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Best Reading Comprehension Strategy?

Discussion in 'DAT Discussions' started by masterlocke18, Feb 22, 2011.

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  1. masterlocke18

    masterlocke18 2+ Year Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    I just took a full practice DAT for the first time through Kaplan and found that the Reading Comprehension was a lot more difficult than I thought. What is the best strategy for getting through this section. Kaplan said to take good notes while you read?
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  3. Kahr

    Kahr Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

    I've had similar experiences. So far I've tried the normal method of reading through the entire passage then answering the questions with going back to clarify information I can't remember accurately. I've also tried Vicviper's method of doing the opposite, reading all the questions first, then looking for answers in the passage. The first/normal method worked slightly better for me.

    A different method I recently tried was simply to read 1-2 paragraphs, then skim the questions quickly to see if any could be answered with what I read, then repeating for the next 1-2 paragraphs. I found this worked best for me, as I could remember very clearly what I read in just 1-2 paragraphs, it also removed the need to re-read anything, since I could essentially eliminate what I had already read, this I think is a huge time saver, as having to go back over the entire passage looking for answers can take forever and be frustrating.
    jujubeess and Predentjim like this.
  4. masterlocke18

    masterlocke18 2+ Year Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    I think that is a great method, but we asked the Kaplan instructor and he said that going all the way through all of the questions and then back really takes a lot of time on the real test because there is just one question on the computer at a time. Someone who has already taken the DAT could correct me on that.
  5. macker13


    Feb 20, 2011
    I took an online practice test from Kaplan before taking the DAT and honestly felt like Kaplan was making things way harder to get students to buy their products/classes. From my experience, the reading comprehension passages on the DAT were much easier to comprehend and the questions were more straightforward than Kaplans. The real reading comprehension exam seemed to be harder than TopScores but easier than Kaplans.

    Also, just as a side note, I went into the test thinking I could just read 4 or 5 questions and then skim the passage for answers thereby avoiding reading and wasting time. This strategy worked for some questions but eventually I had to read the passage in order to do some critical thinking. Hope this helps!
  6. masterlocke18

    masterlocke18 2+ Year Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Thanks that totally helps. I came out of that test pretty worried because my scores were all a lot lower than I expected. I had heard that they try to make it harder to get you to sign up but I wasnt sure. I have a lot of work to do but I wasnt expecting the low scores that I got.
  7. Kahr

    Kahr Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor 7+ Year Member

    I suppose that would be true if the computer/software is super slow when flipping through questions (I do not believe this is true, if it was, then Vicviper's strategy which requires going back and forth through the passage and questions would have failed because of time lost, but he finished early and got a 30 iirc). I can't believe that overall more time is spent going through questions/passages with one method or another, I think the time drain must occur when you reach a question and can't answer it even if you read the necessary sentence(s) and should be able to answer it, that's where you start adding on time wasted going back to "double" check, or even end up guessing.

    Theoretically, the fastest way would be to read the passage once, and then answer all the questions in one go, because you would only go in one direction. But this requires you to strongly remember everything in the entire passage, not something most of us can do with great accuracy. Isn't this the standard method Kaplan suggests? I tried this, but like I said in the earlier post, I still had to go back a few times, and my memory ended up being fuzzy on certain questions.

    So the method I mentioned for myself, I felt like I was hitting a middle ground between time spent and superior accuracy. I don't know why Vicviper's strategy works so well for him and some others, but if it didn't work for you, then like the Kaplan people said, it could end up being a huge time waste (going through all the questions first, and then going back and forth between reading and remembered questions, etc).
  8. Jones23


    Nov 6, 2010
    It is highly unlikely if you struggled at reading comprehension that you will get that much better. The passages are always different. The best way to try and prepare is to have a solid foundation in science. One passage will be scientific 9/10 times, so if you have a strong background you should be able to get through that one quickly.

    Constantly looking back at the questions and answers without reading the whole passage is a good way to fail. You must attempt to read the entire passage and then proceed to answering the questions.
  9. americanpierg

    americanpierg Senior Member 5+ Year Member

    Dec 8, 2005
    I second this. I did almost the same thing, read first few paragraphs, read first few questions, and started answering and working my way through. Ended up with a 25 in RC. Although it was awhile ago, I still remember the questions I probably ended up getting wrong and it dealt with having to anazlye some data (who puts math problems in the RC section?!!?!??!!)

    It also has to do with how your study habits are and how good of a reader/memorizer you really are. I'm a crammer, and I am very very good at it lol. Sometimes I study days before an exam as well, but usually about 12 or so hours before the exam I would go through every lecture, all notes, every single thing right up to a minute before the exam. If you're a good crammer, you can quickly read through a chapter (or in this case the reading passages) and still retain a good chunk of information especially since you've become adept to picking out what the important parts are. You don't even have to know exactly what you're reading... just enough about it to come out with the right answer... if that makes any sense.

