Law School Discussion

Improving Reading Comprehension

Improving Reading Comprehension
« on: February 13, 2009, 11:36:34 AM »
I am relatively new to this discussion forum. I have read many suggestions about how to improve reading comprehension exclusively for the LSAT, but what about just improving comprehension skills in general. How does one improve comprehension skills in General?

I have been Reading the New York Times, The New Republic, Wall Street Journal, and the Economist for roughly a month without practicing any reading comprehension passages. I figured that reading material just as difficult, if not more demanding, than LSAT RC i would improve my concentration,and focus when i have to immerse myself into the mundane, tiresome, and tedious LSAT RC passages.

I have also developed an eclectic reading list for myself where i will draw from many prominent authors in the field of Political Science, Economics, Sociology, Psychology, and philosophy. I am hoping that developing a reading list will increase my comprehension skills, while preparing me for the hours upon hours of reading i will have to commit to in law school.

I will continue my consistent reading regimen for the next 6 months or so ,and gradually i will try to incorporate some RC passages into my daily routine so that i can develop a sense of what is required of me on RC.

I have purchased SAT reading comprehension books, GMAT/GRE RC books, and MCAT RC books. I am aware that some of you might diagnose this bonanza of spending as some type of neuroticism, but i believe that improving ones reading habits is not something to be developed in a short period of time. Furthermore, if comprehension skills are improved it should not be done solely for the benefit of a single standardized test, but for a life long skill which can be beneficial to our vocational endeavors e.g. law school, attorney.

I will approach RC with a plan. this plan will be based on the supposed difficulty of the reading material and its questions. If i were to rank these RC passages from a group of standardized tests in terms of difficulty i would rank


In essence i would design my RC Regimen starting from the easiest material to the most difficult. this way i would develop an affinity or a liking for RC.

My strategem in attacking the LSAT is to developing comprehension skills in general before i even touch the Real LSAT material. I have read many posts where people are concerned that they might exhaust the limited supply of LSAT material available, and essentially have no material left with which they can use to improve scores.

Lastly, i suppose that many people will ask: Why is he making such a big deal about RC?
Reason being, Is the fact that most test prep companies can improve the Logical Reasoning, and the Logical Games in a short period of time, and improvements in these sections can be astounding. On the other hand, i have rarely heard of the same phenomenon occurring with RC. Essentially, i have come to the conclusion that RC is the most difficult section on the LSAT because of the difficulties and complexities most people incur when prepping for it.(I am going to register for Blueprint NYC) MY GOAL is a 172 or above(99 percentile) also my initial score is a 151 on a REAL LSAT(cold).

What do you think of my plan? Does it seem sensible? How do you think it can be modified?
Or should i just do away with it entirely, and adopt a more common approach?

Re: Improving Reading Comprehension
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2009, 11:45:32 AM »
if you're not already, you should definitely take on some active reading techniques when reading passages.  take notes, underline (but don't underline everything) and make a special note when you see specific names or examples so you know where to look when answering questions. usually when you read something that has a different description or quote, or a specific example is cited, you can expect to see a question asked.

also, be sure to read the NYT science section on Tuesdays.  Those articles are interesting and well written, but tend to be dense just like the reading comp science passages.

Re: Improving Reading Comprehension
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2009, 11:48:33 AM »
Thanks for the advice, but do you think my plan, in its entirety, will be effective in enabling me to master RC?

Re: Improving Reading Comprehension
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2009, 01:03:47 PM »
It's hard to say, but I think looking at other exams' RC questions isn't very helpful.  I think LSAT RC questions are very different from what is asked on the other exams.  A lot of the questions are really logical reasoning questions involving the passage.  If you think about it, those exams are testing your RC skills in a specific context.  For example, the SAT questions especially ask things that are pretty explicit in the passage, but most LSAT RC ones are not.  I haven't taken the GRE, MCAT, or GMAT but I can't imagine that logical reasoning is an important skill for business or medical school admissions.  In that sense, I think that while you will have good practice at reading passages in a shorter span of time, you will not gain skills at answering the questions.

The main reason people think RC is so difficult is because it's harder to study for and improve at, so most people don't.  You can easily begin to master RC and start working on LG and LR instead, so in studying RC becomes the ignored section.  On test day, when people get to RC, they begin to panic because they haven't studied it as hard as the rest.  Whatever you do, when you start studying for the full exam you should make sure that you're working on your RC at the same time.  Remember that it's worth more than games!


