How to Ace the LSAT Logical Reasoning Section

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The Logical Reasoning portion of the LSAT is comprised of two 35-minute sections (24-26 questions per section). Logical reasoning questions are designed to test your ability to examine, analyze and evaluate arguments. The arguments are drawn from many different sources and don’t require any knowledge of law, but they do test legal reasoning ability. Each question consists of a short passage followed by a multiple-choice question. Questions are presented in order of difficulty, from easiest to hardest. Your logical reasoning score accounts for roughly half of your total LSAT score.

Logical Reasoning Question Types

Logical reasoning questions test your ability to recognize parts of arguments, find similarities in patterns of reasoning, draw well-supported conclusions, recognize flawed reasoning, and determine how additional information would strengthen or weaken an argument. There are roughly 12 question types in the logical reasoning section. They are: Flaws, Method of Argument, Main Conclusion, Necessary and Sufficient Assumptions, Role of Statement, Parallel, Inference, Strengthen, Point at Issue, Principle (Stimulus/Answer), Weaken, Paradox, and Evaluate the Argument. 

Of those question types, the most common are Flaws, Necessary Assumptions, Inferences, and Strengthen/Weaken questions. Learning and understanding these types is key to getting a high score on this section.

To successfully answer these questions, begin by reading the argument carefully. This means actively reading the passage, jotting down quick notes, and circling key phrases. Some test-takers find it easier to read the question stem first, then read the passage. Second, take time to think about what you read, the conclusion of the argument (if any), and the answer to the question. For some question types, it’s especially important to predict what the answer will be before actually reading the choices. Third, evaluate the answers. Look at each choice and see which one is closest to your prediction. If none of them are close, then you know you’ve misunderstood something, and you’ll have to re-evaluate. 

For strengthen/weaken questions, you'll have to determine what type of reasoning the argument is using and pick the answer that either supports or hurts the argument. For draw a conclusion questions, you must choose the answer that is supported by the author’s premises. Inference questions are usually only concerned about one or two pieces of the information provided. Necessary assumption questions require you to choose an answer that states a premise the author assumes to be true but doesn't directly say. Usually, the correct answer to this question type links new information in the conclusion back to the stated premises. 

Strategies for a High Score

The following strategies will help you strengthen your logical reasoning skills and improve your score on this section of the LSAT.

Understand the Argument

The most important part of the logical reasoning section is the argument passage (or "stimulus"). You must read and fully understand the argument before looking at the answers choices. Remember, 80% of the answer choices are wrong and 100% of them are meant to confuse you in some way, so going straight to the answers will cause you to lose time. As you read the argument passage, focus on identifying the argument's reasoning and conclusion. If you do so, you're more likely to get to a correct answer, and you'll save a lot of time along the way. 

Prephrase the Answer

Prephrasing means predicting the answer. Almost all of the answers in the logical reasoning section can be predicted. Prephrasing saves time and helps you get the correct answer. If your prephrased answer doesn’t match any of the choices then you may not have understood the argument correctly. To accurately prephrase, you should first identify the conclusion and reasoning, read the argument again, and then think about why the argument could be wrong. Of course prephrasing isn’t always going to work for you. There are multiple flaws in arguments and different ways to describe them, so if your prephrased answer isn’t helping you in a particular instance, then just consider the answer choices based on what you know from the argument.

Read All the Answers

Once you’ve read the argument passage thoroughly and predicted the answer, or at least have a clear idea of what it could be, it’s time to read through all the answer choices. Many students make the mistake of going with the first answer they read without having fully read the rest of them. You should first read over all of them and quickly categorize them before choosing a final answer. To categorize efficiently, first get rid of all the answers that are clearly wrong. For the answers that might be right, keep them in mind to think about when you go through them again and lastly, mark the answer that is almost certainly correct. Once you’ve done that, go back through the answers that you marked possibly and certainly correct. Look at the argument again and choose the answer that matches best. This saves you time and gives you a higher chance of getting the correct answer, especially on questions you’re unsure about.

Skip Questions and Come Back

Because the section is timed, you don’t want to waste valuable time getting stuck on one question. It’s better to skip it and then come back at the end. If you spend too much time trying to figure out one question, you’ll end up taking time away from the rest of the test. Focusing on one question can also get your brain stuck on a wrong view of the argument, in which case you’ll never get the right answer. By moving on, you let your brain reset so it can thinkabout in a new way when you return to it. If you skip the question, there’s a chance you won’t be able to come back to it but you’ll only be sacrificing one point rather than the number of points you could miss from other easier questions.

Answer Every Question

The LSAT doesn’t take away points for wrong answers, so even if you’re not sure about the correct answer, guessing significantly raises your chances of getting it correct and increasing your score. This may seem contradictory to the previous advice about skipping questions, but it should actually be used in conjunction with it. If you get to a question you just can’t figure out, pick a random answer or an answer that seems correct, and move on. Then come back to it later when you’ve finished the section. This way if you end up running out of time and can’t come back to it, at least you’ve given an answer that could potentially be correct. Make sure to flag the questions you want to come back to so you don’t forget.

Monitor Your Energy

Stress is a big factor when it comes to taking the LSAT. People that let their stress build end up becoming overwhelmed, leading to panic, which greatly affects their ability to think and reason. By monitoring your stress and energy levels, you can take precautions when you start to feel yourself freaking out. It will happen and it’s ok, as long as you know how to get yourself out of it. The best thing to do when you start to spiral or catch yourself getting distracted is to just take a moment and breathe. Logical Reasoning questions aren’t related to each other, so you can give yourself little breaks in between questions if you need them. You may think you’re taking away valuable time from answering questions but by taking breathers here and there, you’ll actually be able to answer questions faster. In fact, one of the keys to being successful on the LSAT is knowing how to allocate your time and knowing when it’s time to move on.