- Documents are the normal tool for studying the history of Irish land. But, for certain periods there aren’t many documents.
- Fossilized pollen can help us figure out how lands used to be.
- First Example: Pollen samples from Long Lough in County Down show that cereal grain was harvested in 400 A.D. This is surprising, because the soil type is hard to farm. Scholars had thought it was only tilled with the moldboard plough in 700 A.D. Instead, tilling must have happened earlier.
- Second Example: County Down produced a lot of linen in the 18th century. Linen is made from flax. Scholars had speculated that flax was thus grown in county down before the 18th century. But, pollen analysis reveals this didn’t happen.
- There are limits to pollen analysis. For some species, such as Madder, pollen analysis can only identify the plant’s family, but not the species itself. Goosegrass, a weed, is in the same family as Madder. So, there would be no way to tell whether pollen was from Madder or Goosegrass.
This is a very dull passage, but it doesn’t have to be hard. I find when something is dull, I start to drift off. I’ve trained myself to pay attention to that sensation. When it happens, I just take a breath, and reread the section I had just read. I reread it actively. I’m looking for the relationship between things mentioned.
The LSAT isn’t like school textbooks. You can’t just drift off and succeed. But, fortunately, every word in an LSAT passage is important. So, you can make a game out of textual analysis itself. Whereas, in college readings, there is often a lot of legitimate filler.
You can force yourself to pay attention for 2-4 minutes. Just tell your brain it will be over soon, and it’s only ~400 words.
Here, the passage is about pollen analysis. The setup goes like this:
- Documents aren’t enough to analyze land!
- Pollen can help.
- First example: tilling
- Second example: flax
- Caveat: pollen can’t always identify the species
That’s really all there is to this passage. The rest is detail. I’m pretty sure you could answer the questions only with the one line summaries above + knowing where to look back when you need to find a detail.
Figuring out that barebones structure should be your goal on all RC passages. It’s always there. Look for structural words like:
- “However….documentary sources….fragmentary record at best” (lines 3-5)
- “Studies of fossilized pollen….provide an additional means” (lines 10-11)
- “For example” (Line 21)
- “Another example”(Line 33)
- “It must be stressed that” (a caveat) (Line 48)
Those are the keywords that indicate structure. This passage has unusually clear structural indicators, which is why I’m pointing them out.
There’s not much to analyze beyond the structure. If you want a clearer understanding of any of the paragraphs, check out the “paragraph summaries” section. There, I provided a more clearly worded summary of each paragraph.
Note: The passage talked about fossilized pollen. You may think that fossils are only dinosaurs. But, you must go with what the passage tells you. All the pollen examples in the passage are fossilized. So, this means that pollen from the 18th century has had enough time to fossilize. Therefore:
- Fossils aren’t only dinosaurs. They can be plants, such as pollen.
- Fossils can be relatively recent. As recent as 200-300 years ago.
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