I found the lsat reading comprehension section to be the most difficult to improve. Since reading comprehension essentially tests how well you can quickly read and retain information, which is a skill that you have spent your entire life learning, I thought it was tougher to re-learn ‘how to read’ for the LSAT.
The Logic Games section of the LSAT, on the other hand, is VERY learnable. You haven’t spent the last 15-20 years learning how to do logic games… so I found it easier to improve my logic games scores by simply learning what types of logic games to look for and how to attack each game type.
can WILL improve LSAT reading comprehension. If this is a section that you are struggling with, then I would recommend that you spend a considerable amount of time on ONLY working on reading comprehension questions. So, rather than taking an entire LSAT preptest, find 4 old preptests and JUST work on drilling the RC section.
If you still have 6+ months till the LSAT, I would strongly suggest picking up a subscription to the Economist and maybe The Wall Street Journal and NYT… By constantly spending months reading the same sort of dense, complex, material that you will see on the LSAT reading comprehension section, you will help to develop the skills that are required on the LSAT.
Of course, if you are reading this post, chances are you are starting to get serious about LSAT prep, and you probably don’t have 6+ months to read countless articles to try and develop your general reading skills.
If that is the case, there are still plenty of things that you can do today to increase your score on the reading comprehension section of the LSAT.
Try to figure out why you are missing questions. You can improve your LSAT reading comprehension score considerably only once you figure out where you are going wrong. Are you running out of time? Or are you finishing with time to spare and simply selecting the wrong answers? Or are you running out of time AND performing poorly on the questions that you have answered?
If you are running out of time, but generally getting most of the questions that you do answer correct, then it is probably DRILL TIME. At that point, you have a clear understanding of the basics, and you will probably improve your score the most by simply working on more and more RC sections and becoming more and more familiar with the patterns that seem to arise consistently within the Reading Comprehension section of the LSAT. Take 3 or 4 days and work primarily on ONLY reading comprehension passages.
Learn to recognize patterns that the test-makers have consistently relied on over the years and try to cultivate your sense of where questions are likely to be drawn from.
- Recognize differing viewpoints WITHIN the passage – for example, if the first half of the passage talks about the benefits of X, and then you see “However, critics claim…” You should automatically start thinking about things like… Where exactly do these two groups differ? Which groups take which stance? What does the author believe (In favor of the proponents view? In favor of the critics view? A Neutral third party?)
- Be aware of lists. (e.g. “First… Second… Finally…”) – If an RC passage contains this type of language, then you can be somewhat certain that a question will pop up requiring you to refer to something within that list.
- Unfamiliar terms – If you are reading a reading comprehension passage and you run into an unfamiliar or technical term, there is a decent chance that one of the questions (perhaps one of the more difficult ones) will relate to that term. Underline the term, remember where it is. Don’t spent too much time reading and re-reading the passage to try and figure out exactly what that term means, but if you are at least aware of it, and know where it arises within the passage, then you can quickly reference the paragraph of the passage wherein that term is found if you do happen upon a question about it.
- Always try to understand the MAIN POINT of the passage. What is the passage trying to convey? What is the author trying to get across to the readers? This will not only help you read the passage more efficiently, but it is very common to see a question about what the main point of the passage was.
- Click Here for More LSAT Reading Comprehension Strategies
The key to the Reading Comprehension section of the LSAT, from my perspective, was learning to recognize these types of patterns and anticipate what questions were likely to be asked. DO NOT read the questions first. Always read the passage first. However, DO learn to anticipate what questions to expect.
Try and read the passage in about 3 minutes or so on average. That will leave you with 5:45 on average to answer questions. If you spend too much more time reading the passage, the increased comprehension often will not make up for the smaller amount of time that you will have to answer the questions. You want to have a decent understanding of the overall content of the passage, but you don’t want to risk reading and re-reading a sentence that you don’t even know will relate to a question.
DRILL BABY DRILL.
Find maybe 30-40 reading comprehension passages that you haven’t seen before (and won’t be working on in later full-length preptests). I’d draw from LSAT preptest 30 or below for this purpose.
Start by working on maybe 10 (or so) RC passages. Time yourself, and try and finish as quickly as you can, but try and get EVERY QUESTION correct. If it takes you an hour to finish one passage correctly, then spend an hour on it. Just try and get everything CORRECT. After completing each passage, carefully review. Make sure that you understand why each correct answer is correct and (if you got it wrong) why each incorrect answer was answered incorrectly. Generally, the reading comprehension section of the LSAT is the easiest section to figure out why the correct answer is, in fact, correct. However, if you still don’t understand, PLEASE ask someone for help! I always try to answer any questions left in the comments, so feel free to ask your questions below.
Keep a log.
After each section, you need to be logging your progress. In your log, write down: the # of the LSAT preptest from which you took the reading comprehension section; the amount of time it took you to complete the section; the number of questions that you answered correctly and the total number of questions (e.g. 5/6); as well as a notes section, where you can describe things like how you felt about the section, timing issues that you ran into, the type of question that you got wrong, the subject matter of the passage, etc.
Back to Basics.
If you are taking untimed LSAT reading comprehension passages and still missing more questions than you are comfortable with, then it is time to get back to the basics and hit the Reading Comprehension Bible. Spend a couple of days reading through the RCB again, and use the notes that you took down in your log in order to focus on the sections of the RCB that relate to your weaknesses.
Once you are comfortable with the content of the reading comprehension section of the LSAT, then it is time to work on your timing. You should have 30-40 reading comprehension passages set aside for drilling (preferably from preptest 30 and below- check here to find out where to get each and every official preptest). Instead of spending your prep time working on full LSAT preptests, if you are trying to increase your reading comprehension score, focus only on reading comprehension passages. Work on one passage after another. Time yourself. Try and complete each passage in 8:30. If you don’t finish in time, make a mark so you know how many questions you answered before the timer went off, but continue to finish the passage. In your log, note the LSAT preptest # and whether the passage was 1st 2nd 3rd or 4th within the RC section of that preptest. Note how long it took you to complete the entire section. Note your score that you would have earned at 8:30, and your score that you earned in the entire time it took you to complete all questions. Finally, make any notes about the questions that you struggled with, the type of questions that you missed, your mood, etc. Anything that might have been relevant to your score. After you thoroughly review that section and understand why you missed what you missed, continue with another passage.
If you usually would work on 1 full-length practice exam per day, try working on 10-16 reading comprehension passages per day, meticulously logging and reviewing after each. At the end of each day, look over your log and try and find patterns in your mistakes. Typically, students will struggle with the same type of question over and over OR continuously make mistakes on the last couple of questions on a passage due to time. Try to figure out what question types you struggle with and then use the reading comprehension bible to work on that question type. Continue to drill in this manner until you are averaging about 8:30 per passage with an accuracy that is acceptable to you.
If you struggle with lsat logic games / analytical reasoning or lsat logical reasoning, repeat this process with those sections… then start taking full-length exams. Continue to log your progress, review your answers well, and work on your weaknesses.
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