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General questions relating to LSAT Reading Comprehension.
 michael.picardi
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  • Joined: Oct 17, 2017
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#40651
I have already read the following advice all over the internet:
"What to do if I am a slow reader?"
"You just have not studied enough."

Of course I have not studied enough, otherwise I would be in law school.

I read SLOWLY. I thought that it had to do with familiarity, but even on topics that I know well, I will get midway through the passage in 3 minutes.

Anxiety is definitely an issue. I feel rushed midway and panic a lot but, even when I try to step back and do things without direct timing, I do significantly better but still not well enough. I have always had a lot of trouble absorbing text. The only way I have read fast if when I know exact flag-words for argument and thesis in which case I do not read anything but those parts.

So, what should I do? Does anyone have recommendations in which I could get faster in plain reading, or apply my way of skimming to this section of the exam?

Thanks in advance!
 Francis O'Rourke
PowerScore Staff
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#40692
Hi Michael,

I would love to help you with this! before I can give you any advice specific to your issues, I need to hear a bit more about how you approach the reading passages. For example, what do you mean by 'flag-words'? Is looking for such words what you primary aim to do when you open up to a reading section?

In general, studying more is a good idea, so I'm not going to say that the advice you heard is wrong :-D I will say that many people study and practice methods that do not work for them, and in this way they end up merely reinforcing bad habits.

One tactic that I suggest to almost all of my students who have difficulty getting through a passage in under 5 minutes is to limit what you are looking to do when you read though the passage. When I need to speed up, I actively tell myself that I am looking for just three things: viewpoints identified by the author, arguments, and structure of paragraphs. Doing this focuses my reading, so that I get distracted less, and helps me to identify three extremely important parts of the passage. When I find something in the passage that is a viewpoint shift, an argument, or a clear shift in the structure of the passage, I make a quick note in the margin or a quick underline or circle and move on. At the end, I review what I marked up for maybe 20 seconds and ask myself if I could explain what the point was or what it was the the author was trying to do by writing that.

Most people tend to read a passage without any goal in mind. When you do this, you tend to put equal weight on every word and every sentence that you read. If you are expecting to focus on and remember every sentence, you are expecting too much of yourself.

I'm not sure if this is a problem that you have, but it is a common one. No matter what, remember to be critical of how you read, and be open to experimenting with your approach. It's easy to get stuck in one way of reading a passage when you have been a literate individual for 20, 30, or 40 years, but the Reading Comprehension on the LSAT often involves an entirely different sort of reading.
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 Dave Killoran
PowerScore Staff
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#40695
michael.picardi wrote:I read SLOWLY. I thought that it had to do with familiarity, but even on topics that I know well, I will get midway through the passage in 3 minutes.

Hi Michael,

Thanks for the question! I'm going to jump in now simply because I don't believe I'll have a chance to come back anytime in the next few days. So, this will be a few quick thoughts:

3 minutes to get through half a passage (and thus 6 for reading an entire passage) is problematic because that only leaves you 11 minutes to complete all of the questions. So, this only leaves you two options as far as the basic section approach if you decide to read without skimming:

..... 1. Read faster and sacrifice some clarity;
..... 2. Go in knowing you will only be able to complete 3 passages at most.

So, you have to work with and test both approaches for a bit to see which one is best for you. Let's say you try option 1 and find you can do so successfully. Then the question is, How much faster can you go? Testing is the first step here, and we (and you) need more data to make an informed decision.

If you do take a skimming approach, how much time does it save you, and where does it leave you as far as passage knowledge. In other words, what plan of attack do you use with skimming?

Another thing to test is how you are reading. Are you reading slowly because you are trying to pick up every single detail? then that's probably not the best approach because there are too many details to remember, and even reading very slowly will not allow you to recall it all. this is why we use a reading tool (Viewstamp) that help us identify the main pieces that are tested, which allows us to go faster and then return to the passage as needed. Perhaps something like that (which is taught in our courses and the RC Bible) would allow you to go more quickly while at the same time not sacrificing any accuracy in the questions.

Last, tools such as Viewstamp can help re-orientate your reading focus so you are looking for the things most commonly tested, and not just absorbing random details. This helps you read better, even if not faster. that lone can help improve your scores.

So, the above is something to think about, but I would also recommend that you supply more detail along the lines of what Francis spoke about, including what you've done so far to prepare for this section.

Thanks!

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