LSAT Assumptions are FUNdamental (Ep. 183)

Ben Olson's headshot.

On this episode the guys go live on Instagram to answer your burning LSAT questions. But before they stream that LSAT wisdom, they dish some LSAT wisdom with another LSAT FUNdamental. This week, they go deep on assumption questions. They break down what an assumption question is, they cover the types of assumption questions, and they offer their approaches to these types of questions. Plus, there’s a reading of a hilarious survey from LSAC that attempts to assess the anxiety produced for test takers.

As always, If you like the show and you want to get more from the Thinking LSAT community, check out the links below. You can connect with other folks studying for the LSAT, and get more useful resources from Nathan and Ben.  

The Thinking LSAT Facebook Group

The LSAT Demon

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The Thinking LSAT personal statement review

8:07 – LSAT Demon Update

Each week, Ben gives y’all a behind-the-scenes look at what’s happening with the Demon, so you know all of the latest features and changes happening with the platform. This week, Ben reveals that you can now head to which will give you a preview of the latest features being tested for the Demon. For all of you who pine for the latest and greatest in your test prep—try the Demon on “future mode.”

As a reminder to all you Demon users, there’s a Slack group that makes it easy to provide feedback in the moment.  

10:41 – LSAT FUNdamentals: Assumptions

On the LSAT, you’ll encounter a number of questions that ask you to consider how a missing assumption might affect the argument in question. These are assumption questions, and they’re the hot topic for this week’s LSAT FUNdamental. Here are the takeaways:

  • An assumption is simply an unstated premise—and it supports the argument’s main conclusion. But it’s something the presenter forgets to say.
  • Assumption types: the LSAT asks about sufficient and necessary assumptions. But make sure to remember that sufficient/necessary assumptions are different from sufficient/necessary conditions (like “If A, then B” on Logic Games).
  • Sufficient means “guarantees” – so a sufficient assumption is the one that guarantees a conclusion.
  • Sufficient assumption questions are about making the argument win.
  • Necessary means “must be true” – so a necessary assumption is a missing piece that must be true in order for an argument to have a chance at winning.
  • Necessary assumption questions are about protecting the argument from loss. Which one, if false, will make the argument lose—is the analysis you need to be doing on NA questions.
  • Negating answer choices can help you identify the correct answer choices for Necessary Assumption questions. But sometimes that can be tricky.
  • Add “It is not true that:” in front of the answer choice and read it aloud—if it becomes a devastating weakener, then you know you’ve found the right answer for your NA question.

43:28 – Thinking LSAT Live on Instagram

The guys fire the show into the ether in real time by jumping on Instagram Live. They took RSVP’d questions, and questions directly from the Instagram feed. But before the inquiries began, the guys read through a number of questions from a recent LSAC anxiety survey. They speculate as to the purpose of the oft-hilarious document and agree that few people were likely to even finish because the damn thing was so long and boring.  

57:20 – Question 1

Cara writes in with a story of a friend who worked really hard on the LSAT, nabbed a 170, and then found out that his target school (in his home state) only gave scholarships to out-of-state applicants. Naturally, Cara’s like “wtf?!” And the guys have a similar reaction. Cara wants to know if this is a common thing, and if there’s a way to find out whether a school gives money to in-state students or not. The guys question the ridiculousness of this policy and recommend pushing back on the policy and trying to negotiate if you find yourself in a similar situation. As far as finding out before you apply? Read the school’s ABA 509 report, and email or call them and ask.

1:00:05 – Question 2

Rhea asks if it’s bad to have four “W” marks on your transcript. Not “WF,” she clarifies, but “W.” Nathan and Ben struggle to decode the difference, but ultimately they note that your LSAC GPA is your LSAC GPA. Admissions staffers are more likely to look at your LSAC GPA than actually digging into your transcript—especially if you’re a 75th percentile student (like you should be wherever you apply). So it’s likely they’ll never even see the “W” marks. However, the guys do suggest including an addendum to explain the withdrawals if it’s something Rhea is really worried about.

1:02:36 – Question 3

Joe’s been smashing out practice test scores in the mid 160s (great start, Joe!), and that’s with an LG score of -9, which is pretty badass. He’s planning to take the test in March, June, and July depending his scores. He wants to know if he should simply grind out LG until test day to make the biggest gains before the March test. Ben and Nathan suggest spending more time on the games until they’re perfect or near perfect, but to keep LR and RC in the mix to stay sharp leading up to the test. Maybe like an 80/20 split. A timed LG section every day with unlimited review will be a lot of work, but would definitely improve your skills over time.

1:05:41 – Pearls vs. Turds

When a piece of received “wisdom” elicits laughter from Ben and Nathan right off the bat, you know it can’t be good. Tune in to hear what piece of advice from Kaplan put another point up on the turd scoreboard this week.

1:08:35 – Question 4

Ricardo asks how many full-length tests you should do in preparation for the LSAT. Ben points out that this can be relative. If you’re scoring in the high 160s, then it’s useful to do one full test a week. But if the LSAT is more difficult for you, maybe once every other week, or once every three weeks, and to use the time in between to strengthen your skills using timed sections. Nathan jumps in and says that you should have at least 10-15 tests under your belt before sitting for the test for the first time, and that you should really do as many as you’re able to do *well,* meaning you have the time and energy to properly review and learn from them. This includes the ever-important 35-minute section, which is a great way to prepare and get experience with the test in shorter bursts.

1:12:53 – Question 5

Patrick asks the guys to detail what a thorough review of a section looks like. The guys oblige—they discuss taking a look at your answer choice and understanding why you made the decision you made, understanding why the correct answer is correct. Then they take a step back and talk about review of the passage. And finally they talk about reviewing the first sentence of the passage.

1:21:06 – Question 6

A viewer asks the guys to describe their process of working through an LR question. Nathan and Ben walk through their approach to LR step by step, starting with the first sentence of the passage.

1:27:07 – Question 7

Another viewer mentions they are about to be a teacher for a test-prep company like Kaplan. But they haven’t even gotten a LSAT score they’re satisfied with. They want to know how they can avoid being infected by the curriculum of the test prep company. Ben notes that while their methods aren’t usually the best in his opinion, each prep company does have something to offer. You’re trying to become an expert at the LSAT, so a good practice is to just question the advice and the teachings that you come across. Does a particular method make sense to you? Does it work for you? Does it work for your students? Why? Asking questions like these will only make you a better teacher.

1:30:59 – Question 8

Someone asks how to best prep for being a 1L once they get into law school. Ben recommends the book Getting to Maybe: How to Excel on Law School Exams. Nathan suggests going to the library and studying all of the old exams for each class you’re taking.