The November LSAT is just around the corner — once this weekend bends back around into another week, it’ll officially be test day. And that, of course means that our in-house prognosticator (i.e., me) must emerge from his dark and dank LSAT bunker, dust off a discount-bin, ersatz crystal ball, and make some predictions about what will be on the November exam.
Now, my spotty track record at predicting what exactly will be on these exams certainly isn’t strong evidence that I have any special powers of prediction with this exam. But none of you can definitively disprove that I have special powers of prediction, either. So I think it’s safe to assume that me and my crystal ball have at least some predictive power, and that you can trust that what I say about the November LSAT, and basically anything else, is probably true.
I even bought a deck of LSAT tarot cards on eBay to help reinforce this predictive power. After the first shuffle I pulled the Hierophant, the Lichen, the Iguanodon, and the Unrepresentative Survey — but I have no earthly idea what any of those mean. But anyway, gather round my it-would-be-technically-incorrect-to-call-it-a-crystal-ball, November test takers. Let’s talk about what’s likely to appear on this test.
The first thing this nerd sees when he looks into a “crystal” ball are stats and spreadsheets and charts. Based on these visions, here’s how I think the Logical Reasoning questions will be distributed on the November exam, compared to the average frequency of those questions types on the published tests that have appeared since June 2017.
If you don’t feel like doing the math, I’m predicting there will be 51 questions overall. I think Strengthen questions will be the most common, but I’m making a fairly conservative guess there — Strengthen questions are the most common question type on most recent exams. I’ll go out on a slight limb and say that five of those nine Strengthen questions will be of the Strengthen principle variety. You know, the one’s that say, “Which one of the following principles, if true, most help to justify the above reasoning?” Or, “The reasoning above most closely conforms to which one of the following principles?” They say “following principles” in the prompt, basically. These have been a staple of recent exams, showing up five times on September 2019, three times on June 2019 and November 2018, four times on September 2018, and five times on June 2018. I hope I’m right on this prediction; Strengthen Principle questions are among the more anticipatable questions on the LSAT. Just anticipate a principle that says, more or less, “If we have the premise of the argument in this question, then we can reach the conclusion of the argument” and watch the points steadily accrue.
I also have an itch that there’s going to be a lot of conditional reasoning on this exam — at least one Must Be True question that involves making some sort of transitive deduction, at least one diagrammable Parallel and Parallel Flaw question, a couple diagrammable Sufficient questions, and maybe even a Flaw question in which the argument confuses a necessary for a sufficient question. My guess is that there may be as many as twelve questions that conditional reasoning in some way. So it wouldn’t hurt to brush up on the words and phrases that denote conditional statements, and get some practice with commonly diagrammable questions, like Must Be True, Parallel, and Sufficient questions.
You don’t exactly have to be clairvoyant to accurately predict that the logical fallacies will be super important on the two Logical Reasoning sections. Over half of the questions on this exam are easier with the mastery of the common fallacies. I think they’re going to keep it fairly classic with the fallacies on this exam — a lot of causation fallacies, exclusivity fallacies, and equivocation fallacies. To spot those, just check the conclusions of the argument. If that conclusion uses causal language, the argument is probably inferring causation from correlation. If the language is super strong (pay special attention to words like “only,” “entirely,” “solely,” “purely,” and “no”), the argument is probably committing the exclusivity fallacy and overlooking some important options, factors, or considerations. And if the argument introduces something new in the conclusion, the argument is probably guilty of equivocation — the act of assuming that something in the premises is the same as that new thing in the conclusion.
I also think one of the rarer fallacies will appear on this test. Perhaps an instance of circular reasoning? After the circle-game-that-wasn’t-really-a-circle-game on the September test sent everyone into a tizzy, maybe the test writers want to see if any allusion to a circle will freak people out? I also have a feeling that there’s going to be a tricky question with an argument that sounds like it’s committing the ad hominem fallacy, but doesn’t actually commit that fallacy (question 22 in section 3 of the June 2018 exam provides an example of this). If I’m wrong about this one, don’t get too mad at me though. Your issue is with my claim, and I am merely the source of that claim, and not the claim itself.
