LSAT Reading Comprehension: How to Answer Big Picture Questions
The reading comprehension section of the LSAT contains different types of questions. One you should be prepared for is the big picture question. Main idea questions and those that ask you to identify a passage’s primary purpose regard the whole passage. Almost every passage has at least one question that asks you to see the big picture, and often it’s the first question you answer for a particular reading passage.
You can identify main idea questions by the language they contain. Here are some examples of the ways main idea questions may be worded:
The author of the passage is primarily concerned with which one of the following?
The author’s primary goal (or purpose) in the passage is to do which one of the following?
An appropriate title that best summarizes this passage is
While you read the passage, look for its main idea and primary objective because you know you’ll probably be asked about them. If you’re asked a question about the passage’s main idea, look for an answer that conveys an idea similar to your statement of the author’s purpose.
The best answer to a main idea question is general rather than specific. If an answer choice concerns information that’s discussed in only one part of the passage, it probably isn’t the correct answer. Here are some other ways to eliminate answer choices for main idea questions:
Eliminate answer choices that contain information that comes only from the passage’s middle paragraphs. These paragraphs probably deal with specific points rather than the main idea.
Eliminate any answer choices that contain information that you can’t find in the passage. These choices are irrelevant.
Sometimes you can eliminate answer choices based on just the first words. For example, if you’re trying to find the best answer to the author’s purpose in an objectively written natural science passage, you can eliminate answers that begin with less objective terms, like to argue that, to criticize, and to refute the opposition’s position that.