Countdown to LSAT: Reading Comprehension
LSAT prep marches on, and so does our quest to continue churning out tips and tricks until the big day. We’ve already covered Logic Games and Logical Reasoning, so this week we’ll look at Reading Comprehension.
The Reading Comprehension section tests your ability to glean important information from dense text. Often as a law student or lawyer you’ll be faced with a lot of dense material that requires analysis. Reading Comprehension will measure how quickly and efficiently you can read such material, and how much you can retain from the reading.
The Reading Comprehension questions contain a short reading — usually a few paragraphs – and then a few multiple choice questions. Each question has five possible answers.
I’ll be honest with you — the Reading Comprehension section is one of the hardest to improve; however, with some practice and hard work, it’s totally doable.
Get used to dense material: Most of the reading we do as undergraduates or for just fun is not nearly as dense as what you’ll be facing in law school. If you have time, try to get used to reading that kind of material. Good examples of the quality of articles you’ll find on the LSAT are those in The Economist. Most articles in the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times aren’t too far off either. Spending time reading just a few articles a day will help you learn to process tough material, and prepare you for doing so quickly when you actually take the LSAT.
Focus on your weakness: If after taking some practice tests you’re not scoring as highly as you’d like on the Reading Comprehension section, make sure to figure out where exactly you’re losing points. There are really three main ways to have problems on this portion of the test. Either you’re running out of time, getting the wrong answers, or a combination of both.
Figure out where you’re struggling, and then work based on that. If you’re having timing problems, you might just want to drill yourself constantly, but maybe you don’t need to focus on learning word patterns that make finding answers easier. On the other hand, if you’re having problems with comprehension but not timing, concentrate on learning tricks to more effectively analyze the readings.
Look for clues: As with other sections of the LSAT, you might be able to improve your score by learning some patterns inherent in the section. Lists (first, next, third) are often pretty easy to find, and the subsequent questions usually involve something included in that list.
Avoid red herrings: As with Logical Reasoning, sometimes it’s easier to eliminate answers first, then look for the correct selection. Make sure to look out for wrong answers that are tricky — sometimes a wrong answer will contain information from the paragraph that’s only slightly tweaked, or irrelevant information that seems useful but isn’t the main point of the paragraph. Don’t be scared to eliminate answers first — then you’ll have less to focus on when you actually need to select the correct one.
Be strategic in note taking: It’s not actually a very good idea to take extensive notes when you’re doing the Reading Comprehension section because it’ll take up way too much time. However, very strategic markings can be helpful — on the first read through it could be good to mark what you think is the main point of the passage with one symbol and a counter argument with a different symbol. Keep your markings consistent and then you won’t have to go back and search for information that you thought was important when you’re answering the questions.
As always, practice, practice, practice, check out our articles for more tips on LSAT prep, and continue your hard work. The June LSAT is coming up, and I’m sure you’ll all do great.
Anneliese Mahoney (@AMahoney8672) is Lead Editor at Law Street and a Connecticut transplant to Washington D.C. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from the George Washington University, and a passion for law, politics, and social issues. Contact Anneliese at amahoney@LawStreetMedia.com.
Featured image courtesy of [Jayel Aheram via Flickr]