Many readers have asked how to improve their reading comprehension speed and score on the LSAT. Once you have a strategy down that allows you to identify and mark-up the key elements of the passages many people still run into a wall with respect to reading faster and more efficiently and gathering the relevant information while not getting slowed down by the irrelevant.
Here’s a few things to try. Keep in mind, though, to try them on one or two timed sections and if they work keep them if not ditch them.
1. Skim the question stems first – very fast and just focus on key words – this can cue your brain to read more closely when you get to those ideas in the passage. Don’t bother with the first question (it’s almost always about the main point) don’t read the answers or even the whole question stem, just skim for keywords. Often there are no key words e.g. “which of the following would the author be most likely to agree with?” – nothing to get from this one – move on. This whole process should take less than 30 seconds. If you want you can quickly highlight or underline any keywords you identify. Often you’ll only glean a keyword from every second question stem. Now when you’re reading your ears will pop up and your brain will focus in closer when you encounter these words or ideas. This allows you to focus more on the areas that you know have a related question. Don’t get bogged down by this as some ideas will flow through the passage.
Before we move to the next option, I’ll say it again, this should take no more than 30 seconds before you are reading the passage!
2. Mark up the passage less – focus only on main ideas (passage and paragraphs) view points/characters and author’s views. Focusing on these key items only may cause you to miss some other concepts but for many people it can help them read faster and just gather the key ideas. This can lead to a higher score with more time to tackle the questions.
3. Force yourself to read faster – focus only on the things in point 2. above and skim or very quickly read the details in between – your only major goal should be to understand the main idea of each paragraph. You should have a clear idea of this at the end of each paragraph.
Try each of these or any combination and see if they help. Depending on your reading skills and how your brain works they might hurt too so be prepared to ditch them if they don’t help.
Often trying something new with the reading comprehension section can open up that barrier and help you push through to the next level.