Almost every single standardized test has some form of reading comprehension section, and the LSAT is no different. Since reading comprehension requires students to read critically and analyze a passage, some may find this section difficult.
The reading comprehension section on the LSAT is one of the most difficult. That’s why we spent hours pouring over past reading comprehension passages and questions to bring you this guide. We will help you improve your reading comprehension score on the LSAT, so you can get into the law school of your dreams.
LSAT Reading Comprehension: The Basics
Out of the four sections on the LSAT, one of them will be a reading comprehension (RC) section. There will be four reading passages with 6 to 8 questions per passage.
The whole section will have about 27 questions. You will have 35 minutes to complete the section .
There will be reading comprehension passages about science, law, history, and humanities. Some of the questions will ask test-takers about their understanding of the author’s main points.
Other questions will be concerned with the structure and specific details about the subject matter within a passage.
You will be expected to understand the author’s approach in writing the passage and how their choices affect the main point of the RC passages. You will not receive an individual score for the RC section, but it will be wrapped up in your overall LSAT score.
What Makes This Section So Difficult?
Many people find RC sections to be quite familiar since they are present on almost every standardized test. For the LSAT, many test-takers feel that the reading comp section is especially difficult.
The LSAT reading comprehension section is hard because you are only allotted a short time to complete it. It was designed so that most normal people will not have enough time to complete all of the questions. It is possible but difficult for most people.
Keep reading for tips on how to be successful with timing.
Another reason test-takers find this section difficult is because it is hard to boost your points unless you do some fine-tune studying. Most people focus on the logic games section during their LSAT prep since it is easy to make big improvements in your score once you get the hang of it.
Another complaint amongst LSAT registrants is the density of the reading comprehension passages. The two most difficult passages are about science and law.
They often contain niche jargon that many people may find hard to understand. The humanities passages are slightly easier, but they can be long and arduous. While the LSAT reading passages might be difficult, there are always study methods you can use to improve your score and practice.
Tips For Success
Choose Your Passage Order
Before you begin your LSAT test, you should skim each passage in the section and decide which one you would like to answer first. Many pre-law students like to answer the passages they are most familiar with first.
They will often leave the science passages for last since the reading material is dense, and the questions are difficult.
You should pick the easiest passage and answer it before moving on to the harder passages. You should read the passage quickly by skimming over the keywords.
Don’t spend too long on each passage. Once you decide the order you would like to answer them, read the passage and answer the questions.
By choosing the passage order, you are taking more control over your point potential. It can be difficult to finish all the LSAT RC questions in the time given. Choosing your passage order ensures you will tackle the easier questions first, which means you are more likely to get them correct.
Pick Your Question Order
Similar to picking your passage order, you should also pick your question order. We recommend skimming the questions and choices before choosing which one you want to do first. Sometimes the answer choices can glean important information for the other questions.
When answering the questions, pay attention to the wrong answers as they might give you some insight into the correct answer for other questions. This will maximize your points potential and can give you insight as you answer the questions.
Answering the easy questions first can also help you eliminate wrong answers in the future, especially if the passage structure is similar.
While we think it is important to summarize as you go, do not take too much time summarizing useless information. You should make a few notes while you read, but don’t waste time scrutinizing and making detailed notes. Try to summarize the main point the author is trying to make while you read.
When reading the passage, remember to focus on specific keywords that might indicate the point the author is trying to relay to the reader. This will come in handy when answering questions.
In each paragraph, always underline the key idea the author is trying to portray. You can also use a shorthand approach to note-taking, which can be helpful.
Understand the Question Type
You should study the different question types that show up on the LSAT. Once you have an understanding of what type of question you are dealing with, you can use a standardized approach to answering it.
The common question types you will find on the LSAT are central idea and primary purpose, method and structure, specific recall, specific function, inference, and author agreement questions.
You should try to practice all of these question types and remember to learn how to identify the correct answers. Each question type will have one answer that sticks out. Don’t be afraid to save a question for later and go back to it. You may have a different opinion next time.
LSAT Reading Comprehension Mistakes
Making Too Many Notes
While we agree that taking some notes is a good idea, remember not to waste time taking too many notes. Do not spend too much time underlining words that will not help you answer the questions.
Make a few notes in the paragraph margins about the author’s intention, but don’t underline words that will not help you score points.
For example, contrasting words such as “however” and “but” should be circled since they indicate a contradiction to the author’s original point. As you read the passage, practice identifying keywords in the paragraph that can help you identify the question types later on.
While we think it is important to understand the details of the passages, don’t spend too much time going back and re-reading everything you just read. Sometimes students get nervous and have a hard time taking in details.
We recommend practicing your active reading skills before you take the LSAT.
Start by identifying key phrases in the passage and learn how to make quick and easy notes. This will save you time later. When you are having a hard time remembering the passage you can take a quick look at your notes instead of re-reading.
Taking Too Long to Read
Remember every second counts when reading the LSAT text passages. You should practice reading more quickly before you take the LSAT. It can greatly reduce the time you spend reading and allow more time to think about the questions.
You only have about 3 to 4 minutes per passage. Our advice is to always read quickly and efficiently. Some of the sentences used in the LSAT reading passages are put there to purposely confuse you. You should start by recognizing those fluff sentences and move past them quickly.
Not Understanding the Main Idea
We cannot stress this enough, if you feel like you do not understand the main idea, then you probably don’t. It sounds simple, but it can be harder than you think.
The LSAT passages are written in a way that can confuse students on what the author is trying to express.
When you read a text, start by going through the answers and seeing if any of them stray from the author’s main point. If they contradict the general idea, then strike those wrong answers out immediately. Most of the wrong answers will be outside the scope of the passage.
Relying on Memory
It is important to exercise your memory muscles while taking the LSAT, but when you get to the answers, don’t rely solely on your memory. If you are not sure, then go back to the text and take a few minutes to find the correct answer.
The answer is always there even if you may not see it right away. If you feel at all unsure of your memory, then start heading back to the passage for a second to identify the source that proves the answer correct.
Inference questions are one of the hardest question types on the LSAT. The whole premise behind inference questions is that the answer is not apparent in the passage.
Do not waste your time going back to the passage to try and find the answer. You should try to remember the main idea and identify inferences from there.
One of the best tips we can give you to avoid this LSAT mistake is to look for strongly worded answer choices and rule them out. This question type is asking what must be true. Any answer with strong words, such as “always”, can likely be ruled out immediately.
Not Using Time Wisely
This might seem like a given, but use your time wisely on the LSAT. Don’t waste a single second so that you can get to all of the questions before the time is up.
Identify your strengths and weaknesses before you take the test. If you have a good memory when reading dense material, then don’t spend too much time making notes. You should spend more time analyzing the question types.
Read More: When to Start Preparing for LSAT?
LSAT Reading Comprehension - The Takeaways
We understand how hard the LSAT can be for many students, especially the reading comprehension section. We wanted to bring you a thorough guide on how to improve your score and reduce mistakes when you sit for the LSAT exam.
Remember to focus on your weaknesses for the LSAT. If you excel at reading passages and answering questions, then learn the basics and go in with confidence.