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That’s it. My life has peaked. I sat behind Conditional Logic today in my Manhattan Prep LSAT class.
Conditional Logic… It’s just so dreamy. I kept trying to pay attention to Professor Shinners while he taught about priorities in Logic Games, but honestly, my top priority was to stare at the back of Conditional Logic’s head and imagine our lives together.
First kiss, wedding bells, little kids running around the Relative Ordering Game Shrub… Sigh.
Diary, let me tell you exactly why I love Conditional Logic so very, very much.
1. Conditional Logic keeps things simple.
Yes, it’s true that getting familiar with Conditional Logic takes time and energy, and it might even look pretty complicated from the outside…
But when you get down to it, Conditional Logic actually simplifies things.
How? Well, it’s the closest thing to math (ugh!) that you get on the LSAT—but instead of playing around with numbers, you get to “translate” sentences from English into Conditional Logic. If you understand the structure of what you’re translating, then you can get rid of confusing or superfluous parts of the question and focus on what really matters.
For example, let’s say you read the following:
“Unless it’s not raining, Ben will not eat pie. Ben doesn’t eat pie only when he feels sad. By the way, it’s raining.”
Huh… That’s a confusing jumble of sentences. (This Ben guy sounds pretty odd, too.) But what happens when we translate it into Conditional Logic?
IF Raining ? THEN No Pie
IF No Pie ? THEN Feels Sad
(Those are called premises. Lots of people think Conditional Logic is only made up of if/then statements, but you can have statements of simple fact as well. The third premise is an example of this—it’s just a lone “proposition,” which just means “something that can either be true or false.”)
The situation is still strange, to be sure, but suddenly we get a much clearer view of things. In fact, by chaining together our first two premises and adding in that third one, we can conclude that Ben feels sad. (Oh no!) Once we get good enough at Conditional Logic, translating statements from confusing English into simple logical statements will become second nature—and drawing that conclusion will be much, much easier.
2. Conditional Logic speeds things up.
Diary, it’s not just that Conditional Logic keeps things simple.
You see, by making things simple, Conditional Logic also helps me move through the LSAT a whole lot faster. Once I can translate English into logic like nobody’s business and feel familiar with advanced concepts like taking contrapositives, conjunctions (“and,” “or”), and finding the gaps in conditional arguments, a bunch of different question types suddenly become more straightforward.
For example, tons of Sufficient Assumption questions actually rely on Conditional Logic—so I can accurately predict answers before looking at my answer choices, and then fly through the options! (Almost all Sufficient Assumption questions have conditional answers, in case you were wondering, Diary.)
A bunch of Match the Reasoning questions use Conditional Logic as well. By sketching out the logical structure of the stimulus, I know the specific things I have to look for in my correct answer. It cuts down my uncertainty and helps me pick the right answer faster.
And of course, who could forget about those Inference questions? If I’m asked about something that must be true, then I’m very likely dealing with some Conditional Logic, since conditionality is one of the easiest ways to create an airtight argument. But you knew that already, Diary!
Finally, mapping out Conditional Logic helps me spot some of those classic logic flaws, like illegal reversals and illegal negations. Some ID the Flaw questions have confusing answer choices that talk about “mistaking sufficient conditions for necessary conditions” and whatnot, but those are actually LSAT-code for those flaws that only Conditional Logic could help me find.
Everything Conditional Logic does, it does in less time than just reading those pesky English sentences and staring off into space would take. If used the right way, it’s a shortcut!
3. Conditional Logic helps me understand the LSAT better.
Now this is going to sound pretty nerdy of me, Diary, so don’t judge.
Learning about Conditional Logic enough to simplify sentences and speed up on questions is positively great. It’s an incredibly useful tool that will give me a huge edge to tackle this test.
But if I want to dig a bit deeper, Conditional Logic has a lot to teach me about these big, broad concepts that go way beyond the LSAT. Conditional Logic overlaps with my second-biggest crush, Assumptions: they’re both related to Necessity and Sufficiency, after all. Learning about one will teach me about the other, and those ideas permeate the LSAT in all sorts of ways.
Knowing Conditional Logic can also help me pick out when an argument isn’t conditional—and then I start to think about my third-biggest crush, Causality, or my tenth-biggest crush, Comparatives. Maybe an argument is Conditional and Causal, or Conditional and Comparative. (Faints.) If I understand how each of those works, then I can understand the entire argument more effectively.
And then there’s my arch-nemesis, Quantified Logic. Sometimes it mingles with Conditional Logic, sometimes it masquerades as Conditional Logic, sometimes I confuse one for the other… It’s a hot mess. But it just motivates me to get closer to Conditional Logic in the end!
Diary, thanks for listening. I’m so glad nobody else will ever read this. That would just be so embarrassing. ?
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Ben Rashkovich is a Manhattan Prep LSAT instructor based in New York, NY. He’s a graduate of Columbia University, and he scored a 172 on the LSAT. He enjoys the mental challenge and logical acrobatics of the LSAT—and he feels that studying for the test can teach everyone to approach problems more rationally. You can check out Ben’s upcoming LSAT courses here!