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What do Principle Questions look like? (Part 1 of 2)

There are two variations on Principle questions in the LSAT Logical Reasoning section. The first type presents you with a scenario and asks you to identify a principle that justifies the decision made in the scenario. The second type presents you with a principle and asks you to select a scenario in which that principle is applied most accurately. This post pertains to the first type of Principle question.
 

Let’s look at an example

Jimmy receives a weekly allowance of $20 from his parents in exchange for mowing the lawn, taking out the trash, and feeding the dog. This summer, Jimmy is going to spend a month at a camp in the mountains, so he will not be able to perform his regular chores during that period. His parents should still pay him his allowance for the month that he’s at camp.

This scenario is every kid’s dream come true. He doesn’t have to do any work, but he still gets paid. What could the justification be for this decision? Well, maybe Jimmy’s parents are thinking of his allowance like a salary. In that case, his time at camp is like paid vacation. The principle might sound something like, “Rather than an hourly wage or a payment for services rendered, an allowance is a weekly payment to a child in recognition of that child’s ongoing efforts to help around the house.”

So, in this type of Principle question, we are trying to locate an answer choice that provides a rational reason for the behavior described in the stimulus. The key to identifying these is to remember that the stimulus will be a scenario, whereas the answer choices will contain the principles.

 

More Resources

Check out the post LSAT Logical Reasoning Principle 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 this type of Principle 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.
 

  • Which one of the following principles, if valid, most helps to justify the decision by [Jimmy’s parents to pay him his allowance while he’s away at camp]?
  • The situation as described above most closely conforms to which one of the following principles?
  • The argument most closely conforms to which one of the following generalizations?
  • Which one of the following general propositions, if valid, most supports the argument above?


 
Principle questions (both types) will almost always feature language like “principle,” “generalization,” or “proposition.” They also feature some elements of Parallel Reasoning language, since we’re looking for an answer choice that describes the logic used in the stimulus. It’s usually pretty easy to spot these questions, but they can range in both difficulty and number. That means you may see only one per section, or you may see three spread out within a single section.
 
 

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