Is it going to be a difficult or easy set of Logical Reasoning sections? That’s tough to say, because there’s rarely any consensus on whether an LR section is tough or easy or in between. LR sections are roughly the same in their distribution of easy, medium, and tough questions. People tend to have different subjective experiences with the same section based on what kinds of questions and concepts appear most frequently. I might feel great on conditional statements but shaky on necessary assumptions. You might feel the opposite. Therefore, a section that had a ton of questions that featured conditional reasoning, but few Necessary questions, might feel easier for me than you.
After the Logic Games section in the September 2019 exam annoyed everyone, I think the Logic Games section is going to be much, much more straightforward. That’s not to say you should slack off on games in this last week; on the contrary, the ability to quickly do games is largely based on muscle-memory, and you don’t want your brain-muscles to atrophy in this last week. But, I don’t foresee any games as angst-producing as that flower game from September.
Instead, I think there’s going to be a super basic ordering game to kick things off. I think game two will be a little bit more difficult — I’m envisioning an unstable grouping game with three groups of indeterminate size. I think game three will be the most difficult of the bunch — I think there’s going to be a super complicated tiered ordering game. Probably one of those games where you have to keep track of the order of two separate variable sets. And I’m seeing game four as yet another underbooked stable grouping game, which appear to have a permanent seat at the Logic Games table on recent exams.
Above all else, I feel confident that making scenarios on these games will be an extremely helpful tool to utilize. Maybe you won’t need to make scenarios on the hypothetically super basic ordering game, but I’m quite confident that at least three of the games on this exam will be made much, much easier with a solid set of scenarios. I’m willing to say this because of the thirty-two games since the June 2017 exam, I think only the first game (another basic ordering game) on the June 2018 exam was easier without scenarios than with them.
This is the part of the predictions post I’ve been dreading; please don’t take your disappointment out on me or this discount-bin cystal ball. I’m picturing a brutally tough Reading Comprehension section. Most recent exams have featured a pretty tough Reading Comp section. In the last few years of published tests, only September 2019 stands out as having a relatively mild RC section. So … prepare for the worst on this section.
That said, the topics have standardized over the last few years. Since June 2018, pretty much every Reading Comp section has had featured passages about some historical group (usually — and apparently because whoever compiles this section is a historiographic hipster — some obscure, overlooked ancient civilization), a passage about the arts (usually — and apparently because whoever compiles this section is an older snob who looks down upon the philistines taking this test — a somewhat confusing passage about the high arts), a passage about science (usually — and apparently because whoever compiles this section does not respect your B.A. — a complex discussion of biology or the environment or astrophysics), and a passage about the law (usually — and apparently because whoever compiles this section resents you from not already completing law school — a passage that makes at least occasional use of legal jargon). Given that, I’m going to predict that you’ll get a passage about an overlooked historical group, a passage about the high arts, a passage about biology or the environment or astrophysics, and a passage about a specific legal field. I’m not sure what you might do with this information, but there you go.
That said, you don’t need to fret about Reading Comp, even if it is difficult or about obscure topics. Remember to focus on the structure of the arguments being made, and jot down the function of each paragraph on your scratch paper. Remember to underline the words that express the author’s opinion. Remember to highlight important details likely to appear in the questions, like cause and effect relationships, examples, questions and their answers, and categorical items that are listed out. If you nail these things, it really doesn’t matter what the passages are about — you’re going to have a good shot at the questions.
Finally, let me take off my prognosticator hat for just a moment, and remind you not to take these predictions too seriously. I pay very close attention to this test, but my track record of predictions is … OK at best. Elsewhere, I’m catastrophically wrong about all sorts of things (until I was corrected, I literally thought “cuffing season” referred to those cuffed fisherman beanies people wear in the winter).
Plus, and most importantly, the LSAT always tests the same general concepts and question types. Envision all the concepts as a big sphere of knowledge. Some tests might feature certain concepts within that sphere more prominently and others less. This test might pull out more conditional reasoning and difficult Reading Comprehension passages from that sphere — perhaps making it a bit more ovoid in shape — but the test is pulling from the same sphere of concepts. As long as you feel comfortable with all the concepts within that sphere, there will be no surprises on this test, whatever shape it takes.
While we have no control over what’s on the LSAT, you can control how prepared you are for the LSAT. Whether it be in an in-person class, live online class, private tutoring, or even an on-demand online course, prepping for the LSAT is a given for any exam date. Not sure where to start? Schedule a free consult with our Academic Managers to help walk you through your options!