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Is reading speed important for RC?

slxyzvvvslxyzvvv Alum Member
edited June 2021 in Reading Comprehension 69 karma

I'm not a native speaker and my English reading speed is only around 200 wpm. With this reading speed I need about three minutes to finish reading a passage. I heard people saying that RC typically requires the reading speed of 250 to 300 wpm. I do constantly run out of time on RC section. But JY sometimes indicates that he spends two or three minutes reading a passage. I'm wondering whether my reading speed is the major problem here. How much time do you guys typically need to finish reading a passage?


  • samksamk Monthly Member
    60 karma

    Reading SPEED is irrelevant (to a point of course, I would never spend more than 5 minutes on a passage) COMPREHENSION is what is important. It is something that I struggled hard with because I thought I needed to go faster as I too was always running out of time on RC. However, after listening to the 7Sage podcast, I realized the key to finishing efficiently and getting a more consistent/higher score is to spend no more than one minute per question, and spend more time upfront on each passage. Try it out and see how it goes!

  • turvsbroturvsbro Alum Member
    90 karma

    efficiency > speed

  • 123anami123anami Alum Member
    382 karma

    I spend around 3 minutes per passage too, sometimes even up to 5 minutes on harder passages - like others have said, it's more important to go through questions fast than to read fast. I cut costs by making sure the 3 minutes reading are well-spent and I understand what exactly it is I'm reading, then breeze through the questions as fast as I can. Definitely doable!

  • fin..501fin..501 Alum Member
    125 karma

    Reading - comprehension = looking at words. If you "read" fast and don't retain very much/anything, you're just looking at words. The speed at which you can comfortably comprehend the passage is very important, but, as others have said, focusing on looking at all the words as quickly as possible is not the way to go. Practice comprehending, and you will gradually (very gradually) improve your ability to comprehend quickly. Speed of comprehension does matter a lot, but achieving comprehension is step one. Many people struggle with RC because they fail to commit to comprehension. (aka. they don't actually read the passage, they just look at the words) If you do not commit to comprehension, many questions are confusing, others take significant amounts of time, other bad things. If you commit to comprehension, the questions are easier, but the passage takes a little longer. With practice, you can read at the pace that you can look at words.

  • 145 karma

    I would not worry about metrics like words per minute. Three minutes to read a passage is actually on the fast end for me. I tend to spend closer to four minutes, sometimes more, reading a passage. Aim for a level of understanding that allows you to answer the questions correctly without having to revisit the passage too many times.

  • ceyung97ceyung97 Monthly Member
    54 karma

    @"fin.cobb" I get where you are coming from, but I know Mike Kim will advise that you read for structure, not detail, which I feel is a completely different approach from the low & high res we've been brought up to do through 7sage. I may be misinterpreting this, but would be interested to know what you think. I certainly have not mastered RC yet.

  • fin..501fin..501 Alum Member
    125 karma

    @Shen_Bapiro97 I would say that the two approaches are pretty much clones. 7Sage
    gives quite a bit more tangible advice on RC, but the ideas are conceptually the same, "big picture" is more important than the details. Honestly, both systems are just designed to help people avoid the trap that is attempting to memorize information in the passage as you read, or losing sight of what the writer is saying because you're focusing instead on every little thing he says.

    Facts in the passage are much less important than the structure, but that's because the LSAT is designed to test understanding of arguments and logic rather than fact retention. If the LSAT were designed to test retention of specific details (i.e. reading comp Q's were 10 detail questions) then I'm sure Mike Kim and 7Sage would both tell you to read for detail rather than structure, and they would give you advice on how to do that. In general, comprehension includes understanding detail and understanding structure, but, as with LR, the nature of the LSAT (and arguments in general) means that the structure is much more important than the details.

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