The Logical Reasoning portion of the LSAT accounts for half of your total score. Thus, you can see why it is important to have a good handle on this section! However, many people find this section to also be the hardest. Let’s look at what to expect from logical reasoning and hopefully you will feel a more confident attacking these questions.
The logical reasoning questions are designed to test your ability to analyze, evaluate, and complete arguments. There are roughly 25 questions per logical reasoning section. As with every LSAT section, you have 35 minutes to complete the section. Each logical reasoning question in structured in there parts: the question, the passage, and the possible answers.
Kaplan Method for Logical Reasoning Questions
You should always start logical reasoning questions by reading the question first. The question will let you know what to look for in the passage, from pointing out flaws in the reasoning to assumptions that the author makes. The questions could also ask you, among other things, to strengthen or weaken the argument, identify the main conclusion, infer facts from the passage, or parallel the reasoning. There are roughly 15 different question types that are commonly asked in these sections. With some practice you will be able to identify each question type, and hopefully learn some tricks and tips to attack those types of questions.
The next step in answering a logical reasoning question is to read the passage. This short passage is usually 3-4 sentences long and on any topic from biology to art. It is not important that you have any background on the topics of the passages, in fact previous knowledge can actually confuse you sometimes, but rather that you can critically examine each argument. These passages are typically composed of 2-3 premise sentences and a conclusion sentence (the conclusion is not necessarily the last sentence however). When you are practicing, and taking, the LSAT, one key trick is to take a few seconds to identify what role the different sentences play in the passage.
Finally comes the list of possible answers. There will be 5 possible answer choices. The best way to attack the answers is to try and eliminate the four wrong answers, rather than picking the one answer that you think is correct. Just as with the reading comprehension section, make sure to read all of the answers every time.
Step 1: Identify the Question Type
Step 2: Untangle the Stimulus
Step 3: Predict the Correct Answer
Step 4: Evaluate the Answer Choices
While the logical reasoning questions can seem intimidating at first, if only due to the variety of skills that they test, with practice you will be able to identify the question type, how you should approach it, and common right and wrong answers.
Logical Reasoning Questions and Frequency
Task: All Argument-Based and Assumption Family questions reward your ability to identify an argument’s conclusion. Main Point questions test this skill directly.
The question types covered in this chapter—Main Point, Role of a Statement, Method of Argument, Point at Issue, and Parallel Reasoning questions—directly reward your ability to identify, paraphrase, and describe the explicit parts of the argument.
Six Conclusion Types:
- Value Judgment (an evaluative statement; e.g., Action X is unethical or Y’s recital was poorly sung)
- If/Then (a conditional prediction, recommendation, or assertion; e.g., If X is true, then so is Y or If you are an M, you should do N)
- Prediction (X will or will not happen in the future)
- Comparison (X is taller/shorter/more common/less common/etc. than Y)
- Assertion of Fact (X is true or X is false)
- Recommendation (we should or should not do X)
Task: Every argument you’ll encounter in this chapter is incomplete as written. There is an essential premise that the author has left unsaid. Assumption questions ask you to identify the unstated premise.
Three Main Question Types:
- Assumption Questions: These ask directly for an unstated premise in the argument.
- Flaw Questions: These ask you to describe the error in the author’s reasoning; the error is most often related to what the author has overlooked, or how the evidence fails to establish the conclusion.
- Strengthen/Weaken Questions: These ask for facts that, if true, would make the argument more or less likely to be valid; you’ll need to understand what the author is assuming to answer most of these questions accurately and efficiently.
Frequency: LSAT tests released from 2010 to 2014, there were approximately 29 Assumption Family questions per test.
Task: Identify the statement that must, could, or cannot be true based on a set of statements.
Strategy: Catalogue the statements in the stimulus: Identify the most concrete statement; combine related statements; note relationships indicated by Keywords; and/or use Formal Logic to evaluate the answer choices.
Frequency: LSAT tests released from 2010 to 2014 had an average of 6.7 Inference questions per test.
- An inference follows only from the facts given. No outside knowledge is required.
- An inference need not be mind-blowing. Sometimes it will be simple, even obvious.
- An inference may come from a single fact, or it may require combining multiple facts. It may not be necessary to take into account all the facts given in the stimulus.