LSAT to Study the GMAT Part 3: Reading Comprehension

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LSAT to Study the GMAT Part 3: Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension seems to be the most logical subject to transfer from the LSAT to the GMAT. The subject matter is similar (natural sciences, social sciences, humanities) as are the question types (Primary Purpose, Specific (Detail), Inference, etc.) There are some differences but nothing that would make the LSAT passages unsuitable to study.

Understand the GMAT before Using LSAT Passages:

Before using any LSAT Passages it is important that you have a good strategy for mastering the passages that you will encounter on the GMAT. Therefore I recommend that you work with at least two GMAT sources before moving to LSAT passages. One of these sources should be the Official Guide (11th or 12th edition or the Verbal Review 1st or 2nd edition).

The other - and possibly more important source - is one that provides you with a strategy for attacking GMAT reading comprehension passages. For example, the Veritas Reading Comprehension book provides a strategy for actually comprehending (as opposed to just reading) the passage as well as a breakdown of the question types and a strategy to attack each. Other good strategy books are available as well, choose one that works for you. Also, as mentioned in point 2 below, the Official Guide simply does not provide enough difficult passages to allow you to really be comfortable with the toughest passages on test day. Your second GMAT source should provide some of these as well.

Understanding the Differences between the LSAT and GMAT Passages:

1) Time Pressure:

The biggest difference is the time limit for LSAT reading comprehension. On the LSAT 4 passages and a total of 26 - 28 questions have to be completed in just 35 minutes. That is an average of about 1 minute and 15 seconds per question (including the time needed to read the passages). A GMAT test-taker who is good at Sentence Correction can take 2 minutes per question on reading comprehension or about 45 seconds more per question. So the LSAT reading comprehension passages and questions do not need to be more difficult than those on the GMAT (and they are not) in order for the entire section to be more difficulty - the time pressure takes care of that.

2) Consistency:

The GMAT has a greater range of difficulty in reading comprehension than does the LSAT. The GMAT is adaptive, so the official GMAT publications (such as the Official Guide 12th Edition and the Verbal Review 2nd Edition) have a wide variety of reading comprehension passages. Many of these passages, especially the earliest in the sections are much simpler and shorter (often around 200 words) than what a student would need to be prepared for on test day. In the 12th Edition there are really only about 5 passages - all toward the end of the section - that provide that dreaded combination of length (350 to 500 words), difficult vocabulary, density of concepts, and subtle questions. This is the type of passage that everyone fears on test day and the Official Guide simply does not have enough of them. Some LSAT passages provide this combination, especially science passages. (The second reading comp passage that I plan to post is one of these very difficult ones).

3) Length of Passages:

The LSAT passages are longer and they have more questions for each passage: But this is not a bad thing. It would not be so useful for your stamina to study LSAT Reading Comprehension if it was shorter than the GMAT! And LSAT passages are not too much longer than GMAT passages.

4) Density of Concepts/ Vocabulary:

In general, GMAT passages are more tightly packed with concepts and vocabulary. On average, LSAT passages are longer so the concepts are spread out more and can be more understandable. The very most difficult GMAT passages are more difficult than those on the LSAT (if you don't take into account the fact that on the LSAT they have 3 or 4 minutes less time per passage). However, the average LSAT passage is at least as difficult as the average GMAT passage.

5) Subject matter

The subject tested on the LSAT and GMAT reading comp are similar with a few exceptions. The GMAT has many more business passages, while the LSAT has, you guessed it, more legal passages. This might be a good thing, though as the legal passages can really take some focus (they are often long and boring) and so this can help with stamina and concentration. Also, the GMAT has more science passages. If you have a limited amount of time to use LSAT materials to study you may want to go for the science passages - if those are difficult for you on the GMAT. Both tests have similar humanities and history passages.

6) Question Types

As with subject matter, the question types are more similar than different. LSAT questions will ask you for the "main idea" although in different ways - while the GMAT nearly always phrases the main idea question as "what is the primary purpose?" On the GMAT around half of all questions are detail questions that are best attacked by returning to the passage and rereading the relevant portion. This is true on the LSAT as well. There are more function questions on the LSAT, such as "what is the function of the second paragraph?" Since these are often difficult for students and very few are provided in the Official Guide it is good that the LSAT has more.

