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.