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RC: Don't forget the simple things.

galacticgalactic Yearly Member

Hello 7Sage Neighborhood,

While the conversation around Reading Comp is often dominated by high-level strategy talk, I am posting this as a reminder to not forget about the simple things when it comes to, simply, Reading.

I recently had some training to become an ESL tutor, and they showed us a list of tips on how to help a student struggling to comprehend a passage. I was amazed at how relevant this advice, intended for people learning English for the 1st time, was for us as LSAT students.

The gap in English comprehension between an LSAT vs. ESL student may be wide, but the points here are just as salient. I hope you get as much utility out of them as I did. Here they are:

Reading Problem Solving Strategies

1. Reread

If a sentence or paragraph doesn't make sense the first time you read it, read it again, two or three times if necessary. A text often becomes clearer when you read it more than once.

Example: "At first I didn't understand why the character was so angry, but when I read the beginning again I saw that I had missed the part about how his father mistreated him."

2. Read more slowly

Don't rush through a text. Take your time to make sure you are understanding. Also, some texts are more difficult to read than others. Slowing down can help with dense or difficult material.

Example: "This explanation of photosynthesis is pretty complicated. I better slow down and take it step by step."

3. Keep on reading

If you're not sure of a word or if a passage doesn't make sense, keep reading to see if there is information further on that helps the meaning become clear.

Example: "I didn't understand why all of a sudden the father appeared in the story, but reading on I understood that the main character was having a flashback to his childhood."

4. Look up vocabulary (Note for us: Go on a word hunt after Blind Review.)

Sometimes you have to look up a word or check your notes. Not knowing a key word can make the rest of the sentence or paragraph difficult to understand.

Example: "I can see that the author is making an argument against federalism, but I'm not sure I remember what federalism is. I better go look it up."

5. Visualize

Create a picture in your mind. Visualizing what is happening can help you understand it.

Example: "I can just picture a whole street of little neighborhood stores where the main character works, with cups and cigarette butts on the sidewalk and the same people coming by every day. No wonder he feels trapped."

6. Retell (Note for us: During Blind Review.)

If you can retell in your own words something you have read, that means you have understood it well. Stop as you are reading and ask yourself, "Can I explain to someone what I've just read?"

Example: "I think I understand how laws are made, but I'm not sure I could explain it very well to someone else. I better go back and reread it."

7. Self-talk - Ask questions

Stop as you read and ask yourself questions to check your understanding.

Example: "Did that sentence make sense? Did that paragraph make sense? Could I explain it in my own words?"

8. Ask someone (Note for us: After Blind Review.)

If all else fails, you can always ask someone for help.


  • WoodsCommaElleWoodsCommaElle Monthly + Live Member
    379 karma

    Hey @"galactic law" thanks for this! I was just about to start drilling RC, glad I came here first :)

  • Lime Green DotLime Green Dot Alum Member
    1376 karma

    Great reminders and excellently organized! I've found #7 (goes hand-in-hand with active recall) has been SUPER helpful for retaining important points. From one ESL instructor to another, rock on! 👊

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