LSAT reading comprehension strategies are an essential tool for acing the Law School Admissions Test, one of the common . If you want to earn a strong test score and , it’s a must to prepare for the reading comprehension section of the test. While it may seem more straightforward than the rest of the test, it can be deceptively tricky. In this article, we’ll cover our top LSAT reading comprehension strategies, why it’s important to prepare for this section of the test with good strategy, and a breakdown of the LSAT reading comprehension section.
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Why is it important to implement LSAT reading comprehension strategies in your and on the real test? Because even if you are a fast reader or have high reading comprehension or a sophisticated vocabulary, this section can still trip you up!
The passages in the LSAT’s reading comprehension section are designed to be dense, complex and test not only your ability to understand and draw conclusions or make inferences, but your attention to detail, precision and accuracy.
Fostering these skills and improving your reading comprehension for the LSAT can not only earn you a and help you get into law school, but it can also significantly improve your entire law school experience.
Being a law student or legal professional will regularly require you to parse through challenging reading material, apply your ideas or arguments in-context or to new contexts, and have a command of precise language and meaning. The LSAT is both a test of your abilities and a sort of preparation for and its various challenges. Mastering the LSAT’s brand of reading comprehension now will pay dividends when you are a law student in a rigorous program and reading complex texts is a daily must.
While the LSAT reading comprehension section might seem like the “easiest” of the , this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have solid strategies on how to approach this section—and ace it. More than earning an impressive score for your law school application, this section of the test teaches you foundational skills you NEED as a future law student.
Before we dive into the reading comprehension strategies, we’ll break down the LSAT reading comprehension section so you know what to expect.
There are 4 text passages on the reading comprehension section—3 standalone text passages and 1 pair of passages that are connected. Each text passage is followed by 5-8 multiple-choice questions about the content of the passages.
What type of questions are on the LSAT reading comprehension section?
The questions on the LSAT reading comprehension section may ask about any of the following characteristics of the passages, according to the LSAC, which administers the test:
- The main idea or purpose of the text passage
- Information explicitly stated in the text
- Information and ideas that can be inferred from the passage’s content
- The meaning or rhetorical purpose of phrases or words used in the passage
- The organization and structure of the text passage
- Applying information given in the passage to a new context
- Identifying the principles at work in the passage
- Analogies of the passage’s arguments, claims or evidence
- An author’s attitude or tone toward a topic
- How new information would impact the arguments or points of view given by the author(s)
The questions following the pair of passages will ask about the relationship between the two texts or the authors’ points of view. For example:
What are the text passages like?
You will not need any outside knowledge of the passage content to answer the questions correctly; all of the answers can be found or inferred from the text. Each passage will be around 500 words long, drawing from a variety of subject matter in the humanities, social sciences, biological and physical sciences, or topics related to the law.
For example, one passage might be from a scholarly article, or scientific report. Another might be court documents or a passage on case law.
How long is the reading comprehension section?
Including the time you will need to read the passages in this section, this means you only have about a minute and a half to 2 minutes for each question.
It’s recommended that if you aren’t sure of the correct answer after 1 minute, flag the question and return to it later. There is no penalty for incorrect answers, so it’s better to guess and get a chance of answering correctly than leave a question blank. In general, save any questions that seem particularly challenging to you until later, rather than getting stuck on them and using up valuable time.
Next, we’ll cover our top LSAT reading comprehension strategies and how to implement them in your LSAT studying sessions.
Here are our top 6 strategies to approach the LSAT reading comprehension section:
1. Understand the author’s point of view
All of the LSAT reading comprehension questions require you to understand the author’s point of view and the main point they are making in the text. When reading a passage, make note of:
- The thesis of the entire passage in your own words
- The author’s main point or argument
- The author’s subpoints, if any exist
- The author’s tone or attitude
- What the author is trying to accomplish
- Key words and phrases that support the above points
While you’re reading, keep these salient points in mind, especially any key words or evidence that might be clues to the correct answer.
2. Read the question and pay attention to key words
The question or possible answer choices themselves may have some of those key words you identified in the text.
The LSAT is very careful about word choice and uses precise language. Highlight words that are indicative such as “must”, “may”, “or”, “could”, “shall”, “infer”, etc. All words used in the question are intentional and will help you select the right answer. In reviewing the answer choices, pay attention to what is being said and what is not being said or implied. Remember that some answers may be true, but not entirely correct or accurate per the question being asked.
Here are a few examples of how questions might be phrased on the LSAT reading comprehension:
- The primary purpose of the passage is to _______
- What most accurately states the main point of the passage?
- Which one of the following best captures the author’s attitude/point of view toward _____?
- The author most likely does _____ in the first/second/third paragraph primarily to ______
- The author would be most likely to assent to which one of the following proposals, based on evidence provided in the text?
- The word/phrase ____ used in the text most closely means _____
- Which one of the following is most analogous to this [situation or argument cited in the passage]?
For the comparative reading questions, you might see questions phrased like this:
- Which of the following ideas or questions is central to the thesis of both passages?
- The two authors would be most likely to agree/disagree on what?
- The relationship between passage A and passage B is most analogous to what?
- Which of the following most accurately describes the relationship between passage A and passage B?
3. Use only the information given in the question and formulate your own answer
Before reading any of the answer choices, formulate your own answer after reading the text passage and question. Then, when you read the answer options you will be able to better identify answers that don’t match or don’t fit your answer.