Where to find LSAT questions:

So, if you feel like this might be a good source of questions for you, you will want to know that LSAT questions are most easily (and legally) available in the "10 Actual, Official LSAT" series from LSAC - the Law School Admissions Council. Each of these books contains 10 LSAT tests, which add up to about 500 critical reasoning questions. Each book also contains 40 reading comprehension passages for a total of over 250 reading comp questions. It does not matter which edition of the "10 Official LSAT" books you buy as you are not looking for the latest LSAT questions. If you buy one of the older books you can probably get it cheap. Look for tests prior to 2007 that is when the LSAT added "comparative passages" to the reading comprehension. Comparative Passages are not on the GMAT.

Ways to make your studying of LSAT questions more effective.

A) Do NOT write in the book. Pretend the passage is on the computer and you cannot write on it. It is a very different thing to work with a passage that you cannot mark. Take very limited notes only.

B) If possible use a cook book stand or some other way to hold the book vertical as you do the questions. It is easier to read and work with something that is horizontal. But a computer screen is vertical so you need to practice.

C) Use your yellow note boards. Use the type of laminated board that you will be using on test day. Veritas and other companies have these for sale. If you do not have such a board use scratch paper and a pen (so you are not tempted to erase). Try to simulate test day!

D) If you do a full LSAT section give yourself about 50 to 56 minutes for the section. On the LSAT they only get 35 minutes but on the GMAT you get up to about 2 minutes per question (if you are efficient at sentence correction).

E) Better yet, Mix it up! Rather than doing a full LSAT reading comp section, mix it up as you would on the GMAT. One reading passage then on to some critical reasoning and sentence correction before you come back for another reading comp. Remember, the GMAT never lets you get into that flow of doing one type of question.

I have posted a sample LSAT passage in the Reading Comp forum at https://www.beatthegmat.com/lsat-reading ... 71360.html

If you missed the first two parts of this series they are at the following links:

Part 1) https://www.beatthegmat.com/using-the-ls ... 66548.html

Part 2) https://www.beatthegmat.com/lsat-to-stud ... 69915.html
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by arora007 » Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:56 am
Great insight... its somehow necessary to find out more and more sources of new RCs...

What better source can there be than LSATs...Resolving an RC is not half as challenging as reading a fresh RC you have never seen.
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by [email protected] » Thu Dec 16, 2010 9:07 am
Thanks for the feedback!

That is exactly why I wrote this. The LSAT can be a great source for both reading comp and critical reasoning questions, but it is so important to understand how the material you are studying relates to what you will see on test day!
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by GMATMadeEasy » Thu Dec 16, 2010 9:54 am
David, excellent post. i believe all doubts raised by many test takers in the past will evaporate.

Thank you .

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by sumitpune » Thu Oct 06, 2011 5:07 am
Thanks David, that's really helpful.

I am doing LSAT RC section , approx in 40-42 mins ( 3 passages ( except LAW) ).
LSAT RC section suck all the mental energy in just 50 mins. But this is really helping i can compare LSAT passages with hard OG passages.

One benefit, i can feel ,is that once you do tough RC like LSAT RC , small GMAT RC , 200 words , feel like big CR stimulus.

Gist is LSAT really help in building stamina and improve concentration irrespective of hoe you perform on RC section.

Thanks David for such a great insight !!

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by [email protected] » Thu Oct 06, 2011 1:37 pm
I am glad to see this post coming back up. The OG does not give enough passages and it is great to do some passages that are actually tougher than what you will see on the test.

Thanks!
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by voodoo_child » Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:38 am
David,
This is a great post. I am curious - are LSAT passages easier than GMAT ? I think that you are absolutely right in the sense that LSAT passages tend to focus on a theme. The answers can be answered easily once we know what the author is trying to say and on what basis is the author arriving at conclusion.

can you recommend any source that can help me to read *dense* GMAT-like passages mentioned by you. Thanks for your help in advance.

Voodoo

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by [email protected] » Sun Nov 20, 2011 11:51 am
LSAT passages are not easier than the GMAT. As I mentioned the very toughest GMAT passages may be a little harder than LSAT passages. However, I maintain that the average LSAT passage is tougher than the average GMAT passage.

