The Law School Admission Test (LSAT) consists of approximately 101 questions which are split into four sections: two sections of Logical Reasoning, one section of Logic Games, and one section of Reading Comprehension. There is also a fifth, unscored section called the Experimental Section, which will be another of the aforementioned section types.
Each section tests a different skill that purports to determine how well you will fare in law school. Continue reading to get an idea of what to expect with the questions on the LSAT.
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Each Logical Reasoning section consists of 26 questions on average. There will be two of these sections on the test, or three if your Experimental Section happens to be Logical Reasoning. Each question presents a short paragraph then asks you to identify something therein or to choose an answer choice that manipulates the argument in some way.
According to the LSAC (the organization that administers the LSAT), the purpose of the Logical Reasoning section is to “assess your ability to analyze, critically evaluate, and complete arguments.”
Some of the most common types of questions you’ll see in the LR section are:
“If the statements above are true, which of the following must also be true?”
These questions ask you to pick the answer choice that can be proven true based only on what was presented in the paragraph. Wrong answer choices tend to be too extreme to be supported by the language of the argument, or they introduce concepts and ideas that weren’t explicitly mentioned.
“The marketing consultant’s reasoning is most vulnerable to criticism on the grounds that it…?”
These questions test your ability to spot logical flaws in an argument. Some common flaws include circular reasoning, ad hominem arguments, and straw man arguments. Wrong answers either present something that would be a logical flaw but the author didn’t do it, or conversely something the author actually did, but it isn’t a flaw to do so.
“Which one of the following, if true, would most strengthen/weaken the argument?”
These questions ask you to choose the answer choice that, if true, would impact the argument in the requested way. Wrong answers generally present information that is irrelevant to the argument, or information that focuses on strengthening or weakening something the argument uses as it’s support instead of focusing on the main conclusion of the argument itself.
“The argument relies on the assumption that…?” / “The argument’s conclusion can be properly inferred if which one of the following is assumed?”
These related, but very distinct, question types ask you to choose an answer choice which, if true, either guarantees or is guaranteed by the argument’s conclusion.
For example, a Necessary Assumption question posits that if the conclusion is true, which answer choice must necessarily also be true? On the other hand, a Sufficient Assumption question asks which answer choice, if true, results in the conclusion necessarily being true as well? These two question types are notorious for their difficulty and are often the bane of a student’s LR studies.
“The pattern of reasoning in the argument above is most similar to that in which one of the following arguments?”
A Parallel question presents an argument then asks you to choose the answer choice that has the same logical structure. Many students make the mistake of picking an answer choice that concerns the same topic as the presented argument; however, this is a mistake. The task is not to choose the answer choice most similar in topic, but rather the one that uses argument components in the same way.
For example, if the original argument says “All apples are fruits. This is not a fruit, therefore is it not an apple,” a correct answer choice could say “This is not a dog. We know this because all dogs are animals and this is not an animal.” Notice that the correct answer’s components are in a different order: this doesn’t matter. As long as each component of the argument is represented and functions in the same manner, the argument is parallel.
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According to the LSAC, the Logic Games section is designed to “measure your ability to understand a structure of relationships and draw conclusions about that structure.”
For each Logic Game, you’ll be given a scenario that sets up a hypothetical situation. After the scenario, you’ll be presented with 3-6 rules that restrict how you are allowed to work the game. Finally, you are given 5-8 questions that test how well you are able to determine what could and could not be true.
Some of the most common types of games you’ll see in the Logic Games section are:
“In a foot race of five runners, B will finish before D, A will finish before both C and E, and D will finish after E.”
Sequencing games provide variables that you are tasked with putting in relative order. Though most students find this type of game the easiest, they can be quite tricky, especially when the rules are conditional (e.g.: “If C finishes before E then B finishes before C”).
“On Monday through Friday of one week, five employees–L, M, N, O, and P– will be scheduled to work. Each employee will be placed on either kitchen duty, janitorial duty, or at the cash register.”
Linear Games are the bread-and-butter of Logic Games. A solid understanding of this game type is essential for LSAT success. This game type is often made more difficult by combining it with components of other game types. For example, Linear/Grouping Hybrid games are an LSAT favorite.
“A florist is making three bouquets. Each bouquet will have at least one flower and, at most, 4 types of flowers. The available flowers are roses, lilies, violets, dahlias, and carnations.”
Grouping games tend to be the most difficult for students. The rules are more likely to be conditional and therefore impossible to definitively apply until you are given additional information in each question.
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According to the LSAC, the Reading Comprehension section “measure[s] your ability to read and understand examples of long-form, complex materials that are similar to those that you’ll encounter in law school.”
The section consists of four passages of 3-5 paragraphs, each of which is followed by 5-8 questions testing how well you understood the ideas and structure of the passage.
Some common question types in Reading Comprehension include:
“Which of the following most accurately and completely summarizes the passage?”
Most RC passages begin with a Main Point question, designed to test your general understanding of the passage as a whole. Wrong answers are either too narrow to sufficiently constitute a summary of the passage, or they slightly mischaracterize the passage.
“The author’s main purpose in mentioning Smith’s economic theories (lines 13-14) is to…?”
These questions ask why the author used certain facts or phrasings in crafting his or her argument. They test whether you are able to contextualize information in order to understand its role. Wrong answers, unsurprisingly, ascribe to the referenced material–an improper goal or relationship.
“Information in the passage most strongly supports which one of the following inferences?”
Similar to a “Must Be True” question in the Logical Reasoning section, these questions test whether you are able to deduce things that can be inferred based solely on what was presented. Attractive but wrong answer choices generally require making too many assumptions.
Although there are other question types you are sure to encounter on the LSAT, these represent several of the most commonly used. The LSAT is a remarkably consistent test, so once you have mastered the nuances of all the question types, you can be fairly certain you’ll perform well on the test.