Scoring Higher on Reading Comp – The Power of Prediction
April 5, 2013
Like all sections of the LSAT, Reading Comprehension presents its own challenges. Students looking at Reading Comp often comment on the difficulty of reading through long (and sometimes boring) passages and answering questions in limited time. The ultimate goal of course is to answer the questions efficiently and correctly and yet there is often an initial resistance by newbie test takers to changing their approach to this section. Interestingly enough, methods for approaching Logic Games and Logical Reasoning are immediately adopted and put into use; but time and incorrect answers, will eventually lead to a change in approach for reading comp as well.
A key approach to garnering points on reading comp is prediction. As you are reading the passage take time to anticipate where the author is going. For example, if the author is arguing against a theory ask if the succeeding paragraphs will present additional arguments against the theory or present a new theory. The power of prediction is an essential tool in answering questions as well.
Have you been in this position? You have a reading comp question and you easily eliminate one answer choice right off the bat; reading through the choices, you read and re-read two more choices and are finally faced with the last 2, each of which “sound good”; you then take a minute or more to decide between them and finally chose one – only to realize later that you picked the wrong answer. The new approach – predicting the answer instead! With a prediction in hand, answer choices are simply read with an eye towards whether an individual choice matches the prediction – no match, eliminate it!
Of course, some questions lend themselves to prediction more easily than others. Detail questions usually are straight forward and the answer easily reveals itself. A review of passage map will enable a quick prediction to a global question. Inference questions, asking what must be true, can often present challenges, yet the answers to these questions can also be predicted, even if only a general prediction narrowing down a point of view.
Like any new skill, predicting answers to reading comp questions takes time and practice. However this skill will develop and ultimately result in greater efficiency and more points. Start working on predictive skills and see the payoff on test day!