LSAT Reading Comprehension Tips
The LSAT Reading Comprehension section is just one of the three multiple-choice sections on the LSAT test. The other two are Analytical Reasoning (logic games) and Logical Reasoning. The Reading Comprehension section contains four 400-600 word passages, each with 5-8 questions, for a total of approximately 27 questions to complete in 35 minutes. Of the 4 passages, one is a “comparative reading” section that is made up of two related shorter passages. Skills tested include drawing inferences, finding the main idea, understanding intricate text and the ability to compare and contrast. Topics covered in the reading passages include the humanities, social sciences, biological and physical sciences, and the law. The purpose of this section is testing your ability to effectively read and analyze complex details as is often required in the practice of law.
Just like the other question types on the LSAT, the key to mastering the Reading Comprehension section is to first understand the question types and then to practice, practice, practice. Strategies that will help you effectively read each passage and answer the questions include active reading and note-taking. In order to master Reading Comprehension, you must learn to remain focused as you read 400-600 words of dense, not so interesting text. By actively involving yourself in the reading process, you will be much better equipped to answer the questions that follow. As you read, look for clues in the text that will lead you to understand key concepts from each passage including:
• Main idea
• Explicit details
• Details inferrable from the text
• Contextual clues to the meaning of complex words or phrases
• Passage structure
• Author’s viewpoint
• Contrasting viewpoints
Knowing the types of details that are likely to be needed to answer the questions will help you be a focused, active reader and avoid merely skimming the passages.
The LSAT Reading Comprehension questions test you on your understanding of explicit and implicit details. Getting in the habit of marking up the passage as you read will help you find and remember key parts of the LSAT Reading Comprehension passages. Part of your preparation process should be figuring out the best kind of highlighting and notation that will help you most in answering the questions. As you gain experience through practice, you will learn which details are important for answering questions. Techniques like writing notes next to a paragraph can help you keep track of key ideas and structural elements.
Always practice using a timer as test takers often find it difficult to read 4 dense passages and answer 27 questions in just 35 minutes. At the end of your 8-12 week LSAT prep period, your goal should be to be able to read a passage and answer 7 questions in about 8-9 minutes.