LSAT Logical Reasoning Study Guide
So you’ve finally made it. After years of dedication, hard work, and many nights spent burning the candle at both ends, you’ve completed your pre-law education and are looking toward the next step of building your law career: law school. Congratulations on making it this far! We know you’ve striven hard for this very moment and want to help ensure you keep making progress. Now you’re faced with applying for law school, and among many other steps, you’re now faced with the LSAT.
As your admissions information describes, the LSAT classifies as a standardized test catering specifically to law students looking to enter law school. The Law School Admission Council specially crafted the LSAT after being informed in the year 1945 that law school testing within the period was not up to snuff. To remedy this, they organized a brand new testing format meant to properly emulate the curriculum law students are exposed to within their initial year of postgraduate education. The very first edition of the LSAT then launched in the year 1948. Now the LSAT enjoys a renowned presence. It is administered not just across the United States, but in several countries beyond, and is recognized as the leading law school exam due to its thorough organization.
Currently the LSAT is made up of three subjects: Analytical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Logical Reasoning. All three of these skills are considered to be extremely important for the budding lawyer to know, as they will all be used heavily once potential lawyers make it into court. This particular overview will go over the Logical Reasoning exam section.
First, we should go over what Logical Reasoning is and why it will be so important to your law career. You likely first encountered the concept of logic within your philosophy courses back during your undergraduate studies. Logic is the study of how concepts make sense to us, how we reason. You will absolutely have to use some reasoning skills throughout your law career. The entire essence of a law career, naturally, is the ability to create a sound argument and poke holes in the arguments of your opponents by detecting logical lapses in their own assertions. Throughout your career you will be continually exposed to arguments of all varieties and strengths, which you will have to inspect in order to prove your own case. You cannot do this if you have no concept of logic. The Logical Reasoning section has been included on the LSAT for this very reason—because of its importance to any and every law career.
While this exam is highly important to your academic future, we don’t want you to fret! Testing dates cycle year round, allowing you to easily schedule in enough time to prepare to your fullest before taking the exam. Furthermore, we at Mometrix Test Preparation want to help you in any and every way possible! This is why we strive to supply you with all the resources you’ll need to ace this exam. On this page, you’ll find not only an overview of the LSAT Logical Reasoning section, but an LSAT Logical Reasoning study guide. Elsewhere on our site, you’ll also gain access to LSAT Logical Reasoning flashcards and an LSAT Logical Reasoning practice test. It is our hope that you will be able to use all of these tools to put together a sufficient study plan that will leave you thoroughly prepared come test day.
Now we will guide you through the most important aspects of the LSAT Logical Reasoning section: how it’s formatted, what materials you can expect to find on it, what types of knowledge you will be expected to demonstrate, and how you can best prepare. Read on to learn more.
What Can I Expect from the LSAT Logical Reasoning Section?
Much like the other two official subtests of the LSAT, you will be given 35 minutes to complete the Logical Reasoning section. Additionally, this section sits within the range of 20 questions. Specifically, it will be between 24 and 26 total questions in length. The questions featured on this portion of the exam are the most complicated aspect—mostly due to their diversity, which we will go over a little later into the overview. For now, we want to give you information on the basics of the exam section.
As we stated before, the point of the Logical Reasoning subtest is to evaluate how well you can examine arguments. While the exam splits into two halves, the format will always follow the same formula. You will be presented with either a list of statements or a paragraph arguing about a specific point, for which you will have to answer a bundle of accompanying questions. Throughout each of these question varieties, you will be expected to demonstrate how well you can assess arguments of all varieties, as well as consider ideas on a logical and evaluative level. To help you know what to expect, we will now go over the various questions you can find on the Logical Reasoning section.
Known mainly as Parallel Reasoning, this question category seeks to discover how well you can pick up on similarities between statements. Upon reading through your information, you will then have to answer questions about the central argument of the selection—if any of the choices between statements align closely with said central argument, to be specific.
This question category is not quite as easy as it sounds. Paraphrasing can be a difficult thing to compare, and it is alright if you cannot immediately pick the most appropriate answer. If one particular piece of information leaves you stumped, you can try rereading it again and parsing it out into your own words. Pay close attention to what the information is trying to communicate, as well as its organization.
Finding the Main Idea
This particular question variety is very similar in concept and objective to what you’ve likely already experienced on other tests earlier on in your academic career. Questions focusing on the main idea of the work will require you to identify the central theme the author is presenting within the passage. This type of question can still take multiple forms. For instance, you could be expected to identify how the author feels about the topic they have written about, what point they are trying to make and why they could have written this particular work, and/or precisely what the central theme of the work is.
While this kind of question may seem like a cinch to answer, we must caution and advise you to pay close attention to every question and read through them as carefully as possible before choosing your answer. Questions of this variety will be written so that there will be several “obvious” answers that you will have to choose between. The trick will ultimately be to match answer choices to the themes and ideas of the passage to see which is the best fit.
Because logic plays so heavily into the formation of an argument, you naturally will have to answer questions about how arguments are structured within the test passages. The passage provided to you will be the only context you’ll have for these questions. It will then be on you to pick an option that best illustrates the presentation of the argument, as well as the argument’s strength and effectiveness.
