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One of the most common questions we get is how to improve at LSAT Reading Comprehension. It seems really tough to do: either you are good at reading, or you’re not, and you can’t do much to change that, right?

We disagree. Here at 7Sage we’ve been testing a new approach to Reading Comprehension that has gotten great results, and now we’re proud to present you with: The Memory MethodTM for Reading Comprehension.

Train Your Memory For LSAT Reading Comprehension

Ever read a passage, then feel like you don’t remember anything? You get to the questions and realize it’s true: you’ve forgotten most of what you read.

It happens to almost everyone. We’re not built to retain all the information presented in a reading comprehension passage. But you can get better.

The drills in this post build your mental muscles, and will teach you to retain what you read when you take a test.

This method will teach you to do what skilled readers do naturally: consciously think about what you’re reading.

The Memory MethodTM For Reading Comp

These are drills to be done with individual reading comp passages. Do these drills with 6-8 passages.

It may be tough at first, especially the “Check Your Memory” section. But if you stick with it you’ll learn to retain what you read.

Phase I – Improving Retention

Memorize The Passage Structure [3.5 Minutes]

1.Take a passage. Spend 3.5 minutes reading it.

2. At the end of each paragraph, summarize the main point of that paragraph into one line.

3. At the end of the passage, look over each paragraph again and make sure you know the main point. Combine these main points into a narrative.

4. Once you know the point of each paragraph, decide on the main point of the passage.

Gaining command of the passage will speed you up when doing the questions.

Check Your Memory [1.5 Minutes]

1. Turn over the passage – don’t look at it.

2. On a sheet of paper, write down the main point of each paragraph (one line each), and the main point of the passage.

RC tests whether you really retained what you read. If you don’t remember anything at first, don’t worry, and don’t look back at the passage.

Just write down what you do remember, and resolve to do better next time.

Do The Questions – Avoid Time-Traps [3.5 Minutes]

1. Turn the passage over, you can look at it again.

2. If the question involves a specific detail (e.g. lines 17-21, paragraph 2, the statements of Picasso and Braque), reread that section of the passage. This shouldn’t take long, because you memorized where details are located.

3. If there is no specific detail, attempt to answer the question.

4. In either case, if you think one answer is right, use your gut and move on.

5. If you’re not sure, refer back to the passage [but be quick about it].

6. If step 5 doesn’t solve it, flag the question, pick an answer, and move on.

If you waffle between answer choices, then you are spending most of your time on the hardest questions. This is a time-trap. You want to spend your time on questions you can solve.

Give each question an honest shot. But if you aren’t getting it, cut your losses and move on to the other, easier questions.

Eventually, you will get fast enough to come back to the flagged questions with a fresh mind. They’re often significantly easier the second time through.

Phase II – Reading Comprehension Mastery

The second phase of the memory method is exactly the same as the first, with one exception: you only spend 30 seconds on step two (Check Your Memory).

Do this 6-8 times. The first phase teaches you how to retain information. The second phase teaches you to quickly recall and apply it.

Conclusion – Practice, Practice, Practice

Getting good at LSAT Reading Comprehension is a habit. These drills lay the foundation for proper technique, but you’ll have to revisit them from time to time to perfect your method.

If you feel your retention flagging, focus on improving it. A good command of the passage and it’s structure is the key to success on reading comprehension.

If you liked this blog post, you’ll find even more good reading comprehension advice in our online LSAT course.

About

J.Y. has been teaching the LSAT since 2006 and has taught thousands of students. He is the founder of 7Sage and PreProBono, two organizations dedicated to making legal education more accessible. He graduated from Columbia University in 2007 where he studied Economics, Political Science, and Philosophy and holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

J.Y. highly encourages all LSAT students to review their logic games using 7Sage's Fool Proof Method and to sign up for 7Sage's free trial LSAT course.


27 Responses to “The Memory Method For Improving LSAT Reading Comprehension”

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  • mnish771

    I’ve tried testmasters and powerscore techniques, but this technique seems most convincing – thank you! I am currently missing 4-7 RC questions per section, but ideally, I would like to miss 0-2 on the real test (Feb 2014). How many RC passages do you recommend drilling through every day using this technique for the next 1-2 weeks (if I want to be missing 0-2 questions by then)?

