LSAT Reading Tips for the Reading Comprehension Section

by Speed Reading Expert, Richard L. Feldman, Ph.D. (Columbia University)

Training for the LSAT Reading Comprehension section

You must read four passages and answer between 26 and 28 reading comprehension questions under very tight timed conditions. The best way to improve your speed in this section is to train under time pressure; specifically, by allowing 8 minutes and 45 seconds for a single passage or pair of comparative reading passages and their questions. I’ll use the term “passage” to refer to either a single 450 word reading passage or a pair of comparative reading passages.
First work under timed conditions; specifically, allowing 8 minutes and 45 seconds for reading one passage and answering the accompanying 5-8 questions. Do this type of training for about a week, being careful to allow only 8 minutes and 45 seconds per passage. Use a digital timer at this point to time yourself (Note: you are not permitted to use a digital timer on the day of the exam). You will eventually be able to complete the reading of an LSAT passage and to answer the accompanying questions in 8 minutes and 45 seconds as a result of this timed practice. Once you are used to completing a passage including answering the questions in 8 minutes and 45 seconds, you are ready to complete an entire reading comprehension section, allowing 35 minutes total per section, again with the aid of a digital timer.

Two Approaches to the Reading Comprehension Section: The first approach is to read the passage without previewing the question stems first. This approach is described in detail below. The second approach is to preview the question stems before you read the passage. Experiment with each approach to see which works best for you in terms of your reading efficiency and the number of questions you answer correctly.

I. Reading the Passage (each passage is about 450 words long)
  • Allow about 2 1/2 – 3 minutes to first read the passage (a reading speed of 180 words per minute if it takes you 2 1/2 minutes to read the passage; 150 words per minute if it takes you 3 minutes to read the passage).
  • Timer − practice completing the reading passage using a digital timer. Note: You won’t be able to use a digital timer on the day of the test – only analog watches are permitted. However, a digital timer is a useful training tool for improving your LSAT reading speed and pacing on the reading section.
  • Use your pencil as a pacer while reading the passage to improve your reading speed and concentration
  • Don’t do these: Highlighting, circling words, writing notes, or any other time wasters

II. Answering the Questions to the Passage
  • After you read the passage, answer the questions. You should be able to answer most questions without referring to the passage. Allow 6 minutes and 15 seconds to answer the questions if you took 2 1/2 minutes to read the passage; allow 5 minutes and 45 seconds to answer the questions if it took you 3 minutes to read the passage.
  • Use your pencil as a pacer while reading the questions and answer choices to improve your reading speed and concentration.
  • Incorrect choices − Cross out incorrect answer choices to save time.
  • Don’t plan to go back to a question. Answer each question since there is no guessing penalty; if you are unable to answer a question, choose an answer among the remaining answer choices that you didn’t cross out.

III. General Strategies for the Reading Comprehension Section
  • Spend 8 3/4 minutes per reading passage including answering questions and filling in your answers − do not allow additional time
  • Running out of time − If you run out of time while you are still answering questions, fill in the remaining answers by guessing.
  • Answer all questions − There are 5−8 questions per passage. There is no guessing penalty on the LSAT.

I’ve been teaching speed reading courses in New York City for twenty-five years. I can increase your reading speed and comprehension for the LSAT.

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