The Memory Method for Improving LSAT 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 that 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 lesson 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 they're reading.

The Memory Method For Reading Comp

These are drills to be done with individual reading comp 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 that paragraph into one line. The fewer words you use, the better. You can focus on the main point of the paragraph if it has one. Or you can focus on the way in which this paragraph relates to the other paragraphs. This is called a "low resolution" summary because the point here is specifically to not retain all the details, like a low resolution picture where you can make out the shape of objects but not much more.

3. At the end of the passage, review each paragraph's low resolution summaries. Thread these summaries together to build a narrative. This is the structural outline of the passage.

4. Summarize the main point of the entire passage, again using as few words as possible.

Knowing the main point and the structure of the passage will help you gain speed 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 low resolution summaries of each paragraph 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 line citation (e.g. lines 12-15), reread a few lines before and a few lines after the citation.

3. If there is no line citation, attempt to answer the question directly without referencing the passage. If you really cannot remember what the relevant details are, you can look back and you ought to know exactly where to look since you've already built a structural outline of the passage in your memory.

4. Pick an answer, trust your gut, and move on.

5. If you simply cannot decide between the answers, flag the question, and move on.

Waffling between answer choices is the surest indicator of a question's high difficulty. If you're often waffling between answers, then you are spending much of your time on the hardest questions.

Give each question an honest shot. But if you aren't getting it, cut your losses, avoid getting stuck in a time-trap, and move on to the other, easier questions as quickly as possible.

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

If you're finding it effortless to complete "Check Your Memory," then it's time to move onto Phase II.

Phase II - Reading Comprehension Mastery

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

The first phase trains your ability to retain information. The second phase trains your ability to quickly recall and apply that information.

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 its structure is the key to success on reading comprehension.

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