LSAT Analytical Reasoning Study Guide
LSAT Analytical Reasoning Review
So you’re getting ready for the LSAT… Congratulations! You’ve undoubtedly worked hard throughout your undergraduate career to make it to this point. The LSAT—also known by its full name, the Law School Admission Test—serves as another step toward obtaining your law degree and starting your law career.
Created in the year 1948, the LSAT has always catered exclusively to the needs of law schools and their applicants. Since its creation, the LSAT has achieved widespread acclaim and usage within the law education community. Over 100,000 law school applicants register for the LSAT each year. Additionally, the test is available to law students across the world, marking its status as the leading postgraduate exam for law education. The LSAT’s creators, the Law School Admission Council, originally constructed the exam at the suggestion of Columbia Law School leader Frank Bowles, who voiced the opinion that, at the time, admission testing for law school was not suitable enough and would be better off tailored to the curriculum postgraduate law students would encounter within their first year.
As a result, the LSAT is meant to evaluate the readiness of aspiring law students for the law school environment by testing them on a number of subjects specific and relevant to law school curriculum. Considering its purpose, you may feel a bit apprehensive as you how well you’ll be able to perform on the test. If you are, you needn’t worry! With a little help, the LSAT is 100 percent surmountable. As test taking availability opens several times throughout the year, you will be able to plan your testing schedule so that you have plenty of time to prepare beforehand. We at Mometrix Test Preparation are here to help you. Your success is of utmost importance to us, which is why we strive to offer you only the best tools possible to excel on any test.
Before we touch upon any other aspect of the LSAT, we must first go over the basics. The LSAT covers three specific subjects you’ll encounter once you begin law school: Analytical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Logical Reasoning. These sections split up into five testing categories. This overview is meant to go over the Analytical Reasoning portion of the LSAT.
What is the Analytical Reasoning section?
Its purpose is to evaluate how well you can assess a given argument based upon several factors. This expectation is very similar to one you would encounter within a court trial, and forms a massive basis of the standard law career. You have to be able to pull apart an argument and get to the heart of its message to thrive as a lawyer. Your ability to do so will determine how effective you are at helping a client, whose success with their case depends on not only being able to refute the arguments of your opponents, but present your own in a convincing and coherent manner. You have likely already trained on this to some degree throughout your pre-law education. Now is the time to (literally) put it to the test.
Throughout this page, you’ll find a detailed overview of the LSAT Analytical Reasoning section—what it covers, what you can expect, and how you can approach the questions you’ll find on the exam. It is our hope that you’ll use this overview, among our many other resources, to organize a solid study plan for the LSAT. Elsewhere on our site, you’ll find an LSAT Analytical Reasoning study guide, LSAT Analytical Reasoning practice test, and LSAT Analytical Reasoning flashcards for further help as you prepare. Keep reading to learn more about this particular subtest.
What Will I Find on the LSAT Analytical Reasoning Section?
The Analytical Reasoning section is written quite differently from every other section on the exam. This subtest reads much like the puzzle games you spent time figuring out as a kid. Its purpose is to analyze how well you can use information provided to you to create inferences about the information’s meaning. You will also see this portion of the LSAT referred to by another name: the “Logic Games” subtest.
The Analytical Reasoning section is quite multifaceted, and will evaluate several different skills you will come to rely upon throughout your law career. More specifically, you will be expected to use information and apply rules and other situational factors to a problem to gauge whether two inferences are similar to one another from a logical standpoint and are still able to make sense within other contexts; solving a problem presented to you in order to realize how it is organized and will make the most sense; combining new information with information already provided to you in order to test the validity of a statement; using pre-existing information to gauge how valid a statement is; and understanding and evaluating statements using the “if-then” model, as well as statements that use a similar format but in different wordings.
This LSAT section splits into four unique question varieties, each of which will hold anywhere from 22 to 24 questions each. While none of the questions on this section will directly reference law-based situations, the skills you will be expected to display will be very commonly utilized as you embark upon your law career in the future. Don’t worry if you don’t have a lot of experience with logical problems. The test doesn’t require you to have specialized knowledge in logic in order to perform well on this exam. All the knowledge you need will be presented to you through the questions and information provided to you during the exam, as well as the basic reasoning skills you’ve already picked up from your undergraduate studies.
Each portion of the Analytical Reasoning section will be presented to you with its own formatting, which we will now go over.
How Is the Analytical Reasoning Section Formatted?
Due to its structure, the Analytical Reasoning portion of the LSAT has gained the reputation of being notoriously difficult. While this may sound very intimidating, you don’t have to worry about your chances of success! The purpose of this overview—and, more specifically, this section—is to provide you with a breakdown of how the test works so you can approach it more easily.
There will be four total puzzles on the exam, accompanied by anywhere between five and seven questions. Every one of these puzzles may be markedly different from one another in terms of how they are written, meaning you will have to pay careful attention to the information being presented to you as well as what each question is asking of you. Remember that questions can easily change up the information already being given to you by supplying you with additional conditions, meaning you will have to alter how you think about and approach each question. Some of the puzzles you’ll encounter may actually rely on the questions accompanying them to provide you with a broader scope of the puzzle’s conditions, rendering the initial information being given to you only partially finished.
