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What!? I actually have to understand what I'm reading to do well?!?

Chris NguyenChris Nguyen Alum Member Administrator Sage 7Sage Tutor
edited June 2020 in General 4532 karma

You're taking a timed test. The clock is ticking. You glance at the clock. "crap, I don't have enough time". You begin to rush reading the stimulus. You don't know exactly what's going on, but you have an idea. "It probably has to do with causation/correlation", you say to yourself. You go through the answer choices. None of them seem right. Now your anxiety levels are up and you don't know what to do. "I spent so much time on this question, lets just look in the stimulus again I'm sure I'll find it". You waste your time rereading the stimulus, but you know you're wasting time, so you skim through it frantically. You see a word or two that look the same in the stimulus as it does in answer choice B. You choose answer choice B. You finish the test and you realize the answer choice was C.

"Crap! Why did I get this question wrong?!!"

I don't know about you, but I've had way too many of these scenarios come up time and time again in my studies.

I eventually realized that most of it stemmed from the mistake I made at the very beginning: Reading the stimulus too fast.

The LSAT is hard. The writers write in a way that no writers should ever write to make things difficult to understand, using grammatical sentences that no sane person would ever use. That's exactly why rushing through the stimulus is a surefire way for you to get questions wrong. When you rush through reading, you're playing right into the writer's hands. They are banking on you missing something, and when you don't read carefully, you are much more likely to miss it.

Special forces operators have a slogan when it comes to urban combat - "Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast." If you move too fast and too quickly, you can get surrounded by the enemy and outflanked.

This slogan applies just as much to the LSAT. Moving too fast through the stimulus leads to falling into the psychological traps that the LSAT writers set up for you. Reading slower allows your brain time connect the complex ideas and reasoning that are critical to getting the question correct.

I know what you might be thinking. "You're telling me all I have to do to improve on the LSAT is read slower...?"

Well, no. It comes with some other things. When you read slower, what should you be doing with that time? You should be thinking and internalizing what is actually happening in the text that you're reading. Some things you can be thinking about are "What things do I need to make this conclusion valid?" or "What can I actually conclude from these premises that are given to me? How does that compare the the conclusion I'm actually given?". Reading slower allows you time to process this critical information.

"But I don't have the luxury to read slow! This test is timed and I just don't have enough time to get through everything!"

Let me tell you something buddy. You don't have the luxury to read fast. When you read too fast, you miss things which lead to the wrong answer choice or you get confused and go back to reread. You either get the question wrong, or you reread and spend even more time than you would've if you just took it slow the first time. In practice, fast reading actually makes you slower.

From my experience self studying and studying in groups, I've seen many people (including myself) get caught up in reading too fast on the LSAT. Take a chill pill. Slow down. Have a conversation with yourself and what you're reading. Stop skimming through hard concepts.

Truly understanding what you're reading is a key factor in improving on this test. Hope this helps someone. Happy Studying.


  • 1234abcd-11234abcd-1 Member
    422 karma

    I agree thank you so much for this!

  • The JudgesThe Judges Free Trial Member
    364 karma

    Honestly this is the secret to better LR and RC sections!

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