Did you know that you can attend the first session of any of our online or in-person LSAT courses absolutely free? We’re not kidding! Check out our upcoming courses here.
Starting your LSAT prep can be a scary experience. You pick up a book and see all the complexity of the test at once. A long list of LR question types; many variations of logic games; Reading Comprehension, chapter after chapter! It’s a lot to take in, and most places that break the test down into categories like to impress with their long and exhaustive list.
This series of three blog posts—one for each section—will break down the LSAT at a much higher level. It’s important to start with a strong scaffold for the section.
Last week, we discussed scaffolding – developing a high-level overview through which you can make sense of the myriad types of questions that will end up being thrown your way- for LSAT Logic Games. This week, we’ll discuss scaffolding for the LSAT Logical Reasoning questions.
Logical Reasoning can definitely get complex if you focus on the nuance of the section. And there’s definitely a lot going on! But when there’s such a variety, it’s important to focus on what’s similar so that you don’t get overwhelmed.
At its heart, Logical Reasoning is just about arguments. And, on the section, they’re going to ask you to do two things: make arguments, and break arguments.
When the LSAT asks you to make an argument, it will give you information and ask you to do something with it. This could be as straightforward as drawing a valid conclusion, or as complex as making an argument that explains a weird situation. You might even have to construct an argument that’s similar to a given one.
On the other hand, the LSAT might give you a bad argument – one that makes an assumption. These questions will start with a very simple task: break the argument. Figuring out what that assumption is, and why the conclusion isn’t valid, is the key to moving to the next step of using that assumption to address the specific prompt.
Just like in the Logic Games article, we’re going to take our second step here, too – let’s talk about organizing the question types themselves into four higher-level families.
- Assumption Family
- Inference Family
- Matching Family
- Describe Family
These questions will all ask you to break the argument. You will be presented with an argument, and you’ll need to start by finding the assumption. In other words, you’ll need to point out what’s wrong with the argument.
The next step might be to weaken the argument, describe the flaw, or even fix the argument, but it’s all going to start with breaking the argument.
This family of questions is all about making an argument. You’ll be presented with facts, premises, and situations, and you’ll have to use that information to reach a conclusion.
In Matching questions, you’ll be tasked with finding an answer that is similar, logically, to the provided argument. These could be valid or invalid. Half the time, you’ll be breaking a flawed argument to find an answer that’s broken in the same way. All the time, you’ll be making a new argument (in the form of selecting the correct answer) that follows the same pattern.
The most straight-forward family, in that you won’t actively be doing anything. In this family, an argument is given, and you’re simply describing what is happening in it. In that sense, you’re making an “abstract” version of the argument that reflects the given’s structure.
So before you get into Principle Justify questions with Term Shift assumptions, get these basics down. Within this framework, you can approach any question. And without this framework, the entire section will seem like a series of random questions about dinosaurs, economic policies, and early humans. The patterns that guide the section are, honestly, more important than the specifics for each question type! 📝
Want in-depth guidance in refining the basics and moving on to Principle Justify questions with Term Shift assumptions? Try the first session of any of Matt’s upcoming LSAT courses absolutely free, no strings attached.
Matt Shinners is a Manhattan Prep instructor based in New York City. After receiving a degree in Biochemistry from Boston College, Matt scored a 180 on his LSAT and enrolled in Harvard Law School. There’s nothing that makes him happier than seeing his students receive the scores they want to get into the schools of their choice. Check out Matt’s upcoming LSAT courses here!