ve got 35 minutes, you’ve got 4 passages, and your topics are social sciences, law, you’ve got humanities and then natural sciences. And typically you’re going to see one from each of those categories. And you’re going to have five to eight questions per passage.
A question a lot of people ask is, “Should I spend longer on the ‘harder’ passages?” Obviously some passages are more dense than others. It would be really silly to say that riddled the basins of attraction, or like the maze passage, or like that crazy mirrors passage, it would be crazy to say that those are not harder than your typical, nice five-question passage about some artist. Okay? So definitely there is a difference in density. But RC is always, always the same process. It’s always a matter of process of elimination based on inferences that you make on and within that passage.
So, no, you should not spend longer on the harder passages. You should spend the same amount of time on all of them. And this section is really geared towards you being able to do that. Your read should not take longer for a more dense package, and you should be able to answer questions in the exact same amount of time. So, no, don’t spend longer on the harder passages. It’s not like logic games in that regard. Logic games, some games take 14 minutes, period. Some take four minutes, period. But RC is not that way.
And should you go ahead and skip to the third or fourth passage? A lot of people assume that those are going to be the harder passages, so should I skip to those? No. No, no, no. You want to pick the low hanging fruit, right? If that low hanging fruit is more likely to come in the first two passages, what you’re going to do is you’re going to build confidence, you’re going to build momentum, and that’s going to carry you through and increase your confidence for that third, the “harder” passages. So, no, do not skip that low hanging fruit. Get the low hanging fruit.
Okay, so you’ve got 8 minutes and 45 seconds per passage. So you have three to four minutes to read the passage. I think the sweet spot, the amount of time I typically spend, the amount of time that JY typically spends, I think the sweet spot is right around three and a half minutes. But you’re in a pretty good range so long as you’re not spending fewer than three and not more than four minutes.
So that means you’ve got right around five minutes to answer five to eight questions. That’s a maximum of 1 minute and 15 seconds per question if you read really fast, if you read in like 3 minutes and you’ve only got 5 questions. And then if you’ve got eight questions, you’re looking at 35 to 45 seconds. So that is a pretty scary time frame. And again, all the questions I had upfront were all related to timing in RC. So, right, this is terrifying. Yikes.
So it seems like you should go ahead and read faster, right? No, it’s not. Reading faster is not the answer. Just like in logic games, if you rush through your diagram and don’t do proper hypotheticals, you’re going to end up wasting so much more time in the individual questions. It’s the same thing in RC. The answer is not to read faster. It’s to eliminate answer choices more efficiently and with more confidence.
And I often talk with my students about how you’ve got two necessary conditions for success in the LSAT, which are efficiency and confidence. And here’s the thing, if you’re not efficient, you’re not going to feel very confident. And if you don’t feel confident, you’re not going to be very efficient. And I think that there’s such an intense interaction between efficiency and confidence on this test that you really need to, if you’re suffering an either look to shore up, kind of the other side of it, so if your confidence is lagging, work on your efficiency. If your efficiency is lagging, work on your confidence.
And part of the way to do that is just to practice, right? When I look at LSAT material, it is all just old hat to me at this point. I have seen this stuff before, I’ve seen these tricks before. You can get to that point too. And then also, I think that having really good habits and having strategies that work for you is also a way to gain better efficiency and confidence.
So for me, the reason that I developed this reading and notation strategy was because I didn’t have one. I looked at the Manhattan books, I looked at a lot of different materials, and I’m somebody who thrives in an environment of visual certainty, where I know exactly what to look at, just like for the logic game. You are limited to the world of your diagram and of your rules. You don’t stray outside of that world. You know exactly what’s going on in that world. And you can make RC into that same kind of animal, that same kind of situation where you have that grounding in the visual grounding.
So you think about your very-near-future self. Like you’re reading a passage, what do we know about your very-near-future self, the person that you’re going to be in three and a half or four minutes’ time? So this person, I guess, just probably just read something that is very dense and complicated, and very likely about a topic with which you have no prior experience.
And a lot of the time, if it is a topic with which you have prior experience, that can be tempting. You can be very tempted. You bring an outside knowledge. And that’s not what we do. Our world is limited to the world of the passage as given.
And another thing about this person is that this person has hopefully done a great job of reading for reasoning structure. Okay, so that’s what JY’s memory method is all about. It’s also what the LSAT trainer, Mike Kim’s book, it’s all about reading for reasoning structure. Okay? Like what are the main points? Some sciences say this, they support it with this thing. But they’re wrong. They failed to consider this major thing. Next paragraph, let me give you some experimental evidence that you know, right?
You’re reading for what those main points are, what the big moving parts are. That’s what you want to walk out of your read with. You want a sense of what are the main points, what are the view points, who holds them, and how do they interact, and also why do we care? Why did the author write this passage?
But you’re not trying to walk out of there like remembering exactly where all of the details that you’re going to need to use to eliminate answer choices came from. If you have a photographic memory, wow! I’m just so happy for you. That is probably really helpful for RC. I don’t have that and I’m certainly not going to let that hold me back.
We know that this person, your very-near-future self is not going to remember exactly where all of the details are, right? And we know that this person will need to refer to the passage without a line reference for several, probably most, of the questions and/or answer choices.
Okay, so any time and anybody who struggles with timing, which is I think probably most of us, you know that any time you go back to the passage, you are facing a critical liability, which is wasting time. Any time you go back to the passage, okay, I’ve got this answer choice and it’s got this date in it, 400 A.D. Okay, so I don’t really remember exactly what they said about 400 A.D. so I’m going to go back the passage. I’m going to scan, scan, 15 seconds scan. Okay, found it. That’s 25 seconds just scanning for that 1 answer choice.
But the thing is that once you get that chunk of the passage, you’re going to be able to eliminate that answer choice. You’re going to be, “No, no. They’re talking about something totally different when they’re talking about 400 A.D.” So just because you have this risk of wasting time doesn’t mean that you should not refer to the passage. It just means that you need to mitigate the risk of wasting precious seconds.
So how do you do that? How do you mitigate the risk of wasting time when you go back to the passage? You turn the passage into a toolbox. I hesitate to say you turn it into a diagram because I don’t want to suggest that word, bringing anything new into the passage. I’d like to think of it as a toolbox. Any good toolbox is well-organized, visually-oriented and tailored to the task at hand. Okay?
So not like the one on the left. The one on the left is how most people’s notations are. If you underline a bunch of stuff, and that’s all that you do, and you don’t really have like a consistent way of doing it, your passage probably looks like the one in the left, right? And good luck if you’re trying to find like the little bitty screwdriver, right? Like your 400 A.D. or some little bitty detail that only occurs once. Good luck if you’re trying to find that guy.
So I like to turn my passage into a toolbox that looks like the one on the right, right? If I’m looking for whens, if I’m looking for dates, or until recently, I look at the things that are circled. If I’m looking for terms that are defined, I’m looking at boxes with tails. So it’s a way to get that visual organization.
Okay, let’s move on. So just some words upfront, at a certain point in our prep, we’ve all looked for a silver bullet, like something that’s going to get me my 181. For some of us, we thought that was a particular pencil sharpener, and even though the Palomino Blackwing pencil sharpener is a fabulous pencil sharpener, I have not yet gotten my 181 based solely on that. And for those of you who don’t get the joke, the test is out of 180.
Anyway, so this is not going to fix all your problems. You need a notation strategy in combination with understanding exactly the kind of inferences that you can make on the passage, in all passage just generally, as well as an individual passage. I hope to talk about that later tonight. I also hope to do a second webinar that is just about inferences in RC.
Because just like logic games, high-level success on logic games is dependent on, and is a factor of your ability to make inferences based on rules as given. RC is also all about making inferences based on stitching together parts of the passage, and seeing how all those things combine what they’d give us, what we can infer based on the passage. So that is for the future.
But you’ve got to have, I think you’ve got to have some way to refer to the passage, a notation strategy, and you have to have an understanding of the inferences. So if you implement this strategy and it doesn’t work for you, and you don’t see your scores in pre and a bunch, well, guess what? You just have more work to do on inferences, and that’s fine.
