Why Is It Important?
Those who practice law must analyze dense argumentative and expository documents to understand the overarching themes and specific details within the text. Developing basic reading comprehension strategies is essential for law school students who need to read through case files, contracts, briefs, evidentiary documents, and other legal forms.
The LSAT Reading Comprehension section evaluates your ability to grasp major concepts and identify minute details across different texts. In many ways, this test is similar to the reading comprehension sections on the SAT and ACT exams you took in high school. However, the complex reading material for the LSAT comes from publications like Scientific American and the ABA Journal.
Students taking the LSAT Reading Comprehension exam must read through four separate passages that are 55-60 lines long. After reading each passage, they answer five to eight questions that require them to interpret the meaning and parse out specific information about the text.
There are 26 to 28 total questions on the Reading Comprehension section of the LSAT.
Three sets of reading material on the Reading Comprehension LSAT consist of a single passage, while the fourth section contains two shorter passages with similar content or a coordinating theme. This Comparative Reading portion of the exam tests your ability to determine the relationship between two texts.
It's important for law school students to understand how different texts relate to one another. As such, the Comparative Reading questions on the LSAT require you to identify connections between two separate passages. Some common relationship patterns for LSAT reading material include:
- generalization vs. instance
- principle vs. application
- point vs. counterpoint
Questions on the LSAT Reading Comprehension exam might ask about the main ideas of each passage, the author's intent and attitude, and the implications of various statements made within the text. There may also be questions about individual details within a specific line or how certain portions of the reading material affect the overall theme of the passage.
Of course, preparing for the Reading Comprehension portion of the LSAT requires lots of reading and note-taking. Since you'll be working under a time limit, you'll need to read, outline, understand, and interpret each of the four passages as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
Here are a few LSAT Reading Comprehension strategies to get you started.
Taking a few LSAT Reading Comprehension practice tests through online resources can give you a feel for the structure and timing of the real exam. Though you’ll likely face a different set of LSAT Reading Comprehension passages and questions on your actual LSAT exam, going through a few practice runs is a good way to sharpen your skills and make test day seem less daunting.
Take Good Notes
Learning how to efficiently annotate a text is critical, not only for success on the LSAT but for the rest of law school and beyond. Note-taking strategies vary from person to person, so take some time to establish a system that works best for you.
A few common practices are highlighting key themes and passages, jotting down an outline as you go, and summarizing details like dates and figures.
At the end of the day, the simplest way to improve reading comprehension for the LSAT is to read complex works more often. Many people struggle with the intentionally wordy and complicated passages on the Reading Comprehension LSAT. Reading helps you develop a broader vocabulary and a deeper understanding of the written word, making it an excellent way to prepare for the exam.
What Should You Read?
Read a combination of technical writing, news articles, academic essays, and even novels to learn how sentence structure, tone, and language interact in each text. In time, you’ll find it easier to recognize the author’s intent, pick up on crucial subtext, and interpret complex themes in your analysis, which will give you a great advantage when taking the Reading Comprehension section of the LSAT.