When you’re preparing for the LSAT, LSAT logical reasoning tips are essential. One of the main aspects of the LSAT is the ability to test your critical thinking capabilities. On the Reading Comprehension section, you’ll need to show that you can analyze and draw conclusions based on text. On the Logical Reasoning section, however, you’ll need to show that you can draw logical conclusions based on a limited amount of evidence. Though studying for the Logical Reasoning section isn’t as easy as memorizing a list of facts, there are ways to help you perform faster and more accurately.
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What Is the LSAT Logical Reasoning section?
There are actually two distinct Logical Reasoning sections on every LSAT exam. Logical Reasoning is the most important aspect of the LSAT because your performance on these sections determines half of your score. Each section lasts for thirty-five minutes. You’ll be asked to answer between twenty-four and twenty-six questions. Logical Reasoning is regarded by many as the most difficult part of the exam. You’ll be required to analyze a limited set of information and draw logical conclusions based on this data. It’s essential to practice for this test section by doing logic puzzles and employing analytical strategies.
Related: A Guide to the LSAT Experimental Section
Most Common Logical Reasoning Question Types
You’ll be provided with an argument of some kind. This argument will have a flaw in the reasoning. Your goal is to point out the flawed reasoning, and, if necessary, to correct it.
These questions revolve around necessary assumptions. A “necessary assumption” refers to an assumption that must be made for an argument to be valid. You’ll be asked to point out the necessary assumption required to validate an argument. If the assumption is incorrect, the entire argument can be invalidated.
An inference question will ask you about the meaning of a passage, a line in a portion of text, or a paragraph. You’ll need to identify the inference being made by the argument. You may also need to decide whether this inference is correct or not.
You’ll be provided with an argument. A weakening question will require you to weaken this argument. You’ll need to use logical reasoning to weaken the conclusion based on the information provided in the premises.
Strengthening questions are the opposite of weakening questions. You’ll need to strengthen the support that the premises provide for the argument’s conclusion. This might involve providing additional information, changing the perspective of a premise, or adding missing steps in the logic.
Principle questions come with two varieties. In the first, you’ll be provided with a scenario. The prompt will ask you to choose any principle that can be used as a justification for the scenario’s final decision. In the second, the question will be a principle. Your answer choices will be a variety of scenarios. You’ll need to decide which scenario illustrates the principle most clearly.
You’ll be given two facts that seemingly contradict each other. You’ll be asked to give an explanation for the facts. The difference between this question and an assumption question is that paradox questions do not provide arguments. Instead, you’re required to draw conclusions about facts.
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7 LSAT Logical Reasoning Tips
1. ID the Question Type
Before you can decide on your approach to a question, you need to understand what type of question you’re facing. Each type of question has a slightly different approach. All will require you to analyze facts being presented and arguments being made. You should become familiar with the different types of questions on the logical reasoning section.
If you can identify the question type, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to execute the task. For example, if you’re asked to strengthen an argument, you’ll know that this is a “strengthen question.” You’ll also know that strengthen questions should be approached by strengthening the premises of an argument to better support the conclusion. If you’re asked to explain contradictory facts, you’ll know that you’re being asked a paradox question. You’ll also know that these questions should be analyzed by looking for flaws in assumptions made about the facts. See the list of logical reasoning question types here.
2. ID the Premise and Conclusion
You should read the entire argument carefully. That said, the beginning and end of the argument will be the most important aspects when you’re trying to understand what is being said. The premise of the argument will explain the facts that are being argued; the conclusion is an opinion drawn from the facts provided in the premise.
In order to approach an argument, you need to understand the relationship that exists between the premise and the conclusion. The premise lays out the facts of the argument. The conclusion affords an opinion. You might be asked to find a flaw in the conclusion based on the reasoning in the premise. Alternatively, you might be asked to strengthen the conclusion by clarifying logical leaps made in the premise. Your first step to any logical reasoning question should be to identify the premise and the conclusion.
3. Circle Words of Importance
There are a number of important keywords in questions on the Logical Reasoning section. Words like “few,” “some,” and “except” should always be identified and circled. These words are nearly always important to the correct answer for the question. This is among one of the most important LSAT Logical Reasoning tips!
Some arguments may draw conclusions about all cases based on the actions of a few people. Also, some arguments might outline exceptions that weaken the strength of their own premise. You should be on the lookout for anything that isn’t an absolute or seems to contradict the overall premise of the argument. The type of question you’re answering will determine what you should do with this information.
4. Prephrase the Correct Answer
Before you look at the answer choices, you should predict what the correct answer will be. Many students read the answers before they read the argument. This can be detrimental to your critical thinking capability, as wrong answers can lead you astray in your own thought processes.
It’s best to read the argument before you read any of the potential answers. Then, analyze what type of question you’re being asked. Without looking at the answer choices, you should decide what the correct answer is. Only after you’re sure of yourself should you select your answer.
Prephrasing can be done by following three simple steps. First, write down the argument’s conclusion and the reasoning behind the conclusion. Second, reread the argument to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Third, consider reasons that the argument might be incorrect. All of this should be done before you read the potential answers.
5. Read All the Answers
Once you’ve written out your analysis, it’s tempting to skim the answers until you find the one that seems to support your own conclusion. But you should read the answers just as carefully as you read the question. Some answers will be worded in a deliberately misleading manner. Just one word can change the entire trajectory of an argument.
You should read each answer choice and make sure you understand what it is saying. Consider the relationship between the answer and the question. Does this answer address the problem or question posed? Sometimes, answers will sound correct, but they’re actually answering a different question from the one you’ve been posed. For this reason, it’s essential that you understand what information you’re looking for.
6. Time Yourself for Speed
You should never let any one question stop you. With the LSAT, each question is worth an equal number of points. There isn’t any bonus for answering hard questions instead of easy questions. It’s important to answer the easy questions first, and then to devote time to the more difficult questions.
You should do timed practice sessions. The Logical Reasoning section will last for thirty-five minutes. In that time, you’ll answer between twenty-six and twenty-eight questions. This means that you shouldn’t spend more than ninety seconds on any question. It’s also important to note that the ninety seconds includes the time it takes to read the question and answers. You’ll need to draw your argumentative conclusions very quickly.
7. Skip the Hard Questions
With the LSAT, there’s no particular penalty for guessing. For the most part, it’s better to guess at a question than to leave it blank. But there is an essential way to take the test: You should skip the hard questions and do all of the easy questions first. This strategy remains true across all sections of the LSAT, and doesn’t just fall under the category of LSAT Logical Reasoning tips.
As previously mentioned, all of the questions on the LSAT are worth an equal number of points. If you read an argument and cannot immediately do an analysis of the premise, conclusion, and flaw — move on. You should complete all of the easy questions as quickly as possible. The questions that seem “easy” will vary depending on your strengths with logical reasoning. What’s important is that you complete the easy parts of the test and then return to the difficult ones. And if you’re running low on time, narrow down your answers and take a guess. It’s better than leaving the question entirely blank. Want to strategize your guessing? See the probability of each answer letter here.
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