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PLEASE HELP- Understanding the critical reading passages

strategicfiascostrategicfiasco Registered User Posts: 304 Member
edited December 2012 in SAT Preparation
Hi all,

So I have found out that the main issue that I am facing now is the fact that I am not understanding the main idea of NOT the passage but a particular paragraph in a passage. I was wondering if anyone knows a way- any way- to augment my understanding of passages. How can I get better at understanding what different passages are saying and understanding stuff in general. I use all the strategies used in this forum: marking line refs, avoid extreme language etc, but find that the main issue at the moment is misunderstanding what some parts of a passage are saying.

Please help

Post edited by strategicfiasco on

Replies to: PLEASE HELP- Understanding the critical reading passages

  • caughtintrafficcaughtintraffic Registered User Posts: 395 Member
    This is shallow advice and I'll come back and give you more in a few hours, but the best advice is just to practice, practice, practice.

    Take lots of practice tests. Cut out the questions you get wrong and tape them into a notebook. Review them frequently and try to really understand what the right answer is and HOW you get the right answer. In time, you will get better and better at understanding the passages.

    That being said, I'm not the best at CR. I got a 720 on that section and 800s on the other two.
  • Fizz14Fizz14 Registered User Posts: 109 Junior Member
    OK I am certainly, by far, not the most accomplished in CR, but I have been working on it endlessly and I think I grasp it very well now. In fact, it just so happens that I am working on my Critical Reading just this minute!
    Either way, are you doing anything to try to understand what you're reading? Are you paraphrasing, underlining, or taking notes in the margin or anything like that while you read?
  • caughtintrafficcaughtintraffic Registered User Posts: 395 Member
    How is your vocabulary?
    I think you have to help yourself at this point, if you are already using the different methods in this forum. Test out different methods (such as the ones suggested above) and see how they work for you. Which one works best? Keep track of that stuff? Try and figure out WHY you can't understand the passage. Does it make sense once you read the answer explanation or are you still confused?
  • strategicfiascostrategicfiasco Registered User Posts: 304 Member
    I'm not paraphrasing or writing in the margins although I will try this, but I'm always afraid of not finishing on time and that taking notes in the margin will take up too much of it. However, I do mark the line numberings etc and use noitraperps strategy which has helped me immensely. I do also underline stuff in the passage which is important for the main understanding of the passage.

    Vocabulary is fine, I have a list of 800 or so words that I know reasonably well and putting new ones in my book of vocab every time I see a new word that I dont know. The list was compiled from direct hits and the hit parade mainly. But I mean I think the problem lies in the area of understanding what the author is saying in plain english. Authors use wordy language and often phrases and metaphors that aren't exactly clear to me.

    Caughtintraffic, I do a similar method to what you have suggested where I write down why I got a particular answer wrong in a notebook. The patterns that I have found are that I don't understand parts of a passage. I can understand some parts and I get those questions right but then other parts I dont and simply can't get the answers right. However, Im not sure why I can't understand some parts of a passage. Suggestions would be greatly appreciated. It could be that the language itself used isn't quite clear and the author decides to use 100 words to make such a simple point. After reading the answer I do understand what the passage is saying and reading it after time is up I do understand the passage better, but Im still a little puzzled as to how best go from here.

    So the issue is I understand some parts and others no; however, I dont completely understand why I can't understand some parts. Once I understand that the Critical reading should be fine
  • YangfizzYangfizz Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    i don't if there is any way you can improve your understanding of the passage by reading it once in a short period of time, especially when you stumble upon certain words that are used in a metaphor that you don't really no clue what the author is talking about. Usually after you read a paragraph, if you can't write down the main idea, that means you are in big doodoo. it's suggested that you continue reading and start doing the questions, and when you contemplate questions on that specific paragraph, just read it carefully, sometimes just visualize when you reading to make sense out of it.
  • strategicfiascostrategicfiasco Registered User Posts: 304 Member
    Guys I just think I cracked the critical reading scoring my first 730 score and in time too. I think it was just a matter of speeding up on the things I could speed up on e.g. the sentence completions and marking the line refs. Thanks for the help.

    Although I didn't use the method of writing down the main idea next to each paragraph I will see if it works for me in forcing me to understand each paragraph. I was wondering though if writing down quickly the main idea of each paragraph is something you guys do. Would it be possible to show me like an example as to how this is done or how you guys have done it. Even a snapshot of what you mean would be really useful.

  • caughtintrafficcaughtintraffic Registered User Posts: 395 Member
    Good job!
    No, I don't think I really tried writing down the main idea. But if you do try it, you just have to write a down a few (literally) words, not a whole lot.
  • YangfizzYangfizz Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    okay, the below passage for example.
    View image: PSAT 2005 Saturday
    for passage 1, after i read the passage, i would write down rex is viewed as predator, but this persona is doubtful.
    for passage 2, i would write down t rex scavenger not hunder.
    30.a no , b no, c yes, d, no, e, no(passage 2 only)
    33. since passage 2 is against the argument on t rex being a killing machine, e is justifiable.

    writing down main idea primarily serves to answer general idea questions especially with 2 passages. these questions are tougher than line reference questions since line reference questions can be indicated directly or indirectly from the specific region of a paragraph(as long as you understand what you reading)
  • eg1995eg1995 Registered User Posts: 116 Junior Member
    I e heard the advice of reading the questions and looking Into the passage instead of reading the passage all together. Can anyone confirm this works?
  • YangfizzYangfizz Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    not really, i would say it's waste of time since it doesn't help you understand the passage.
  • strategicfiascostrategicfiasco Registered User Posts: 304 Member
    I agree with Yangfizz; if you don't understand the passage, you will not do well I'm afraid
  • strategicfiascostrategicfiasco Registered User Posts: 304 Member
    Yangfizz, thanks for this. For the longer passages though do you write the main idea for each paragraph or the main idea for the whole passage?
  • YangfizzYangfizz Registered User Posts: 151 Junior Member
    CC just detoryed everything i've typed out, :/, i will make this one short.

    pretty much, but keep you main idea concise and clear.
    okay, here is an example: section 9 of 2007-8 official sat practice test

    paragraph 1: old theaters r rebuilt
    2-3, new culture centers 4 commerce, lack substance.(after read it once, i don't quite understand paragraph 2 so i just write down)
    4, old culture should be preserved.
    5. real estators choose new over old.
    6. erase old culture, irony.
    7. example of a good old theater(performers rely on tech)
    8. restoring of old theater
    9. fill theaters people is a test.

    question 7 b main idea.
    question 8 d demolition can't take 20 years and theaters are not demolished, rather they are renovated.
    question 9. a theater is renovated with 'bar' from another theater, rescued and relocated is the answer
    quesiton 10. C, i chose D and got it wrong, i later revised it and found out sentimentalism is used to express the feeling toward renovation of new theater, not to be sad the decline of cultural value.
    quesiton 11. C. a contrast between new culture centers and those of old culture.
    question 12. C main idea
    question 13. A main idea, key word is commerce.
    question 14. B it can infered as the author is speaking against how morden people eradicate old culture.
    question 15. A, main idea.
    question 16 D, read the passage
    question 17. C read the passage
    question 18. C, main idea
    question 19, E, main idea.
  • strategicfiascostrategicfiasco Registered User Posts: 304 Member
    Thanks for this Yangfizz. I will try it out- your strategy- on my next critical reading passage. I think it's a good idea, although I have never done it. It seems though I have got the hang of the critical reading doing what I'm doing now. Perhaps, adding this strategy might augment my score further.

    Cheers again
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