    It’s only been 3 days since I’ve discovered 7sage, and I’ve found all of your advice incredibly helpful (already told my lsat buddies about this site)!

  • ccwilso4

    This is such a great method. I have been wasting a great amount of time on Powercore and Kaplans “roadmapping techniques” and still have not been able to answer questions with accuracy. With this technique I have more time for questions that I am stuck on or need to refer to the passage. Thanks! This is such a wonderful site overall.

    • J.Y. Ping

      Thanks. Study hard! 7Sage can give you the tools, but ultimately you have to become a master at using them.

  • anna.a.porto

    I only have a month until the test, I have been practicing this method a little bit but it is slowing me down by a couple of minutes. I’m only missing about one question per section right now, do you think it’s too late for me to see any real benefit from this method? Does it get faster in only a couple of weeks? I love all of your videos! Thank you!

    • J.Y. Ping

      I don’t know if there’s enough time but you always work on accuracy first, then timing.

  • chopsuey1698

    Should I change the timing on the questions based on the quantity received?

  • Justin

    Hey J.Y,

    I’m a big fan of your logic game videos online. They have provided with a wealth of knowledge that I have been able to use on new games cutting my errors and reducing my time significantly. I’m now able to get my LG close to perfect every time but RC is still giving me some trouble. So, how long would you suggest doing the first phase for?

  • Madison

    Hi Graeme, when you summarize the paragraph into one line, should you write the line next to the paragraph or should it be done mentally? Thank you!

    • J.Y. Ping

      Hey Madison, I actually wrote this – sorry about the confusion. In Phase I, you can write it next to the paragraph if you’d like. Eventually, do it in your head.

  • Janice

    Do you do Phase 1, #2 in your heard or do you write down each main points? Also do you summarize a main point after reading the end of each paragraph, or after reading the entire passage first (and then going back and summarize each paragraph)?

    • Janice

      In your head* not heard

    • J.Y. Ping

      Hey Janice, you summarize the main point of each paragraph in your head as soon as you finish reading each paragraph.

  • Thelonious Kwiggz

    This is honestly God send, my RC scores would vary from -5 to -12, I have invariably been -4 or under since implementing this strategy. You have changed the trajectory of my life :) thank you

  • LsatK

    What do yo do when you can’t comprehend the paragraph? I’m an ESL student so English is not my strong point. I get most of the passages but some just blow me away. What do you recommend I do. Thanks

  • Sophie

    What if I am not certain if my summaries of each paragraph is accurate enough? How can I verify? Or is that not important?

    • J.Y. Ping

      That’s okay. After you’re done with the passage/questions, you’ll get to find out if your summaries were accurate.

  • Robert

    Does this still apply to comparative passages?

    • J.Y. Ping

      Yes. You’ll have to modulate the time down to fit though. But, the core idea here is memory. That still applies.

  • Kflaughter

    Loves it. I took a Kaplan course, and got hung up for weeks trying to do their roadmapping deal … then tried skimming the passage (I shoot for 2 min), which gives me more than enough time to research the questions. Love this method too.

    • Graeme Blake

      Awesome, glad it helped. I didn’t write about it here, but I use skimming a lot (*after* I read the passage). I find it helps me retain more detail.

  • TC

    I can’t put into words how amazing this approach to Reading Comprehension has been for me! I have struggled with this section for quite some time now…trying to remember every specific detail, anticipating what the LSAT writers will ask me, etc. I decided to give your approach a try and all I can say is WOW! I have gone from getting 10+ questions wrong to only 3-4 for the entire section (with only three days of practice)! Thank you SO MUCH 7 Sage!

  • andrew demasters

    this is,excellent. my avg raw on rc has been 17 , this ahould get me into the 20s, ill try this today :)

  • John Lee

    For phase one, step 2, are we writing down what we think is the main point of the paragraph or are we just locating a sentence in the paragraph of what we think the main point is.

    • J.Y. Ping

      your summary of it! you’ve flipped the passage over already so you can’t look at it.