Don’t look now, but the June LSAT is less than three weeks away, and your practice exam scores aren’t where they need to be on test day. Go ahead and scream bloody murder for a few seconds. I’ll wait.
Spring students in Blueprint classroom courses are wrapping up their study of new material, and others studying for the June exam should be getting close to that marker as well. What that means is that it’s the season for review and also the season to work on timing and endurance. If your score has been stagnant since the beginning of your studies, putting these things into place will almost certainly lead to a significant bump in your practice exam scores over the next few weeks.
Over the next three days, we’ll detail what you need to be doing on each of the three section types. Here’s what you have to do regarding Reading Comprehension:
1. Identify your weaknesses.
The first step toward improving is to take a cold, calculating look at your performance and determine what needs work. If you’re in a Blueprint class, your online analytics will help you with this. If not (bummer!), you’ll have to do it manually. There are a number of different factors here.
First, go through the question types. Reading Comp questions line up pretty closely with Logical Reasoning questions. There are strengthen questions, weaken questions, parallel questions, role questions, etc. Are you missing a lot of one particular type? If yes, then review the strategy for attacking that particular question.
Second, diagnose your passage tags. Are they helpful? Do you have a well-defined system, or are you just haphazardly underlining and writing? Your tags should be a roadmap so you don’t have to reread large chunks of the passage when you’re answering questions. This also helps greatly with time issues.
Third, make sure you are grasping passage structure. Are you tracking arguments and the proponents of those arguments. Do you use a structure diagram to make sure you have a holistic view of the passage? If not, this needs to be in place.
Fourth, identify any subject matter blocks. Some students, for instance, glaze over when confronted with a science passage. If that’s the case, you’ll need to focus on such passages until reading them becomes familiar.
All of these are preliminary steps to identify problems. You must then craft a strategy, taking into account your unique needs, to address them. If a strategy doesn’t work after you’ve tried it, go back to the drawing board.
2. Build up your speed.
It’s time to start timing yourself. All things being equal, you’ll have eight minutes and forty-five seconds for each passage and its questions on test day. With four passages and twenty-seven questions, that’s a brutal pace.
Start off by timing yourself on individual passages, giving yourself twelve or so minutes to start off with, and work up to speed from there so that, by the end of a week, you’re under nine minutes.
From there, move on to doing full sections. Again, give yourself more time to start, maybe forty-five minutes, and work your way down to thirty-five.
Finally, in the last week, you should be doing a full FIVE-SECTION practice exam every other day under strict timing conditions.
3. Build your endurance.
This is a biggie. It’s easy to get fatigued on any section of the exam, but nowhere is that more true than with Reading Comp. If you find that you have fatigue issues, then you need to push the envelope.
During the period outlined in the last section where you’re timing yourself on full sections, practice doing to Reading Comp sections back-to-back repeatedly. It will be an absolutely miserable experience, but you’ll find just doing one refreshing. And during the period when you’re doing full five-section exams, use a Reading Comp passage for the experimental.
As difficult as this period in your studies is, keep focused on the fact that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Keep chugging, and, if you do the things outlined in the post, your score will go up. I promise!