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General questions relating to LSAT Reading Comprehension.
  • Posts: 6
  • Joined: Dec 18, 2013
I have practiced several reading comprehension passages now; and I find it almost impossible for me to finish the Reading Comprehension section within the time limit. I mean, one has to read the passage at an unbelievable pace. Please what is the best strategy for the reading comprehension section? I mean, I feel like I just have to guess all the questions; is that how it goes on the LSAT? I have to believe that there must be a strategy. I have managed to reduce my average time per passage in the section down to 9 mins; but it has SERIOUSLY compromised my accuracy on the questions. Is there any strategy at all for the reading comprehension? I am starting to doubt that practice can actually help on this portion of the test.
Please help me here, I need some advice.

Thanks in advance.
 Nikki Siclunov
PowerScore Staff
  • PowerScore Staff
  • Posts: 1365
  • Joined: Aug 02, 2011

Thanks for your question. You are definitely not alone in struggling to complete the RC section, but - luckily - there is a strategy that can help you out. From a previous post, I recall that you're enrolled in one of our Full-Length classes (is this correct?). If so, you will soon be delving into the VIEWSTAMP method for breaking the passages down, which emphasizes active engagement with the text, focusing on central ideas and themes that you are likely to be asked about (main point, view points, etc.), notating efficiently, etc. Take the RC portion of the course seriously, and make sure to complete ALL of your homework. At this point, I wouldn't even worry about timing - your pace will improve naturally as you develop the ability to recognize and comprehend the relevant information presented in each passage.

A great article on how to approach the RC section strategically can be found here:

Another great way to improve 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. If I were you, I'd make sure to read the Editorial or Opinion pages of at least one major US daily newspaper, such as The New York Times, the Washington Post, or the LA Times. Depending on your preferences (or political persuasion), you should also follow at least one weekly or monthly publication such as The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, or The Economist. It's also a good idea to read regularly scientific publications such as Scientific American or Nature, given that one of the four passages will be science-oriented.

By familiarizing yourself with the topics frequently discussed in such magazines, you improve your chance of coming across similar topics on the RC. Prior exposure to a given topic invariably heightens interest in that topic, which you can use to your advantage. In fact, a number of research studies show that test-takers who report a high level of interest in the topic of a passage also demonstrate higher levels of engagement with the text. The presence of interest improves reading comprehension by facilitating the processes that support comprehension, such as word decoding, lexical access, syntactic processing, inference generation, self-explanation and summarization.

While your pace is of secondary importance at this point ("rushing" to complete the passages clearly does not help, as you've discovered yourself), check out the links below. You may find some of the strategies quite useful when doing timed sections, though bear in mind that the surest way to improve on the LSAT is improving your accuracy, not speed. This is a test of reading comprehension, not reading alone.

As long as you work on it daily, your performance in Reading Comprehension will improve. Just don't slack on it: I tell my students to do at least one RC passage in the morning, and at least one RC passage in the evening (both untimed) every single day (that's in addition to any other homework, tests, etc. you are doing that day).

Good luck!
  • Posts: 6
  • Joined: Dec 18, 2013
Sir, first of all, thank you so much for your elaborated response. Reading the content in the webpages you provided me with has already made me better.
And yes, it is correct, I am taking one of your online full length prep class. I love it!
I have practiced about 30 LSAT reading comprehension passages now (I know that I need much, much more than that), and after about 20 passages, my timing went from 14 mins/passage to about 10 mins/passage without me losing accuracy.
I will not be able to operate under 9 mins without jeopardizing my accuracy.
I thought that I was alone, but reading through the links you provided me with, I found that my situation is typical.
I plan on completing 3 passages, and there will be 3 mins left where I will have to guess 7-8 questions. I just can't finish all 4 passages with good accuracy; and accuracy, I need, because I am not certain to have them all right.

Thanks again for your help. Your answer REALLY helped me.
  • Posts: 47
  • Joined: Nov 11, 2019

I am having a lot of trouble identifying the main point and structural organization of passages and the structural organization of passages' paragraphs. I would greatly appreciate any advice you can give me. I have been approaching the passages using VIEWSTAMP.

Thank you so much in advance.
 Paul Marsh
PowerScore Staff
  • PowerScore Staff
  • Posts: 290
  • Joined: Oct 15, 2019
Hi Lola! Approaching passages with VIEWSTAMP is a great start. A large part of success with Main Point and Structure questions on Reading Comprehension just comes from practice, and familiarizing yourself with the types of organization that the test-makers care about. It's common for students to struggle with these types of questions initially but perform well once they get a better sense of what's going on in the test-makers heads.

For example, with Main Point questions, the test-makers are focused on the big picture. The Main Point is like the current that runs through the whole passage. So if an answer choice to a Main Point question is a direct quote from one paragraph, but has nothing to do with half of the passage, it's likely incorrect!

Some students don't think about Main Point and Structure until they've finished reading the passage. This can be difficult, as it's challenging to recall everything that you've just read. Instead, it's helpful to break a passage down paragraph by paragraph as you're reading it. After the first paragraph, take just a few seconds to think: "What was the author going for with that paragraph? Was the viewpoint presented that of the author? If not, did the author agree with the viewpoint? And how was that paragraph structured? Structurally, what do I think is going to happen next in the passage?" (These are all the things that VIEWSTAMP emphasizes!). And then move on to the next paragraph. That way, by the time you've finished the passage, you have a nice little road map of each paragraph. It becomes easier to piece together the structure of the passage, as well as the Main Point (you'll realize quickly if, say, you've left an entire paragraph out of your Main Point Pre-Phrase).

If you have any questions about the structure or Main Point of a specific Reading Comp passage, please post on here and one of the Instructors will be happy to walk you through it. Hope that helps!

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