The LSAT is one of the most challenging admission exams to prepare for. Each of its six sections requires developing a specific set of skills. The skills needed on the LSAT are the same skills utilized in law school. For example, the LSAT Reading Comprehension section requires you to complete a complex set of operations while reading. These include comparison, analysis, and synthesis of the given information. Due to the time constraints and its difficult texts, the LSAT test-takers might find the reading section difficult to prepare for. In this article, we are going to share with you everything you need to know about the LSAT Reading Comprehension section as well as some LSAT study tips to ace the exam.
What is the structure of the LSAT Reading Comprehension section?
First, let’s talk about what exactly the LSAT Reading Comprehension section consists of. Test takers have 35 minutes to read four passages and answer 6-8 questions for each reading. This means that the LSAT Reading Comprehension section features in total 26-28 multiple-choice questions, which have to be completed in 35 minutes. If equally divided, you will have around 8 minutes per reading to go through the text and answer the accompanying questions.
What do LSAT Reading Comprehension Passages look like?
The reading passage will include different subject areas such as humanities, social and physical science, law, arts, and history. The LSAT Reading Comprehension section consists of four text passages. Three of these passages are extracts of a single article between 400 and 500 words in length. The fourth one is a pair of two related 200-word passages. This paired passage is also known as Comparative Reading and it has no set position – it can appear at any point in the section.
All passages are designed to test the test takers’ skills of deriving and understanding information from a given text. Any additional or specialized knowledge of any subject area is unnecessary in this case as you will rely only on your reading skills.
What do the LSAT Reading Comprehension Questions look like?
Each reading passage has 6-8 associated questions with five answer choices each. All questions are 1 sentence in length. You will have to understand these clearly in order to choose the correct answers from the five answer choices below. Although more than one answer may sound true, there will only be one correct answer which will most accurately respond to the particular question.
There are seven different question types listed by the Law School Admission Council:
- Questions about the whole passage: These are general questions.
- Questions about what the given passage implies: These are questions about the main ideas of the passage.
- Questions requiring the use of context to refine meaning
- Questions about the author’s in the given context
- Questions requiring the recognition of analogies or features in different factual settings
- Questions about the author’s attitude towards a particular issue
- Questions about the significance of additional information
- Questions on the paired passages: They may refer to only one of the passages or both of them.
What skills does the LSAT Reading Comprehension require?
The LSAT Reading Comprehension questions require various operations such as finding the main point or purpose of the passage, identifying the function/role of words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs, and making inferences.
The reading passages are typically organized around one main idea. Test-takers should be able to quickly discern this main idea and then keep on reading while having it in mind. Another important skill to have while doing the Reading Comprehension section is good time management, as it enables test-takers to focus on reading efficiently without losing too much time on the details of the passages. In most cases, a good strategy is to focus on the first sentence of each paragraph (which often serves as a topic sentence) and keep track of the passage’s structure with the help of the included line numbers.
Why could the LSAT Reading Comprehension be difficult?
The purpose of the Reading Comprehension on the LSAT exam is to evaluate your ability to read critically and to thoroughly synthesize written material. You need to understand the main point of the text to answer the questions. The questions in the LSAT Reading Comprehension section are designed to be objective and their answers could be drawn only by using the information in the passage.
Some students enjoy the fact that this section doesn’t require any outside knowledge or very precise preparation. Others, however, find this terrifying because they don’t know how to prepare. The additional factor of being pressed for time in an exam environment can make it even more difficult to concentrate and perform the tasks.
Below you can find a pro tip that you can use for your LSAT preparation which will help you increase your LSAT Reading Comprehension score!
What is the best strategy while preparing for the LSAT Reading Comprehension section?
Work on your reading skills! The LSAT reading passages aren’t random. Each passage tends to follow a relatively fixed structure. It includes 3-4 paragraphs each focusing on a central idea. This central idea is supported with some evidence, claims, opinions, or facts.
Knowing that all passages have a similar structure, you may start taking notes about the paragraph’s structure in the margins of the text as you read. For instance, write down the main idea, the supporting claims, or any other interesting details that you find. You may also want to make a list of key phrases and terms used in the text and learn them. This will further expand your vocabulary and background knowledge.
When you’ve finished plotting out the outline of the passage, you can create a cohesive summary based on this outline, without referring to the text. This summary doesn’t need to be detailed but rather helpful for you to navigate around the text more easily. It should just state the author’s main idea and how he supported it. That’s it – a simple but effective way to understand the essence of what you are reading.
Understanding the structure of the reading passages while preparing for the LSAT test will help you to find and automatically synthesize the main themes of the texts on exam day. It is important to develop critical reading skills while preparing for the LSAT and we know that this may be a challenging task. We here at Apex are more than happy to support you on your LSAT journey and assist you in every step of the process. You can sign-up for a 30-minute complimentary consultation call with one of our instructors who can help you ace any section on your LSAT exam!
Contributor: Diana Materova