Reading Comprehension LSAT Practice - dummies

By Lisa Zimmer Hatch, Scott A. Hatch, Amy Hackney Blackwell

You will encounter reading comprehension questions when you go to take the LSAT. Doing practice exams will improve your ability to perform well on these questions and increase your confidence on test day.

Reading comprehension sample questions

Junzaburou Nishiwaki, a 20th-century Japanese poet, scholar, and translator, spent his career working to introduce Japanese readers to European and American writing and to break his country out of its literary insularity. He was interested in European culture all his life.

Born to a wealthy family in rural Niigata prefecture in 1894, Nishiwaki spent his youth aspiring to be a painter and traveled to Tokyo in 1911 to study the “White Horse” school of painting with the artist Seiki Kuroda; this painting style fused Japanese and European artistic traditions.

After his father died in 1913, Nishiwaki studied economics at Keio University, but his real love was English literature. After graduating, he worked for several years as a reporter at the English-language Japan Times and as a teacher at Keio University.

Nishiwaki finally received the opportunity to concentrate on English literature in 1922, when Keio University sent him to Oxford University for three years. He spent this time reading literature in Old and Middle English and classical Greek and Latin. He became fluent in English, French, German, Latin, and Greek.

While he was in England, Roaring Twenties modernism caught his eye, and the works of writers such as James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and T.S. Eliot were crucially important to his literary development. In 1925, Nishiwaki published his first book, Spectrum, a volume of poems written in English; he explained that English offered him much more freedom of expression than traditional Japanese poetic language.

Nishiwaki returned to Keio University in 1925 and became a professor of English literature, teaching linguistics, Old and Middle English, and the history of English literature. He remained active in modernist and avant-garde literary circles.

In 1933 he published Ambarvalia,his first volume of poetry written in Japanese; this collection of surrealist verse ranged far and wide through European geography and history, and included Japanese translations of Catullus, Sophocles, and Shakespeare. Angered by the Japanese government’s fascist policies, Nishiwaki refused to write poetry during the second world war. He spent the war years writing a dissertation on ancient Germanic literature.

After the war, Nishiwaki resumed his poetic pursuits and in 1947 published Tabibito kaerazu, in which he abandoned modernist language and returned to a classical Japanese poetic style, but with his own postmodernist touch, incorporating both Eastern and Western literary traditions.

In 1953 Nishiwaki published Kindai no guuwa, which critics consider his most poetically mature work. He spent his last years producing works of criticism of English literature and Japanese translations of the work of such writers as D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Stéphane Mallarmé, Shakespeare, and Chaucer.

Nishiwaki retired from Keio University in 1962, but continued to teach and write poetry. Before his death in 1982, he received numerous honors and awards; he was appointed to the Japanese Academy of Arts and Sciences, named a Person of Cultural Merit, and nominated for the Nobel Prize by Ezra Pound. Critics today consider Nishiwaki to have exercised more influence on younger poets than any other Japanese poet since 1945.

  1. Which one of the following most accurately states the main idea of the passage?

    • (A) Nishiwaki was a Japanese poet who rebelled against the strictures of his country’s government and protested its policies toward Europe during World War II.

    • (B) Nishiwaki was a Japanese poet and literary critic who embraced European literature as a way of rebelling against the constraints of his family and traditional Japanese culture.

    • (C) Nishiwaki was a Japanese poet and professor who spent his life trying to convince young Japanese students that European literary forms were superior to Japanese poetic styles.

    • (D) Nishiwaki was a Japanese poet and linguist who throughout his life chose to write in English rather than Japanese.

    • (E) Nishiwaki was a Japanese poet and scholar who spent his life specializing in European literature, which proved tremendously influential to his own work.

  2. The author’s attitude toward Nishiwaki’s life and career can be best described as

    • (A) scholarly interest in the life and works of a significant literary figure

    • (B) mild surprise at Nishiwaki’s choosing to write poetry in a language foreign to him

    • (C) open admiration for Nishiwaki’s ability to function in several languages

    • (D) skepticism toward Nishiwaki’s motives in refusing to write poetry during the second world war

    • (E) envy of Nishiwaki’s success in publishing and academia

  3. The primary function of the first paragraph is to

    • (A) describe Nishiwaki’s brief study of painting

    • (B) introduce Nishiwaki and his lifelong interest in European culture

    • (C) summarize Nishiwaki’s contribution to Japanese literature

    • (D) explain why a Japanese man chose to specialize in English literature

    • (E) analyze European contributions to Japanese culture at the start of the 20th century

  4. According to the passage, why did Nishiwaki stop writing poetry during World War II?

    • (A) He was too busy with his contributions to the Japanese war effort.

    • (B) The Japanese government rationed paper and ink, which made it impossible for him to write.

    • (C) He disapproved of the Japanese government’s policies and in protest refused to write poetry.

    • (D) The Japanese government, fearing sedition, ordered him to stop writing poetry.

    • (E) Work on his dissertation on German literature took up all his time.

Answers

  1. E. Nishiwaki was a Japanese poet and scholar who spent his life specializing in European literature, which proved tremendously influential to his own work.

  2. A. scholarly interest in the life and works of a significant literary figure

  3. B. introduce Nishiwaki and his lifelong interest in European culture

  4. C. He disapproved of the Japanese government’s policies and in protest refused to write poetry.