The LSAT Reading Comprehension section consists of four passages between 400-500 words. Each passage is followed by a set of 5-8 questions, for a total of 26-28 questions. You will have only 35 minutes to complete the section, so mastering a foolproof strategy is essential to getting a high score.
While you’re reading the passages, perform these five steps:
1. Passage Classification: Determine the passage topic, structure, and presentation style.
- Topics: Science, Law, Cultural Studies, Society
- Structure: Opinion, Debate, Synthesis
- Presentation: Inquiry/Explanation, Case Study, Cause and Effect, Categories
2. Analyzing Paragraphs: Break down each paragraph. Look for the main idea, tone, and transitions.
3. Passage Mapping: Make a road map of the essay and/or draw an outline.
4. Find the Main Idea: Look for “slam on the brakes language” that makes an important point. Some common places for the main idea are:
- First paragraph: first sentence
- First paragraph: last sentence
- Last paragraph: anywhere
5. Determine Purpose: Identify the conflicting perspectives within the essay, and the author’s point-of-view.
LSAT Reading Comprehension includes “Macro” questions that test general themes about the essay and “Micro” questions that involve minor details or expanding upon them. Macro questions were covered in the 5 Steps section.
1. Detail of the Passage questions require you to find the answer that paraphrases something the author says in the passage. Use information in the relevant section to select the correct answer choice.
2. Definition of a Term questions require you to determine the meaning of a term used in the passage. Focus on the sentences surrounding the term to get a sense of its meaning.
3. Support for a Premise questions require you to identify how the author supports an assertion made in the passage. Look for evidence such as examples, statistics, and logical arguments.
4. Function of a Passage Part questions require you to determine why the author included a certain part of the passage. Generally, each part of a passage functions to:
- Support a point made elsewhere in the passage (maybe the Main Idea).
- Show why two things are similar or different.
- Clarify a point.
5. Inference questions require you to go beyond the passage and determine what is implied. Think about which answer is best supported by the facts of the passage alone.
Next LSAT: February 22nd
If you feel unclear about any of the topics discussed thus far, be sure to go back and review the corresponding section. When you’re ready, take the following quizzes below to practice real Reading Comprehension questions.