I am not sure that the LSAT passages focus on a theme any more than the GMAT passages do. Both focus on a particular topic. What I said is that there can be a little more "air" in an LSAT passage because it is often longer. The longer passage can actually be more comprehensible than a shorter passage just because things might be better explained.

But on the whole, LSAT passages are pretty similar to GMAT and on average are a little tougher. They are well worth studying given the similarities and especially the high quality of LSAT passages.

As I mentioned above I would use the following sources:

1) a good quality GMAT-specific source (Veritas Reading Comprehension or similar) can provide not only good strategy, but also quality practice.

2) I would use the GMAC OG 12th Edition and Verbal Review 2nd edition. That is a couple of dozen passages written by the testmakers

3) LSAT reading passages.

4) The GMATPrep practice tests. Even after you have taken the tests each a couple of times you might still want to keep going through to make sure you have seen all of the reading passages. It might make sense to take the GMATPrep Tests repeatedly - so long as you understand that the scores will no longer be valid after the first couple of attempts (too many repeated questions).

That should be plenty of practice!

Good luck
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by tuanquang269 » Thu Nov 24, 2011 2:43 am
Hi David, I never practice RC passages like LSAT. In comparison with RC99, which one is better?

Thank for your comparison between GMAT and LSAT in reading comprehension.

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by vomhorizon » Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:26 am
Very nice article David. I had practiced about 100 questions for Critical reasoning from the free LSAT tests available online and they were very high quality questions. I did not use the RC questions on those tests because i had plenty of questions from OG , QPack, Veritas Prep Book, and the CAT's. Now, the second time around, i have bought the 10 LSAT test book, and will be using it to practice both CR and RC.
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by nicktim » Fri May 24, 2013 12:19 am
[email protected] wrote:LSAT to Study the GMAT Part 3: Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension seems to be the most logical subject to transfer from the LSAT to the GMAT. The subject matter is similar (natural sciences, social sciences, humanities) as are the question types (Primary Purpose, Specific (Detail), Inference, etc.) There are some differences but nothing that would make the LSAT passages unsuitable to study.

Understand the GMAT before Using LSAT Passages:

Before using any LSAT Passages it is important that you have a good strategy for mastering the passages that you will encounter on the GMAT. Therefore I recommend that you work with at least two GMAT sources before moving to LSAT passages. One of these sources should be the Official Guide (11th or 12th edition or the Verbal Review 1st or 2nd edition).

The other - and possibly more important source - is one that provides you with a strategy for attacking GMAT reading comprehension passages. For example, the Veritas Reading Comprehension book provides a strategy for actually comprehending (as opposed to just reading) the passage as well as a breakdown of the question types and a strategy to attack each. Other good strategy books are available as well, choose one that works for you. Also, as mentioned in point 2 below, the Official Guide simply does not provide enough difficult passages to allow you to really be comfortable with the toughest passages on test day. Your second GMAT source should provide some of these as well.

Understanding the Differences between the LSAT and GMAT Passages:

1) Time Pressure:

The biggest difference is the time limit for LSAT reading comprehension. On the LSAT 4 passages and a total of 26 - 28 questions have to be completed in just 35 minutes. That is an average of about 1 minute and 15 seconds per question (including the time needed to read the passages). A GMAT test-taker who is good at Sentence Correction can take 2 minutes per question on reading comprehension or about 45 seconds more per question. So the LSAT reading comprehension passages and questions do not need to be more difficult than those on the GMAT (and they are not) in order for the entire section to be more difficulty - the time pressure takes care of that.

2) Consistency:

The GMAT has a greater range of difficulty in reading comprehension than does the LSAT. The GMAT is adaptive, so the official GMAT publications (such as the Official Guide 12th Edition and the Verbal Review 2nd Edition) have a wide variety of reading comprehension passages. Many of these passages, especially the earliest in the sections are much simpler and shorter (often around 200 words) than what a student would need to be prepared for on test day. In the 12th Edition there are really only about 5 passages - all toward the end of the section - that provide that dreaded combination of length (350 to 500 words), difficult vocabulary, density of concepts, and subtle questions. This is the type of passage that everyone fears on test day and the Official Guide simply does not have enough of them. Some LSAT passages provide this combination, especially science passages. (The second reading comp passage that I plan to post is one of these very difficult ones).