To help you best understand the Analytical Reasoning section, we will now go over each type of game you’ll encounter.
Grouping games rely upon sorting several entities provided to you by the informational paragraph into distinct groups. The game’s information will give you the appropriate scenario, which in turn will tell you how you are supposed to approach the sorting process.
Basic Linear Sequence
Basic linear sequence games are fairly cut and dry in terms of what you are supposed to do to solve them. You will be expected to take the provided information and arrange its entities so they fit into one neat line. How this line is meant to be organized depends on the game’s rules. No matter the details of the game, however, you should expect and arrive at the same end result: a neatly organized string of information.
When solving a basic grouping game, you will be presented with a selection of information which will contain several sets of entities. You will then have to sort them all into collective groups based on the game’s information. This game type should prove to be easier than the grouping section described above. However, you will still need to read closely and create a careful organization system in order to ace basic grouping questions.
The linear sequence game is similar in requirements to the basic linear sequence, but will be on a higher difficulty level. You will still have to arrange entities into an orderly sequence. However, it is likely you’ll be expected to arrange more than one set of information into two related sequencing categories. It will be on you to keep both sets of information straight as you work through problems under this category and know how you should properly sort each set.
Now that we’ve gone into each question category on the Analytical Reasoning section, we feel it is equally important to lay down a few ground rules on how to approach this subtest in general.
How Can I Approach the Analytical Reasoning Section?
The most important thing to remember about the Analytical Reasoning portion of the exam is that it is all about relationships—how two situations or conditions compare to and interact with one another. If you keep this fact in mind, it will prove to be very helpful as you work through this exam section. Now that you know how the exam works, we would like to provide you with a few tips and tricks to make the exam much easier to approach.
First, you must take care to not forget about your time limit. The Analytical Reasoning section lasts only 35 minutes, meaning you’ll have to use your time as efficiently as possible. Ideally, you should try to spend less than 10 minutes on each puzzle. It is perfectly fine if you wind up taking a bit more time on one question, especially considering the difficulty level this exam section presents. You do not, however, want to squander all of your time and risk leaving questions unanswered. The rest of this overview section will therefore cover ways you can approach the Analytical Reasoning section in order to save valuable time.
While this seems very much like common sense, you should also be sure to read each game and each question tied to a specific game closely. You don’t want to miss any information, as having all the facts and rules relevant to a game (or a question that bends the rules of the game) is vital to working through the section properly. You want to completely understand what the game is asking of you and how you should be approaching it.
It is highly likely that the questions you’ll come across on the exam won’t always lead to one answer. That is to say, all of the information you’re presented with won’t necessarily lead you down just one conclusive path. You will have to switch up your line of thinking to match certain questions and constantly be prepared to accept a new set of options to fit these questions. Any question you encounter could easily bend the situational rules set at the beginning of the statement or passage presented to you. This means you may have to reevaluate the information you’ll be given more than once in order to fit a brand new context.
It is a given that you will juggle a lot of information as you work through the Analytical Reasoning section. While it can be tempting to try the trial and error method to figure out the best possible answer to a question, doing this will harm you more than it will assist you. The information provided at the beginning of the game should give you all you need to solve a question and be able to immediately exclude any answer choices that do not fit the question. Additionally, there is a much easier way to organize all of the information you’ll have to refer to while you work through the test questions.
In order to keep track of important information, we recommend drawing up a diagram marking the most significant elements of each statement you read. Very few people are able to work through the Analytical Reasoning section without having to compose a diagram at some point. Diagramming will prevent you from getting your facts mixed up, since the questions given to you can supply new information that is all too easy to muddle with the old. You can rely on your test book or scratch paper given to you at the start of the exam to make your notes. Be sure to create your diagrams as quickly as you can, but don’t go so fast as to render your notes unreadable. At the same time, it’s perfectly fine to use abbreviations where and when you need to.
We also suggest you begin planning out your diagram early on, as you’re still reading through information. This will help the answering process to go more smoothly. There are many different ways you can compose a diagram. The most important element, however, is to make sure you have a system for your diagrams that you can apply to any question format. Having a solid plan for drawing out your diagrams will make it even easier for you to keep track of relevant information, and cut down on the chance of disarray as you work through questions. You will want to pick a notation format that makes sense to you and that you can refer to easily and quickly. Furthermore, a diagram should give you the full picture of the scenario being presented by the logic game you’re trying to solve. A well-composed diagram should effectively serve as an abridged version of the specific logic game it’s tied to and provide you with all of the necessary information you’ll need to figure the problem out.
While this overview is far from being 100 percent comprehensive, we hope it will help you to put together a solid study plan for the LSAT. At Mometrix Test Preparation, we care about your success! Feel free to refer to the LSAT Analytical Reasoning study guide on this page for more specific help with any part of the exam. For further study help, you can also consult our LSAT Analytical Reasoning practice test and LSAT Analytical Reasoning flashcards. We want to supply you with every possible resource so you can excel on this exam.
Good luck, and study hard!
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