In addition to the three single passages, the LSAT contains one pair of dual passages, for total of four question sets. Dual passages are quite similar to the single passages, but rather than just one selection from a single author, two passages are given on a similar or related subject (by two separate authors, generally with different points of view). Comparative reading passages are followed by five to eight questions, and, like the single passage sets, these questions should be answered only on the basis of the information provided in their accompanying passages.
As you read the passages for their respective main points, remember that the passages will relate to each other in various ways. As the test makers recently stated, “In some cases, the authors of the passages will be in general agreement with each other, while in others their views will be directly opposed. Passage pairs may also exhibit more complex types of relationships: for example, one passage might articulate a set of principles, while the other passage applies those or similar principles to a particular situation.”
The primary goal for comparative reading is clearly to identify the main point of each passage and then to relate those ideas to each other, focusing on the passages’ similarities and differences. Questions in comparative reading tend to focus less on the detailed common question indicators observed in single passages—specific examples, new terms or phrases, lists—and more on broader, holistic ideas—main point, author’s tone and opinion, and function. Many students find it useful to pause briefly after reading Passage A to organize their thoughts about what they have just read. Once you have taken a moment to ensure that you are comfortable with the information from the first passage, move on to Passage B and read with the intention of establishing the relationship between the approach and attitude of both authors.
Finally, as with all Reading Comprehension, remember that maintaining a positive attitude is critical. Do not be intimidated by the dual format; you should find the comparative reading to be extremely similar to, and possibly easier than, the other three passages in your Reading Comprehension section.