Top Ten Confusing Phrases on the LSAT

Top Ten Confusing Phrases on the LSAT
So much of doing well on the LSAT will depend on your ability to deal with confusing phrases and difficult vocabulary. You should prepare for these phrases, but also be prepared for those you’ll see that you don’t know! To help you get ready for some of what you’ll have to deal with, check out the top ten confusing phrases on the LSAT!

Confusing Phrases on the LSAT: Logic Games

Many of the confusing phrases on the LSAT will be found on the logic games section. Seemingly simple scenarios can be made much more complicated by making the wording more difficult. If you’re aware of what these phrases mean, you can relax and focus on the task at hand.

1. “Complete and Accurate List”
This phrase appears often! Usually, you’ll be asked to apply a rule, and find all the pieces that could be placed in a certain spot without breaking any rules. The most important thing to remember is that the list must be “complete.” Don’t just find a one or two of the pieces that can be placed in a spot. Find all of them.

2. “Completely Determined” or “Completely Resolved”

If you’re new to the LSAT, this phrase might be confusing. A question on the logic games section might ask you, “The pieces are completely determined if which of the following rules is true?” Or, “The schedule is completely resolved if what is true?”

All they’re saying is, “You’ll know exactly where all of the other pieces have to go if what extra rule is true?” You’ll find that if you find the right answer, all of the other pieces will go into a place where they cannot move without breaking a rule.

3. “Which one of the following, if substituted for the restriction that if X, then Y, would have the same effect in determining…”

Questions like these will arise, 9/10 times, as the last question of a game. They are usually hard to read by themselves, and they ask you to perform a task that’s difficult in general. What you’ll have to do is replace a rule. Then, you’ll see if that replacement has the same results as the original rule.

These questions can be potential time wasters. If you think it would be too hard to complete it, you might want to skip ahead to another game. Then, if you have time, return to that question later.

4. “If both X and Y run in the track meet, then how many of the runners are there any one of whom could be the one who runs in the first race?”

Isn’t this a long-winded question? You’ll find very long expressions of a simple concept very often on the LSAT. All this is asking is, “If X and Y run, how many people could go first?” Wasn’t that a lot easier? This will test how well you handle hypothetical situations. Remember to follow all the rules!

5. “Y must occur on the day after the day on which X occurs”

This is another long-winded way of saying “Y is always right after X.” When you see phrases like these on the logic games, remember “blocks.” Wherever you see X, you’ll see Y on the next day. So they create a “block” that always moves together on your gameboard.

Also remember what this implies. This means that Y can never go on the first day. Why? Because X must always be before it!

6. “X must go before or at the same time as Y”

The tricky and confusing part of this phrase is very common on the games section. It seems to trip students up pretty often. Why? For a few reasons. First, it’s easy to read over the second part–“or at the same time as…” You might get to the first part and hastily write the rule as “X goes before Y.” But of course, they’re going to test you on that. They’ll see whether you wrote this rule down correctly. So, always read carefully.

Next, let’s analyze what this means. If X can occur at the same time as Y, or before it, this really means that X can’t go after Y. As long as you diagram this clearly and remember this rule at all times, you’ll be okay! Just make it clear to yourself all the places that X could possibly go.

Confusing Phrases on Logical Reasoning and/or Reading Comprehension

Very often, you’ll find that questions themselves are some of the most confusing phrases on the LSAT. The test-writers can rewrite one simple phrase in a hundred ways. So sometimes, you might have trouble understanding what your task really is. Take a look at some of these confusing phrases so you’re prepared.

7. “The conclusion drawn follows logically from the premises if which one of the following is assumed?”

At its most basic level, this means “which premise below will make the conclusion valid?” There will be a gap in the argument’s logic. They must have made a conclusion that didn’t link up directly with the premises. All you have to do is fill in the argument with the correct answer choice, and you should be able to conclude the conclusion.

Special note: Keep in mind that the premise might be phrased as the contrapositive! This can potentially trip you up.

8. “Which one of the following, as potential challenges, most seriously calls into question evidence offered in support of the conclusion above?”

This is a complicated way of saying, “Which premise weakens the argument?” It’s a weaken question.

9. “X’s reasoning is questionable in that it fails to consider the possibility that…”

This is another complicated way of asking, “Why is this argument flawed?”

Confusing Phrases Found Anywhere

10. “Each of the following could be true except”

Finally, note that on any LSAT section, you’ll find the dreaded word, “except“. It is so easily overlooked! Moral of the story is–read carefully and thoughtfully, and you’ll be able to handle any of the confusing phrases on the LSAT!

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  • Deborah

    Deborah earned her undergraduate degree from Brown University in 2010 and MBA from Salve Regina University. She scored in the 96th percentile on the LSAT and loves finding better ways to understand logic and solid arguments. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys volunteering, reading adventure fiction, and adding tech skills to her toolbox.

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