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All LSAT Reading Resources
LSAT Reading Comprehension Section
What are Reading Comprehension questions?
The Reading Comprehension section of the official LSAT assesses your ability to read and thoroughly comprehend difficult passages dealing with various subjects. This section of the LSAT is very similar to other reading comprehension sections you may have done in school or on other standardized tests, like the SAT. This section requires you to read a passage (or two) and answer five to eight questions that test whether or not you fully understood the information presented.
The passages are drawn from the Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Law. Questions range from testing broad overall understanding (e.g. “Which one of the following best expresses the main idea of the passage?”) to testing specific tonal understanding (e.g. “Which one of the following best describes the author’s attitude towards the theory presented in line 32?”) Whether you need LSAT tutoring in Atlanta, LSAT tutoring in Houston, or LSAT tutoring in San Francisco, working one-on-one with an expert may be just the boost your studies need.
Where do Reading Comprehension questions appear on the LSAT?
The official LSAT consists of four scored sections. Two of these are Logical Reasoning sections, one is a Reading Comprehension section, and one is an Analytical Reasoning (“Logic Games”) section.. Each LSAT also includes one experimental section, which is used to gather data about questions that may be included on future LSATs. The experimental section will be a Logical Reasoning section, a Reading Comprehension section, or an Analytical Reasoning (“Logic Games”) section, but you will not be notified as to which section is unscored one when taking the LSAT. You will be able to figure out what type of section the unscored section was after you are done taking the exam, however; for instance, if you completed two Reading Comprehension sections, one of them was experimental and unscored, though you will not be able to tell which one it was.
The order of sections on the LSAT is random, except that the Writing Sample is always the last section on every LSAT. There is no way to know the order of sections on your LSAT before you take the test. Therefore, you could encounter Reading Comprehension as the first section, the last section, or in between the other sections, depending on how your specific test is arranged. Varsity Tutors also offers resources like free LSAT Reading Diagnostic Tests to help with your self-paced study, or you may want to consider an LSAT Reading tutor.
How long are test-takers given to complete the LSAT Reading Comprehension section?
The LSAT Reading Comprehension section is always made up of four parts: three long passages and two short, paired passages. Since you have 35 minutes to complete the section, this means that you have eight minutes and 45 seconds per passage (or per pair of short, paired passages).
As with the Logic Games section of the LSAT, many students will decide to attempt three of the passages on the Reading Comprehension section rather than all four passages in order to utilize the short time allotted to them in a way that will most likely lead to their success. Attempting three of the passages will allow you 11 minutes and 40 seconds per passage, both to read the passage and to answer the questions pertaining to it.
What are the Different Types of Reading Comprehension Questions?
Reading Comprehension questions, while specific to each passage, follow general patterns. Many of the same questions appear over and over again with slight variation, as they are tailored to the passage at hand. One may categorize Reading Comprehension questions in many different ways, but a basic breakdown includes the following question types:
Main Idea Questions: These questions ascertain whether or not you understood the main point of the passage as a whole. You may be asked to select a one-sentence summary of the passage, to select a possible title for the piece, or to simply determine what the passage’s main idea was.
Detail/Specific Questions: These will question your ability to recall specific details from the passage. These questions range from “The author indicates that all politicians agree about what?” to “According to the passage, the term ‘legal principles’ as used by Dworkin refers to what?” Answering these questions correctly requires very close reading and recollection, or at least an ability to locate the details in question and find the correct answer quickly and accurately.
Inference Questions: These questions will require you to make an inference based on the information presented in the passage. Basic inference questions will ask you to discern what the author’s perspective might be on another aspect of the topic discussed in the passage. Although this information will not be present in the passage, you should be able to piece together what you know about the author in order to make an educated guess as to how he or she would feel about another related topic.
Logic/Reasoning Questions: These types of questions are most similar to the Logical Reasoning questions in the Arguments section. They might ask about information that would strengthen or weaken the passage’s argument, what role a sentence plays in the development of the passage’s argument, or what the function of a specific piece of information is in the passage’s argument as a whole. Your preparation for the Logical Reasoning section will help you with these types of questions.
Comparative Questions: These types of questions are found after paired passages. They will ask you to compare the two authors’ perspectives in some way. They may ask you to determine the topics on which the two authors would agree or disagree.
What are some basic LSAT Reading Comprehension strategies?
