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Transitional Language on the LSAT

The LSAT is all about critical reading and logic. Particularly in the Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension sections, you’ll be asked to quickly analyze complex texts. A great skill to develop as you prepare for the LSAT is reading for structure rather than detail. For more on that, I’d recommend taking a look at the posts on How to Read LSAT Passages Faster and LSAT Reading Comprehension: The Basics.

 

What is Transitional Language?

A key part of reading for structure is identifying transitional language. Transitional language is words or phrases that denote a shift from one stage of an argument or topic to the next. For example, I started this sentence with a transitional phrase that informs the reader that I am now providing an illustration of the point I made in the previous sentence. Furthermore, I started this sentence with a transitional word that lets you know I’m elaborating on the same point I just made. In other words, transitional language helps a reader by providing clues as to what’s coming next.

 

Make Flashcards!

I highly recommend checking out this list of Common Transitional Words and Phrases to review this type of language. Even though most of you will be familiar with everything or nearly everything on the list, you should be able to succinctly state what each word or phrase indicates. That’s more challenging than it sounds.

To develop that skill, make a flashcard for each of the words or phrases on the list. Write the word or phrase on one side, and the short description of what it does on the other side. Then, memorize as many as you can 🙂 Do you need to know every single one of them? Nope! But being comfortable with most of them will speed up your reading more than you might expect.

 

They Don’t Love You Like I Love You.

Maps are not just the subject of one of the best songs of the past 20 years; they are also the glorious result of interpreting transitional language in a passage. How?

A keen eye for transitional language will help you read faster and more effectively. A passage will always have a purpose: arguing a point, educating an audience, analyzing an idea, etc… To achieve that purpose, the passage will follow a path from its opening to its conclusion. However, in complex texts on unfamiliar topics, the path may be circuitous and difficult to follow. Focusing on transitional language is like mapping the route to the conclusion so that you can later return and explore certain points along the way.

So, make your flashcards, learn your transition words and phrases, map your passages, and destroy LSAT reading forever!
 
 

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