The video below shows LSAT Reading Comprehension Tips that you can apply on the LSAT Exam immediately. Practice the LSAT to make sure it sticks.
LSAT Reading Comprehension Tips [Video Transcript]
Hi, welcome back to Case Briefs LSAT Course. My name is Sean Murphy. And today, in Lesson 7, we’re going to be looking at our first reading comp lesson. The reading comp section, reading comprehension section, excuse me, is often the least studied of the three LSAT section types. And there’s a pretty good reason for that. Most of us have taken the SAT. We’ve seen reading comp before. It’s not as logically complicated as the logic games and the logical reasoning questions we have to do. There’s not as many question types on the reading comp as there are in logical reasoning, for example.
But you ignore it at your peril. There are always 27 to 28 questions on the reading comp. That makes it the section with the most questions. Logic games, there’s 22 to 23 questions, reading comp, 27 to 28. So just in terms of the number of questions, reading comp is a more important section than logic games.
And there are certain strategies you can use to do better on the questions. You can definitely improve. You might not see as dramatic an improvement as you’ll see on the logic games, but it is possible to significantly increase your reading comp performance and thereby get a much better LSAT score.
So let’s jump into the June 2007 reading comp section.
Like Lesson 2, this lesson is entirely based on questions from the June 2007 test. So that’s all you need in front of you right now. We’re going to take a look at Section 4. I want you now to read this passage on your own, pause the video. When you’re done, we’ll talk about it.
So you’ve read this passage, and hopefully, you realize that it’s about the arts. We call this a humanities passage. They’re very common on the LSAT. Almost every LSAT reading comp section has one. And particularly in the last five years, the humanities passages have always focused on a minority artist or an artist from a disadvantaged group, and it discusses their contribution to their art.
When discussing the value of a work of art, an art critic or an LSAT author will often refer to a familiar debate, form versus content. The form of a work of art is simply the work itself. Is it a novel, a painting, a sculpture? Of course, form can be more complicated than that. Is it a realistic painting? Or is it an abstract work, for example? The content of a work of art is the art’s subject matter. Is it a novel about war, romance, domestic life, etc.?
So if we’re going to praise or criticize a work of art, we have to consider both its form and content. The artists that are the subject of LSAT passages are almost always praised. And they are praised both as innovators with regards to their art’s form and often as representatives of groups that formerly did not receive a great deal of attention in the fine arts.
In this passage, we learn about the poet Rita Dove. Unlike many reading comprehension passages about artists, her ethnicity and gender don’t play a large role in the passage’s analysis of her work. What is most interesting for the author is how the poet confronts a general American tendency to insist on strict divisions with regards to literary genres.
Let’s take a closer look at the first paragraph. But before we do, I just want to say one thing about note-taking and highlighting and all that stuff. You can use a highlighter, although I’d prefer not to. But that’s really up to you how best you want to mark up the passage. But you don’t want to mark it up so much that you have no time for the questions. You don’t want to create an elaborate outline. What your notes should tell you are simply where you find the authors main point. And when you see what you think is the main point, write “MP” next to it. When you see a counter argument, an argument that you think the author doesn’t like, write “CA” for counter argument. When you see a cause and effect relationship, write “CE” for cause and effect. And when you see the author make a major distinction, I write “DIS,” D-I-S, to stand for distinction.
If you know where all those things are in the passage, you’re going to be in a good position to find what you need when you get to the questions. You don’t have to take in every little detail from the passage, but you want to know where to find certain information to answer the questions efficiently.
In the first paragraph, we learn about this deep rift between poetry and fiction in the United States, particularly in academic settings. We can get a pretty good sense just from this paragraph that the author doesn’t like this tendency. We’ve seen in a logical reasoning plenty of times the way an author will introduce an argument or an idea or some fact that the author doesn’t like. The author doesn’t specifically criticize it in this passage, but the detached language that he or she uses suggests that the author isn’t a fan of this literary separation. Also, a phrase like “conventional wisdom,” pretty critical. So I think we just need to take from this paragraph that the author doesn’t really like this American tendency to insist on a separation of literary genres.
In the second paragraph, we get more of the same. The author does try to explain the situation. And the author says that in United States culture, we’re suspicious of the generalists. We’re afraid that people are going to call us dilettantes. A dilettante is somebody that does a lot of things but no one thing particularly well, and we’re afraid of that. So there’s some causal explanation for this separation.
The third paragraph, we meet our hero, Rita Dove. Note the author’s tone changes. This bias is diminishing, and Dove is highly acclaimed. And even as Dove criticizes, she does it gently according to the author. So Rita Dove’s pretty cool. The author likes her. And we must understand that in order to succeed on these questions. One important note is that Dove is not alone. She’s part of a recent trend. Also, we have the example of German literary culture, which isn’t as specialized and restrictive as that in America.
In the fourth paragraph, we finally have some details about her work. We learn that her poetry features lyrical narrative. The narrative part is the fictional element, and her fiction is lyrical, which means poetic because it has poetic rhythms and elliptical expressions, whatever that means. In a paragraph like this, it’s easy to get lost in the details, particularly if you are not familiar with literary terminology. If you notice you are ever getting lost in the details, just note the basic contents of the paragraph. You can write “DET” for details so you know where to go in the passage if there’s a specific question that refers to particular elements in Rita Dove’s work.
Now, let’s take a look at the questions.