Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

The LSAT Trainer
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Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri May 17, 2013 5:56 pm

Hey everyone, here's a rough draft version of an article that will be going up on my website next week -- I hope that in particular the June test takers find it useful.

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For many LSAT students, the Logic Games section is the first obsession, and the Reading Comprehension section is the last. It makes sense—for logic games, there are many specific and tangible things for you to learn, and as you learn these things and as you develop your strategies, it’s relatively easy to start picking up some more points. For Reading Comprehension, the task is much more vague, and therefore the road to improvement is much less certain—how exactly do you get better at reading?

How you review your work plays a big role in your improvement. In this article, I want to discuss how to get the most out of your Reading Comprehension practice and your review. First, let’s set the scene with some basic background and best practices:

1. Use your practice to develop the correct LSAT reading habits.

We naturally and intuitively adapt how we read to different situations. For example, you won’t read a novel in the same way you read a recipe. Reading is something we do by instinct and habit, rather than some conscious decree­—that is, we don’t typically tell ourselves how to read something. And, we can’t suddenly change how we read LSAT passages just by wanting to—in order to get better, we have to do it “the right way” enough times to develop the right reading habits and instincts.

Different companies endorse different types of reading strategies—per the methods discussed in The LSAT Trainer, I suggest you work on developing three key habits:

(A) You focus on reasoning structure. You can think of reasoning structure as the relationship between the various parts of a passage. You can also think of it in terms of “why” each part of the passage exists. Your ability to correctly recognize reasoning structure is the key skill rewarded by Reading Comprehension questions.

(B) You focus on the forest, rather than the trees. Questions will often require that you understand the passage in terms of the big picture, and also in terms of specific details mentioned. The trouble is, when we try to read for the forest and the trees, we tend to be terrible readers. Focus on the forest as you read—do your best to understand the passage as a whole, and the role parts play in relation to that whole. You can focus on the details if and when you need to later on in the questions.

(C) You focus on reading the passage as the author intended, rather than critiquing the passage. The author meant for certain parts to serve as main points, or support, or background, and so on—as I mentioned above, your main job is to recognize this correctly. During the read, your job is not to find fault with the reasoning or evaluate it in any other way (though there may be a couple of questions per section that will specifically ask that you use your judgement). The reason I mention this is because for half the test—the two Logical Reasoning sections—your job is to be critical—if you aren’t careful, your instincts and habits for one section will creep into the other.

(2) In answering questions, think of both text and task.

The right answer to a Reading Comprehension question will be consistent with the theme of the passage, and with the details mentioned in the passage—we can think of this as the text. Right answers will also match up with exactly what it is the question stem is asking us for—we can think of this as the task. The right answer is the only answer in the group that will match text and task.

More importantly, wrong answers will give themselves away because they all have issues with text or task—they either misrepresent the passage as a whole, or the details of the passage, or they don’t match up with what is asked for in the question stem. If you are focused on text and task, these “markers” of incorrectness become far more obvious.

(3) Practice as if it’s test day.

The first time looking at a passage and solving questions, always try and do so just as you would on the real exam. Again, the point of your practice is to develop correct skills and habits—practicing realistically will help you do that.

One more thing: as you practice passages and full sections, please get in the habit of circling the questions for which you don’t feel 100% certain that you got the right answer. I’ll explain why in just a bit.

Okay, with all that said, let’s discuss how to review the Reading Comprehension passages that you try in your practice:


How to Review

The vast majority of people get far less out of their review than they should, and one of the main reasons why is because they simply set the bar too low. People think they have reviewed a question when they understand why one of the five answers is correct (and maybe also why four answers are incorrect). And of course, it is certainly helpful to understand those things.

However, understanding why one answer to one question related to one passage is right has very little direct impact on whether you will get another completely different question related to another completely different passage correct.

The key is to focus on what you do—how you read, what you focus on as you read, how you choose to interpret question stems, the methods you use to eliminate answer choices, and so on. Use your review to think about your actions. If you do so, you’ll get a lot more out of that review, and your review will have a more significant impact on the problems that you try the next time around.

Here are some more specific tips on how you can review both your understanding and your actions:

For any passage that caused you a significant amount of trouble (I would say “significant” trouble equates to two or more questions on which you feel uncertain of your answer, or passages for which you felt lost as you were reading them), start by rereading the passage and solving the questions again a second time, before you look up the answers. This second time through, give yourself as much time as you need—read the passage as carefully as you possibly can, and do your best to get each question correct with 100% confidence.

Now go ahead and look up the answers—think of all results as falling into one of four categories:

1) you thought you got the question right, and you got it right
2) you marked the question as one you were uncertain about, and got it right
3) you marked the question as one you were uncertain about, and missed it
4) you thought you got a question right, and missed it

The first category of questions is the one you need to be least concerned with (obviously) and your priorities escalate from there—the questions you thought you got right but missed are the ones that should cause you the most concern.

