I am often asked “How can I improve my reading comprehension skills and reading speed for the LSAT?”
Take a look at some ways to improve your reading abilities in this video, or in the article below:
There are a number of ways to do this in the short term and these are addressed in full in our online LSAT prep course. For the purpose of this article I am going to take a look at some longer term solutions. If you only have a few weeks to go until your LSAT these solutions probably will not help you much, but if you have a month or more you can definitely make use of these techniques to improve your score on the reading comprehension section of the LSAT.
1. Practice Reading
The best thing you can do to improve your reading abilities and speed is to practice. This does not mean reading like you normally do. You need to focus. And you should focus on short articles of complex subject matter, similar to that which you will find on the LSAT. Grab a newspaper or a copy of The Economist magazine and read and article. Personally I like The Economist as it has short articles just like the LSAT with topics ranging from economics to social sciences or biological sciences and the arts just like your reading passages on the actual LSAT. You should be reading at least a few articles a day. This gives you a bit of a break from your LSAT studies and you can do it on the bus, in the library, in class (if it’s boring), or pretty much anywhere.
When you read a novel in bed or an article in a trashy magazine you will sometimes find that your mind is wandering. Ever read a page and then stopped only to realize you have no idea what you just read? It happens to all of us. You cannot let this happen on the LSAT. You must devote all of your efforts into focusing on what you are reading. There is not time to go back and re-read because you were daydreaming.
3. Use the other half of your brain
One way to maintain focus is to employ the other half of your brain while you read. That’s the half that’s usually daydreaming about lunch or your date last night. Put it to work. You can do this by forcing yourself to not just read but to analyze as well. While you read you should be thinking about what you are reading. Think about what the text means, try to create a basic summary that simplifies what you are reading as you read it. Is the argument flawed? What statistics are they relying on? Does the way they use the statistics or supporting data make sense? Think about what the author’s view point is, is there a view point? Think about what other view points are expressed in the article. What is the main point or purpose of the article? Follow and make note of transitions in the article. If the article starts off in one direction supporting a proposition and then changes to address critiques of this view, make note of this change in direction. Thinking about these elements of the article will help you stay focused and will dramatically improve your comprehension and ability to recall the article.
4. Make notes on the article
As you read the article, mark it up. Circle, underline, box, draw arrows and stars. Develop your own system for how you will mark up an article or use ours (explained in full in the online LSAT prep course). Generally you want to be marking up your view point and key characters, the author’s views, the main point, transitions or changes in direction or tone and any key words that help you focus on the structure or content of the article.
5. Explain it to someone else
After you read, take the time to explain the article to someone else. This forces you to recall what you read, to summarize it in a meaningful way and to analyze it as you discuss and explain the article. This helps develop your memory as well as analytical skills that are so important on the LSAT.
Following these steps can help improve your reading abilities and have a direct impact on your LSAT score. But there is more to be gained from these exercises, developing these analytical reading skills will also help you in law school and in a career as a lawyer. Lawyers and law students are required to read with focus and to analyze complex text on a daily basis. So get started now, raise your LSAT score but also improve your overall analytical reading skills.