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What do Parallel Reasoning Questions look like?

Parallel Reasoning questions provide you with a short scenario that involves a chain of reasoning, and then they ask you to select an answer choice containing a different scenario with a similar chain of reasoning. These are easily some of the most time consuming questions on the exam, since they basically require you to work through six different stimuli (the actual stimulus plus each of the five answer choices). On the bright side, there is rarely more than one of these questions in a given Logical Reasoning section, meaning you’ll probably only have to do two of them on the exam (however, you’ll also probably have to do two Parallel Flaw questions, which can be equally as time consuming).
 

A quick example

If Paulina plays goalie in the upcoming soccer match, her team will win. If her team wins, they will continue to the regional championships next month. Therefore, if Paulina plays goalie in the upcoming match, her team will play in the regional championships.

This is a particularly simple example of a parallel reasoning scenario. Here we have three basic if/then statements lined up nicely in the proper order. If A (playing goalie), then B (winning). If B (winning), then C (regional championships). So by linking our two statements together, we get the conclusion: if A (playing goalie), then C (regional championships). The correct answer will mimic this chain of reasoning: If A, then B. If B, then C. So if A, then C.

It’s worth noting two things at this point. First, the correct answer must consist of conditional reasoning similar to the original stimulus. Imagine an answer choice that reads, “Margaret is going to the movies and then to the nightclub. After the nightclub, she’s going home. So Margaret is going home after the movies.” This would be incorrect, because even though it follows the A, B, C chain we constructed above, there are no conditional statements involved. It also leads to a bizarre result that is technically correct, but certainly misleading. Second, remember that the correct answer choice may not resemble the scenario in the stimulus at all. Don’t be thrown off by that. The only thing that matters is the logic upon which it’s constructed.

 

More Resources

Check out the post LSAT Logical Reasoning Parallel Reasoning Questions for a more detailed overview of this question type and how to approach it, or visit our Logical Reasoning Library for tons of information on this section of the exam.

Below is a list of some of the common forms in which a Parallel Reasoning question can be phrased. If you’ve seen one that isn’t on this list, please leave it in a comment so we can include it.
 

  • The pattern of reasoning displayed above most closely parallels that in which one of the following arguments?
  • Which one of the following is most similar in its reasoning to the argument above?
  • The logical structure of which one of the following is most similar to that of the argument above?
  • The argument above most closely parallels the reasoning in which one of the following?


 
Parallel Reasoning questions almost always contain some form of the word “parallel” or “similar.” They also typically refer to an argument’s structure, pattern, or reasoning. These questions are similar in form to Parallel Flaw questions, except that the latter will specify that the original argument (the stimulus) contains flawed reasoning, as does the correct answer. There’s really no difference in how you treat these two question types, as long as you accurately map the logic of the passage (accurate or not) and find the matching answer choice.
 
 

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