What is Logical Reasoning?
Whereas Logic Games can be mind-boggling at first, and Reading Comprehension passages can be dense and verbose, LSAT Logical Reasoning questions are short and intuitive. Logical Reasoning tests everyday language and reasoning skills.
Imagine this: You’re home for the holidays, and your Aunt Beth is telling you all about her new diet. This year she’s cutting out turnips, she says, because she read somewhere that one in five people who eat turnips eventually get cancer. If you haven’t tuned her out by now, you’re probably rolling your eyes because her argument is ridiculous. Okay, Aunt Beth, but what proportion of the general population develops cancer over a lifetime? How many people were surveyed? How did this study select its participants—is this statistic based on a representative sample? How many of these people smoke? How many people who don’t eat turnips end up getting cancer?
She’s made a silly argument, and you’ve already come up with several commonsense reasons why her argument doesn’t hold water. This is the main skill that Logical Reasoning tests. Get better at thinking critically by poking holes in bad arguments, and you’ll get better at Logical Reasoning. You’ll also become a force to be reckoned with at the dinner table.
Check out this article to learn the basics and develop a solid Logical Reasoning foundation.
Types of Logical Reasoning Questions
Logical Reasoning questions generally fall into two categories: “passage-driven” question types and “answer-driven” question types. Don’t get too caught up in these labels. The best strategy for all Logical Reasoning questions on the LSAT is simply to take the time to understand the passage, figure out what the question is asking, and make a strong prediction before jumping into the answer choices.
There are, however, certain tried-and-true strategies for each Logical Reasoning question type. Learn more by clicking on each of the question types listed below.
On passage-driven Logical Reasoning questions, treat the passage as true. For instance, Supported questions ask you to find the answer that is most supported by the passage. In other words, evidence from the passage supports one of the answers. These questions are “passage driven.”
Most question types are passage-driven. Here is a brief summary of each passage-driven LSAT Logical Reasoning question type:
- Conclusion: Find the argument’s main conclusion. It could be an entire sentence or just part of a sentence.
- Supported: Figure out which answer is most likely to be true given what was said in the passage.
- Must Be True: Figure out which answer must be true given what was said in the passage.
- Necessary Assumption: Identify something that the conclusion absolutely needs or depends on, even if it’s not enough to prove the conclusion.
- Flaw: Figure out the problem with the argument, or why the premises don’t prove the conclusion.
- Role: Describe the function of one of the claims in the argument. Is it a premise, a conclusion, or something else?
- Reasoning: Describe how the author draws their conclusion, or how the logic of their argument unfolds.
- Parallel: Find another argument that either uses the same reasoning or makes the same mistake in its reasoning as the argument in the passage.
- Disagree: Find something that two passage authors disagree about.
On answer-driven questions, treat the answer choices as true and choose the answer that best influences the argument according to the question type. For instance, Strengthen questions ask you to choose an answer that best strengthens the argument in the passage.
Be careful not to assume question types based solely on keywords that are commonly associated with certain question types. Both Strengthen and Supported questions often use the words “most support,” for example. Don’t assume that these words designate a Supported question—instead, take the time to figure out what the question is asking.
- Strengthen: Help the argument support its conclusion. The correct answer may not prove the conclusion, but it will introduce evidence that gets the argument closer to proving its conclusion.
- Weaken: Raise doubts about the conclusion. The correct answer may not totally disprove the main conclusion, but it will introduce evidence that calls the conclusion into question.
- Sufficient Assumption: Make the argument win. Identify a fact that, when added to the argument, is sufficient—that is, strong enough or more than strong enough—to prove the conclusion.
- Paradox: Resolve a paradox, conflict, or mystery created by two facts that seem incompatible.
- Evaluate: Identify which unknown piece of information would most help you decide whether the main conclusion is true.
Logical Reasoning Strategies
When it comes to approaching Logical Reasoning questions, there are two extremes:
- Student A reads the passage quickly and passively (“Ok, yup, got it”) and, 10–15 seconds later, moves on to the question. (“Alright, I guess I’m looking for the conclusion of this argument. What was the conclusion again?”) They scan the passage again (“Let’s see if it says ‘therefore’ anywhere!”) but can’t immediately identify it. By the time they take a third look, they’re distracted by the feeling that they’ve spent too long on this question already. (“I’ll just go into the answer choices and see if anything sounds good.”) They proceed to the answer choices dazed and confused. They narrow it down to a few choices, don’t feel great about any of them, pick one quickly, and rush to the next question to repeat this process.
- Student B reads the passage methodically, pausing after each sentence to digest what just happened. They spend a full minute on the passage—maybe longer for the tougher ones. If it’s an argument, they understand exactly what is being argued before moving on to the question, and they’ve already identified one or several flaws in the argument. They read the question (“What is the conclusion of this argument?”) and immediately predict the answer because they understood the argument the first time around. Reading the answer choices, they find the one that matches their prediction, confidently pick it, and move on, knowing that they just got yet another question right.
Take a guess which student will do better on the LSAT.
Master these strategies to handle any question:
- Start with the passage, not the question stem
- Focus on accuracy before speed
- Attack the argument
- Predict the answer
- Understand conditional statements
- Resist the urge to diagram arguments
Practice Logical Reasoning Questions
Practicing a Logical Reasoning question takes only a few minutes. Click here to try some free sample Logical Reasoning questions.
Then head over to LSAT Demon to practice thousands more. You can also download the LSAT Demon mobile app to drill LSAT questions anytime and anywhere. Practice makes perfect!
Live Online Classes on Logical Reasoning
A Live subscription to LSAT Demon unlocks opportunities to practice Logical Reasoning questions in a group setting every day:
- LSAT Demon offers Logical Reasoning classes for all skill levels. Students are welcome to attend any classes they choose based on their skill level. Don’t be afraid to reach out of your comfort zone!
- For students seeking an extra push, LSAT Demon offers expert-level classes where the LSAT’s toughest Logical Reasoning arguments meet their maker.
Whichever study strategy you choose, consistency is key. Get started today.