LSAT Reading Comprehension Section

Both law school and the practice of law requires extensive reading of highly varied, dense, argumentative, and expository texts. One's reading must be incisive, deciphering the subtext from the context. Your reading will involve analysis, synthesis, and application of theories, principles, and rules. You will draw appropriate insight and apply ideas and arguments to new meanings. Law school reading bears heavily on grasping unfamiliar subject matter quickly and the ability to cut through difficult and complex material.

The purpose of LSAT Reading Comprehension questions is to measure how fluently you read in terms of insight and understanding. The material presented is lengthy and challenging. The Reading Comprehension section of the LSAT has four sets of reading questions, each set containing a selection of reading material followed by 5 – 8 questions. The reading selection in three of the four sets contains a single reading passage whereas the other set consists of two related shorter passages. The set with two passages is sometimes called "Comparative Reading."

"Comparative Reading" questions explore the relationships between the two passages. The structure of these questions can be broken down into: Generalization/instance, principle/application, or point/counterpoint. Law school curriculum demands reading two or more texts in conjunction with each other and understanding how they relate to each other, thus the importance of LSAT testing you on Comparative Reading.

Reading excerpts for LSAT Reading Comprehension questions are culled from a wide mix of subjects in the humanities, social sciences, biology, physical science, and law-related areas. Typically, the selections are dense, sophisticated, and complex with high-level vocabulary. The questions given require careful and exact reading to determine how the variables relate to each other and as a whole. It is important to remember that anyone can answer questions on the passage based on the exclusivity of the questions, but your competence will also be measured against speed. The questions may ask about any of the following characteristics of a passage:

  • The central idea or primary purpose
  • Re-iteration of information that is explicitly stated
  • Ideas that can be inferred
  • The meaning or purpose of words in the context of the passage
  • The structure of the passage
  • The application of information in the selection to a new context
  • Principles that apply to the selection
  • Analogies to claims in the passage
  • The author's stance as revealed in the tone of voice
  • The effect of new information on claims or arguments in the passage

All questions require careful, scrupulous and in depth reading. Incorrect answers are typically because of subtle word choice; in general, most questions necessitate brief extrapolation, with the majority of correct answers directly linked to the chosen text.

Reading Comprehension Key Strategies

Test takers are all different, but strategies on the LSAT are quite uniform. Reading Comprehension requires you to navigate a variety of textual terrain and keeping in mind the following strategies will surely save you time and help you get to the correct answers sooner.

  • Try distinguishing main ideas from the supporting arguments.
  • Sift opinions and attitudes from factual, objective information.
  • Consider why and how a writer makes points and states a conclusion.
  • Identify the relationships among the different ideas and parts of a passage.
  • Answer what the question is asking.
  • Always read all the answer choices before picking the best answer.
  • Answer questions only based on the information provided in the passage.
  • Gain command by predicting the questions before you read them.
  • Know the structure or the theme behind the passage.

In answering questions, you want to think of both text and task. Keep your eye on the passage in its entirety, its details as it relates to the question and what the question is asking in and of itself. With properly understanding how Reading Comprehension works and developing strategies that work for you, markers of incorrectness become easier and faster to identify.