Manne with a Plan: Reading Comprehension
April 18, 2017
In this monthly series for LSAT Test Prep, KTP Expert faculty member Kathy Manne takes you through alternative test prep strategies and offers tips to help you prepare for Test Day. Kathy has spent years developing alternative study methods with hundreds of time-crunched LSAT tutoring students.
You and I are embarking on a journey that requires no LSAT practice tests or prep books. What do you need? Your brain, some paper, and a pencil.
Let’s dive in with a purportedly “easy” topic: reading. You know how to read—you’ve been doing it for years. So, how did you do on the Reading Comprehension section of your most recent LSAT practice test? You nailed it, right? Right?
The importance of Reading Comprehension practice
Most students ignore Reading Comprehension, figuring they know how to read and regurgitate facts. However, that is not what the LSAT tests. Can you determine the structure of the passage? Extrapolate ideas from the reading with which the author would agree? Determine why the author included a specific word or reference? If not, you need Reading Comprehension practice.
Know what to look for in passages
Set aside 10–20 minutes a day with an article and a list of questions to practice reading comprehension. Good reading sources have short, well written articles. Consider periodicals or newspapers such as National Geographic, Smithsonian, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, or professional journals such as ABA Journal, IEEE, Science, or Nature.
Pick an article about a page in length, or about 300–500 words (LSAT readings average 450 words). Attack the article like you will on Test Day. Take notes as you read: Write down the topic, scope, purpose, and main idea of the reading; the main point per paragraph; and opinions. As you read, ask the following:
- Who said what?
- What is the purpose of the passage?
- Where is the author going with the next paragraph?
- When did X occur in relation to Y?
- Why was a certain detail mentioned?
- How was the passage structured?
Anticipate potential questions
When you are done with reading the passage, ask yourself all possible Reading Comprehension questions. For example:
- What was the topic, scope, and purpose?
- What was the main idea?
- What was the main point of each paragraph?
- How was the writing structured?
- Who held what opinion?
- Did the author express an opinion, or agree with a particular side?
- Did the author make any logical arguments? Identify the conclusion, evidence, and assumption for each.
- How could you strengthen, weaken, or evaluate stated conclusions?
- Why did the author use a specific word or phrase, or include a certain example?
- What statements might the author agree or disagree with? What about other people cited in the passage?
- Can you devise an analogous method or process?
- What sort of details were included, and where were they located?
Add reading practice to your study routine
With daily practice, you will improve your reading and note-taking skills; become familiar with the question types; anticipate what questions the test maker will ask on any reading; and improve your reading speed. All of these skills add up to an improvement in your Reading Comprehension score on Test Day.
Put your reading skills to the test by signing up for a free online practice LSAT.