Thou Shalt Pay Attention to the Type of LSAT Question

question-mark-1238622No matter what type of question you're looking at on the LSAT Logical Reasoning section, it's critical that you argue with what you're reading. But that's only half the battle. Once you've argued with the speaker, and made sure you've comprehended what they're saying, it's critical to figure out what kind of question you're dealing with. There's no point in looking at the answers until you know what you're looking for. This Commandment applies to all sections, but particularly to the Logical Reasoning. I'm shocked when a student says, "I didn't pick A because it seemed too strongly worded," on a Sufficient Assumption question. Sufficient Assumption questions love strongly stated answers! Stop being so formulaic, forget everything you learned from whatever gimmicky LSAT book you read before this, and pay attention to what the question is asking. You are smart enough to figure this out. Read every word on the page, figure out what they are asking, and answer the question. If you're not open to the possibility that you're smart enough to do this, then you really shouldn't even attempt it. I believe in you.

Here are examples of what various "question stem" wordings sound like for any given type of question.

FLAW:

-- Which one of the following most accurately describes a way in which the reasoning above is questionable? -- The reasoning in the argument is flawed because the argument -- Which one of the following most accurately describes a flaw in the reasoning above?

WEAKEN:

-- Which of the following, if shown to be a realistic possibility, would undermine the argument? -- Which one of the following, as potential challenges, most seriously calls into question evidence offered in support of the conclusion above? -- Which one of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the support for the arguments conclusion?

STRENGTHEN:

-- Each of the following supports the arguments reasoning EXCEPT: -- Which of the following, if assumed, most helps to justify the reasoning above? -- Which one of the following, if true, most strengthens the columnist’s reasoning?

SUFFICIENT ASSUMPTION:

-- Which one of the following, if assumed, would allow the conclusion above to be properly drawn? -- The conclusion drawn follows logically from the premises if which of the following is assumed? -- The conclusion is properly inferred if which one of the following is assumed?

NECESSARY ASSUMPTION:

-- Which one of the following is an assumption on which the argument depends? -- The argument makes which one of the following assumptions -- Which one of the following is an assumption required by the argument?

MUST BE TRUE:

-- Which one of the following must be true if the statements above are correct? -- The above statements, if true, most strongly support which one of the following? -- Which of the following is most strongly supported by the information above?

MAIN CONCLUSION:

-- Which one of the following most accurately expresses the arguments conclusion? -- Of the following, which one most accurately expresses the conclusion drawn above?

AGREE/DISAGREE:

-- “Robert” and “Sarah” have committed to disagreeing on which of the following? -- “Beth’s” and “Carmen’s” statements provide the most support for the claim that they would disagree about whether -- The dialogue most strongly supports the claim that “Chris” and “Joe” disagree about which one of the following?

EXPLANATION:

-- Which one of the following, if true, contributes most to an explanation of the puzzling situation described above? -- Which of the following, if true, most helps to resolve the apparent discrepancy above? -- Which one of the following, if true, contributes to a resolution of the apparent paradox?

IDENTIFYING A GUIDING PRINCIPLE:

-- Which one of the following principles best justifies the above actions? -- Which one of the following principles is best illustrated by the information above? -- The reasoning above conforms most closely to which one of the following propositions?

APPLYING A PRINCIPLE GIVEN:

-- Which one of the following would be a proper application of the principle stated above? -- Of the following, which one conforms most closely to the principle illustrated by the situation described above? -- Which one of the following best illustrates the proposition above?

COMPLETE THE ARGUMENT:

-- Which one of the following most logically completes the argument? -- The conclusion of the argument above is most strongly supported if which one of the following completes the argument? -- Which one of the following most reasonable completes the argument?

STRATEGY OF ARGUMENTATION:

-- Which one of the following most accurately describes the method of reasoning used in the argument? -- “Which of the following most accurately describes the role played in the Philosopher’s argument by the claim that “…” -- The editorial undermines the conclusion of the causal argument by

MATCHING PATTERN:

-- Which one of the following arguments is most similar to the reasoning in the argument above? -- The reasoning in the argument above is most paralleled by the argument that there is -- In which one of the following is the pattern of reasoning most similar to that in the Doctor’s argument?

MATCHING FLAW:

-- Which one of the following arguments exhibits flawed reasoning most similar to that exhibited by the argument above? -- Which one of the following exhibits both of the logical flaws exhibited in the arguments above? -- The flawed pattern of reasoning in which of the following most closely resembles the flawed pattern of reasoning in the actor’s argument?

This post is excerpted from "Introducing the LSAT” (available on Amazon). Please drop me a line in the comments, or at nathan@foxlsat.com.

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