And I’ll talk about this at the end, but I always offer free consults for those who have not taken advantage of them before. And that is certainly something we can talk about on a call, is about like what kind of inferences to make, and how you can learn those, how you can make them in confidence.
So if this notation strategy saves you two seconds per question, that’s awesome because you just got yourself back almost in it a whole minute. And what did we just talk about with the timing and the stakes that we’re facing? If you get a minute back in your overall time, it’s a very strong likelihood that you can answer two questions in that span of time, and that could mean a whole two points higher on your overall score. So that’s pretty cool, right? So I think it’s worth a try. If you’re already minus zero all the time in RC, I don’t think you’re on this webinar right now. Seriously. So I think we all have room to improve and I hope this helps you all.
Okay, let’s talk about the strategy itself. So we are looking for five or maybe six distinct categories of details, and that is who, when, what, where, pivots, and then questions asked or issues raised. Questions asked or issues raised is like the optional you don’t see it in every passage category but it can be helpful.
Let’s see, someone is raising a hand. I will jump in. Okay. So, Juliana. Hi, Juliana. Let’s see if we can hear you. Juliana? Okay, Juliana, I don’t think we’re able to hear you, so I’m going to put you back on mute and lower on hand, but feel free to ask the question, to type it out. Yeah, you can go ahead and do that, and I’ll keep an eye out for your question.
Okay, so each category is marked in a specific way so that you can readily distinguish each category from one another and do it quickly. So, the who. Okay, you put a box around the name or like the actor or the agent, right? So obviously that’s things like proper names like Bill Smith, things like some scientists.
And this is absolutely critical, if you take away one thing from this webinar tonight, please box quantifiers when they are associated with whos, or with agents, or whatever. I cannot tell you how frequently I am able to eliminate answer choices simply because the passage is talking about some photographers, this photographer, this other photographer and some others, and I have an answer choice that says “most photographers.”
I can immediately eliminate that by scanning my whos, by seeing some, this guy, this guy, and some others, and saying, “I do not have an inference for most.” I don’t have to look at that answer choice again. I can eliminate it based on the fact that it’s overly inferring on the basis of the whos that we have in the passage. So always box the quantifier with the agent or whatever. Then mainstream historians, grass spiders, like any kind of animals, like if they’re doing things to whatever.
And then in some passages, I’m obviously on science passages, you can get…this is why I say actors or agents because you’ll get like hydrogen that’s doing something to oxygen, and you know it’s the actor, and the paragraph is talking all about the activity of these elements as they affect one another. And in that case, I definitely want to grab on to that so that if I can get an answer choice that’s talking about hydrogen doing something, I can very quickly find hydrogen and see what it’s doing in the passage, and either eliminate it, or perhaps confirm that I cannot eliminate it.
Roger makes a point. “I find the LSAT passages are obsessed with who says what.” Absolutely, absolutely. Not only in the case of…and we’ll see this when we get to the pivot in a minute, that’s where this really comes in because that’s the big element of a reasoning structure, but yeah, questions constantly mis-attribute some point of view to some guy who actually doesn’t hold it.
They’ll get you with, “Oh, this thing that somebody said in the passage.” And you think like, “Oh, I remember that.” And you aren’t able to check who actually said it or with whom it was actually associated. And so they trick you, right? They trick you all the time, all the time in this way by mis-associating different elements of the passage. Okay, let’s talk about the when.
Amanda’s got a question here. So, Amanda says, “So we don’t box nouns that aren’t actors?” Yeah, this isn’t about boxing nouns. That would be so crazy, right? How overwhelming would that be? This passage I have here, this is pretty light on the whos, owners of intellectual…some of the owners, web users. No.
And another point is that if you have some of these owners and then it’s still talking about these owners with some referential phrasing, these people, or like these owners, or something like that, I don’t mark that again. I only mark when we start talking about someone else, I mark it at that point. So my assumption is that this whole part of the text is talking about some of these owners of intellectual property, right? So, no, it’s not about marking the nouns, and it’s not about marking every instance of the who. It’s about identifying whose view this is or who we’re talking about here.
Okay, the whens. You circle it. And so like right here we’ve got “By about 400 A.D.” we’ve got “7th century,” we’ve got “Before the introduction” of this thing. So sometimes if this is separated, this referential phrasing is separated from the thing it’s talking about, I’ll just help myself out here. It’d be like, yo, before the introduction of this. And by the way, this is some of the passage that we’re going to work on, time permitting. This notation here, you will see, allows me to very, very quickly eliminate an answer choice, which is a great feeling.
So 1856, until recently…by the way, this is super important when we’re talking about this inference. If you were given like 1989, mid-1980s, and shortly thereafter or something like that, you cannot infer recency from that period. So if those are your only whens given in a passage, and you get an answer choice that says “until recently” or like “recent authors,” you can eliminate those based on that.
Because guess what? Unless you’re told specifically in the passage that this is a recent thing, like a recent study, or like until recently or whatever, unless you’re told that, or unless you’re told that something is currently going on, like a current trend in photography or whatever, you can’t infer recency. And again, this is one of those inferences that looks like it’s good to talk about.
So, yeah, so anything like “until recently” is super important, anything that indicates this step is still going on – since the 1950s, in the Middle Ages, in recent decades. They love, they love to try to trip us up on recency. So watch for that. And if it’s in the passage, you definitely want to grab on to it so that you can very quickly eliminate or make inferences.
The what. Oh, I see we’ve got a couple of questions. “I find myself focusing on what to notate while reading sometimes, how can I overcome this?” Yeah, that’s a really good question, and I will address that. I’m going to leave this over here. I’ll address that in a moment because I think that that’s a really good, high-level point to make.
The what. Okay, so this is any term or phrase defined or used in a specified way, or any hypothesis or theory that’s defined. Okay, so let me talk about the first part. Any term or phrase defined or used in a specific way, specified way. Okay, so we’ve got the “The World Wide Web” which is a network blah, blah, blah. Okay, great.
Links, like if I say to you, “Yeah, links.” You’ll probably say, “You mean like on a webpage?” And I’ll say, “No, sausage links.” So it’s a word that can be used in multiple ways but that is given a specific usage. Like links on a chain? No. Links on a website. So you just box the term or the phrase. And you have a line coming out of it. So it’s a box with a tail.
And these look pretty distinct. Notice that, and you’ll see when we get into this, like I really don’t underline stuff unless it’s part of a what or…see, the nice thing about not underlining all the time is that I’m free to if there’s some part of the passage that I just think is important in some way, or there’s a key turn of phrase, or there’s just something that I’m anticipating they’re going to ask me about, yeah, I’m free to just have a little one-off underlined. That’s not the big deal.
But the point is not to overuse them because if your notation strategy revolves around underlining, good luck, good luck because there’s just no way to visually differentiate lines from one another, unless they’re attached to a box or something like that, whatever you want to do. Anyway, let’s keep going. The where.
Yes, Amy, I will at the end of this, I will send out, I will send the PowerPoint out to folks. And it is also available on my website. If you go to ILoveLSAT.com and you can go to About Nicole, it’s linked there so you all can all…it’s the same slides. I did make one slight change, but it’s 99% the same. And I will e-mail these to everybody.
Okay, so the where. This is like in what context. And I put brackets around it. So like, “On Web pages,” “on the Web,” sites, that kind of thing. So this is definitely all geographic locations. Like there’s a passage that’s about UNESCO, some UNESCO policy. And they used Mali, the country of Mali, as a case in point, as a case that illustrates the author’s argument about the problematic nature of the UNESCO policy. So, yes, context can definitely be geographic locations, but they’re not limited to them.
So it’s also another context, in like an experimental context, in a recent study. So like here’s this phenomenon – and where is this demonstrated? In this study, right? Like how did this person come to this hypothesis or how do they test this hypothesis? They tested it in this study. Or like at what point do we see or in what context do we see this point of this author’s development? We see it in this particular book.
So it’s also books or paintings or symphonies or anything like that. And also other locations like anatomical locations, in the arteries, in your stomach, in adrenal glands, in the bundle sheath cells, like in the maze passage.
