The Standard Info
There are two logical reasoning sections on the LSAT – so half of your score comes from this one section type! This is the section that is most easily relatable to the work of a law student (and lawyer). Crafting, critiquing, and improving arguments are central to a lawyer’s craft, as is making inferences from fact patterns.
There are several types of questions in this section. Many of these types are quite related. The breakdown of questions is as follows:
|Analyze the argument||15%|
The Mastery Info
While many people approach each question type with a separate strategy, there are in fact many similarities between question types. For example, the first 5 questions types – assumptions, flaws, strengthen, weaken, and principle questions – are related. They all are based on our ability to identify an assumption in an argument (an assumption is an unstated idea or fact that allows the conclusion to be inferred). Since all of these questions are based on this same skill, the same technique can be used when reading the argument: find the conclusion, find the premise or premises (facts) that support the conclusion, and identify any logical gaps (assumptions). Average test-takers focus on the differences between each question type while high-scorers understand the connections between the different question types.
Another difference between average test-takers and the 170+ crowd is their approach to answer choices. Most people focus on predicting – or "pre-phrasing"— answer choices. This is useful in the sense that it forces one to truly grasp the argument, however the LSAT is a well-written test and the test-writers can predict our predictions! To create a tricky wrong answer, LSAT-authors write answer choices that are similar to typical predictions, but that include a subtle difference that makes the answer choice incorrect.
More sophisticated LSAT-test takers know the tricks the LSAT tries to play, and indeed will search out the wrong answers based on this knowledge. Working from wrong to right has advantages over looking for correct answers. First, it makes it less likely the LSAT will be able to trick you. Secondly, since many LSAT questions ask for the best answer – not necessarily the ideal one – this approach can save you time when a strange or flawed correct answer requires extra time to justify, while the clearly wrong ones can be quickly eliminated.
One tool that is worth discussing is diagramming arguments. This is often seen as a sign of a master LSAT-test taker, however the truth is that diagrams are only one useful tool among many. Rather than diagramming each argument, an LSAT master is more likely to grasp the "core" of an argument and utilize this to quickly and effectively eliminate incorrect choices. Diagramming is most useful on questions that require matching argument patterns, and those that involve lots of conditional logic.