This is a breakdown of how to read in an effective manner. You can find out what the author is really saying by looking for implied statements in the text, or “reading between the lines”.
A typical LSAT test will include three Reading Comprehension passages; straightforward essays followed by questions as well as a pair of dual-passages, also called “Comparative Reading”.
Dual-passages feature two passages on a similar or related subject. The passages may agree with each other or may take different sides on an issue. Passage pairs may have complex relationship where one passage articulates a set of principles while the other applies those principles.
View reading comprehension passages as if they were a reality TV show where you have been dropped in a rain forest with no clues where you are or how to proceed. On the LSAT, a reading passage will be dropped in front of you and you will have no background on it whatsoever:
- You don’t know who the author is.
- You don’t know what the title is.
- You don’t have enough time to fully read it.
- You can’t see the paragraphs before or after the essay.
- You don’t know when or where it was published.
- The content is dense, boring, esoteric, and jargon-filled.
You’re going to need a compass!
Reading for a Purpose
The passages are intentionally jargon-filled and dense. In school you were taught to read for detail, but on the LSAT you would run out of time doing that. In order to perform well on this test, you will have to re-learn how to read.
Financial-market analysis studies ignore deficiencies because of analysts’ inherent preferences for perfect rationality.
Learn what to look for, what to cue in on, and what to ignore in a passage like this, and you will be prepared to answer the questions that follow. Remember, you are not reading the passages for enjoyment or acquisition of knowledge; you are reading for the purpose of answering the 11 question types below as efficiently and accurately as possible.
Macro Questions—General Issues (Macro is Greek for large. Think “big picture”)
- Main idea
- Purpose of the Passage
- Organization of the Passage
- Category of Writing (Advanced)
- Identity of the Author (Advanced)
Micro Questions—Refer to Specific Elements of the Essay
- Detail of the Passage
- Definition of a Term or Phrase
- Support for a Premise – Where’s the Proof?
- Function of Part of the Passage (Advanced)
Macro/Micro—Sweeping Ideas Vs. Specific Details