What's tested on the LSAT Reading Comprehension

What’s Tested On the LSAT: Reading Comprehension

While there are many ways to improve your LSAT Reading Comprehension score, here are a few strategies that will get you started on the right track to acing the LSAT Reading Comprehension section.

 

Timing

To finish all four passages in the allotted 35 minutes, along with saving some time at the end to go back and review your answers, you should be completing each passage in 8 minutes. Four passages at eight minutes each totals 32 minutes, leaving you three minutes to check over your answers. While it may seem daunting to finish a passage in that short of a time period, if you manage your time wisely you can do it! As a first step, try to read and annotate the passage in 3 ½ minutes or less.

Prioritizing Passages

At the very beginning of the Reading Comprehension section take a quick glance at each of the four passages and decide the order in which you are going to read them. Prioritizing passages is mainly a question of personal preference. If you are a history major you will probably be able to finish a passage about Henry VII quickly. On the other hand, if you have a background in the sciences you will want to start out with the passage about stem cells. Through practice, you will discover that some passages are inherently easier for you than others. Start with the easy passages and end with what you feel are the harder passages. As a general rule, the comparison passages tend to be harder than the other passages so leaving those for last is not a bad idea.

The Kaplan Method for Reading Comprehension

Step 1: Read the Passage Strategically—circle Keywords and jot down margin notes to summarize the portions of the passage relevant to LSAT questions; summarize the author’s Topic/Scope/Purpose/Main Idea.

Step 2: Read the Question Stem—identify the question type, characterize the correct and incorrect answers, and look for clues to guide your research.

Step 3: Research the Relevant Text—based on the clues in the question stem, consult your Roadmap; for open-ended questions, refer to your Topic/ Scope/Purpose/Main Idea summaries.

Step 4: Predict the Correct Answer—based on research (or, for open-ended questions, your Topic/Scope/Purpose/Main Idea summaries) predict the meaning of the correct answer.

Step 5: Evaluate the Answer Choices—select the choice that matches your prediction of the correct answer or eliminate the four wrong answer choices.

Prioritizing Questions

 As in all sections of the LSAT, there are some questions in the RC section that are easier to answer than other questions. In general, the easiest questions are those that ask you to refer directly back to the passage, commonly called “Specific Questions”. These questions will read along the lines of: “In line X the author is trying to do Y”. Questions like these are the easiest to answer because all you have to do is go back, read one or two sentence before and after line X, and answer Y. Here is an example of one such question: In lines 25-28 the author draws a distinction between…”

The harder questions to answer are those that ask you to infer something from the passage, whether it be the author’s overall tone, or the main point of the passage. These questions, “General Questions”, should be left until after you have answered all of the specific questions described above. While it may seem easier to answer a general question about the main point of a passage immediately after you have read the passage, there are at least two good reasons why you shouldn’t do this. First, by answering the specific questions before tackling the general questions you get a better idea of what the writers of the LSAT think the key points of the article are. Second, leaving the general questions until the end ensures that you have already gone back at least once and read parts of the passage in answering the specific questions. In essence, you have read the passage twice before you start tackling a question such as: “The author’s tone in the passage overall is best described as…”

Reading Comprehension Question Overview

Question TypeIdentifyTask
Global“main point”

“primary purpose”

“organization”

“title”

Think big picture.

Review T/S/P/MI.

Consult your roadmap.

Detail“according to”

“passage states”

“author mentions”

Research the relevant text.

Correct answers will be a very close paraphrase of something stated in the passage.

Inference“author implied”

“passage suggests”

“inferred”

“likely to agree with”

“author’s attitude”

Research if possible.

Correct answer will follow from the passage but will probably not be a close paraphrase.

Logic Function“function”

“primarily in order to”

“for the purpose of”

Research the relevant text.

Look at the context to determine why the author included the referenced detail.

Logical Reasoning“supports”

“undermines”

“principle”

“analogous”

Use appropriate Logical Reasoning strategy.

 

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