After a go at a Reading Comprehension passage or two, you’ve come to realize that Reading Comprehension might not be a total breeze just because you know how to read. But then you hit your next mental block, which is the belief that studying for RC is pointless. How can a few months of studying change the way you read? You’ve been reading for hundreds of months—since you were a wee thing—and how you read now is just ingrained in you, right?
Be honest, how often do you regularly read something that is multiple paragraphs long while keeping track of multiple things at once? (The pictures in the BuzzFeed “articles” don’t count as paragraphs). With the reading for your classes, you’re either reading for the facts or for a general sense of what’s going on so you can raise your hand at least once a class (or every other class). And, you have as much time as you’re willing to spend to reread paragraphs to make sure you have the right idea.
RC is completely different from the reading you typically do, which means that how to do RC is actually not already ingrained in you. It’s a skill set that you can master with practice.
How can you get the most out of your RC studying? You need to put in the time, and you need to do it in a focused manner. You might not be the most focused at first (hearing phantom buzzing sounds from your phone, anyone?). But the ability to stay focused on one passage, and then more, will come while you’re practicing RC with purpose.
To do that, break down the different components according to the BluePrint RC method. Focus on one component at a time with a few passages, until you feel as though it comes naturally to you, before moving on to the next component. For example, if you’re just starting out, work on the macro and identify the subject matter, primary structure, and the role of the author in a few passages. Then, build on the foundation with other RC skills, such as tagging or marking up the passages.
Don’t work under time pressure while you’re working on mastering RC. You’ll need to do RC passages under timed conditions, but before you get there, you need to have the right form.
Once you’ve gotten to the point where you have a good grasp on each of the components of the RC method, do some RC passages and go over your markups, tagging, and other notes. What didn’t you keep track of? Secondary structures? Author attitude? Specific examples? Make a note to focus on those things the next time you do RC practice. It doesn’t matter if you got every question right or if the questions didn’t cover everything you missed. You just need to make sure you have the method down, so you can apply it spectacularly come test day.