SO, Roger you’re saying, “I find contextual languages typically in the first paragraph.” It can come all over the place. It’s just like, where do we see this? Where is this happening? On web pages. Where do we see? Where did this scientist test her hypothesis? In this study. And where do we see these problematic UNESCO treatises in full relief? In the country of Mali. Where does hydrogen do this to carbon dioxide? In the bundle sheath cells.
This is like the most nebulous one because it just depends on…the context will look different like subject matter to subject matter. So look, if you’re saying, “This is the case in which this is demonstrated.” Yeah, we see that in this context. It’s an example.
So adding onto that last question, “I previously employed a similar notation strategy as the one you’re describing from PowerScore.” I don’t know how similar minus to PowerScore. There are definitely other notation strategies, however I could never finish the passages in time because the extensive notating. Yeah, notice that I don’t write anything down.
Let’s go to the next slide, and well, let me save this. I’ll show you my final slide, and this shows you what this actually looks like. I hesitate to call this extensive notating. I did a session with a student today in which I had her go ahead and notate this passage in real-time, and we were sitting in a noisy cafe, and she was still able to do it right around the correct amount of time that one should be spending. And I also have my students time how long it takes them to read all the time.
If you’re getting bagged down on details, you’re not going to read it in three and a half minutes. But if you’re reading for reasoning structure and you’re notating in a way, you’re not thinking about, “Is this context? Is this a who?” Just go for it. Just grab on to it. It’s like you’re just giving yourself footholds in the text so that you can come back and refer to details systematically.
So let’s see here. Let me talk about pivots here. This is another takeaway. If you walk out of this webinar with one or two things, take the box to your quantifiers with your whos and pivots. So I call these arrows without a system. This triangular-looking thing here, that’s a pivot.
So any time you get like but, however, in spite of this, or indeed it must be, where any kind of language where it’s indicating that there’s been a shift in viewpoint, like we were talking about, “Some scientists believe this, but they’re wrong.” So you mark that “but.” Or like in this passage here, “Here’s where the historians thought this, but they’re wrong. The pollen indicates indeed that these soils must indeed…”
And so it’s not just these trigger words, it’s also in context. Like this is a big old pivot because it’s they were wrong based on this evidence we’re talking about. But then it is, like here, you see “but,” down here you see “but.” So it’s just any time the author is switching from presenting one view, to taking issue with it, or complicating it, or departing from it in some way…
I talk about baby pivots I call them where it’s just a very small, little pivot. I do that if there’s tension, or if there’s a small departure, there’s a small complication. Just because those kind of shifts in reasoning structure…listen, if you get an answer choice that’s talking about the 18th century, and you see that you’ve got a pivot up here and you’re in this paragraph, you’ve got a pivot down here, here is a clue for you, they were thinking this. They thought this, but like…whatever. Anyway…it’s just a super helpful way to remind yourself of what the reasoning structure is.
So, Amanda asks, “I assume you’re talking about the where here.” Amanda, no, you do not put brackets around the whole sentence. Just around, you see, like “On Web pages,” or “sites,” or just like around “Mali.” And that’s it.
So, I’m sorry. Amanda was asking about the pivots. No, there’s no parenthesis. This is a where, “The documentary record,” “But the documentary record,” like what source? What context? So, this is totally separate, so actually you don’t…the highlighter, I don’t use a highlighter on a test, but I just did this to show you this is the word because of which I’m showing this pivot.
So pivots, I could even put a pivot up here if the text warranted it, and it doesn’t need to be attached to any other notation. So there’s no parenthesis. I have some students who they’ll draw a triangle on like “but” here. I’ve actually gone ahead and told those students that I think they should also notate in the margin because it’s so much easier to see the large moving pieces when they’re more vertically-oriented here.
Yes. So Roger says, “Pivots abound in LSAT passages. It’s critical to recognize and correctly attribute.” Yeah, it’s just a way to signify to yourself that like, “Okay, at this point of passage, that we switched from talking about one thing or one person’s view, to maybe we’re talking about the author’s view, maybe we’re talking about the author’s view of what’s wrong with what they thought, or the author is saying, ‘Oh, they actually didn’t take this far enough,'” whatever it is. So it’s super critical.
Why do I not use highlighter? Because I don’t want to waste precious seconds switching between a highlighter and a pencil when I’m taking the exam. That’s pretty much it. I also don’t think that…I don’t think it’s necessary. I just think why? Why would you add an extra step for yourself? That’s just what I think.
And another question, Tyler is asking for the where again. “Do I bracket every time it occurs?” Try it both ways. Go for full redundancy and just do every single time. Try that. See if that works. I typically don’t. If I’m like, “Okay, we’re talking about web pages here.” And then I’m like, okay, we’re still talking about whatever, I don’t know. I typically definitely notate them when I’m switching from talking about one context to another, but I just assumed that we’re still talking about the same context. I don’t know.
Honestly there is a variation passage to passage. I always tell people try it both ways. Notate like a minimalist, and only notate the things that really stand out to you, just like where there’s no debate, like yeah, that’s a when, like it’s a date where it says “Until recently.” Or that’s a who, it’s like dude or some scientist or whatever. Try the minimal approach and then try the redundant approach where you just notate the heck out of it. Try both.
It’s just like focusing a camera. When you focus a video camera, you go to one extreme and then you come back. You go back and forth so that you can find the in between, the proper focus. So try it both ways. You’re not going to lose anything by doing that.
George says, “On line 30, what’s the large parenthesis on the side?” This is before the introduction of this thing, George, this actually should have a circle around it before the “introduction,” and then tying back to the “moldboard plough.” That is because I was doing this in notability and I deleted one of my notations. So that’s just a little fly ball that you’ll see. We’ll be working on this passage on a few minutes here.
Okay, so this is what this passage looks like with these notations. If you think this is overly notated, okay. That’s fine. This is all arbitrary. This is not a magic…this is not a silver bullet. This is not going to get you to minus zero. You need a way to refer to the passage, whether that’s through your short-term memory or through a great notation system. You need a way to refer to the passage, but you need to use that in combination with a deep understanding of how to make inferences within a passage.
If you watched JY, do or see, he doesn’t notate anything. And JY obviously is a very, very high-level RC taker. It’s neither insufficient nor a necessary condition to be successful. But if you’re looking for a way to decrease the amount of time you’re liable to spend in referring to the passage, I really believe that this is a way that can help a lot of people get to that goal.
Okay, so this is it. This is all of them in this one. I know my floating boxes are whos. We’ve got “historians” here, we’ve got my favorite :some historians” here. I know my circled items are whens. I love this one.
By the way, if I can avoid circling between lines, I’ll just go ahead “400 A.D.” I just wrote A.D. in here, but deal, I circled it, “seventh century.” Before the introduction to this,” “eighteenth century,” “eighteenth century,” “centuries before that time,” “before the eighteenth century,” “since the eighteenth century.” Beautiful. They’re all circled. I know where my whens are.
I know my boxes with tails are whats. So “surmise that this plant was,” this is their hypothesis, the “surmise,” this thing. And then I know my brackets are wheres. In “the documentary record.” What’s your source? In the documentary record. “The record of eighteenth century linen production,” which is a part of the documentary record, “in Ireland,” “analyses of samples.” So you see a couple like “Long Lough in County Down.” You see how we’ve got multiple different examples of wheres here.
And you better believe, I’m happy when I get an answer choice that says about the documentary record because guess what? All I got to do, boom, boom. There it is. How long did that take me? A lot less time than it would have if I didn’t have it notated, that’s what I can tell you for sure.
And I can clearly see my pivots. So I know we’ve got big shifts going on. This is a pretty tense passage, like some things being overturned. Indeed, it’s this new method, analyses of samples are making us think differently about something in Ireland.
So, okay. The last thing, and this happens, I estimate in about one in every seven passages, so definitely not in every section, definitely not in every passage. Any time you’ve got questions that are asked, like if it has a question mark attached to it, if it’s a rhetorical question, that’s fine. Any time you’ve got a question asked, or like the debate, like what does one do in a debate when there are questions that abound? I put a cue in the margin. This is just a nice way to organize your read. It’s a big help to answer the question, “Why is the author writing this passage?”