The LSAT Reading Comprehension section can be tackled in many different ways depending on your personal strengths and preferences. While some students will read extremely closely, annotating and taking notes the whole time, others may simply skim a passage the first time through for general understanding and focus on answering questions. Either of these methods can be effective based on the type of reader and test-taker you are. The most important thing to remember is to maximize your ability to answer as many questions as possible correctly, through strategy and time management. Although different students will thrive using different methods, here are some basic tips to keep in mind when completing the Reading Comprehension section:
Since the passages on the official LSAT will always include one from each of four different subject areas (Humanities, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, and Law), you can use your practice tests to figure out which of these subject areas is easiest for you and which is most difficult. Having this information will allow you to prioritize the order in which you complete the passages on test day. For example, if you know that you always have a hard time with the Natural Science passages, you can choose to skip that passage (if you aren’t planning on completing all four passages) or at least save it for last (if you are completing all four passages) so you can spend more time on the passages you are more likely to do well on.
Your practice tests can also teach you whether the paired passages are a strength or weakness of yours. Some students find comparing the opinions of two different authors difficult and confusing, while others find it easier to focus on such passages. This information can also help you prioritize the order in which you attempt passages. If you aren’t going to attempt every passage, and you know that comparative passages are difficult for you, you can always skip the paired passages in order to focus on the passages you are more likely to easily understand.
While reading the passages themselves, many students benefit from some annotation and note taking. Underlining important facts, circling names and time periods, boxing key transitional words—these are all ways in which you can keep yourself focused while reading, so you can easily find the information you are looking for when going back to the passage to answer questions. Pausing after every paragraph to check in with yourself to make sure you understood what was said—constantly asking yourself to summarize the main point of the paragraph—will also help keep you focused and prevent you from accidentally glazing over and having to reread. Many students will benefit from jotting down a few words after every paragraph to remind themselves of the purpose of the paragraph in the whole of the passage.
You can practice all of these strategies by taking the free LSAT Reading Comprehension Practice Tests offered by Varsity Tutors. Each question includes a detailed explanation, and your responses are timed, so you can get a good idea of how long it takes you to read each type of passage and answer each type of question on the LSAT Reading Comprehension section. Try a Full-Length LSAT Reading Comprehension Practice Test, too. By beginning your preparation with one of these free full-length practice tests you can get a general idea of your overall readiness for the test. The online practice tests ask you to use your skills to answer questions that cover all of the test’s key concepts. This longer, exam-mimicking format also gives you further insight into how you should pace yourself on test day to ensure you’ll have adequate time to finish the exam. You can use the information provided by the complete practice tests’ results pages, like the detailed explanations for each correct answer and links to additional review, to shape your study plan. As you continue your review, you can chart your progress by taking another of the Full-Length LSAT Reading Comprehension Practice Tests. In addition to the LSAT Reading Practice Tests and LSAT Reading tutoring, you may also want to consider using some of our LSAT Reading Flashcards.
Overall, try to stay focused and positive in this section. This is the section of the LSAT that likely feels most familiar to you. Take advantage of that!
