There’s no doubt that vocabulary on the LSAT can be very challenging. On the LSAT, you’ll find some words that are not only difficult, but will reappear time after time. Also, some of these words are tricky not just because they’re high-level, but because their meaning on the LSAT is not exactly how we use it in everyday talk. With the top 20 tricky LSAT words below, you can be prepared for test day!
Seemingly Simple Tricky LSAT Words
- Some (and other quantity indicator words)
- At Least
- The Only
- Perhaps (and other qualifiers)
Words like “some” are usually understood to mean 2-3 of anything. But on the LSAT, it specifically means “at least one.” Take a look at this example. Imagine on the test, you read:
“Some of the tests were misprinted.” You should know that, on the LSAT, this means “at least one of the tests was misprinted.” When dealing with the logical reasoning section, be sure to know this particular meaning of “some,” and know that its logical opposite is “none.” The same goes for other quantity indicators like “most, all, few” etc.
The word “follows” can often be found in the logical reasoning section. You’ll see it in questions like, “Which one of the following choices follows logically from the passage?”
Normally, “follows” means “comes after” or “results.” But when we’re dealing with logic on the LSAT, we should look at this word more strictly. Especially on must be true questions, you’ll be checking to see if you can logically conclude an idea based on connecting logical statements.
Often on must be true questions, the conclusion that “follows” could be found by connecting conditional statements. Or, it’s the contrapositive of the original statements.
On the LSAT, especially within the logic games section, be on the lookout for the phrase “at least.” In grouping games, for example, you might find a sentence like, “At least two people work in the purple group.” If you read that too quickly, you might read it simply as, “Two people work in the purple group.” Of course, this can lead to plenty of trouble when you reach a question that asks, “What is the maximum number of people who can work in the purple group?” At first you might think to yourself, “Two is the obvious answer, why are they asking about a maximum?” Then, late in the game, you’ll realize that you skipped over that dreaded phrase “at least!”
Remember that “at least” means at that level or beyond.
The same trickiness applies to phrases like “at least as early,” or “at least as fast as.” In the first sentence, this leaves the possibility that a game piece can be exactly as early as the other. Or, it can be later, but not earlier.
To infer is to “deduce or conclude (information) from evidence and reasoning rather than from explicit statements.” This is another way of asking you to find conclusions (usually) from connected conditional statements or contrapositives.
Remember that “undermines” means “weakens.” This is important when looking out for weaken questions.
“The only” is an extremely tricky phrase on the LSAT. It can so easily be confused with “only,” which tells you that something is a necessary condition. However, “the only” indicates sufficient conditions. Because it’s so similar, it’s very important to watch out for it, and pay attention to the context of the sentence.
For example, “The only qualified applicants have taken this test.” This can be diagrammed as Qualified –> Test.
Words like “perhaps,” and other qualifier words like “typically,” “often,” and “somewhat” can be very tricky on the logical reasoning section.
Generally Challenging Tricky LSAT Words
The following vocabulary words can be found in the logical reasoning section or in reading passages.
- Alleviate – verb – to make better
- Plurality – noun – the number of votes cast for a candidate who receives more than any other but does not receive an absolute majority
- Recapitulate – to summarize and give the main points of something(Not to be confused with “capitulate,” a verb that means to surrender or yield)
- Per Capita – adv and adj – for each person
- Catalyst – noun something that causes an important event to happen
- Rhetoric – noun – using language effectively to please or persuade
- Psychoactive – adj. affecting the mind or mood or other mental processes
- Paradigm – noun – a theory or a group of ideas about how something should be done, made, or thought about
- Invariably – adj – always
- Categorical – adj – absolute, definite, unconditional
- Implicitly – adj – without ever expressing so clearly
- Admonish– verb- to warn or reprimand someone firmly.
- Framework– noun- a basic structure underlying a system, concept, or text
“We must be able to alleviate economic injustice to those who have been wronged.
“In the end, the author recapitulates his points of the last three chapters.”
“Per capita earnings in the city of Jacksonville went down this year.”
“The economic collapse was the catalyst for worldwide political unrest.”
“Inflammatory rhetoric is dangerous to civility in the political atmosphere.”
“The recent study on psychoactive drugs was approved by 8 out of 10 doctors at the Institute for Mental Health.”
“Dr. Carmen’s book was so influential and radical that it has resulted in a complete shift in our paradigm.”
“He invariably goes out for coffee after work on Tuesdays.”
“My disapproval of his methods is categorical.”
“I categorically deny taking her money.”
“He implicitly expressed his interest in the deal by nodding silently.”
“Some students implicitly indicate disapproval of a professor by not offering praise or even constructive criticism.”
“After breaking several employee rules, Mrs. Stanford was admonished by her peers and her supervisor.”
“We have to decide how our organization will use its framework for change.”
Some vocabulary definitions are from www.easydefine.com, Google, and the Merriam-Webster dictionary
With this guide and lessons from Magoosh LSAT Prep, you should be well on your way to a top LSAT score!