There are three basic parts to the LSAT Logical Reasoning question:
- question (what the test writers want you to figure out about the argument)
- answer choices
Mastering the LSAT Logical Reasoning questions requires becoming comfortable with each of the three parts of the Logical Reasoning question. The best way to do this is to break up the question and address each part separately.
1. Read the question.
Starting with the question helps you get in the right frame of mind for what you will need to do answer this question. It helps to focus on what you should be focusing on when reading the argument.
Note: Does the question have the word “EXCEPT” in it? Don’t forget that! Underline, highlight, or circle it. Do whatever works best for you to draw your attention back to this word after you are done reading the argument. It is a common mistake to miss questions with “EXCEPT.” Students get tunnel vision when reading the argument and forget that the question wants them to find the answer that does not fit with the argument. So, reminding yourself of what you are really being asked to do will help you avoid making this mistake and help you get valuable points.
2. Read the argument.
Read the argument carefully. Underline or highlight key words. Pay special attention to anything related to the question. For example, did the question ask about the conclusion? If so, pay extra attention to what the conclusion of the argument is.
3. Put the argument in your own words.
What is the writer really trying to say? Put in plain English. Write a 1-2 line summary for yourself next to the question. This way you have a quick reference that makes sense to you, and you do not have to waste time rereading the argument. Also, the majority of questions focus on the conclusion or main point, so having a good handle on this part of the argument will always benefit you.
4. Put the answer the question in your own words.
Before looking at the answer choices, answer the question yourself. A lot of the answer choices are lengthy or complicated. Putting the answer in your own words first helps you stay on the right track and not get confused.
It can be difficult to put answers in your own words at first, especially for questions that ask you to weaken or strengthen the argument. The temptation is to think: “How could I possibly come up with everything that could weaken/strengthen this argument?” But don’t get overwhelmed. The point is not to come up with every possible answer. The point is to just get you thinking about the right things, so all you need to do is come up with one plausible answer.
5. Find the answer choice closest to your own answer.
It is unlikely that your exact answer is in the choices, but chances are, something similar is. Use your own answer to help eliminate answer choices and help you select the right answer.
The key to the LSAT Logical Reasoning questions is PRACTICE!
The more you do, the more comfortable you will become with these questions. If possible, designate some time on a regular basis to do practice problems. It is better to do 5-10 problems every day than 50 problems in one sitting once a week. Your brain needs time to process what it is learning. You will get more out of your studying if you practice in small amounts on a regular basis than if you have cram sessions on weekends.
Jayeeta is a private LSAT tutor in Chicago and Boston. She holds a JD from the University of Chicago, a M.S. from MIT, and degrees in Physics and Economics from Reed College. She’s worked with several major test prep companies in addition to MyGuru and has been providing private LSAT tutoring for several years.