Free LSAT Reading Practice Tests
Practice Tests by Concept
Comparative reading practice testlsat_reading-comparative-reading
Analyzing comparative reading passages practice testlsat_reading-analyzing-comparative-reading-passages
Content of comparative reading passages practice testlsat_reading-content-of-comparative-reading-passages
Main idea of comparative reading passages practice testlsat_reading-main-idea-of-comparative-reading-passages
Understanding context-dependent vocabulary and phrasing in comparative reading passages practice testlsat_reading-understanding-context-dependent-vocabulary-and-phrasing-in-comparative-reading-passages
Comparing passages practice testlsat_reading-comparing-passages
Agreement between authors practice testlsat_reading-agreement-between-authors
Common elements of two passages practice testlsat_reading-common-elements-of-two-passages
Differences between passages practice testlsat_reading-differences-between-passages
Effects of new information in comparative reading passages practice testlsat_reading-effects-of-new-information-in-comparative-reading-passages
Other effects of new information in comparative reading passages practice testlsat_reading-other-effects-of-new-information-in-comparative-reading-passages
Extrapolating from comparative reading passages practice testlsat_reading-extrapolating-from-comparative-reading-passages
Parallel reasoning and analogous cases in comparative reading passages practice testlsat_reading-parallel-reasoning-and-analogous-cases-in-comparative-reading-passages
Analogous cases in comparative reading passages practice testlsat_reading-analogous-cases-in-comparative-reading-passages
Parallel reasoning in comparative reading passages practice testlsat_reading-parallel-reasoning-in-comparative-reading-passages
Humanities practice testlsat_reading-humanities
Analyzing humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-analyzing-humanities-passages
Content of humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-content-of-humanities-passages
Main idea of humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-main-idea-of-humanities-passages
Recognizing details of humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-recognizing-details-of-humanities-passages
Understanding context-dependent vocabulary and phrasing in humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-understanding-context-dependent-vocabulary-and-phrasing-in-humanities-passages
Tone, structure, and purpose of humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-tone-structure-and-purpose-of-humanities-passages
Authorial tone and attitude in humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-authorial-tone-and-attitude-in-humanities-passages
Organization and structure in humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-organization-and-structure-in-humanities-passages
Purpose in humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-purpose-in-humanities-passages
Effects of new information in humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-effects-of-new-information-in-humanities-passages
Other effects of new information in humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-other-effects-of-new-information-in-humanities-passages
Strengthen or weaken argument in humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-strengthen-or-weaken-argument-in-humanities-passages
Extrapolating from humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-extrapolating-from-humanities-passages
Making inferences in humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-making-inferences-in-humanities-passages
Can't be true in humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-can-t-be-true-in-humanities-passages
Inferences about authorial opinions and beliefs in humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-inferences-about-authorial-opinions-and-beliefs-in-humanities-passages
Inferences about passage content in humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-inferences-about-passage-content-in-humanities-passages
Inferences about the opinions and beliefs of other people in humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-inferences-about-the-opinions-and-beliefs-of-other-people-in-humanities-passages
Must be true in humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-must-be-true-in-humanities-passages
Parallel reasoning and analogous cases in humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-parallel-reasoning-and-analogous-cases-in-humanities-passages
Analogous cases in humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-analogous-cases-in-humanities-passages
Parallel reasoning in humanities passages practice testlsat_reading-parallel-reasoning-in-humanities-passages
Law practice testlsat_reading-law
Analyzing law passages practice testlsat_reading-analyzing-law-passages
Content of law passages practice testlsat_reading-content-of-law-passages
Main idea of law passages practice testlsat_reading-main-idea-of-law-passages
Recognizing details of law passages practice testlsat_reading-recognizing-details-of-law-passages
Understanding context-dependent vocabulary and phrasing in law passages practice testlsat_reading-understanding-context-dependent-vocabulary-and-phrasing-in-law-passages
Tone, structure, and purpose of law passages practice testlsat_reading-tone-structure-and-purpose-of-law-passages
Authorial tone and attitude in law passages practice testlsat_reading-authorial-tone-and-attitude-in-law-passages
Organization and structure in law passages practice testlsat_reading-organization-and-structure-in-law-passages
Purpose in law passages practice testlsat_reading-purpose-in-law-passages
Effects of new information in law passages practice testlsat_reading-effects-of-new-information-in-law-passages
Other effects of new information in law passages practice testlsat_reading-other-effects-of-new-information-in-law-passages
Strengthen or weaken argument in law passages practice testlsat_reading-strengthen-or-weaken-argument-in-law-passages
Extrapolating from law passages practice testlsat_reading-extrapolating-from-law-passages
