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Reading Comprehension Section

Discussion in 'DAT Discussions' started by jikang, Apr 12, 2004.

  1. jikang

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    Hello, Reading Comprehension Experts.

    I have big problems in reading comprehension.
    On the real test, I made 14 on RC and this was the major reason for my rejection. I saw some students make 28 or 29. I have no idea how they make this score!!!

    My problem is when I read a passage, I understand it, but when I solve questions, I waste my time going back to the passage and searching the key sentences. How about you, experts? Do you remember all the information in the passages or make notes when reading? Please give me an advice. :D
     
  2. sxr71

    sxr71 Senior Member
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    Well, I think that practice is what helps the most in this section. My strategy is to read the passage thoroughly and then answer the questions both from memory and by referencing the passage. I think that sometimes you have to trust your memory when answering questions without looking back at the passage. One thing that always tempts me in the middle of a long passage is the temptation to start skimming over the rest of the passage in the hope of coming back to read it again. Do not succumb to that temptation! Always read every part of the passage with the same sense of thoroughness. You do not have the time to come back and read parts of the passage again, you only have time to reference a few facts or statements.

    One piece of advice that I think will help you is this: read the passages for their meaning and don't obsess over details. The details will come to you automatically if you read the passage for understanding. (this advice comes to from the very talented people at Exam Krackers).
     
  3. drat

    drat I catch huge fish.
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    I am not an expert and haven't taken the real DAT yet, but I can offer a few words of wisdom...First of all, I consider reading my weakest area. I'm a natural born scientist ;), and I am utterly amazed that for my 2 practice exams on Topscore, I've scored 22 in the reading comp both times. I'm a SUPER slow reader and usually run out of time on standardized testing...

    But this is my approach and it really, really works...Plus, I usually have 15-20 min left over to go over my answers.

    I read only the first sentence of each paragraph. On a blank sheet of paper, I write down the main idea for each paragraph. For example, this is from one of the passages I studied over the weekend.
    1. primary and secondary syphillis
    2. causes
    3. congential parallels primary and secondary
    4. danger to fetus
    5. cong. syphillis development
    6. crack
    7. $$, early treatment
    8. . .you get the point...

    Then I read the questions and from the questions, I know which paragraph to look at. Like, one question asked how syphillis is transmitted to a fetus, and I know the answer can be found in paragraph 4. The questions for Topscore do not typically go in order, so I found my little "cheat sheet" to be very valuable. Hope this helps you out!
     
  4. gatorfan99

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    I actually got a 23 on this section. It all came from practicing it on the computer at the Kaplan center. By the time I took the real thing, because I had done full-lenght RC sections like 6 times before, time simply was not an issue. As a matter of fact, I had like a minute and a half of spare time when I finished it..


    gatorfan.
     
  5. jikang

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    Thank you for all your wise strategies.
    I'd better try those methods whether they work on me.
     
  6. Woodsy

    Woodsy S-D-N Blue Blood
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    if you have time, try the verbal reasoning on the MCAT to improve your reading time and analysis! that is awesome prepartion!
     
  7. rsweeney

    rsweeney Senior Member
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    My approach at the reading comprehension was that I read the topic sentences of each paragragh first to "map-out" the passage sort-of-speak. The topic sentence informs you as to what that particular paragraph is about, and all of them together tell you the topic and scope of the passage. Once you know that, let the questions lead you to the passage. We are all human and we are generally [at least I am] overly careful. So, even when you mistakingly read the whole passage before you approach the questions you are going to feel inclined to go back a second time to find your answer once you know what the question is. You should trust your memory to an extent, but why not remember a few topic sentences rather that a whole friggin passage. Rest assured. you WILL go back to the passage to find an answer just to make sure, even if your "memory" thinks it already knows the answer.

    Here is what I did. For example--I would keep something of this sort in the back of my mind---"paragragh one is on prevention," "paragragh two is on diagnosis", etc. Then, after quickly and carefully absorbing the topic sentences I carefully scanned the whole passage at warp speed looking for key scientific words along the way. That whole process takes only ~1-minute. Now all you have to remember are those topic sentences and possibly any key scientific words along the way--rather than the entire passage. Then I systematically approached and answered each question. There will always be a "big" word(s) in the queston stem and topic sentence that should catch your attention and lead you the the respective passage. NOTE: "big" word is the stimulus that reminds you of either the topic sentence or the key scientific word you found and stored in your head while scanning the passage at warp speed. Drat has some good key words/phrases to pay attention to in the topic sentence, passage [look for them while you scan], and question stem. Here is Drat's list of "big" words/phrases:

    1. primary and secondary syphillis
    2. causes
    3. congential parallels primary and secondary
    4. danger to fetus
    5. cong. syphillis development
    6. crack
    7. $$, early treatment

    Like I said, this method gave be ~1min per question. It also only took ~1min to soak in the topic sentences and scan the passages for key words. Doesn't it make total since? If you read the whole passage you will give yourself minimal time with minimal accuracy to do the un-planned inevitable--and that's to go back and inefficiently look for the answer. With the method Drat and I have recommended, you will give yourself ample time with maximum accuracy to do what you have already practiced/planned for because you will have practiced your approach over and over again.

    As you see there is a big difference in the potential for success by using the bad way versus the smart way of approaching the reading comprehension section.

    I personally believe reading the whole passage is a big mistake, unless you're are an extremely fast reader. It was imperitive for me to be scientific with the passage. As applicants to dental schools we are all scientists in our own way. Search for key words in the question stem and focus on that word while carefully scanning the passage for it. It worked for me---however use what you find works best for you. Also, I imagine you are more tuned to reading texts on a computer screen than in books. Taking the DAT on the computer was a big help. I sat up-right the whole time, and I could scroll up and down with ease.