And any issues raised, like in this one, like legal issues come up, okay, so there’s probably going to be detailed legal issues about the rights of owners…okay, great. There we go. So it’s just helpful.
Okay, look, I want to make a point about reading comp, generally. I think that for people who spend too long reading, or just anybody who spends more than four minutes reading a passage, period, period, you are not reading for reasoning structure. You are trying to understand. You are trying to read to have an opinion about it, or maybe write a paper about it, or talk about it with your friends, to learn something.
That’s not our job. Our job is not to actually understand a passage. Our job is to comprehend the passage. It’s not called reading for understanding. It’s called reading comprehension. It’s to comprehend the passage. It’s to have the capability of understanding. If you need to understand a very small part of the passage, a couple of lines in order to answer an analogy question, yeah, sure. That’s a very different task than trying to understand the whole passage. Your job is to comprehend the passage so as to eliminate four wrong answer choices for each question, period.
In reading comp, more than in any other section, you are going to be relying on your process of elimination because you are always liable to get answer choices that you really don’t like, but you can’t eliminate them. So that’s what you circle. We’re not here to make friends with answer choices. We’re not here to like answer choices. We’re not here to sit there and confirm them all with a passage.
You don’t have time. You don’t have time, and so it’s critical that you are confident in your eliminations because you just may never achieve full confidence on what ends up being the correct answer. It’s the section in which you need to be comfortable with about 90% certainty.
And that’s what makes this section so hard is that people don’t get that and they want it. They want 100% certainty just like you have in logic games, just like you have in a lot of LR questions. And so they sit there, spinning their wheels, checking the passage saying, “I don’t know. I don’t really like this.” And then changing their answer to something that they really could have eliminated.
So that’s why people RC is so hard is because…it’s because…I’m sorry, I just got distracted by a couple of questions. The reason that RC is so hard to improve is because, look, there’s always the time sync factor, and we’re always liable. So you need to engineer ways to avoid spinning your wheels, ways to avoid wasting time.
And Tyler is asking, “Do you glance at the paragraph structure or first line of the paragraphs before you read the passage?” No. I just go ahead. I just jump in. I jump in the deep end. I don’t think that’s helpful. There are all these little tricks that people will say like, “Read the questions first.” No, no, no, no, no. Read it. Notate it in a way that works for you and then go into the questions. And I’m not saying this because I’m super good at it. I’m not a unicorn here. I’m saying this because RC really is, it can be just as systematic as logic games.
Here’s another question. “Do I go through passages in order?” Absolutely, 100% of the time. You have nothing to gain in skipping a passage. A much better skill to have than skipping a passage is to be able to notate a passage that you might not understand and still be able to eliminate all of the wrong answer choices.
That’s what happened to me on the October exam. I got to the last RC passage, and I read it, and I said, “Uh-oh. I don’t understand this.” So for a minute there, I was like, “Well, I haven’t felt this way in a really long time where I don’t understand this passage.”
You know what I did? I said, “Have I notated this effectively? Have I notated this using my notation strategy?” Yes. “Therefore what am I in a position to do?” I’m in a position to eliminate to wrong answer choices. And guess what? On a passage I didn’t understand, on the real test, on my first section, I was able to get out of there without a single confidence error. I did not understand the passage. I did that solely based on being able to notate and eliminate answer choices.
So we’ve got a lot of questions. Before I go into full Q&A mode, let me just talk to you about implementation a little bit here. Any time you try a new method, whether you’re diagramming things differently in logic games, or you’re trying a new notation method in RC, or you’re trying to do sufficient assumption questions without diagramming, it’s like taking a training wheels off your bike. So you’re probably going to be a little wobbly for a while.
So what I recommend you do is that you practice this notation strategy, just the strategy, just the notations on a few RC sections, passages that you’ve done before without…I actually tell people to take a section of RC that you’ve done and just notate the passages. It will take you about 15 minutes to do it. It certainly shouldn’t take you longer than that. So time yourself how long it takes you to just notate the passages without doing the questions, and then try it in a couple of sections that you’ve taken before.
You don’t want to burn fresh PTs trying a new method. The idea is for just like with diagramming on logic games where if I see we have six dudes not necessarily in that order, what do I do? Do I sit there and thing about, “Well, I guess this is a sequencing game.” No, I have a muscular reaction. Boom! Six slots. There is no hesitation. There is no thought in my mind, like how am I going to diagram this? I have it down to muscle memory.
That’s the goal with RC as well. You want whatever notation strategy you’re using to be a matter of muscle memory. And the way that you do that is you practice it. That’s it, no big deal.
Can you implement this before the December test? Yes, if you’re serious about it, absolutely you can. Now, we could talk about inferences later in Q&A. And again, any time you’re going into the passage, this is why this is called It’s Hammer Time, any time you go into the passage, you’re picking up a hammer from your toolbox. You’re grabbing onto something, you’re grabbing onto that 400 A.D. and saying, “Okay, this is the thing by which I’m going to eliminate this answer choice. I’m picking up my hammer and I’m going to smash the hammer.”
So focusing on eliminating answer choices. Anything you pick up from the passage, any bits of inference that you string together, you hold on to that, and you use that to eliminate answer choices that either don’t have the element you’re looking for, or that violate what’s actually in the passage.
And if anybody wants to reach out to me, again, you can go on my website. I have a new booking system. So you just go to ILoveLSAT.com and you click Book Now, and you can do a free 30-minute consultation. You can book it right on the website. And you can also e-mail me, Nicole@ILoveLSAT.com.
Now, I’m going to go to full Q&A, so let me get in here. Okay, guys, lots of good questions. I’m going to do my best to move through these. Roger, I’m so glad that you love the LSAT. I love the LSAT, that’s why my website is ILoveLSAT.com, and I’m not ashamed to say it.
“Should we process of eliminate every single question?” Great question. Okay. Here’s my theory, so I think the question is like, “Should I rely on process of elimination in every question?” Should you rely on that?
You are always using process of elimination on the LSAT. If you’re in a logic game and you have a little diagram for question six that says, “If S is in slot three, which of the following must be in slot four?” And you do your little diagram, and you put S in slot three, and you see how the rules interact, and you see that Z must be in slot four, nothing else can be in slot four. Well, guess what? You’re going to choose answer choice B, which is the letter V, right? V must be in four. You are there by eliminating all things that are not V.
It’s just like if you are doing a flaw question, and you have a causation-correlation flaw, and you have a conclusion that says, “Therefore A causes B.” And you say, “Okay, I know that it’s taken for granted that B does not cause A, that the third factor does not cause A and B, or that there is no relationship.” That’s my pre-phrase. I’m looking, that is the flaw in the argument. I am looking for the answer choice that has that flaw. If any answer choice does not address that flaw, it is thereby wrong. It is wrong if it doesn’t have that one thing that we’re looking for.
So even if you have a perfect pre-phrase, or in logic games you know exactly with 100% in certainty what must be in slot four, you’re still eliminating the other answer choices because they don’t have them. They’re not the one thing they need to be. So you’re always, always, always using process of elimination.
There’s a difference between relying on it like where you don’t have a pre-phrase, or an RC where there is almost no way to pre-phrase for a lot of questions. You might have a sense of it, but you’re not going to come up with the exact words that they’re going to use when they state their inference that you know…
So do you need to rely on it? Look, if you don’t have a pre-phrase about what you are 100% certain then, yeah, you need to. And it’s like 99% of cases in which…you certainly always need to read, at least scan the answer choices. So, yes, when in doubt, always, always, always POE, always process of elimination. Seriously.
So let’s see. Let me see. Yes, Ellie is asking, “When you have the whole page marked for the what and where, etc., how can you read question and answer choices, and know exactly where to navigate to on your own markings on the passage, especially with limited time?”
Okay, so let me give you an example here. Hopefully you all can see my screen. So I’ve got question 24, passage indicates that pollen analyses have provided evidence against which of the following? Okay, so I’m going to do this. Those of you who have worked with me before know that any kind of except question, or it’s a must be false, or something that we’re looking for the one that isn’t true, so I scan these and I’ll go through to my answer choices, and I get to E, and I’m like, okay, cereal grain cultivation began. Okay, so I see 400 A.D. and I’m going to go up here and I’m going to scan. Okay, when, when, 400 A.D. Perfect. Okay.
