Continuing our series on what a bunch of LSAT veterans will they knew about various sections of the LSAT, this post is going to cover shat I wish I knew about Reading Comprehension.
As a little background on me, Reading Comprehension was always my strength on standardized tests. On the SAT, the Reading Comp sections were a relative breeze and I never worried about time management. I went on to major in English at UCLA, and I became even more comfortable with my ability to read and analyze text.
Then I get to the LSAT.
At first, I assumed the Reading Comprehension section would fall in line with my experience on other standardized tests. I didn’t anticipate needing to strictly apply the methods, and I assumed I’d have time to spare at the end. I was wrong. Struggling with Reading Comp sections was particularly demoralizing because I wasn’t expecting it. Any difficulties I had on the Logic Games, for example, were much easier to write off as part of the new and unfamiliar territory I was covering.
So, what do I wish I’d known about reading comprehension on the LSAT?
First, I wish I’d known that it is vastly different from the Reading Comprehension sections on other standardized exams. The passages are longer and denser, and the questions are more nuanced. If you come into the LSAT expecting the Reading Comp to tread familiar ground, you’ll be mistaken and dismayed.
Second, I wish I’d realized the importance of drilling methods for answering the sections. Again, based on my assumption that my already developed analytical skills would carry me through the Reading Comprehension sections on the LSAT, I was slightly lackadaisical in applying the diagramming and highlighting methods presented to me. When I realized it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, it was harder to undo my bad habits and apply the new techniques than it would’ve been if I’d focused on doing the latter from the get-go.
Third, I wish I’d known that timing is everything. By far, my biggest struggles with time management came in the Reading Comprehension sections. For the other sections, I’d usually have at least five minutes to spare. On Reading Comp, every second counted. Although this concept is emphasized and reemphasized throughout the study process, it is important to realize it right away. The more cognizant you are of the timing challenges, the more you’ll focus on ensuring that your process for answering Reading Comp questions becomes automatic. It’ll help you reduce the time you spend looking back at the passage, and force you to focus on the essential information.
So, in a nutshell, I wish I’d known the Reading Comprehension on the LSAT is … hard. Don’t assume that your performance on other standardized tests will let you skip merrily through the thickets of the LSAT Reading Comprehension sections. This isn’t meant to intimidate, but rather to motivate you to give the section the respect it deserves from the outset.