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Reading Overview

Terminology note

The LSAT calls this section "Reading Comprehension", which many shorten to "RC."

Each Reading section contains 4 short texts. Each text is about 3 paragraphs long. You'll be asked 4 to 8 questions per text.

These Readings primarily test your ability to discern what the author of the text is arguing for and against.

4 myths of Reading
Myth Reality
You can't improve at Reading You can improve if you read differently
You should speed read You should move at your own pace
You need to memorize what the text said You need to understand why the author wrote it
You must take notes You must pause and re-read

The optimal way to approach the Reading section is to...

  1. invest in understanding the text, so that you can
  2. crush the questions.

Timing suggestion

You'll have time to spare if you average 3:00 per text (± 0:30) and 0:45 per question (± 0:15).

(3:00 x 4 texts) + (0:45 x 27 questions) = 32:15

Invest in the text

Investing in the text means moving at the pace of your understanding.

That doesn't mean you need to read slowly. Instead, you should read at an adaptive speed. Slow down when you need to, speed up when you can.

You invest time in the text in order to grasp the central conflict. This conflict may be summed up in a single thesis sentence, or it may be more subtle.

The conflict will be nuanced. It's not enough to see that author is against something; you must also understand why they're opposed.

Crush the questions

After investing time to understand the text, you can gain time by crushing the questions.

You crush the questions by...

  1. trusting your understanding and
  2. moving confidently through the answers.

Trust your understanding

How you use your understanding depends on the question. Reading questions range in size from big to small.

Size Asks about Method
Big the main conflict Eliminate answers that are inconsistent with the main point.
Small specific points Know where to go back in the text to prove the correct answer.
Medium goes beyond the text Do both: predict to eliminate and go back to prove.

Move Confidently Through The Answers

Confidence is key to speed because the answers are designed to confuse you. To avoid getting turned around by the answers, be decisive:

Decision How to make it...
Eliminate poisoned answers Find the one poisonous word that makes it wrong.
Defer on weirdo answers Don't spend time on confusing answers or answers you aren't sure about until you need to.
Select the best answer The best answer might be an answer you love but more often it will be the least bad option.

Useful Reading Skills

Primary Skills Adaptive speed Read for the nuanced conflict Confidently crush the questions
Secondary Skills Move at your own pace Find the thesis sentence Eliminate for a reason
-- Use feedback loops Notice pivot words Pause to predict
-- Trust your confusion Ask "Why?" instead of "What?" Scan answers before going back
-- Pause and reread Be sensitive to tone Pick the least bad answer