Making inferences in law passages practice testlsat_reading-making-inferences-in-law-passages
Can't be true in law passages practice testlsat_reading-can-t-be-true-in-law-passages
Inferences about authorial opinions and beliefs in law passages practice testlsat_reading-inferences-about-authorial-opinions-and-beliefs-in-law-passages
Inferences about passage content in law passages practice testlsat_reading-inferences-about-passage-content-in-law-passages
Inferences about the opinions and beliefs of other people in law passages practice testlsat_reading-inferences-about-the-opinions-and-beliefs-of-other-people-in-law-passages
Must be true in law passages practice testlsat_reading-must-be-true-in-law-passages
Parallel reasoning and analogous cases in law passages practice testlsat_reading-parallel-reasoning-and-analogous-cases-in-law-passages
Analogous cases in law passages practice testlsat_reading-analogous-cases-in-law-passages
Parallel reasoning in law passages practice testlsat_reading-parallel-reasoning-in-law-passages
Science practice testlsat_reading-science
Analyzing science passages practice testlsat_reading-analyzing-science-passages
Content of science passages practice testlsat_reading-content-of-science-passages
Main idea of science passages practice testlsat_reading-main-idea-of-science-passages
Recognizing details of science passages practice testlsat_reading-recognizing-details-of-science-passages
Understanding context-dependent vocabulary and phrasing in science passages practice testlsat_reading-understanding-context-dependent-vocabulary-and-phrasing-in-science-passages
Tone, structure, and purpose of science passages practice testlsat_reading-tone-structure-and-purpose-of-science-passages
Authorial tone and attitude in science passages practice testlsat_reading-authorial-tone-and-attitude-in-science-passages
Organization and structure in science passages practice testlsat_reading-organization-and-structure-in-science-passages
Purpose in science passages practice testlsat_reading-purpose-in-science-passages
Effects of new information in science passages practice testlsat_reading-effects-of-new-information-in-science-passages
Other effects of new information in science passages practice testlsat_reading-other-effects-of-new-information-in-science-passages
Strengthen or weaken argument in science passages practice testlsat_reading-strengthen-or-weaken-argument-in-science-passages
Extrapolating from science passages practice testlsat_reading-extrapolating-from-science-passages
Making inferences in science passages practice testlsat_reading-making-inferences-in-science-passages
Can't be true in science passages practice testlsat_reading-can-t-be-true-in-science-passages_aa
Inferences about authorial opinions and beliefs in science passages practice testlsat_reading-inferences-about-authorial-opinions-and-beliefs-in-science-passages
Inferences about passage content in science passages practice testlsat_reading-inferences-about-passage-content-in-science-passages
Inferences about the opinions and beliefs of other people in science passages practice testlsat_reading-inferences-about-the-opinions-and-beliefs-of-other-people-in-science-passages
Must be true in science passages practice testlsat_reading-must-be-true-in-science-passages
Social science practice testlsat_reading-social-science
Analyzing social science passages practice testlsat_reading-analyzing-social-science-passages
Content of social science passages practice testlsat_reading-content-of-social-science-passages
Main idea of social science passages practice testlsat_reading-main-idea-of-social-science-passages
Recognizing details of social science passages practice testlsat_reading-recognizing-details-of-social-science-passages
Understanding context-dependent vocabulary and phrasing in social science passages practice testlsat_reading-understanding-context-dependent-vocabulary-and-phrasing-in-social-science-passages
Tone, structure, and purpose of social science passages practice testlsat_reading-tone-structure-and-purpose-of-social-science-passages
Authorial tone and attitude in social science passages practice testlsat_reading-authorial-tone-and-attitude-in-social-science-passages
Organization and structure in social science passages practice testlsat_reading-organization-and-structure-in-social-science-passages
Purpose in social science passages practice testlsat_reading-purpose-in-social-science-passages
Effects of new information in social science passages practice testlsat_reading-effects-of-new-information-in-social-science-passages
Other effects of new information in social science passages practice testlsat_reading-other-effects-of-new-information-in-social-science-passages
Strengthen or weaken argument in social science passages practice testlsat_reading-strengthen-or-weaken-argument-in-social-science-passages
Extrapolating from social science passages practice testlsat_reading-extrapolating-from-social-science-passages
Making inferences in social science passages practice testlsat_reading-making-inferences-in-social-science-passages
Can't be true in social science passages practice testlsat_reading-can-t-be-true-in-social-science-passages
Inferences about authorial opinions and beliefs in social science passages practice testlsat_reading-inferences-about-authorial-opinions-and-beliefs-in-social-science-passages
Inferences about passage content in social science passages practice testlsat_reading-inferences-about-passage-content-in-social-science-passages
Inferences about the opinions and beliefs of other people in social science passages practice testlsat_reading-inferences-about-the-opinions-and-beliefs-of-other-people-in-social-science-passages
Must be true in social science passages practice testlsat_reading-must-be-true-in-social-science-passages
Parallel reasoning and analogous cases in social science passages practice testlsat_reading-parallel-reasoning-and-analogous-cases-in-social-science-passages
Analogous cases in social science passages practice testlsat_reading-analogous-cases-in-social-science-passages
Parallel reasoning in social science passages practice testlsat_reading-parallel-reasoning-in-social-science-passages