LSAT Reading Comprehension: Importance of Interest-Level

How Your Interest-Level Helps You Score Higher on LSAT Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension is a very tough section for most students studying to take the LSAT. It is a test of your reading skills, vocabulary, and (surprise!) your ability to stay interested in somewhat boring topics. Some of these topics have been about “drilling muds,” “waterbugs,” “embryo polarity,” and similar field-specific and serious topics. Many of the passages you’ll read during the section wouldn’t count as popular reading material. But, did you know that the LSAC has published a research report on how students’ engagement with passages affects their reading performance? Here are the ways your interest-level helps you score higher on LSAT Reading Comprehension.

What it Means to be Interested

The LSAC study describes interest as when a person has a “positive interaction with a content area or a task. It is characterized by heightened attention and emotional engagement.”

Your level of interest in a passage will have a lot to do with your previous knowledge about a subject. It doesn’t take much to assume that an English major would more likely be interested in a passage about Jane Austen than one about economics.

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Effects of Interest on Reading Comprehension

According to LSAC, “research shows that interest can predict comprehension, recall, and inference generation following a reading task.” The LSAC study also found that students who were more interested in a topic actually took longer to read: “Individuals who read the text with elevated pre-interest may have spent more time reading because they wanted to immerse themselves in the topic and acquire as much knowledge from the reading material as possible.”

When you read something you’re interested in, you will:

  • Pay attention to the details more.
  • Be sensitive to what’s going on in the passage.
  • Be able to connect each sentence to previous ones.
  • Form a better mental model of the text

These effects will help you understand the passage at a deeper level. Of course, if you understand a passage deeply, you’ll be in a great position to answer the questions correctly!

How the LSAC Accounts for Interest-Level

Knowing the results of this study, the LSAT test-writers actually try to account for this. They would prefer not to give an unfair advantage to some students over others. For example, an unfair advantage would mean only using passages that might only interest history majors. The three approaches they’ve considered are:

  1. Present unfamiliar/boring topics to all students
  2. Present interesting topics for all students
  3. Let students pick their own passages

The problem with approaches 1 and 2 is that it is very hard to predict whether or not a student will find a passage interesting. In the end, the LSAC is still exploring if it’s better to evaluate performance reading an uninteresting passage vs. an interesting one.

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Next, check out these tips on how to be more interested in your LSAT reading passages!

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