Intro to Reading Comprehension

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Transcript

Hello, I'm Kristin. This video will provide you with an introduction to LSAT Reading Comprehension. There's only one scored RC section on the LSAT, but it counts for about 27% of your LSAT score. So it's definitely worth the effort to study RC.

Each RC section contains 26 to 28 questions, and these are grouped into four sets of questions. And that way, the RC section is structured similarly to the logic game section. But instead of logic games, each set of RC questions pertains to a passage or to a pair of passages. And all the passages combined contain about 1900 words.

Now that's a lot to read and a lot to answer within the time limit of 35 minutes. So the time pressure is particularly acute on the RC section. In fact, most test takers cannot finish all the questions on the RC section. But you can still earn a good score even if you cannot complete all the questions. You just need a solid strategy to answer as many questions as possible.

And remember, there's no guessing penalty on the LSAT, so you should definitely make sure you mark a random guess. Or an educated guess for any questions that you don't have time to read or fully dig into. So how are you gonna deal with the time pressure of the reading comprehension section?

First, you need an effective study strategy. And second, you're gonna need an effective test day strategy. Let's talk about your study strategy first. The RC section tests many of the skills tested on the logic games and the logical reasoning sections. But the competing arguments of the RC passages add a layer of complexity to the analysis.

The nuances of the RC section are difficult to understand if you don't already have a strong understanding of formal logic and informal logic. So many students can benefit from studying logic games and arguments first. Before they commit to a serious study of reading comprehension. Now let's talk about reading speed. Students often ask us how they can increase their reading speed and our answer often tends to surprise them, slow down.

You will need to analyze dozens of passages slowly before you're ready to take them on at a higher speed. It's really tempting to study for reading comprehension by simply completing time section of a time section and checking your answers. But that's not a good plan for improvement and it can be incredibly frustrating as well.

So instead, what you should do is watch this entire series of videos first and learn an effective strategy. And then when you turn to doing practice, take your time and make sure you apply the strategies patiently. Old habits die hard and it will take a lot of practice for you to adopt these new reading methods.

Now there are plenty of official practice passages out there with Magoosh. You get dozens and dozens and dozens of official tests, so you should have plenty to practice with. But as I mentioned, don't just plow through reading section after reading section and not improve. Because you're not applying strategies, and you're not taking the time undo some bad habits.

So don't waste them, save ones that you want to save for after you have learned some strategies and have improved. [BLANK AUDIO] You're also going to need a solid strategy for test day. So here's how to maximize your scores on timed RC sections. Because of the time pressure of this test, you should employ the easy first strategy. That means you're gonna complete the easy passages first and you're gonna skip difficult passages and save them for later where possible.

So even though it's not as easy to scan through the computer based LSAT for easy or difficult passages, as it would be on a paper test. The following tips should help. So lucky for you, the passages do tend to increase in difficulty as you go on. So the test can naturally take most people from easier to harder passages. But that being said, some subjects or some writing styles are harder for some people to understand than others.

So if you get a bad feeling in your stomach after you read the first couple sentences, then skip that passage and try the next one. If the topic and the writing style seem easy to you after the first few sentences, then keep going. But if you're already confused after just a sentence or two. You should skip that passage until you've completed the ones that are easier for you, and then come back to it.

Also, you should be willing to delay difficult questions within the passage. So as you practice, you'll get a better sense of which questions will take you longer than others. And we'll discuss this as we go through our other lessons on question types. So use the tools that are available to you on the testing platform to flag a question.

And then return to it before you move on from a passage. If you're still stuck down or you're taking too much time, then take your best guess and move on. In addition, RC passages require a large time investment to read. So you need an active reading strategy, just like you need an active strategy to diagram logic games.

Reading actively means reading with a goal in mind, so let's think about the appropriate goal for reading RC passages. Most RC passages describe different viewpoints on the subject. And you have to keep track of the supporters and the detractors of each viewpoint. Therefore, you should read the passage with an eye towards identifying the disputed issues.

Find a dispute, as we call it. Incidentally, that's also the same method that you're gonna use in law school to analyze judicial opinions. So it's a useful strategy to be practising now if you can get any enjoyment out of your LSAT prep. Finally, your active reading strategy should include an annotation method.

That allows you to tag important parts of the passage for reference when you get to the questions. That will allow you to discriminate more carefully between the subtle details of the answer choices. Make sure you check out our annotation video for more on this. So now that we've talked about the strategies, let's take a look at an RC section and see how we might apply them.

On the digital LSAT, you can choose to view the passages or view the passage on the left hand side with a scroll bar and the questions on the right. Or you can click on the button that says Passage Only to just view the passage. We recommend reading the passage in passage only mode at first to maximize how much of the passage you can see on your screen. Note that on some slightly longer passages and depending on how large or small you've made the text on your screen.

You may need to continue to go on to the next page in order to see the remainder of the passage. So that's the Next Page button on the bottom right there. However, especially if time is an issue for you say the clock is winding down and you still have a couple passages left. Take a quick look in passage and question mode first.

You can see how many questions there are per passage at the bottom of the screen when you are in the passage with question mode. And that way you can see what the payoff is per passage. It's probably going to be in your best interest to tackle the passages with the most questions. Since reading a passage is such a large time investment.

One passage on every test will be a comparison passage of two passages. Even though the length of the comparison passage may not be much longer than a single passage. It typically takes more mental energy and bandwidth since you have two different perspectives. And two different main ideas to analyze and many of the questions will ask you about both passages at the same time.

We're gonna talk more about comparison passages in another lesson. But comparison passages are also good candidates to skip if you have issues with time. Here are a couple final thoughts about reading comprehension. Use the easy first strategy until you reach the 5 minute warning. Every time you finish a passage, move to the next easiest passage for you, or the one with the highest payoff of questions.

At the 5 minute warning, you should stop working and make a guess for all the questions you didn't have time to read. Then you can go back and likely scan through to find a few questions that don't require you to fully read the passage in order to answer them. Or at least get a lot closer to a correct answer and make a better guess. One question type to look for is a word in context question that only requires you to read a few lines of the passage in order to get it.

Or a specific reference questions where you might be able to get the answer just by reading a paragraph. Or at the very least, you can probably eliminate some answer choices. They're not particularly good. Some students are also good at quickly reading intros and conclusions of paragraphs.

Get a quick sense of the main idea of the passage and find that they can answer those questions without fully reading a passage. Or at least they can make a much better educated guess, so that's something else to look out for. As you practice, work on developing a better sense of which questions you want to do if you are short on time, which you probably will be.

And take note of them and practice attacking your last few questions strategically under a time pressure. So that's it for our introduction to reading comprehension. We have so much more to talk about and I'm excited to dig into some more question types and strategies in our next lessons.

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