Overcoming an RC score Plateau!

  • Admin
  • Oct 18, 2019

Around this time students often come up to me with either of these two complaints

a)      Scores are not improving and even b) Scores are going down!

When I started teaching I was naturally bewildered at what could be behind the enigmatic-decrease-in-scores-despite-multiple-inputs phenomenon . Yesterday one of our brighter kids sat down and wrote a mock with me. Observing him made me realise that thinking you are following the rules and actually following the rules are two different things. Hence this blogpost where I share the  top 6 reasons and solutions for a Score Plateau at this stage.

Each reason will be in question form. Ensure you ask yourself the question before you move forward, or the whole point of this blog post will be lost. Here goes!

1)      Are you comprehending the passage? Or only reading through with limited comprehension?:- The first hint that you have not understood the passage is if you are having to reread multiple times. Reading the passage multiple times like a scared rabbit helps no one and only wastes time. Ask yourself the following questions

a.       Are you pausing every few lines and PARAPHRASING/MENTALLY SUMMARIZING what came prior?Slow down if you are not, you might be reading too fast

b.      Paraphrasing/Mentally Summarizing is essential. After every paragraph/ concept given in the passage STOP and mentally recap  the major IDEA given above. Try and speak the same in simpler language. Do NOT Memorise Facts or worry about minor ideas.

c.       Are you able to grasp the MAIN IDEA of each paragraph?

d.      At the end of the entire paragraph are you briefly recapping the IDEAS given in the passage?

If not START doing so immediately! The biggest reason for low scores is attempting the questions without comprehending the passage.

2)      Are you reading silently? Or are you sub-vocalizing?:- Sub-vocalization refers to lip syncing the words while you read.  This slows your reading down immensely and eats up at least 50% time. You could easily attempt 10  more questions if you eliminated this flaw. Some techniques to do so

a)      This is very school marmish but try keeping your finger on your lip while  reading to try and get rid of this habit. At least initially. ( And needless to say do it in private when no one is around)

b)      Hold your breath till you complete a sentence! Again a weird solution but works. The logic behind both these techniques is that the brain can do only one major task at  a time and adding another conscious task ( to reading) ensures you don’t have the mental bandwidth to sub-vocalize

3)      Are you eliminating properly?:-This is the most important of all the points in this blogpost. Are you using the BEEN technique? That is eliminating options which are

a.       Too BROAD?- ( Signals are words like All, Every)

b.      Too EXTREME? ( Signals are extreme opinions which are controversial/ disputable)

c.       Bringing in EXTERNAL information?  ( Which is not given in the passage)

d.      Too NARROW?  ( Signals are words like Only)

4)      Are you noting contrast words which show change of opinion?

a.      Contrast words- Alternatively, although, apart from, but, by contrast, contrary to that, conversely, despite, even though, however, in contrast, in spite of this, nevertheless, nonetheless, notwithstanding, on the other hand, regardless, some … but others, still, then again, yet

b.      The moment you see these words you should understand there is  a SHIFT in MEANING

5)      Are you solving questions from memory? You should not. Always, always go back to the passage and cross verify each word given in the option.

6)      Do you recognize common TRAP OPTION TYPES which seem tempting but which are actually traps?Such as

a.       Which state something which is TRUE according to the passage but does not answer the ACTUAL question. E.g. the question asked was about the “Author’s Opinion”, the given option is stated in the passage but is actually made by the author’s adversaries and hence not the correct answer

b.      Marking something stated in the passage as an inference. An inference is never explicitly stated in the passage

c.       Which use keywords/jargon lifted directly from the passage but change the meaning ever so slightly but are very tempting because the language seems familiar

d.      Which invert cause and effect. For E.g  if the passage says alcoholism causes depression the option says depression causes alcoholism

e.      The option relies on an assumption which is common knowledge and hence seems tempting but which is actually not given in the passage. Remember the rule of Occams razor taught in class?

All these are some basic principles which if followed can easily increase your score by a good 10-30 marks. Some of them are quite easy to follow (Points 3,4,5 and 6). Some of them will require considerable hard work on your part ( Points 1 and 2). AnkGanit students can reach out in person if they need any more guidance!!


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