Again, you will want to read as carefully as possible to answer these questions correctly. Approach each passage with the argument-based questions in mind, evaluating their organization. Think about how its statements interact with one another, and whether all of them contribute to the main assertion or not.
This question category and the Argument category described above go hand in hand. However, the formatting for this particular category will be different from the previous. Rather than reading through and assessing an argument, you will be asked to complete an argument based on whether it would bolster or harm the main point.
Wording is crucial for this particular question variety. Be sure to look out for whether you have to hurt or help an argument. There will often be many choices that could fit the question and its objective. However, it will be up to you to determine which answer fits what is being asked the most accurately. You want to pick an answer that either makes the argument as effective as it can possibly be, or dwindles its purpose as completely as it can. Examine the argument prior to answering so you understand what it is trying to say. By doing this, you will be able to fully understand how to either dismantle or reinforce the point being made.
Detecting Logical Flaws
For this question category, you will be provided with a passage and expected to read through it in order to examine it for any and all flaws. Noticeable flaws may come in the form of underdeveloped arguments, for instance. Regardless of how the flaw takes form, it will be up to you to not only discern the flaws within an argument, but how exactly the flaws you’ve detected hurt the argument. You should pick your answer based on whichever option best explains the flaws of the argument, so be sure to pay close attention to both your choices and the structure of the passage.
When you read the passages for this question category, you should focus predominantly on themes being presented through each sentence. The passages themselves will follow a specific argument and be left incomplete. Your job is to pose the most logical and best possible conclusion by choosing an answer from a list of five options. As you answer these questions, be sure to think about how to best tie up the paragraph rather than how to summarize the points being made. There is a distinct difference between the two, and a conclusion is not always a summary of the main points.
It is additionally worth noting that you may run into questions where every option is correct, and if so, you should not be alarmed. One of your five options will be that each option is a logical conclusion to draw.
Assumption and inference questions are a bit similar in concept. The key difference is rather than picking out a way to conclude the paragraph, you will be reading between the lines to figure out the more subtle aspects of the paragraph—or, in other words, the invisible glue that holds the statement together. The information being given to you may not necessarily be 100 percent accurate, but this is not the main intention of the section. Do not let factual accuracy get in the way of choosing the best possible answer. You job will to be to decide what subtle pieces of information can be gleaned from the passage and how they lend to the argument itself.
Generally, you will have to pick from a list of statements based on whichever one backs up or aligns with the passage the best—or the very opposite, namely which out of a list of statements does not fit in with the text.
Now that we have gone over what kinds of questions you can expect to find on the exam and how they will be presented, we will now go over how to prepare for the exam and how you can properly approach these questions.
How Can I Approach the LSAT Logical Reasoning Section?
The first and most important step to excelling on this section of the LSAT is to read as closely and carefully as you can before you answer any questions. Much like the rest of the LSAT, the Logical Reasoning Section is designed to be challenging. It is vital that you know exactly what a question wants you to do so you are able to answer it properly. As our overview has covered so far, the questions on this portion of the exam can vary so wildly that it will be harder for you to do well if you are not thorough.
The best way to familiarize yourself with Logical Reasoning questions would be through our LSAT Logical Reasoning practice test. This will give you an up close glimpse of the test and its format, allowing you to figure out how questions will be worded and, as a result, know what to look for when you take the exam officially later on. With the help of our practice test, you should be able to come up with an easy and efficient way of telling what you’re required to do just from a glance over the question’s wording. This will also allow you to save time as you work through the exam, which is just as important as reading thoroughly considering the time limit placed upon you.
Just as you must read carefully over the test questions, you should also pay close attention to the test answers. Again, wording is a key element to your understanding of a question. The test will be written in such a way that there will often be two questions that will seem equally as likely to be the most fitting response. When it comes to this particular answering situation, it is best to keep closely in mind the objective of the question and weigh both possible answers based on which fits the question’s context the most closely. Just because an answer is fitting doesn’t mean it is automatically right.
Before we close the overview, we have one final and equally important suggestion for you as you prepare to take this important exam: read not just the materials that will be on the exam, but materials outside of it as well. The passages featured on the Logical Reasoning section stem from a situation that you will regularly encounter once you begin your law career. Therefore, you can familiarize yourself further with the exam by consuming a wide breadth of reading materials. Doing so will allow you the ability to more easily digest the materials you’ll find on the exam.
We hope you will be able to use this overview to construct a thorough and efficient study plan for the LSAT Logical Reasoning section. While this exam is challenging, we fully believe you have what it takes to not only prepare thoroughly for this exam, but knock it out of the park. For further help with your studies, you can also refer to our LSAT Logical Reasoning flashcards and LSAT Logical Reasoning study guide (as well as our LSAT Logical Reasoning practice test, mentioned above). We have designed all of these resources to give you an idea of what you can expect from the exam and know what you should focus on as you study.
Good luck, and study hard!
Provided by: Mometrix Test Preparation
Last updated: 07/17/2018