The LSAT’s Reading Comprehension section, with its dense passages drawn from the humanities, the social sciences, the biological and physical sciences, and areas related to the law, might be the most challenging section you’ll face on test day. As always, you won’t need prior knowledge of any of the topics you’ll encounter. All the knowledge you’ll need to answer the question sets for each passage will be contained within that passage. Nothing changes on the digital LSAT—you’ll still need to use the critical reading skills to deduce relationships and draw reasonable inferences from long passages. What will change, of course, is how you’ll experience these passages in the tablet format.
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1. Know the lay of the land
A typical “page” from the Reading Comprehension section is similar to what you’ll see in the Logic Games section. For example, the bubble bar navigation feature at the bottom of the screen clearly indicates the beginning and end of the four passages in the section.
The left-hand column, however, looks a little different. Given that LSAT passages are, on average, 450-550 words long, you’ll always see a scroll bar that runs along the side of the passage. Because of the lengths of the passages, the LSAC has built in a “Passage Only” option for reading. When you click into this mode, you won’t see a question. Instead, you’ll see as much of the passage as the font size and line spacing you’ve chosen will allow.
Any highlights or underlines you add while in “Passage Only” mode will persist when you return to the “Passage With Questions” screen. That means that you can mark up the passage in “Passage Only” mode, and when you return to the question layout, you’ll see all of the same marks (highlights or underlines) that you made in exactly the same places in the passage text. As you’re practicing, you’ll want to try using both modes to see which one feels better. Do you prefer doing your initial, strategic read-through in “Passage Only” mode or are you ok without this feature? Whichever way you choose, stick with it as you’re practicing so it becomes second nature.
2. Always be triaging
As in Logic Games, you’ll want to triage the passages before diving in. Again like the Logic Games section, clicking the first question for each passage will allow you to give them a quick once-over. Use your personal preference for subject matter along with a more objective evaluation of the ease and clarity of the language to determine the order in which you want to tackle the passages. If you know that you get bogged down in science passages, leave those for last and spend more time on the passages you can get through easily.
3. Set up your scratch paper
You’ll almost certainly want to jot down some notes as you read each passage. While your scratchwork won’t be anywhere near as complex as it will in the Logic Games section, it’s a good idea to have your pages labeled with something like “P1,” “P2,” and so on to keep each passage separate. This is especially true if you want to work out of order.
On the paper-and-pencil test, Kaplan students learned to “roadmap” the passage by circling or underlining keywords and jotting down brief margin notes next to each paragraph. The highlighting and underlining tools in the digital interface can be used for the first part of that roadmapping strategy, but don’t go overboard with these attractive tools. Learn to zero in exclusively on the keywords that help you read more efficiently and effectively to target LSAT points. In the digital interface, of course, all paragraph notes or summaries will now have to go onto your scratch paper. Practice effective paraphrasing so that you can capture the author’s purpose and point of view accurately in just a few words. More than that, practice taking notes and how you’ll set up your desk so you can refer to your notes and tablet without looking like you’re watching a tennis game.
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No two test takers will take identical notes, so don’t strive to replicate any method word-for-word. Evaluate your notes by how much they helped you anticipate the questions associated with the passage and how quickly and accurately you were able to research the passage to find any and all correct answers.
4. Figure out your question type
For each question, try highlighting the question type in the question stem. With practice and experience, LSAT experts learn that different types of Reading Comprehension questions reward different research and evaluation skills. You can use the digital highlighting tool to tag words in the question stems that indicated different question types. For example, “states that” indicates a “Detail” question type, while “most likely to agree” signals an “Inference” question type. Again, the digital tools can be used in myriad ways to make the tablet interface work for you. Use as few or as many as makes sense to you until you find a method that works.
5. See scrolls
Use the scroll bar to help you research. In LSAT Reading Comprehension, most of the questions will reference (either explicitly or implicitly) a specific paragraph or piece of text. Expert test takers research the text before evaluating the answer choices. We recommend that you align the paragraph to be researched with the question you’re tackling to make your work on the digital platform more efficient than identical research in the paper test booklet.
On the paper-and-pencil test, some question stems would have specific line numbers to indicate where the quoted or referenced text appeared. Line numbering is impossible in the digital interface (as test takers can vary the font size and line spacing), so any question that would have cited line numbers in the paper version will now highlight the referenced text in the passage. The color of the highlight, by the way, is different from any of the highlighter colors available to the test taker. The advantage of this is that you don’t have to worry about conflicting markings, or searching for where the text begins, making the reading process more efficient.
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