The LSAT reading comprehension section tends to generate a lot of questions from our students. We’ll often hear, “How can I raise my LSAT reading comprehension score?” and “What are some LSAT reading comprehension strategies I can use to improve my score?” Our tutors swear by the simple ways listed below – they’re great reminders to keep in the back of your mind during your test practice!
1) Don’t Do the Questions In Order
When the LSAC lays out the order of the questions in the Reading Comprehension, you can absolutely bet that they do not think, “let’s put the questions in the most logical order for someone taking the test!” Rather, they arrange the questions to make it more difficult. The habit of doing questions in order has been a part of your test-taking behavior since you began taking tests, and losing this habit takes discipline and confidence. But certain types of questions – especially questions about specific details in the passage – help you answer others – like ones that ask about the author or main idea.
2) Learn Your Strengths
There is no formula for improving the LSAT score of every single test-taker, because every test-taker has different strengths and weaknesses. So learn what yours are! After you finish a section, take the time to review what types of questions you often get wrong, and try to spot a pattern. Once you have found such a pattern, then analyze each of the questions: what were you asked, what was correct, and why did you choose as you did? Continue to do this, and you will learn exactly how predictable the LSAT can be.
3) Take Notes
One of the greatest advantages you have on the LSAT is the paper itself. Mark the passage as you read and underline key phrases. When you come across a main idea, put it in brackets. When you come across a change in perspective (“Critics say…”) underline it. After each paragraph, pause to take one or two notes, no more than five words each, about why the author included that paragraph.
4) Predict the Answer
Always do this, if it’s possible. This helps you to avoid the situations where you have either two seemingly equal answers, or eliminated every answer. Predicting the answer will help avoid this problem, and in some cases, will greatly increase your speed. Even on questions like “With which one of the following is the author most likely to agree,” it will still help you predict what you know about the author and how s/he feels about the topic. Further, if you predict the answer and it’s there, you’re already on the next question. Remember: look to ELIMINATE, not Justify.
5) Learn the Bad Answer Types
The LSAT loves certain bad answers: recycled language, extreme language, contradiction, bad comparisons. These four are among the most common, but there are a lot of secondary answer choices that fall into regular patterns. If you’re stuck on a question and it uses a lot of language straight from the passage, get rid of it. You can use this strategy for all of these; if the author feels extreme about something, chances are you already know it. And as a final piece of advice, remember: if an answer choice is only partially right, then it is entirely wrong.
Additional Tips & Strategies
What other simple tips do you recommend or have run across during your LSAT studies? Tweet them to us @NextStepPrep or comment below! We also welcome you to check out our LSAT prep courses to help tackle the LSAT and get a great score.