Head to Head
Last Friday, while many may have been dreaming of sugar-plums, LSAC was busy releasing December LSAT scores. We have the latest LSAT test and are pleased to present the first installment of our complete test recap. In this article, we shall break down the Logical Reasoning (LR) sections, point out their salient features, and compare them to other recent LR sections and LSAT norms.
What were the most notable features of the December LR sections?
- Increasing frequency of Point at Issue questions, a 50% increase from September and 200% increase from June.
- Another circular reasoning (begging the question) flaw question. This uncommon fallacy has appeared on two LSATs in a row.
- Rough parity between categorical/conditional reasoning and causal reasoning, with causal reasoning remaining marginally more important.
- Few Weaken questions, a return to normal after a spike in September.
- No Main Point questions.
By the Numbers
|Must Be True||4||4||1 conform to principle|
|Point at Issue/Agree||3||3||All Point at Issue|
|Method of Reasoning||1||1|
|Flaw||4||3||Same as September|
|Parallel the Reasoning||1||1|
|Parallel the Flaw||1||1|
|Cannot Be True||0||1|
|Strengthen||5||6||3 principle strengthens, 2 fill in the blanks||Nearly double September total. One phrased like a Justify question.|
|Resolve the Paradox||2||1||1 EXCEPT|
|Assumption||3||3||Same as September|
|Weaken||1||1||1/3 September total|
- 25 questions in the first LR section
- 26 questions in the second LR section
Principles of Argumentation and Fallacies
Number of Occurrences
|Error in the Use of Evidence||6|
|Circular Reasoning||1||Second LSAT in a row|
Aside from the spike in Point at Issue questions and the absence of Main Point questions, these LR sections were not markedly different from LSAT norms. However, there are still several useful lessons you can learn from this test to help prepare you for upcoming LSATS:
- Be prepared to handle challenging conditional reasoning at least once or twice. Such preparation involves knowing how and when to diagram conditional statements. Effective preparation also requires fluency with less common conditional structures. For example, on one Must Be True question, you had to recognize an implicit conflict between necessary conditions and its implication.
- There have been a couple examples of more challenging Resolve the Paradox questions. Don't blow these off.
- Make sure you are able to handle implicit conclusions, to assess arguments and grasp conclusions even if they are not explicitly stated.
- Do not overlook minor and uncommon fallacies. Circular reasoning has now appeared on two LSATs in a row. For all we know, the LSAC may put this one back out to pasture for ten years, but on the LSAT, as in life, there are no guarantees. On this subject, however, there are of course other fallacies that appear intermittently. On September, there were Tu Quoque, Ad Hominem (Source), and No True Scotsman fallacies. On this one there were Time Shift and Internal Contradiction fallacies.
- Do not rely too much on lead words to identify question types. On this test there was a Strengthen question that was phrased much like a Justify the Conclusion question. Make sure that you read and understand what the questions are asking.
- On the same subject, be certain to understand how to handle "fill-in-the-blank" questions ("Which of the following would most logically complete..."). These questions can function as Strengthen questions or as Must Be True questions. In fact, depending on the structure of the stimulus, these fill-in-the-blank tasks can be adapted to many different question types.
- As always, master causal reasoning. You will not regret time and effort spent preparing for causal arguments.
Conclusions and Next Steps
Overall, the second, 26 question LR section struck me as more challenging than the first. Remember good pacing skills, to skip time-suck questions on your first pass to return to later. No question type is inherently more difficult than others. There was a dead simple Parallel the Flaw question towards the beginning of the first LR section. There was a much harder version of the same question towards the end of the second LR section. Interestingly, both used identical Mistaken Reversal™ (affirming the consequent) flaws. The one Cannot Be True question was an immediate source of consternation among students post-test. However, I suspect that many students made the requisite effort to get this question right. Sometimes the most difficult questions are ones you don't expect to be hard. Proceed confidently, but be careful and don't let your guard down.
There is still plenty of time to prepare for February, and we encourage you to take advantage of the host of Self Study tools we offer. We also have On-Demand, In-Person, and Live Online courses or Private Tutoring options to fit your learning style, schedule, and needs. Last but not least, do not forget to register for and consult our completely free LSAT Forums to find answers, ask questions, and join in the discussion.
Wishing you great success with your law school applications and LSAT preparation and a very Happy New Year!