« on: September 12, 2009, 02:31:20 PM »
With a little detective work, I was able to find the mentioned guide; similar to some taught in prep classes but nonetheless it is valuable...
This is Voyagers LSAT Reading Comprehension Guide
The reading comp CAN be approached much like the games: you need a format to use for each game and a structure to refer back to as you answer the questions. The whole trick is NOT to have to reread the whole passage each time you tackle a question. You want easy references that allow you to find critical pieces of information quickly. The trick is that the approach I use will save me between 10-20 seconds per question. If you multiply that over 26 questions, suddenly I am saving myself ALOT of time. And frankly, time is the whole trick to the passages.
You will find that each passage will cover 4-6 main points. This may occur in 5 paragraphs or 2, but as long as you identify AND HAVE A REFERENCE TAB/MARKs for certain key pieces of information it will not matter how dense the passage is.
You will use 2 main techniques to create references for yourself: (1) actually writing out the main idea of each paragraph and of the passage itself in the margin. This should consist of just shorthand notation. You will be surprised how many questions are quickly and easily answered by these notes ("what is the author saying in paragraph 2?"). It will also help you immediately zero in on specific paragraphs for detail questions. If you noted that paragraph 3 gives 2 examples disproving "certian critics" then if you get a question asking about types of examples used by the author you immediately know where to go.
In dense passages (with 2 or 3 paragraphs) look for natural topic shifts within the paragraphs. I guarantee they are there. Once you find them CREATE YOUR OWN NEW PARAGRAPH by just writing the point of the next section of the paragraph in the margin and putting a bracket in the text. Suddenly that rough 2 paragraph passage is now a much more manageable 4 paragraphs. And, since the dense ones turn out to often have easier content, it is now cake.
(2) Underlining and boxing. I put BOXES around all terms which have definitions and all names. That way, when a term or a certian person's view/background comes up in a question I do not have to hunt the paragraph for the definition. My eye goes to the boxes. I UNDERLINE all phrases that I think might be relevant later on. This includes paragraph and passage thesis statements as well as the author's viewpoint, among others. What I underline is based on my experience taking practice tests and figuring out what I will most likely be asked later.
One danger with both of the above is doing too much marking. If you do too much, the markings become worthless, so you will need to practice balancing having the right amount of reference notes/marks.
By doing the above I not only have handy references for myself, but I also find that I flat out RETAIN the knowledge in the passage much more easily. You become an active reader and suddenly you are able to answer questions without even looking at the passage (sometimes... and be careful with that). Most people have the attention span of 3rd graders. Yes, this includes you. By forcing yourself to be an active participant in the passage, you end up actually reading and comprehending the text instead of just letting your eyes wander over the words.
Practice making notes/marks for each of the following you will be fine:
1) Main point of the passage (usually covered in the first paragraph). I actually write out a 3-5 word/symbol summary next to the text. For example, "16th legal reform=bad for women" or something along those lines. Practice identifying the thesis statement.
2) Main point of each paragraph. Same as 1. If you split a paragraph up into smaller paragraphs, you should summarize the points of both of these little paragraphs ("formalists' view" and "pro-RTT view" to take an example from one of the old tests)
3) Boxing all names and terms. There is almost ALWAYS an explanation of the person/term right after it. Now you can just find your boxed name and read the explanation that follows for certian questions.
4) Underlining key points/evidence. This just takes practice. Over time you will figure out what is key and what is not. In the beginning, if it seems important underline it. As you take practice tests you will refine your approach and underline less.
5) If, at any time, the passage tells you what the author thinks (sometimes it will do it in a sneaky manner) WRITE IT IN THE MARGIN. Most passages will have a question asking about the author's opinion. You just gained yourself a free point.
6) Look for keywords and cues. When the passage says "some critics argue..." you KNOW the passage will post evidence against them 2 sentences later. Watch for it. UNDERLINE the "some". There are tons of these key words and I do not have the space to delve into them in detail.
Finally, in addition to the above, you have to be a fast and competent reader who can read for content. The above will help, but nothing is better than just doing tons of reading passages over and over (use the above techniques when you practice... you will need the above skills anyway as an attorney so you might as well learn them now). You need to learn to read quickly and to understand the stuff quickly. If you were in the brown reading group in 2nd grade, thought reading books and writing papers was for "dorks" in high school, graduated from some *&^%-hole college (anything with the word "state" in the title, for example) or any combination of the previous, you will have a difficult time with the LSAT. All I can say is work on it.
Mastering the above is the formula for top performance on reading comp. It amazes me that some test prep programs don't teach this approach to reading comp. Reading comp should be just as easy as logic games after mastering the technique. I saw both of those sections as "gimme" sections.
Logical Reasoning, on the other hand is a completely different story.... that is about 10-12 different approaches you just have to learn through practice... I will also say that mastering logical reasoing, since it is MORE THAN HALF of the test is REALLY the key to a top score. If you can average only 2 wrong on each logical reasoning section, you are totally set.