It’s important to keep in mind for all LSAT Reading Comprehension questions that just because an LSAT answer choice is reasonable, true, or mentioned in the LSAT reading passage, does not mean it is automatically correct. Always ask yourself: which answer choice in this LSAT question best addresses the specificity of the question being asked?
Not very familiar yet with the LSAT question types? Learn more and see free examples of LSAT practice questions on Grockit’s database. To be able to answer “Gist: Purpose” questions, always follow these steps:
1. Read the passage carefully on the first read. Take short notes on each paragraph as you read. “Search” for the main idea on the first read and try to write it down. If you already have the Purpose written down BEFORE reading the question, you won’t have to re-read and you’ll save a significant amount of time. It’s too difficult to decipher the author’s main driving idea if you skim. You’re reading for the implications. What’s behind the words?
2. Express the Purpose as a Verb. The format of these questions will often be the following: “The author’s main purpose in the passage is to:” The answer choices will all begin with a verb such as “describe…,” “show….,” “question…,” “demonstrate….,” etc. If you can learn to express the purpose as a verb in your own notes your prediction will more closely match the correct answer. What action would the author like to take? Why did he write this paragraph? Is it more emphatic, or more scholarly/passionless in tone? Trust your own instincts and ALWAYS WRITE A PREDICTION DOWN.
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3. Eliminate answer choices that are Out of Scope or Extreme. Look to eliminate answer choices that are outside the scope of the question (these should be fairly obvious), or ones that contain extreme language such as always and never.
4. Eliminate “half-right” choices. There may be an answer choice that has a great verb that really reflects the author’s tone and purpose, but the details after the verb don’t match the passage. Or, the details may be accurate, but the verb falls flat. Both halves of the answer must match!
5. Choose the broadest of the remaining choices. For a “Purpose” question, error on the side of too-broad rather than too-specific. The correct “purpose” will encompass the ENTIRE gist.
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