This thread is to offer some tips for the LSAT. If any of you have taken the LSAT, and would like to add input, go for it. Incidentally, I have been studying for the LSAT on and off for about 3/4 of a year now. Recently, I decided to confront my weaknesses head-on. I did this by cutting out (literally) every problem I have ever gotten wrong and compiling them in folders. Accordingly, I made a folder for Arguments (and in that folder are several sub-folders for Main Point, Assumption, Weaken, Strengthen, Principles, Inference, Reasoning, and Miscellaneous questions), Reading Comprehension, and Logical Games. One of the main purposes of this was to pick up on patterns that I would not otherwise have noticed. In effect, I went through each one and made notes, and if I still found an argument counterintuitive than I literally wrote it out with the answer beneath it with the idea that this would help program my subconscious mind. In what follows below, I outline some tips/strategies that I derived based on my findings:
Arguments: Main Point
1. Remember to revisit first line of passage. There may be a particular entity mentioned in the first line (and not conclusion) that could be the difference between a more general or particular (accurate) answer choice.
2. The main argument may not always be in opening sentence or conclusion (may be in middle).
1. Usually related to an assumption...the answer choice may explicitly state the assumption which, if true, strengthens the main argument.
2. The correct answer will support the conclusion.
3. Be careful with answer choices that give too much information (almost as an inference), or make an unwarrented step.
4. Look at adjectives in the conclusion. Does it strengthen the conclusion directly?
1. Pay close attention to wording.
2. The principle is the reasoning. Look especially at conclusion of argument. Which principle would most allow the conclusion to be drawn?
1. Watch for irrelevant answers that make sense but don't pertain.
2. Correct answer may be camoflaged in the answer choices...it may have very plain and non-shalont language and facts but, if plugged in,undermines the main argument.
3. Again on irrelevant answers...beware of the introduction of new adjectives and new words that are too 'particular' and not contained in the passage.
1. Assumptions are never explicitly stated, but form a base on which the argument rests. Remove it and the argument falls apart. LSAT drafters may try to trick you by putting in something that restates the main argument but don't fall into this trap.
2. Don't be tricked by what sounds sensible versus what is an actual assumption...don't fall into this trap...Go with the assumption which, if removed, cripples the argument.
3. Don't fall for the assumption that assumes more than is needed for the argument. Another booby trap.
4. Assumptions can be very plain (not literally seductive) but still work. Don't be seduced by language. Think through it!
1. Pay attention to wording that is 'particular' to the argument...the correct answer choice may indeed contain a word or idea introduced in the opening paragraph or conclusion.
2. Watch wording!
3. Beware of the tendency to opt for the general rather than specific and particular, all things considered.
4. Sometimes the passage won't include a conclusion...the conclusion is what is to be inferred from the premises in the passage. I find it helpful to think about it this way. [Passage]-->Therefore-->[Conclusion, which is forced to be true by the premises, and the correct answer choice].
1. Don't read too deep into reasoning answer choices. The right answer is usually straightforward.
2. Think basic....answer is salient (maybe even too obvious that you second guess it).
3. Don't search for something that isn't there.
4. All things considered, if you narrow it down to 2 go for the more conservative answer.
5. Watch for the introduction of new language into the answer choices. Also, watch for extreme language. Pay attention to quantifying words like only, some, all, none, always, never, etc.
6. Do not confuse an error in reasoning with an altering of substance. They may alter the substance in the answer choice but that doesn't make the reasoning flawed.
7. Beware of answers that are too vague.
1. Strive for objectivity.
2. If you can, try to formulate the answer in your mind before going to the answer choice.
1. Look at what to elimate.
a) Not relevant-not discussed in passage.
b) Wrong force or tone.
c) Doesn't answer question...maybe random or merely repeat information.
d) Something with an extra step or a missing step.
e) The answer choice is only partially right (these can be tricky).
f) Answer is in wrong direction.
2. Need to see what arguments are doing...author may be disagreeing with a position put forward in beginning of essay...it may be about solving a problem.
3. Pay attention to adjectives, which often quantify the difference between right and wrong answers: some, none, any, all, most, few, etc.
4. Pay attention to transitional words: however, therefore, hence, etc.
5. Beware of things explicitly stated in the passage. could have been word for word.
6. Inference questions show up frequently in essays. The correct answer is usually very basic and straightforward, don't read too deeply into it.
7. Watch for very restricting language.
8. An answer choice that taps into how two things differ may be very nuts and bolts and concrete but none the less distinguish between the two.
9. If there are two answer choices that are similar, there is a higher likelihood that one of those two is correct.
10. Pay attention to word choice.
11. Watch for irrelevant answers.
Some words I came across that I was unsure about
1. Antiquated_DEF=To make obsolete or old-fashioned
2. Extraneous_DEF=Inessential or unrelated to the topic or matter at hand
1. Diagramming and reading terminology is everything. Take a good amount of time to map out everything. Make deductions.
2. For Formal Logic/Conditional logic Games, form the contrapositive: If p then q...not q then not p. Make logic chains if applicable (ex: if a->b->c->d...if a-->d).
3. For Sequencing Games (before-after), form logical chains (ex: B<A<E)
4. For Linear Games, there may be people in line..(ex:_ _ _ _ _ G), plug in people where they should be. Make deductions. Limit possibilities.
5. For Complex Linear games, use blocks [BF] and antiblocks [B/F] and boxes [B_F] to define relationships. Use sufficient-necessary (ex: not G1-->G4...not G4--> G1).
6. For Grouping Games, make numerical groups and spaces for each person that can potentially go into that group. Make deductions for who cannot go in based on the constraints. If in same group I=D..not in same group then H/=B..etc. May need to draw on sufficient-necessary conditional logic.
7. For Mapping Games, map it out. The word "Adjacent" seems to show up often which means having a common border with another area.
8. For Pattern Games, use many of the same tools as in Complex Linear Games: sufficient-necessary, boxes, blocks. There may be no end in sight, there may only be pattern constraints (ex: a/=f, g=d, etc).
9. There are two additional ways to categorize LSAT logic games: as minimized or maximized variable games. Maximized variable games are those in which, after the constraints from the fact pattern have been diagrammed, there are still numerous places and scenarios where each variable can exist. These games require you to make deductions solely based on the rules within the questions. Minimized-variable games , on the other hand, have very limited and constrained positioning options.
Minimized Variable Games
->Will have a severly limiting constraint (limiting number of scenarios)..often large boxes, long sufficient-necessary chains, or extensive grouping rules. With these, you should try to map out all possibilities, and make as many deductions as you can for each scenario.
Maximized Variable Games
-> Does not offer much to diagram before the first question is reached. In these games, focus on consolidating the constraints in the game through logic tools.