    If you're the type that takes studying slowly... have to start studying weeks before an exam and have to go through the material multiple times in order to retain the information... you might have a tough time with this section.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2011
  10. Green85

    Green85 2+ Year Member

    Feb 23, 2011
    For me, I took Kaplan and I felt that it really helped me prepare for the RC portion of the DAT. I took a combination of 2 strategies....1. Kaplan and 2. Reading the first few paragraphs and answering questions. How i did this: I would read through the first 3 paragraphs to get the idea of the reading, and at the same time I would number down my sheet (since the paragraphs are numbered on the real DAT) and write key words for each paragraph. For the subsequent paragraphs I didn't read, I would write key words that stuck out (kaplan method) for each one. The first few questions in each reading usually come from the first 3-4 paragraphs so you could easily breeze through without wasting much time. Then if a question comes up about, say, a certain protein....or treatments for a certain illness....you could check your sheet and see where that type of question/ key word comes up and jump right to it. I had 5 minutes left after I was done to go back and answer the indept questions (like "inference") that require more reading and interpretation. I think its an efficient strategy, but like all, you have to practice to be fast. I dont think having knowledge of the material beforehand really helps unless its in quick questions like the Bio portion. Im an ICU nurse, so I breezed through A&P Bio questions, but the anatomy of a frog?! FML, lol! Hope this helps, and Good Luck all!
    cpk40 likes this.
  11. mjo

    mjo Member 5+ Year Member

    Apr 25, 2011
    I wanted to know if on the real DAT you are allowed to highlight words on the computer in the reading comp section. Also, was Topscore helpful? Do they provide enough practice exams, similar to the difficulty of the real DAT?
  12. mjo

    mjo Member 5+ Year Member

    Apr 25, 2011
    I wanted to know if on the real DAT you can highlight words on the computer for the reading comprehension section. Also, is Topscore helpful? Are the exams that they provide sufficient and equal in difficulty to the real exam?
  13. mjo

    mjo Member 5+ Year Member

    Apr 25, 2011
    what exactly is the kaplan method? just read the entire passage, jot down key words, then do all the questions?
  14. iamgosu

    iamgosu 5+ Year Member

    Oct 13, 2008
    double post, and no, you cannot highlight anything.

    i don't have Topscore, so I'm not sure. Honestly, if you read for fun (newspapers, books, journal articles) on a regular basis, the RC section should not be that difficult.
  15. Vicviper

    Vicviper Steve McAwesome 7+ Year Member

    Nov 19, 2008
    Visalia, CA
    The Kaplan method for RC is to make a "Map" - in which you basically read the entire thing, all the while numbering each paragraph and jotting down some key words from it. After you make your map, you're supposed to start going through the questions, and then use your map as a guide for finding the information. While this works for some people, I just found that it didn't work for me, and I would either end up going faster and making a crappy map, or taking too long, making a detailed map, but since you can't predict the questions very well, a lot of the detail you did can be useless.

    So, I came up with my method as a modified Search and Destroy, and it worked really well for me - but it's very important to know that RC is unique in that everyone does it a different way, and everyone wraps their mind around the questions differently, so that one strategy doesn't work for everyone.

    Here's my method:

    Also, as per your question, no, you cannot highlight anything. And to the above question, yes, you can change between questions near instantly, there's no real lag time (the downside though is that when you change questions, the passage goes back to the top, so give yourself a mental bookmark). Good luck!
  16. Pre-Dent Student28

    Pre-Dent Student28

    Jul 24, 2015
    Are the questions on the real DAT in order of appearance in the passage or very mixed up? I took the Crack the DAT reading questions and they were relatively in order and I got 19-21 on average. But now that I am trying the DAT Bootcamp, the answer to the first question is for example in paragraph 11, making the questions very difficult to answer. And my score dropped to 16 :( Any advice?
  17. BYU4you

    BYU4you 2+ Year Member

    May 22, 2013
    4 yer old thread but still relevant.

    The questions I found generally followed the order of the passage but there were definitely a few mixed up.
  18. BetaHelix

    BetaHelix 5+ Year Member

    Oct 4, 2010
    I would say there is no strategy. Kind of like asking a major league ball player on their "strategy" at becoming a professional. They probably can't answer that. It just takes time patience and practice no shortcuts.

    I'm replying to you because reading has been my weak point since forever. I was a math major and never liked reading for pleasure.

    I started reading magazines on science several months in advance . You want to read fast paced technical material. When I was done I would think and try to remember all the important facts without looking and see how long the information stayed fresh. Scientific America is good. Political journals etc. Economic issues Etc. Buy as many practice materials as you can afford. Crack dat reading was helpful as well as dat boot camp.

    Just spend lots of time. Do a few passages a day for a few months in advance. You'll get the hang of it. I was terrible in this section and scored a 24 and you can too.

    I think the advice some give that have you read questions before is terrible. Read the passages get an outline and remember where important info is not the specifics. And go back to those sections if necessary.

    ArabBagel likes this.

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