One of the most effective strategies for earning your best LSAT score is learning as much as you can about the test and how it operates. This includes developing a full understanding of three different types of LSAT questions: Reading Comprehension, Analytical Rreasoning, and Logical Reasoning. By learning about the three types, you can begin to develop strategies to attack the questions and achieve your best score.
Reading and comprehending complex texts is a skill law students (and lawyers) rely on every day. It’s no surprise, then, that the LSAT includes reading comprehension questions.
The format of LSAT reading comprehension questions is straightforward. First, the LSAT presents one or two texts followed by between five and eight questions. There are four sets of texts and questions on each reading comprehension section. The reading passage for three of the four sets of questions will be a single text. One of the question sets will be based on two texts that relate to each other — these are called comparative reading questions.
The texts used for reading comprehension questions are always complex non-fiction written with difficult vocabulary and syntax. Sometimes the texts relate directly to law, but other texts come from a wide range of sources on virtually any academic topic.
The questions themselves test a variety of reading skills. Some ask about information that the text states directly. Others ask about the main purpose of the text or information that the reader can infer from the text. Some questions focus on the author’s tone and use of language, while some focus on the structure of the text or how information in the text can be applied in a different context.
Succeeding on the Reading Comprehension section requires the ability to read quickly and carefully for both explicit and implicit points.
Law students and lawyers often find themselves examining sets of rules (such as those contained in statutes or contractswritten agreements) and drawing conclusions, such as what could be or must be true based on those rules. The LSAT’s analytical reasoning section tests this skill. Analytical reasoning questions require analysis of information in order to arrive at deductive conclusions. These questions are known informally as “logic games.”
Question sets on the analytical reasoning section begin with a passage that provides a description of rules or conditions. These rules or conditions describe a situation that requires ordering, grouping, or both ordering and grouping. For instance, a passage might describe rules for which students in a class can be grouped together for a project, or in which order groups will present their projects, or both.
Between five and seven individual questions follow the passage. The questions sometimes require test-takers to draw conclusions based on the initial set of rules. Other questions add to or subtract from the initial set of rules and require test-takers to draw conclusions based on those changes.
Successfully answering analytical reasoning questions requires careful reading of the passage and a solid understanding of if-then reasoning and other rules of formal logic.
Logical Reasoning questions test skills related to understanding and evaluating arguments. Unlike the Analytical Reasoning questions, Logical Reasoning questions require working with arguments in “ordinary language.”
The Logical Reasoning section presents very short passages followed by one and sometimes two questions. The arguments presented in these passages usually aren’t related to law, but law students and lawyers regularly use the skills needed to evaluate the arguments. For instance, a question might ask you to compare or contrast a pattern of reasoning with the pattern in the passage. Or a question might ask you to identify a flaw in the argument contained in the passage. Some questions even ask you to draw conclusions based on the passage’s argument.
Succeeding on the Logical Reasoning section requires the ability to recognize premises and assumptions and understand how they lead to conclusions.