3) Length of Passages:

The LSAT passages are longer and they have more questions for each passage: But this is not a bad thing. It would not be so useful for your stamina to study LSAT Reading Comprehension if it was shorter than the GMAT! And LSAT passages are not too much longer than GMAT passages.

4) Density of Concepts/ Vocabulary:

In general, GMAT passages are more tightly packed with concepts and vocabulary. On average, LSAT passages are longer so the concepts are spread out more and can be more understandable. The very most difficult GMAT passages are more difficult than those on the LSAT (if you don't take into account the fact that on the LSAT they have 3 or 4 minutes less time per passage). However, the average LSAT passage is at least as difficult as the average GMAT passage.

5) Subject matter

The subject tested on the LSAT and GMAT reading comp are similar with a few exceptions. The GMAT has many more business passages, while the LSAT has, you guessed it, more legal passages. This might be a good thing, though as the legal passages can really take some focus (they are often long and boring) and so this can help with stamina and concentration. Also, the GMAT has more science passages. If you have a limited amount of time to use LSAT materials to study you may want to go for the science passages - if those are difficult for you on the GMAT. Both tests have similar humanities and history passages.

6) Question Types

As with subject matter, the question types are more similar than different. LSAT questions will ask you for the "main idea" although in different ways - while the GMAT nearly always phrases the main idea question as "what is the primary purpose?" On the GMAT around half of all questions are detail questions that are best attacked by returning to the passage and rereading the relevant portion. This is true on the LSAT as well. There are more function questions on the LSAT, such as "what is the function of the second paragraph?" Since these are often difficult for students and very few are provided in the Official Guide it is good that the LSAT has more.

Where to find LSAT questions:

So, if you feel like this might be a good source of questions for you, you will want to know that LSAT questions are most easily (and legally) available in the "10 Actual, Official LSAT" series from LSAC - the Law School Admissions Council. Each of these books contains 10 LSAT tests, which add up to about 500 critical reasoning questions. Each book also contains 40 reading comprehension passages for a total of over 250 reading comp questions. It does not matter which edition of the "10 Official LSAT" books you buy as you are not looking for the latest LSAT questions. If you buy one of the older books you can probably get it cheap. Look for tests prior to 2007 that is when the LSAT added "comparative passages" to the reading comprehension. Comparative Passages are not on the GMAT.

Ways to make your studying of LSAT questions more effective.

A) Do NOT write in the book. Pretend the passage is on the computer and you cannot write on it. It is a very different thing to work with a passage that you cannot mark. Take very limited notes only.

B) If possible use a cook book stand or some other way to hold the book vertical as you do the questions. It is easier to read and work with something that is horizontal. But a computer screen is vertical so you need to practice.

C) Use your yellow note boards. Use the type of laminated board that you will be using on test day. Veritas and other companies have these for sale. If you do not have such a board use scratch paper and a pen (so you are not tempted to erase). Try to simulate test day!

D) If you do a full LSAT section give yourself about 50 to 56 minutes for the section. On the LSAT they only get 35 minutes but on the GMAT you get up to about 2 minutes per question (if you are efficient at sentence correction).

E) Better yet, Mix it up! Rather than doing a full LSAT reading comp section, mix it up as you would on the GMAT. One reading passage then on to some critical reasoning and sentence correction before you come back for another reading comp. Remember, the GMAT never lets you get into that flow of doing one type of question.
Thank you very much, David. I have just finished practicing the RC questions from OG13 and VR2, so I am now moving on to the LSAT sets. Will follow your advice. The LSAT RC passages are definitely more difficult (dense and nuanced) for me. Definitely a good workout. I plan to do a couple of sets (4 passages) per week.

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by yuvraj.sub » Thu Oct 17, 2013 10:51 am
David,

Thanks a lot for another very helpful post. :)
Although my question is very vague, can you please let me know what will be a good hit rate for RC questions on LSAT?

