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What am I Missing About the Verbal?


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What is the underlying logic of this section? What does it want? The comprehension questions are employing some brand of reductive robot reasoning (or terribly sophisticated appraisal) that I just can't seem to hack.

I get 165ish on verbal, no matter what I do, and it hasn't moved one point since the first half-assed practice test I did six months ago. I don't run into any words I don't know, so it's not the vocabulary. I comfortably have 10-15 minutes per section left when I'm done, and that's with allowing myself to read the long passages closely through. My quant score is probably not going to cross middling, so it would be nice to compensate with a perfect verbal, at least, and I seem to have all the tools at my disposal to get those 4-5 missing points, including dead time on the test itself - I just can't figure out what to do with them. 

How the hell does one tackle this?

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I was in the same boat as you (extra time, sub-optimal scores, etc). 

On RC, here were my steps:

1) Map out the passages on scratch paper, identifying whether it was thesis/evidence, opposing viewpoints, or conventional wisdom vs. nuance. Those are the three main types, and be sure to read closely and make notes on important evidence. You have time, use it.

2) Make sure your answers fall within the scope of the passage. Sometimes an answer could be right, but will be considered OT by ets. Their definition is narrow, so use that rule as a guide after process of elimination. 

3) Aggressively mark and return at the end. If you aren't 100% confident, give yourself a chance at seeing it a second time, with fresh eyes. 

Good luck. 

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Thanks, I'll give it a try! I've tried going by strict process of elimination rather than, you know, what actually appeared correct, and I think it actually led to a slightly worse score. I nned some framework for it. 

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The passages are as much about what the text doesn't say as what it does. They want you to confuse an intimation for an implication. Think of it this way: if you developed amnesia before the test, and knew literally nothing besides how to read & reason, would you be able to surmise that inference? The test loves for you to make leaps towards commonly held beliefs based on the tone of the passage and something it hints at.

Another way of looking at it is thinking of yourself as a prosecutor, every passage as a confession, and every question as asked by a judge in the trial...you can make inferences only what is stated explicitly or implied in the passage, not on anything else, even if it is tempting to generalize. You must be able to infer, based on the text, beyond a reasonable it. The defense would love for you to read too far into it and make unsubstantiated claims based on preexisting beliefs that you hold, but that are not necessarily supported by the limited evidence admitted to the court.

Also, if two choices each share a logical implication, but one requires the shared logical implication plus something else to be true, it will always be the simpler of the two choices. That's the only way ETS could have only one right answer: if a choice that imply "x and y" and a choice that implies "x" are both options, and it is a multiple choice question requiring you to choose one answer, the only way to have only one true statement would be for "x" alone to be the answer.

Edited by InvisibleHand
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