So I’m going to read around it. For example, “analyses of” has blah, blah, “have revealed significant patterns of cereal grain pollen beginning by about 400 A.D.” Okay, “substantial clay.” So this is an example of how I look for the thing that I know that I notated. I find it very quickly and I can eliminate based on this. I’ll come back to this when we actually talk about this passage, which we will have time to do tonight. Hopefully. Let me get these questions.
Okay. All right. So I’m getting a lot of questions about time again. You need to, for one, you need to practice taking the exact same amount of time reading each passage. Do not take more than four minutes to read the passage, period, period. I don’t care what it is. So you need to practice that. You need to practice self-discipline.
The other way to deal with timing is don’t let yourself get sucked into time syncs. If anybody has really big concerns about this and you’re really spinning your wheels, contact me, book a consult. We’ll talk about this. This is one of the number one things that I train people not to do is how to not spin your wheels.
Let’s see. “I’m still missing 78. Do you think I can fix that in the next 24 days?” It depends on what “fixing it” means. So maybe you ask a follow-up question on that. Can you improve? Yes, I think you can improve, but there is no way, like even if you get a string of 180s on your PTs leading on to the test, does that guarantee you’re going to get a 180? No. There’s always luck. There’s always test jitters, that kind of thing.
Okay. So can we discuss pivot again? Confused how to distinguish them. I’m not sure what you mean by “distinguish them.” The biggest thing to look for is words like “but,” or “however,” “in spite of this.” If that’s all that you do, then you’re still in pretty good shape because typically pivots are indicated by words like those.
Okay, here’s a good question, “How do I blind-review a passage?” So typically what I’ll do is I’ll come back to it and I’ll read it again. And then when I go through the questions, I always…by the way, always, always, always practice clean copy blind review. Notability is great for that if you have PDFs. Because guess what? I’ve got a whole fresh thing right here and I can notate the heck out of it. I can write all over it. I can do, I can type things, right? Isn’t that cool? So you can write like A is wrong because of this, this and this.
So for RC, what you do is you can use line references, you can say things like, “Analyses have led through revision of some previously accepted…” If you’re like, “Okay, I’m eliminating B because it’s too narrow, or because it’s too broad, or because it only talks about part of the passage,” write those things down as part of your blind review.
And I’m really serious when I say do not check your answers before you do blind review. You really, really want to be able to think deep and say, “Actually I don’t have a reason to eliminate this answer choice. And gosh, I found one that I certainly can eliminate on in this other answer choice.” So go through for blind review. Write out your reasons to eliminate each answer choice. And then for the one that you don’t eliminate, go ahead and attempt to confirm it with a line reference in the passage.
In RC blind review, I think it’s just a good best practice to always have line references like, “No, this is wrong because of what it says on line 24.” If you can do that, that’s good.
Okay, so let me see here. “I get a lot more questions wrong on more recent PTs than earlier ones. Does this mean I just need to focus more on process of elimination?” The way to eliminate answers on RCs is by honing in on very small words that make a big difference. So let me give an example of that and let me see if I can find one here. A lot of times that’s like quantifiers. Things like let’s see, trying to find one that’s got a good…good small words, let’s check on that for the last passage.
Look for words like anyone, but that, allow to sue anyone. You have to hone in on words that are overly specific, or that are too strong, or that overly infer. And typically those words are any, never, most, primarily. There are certain watch words in RC, and it’s hard to catalog all of those for you on this session. But as far as the more recent ones go, they’re testing you a lot more on those small words, as what I find.
Does it say recently when we’ve only got 1989, the mid-1980s and like shortly thereafter? Well then it’s wrong because you can infer recency. So they’re testing you a lot more on small words and on inferences, I would say. And yeah, I will run process of elimination on RC and I feel like I know pretty much all the tricks. I always rely on it. It’s just like the best. It’s absolute best practices for RC, so POE, POE, POE.
Dave, “Do I do a quick read and notate then do a full read through all under three?” So typically I just read for reasoning structure and notate like this. And then when I’m done reading it, I pause and I say, “Okay, this policy is about this and kind of start talking about these dudes and how they’re wrong because of this and then he gives them experimental stuff and then he like seems like he is pretty skeptical than these other guys. And he wrote this because he wants to advance in understanding where like resolve some issue in science.”
I might glance over my notations at that point but that’s definitely, certainly I never spend more than four minutes. I don’t really need to read back over them because I’ll do that when I’m in the answer choices. I don’t really need to look at the passage again. I’ll have plenty of opportunity to do that.
“Can I better differentiate comprehension and understanding?” Yeah. Understanding is where you read something and you’re like, “Okay. I know the words there but I don’t really understand this, so let me read it again and take notes on it. Formulate an opinion of it. And maybe do just a little bit more research on it. And read the footnotes.”
Understanding is like a much higher level command of a text than what we do in reading comp. You do not need to be able to tell me all about this like pollen stuff. In fact that temptation to want to understand it, guess what? “Understanding” a passage is not going to help you eliminate answer choices. Not when the answer choices are honing in on these nitty-gritty little details that you probably don’t remember. When I say probably I mean very, very likely.
Okay, let’s see. So many questions, great questions. “How do I attack the weird analogy questions?” That’s a good question. Yeah, what I do is I think of those analogy questions in the same way as I think about like conform the principle question. If you get a question in LR that’s like, “Which of the following most closely conforms to the principle expressed in the above?”
So you’re looking for an answer choice that is conforming to the same principle. This analogy questions function reasonably because you want to look at the stimulants or look at that part of the passage and say, “Okay. What’s the rule here? What’s the rule? What’s the function? What’s going on in this? Who’s doing what? What’s the critical sort of rule that’s in play?”
That’s the hammer that you pick up. You pick up whatever that rule or that principle or that function whatever you want to call it. You say, “Oh, okay. I get it. This thing is overturning this previously held belief because we’ve uncovered this assumption that the previously held belief was using. And so it’s not that that other belief is bad, it’s just that it’s incomplete.”
So you’re looking for something that is going to have an incomplete relationship to a new theory but not necessarily being turned on its head that is necessarily vague. You want to look for an answer choice that has the same rule in play. The same kind of principle is in play, if that makes sense. If it doesn’t, then I invite you to…instead of a consult, we can talk about…I can’t talk about that particular PT on this call because it’s a free webinar, and I would have to license it.
So, let us see here. Let me see. Here’s the question. Tyler says, “So the notation strategy is to be able to hone in on details quicker?” Yeah, exactly. Let’s do a little experiment here. Let’s see. Let me look for…here we go. All right guys take a look at my screen, and don’t look at the passage. Hold on. Let me do a little trick here. It took all the notations away.
Okay, I want you to scan the passage for the word moldboard plough. Just go ahead and scan it. See how long it takes you. See how long it takes you to find it. Okay. Probably you all found it by now. Let’s put the notations back on, shall we? Try it again. Right. Right, scan, scan…great…analyses…moldboard plough.
Look, yeah. That’s a funky example. I’m just doing that based on here. The one that I would really like to do that with is this one but I already showed you all where this is, so that would be cheating. Something like “Before the 7th century,” if we take all these away and you go ahead and find “before this.” Find all instances of “Before the 7th century.” And know with full confidence that you found all of them because guess what? Yeah, there’s one in the first paragraph but weren’t there others? Oh, gosh. I don’t remember. I need to check. Scan the passage, scan the passage, scan the passage.
You do this, okay “Part of the 7h century,” “7th century,” “About 400,” “7th century,” “Before the instruction of this,” “18th century,” “18th century,” “Centuries before that time,” “Before the 18th century,” “Since the 18th century,” okay, yes. That is the only instance of “Before the 7th century.” That is the only instance of it. This one right here. Great.
I can eliminate very effectively based on that because this is the only time that this comes up. So it’s a very limited piece of text that I need to jack to put in the inference, right? So yeah, that’s an example. Yeah, honing in on detail quicker. And by the way, systematically, where I’m not looking at the boxes. I’m not looking at the brackets. I’m looking at my circled guides because I’m looking for a date.
