In this episode, Ben and Nathan get down to the nitty gritty and break down basic strategies for every question type on LSAT Logical Reasoning. They follow with a few more listener-submitted questions about admissions and applications. Then, they give some advice on how to know if you should go to law school or not.
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.
11.12.2021 — November LSAT
12.3.2021 — January LSAT Registration Deadline
3:14 - Logical Reasoning Elevator Pitches
Ben and Nathan hash out short, simple strategies for each Logical Reasoning question type.
6:36 - Must Be True
Nathan starts out by giving an example of this question type: “If the statements above are true, which one of the following must be true?” Ben and Nathan both agree that the best strategy for a Must Be True question is to ask yourself, “Does this answer have to be true based on what I know from the passage?” The correct answer is the one that’s easiest to prove based on the facts on the page. Sometimes the answer will just restate part of the passage. Wrong answers will be different or extra.
8:25 - Strengthen
Ben and Nathan then decide to switch to answer-driven questions, starting with “Strengthen.” The example for this question type is: “Which one of the following, if true, most strengthens the argument’s overall conclusion?”
After some discussion, the guys decide on this strategy: The correct answer provides new evidence that helps the argument. “Offensive strengtheners” make forward progress toward the conclusion. “Defensive strengtheners” protect the argument against attack—especially if you’ve identified a big problem while attacking the argument.
16:55 - Weaken
Next on the list is the Weaken question type. The example given for this is: “Which one of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument?” The strategy for this question type is pretty clear because the correct answer provides new evidence that makes the conclusion suspect. Frequently, the correct answer will target a weakness you’ve already identified while attacking the argument.
21:39 - Sufficient Assumption
Moving right along to Sufficient Assumption questions, the example given is: “Which one of the following, if assumed, would justify the conclusion?” The guys both agree that the strategy for this question type boils down to bridging a gap in the argument to make the argument win. The correct answer proves the conclusion correct. Always predict it before looking at the answer choices.
28:21 - Paradox
Paradox questions come next. This question type usually states that it is a paradox in the question. An example would be: “Which one of the following, if true, most helps to explain the apparent paradox above?” The strategy for this question type calls for you to identify the mystery before going into the answers. Get curious. Ask yourself, “Why is one fact happening, even though the other (seemingly contradictory) fact is happening?” The correct answer will give you new evidence that provides a satisfying explanation for the mystery.
30:34 - Evaluate
The guys wrap up their discussion of answer-driven questions with the “Evaluate” type. An Evaluate question looks like: “Which one of the following would be most useful to know in order to evaluate the argument?” After some debate about whether this question type is an answer-driven question or not, the guys decide on the strategy to ask yourself, “Which one will help me determine whether the argument is good or bad?” Play with extremes. Pretend the answer to the question is 0 percent or 100 percent, never or always, noon or midnight. The one that makes a difference to the strength of the argument is correct.
36:45 - Supported
Jumping back into passage-driven question types, Nathan starts with an example of the “Supported” question type: “Which one of the following is most strongly supported by the information above?” The strategy for Supported questions is pretty straightforward.
Treat these questions just like Must Be Trues. The correct answer is the one that’s easiest to prove based on the facts on the page. Sometimes the answer will just restate part of the passage. Wrong answers will be different or extra.
40:07 - Conclusion
Conclusion questions are also laid out pretty simply: “Which one of the following most accurately states the conclusion drawn in the argument?” The strategy for this question type is always to identify the main conclusion before proceeding to the answer choices. Keywords like thus, so, and therefore can help, but don’t rely on them exclusively. Some of what they have said is evidence. That evidence is meant to prove one of the other things they’ve said. Ask yourself: “What are they trying to prove?”
51:45 - Flaw
Flaw questions are one of the most common types you will see on the LSAT. An example is: “Which one of the following most accurately describes a flaw in the argument?” On a Flaw question, the correct answer will describe exactly what the argument is doing wrong. Do it in two steps:
- Does this answer describe exactly what’s happening in the argument? (If you can’t prove they did it, there’s no need to go to step two.)
- Is this a problem for the argument? (Does pointing this out put the argument in a bad spot?)
54:41 - Necessary Assumption
“Which one of the following is an assumption on which the argument depends?” This is an example of a Necessary Assumption question. When approaching these questions, you should be asking yourself, “Which answer does the author have to agree with?”
57:43 - Disagree
Another passage-driven type is a Disagree question. You usually see these questions when there are two comparative passages. An example looks like: “The statements above provide the most support for holding that Mark and Simon disagree about whether…”
The best way to approach this question type is to predict the answer—figure out what the two people are arguing about. Then, focus on one person at a time as you read each answer choice:
- Does Mark agree or disagree with answer A? Or is it unclear?
- Does Simon agree or disagree with answer A? Or is it unclear?
We need a clear yes from one speaker and a clear no from the other. If they agree, or if one speaker doesn’t state an opinion, then the answer is wrong. If one person agrees with an answer and the other person disagrees with that answer, then that answer is correct.
1:01:01 - Reasoning
Moving on to the Reasoning question type, Nathan gives an example of what this would look like on a test: “Which one of the following most accurately describes the method of reasoning used in the argument?” You should treat this like a Must Be True question. The correct answer is the only one that’s provable, based on the given statement. Ask yourself: “Does this answer describe something that happened in the passage?”
1:03:11 - Reasoning (Role variant)
Similar to the Reasoning question type, we have the Role question. This looks like: “The claim that there is a crisis in journalism plays which one of the following roles in the critic’s argument?” To set yourself up for this question type, you want to start with a simple prediction. Is it the conclusion? Is it evidence for the conclusion? Or is it something else?
1:05:04 - Parallel
“Which one of the following is most closely parallel in its reasoning to the reasoning in the argument above?” This is an example of a Parallel question. For this question type, you want to start with a rough test of good vs. bad. If the argument is obviously flawed, the correct answer will be flawed in the same way. If the argument is valid, the correct answer will also be valid. Eliminate wrong answers as soon as they deviate from the given argument—you shouldn’t need to read every one of them all the way through to know they’re wrong.
1:09:22 - Parallel (Flaw variant)
To wrap up the passage-driven question types, we have the Parallel Flaw question. This looks a little different from Parallel, but should be approached similarly. An example of this would be: “Which one of the following exhibits flawed reasoning most similar to the flawed reasoning above?” The best way to approach this question type is to not look at the answers until you’ve spotted the flaw. Make a clear objection, then find the answer that’s susceptible to the same objection.
1:12:28 - Resume Bullet Points
Listener Rachel wants to know if she should add a dance performance she completed in high school to her resume under the “awards” section.
Nathan lets Rachel know that putting this on her resume is a feather in her cap. It’s fine to write her diversity statement about it as well, but she should do this only if she is still in undergrad. Anyone who is well out of undergrad should focus on more recent experiences and not discuss things that happened in high school.
1:19:19 - Should I Go to Law School?
Listener Al has fun studying for the LSAT and isn’t really ecstatic about his current job, but he doesn’t think he wants to be a lawyer. Al is wondering whether he should go to law school or just drop the LSAT studying once and for all.
Ben lets Al know that the LSAT can lead you into one of three career paths. It can lead you to law school and becoming an attorney, to working in LSAT preparation, or to working in an admissions office. Law touches a lot of areas of the world, so Al might be able to find something that is interesting to him. Nathan doesn’t want Al to do something that doesn’t interest him. If he really loves the LSAT and doesn’t want to be a lawyer, he should look into becoming an LSAT tutor with the Demon.