The LSAT Reading Comprehension Section

LSAT Reading Comprehension Outline

Each Reading Comprehension section of the LSAT features between 26 and 28 multiple-choice questions that must be completed in 35 minutes. All LSATs include at least one Reading Comprehension section, and there may be a total of two (depending on the content of the unscored experimental section). LSAT score reports give only the total scaled LSAT score, and raw Reading Comprehension section scores are therefore only available to students who take disclosed LSAT administrations.

LSAT Reading Comprehension Passages

Reading Comprehension passages are taken from the social sciences, the physical sciences, the arts, the humanities, and the law. These passages are meant to test the ability to derive and infer information exclusively from what is contained in the text, and specialized knowledge of any subject is therefore unnecessary. LSAT Reading Comprehension sections include four passages each. Three are single passages approximately 450 words in length, while the fourth is a pair of shorter passages with a slightly larger collective wordcount (there is no set position for the paired passage, which may appear at any point in the section). All Reading Comprehension texts feature numbers every five lines, which helps test-takers more easily recall the location of information referenced in the questions.

LSAT Reading Comprehension Question Types

LSAT Reading Comprehension questions are all one sentence in length, with 6-8 questions per reading passage. Each question has five answer options. The following seven Reading Comprehension question types are listed by LSAC: Questions About the Passage as a Whole, Questions About What the Passage Says or Implies, Questions That Require Using Context to Refine Meaning, Questions About How Things the Author Says Function in Context, Questions That Require the Recognition of Analogous Patterns or Features in Different Factual Settings, Questions About the Author’s Attitude, and Questions About the Significance of Additional Information. Questions on paired passages (Comparative Reading) may refer to only one of the texts or both.

Important LSAT Reading Comprehension Skills

Almost all LSAT Reading Comprehension passages are organized around a main point, and the ability to quickly discern this main point and read the passage with this idea in mind is probably the most essential skill for achieving high scores on this test section. Because time management is crucial on the LSAT, test-takers should focus on reading efficiently without dwelling too much on the details included in the passages. Focusing intently on the first sentence of each paragraph is generally (though not always) a sound strategy, and keeping track of passage structure (which is helped by the included line numbers) is typically wise.

LSAT Reading Comprehension Validity

The coefficient for correlation between LSAT Reading Comprehension scores and first-year law school grades is 0.404. This is generally regarded as medium correlation, and the Reading Comprehension section has the second-highest validity correlation of the LSAT’s multiple-choice sections (behind Logical Reasoning). Reading Comprehension’s correlation coefficients with the other LSAT sections are 0.736 for Logical Reasoning and 0.444 for Analytical Reasoning, which represent very strong and medium correlations respectively.

A Comparison of LSAT Reading Comprehension and LSAT Logical Reasoning

The Reading Comprehension and Logical Reasoning sections involve many of the same skills. In both sections, test-takers must be able to understand what another author is trying to say. This takes the form of "main points" in the former and "arguments" in the latter, but there is often not much difference between the two, and both sections are essentially about comprehension of written texts. The time management challenges are similar with respect to the average amount allotted per question. Test-takers have approximately 75-81 seconds per question on Reading Comprehension (26-28 questions) and 81-87 seconds per question on Logical Reasoning (24-26 questions). The primary difference between the two sections lies in how the comprehension of points/arguments is assessed. Logical Reasoning features shorter texts with one question each, while Reading Comprehension includes longer passages that are the subject of multiple questions. Although there is plenty of overlap in terms of academic skills, it is important for test-takers to practice the exercises for each section individually in order to acquire familiarity with and fluency in these sections.