Okay. So, “Do I suggest doing only three sections and just guess the fourth section?” It depends on what your goal score is. If your goal score is anywhere near 170, unequivocally no, you need to get better at RC. You need to get faster, more efficient and more confident with the way that you’re eliminating answer choices.
If that means a notation strategy, you need to implement that. You need to use have an effective and efficient way to answer the text, find exactly what you’re looking for, eliminate answer choices based on that, and also cultivate an understanding of the kind of inferences that you can and indeed must make and which ones you must not make. So it depends. If your goal is below 160s, sure you could get away with missing 8 plus on RC, but if your goal is anything higher than that, then yeah, you need to shore it up.
And okay, here’s the question a couple of you have asked. “I find myself focusing on what to notate while reading sometimes. How can you overcome this?” Well, I was just talking about. Make it a matter of muscle memory. Go ahead and practice it. Pick a notation, like the reason that I came up with this notation strategy is because I don’t have to think about it.
I don’t have to say, “Should I underline this?” If it’s a who, it’s boxed. If it’s a when, it’s circled. If it’s a pivot, it’s what do I want to call that? The triangle, the pointy thing, the arrow without a tail. I don’t hesitate. I don’t think about it. If it’s a who, if it’s a what, I got it. I got it, I got it, got it, got it. I don’t have to think about what I’m notating. It’s a reflex so that’s how you stop thinking about your notations. Do something that’s automatic for you.
So yeah, I find it like any other notation strategy, you’re having to think way too much about it. You’re having to like, “Is this the main point?” I don’t care if it’s the main point. Does it have a who? Look, you’re never going to use the main point that you write MP next to. That is never going to help you eliminate an answer choice. Maybe stringing together all of the main points, plus the author’s tone, plus some context will help you answer a question.
But you’re never going to be able to refer to, “Oh, I wrote main point therefore I’m going to get a question true or false.” That’s not going to help you eliminate an answer choice. If that helps you read for reasoning structure, and if that helps you keep your attention on that task of “What are the points being made? What are the pivot?” Fine but that’s not helpful to refer back to the passage to eliminate answer choices.
Oops. I just eliminated. Sorry, I just accidentally deleted somebody’s question, I didn’t get to read it. If we get through this and you still have reading questions, ask me again. I’m sorry. “After reading a question, with the exception of a detailed question, I ask myself, what is my mind producing?”
Good luck with that. Good luck with relying on your pre-phrase. If you’re zero to one on RC, it sounds like it’s working for you. If you’re not, consider relying more on process of elimination. And I’m just guessing that if you were zero to one, you probably wouldn’t be on a reading comp webinar unless you just want to hang out which is great. I love that. I love talking about the LSAT, but I feel like I’m the only one.
“What would you advice for somebody who misses?” Okay, so it was like a lot of variation like minus one, minus nine, minus 10. If you’re having a lot of fluctuation in your scores, I am often suspicious of there being outside factors like, did you take a test when you are really tired? Did you take a test when you were not feeling well, when you were burnt out? I would look at those things and try to control for those factors. If you’re having a lot of variation in RC, I mean that’s why I came up with this notation strategy was because I was like, “I need a way to get a handle on the detail so that I can eliminate with full confidence based on just mismatches.”
Any question that is more of like where you can eliminate based on the author’s tone that’s great but that’s maybe one out of five to eight questions. I needed a way to control for varying levels of difficulty and varying levels of understanding. And that’s why I came up with this so that I could grab on the details from the passage and eliminate based on details that I could see with my own two eyes that I could find quickly, and then I could then eliminate answer choices with full confidence.
“Should you use the same notations for comparative passages?” Yeah, same thing. There is one additional notation that I do for comparatives. I’ll show it to you really quick here. Here it is. Just pretend this is the same word, it’s not. Don’t worry about what it actually is. If I find that they’ve used the same word or they’re referring to the same thing in both passages, I circle it or box it in both and I have a line just going right across because I absolutely know that I’m going to be asked about that. And I want to be sure like they said, “Loophole.” I know they said it up here. Let me find it. I just want to make sure that for any instances of that kind of commonality, I do mark that but that’s the only special notation I have for comparative.
So let’s see here, more questions. Yes, so Thomas, I hope that I answer some of your question about comparative reading. People ask, “Oh, should I like for comparative passages, should I go and find all the questions that relate just to passage A, and do those first?”
No. For one, you’re only going to get maybe one of those, maximum two. And you’re going to waste so much time reading the questions then, and then you’re going to read a passage that’s meant to be right in tandem with the other. You’re going to read it in isolation and you’re probably going to miss out on the interrelations of the passage. So, no, I don’t recommend that you go through and answer all the questions for A. Just read them, notate them and then eliminate answer choices.
Here’s another tip. If you get a question, where it’s like what would be the best titles for passage A and B respectively? If one of the passages is easier to title than the other, just go through the passage B titles and eliminate based on those. Don’t try to match both titles. Again in a question where you’re given passage A and passage B respectfully and one of them is easier to do it, that’s just low hanging fruit. Just maybe think about honing in on one passage over the other, but again that’s after having read both of them.
They’re really no different, guys. The October test was the first time that I saw…the October test had the hardest comparative passage. I challenge anybody to show me a harder comparative passage than what was on that test. In my mind having seen absolutely every single published comparative passage that was by far the hardest one that I’ve ever seen.
So typically they are not the hardest passages. I’m not going to say they’re easier. I don’t like the word easy, but I find that they are just…and someone Shane, that was yeah. Shane is asking about that particular passage. Again, I say that’s the hardest comparative passage you’ve ever seen. It was insane. Typically that’s not the case. That was why it was such a big freaking surprise.
So yeah, you’re asked so much more about tone and reasoning structure on those. Typically you’re relying less perhaps on the details but I do still notate on the same way because I’m still able to eliminate answer choices. Based on those, notation still works.
Yeah, we’ll talk about the main point question in a moment, Michael. And then we can strengthen in RC. Yeah, we can talk about that. I’m not sure if we have one of those on this question. Yeah, Tyler I think I’ve addressed how to not get caught up in notations. You just want to practice it and I don’t think about it. If you watch me do this live, I don’t sit there and wonder if it’s a who. I’ll just mark it because I know that just having it notated in this specific way is going to help me. It’s going to help me eliminate answer choices. I trust that.
Amanda, “Where do you go to talk to me about burn out?” Go to my website ILoveLSAT.com, click Book Now and book a three 30-minute consultation. We can talk about that.
So let’s see here. “Do I do a passage to warm-up before a PT?” Let me think about the last time I took a PT. Yeah, this is so automatic for me at this point guys. And that’s why I say just you practice, practice, practice because I can’t even tell you. It’s just like a muscle memory. I don’t even flinch. So practice that.
Yeah, warm-up is great. I actually personally think that LR is the best section to warm up with because in LR you’re practicing a lot of the same skills. There’s just more overlap between LR and RC, and LR and RG, I’m sorry, LG. The secret fourth section of the LSAT, RG, which is I don’t know. Anyway, no I don’t warm-up with the passage. I don’t know, it’s habit at this point.
“How often do I find myself going back to the passage?” As often as I need to, as often as it makes sense. I’m so confident in my notation strategy that I don’t hesitate to go back to the passage. So what I’ll do is I’ll go through the answer choices and see if I can eliminate that without checking the passage. If I have to go back to the passage to eliminate it, well, then I’ll grab on to whatever is easiest to find. That’s like that’s going to be who, that’s going to be a date.
It’s typically those kind of categories of things or aware context. And I grab on to it. I know exactly what I’m looking for. I want to eliminate E based on 400 A.D. Okay, perfect. All right, read right around it, make sure I grab it. Pick up my hammer, this is what it’s saying about 400 A.D. and either eliminate it or don’t eliminate it.
“Do you feel like you go back more often to the passage on comparative?” No, honestly it might be less on comparative because so many of the questions are very high-level. They’re really focused on the arguments that are being made, and how the passages relate to one another. But yeah, go back as often as you need or want to.
Okay. Let’s see. Okay, just a couple more here and then we’ll talk about this passage. “How do you drill RC?” That’s a great question. It depends on where you are on your prep. It depends on how many you’re missing, right? It depends on, look are you missing questions because you don’t have an effective way to refer to the passage or you’re missing them because you are making mistaken inferences?
