If your LSAT is fast approaching, you’re inevitably wondering how to best prioritize your study efforts. A good place to start is figuring out which Logical Reasoning question types to focus on. To that end, here’s a dissection of released LSATs from June 2013 to June 2015. Let’s see exactly what the test makers have emphasized and what they’ve relegated to a back shelf. After all, if you know what your fellow test takers have faced, your own test day holds a lot less mystery. You can find further analysis on tests from October 2015 through December 2016 and those LR frequencies (and notable trends) here.
13 Question Types
To start, there are thirteen question types that we recognize, listed in rough order of historical appearance frequency:
- Must Be True
- Flaw in the Reasoning
- Justify the Conclusion
- Method of Reasoning and Method-Argument Part
- Parallel Reasoning and Parallel Flaw
- Main Point
- Resolve the Paradox
- Point at Issue and Point of Agreement
- Cannot Be True
- Evaluate the Argument
Each of those types describes a unique relationship between the stimulus and the answer choices. Each relationship dictates how to attack the problem at hand. An Assumption question is solved much differently than a Weaken or Parallel question and those distinctions are crucial to performing well on such a variable test. Without a proven strategy for addressing each, the test makers’ unpredictability becomes increasingly insurmountable.
Question Types by Appearance
So what, given the guarantee of variety, are you liable to encounter on test day? Let’s take that same list of thirteen and parse it out numerically over the two years of LSATs we’re considering. In that time frame there have been seven released LSATs consisting of 356 Logical Reasoning questions. Here’s the breakdown (by my count), reordered by appearance:
- Flaw in the Reasoning – 57 questions; 16%
- Must Be True – 51 questions (tie); 14.3%
- Strengthen – 51 questions (tie); 14.3%
- Assumption – 34 questions; 9.6%
- Parallel Reasoning and Parallel Flaw – 29 questions; 8.1%
- Weaken – 26 questions; 7.3%
- Method of Reasoning and Method-Argument Part – 24 questions (tie); 6.7%
- Main Point – 24 questions (tie); 6.7%
- Resolve the Paradox – 22 questions; 6.2%
- Justify the Conclusion – 20 questions; 5.6%
- Point at Issue and Point of Agreement – 7 questions; 2%
- Evaluate the Argument – 5 questions; 1.4%
- Cannot Be True – 3 questions; 0.8%
What Does This Mean?
While our rough estimation of question frequency isn’t far off, notable (divergent) trends emerge. For one, while Must be True questions are undeniably at the heart of the LSAT, they’re no longer the principle focus of LR. Flaw in the Reasoning questions wear the crown and deserve a proportionate degree of attention. Fortunately, students in our courses see significant time spent on Flaw questions and will find their emphasis welcome news. Secondly, Strengthen questions appear nearly twice as often as Weaken! Despite the similarities–helping and hurting are closely related, after all–your time would be better spent assisting arguments than assailing them. Finally, keep in mind that trends are merely that. Observable patterns that hold true at present, but may prove dismayingly inadequate at predicting a long-term trajectory. We plan to update this post as we include more data, as this is subject to change over time.
This is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing aspects of this LSAT. How in the world does some obscure, enigmatic committee decide your fate? What are your thoughts?