The LSAT is a reading test. Your reading ability is the single greatest factor determining your LSAT score.
I recently stressed this during an interview with Steve Schwartz from the LSAT Blog:
You probably don’t think this is that big a deal. You’re literally reading this right now. You can read. But there’s a difference between the kind of reading the LSAT rewards and the kind it punishes.
That difference is skimming.
Skimming isn’t reading. I hate to be the bearer of bad news. Here’s a puppy to make up for it:
Skimming is what you do to a restaurant menu, not the LSAT.
The LSAT wants to you read, not skim. This makes sense; you probably wouldn’t want your lawyer skimming the contract you’re about to sign.
The LSAT is honestly the best reading vs. skimming test ever invented. If you skim, they will catch you and you will get the question wrong.
How is the LSAT so good at catching you when other tests aren’t? The testmakers create answer choices to catch people who “get the gist.” They predict the most prevalent skimmer misreads and write a wrong answer that will look perfect if you misread the stimulus in exactly the way they predict.
They also have a trap set for answer choice skimmers. Often, answer choices will be really good in the first half and total garbage in the second half (or vice versa). The answer choice skimmer only really reads part of the answer; they like that part and choose it, forgetting about the problematic element of the answer choice.
If you skim, you’ll have no idea you’re getting a question wrong. Skimmers think they get questions right because, according to their comprehension of what they read, the answer they chose was right. This is another reason you can never really trust someone’s report of how well they did on the LSAT before they get the score. We often don’t know we missed questions.
OK, so you get it. You shouldn’t skim, but what do you do to stop?
Translation. Translation. Translation.
Translation is the antidote to skimming addiction. Translation is reading to understand, internalize, and remember. The coolest thing is that you can rapidly improve your translation skills in a relatively short period of time!
Want to learn to translate? Check out The Loophole in LSAT Logical Reasoning.