So it depends because look, if your RC performance is suffering from poor habits, habits like spinning your wheels, over inferring, bringing an outside information, only focusing on, oops, only focusing on part of the passage, that kind of stuff. If your performance is suffering primarily because of bad habits, then drilling a bunch is only going to ingrain those bad habits more.
If you don’t know if you have bad habits, I have two recommendations for you. Assuming that you have read the LSAT trainer/spent some time with 7Sage at least, assuming that you’ve done a curriculum, a quality curriculum, you have two options I think to see how your habits are lining at.
One of them that I hardly recommend is the 7Sage Blind Review Calls. These are free. These are open to the public. I think they meet eight times a week now because Dave Levine also known as Dave Hollywood actor is just a rock star. And he took them. He is just taking them places that like I never imagined they could go.
And this is a recommendation for everybody. I don’t care if your average is 177 or plus. I don’t care if you’re getting 145 as your high score. The Blind Review Calls are for you. Go on the Blind Review Calls and talk to people on the call. Talk to them about, “Hey, this is like I missed this question and I thought it was because of this.” Somebody will say, “Well, can you really infer into that?” So you can say, “Oh, look I have an issue with like making this kind of inference like I thought this was totally right and it turns out that I overly inferred or whatever.”
The first thing I would say is go to Blind Review Calls. It’s basically like crowd sourcing the LSAT in there fabulous. I recommend them to everybody unless you haven’t completed a curriculum yet. Go do that first.
The second thing is when I work with students, about 90% of the work that I do is RC. I do reading comp three plus hours a day at a very minimum. So when I work on RC with people I mean this is the kind of stuff that we talk about. If you try the Blind Review Calls, and you still don’t know what you’re doing wrong, or you just want to expedite things, reach out to me. We’ll talk about it. Let’s see how we might be able to work together. So, how do you drill RC? Well, I don’t know. You just do it. Always do it timed. You can use a stopwatch to see how long you’re taking to read, that kind of stuff.
Okay, so we’ve got…oh, here’s a great question. Lots of great questions from Tyler Smith and shout out to the Blind Review Call people. “So how do you focus on reasoning structure if you don’t have a clue what the passage is about?” Look for cues like but, however, in spite of this, look for words you do understand. That’s a pivot word.
I know we’re shifting from talking about something to something else. One of the reasons I still hardly recommend my particular notation strategy is that it just doesn’t rely on your understanding because I know there’s a pretty good likelihood that that can…if that happened to me, on the October exam, it can happen to all of us really. That’s okay, you can recover from it.
So if you don’t understand it, look for where you do understand. Look for pivots. Look for inferences you can make about the tone or the author’s view. He says, “This is like incomplete.” So it sounds like he’s going to be adding to it. Look for what you do understand and go from there. But just know that just by notating effectively, you’re giving yourself a really solid foothold to eliminating answer choices even without understanding it. So yeah, you can always focus on reasoning structure.
Oh, and Michael, “What are Blind Review Calls?” Okay. So you can find out about these from the 7Sage forums. Dave, the Hollywood actor, post the schedule every week in there. And go to the discussion boards, and you can click on study groups on the side. And you’ll see all the calls for that week and that is, again, a really great free resource that is super helpful. You have both the opportunity to teach and be taught, which are two really great ways to learn more deeply.
We’ve got a couple specific questions about…okay, we’ve got a question about main point questions. We actually have two questions about main point questions. And then we’ve got a question about…most of them are supported kind of questions and how do you verify answers. It sounds like this is a good opportunity to go to this passage here. So I guess what I’ll do is I will read this for us, this is a little bit different from how I normally do this because I don’t read the test to myself out loud.
In tracing the changing face of the Irish landscape, if you want to read along, this is June 2007 passage for “Of the Irish Landscape.” Where are the Irish landscape. Scholars, who, have traditionally relied primarily on evidence from historical documents.
However, pivot, such documentary sources such historical document, documentary sources provide a fragmentary record at best. Reliable accounts are very scarce for many parts of Ireland prior to the 17th century and many of the relevant documents from the 16th and 17th centuries focus selectively on matters relating to military or commercial interests.
Okay, here is the problem that’s introduced. Scholars traditionally look at documentary historical sources. And guess what? They’re incomplete. So here is another option. Studies of fossilized pollen grains, studies what, preserving peats and other muds provide an additional means of investigating vegetative landscape change. Great.
Details of changes in vegetation resulting from both human activities and natural events are reflected in the kinds and quantities of minute pollen grains that become trapped in sediments. Analysis of samples can identify which kind of plants, right, because we’re investigating vegetative landscape change, produced in the preserved…what kind of plants produced the preserved pollen grains and when they were deposited and in many cases, the findings can serve to supplement or correct the documentary record.
Okay. So why is the author writing this passage? We’ve got a problem in scholarship and we have a way that we can supplement it. Okay. For example analyses of samples from Long Lough County and County Down, sorry, Long Lough and Country Down have revealed significant patterns of cereal-grain pollen beginning by about 400 A.D. The substantial clay content, he’s going to tell us why we care about this, the substantial clay content of the soil in this part of Down makes cultivation by primitive tools difficult.
Historians, who, historians thought that such soils were not tilled any significant extent until the introduction of moldboard plough in Ireland in the 7th century because cereal cultivation would have required tilling the soil, the pollen evidence indicates that these soils must indeed have been successfully tilled before the introduction of this new plough.
So we have new evidence that says, hey, but the historians, they had thought this. They thought that look, we do not have substantial tilling of the soil until the 7th century but they are wrong, that’s why we have this pivot. In fact they were tilling it somehow else, in some other way before the introduction. Anyway.
Another example concerns flax cultivation in the County Down, one of the great linen-producing areas of Ireland during the 18th century. Some aspects of linen production in Down are well documented but, but pivot, the documentary record tells little about the cultivation of flax. Ah, another problem with the documentary record.
The record of 18th century linen production in Down together with the knowledge that flax cultivation had been established in Ireland centuries before that time led some historians, which historians, some historians to surmise, what do they surmise? That this plant was being cultivated in Down before the 18th century. But, pivot, pollen analyses indicate that this is not the case. Flax pollen was found only in deposits laid down since the 18th century.
So again, there’s a lot of pivots because it’s a lot of correction of what these other historians think or what because they were relying on certain kinds of evidence, they were missing out on all these other conclusions that we’re now able to make or hypothesis we’re not able to pass.
It must be stressed though, actually I would add a pivot right here. That’s kind of a crazy looking pivot. Let me do that. It must be stressed though that there are limits to the availability. This is a very, very common passage structure right? We’ve got a problem. We’ve got a way to address it. We’ve got some more about that then we’ve got a limitation to this thing we’re recommending. So common, so common.
That there are limits to the ability of pollen record to reflect…okay, for example, I don’t know why I’m going to show you this. Pollen analyses cannot identify the species but only the genus or family of some plants, among this is madder, what’s madder, a cultivated dye plant of historical importance in Ireland. Madder belongs to a plant family that also comprises blah, blah, blah. If madder pollen were present, it would be indistinguishable. Okay, so here are the limitation. Great.
Do I need to understand this? No, no. If I need to talk about madder, this all applies to madder if I need to answer your question based on that right? Okay, let’s go to the question. Here are the main point question. I pause, I’ll say all right this passage is about, we’re talking about investigating vegetative, agriculture in Ireland. And if you rely as most, not as most, but as historians typically, scholars rather, as scholars and some historians have, they typically relied on the documentary record, that’s not so great, excluded a lot of stuff. One way to supplement that is through like pollen analyses. You talk about that. Great, why is the author writing this? To let us know about there’s this problem in this particular branch of history or whatever scholarship, and here’s a way to do it differently. Great. Okay.
A, analyses of fossilized pollen is a useful means of supplementing and in some cases correcting other sources of information regarding changes in the Irish landscape.
Here’s what I’m going to ask you guys to do. As I’m going through these questions, see if you can come up with some reasons to eliminate A. So just think about why could we eliminate A? What are some reasons to eliminate A? Just go ahead and I won’t say who says them but if you see a reason to eliminate A, go ahead and type it into the questions and we’ll talk about that. Okay?
