The Reading Comprehension section of the LSAT contains passages unlike what most students read in their day-to-day lives; none of the passages that you will encounter on the test will likely be “light reading.” That is why practicing with actual LSATs is the best way to familiarize yourself with the level of writing that you are likely to see on your test (that is also why PowerScore’s practice questions and passages come from actual LSATs).
You can get additional reading practice with materials written in the same style as the LSAT. Below we show you what characteristics to look for practice reading material, what materials we recommend, and how to approach those materials in a way that will make you stronger in LSAT reading comprehension. First, in order to improve in your abilities in this area, you should understand the reading comprehension section contents.
LSAT Reading Comprehension—Contents
The reading comprehension section is composed of three reading passages, each approximately 450 words in length, and, as a recent addition to the test, one pair of dual passages, discussed in our free help section on “Reading Comprehension: The New Dual Passages.” The passage topics are drawn from a variety of subjects including art, history, science, and law. Each passage, and each set of dual passages, is followed by a series of five to eight questions which ask you to determine viewpoints in the passage, analyze arguments, question organizational traits, and evaluate specific sections.
How to Prepare for LSAT Reading Comprehension
One great way to improve in the reading comprehension section is to read as much as possible! And when we say “read,” we aren’t talking about reading fashion magazines, sports digests, or romance novels. Since the Reading Comprehension section often asks you to look at multiple viewpoints and the logical structure behind the passage, you should look for articles that are written in a laymen’s style but take positions or discuss complex ideas. The more you read ahead of time, the more comfortable you will be when you start doing actual LSAT Reading Comprehension passages.
Suggested Reading Material and the Proper Way to Approach the Material
Below we provide of list of publications that have been used as sources for information on past LSATs, as well as publications whose articles follow a format similar to the LSAT’s reading comprehension section:
Editorial and Opinion: The Editorial or Opinion pages of any major US Daily newspaper, such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the LA Times
Law, Politics, and Economics: Magazines such as Legal Affairs, The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist
History: The Journal of American History
Science: Magazines such as Scientific American, Popular Science
Once you have some reading material with which to practice, you can develop an effective strategy; below are some suggestions on how you should approach these materials.
- Your primary goal when starting an article is to find the main point. After every LSAT passage you will encounter questions that deal with the main point, so you need to develop the ability to quickly identify the main point of any material you read.
- In addition to the main point, you should be trying to put together a basic picture of the author—what is the author’s perspective? Once you have identified the main point, your goal throughout the rest of the article is to identify the underlying logical structure of the passage. This will entail the following tasks:
- Identify any background thesis that may be challenged later in the article
- Identify any counterpoint(s) to the original thesis
- Identify strengths and weaknesses of each viewpoint
- Identify the author’s ultimate conclusion and supporting premises
In addition to the information provided above, you may want to read the section in our LSAT Free Help Area on Approaching Reading Comprehension Passages. Also, all of our classroom courses cover the reading comprehension section thoroughly and our tutors can help you master the section as well.