It’s important to keep in mind you should use ONLY information and arguments provided in the passage to support your answer. Do not use outside information, even if you have background knowledge of the topic discussed in the text.
4. Analyze the answers and eliminate the wrong choices
On questions where you aren’t sure of the correct answer, it can help to eliminate wrong answer choices. After reading the text and questions, if you can’t come up with your own suitable answer, read the possible answer choices.
Analyze them carefully and choose two of the wrong answers that are either not true, not supported by the evidence in the text, or not a complete answer to the question being asked. This will increase your likelihood of choosing the correct answer, and it may be easier to see whether one answer is stronger or more accurate than the other.
5. Select the MOST correct answer
For each question, you need to select the MOST correct answer. This is where precision, accuracy and completeness are valuable. The possible answer choices might sometimes be vague or similar to one another, but there is only one truly correct answer.
Given your understanding of the text and the question being asked, choose the answer which addresses the question completely, truthfully and most accurately. If there is a missing element in the answer or something that doesn’t quite ring true, it’s likely incorrect.
6. Don’t spend too much time on each question
You may find yourself going back and forth on a text passage or question, or maybe agonizing over two similar answer choices.
If you’re not certain of the answer within a minute, flag the question and move on to the next one. If you have time at the end after answering all other questions, return and try to tackle the answer again. If you’re short on time and have many questions left to answer, make your best guesses after eliminating wrong answers and checking for key words that can give you a hint.
There is no penalty for choosing a wrong answer, so you shouldn’t leave any questions blank. A guess is better than 0 points for any one question.
While it’s smart to have some strategies on how to approach reading comprehension questions on the LSAT, these strategies hinge on your ability to understand the complex text passages you’ll be reading.
Luckily, reading comprehension is a skill that can be improved, and your reading muscles can be strengthened. Here are our tips on how to do this:
1. Read Regularly
To get better at reading requires, well, reading! The more you read, the better you’ll be able to understand what is being discussed, the faster your reading speed and comprehension of text becomes and you’ll also broaden your vocabulary a bit. All handy skills to have for the LSAT.
However, what you read is critical. The LSAT uses dense, complex texts in its passages, so you should focus your reading sessions during LSAT study on similar texts. Read scholarly articles in journals focusing on the humanities or sciences, periodicals, high-profile articles in magazines or newspapers or even classic literature. For the LSAT, reading court documentation or summaries of court decisions can help you understand legal jargon in context and train yourself to read complex legal texts.
2. Write Practice Tests
There’s no better way to test your LSAT reading comprehension strategies than practice tests. We recommend starting your LSAT study off with an LSAT diagnostic test, so you can get an initial impression of the entire test and see how well you score.
During your studying, take regular practice tests for the LSAT, both timed and untimed. Or work regular and LSAT practice problems into your schedule to see how you’re improving. Continuously taking practice tests allows you to practice the strategies we outlined above, see whether your reading comprehension skill is improving over time and get you comfortable with the LSAT’s format and structure. Win-win-win.
3. Review Right and Wrong Answers
For every practice test or practice LSAT question you complete, don’t forget to review your answers. Discuss in your own words why the correct answer is correct and why the wrong answers are incorrect or not the MOST correct answer.
The more you do this, the better you’ll be able to implement the LSAT reading comprehension strategies we outlined above, since you’ll better understand which answers are the most correct, accurate and complete for each question. And you’ll become more adept at identifying wrong answers and why they are incorrect, making you more confident and sure in your responses. It also means you’ll be faster at determining the correct and incorrect answers, steadily improving your LSAT timing.
1. What are the best LSAT reading comprehension strategies?
The best LSAT reading comprehension strategies are:
- Understand the author’s point of view
- Read the question and pay attention to key words
- Use only the information given in the question and formulate your own answer
- Analyze the answers and eliminate the wrong choices
- Select the MOST correct answer
- Don’t spend too much time on each question
2. How can I improve my reading comprehension for LSAT?
To improve your reading comprehension ability for the LSAT, read regularly the type of texts you will encounter on the exam, and take regular practice tests while implementing good LSAT reading comprehension strategies.
3. How much reading comprehension is there on the LSAT?
The LSAT has an entire reading comprehension section, which has 26-28 questions and 4 text passages. You’ll have 35 minutes to complete this section.
4. What is the reading comprehension structure of the LSAT?
The LSAT’s reading comprehension section includes 4 text passages: 3 standalone and 1 pair of passages. Each passage has 5-8 multiple-choice questions you need to answer based on the information given in the passage.
5. What is a good LSAT score on reading comprehension?
6. Why is LSAT reading comprehension so hard?
Reading comprehension is not everyone’s best skill, and it is one of the reasons why the . The difficulty of the LSAT reading comprehension section comes from the density and complexity of the text passages, the high-level vocabulary used and the very specific use of language in the passages and questions. It requires careful attention to detail and precision to master.
7. What is the easiest LSAT section to master?
The easiest LSAT section may be different for individual students. Some may find the reading comprehension section the easiest because they are strong readers, while others may find the logical reasoning section easiest for them to comprehend.
8. What should I read to prepare for the LSAT reading comprehension?
To prepare for the LSAT reading comprehension section, read texts that mimic the real passages you’ll see on the test. Read scholarly articles in the humanities and sciences, or similar articles in magazines and newspapers. Some LSAT passages will be directly related to the law, so reading court documents or legal texts can be helpful, too.