Following your advice, I have been practicing a lot of CR LSAT questions with a good accuracy rate, but am really struggling with LSAT RC passages. Also, I am taking around 5:30 minutes just to read and understand the passage. Can you please give me some pointers? Thanks again! :)

Cheers,
Yuvraj

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by StrawberryCow » Tue Oct 29, 2013 11:54 pm
Hi David,
This is a great post. I have started preparing for GMAT recently (lets say3-4 weeks).
I completely agree that the Official Guide simply does not provide enough difficult passages to allow you to really be comfortable with the toughest passages on test day.

I have been able to complete all the RCs on OG 13 and have got hold of the OG 12 from a friend. Will try and complete the RCs on OG 12 next week.

These are my questions for you:
I read through the strategies on OG 13 and solved all the questions; most of the strategies did not work for me. In-fact my feeling was I was solving questions more with my intuition. And whenever I tried to apply the strategy or the plan I got the answer wrong. Given this situation I am getting 50-60 % accuracy on moderate to difficult RCs. And this is just not good enough, I want to focus more and improve that accuracy rate.

What would be your suggestions to improve my accuracy.
Should I look into any other Verbal Materials for RC strategies.
Apart from OG 13 and OG 12, what other books should I be solving, which would help me improve.


I want to be solving as many GMAT RCs as I could before moving onto the LSAT RCs you mention here in this post.

Best Regards

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by [email protected] » Wed Oct 30, 2013 4:48 am
Hi strawberrycow!

That is a great screen name.

A few things. 1) Remember that you are solving the LSAT RC only as a supplement, because you are low on official questions. So, you should be sure to use ALL of the sources of official questions as well as really good sources of GMAT-specific non-official sources as well. Make not mistake the LSAT is different from the GMAT and you are using it only because you need more material to practice.

Here is a list of the material in the order of GMAT-specific usefulness.

1) Official material, which includes

Official Guide 13th edition (12th edition as well of course, but there is so much overlap that this is almost thought of as just one source.

Verbal Review to the GMAT 2nd edition (1st edition as well, but again lots of overlap so you only need the first or the second edition)

Free questions that come with the GMAT Prep software (only 15 RC questions here)

GMAT Prep Pack 1 add-on - This offering from GMAC gives you over 400 new questions for your GMATPrep software including lots of RC questions. This is a MUST HAVE and has the advantage of being solved on the computer - something very different from using books.

And of course, the various Official tests that are free with the GMATPrep software or that you can purchase as Exam Pack 1 add-on.

2 Unofficial but GMAT-specific material

Reading Comp passages are HARD TO CREATE! That is why I recommended the LSAT passages in the first place. A single word change can make a question easy or difficult, fair or unfair, etc. It takes lots of editing and most RC passages from different companies do not match the quality of the Official passages. One of the better unofficial books is the Veritas Prep Reading Comp book. I will discuss this book when I answer your question on strategy, but in addition to strategy, it is a great source of practice with about as many RC questions as the Official Guide has.

3 LSAT reading comp passages

Again, these passages are not written for the GMAT and there are differences as I discuss above. However, they are quite well-edited so you can trust that the answer they say is correct is indeed correct and not debatable.

You can use these questions as a supplement if you run out or know that you will run out of the material above.

Hope that helps! I will write more in response to your strategy questions in a separate response.
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by [email protected] » Wed Oct 30, 2013 5:12 pm
Solving questions with intuition sounds pretty cool, but I think we better use a couple of very solid techniques instead! Might be more reliable...

Here are the things that you need to do.

First, you need to STOP when you are reading and gather yourself after each paragraph. I discuss this in the following article: https://www.beatthegmat.com/mba/2012/08/ ... prehension

The next technique is to use the question stem to take you back to the passage. It works like this, for specific questions part of the passage has been paraphrased as the question stem. You can use the question stem to tell you which part to re-read. You then re-read that part and the text above and below. You should be able to find the answer written there on many questions. For these questions the correct answer is merely a paraphrase of the answer you find in the text.

For other questions that are not specific types, like the primary purpose, you want to use process of elimination. When you eliminate answers it should be because you can identify words within the answer choice that make it incorrect.

If you take your time initially you can become proficient at this. It requires patience and focus.
Hope it helps.
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