Let’s do that for B. Analyses of historical documents…so again you’re writing into the questions box like reasons to eliminate B. Analyses of historical documents together with pollen evidence have led to the revision of some previously accepted hypothesis regarding changes in the Irish landscape.
Okay. So we’ve got someone saying, “Pollen evidence is not a supplement.” Interesting. Oh, you’re talking about A. Okay, great. For B, if anybody has reasons to eliminate B. I’ll tell you what, analyses of historical documents together with pollen evidence have led to the revision of some. You know it sounds like it’s not so much the analyses of historical documents. You see what they did there? It sounds like analyzing the historical documents ain’t really going to get you there. Have led like meaning the analyses of historical documents themselves have not led to the revision of some previously.
It sounds like this is in the different relationship like the pollen evidence is actually in many cases what? It is in many cases supplementing or correcting the documentary record. Right? So I would eliminate B based on that. It’s just assigning a different role to the analyses of historical documents. We’re not getting this from those documents. It’s really pretty much just through the pollen evidence so that’s like a mismatched emphasis there.
C, analyses of fossilized pollen has proved to be a valuable tool in the identification of ancient plant species. Is that the main point of this passage? Are we talking about identifying ancient plant species, or are we really more interested in supplementing or correcting the documentary record? This is both factually incorrect and too narrow. This is not about identifying ancient plant species. This is about something else entirely, so I eliminate C.
Analysis of fossilized pollen has provided new evidence that the cultivation of such crops such as cereal grains, flax and madder had a significant impact. We know, duh, like it’s not the analysis of fossilized pollen that tells us that these cultivation of these crops had a significant impact. We know that from the documentary record. We already know that. We have a fragmentary record at best but can they demonstrate the significance of that? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure that like this is too soft. It’s too broad, right?
E, while pollen evidence can sometimes supplement other sources, its applicability is severely limited. Whoa! This is radically overstating what actually happens in this last paragraph here. He’s like there are some limits. There are limits and the one that he sites is like it’s only genus species kind of stuff or whatever. No, E is way too strong.
I don’t see it. There’s no reason to eliminate A. I mean the pollen grains do supplement the documentary record. Okay, so I had another request. So that’s the main point question, right? Look, this one in particular, this one is you can really do more on the basis of the narrowness and broadness of it.
But look at this, is it the analyses of historical documents at least the revision? No. So we’re still eliminating based on the passage. And then look, you can refer, I don’t know, these are all pretty…you can eliminate this based on, just based on scope. That’s where reading for reasoning structure is just critical because if you hone in too much on these details, you’re just going to lose it.
Luke, he has a request to an inference question. Let’s see. Which this passage actually…I’m not really sure that it has…I mean we’re always inferring, right? But something that is most strongly supported. Let me think about this. Twenty-six could be in this. We’re always looking at how to bring together different parts of the passage to make inferences, or to see what is most wrongly supported, unless it’s specifically a weaken or a strengthen or this one, which of the following describes the relation, a method of reasoning, or a role, like those kind of questions. It’s always the same task of seeing what we can infer.
Indicates that prior to the use of pollen analyses in the study of the history of the Irish landscape, at least some historians believe which of the following. What is easiest to grab on to here? Some historians. Historians, we’ve got scholars up here. Looking at my boxes, my preplan of boxes. Historians thought that such soil, right, but this is prior to the pollen, to the pollen analysis.
They thought that it wasn’t tilled until after it is plowed but actually before 400 A.D. I think what it’s talking about is this thing here, some historians. The record of 18th century of linen provider has established. Okay, flax cultivation had been established centuries before that time led some historians to surmise that this plant was being cultivated in Down before the 18th century, but pollen analyses indicate this is not the case. Only in deposits laid down…
Okay. So in this case, it’s showing that in fact flax was not cultivated until basically since the 18th century. That’s the hammer that I’ve picked up. Irish landscape had experienced significant flooding. No, nothing about flooding. Cereal grain was not cultivated in Ireland until at least the 7th century. That’s a different part of passage. The history of the Irish landscape during the 16th and 17th was well documented.
We’re not talking about how it was well documented. We’re talking about the fact that pollen stuff showed actually the stuff was not cultivated until the 18th century. Madder was not used a dye plant in Ireland until after the 18th, this is like later, right? Madder comes in here, right? Some historians we don’t know. We don’t know what some historians think about this. We pivot away from them. We’re not talking about those historians anymore. The beginning of flax cultivation in County Down may well have occurred. There you go. That matches the hammer that we picked up.
Again, you certainly do have question types that are asking you to perform a particular kind of a task, like weaken this, strengthen this, and tell me what this is doing, that kind of stuff. Otherwise you’re always stringing together inferences to answer question.
You’re always looking for what’s basically most strongly supported based on the passage. It’s just a matter of if you couldn’t refer to some historians, and find some historians quickly, I don’t know how. I guess you would have to scan the whole passage but then you don’t have any confidence that that’s the only place are talked about. Anyway.
So I don’t have a strengthen or a weaken question in this particular passage to go on but look, it’s the same task. Here’s your task when you get an LR, a strengthen or a weaken question, right? You say to yourself, “What’s the conclusion? What’s the support? Why does this support not necessarily guarantee that this conclusion is the case?”
If you’re asked about which of the following would most undermine the author’s point in the final paragraph, okay, go to the final paragraph, what’s the conclusion? What’s his conclusion? What’s the support? What kind of support is it? What specific support? Why does that support not guarantee this conclusion? When you say that you’re basically finding what’s already wrong with it. And if it’s a weaken, you want to exploit that. If the author is arguing from correlation to causation, then you know how to weaken that right?
He’s saying A causes B, so you’re going to pick an answer choice that either says B causes A, a third factor causes both A and B, or there’s no relationship. That’s it. Just like a weaken question. So the trick to doing that in RC is just do the same thing. Find the conclusion, find the support, why doesn’t this support guarantee this conclusion, and either patch it up or exploit it.
So that’s it. That’s really it. That goes through for any…sometimes you’ll get questions where it’s like, “Which of these is an assumption on which the author’s argument in this part of the passage depends?” Well, that’s a necessary assumption. You find that this needs to be true.
So let’s see, I think I’ve gotten through all the questions. Does anyone else have any further questions? You can ask them now otherwise we are about seven minutes shy, six minutes shy of 7:00 which is perfect timing. If we don’t have any further questions, I will hopefully be able to get this recording out and you can get the slides on my website, again ILoveLSAT.com. Go to About Nicole, you’ll see them there. I have a link to them there. That’s probably the easiest way for you to get them. It’s a PDF.
Should you still schedule with me even if you have only three weeks left? Yes. I have limited availability, so yeah, absolutely go ahead. In my consultations, the goal of those consultations is to get your LSAT questions answered.
So I will do as much as I can in 30 minutes. We can talk about whatever inferences you’re struggling with or how can I change this, that kind of thing. We can talk about law school. We can talk about whatever you want to talk about. So absolutely go ahead and do that. Yeah, even if it’s me holding your hand and saying, it’s okay if you have to retake which is by the way very true. Retakes are fine.
How do I incorporate this notation with reading for structure? Should we just keep the structure in heart? Yeah, look, pivots always relate to reasoning structure. I always read for reasoning structure. I’m always asking like, “Okay, what is this? Oh, this is evidence to like this guy’s point. Oh, okay. Oh, and the author hates this. The author totally disagrees with it.”
I’m always reading to keep track of that high-level stuff. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then go on by the LSAT trainer and do the reading comp chapters, and he will teach you that better than I will teach you that. We already have partly reinvent the wheel. Go get the LSAT trainer and read his chapters on reading comp, on reading for structure.
So all right, okay guys. Thank you for your questions. Thanks for your participation. Let’s cross our fingers that this uploads. And definitely reach out to me if you have questions, or if you want to schedule a consultation. Again, you can just go ahead and do that on my website. Thanks so much guys. Best of luck in December. Break a pencil. That’s all we’ll say. All right, thanks again. Bye-bye.