Whether you chose to reread the passage and re-solve the questions before looking up the answers or not, now it’s time to review these questions—again, keep in mind that the goal isn’t just to make sure you understand them—you want your review to directly impact your actions.

If a passage is relatively fresh in your mind, I suggest going back to the questions to review them without rereading the passage, or at most doing a minimal re-scan of the passage. It’s likely that your understanding of the passage will be somewhat imperfect, and it’s very likely that your understanding will be incomplete...

But that’s how you are going to feel about certain passages on the real exam, and you are going to have to still get questions right. Knowing the right answer, see if you can catch the “tells” that make four of the wrong answers wrong, and one answer more compelling.

Next, return to any passages that you felt you misread and review them carefully in terms of reasoning structure. Take plenty of time to think about every part of the passage in terms of the role it plays, and, if you’d like, mark up your passage with those roles (main point, support, background, etc.).

Return to each question that you’d like to evaluate again in-depth, and think about it in terms of text and task—make sure you understand exactly why the right answer matches up with the passage as a whole, and the details mentioned in the passage, and make sure you see how the right answer addresses the specific task mentioned in the question stem. More importantly, take the time to look for every reason wrong answers are wrong—if you do this correctly, you will often see many clear “tells” for the wrong choices to a question—things that misalign with the passage as whole, specific details mentioned, or what is asked of you in the question stem (the last characteristic is one that test takers consistently underestimate).

As you do your comprehensive evaluation, also think about the easiest tells—the quickest and most obvious ways in which you could have eliminated wrong choices and zeroed in on the right one. When you think about all the answers for all the questions for all the passages, the easiest and most consistent tell is reasoning structure—a great many wrong answers across a spectrum of various question types reveal themselves because they misrepresent the structure of a passage. Walk through efficient and effective ways that you could have solved the question—the easiest and surest methods you could have used for getting rid of wrong choices and confirming the right one.

Finally, for the passages that cause you the most trouble, try them again, fresh, ideally after a bit of a break (a week or two should suffice). The second time through, try to focus on your form—how you try to read the passage, and how you try to answer the questions. You should expect, because you have familiarity with the passage, that you will be able to go a bit faster than you would if it were your first time seeing the passage. If, in your second time through, you can’t do this, or if the passage or questions still feel too difficult, review again and try again another time (you can use the notebook organizer sheets to keep track of the passages to try again).

Throughout the review process, remind yourself that the purpose of practice and review is to develop skills and habits­. Reading Comprehension is all about what you do—what you focus on as you read, what you think about when you see a question stem, and so on—not what you know.

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jrsbaseball5
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby jrsbaseball5 » Fri May 17, 2013 6:18 pm

Thank you for this!

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15chocolate
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby 15chocolate » Fri May 17, 2013 6:31 pm

This is great, thank you!
Where is your website by the way?

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CardozoLaw09
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby CardozoLaw09 » Fri May 17, 2013 6:33 pm

Exactly what I needed - thanks Mike!

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15chocolate
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby 15chocolate » Fri May 17, 2013 6:34 pm

Oh, never mind...I think I found it. :D

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mvonh001
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby mvonh001 » Fri May 17, 2013 8:18 pm

Thank you so much... This is exactly what i have been looking for.

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CardozoLaw09
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby CardozoLaw09 » Fri May 17, 2013 9:22 pm

Just read this a second time through; this is good stuff! Essentially it's just like 7sage's Blind Review method for LR, except for RC.

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okaygo
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby okaygo » Sat May 18, 2013 1:05 pm

Tag

juristhedoctor
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby juristhedoctor » Sat May 18, 2013 1:10 pm

Tag. Thank you!

lsatkid007
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby lsatkid007 » Mon May 20, 2013 1:29 pm

Tag. Love it.

sreiter18
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby sreiter18 » Mon May 20, 2013 2:36 pm

Tag!

charlesriver
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby charlesriver » Mon May 20, 2013 10:17 pm

Tag. Thanks

evolution
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby evolution » Tue May 21, 2013 2:01 pm

Tag.

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John_rizzy_rawls
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby John_rizzy_rawls » Tue May 21, 2013 2:08 pm

evolution wrote:Tag.

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Squintz805
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby Squintz805 » Tue May 21, 2013 5:46 pm

Tag

keosu11
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby keosu11 » Tue May 21, 2013 7:11 pm

tag

KingofSplitters55
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby KingofSplitters55 » Mon May 27, 2013 10:28 am

Great tips, thanks!

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loomstate
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby loomstate » Mon May 27, 2013 10:34 am

tag

Shamatha1
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby Shamatha1 » Thu Jun 06, 2013 2:03 am

tag

Vardges
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby Vardges » Sat Jan 11, 2014 6:22 am

Tag

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Tyr
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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby Tyr » Sat Jan 11, 2014 11:10 am

As usual, very well written and great tips. Thanks Mike!

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Re: Some Tips on How to Review Reading Comprehension

Postby govtmercenary88 » Tue Jan 28, 2014 1:10 am

Tag.




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