LSAT Logical Reasoning: Timing is Everything (Almost)
It goes without saying that keeping a good pace on the Logical Reasoning section of the LSAT is primarily a function of one’s conceptual understanding of the test. By the phrase “conceptual understanding,” we don’t simply mean knowing how to approach the 13 question types that most frequently appear in that section. Rather, you should practice solving each question type with a sufficient number of problems so that your approach becomes more intuitive than deliberate. For instance, you shouldn’t have to “think” about how to solve an Assumption question, and “recall” how to use the Assumption Negation TechniqueTM. You should just do it – automatically and instinctively.
Likewise, you should not be merely “competent” when it comes to understanding conditional and causal reasoning. Everyone should know what the contrapositive is; and almost everyone can tell the difference between correlation and causation. Because these paradigms are inherent in at least half the Logical Reasoning questions on the test, it is imperative that you master both the deductive and the critical reasoning skills necessary to attack them. For instance, you should instinctively combine multiple conditional statements in a chain and examine any inconsistencies or logical gaps that may be present in it. Similarly, you should react to any causal argument with suspicion, prephrasing in a split second at least one way to weaken (or strengthen) the causal link(s) in that argument.
So, while there are no shortcuts to conquering the Logical Reasoning section of the LSAT, here are a few tricks you can deploy to improve your pace:
- 1:25 minutes per question? Bad idea. Instead, try doing the first 10 questions in 10 minutes, i.e. 1 minute per question. These questions are almost always lower in difficulty than the last 10 (there are exceptions to this, though).
- Skip and return. Do not let one or two questions eat up an undue amount of time. Because every question has equal value, if you run into a question that will take (or is taking) too much time to solve, skip it and return to it at the end of the section.
- The answer sheet is not your friend. The act of transferring each answer from your booklet to the answer sheet can eat up a minute and a half of your time per section. You may be better off transferring your answers in chunks of five, or before flipping onto the next page of your section. A word of caution: do NOT wait until the very end of the section to transfer your answers. If time runs out, you will not be allowed to enter your answers on the answer sheet, even if you answered the questions in the booklet. Trust us—proctors will be watching you to make sure you stop “bubbling” immediately after the end of the section is announced.