Re: Improving Reading Comprehension
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2009, 01:15:42 PM »
I agree with jerz. The LSAT RC section is pretty unique. I've taken the GRE and I think the main difference is that the LSAT requires a lot of endurance. The sections are longer and there are four in quick succession. You've got to be able to concentrate intensely and push through. My advice is to work on challenging yourself through four passages in 30 minutes so that you know you can do it under severe time constraints. This helped me manage my time during the actual test. Ultimately, I got -2 (and sadly bombed my last LR section because I was so drained after the RC). I aslo recommend the RC Bible, if only for its ample supply of sections to use for drills.

Re: Improving Reading Comprehension
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2009, 01:52:09 PM »
I don't think it's a bad idea at all to be reading all the material that you're reading to try to improve your reading comprehension skills.   I think you're doing what a lot of people do not do, which is working on the endurance aspect of the exam.

In terms of which practice questions to use, I'd say it is not at all in your best interest to be practicing with any exam other than the LSAT.  Keep reading those newspapers each day, and practice LSAT reading passages using released exams.  There's a lot of material out there, and if by chance you run though it all, then there are other prep books available as well. 

But only practice LSAT problems. That's the test you'll be taking, and that is the test you should be focusing on while studying.
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Re: Improving Reading Comprehension
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2009, 02:10:08 PM »
I'm not sure when the last time was that one of you looked through a GRE reading section..but it was a few weeks ago for me, and I was shocked at how similar I thought it was to the LSAT. I'm not a tutor or an expert, but I have been studying for the test for a while, and when I was flipping through the GRE book in the bookstore I was so surpirised at the similarity in passage length and question type. I don't remember how many passages are in a section, and I didnt do a whole section, but I read through one and I thought it was similar..

Now, or course it's best to only study LSAT material, but I'm sure the GRE passages are testing the same skill, and I highly doubt that after reading the GRE passages and answering the questions (which, like i said, were very similar), you would be at any kind of a disadvantage. 
Birds of a feather flock together.


Re: Improving Reading Comprehension
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2009, 02:47:15 PM »
Thank you for the advice. i passionately believe that standardized tests can be mastered, only if an individual can master themselves. This being their thought processes, concentration, and focus. Standardized test like these only show weaknesses that we have. For example, i believe that a person who is an avid reader, and indulges in reading invariably, and evaluates what he or she reads will do better than someone who despises reading-in most cases. Albeit, there are some exceptions to the rule, nonetheless, I am trying to become an habitual reader of the mundane, the tedious, and the boring. All characteristics of LSAT RC. Overtime, if i consistently reading boring material I am hoping i can enhance my concentration/focus and alter my thought-process whereas this boring material becomes appealing.

Also, I have come to the realization that the LR and RC are basically testing the same Critical thinking/Comprehension skills. Their is not much parity between the structure of questions. so hopefully by Reading more and improving my comprehension skills i can kill two birds with one stone. Furthermore, they are the two largest sections so i presume a persons initial focus would be on these sections.

I have heard of countless stories where individuals were prepping for logic games and made remarkable improvements. For example 8 right- 22/23 right. I have heard that LG is the most feasible when it comes to superb improvement. So i will leave my LG prep to the testprep company i use. BluePrint Testprep NYC ive heard great stories about them.

What i intend to do is improve my Reading habits and LR and RC skills tremendously before i register for Blueprint. I will not STUDY ANY REAL LSAT problems until i register for the testprep company. this way i can circumvent the problem of exhausting LSAT material. What do you think?

Does anyone have any suggestions on books that are unbearably dense and require painstaking focus and concentration to comprehend?


Re: Improving Reading Comprehension
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2009, 04:13:08 PM »
I don't really think you need a book. Focus on articles with brief passages. You seemed to have identified a good number of options in your first post. Also, this is just me, but I'd be wary of burning yourself out! Don't overdo it.

There's little chance of you exhausting LSAT prep materials. Trust me. The first time I took the LSAT I tried! If you do run out of materials you're probably not studying them as thoroughly as you should be  :)

Good luck!

Re: Improving Reading Comprehension
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2009, 04:25:00 PM »
Thank you for the Advice. Your probably right. It is a bit farfetched assuming that i could exhaust ALL THE REAL LSAT MATERIAL. Considering the Fact that the amount of REAL lsat materialat our disposal inceases incrementally with each and every passing year.

Can anyone suggest discussion post where it describes the technical/tactical aspect of approaching the LSAT RC? like how it should be marked up or whether or not the questions should be read before the passages?