    The bottom line, if you have had trouble with a particular strategy before, do not use it again. Buy Top Score Pro from www.scholarware.com, the Kaplan big blue book, or take the Kaplan free online exam. Practice on the computer--- Go to it!

    The only method I recommend not doing from Drat's list is writing the words/phrases down on paper. This will take a lot of time and energy. Studies have shown that we remember small words, phrases, blocks of words/phrases better than large groups of things--of course. Look at phone numbers, account numbers, SS#'s, people's passwords--all arranged in an easy to remember way. If you try Drat's way [minus writing the words/phrases down on paper] and my way you will be very surprised at the amount of easy-to-remember key words/phrases you will have stored in your brain come to time look for the answers.

    I only recommend against Drat's writing the words/phrases down on paper just because I am trying to encourage time-effeciency. The reading comprehension section is physically and mentally draining [and you will be physically and mentally drained before you get to the reading comprehension section anyway], so do as little physical activity during this section [like writing on paper] as possible. The reading comprehension section IS a marathon. If you read the WHOLE passage from beginning to end or write stuff on paper so that now you have two points of focus, it's more like a biathalon. Which would you rather do?

    Best of luck to you!

    -Richard :thumbup:
     
  8. hockeydentist

    hockeydentist 1K Member
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    I scored pretty high on the REading sections, I took both times. 20 and 23. I suggest, reading on the computer for a change instead of reading magazines. This way it helps in training your eye to read on the computer vs reading in a magazine.

    Practicing is the key my friend.

    The Top score program is a great indicator of how well your going to do on the real thing. my plugg for topscore. especially with REading.

    As far as strategy for REading section. people swear that they don't read the passage at all. they look at the question and found where it was in the passage. Not a bad strategy, but that can back fire on you when questions ask for interperation, or what is the author trying to state. There were questions that were straight forward and easily found in the passage.

    Strategy number 2(bit of luck involved), if you are shooting for a okay score in reading like around 18-19. Spend your time on two passages and random guess on the last passage. IF you get 2 our of the 3 passages all correct, your score is around an 18 i think. Random guessing on the third, one might get lucky just enough to get you a 19.

    hope this is helpfull

    :thumbup:
     
  9. sxr71

    sxr71 Senior Member
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    ^^^ I don't know if I would recommend strategy number 2. That sounds too risky and I don't really see the benefit. I'm a very slow reader and I still had time to finish reading the passages.

    I think that if you read the passages intently, you will have a good idea which part of the passage contains the answer to your question. This is very important for this test. The DAT reading comprehension is so heavily oriented to picking up facts (as opposed to being inference oriented) that everyone will find the need to refer back to the passage for a few questions and you should know exactly where in the passage to look for the answer. What I mean about not having time to read parts of the passage a second time is that you should read every paragraph well, since you won't have time to re-read entire paragraphs or large chunks of the passage. While there was only one inference question per passage on my test, there are a few questions that require you to combine information from different parts of the passage. In order to answer those you might find yourself re-reading two paragraphs. However the majority of questions stay within the realm of one paragraph and you can score quite well without anwsering those tougher, more time consuming questions.

    Some of the strategies posted in this thread are very good and will help you do very well on this test. Just try a couple of strategies and see which one works best for you.
     
  10. hockeydentist

    hockeydentist 1K Member
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    Something to practice
     
  11. dr_benj

    dr_benj Senior Member
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    Got a 25 on the reading comprehension. My strategy....don't read the paragraphs at all, just read the questions and then skim the passage until you find the key words asked in the question. The passages are by no means very technical on the DAT. Reading the entire passage once over before reading the questions is just a huge waste of time. You don't need to even know what the passage is about or understand it at all to answer a majority of the questions correctly. Just my method....I'm sure others will disagree.
     
  12. sxr71

    sxr71 Senior Member
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    ^^^ If you got a 25 with your strategy, then it is proven to have worked well. I got the same RC with my very different strategy. So it is really important for everyone who did well to post the strategy they used, and it is important for the future test taker to try all of them and settle on the one that works best for them.

    I do agree that you don't usually need to know what the passage is about except for maybe one question per passage (if that). So "working backwards" can earn you an excellent score as well.
     
  13. hockeydentist

    hockeydentist 1K Member
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    I have to agree with Benji

    I used the don't read and answer the passage strategy the second time I took it 23.

    I think it works
     
  14. Biogirl361

    Biogirl361 1K Member
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    I also got a 25 on RC when i took the dat last month, my strategy was the one about reading the first sentence of each paragraph and then going right to the questions and using key words to find the answer. Most of the questions on my test weren't really comprehension questions, for the most part I was able to find the answers stated clearly and sometimes word for word from the question. ;)
     
  15. jikang

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    Wow! All you guys have your own strategies for RC!!!
    Unfortunately I didn't have a good one and failed the section~~~~ :smuggrin:
    Thanks for all your brilliant ideas. :D
     
  16. busdriver

    busdriver what do i know?
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    i agree with dr. benj 100%! all the people that i talked to for help on this section just told me to not read the passage but go straight to the questions and look for the answers because they dont ask for interpretation (at least not on my test). i did this on the real thing and i got a 25 on reading like dr. benj. you should definitely consider this strategy if you're a slow reader like i am. :thumbup:

    *edit - oh yeah...dont forget to practice practice practice (especially on the computer).....make sure you time yourself...
     

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