NOW! That’s What I Call The LSAT… Vol. 2,193
September 5, 2013
Nothing makes you want to put on your LSAT shoes and dance your way through Logical Reasoning arguments like great ’90s music. So to continue into the fall with our summer playlists theme, we turn to that great decade, pull on our flannel shirt and listen to some totally rad tips about logical reasoning section management.
1. “All I Wanna Do” (Sheryl Crow): Like an amazing number of ’90s hits, “All I Wanna Do” employs basic conditional formal logic to achieve its ends. When Sheryl Crow tells us that all she wants to do is have fun, our LSAT-trained ears should perk right up; all is a basic sufficient condition trigger. If she wants it, then it must be fun. Likewise, Whitney Houston’s power ballad classic cover of “I Will Always Love You” says nothing more than “if me –> love you always”, since “will” is a huge necessary clause indicator, especially in Logical Reasoning. Remember that a key to logical reasoning success is utilizing our full LSAT toolbox, including formal logic identification, translation, and contrapositive formation! Challenge: translate “The Heart Will Go On” (Celine Dion) into a conditional statement, and form the contrapositive!*
2. “I Want It That Way” (The Backstreet Boys): If you thought searching for authorial point of view was solely the purview of your rocking Reading Comprehension skills, then you are doing yourself a serious disservice in Logical Reasoning. The most important, foundational, all-around-the-section skill we can develop in LR is finding conclusions– without that key step, we are lost in assumption, strengthen, weaken, flaw, parallel reasoning, main point, role of a statement, and method of argument questions. So when an author goes out of their way to state that she or he thinks something, our conclusion sensors should go wild– and the Boys here are giving us a very direct statement of opinion. Next, it falls to us to figure out why (other than their record contract) these gentlemen do want it that way: the evidence the author gives as support for that conclusion. This equation forms the basis for all logical reasoning argument-based questions. Recognize explicit assertions and judgments from authors, as well as recommendations (“Don’t Speak”, says No Doubt) and formal logic-based statements (“Nothing Compares 2 U”, claims Sinead O’Connor).
3. “It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay” (Whitney Houston): Quick! Pop quiz! What structural keyword that is ALWAYS worth circling appears in this early Whitney title? If you answered “but”, you get a bonus five hundred LSAT Monopoly dollars! Contrast is worth noting in all LSAT question types– when describing an argument in a parallel reasoning question, pulling a “must-be-true” inference out of a set of facts, or identifying the point-at-issue between two speakers, contrast keywords will always help us keep a stimulus under control– and separate the author’s opinion from the rest of the pieces or opinions presented.
4. “Unbelievable” (EMF): You know you sing this song whenever you hear or read the word “unbelievable.” Why? Because “unbelievable” is a significant opinion keyword, and lets us know that the author is telling us something is important or emphasized out of that whole mess of “purple prose.” Those kind of content keywords are a big part of working reading comp passages effectively and efficiently, and are also a huge help in logical reasoning as we try to identify authorial opinion and grab the conclusion of an argument.
5. “Mama Said Knock You Out” (LL Cool J): Identifying similarities and differences between opinions is an absolutely necessary skill in law school and in your future law career, so it makes sense that the LSAT would reward the ability across its sections, particularly in classic reading comp passages, comparative reading passages, and logical reasoning. ‘Who said what?’ is always a question you should be asking on the LSAT, whether it’s looking at tricky question stems (whose argument are they asking us to weaken? The author’s? Someone else’s?) or in stimulus breakdown.
*If heart –> go on; If ~go on –> ~heart