Which LSAT Concepts to Nail Down Before School Starts Back Up

BPPlaura-lsat-blog-2018-summer-classes

The start of the school year is coming up, and that means one very important thing: everyone is going to be asking you what you did all summer.

If you’re like me, and freak out in situations where you have to come up with your own answer to questions rather than picking the correct one out of five, I have great news for you. Studying for the LSAT can be editorialized into a perfect response to any inquiry in regards to your summer.

Instead of saying “I studied for the LSAT,” which is totally a sufficient response, you could try saying:

“I prepared for my legal career by engaging in continuous self-performance reviews.”

“I familiarized myself with brand-new digital software.” (cough, digital LSAT, cough)

“I encountered complex situations, with rules, that I used scenarios to navigate.”

Now you may be wondering: “what the heck should I actually be doing with the LSAT this summer?!”

That’s a great question. Especially for rising college seniors, summer is a great time to take advantage of. After all, you can make the LSAT your main priority! There are a few major concepts on the LSAT that take quite a bit of time to master. Once you master those concepts, you can practice them regularly to ensure you don’t forget them. Mastering these concepts will increase your score, and they will help with other concepts that will further increase your score. So, what are these “few major concepts” that you should focus on? Well, let’s pick an important one from each section of the test:

1. Logic Games: Scenarios

When going through a logic game, there will often be one rule that makes it so the game can only play out in a few different ways. In those situation, you want to make what we call “scenarios.” For instance, the rules could be set up in such a way that a certain spot can one host only one of two variables — that’s a perfect set up to create two scenarios!

Scenarios will help you with “must be true” questions (if an answer choice doesn’t need to be true in one scenario, it’s wrong), “could be true” questions (if an answer choice could work in one scenario, it’s right), and rule substitution questions (an answer choice cannot make something that was impossible in all your scenarios possible, and it cannot make something that was possible in one scenario impossible). Scenarios can also help you get a head start on the “conditional” questions — those questions (which normally start with the word “If”) that add a new rule to the game. Those new rules usually work in just one or two of your scenarios, and knowing which scenario they work in often answers the question for you.

Getting comfortable with creating scenarios takes practice. Doing a lot of logic games and creating scenarios over and over again is one of the best (if not the best) things you can do for your logic games (and, as a result, overall) score on the LSAT.

2. Reading Comprehension: Author’s Attitude

If you’re reading the passages in RC actively, you should be getting some sort of “vibe” from the author. Is she a nerd professor spouting out information? Is she a passionate activist who has a lot of opinions about an idea? This “vibe” can be referred to as the “author’s attitude.”

It may seem a little silly — duh, I know whether someone’s happy about something or mad about it. Well … on the LSAT, because the passages may seem a bit boring at first, it’s important to really make sure that you’re tuning into key words in the passage. But, they may be hidden if you’re not actively searching! These key words tell you how the author feels about what they’re writing about. Most authors are going to be giving you some sort of an attitude in these passages. I hope that from this post, you can tell that my attitude on the LSAT is positive; I’m a total nerd advocate for the super fun activity of LSAT studying during the summer!

Picking up on the author’s attitude requires picking up on key words. Words like “clearly” can indicate that the author thinks whichever statement follows is totally true. Words like “however” can indicate a shift — that the author is about to disagree with what was previously stated. It’s really important to practice reading passages for over and over again and tune into these key words.

3. Logical Reasoning: Common Fallacies

Common fallacies sound scary. But thankfully, you can spend the rest of the summer studying them! Common fallacies can appear in all different question types. It’s important to keep a few common fallacies that appear on different question types in mind when going through the test. Here are a few fallacies to brush up on over the summer:

Exclusivity Fallacy:

The exclusivity fallacy is a very common flaw on the LSAT. Oftentimes, a speaker will make extreme jumps in their statements in order to prove their point. Whenever you see the word “only” in the conclusion of an argument, you should be skeptical of whether or not that is, indeed, the only option.

Causation Fallacy:

Speakers on the LSAT are overconfident. A causal relationship with conclude that their problems are “clearly” caused by whatever they think it’s caused by.

Let’s say a hypochondriac thinks that she’s getting a cold. She notices her co-worker has been sniffling and has watery eyes. She immediately blames her oncoming cold on her co-worker. In other words, she’s saying the co-worker is causing her to develop a cold.

Is that blame warranted? Perhaps… but let’s defend the poor, sniffly guy for a second. It could also be polar vortex season and the hypochondriac forgot to wear her scarf yesterday. Couldn’t the cold weather have caused her to get sick? Yes, it could have!

It’s generally a great idea to be very skeptical of any causal claims on the LSAT. If a speaker is concluding that one thing caused another.

Equivocation Fallacy:

Oftentimes, the LSAT will make an unwarranted jump from one topic to another. On the LSAT, make sure that you are asking yourself whether or not the conclusion is talking about the same thing that the premises are talking about. If it isn’t, it may be committing a cardinal fallacy: the equivocation fallacy.

Part to Whole Fallacy:

Premises on the LSAT will often refer to a certain attribute that individual things have. A common fallacy is a conclusion that says that all of those individual components combined have that same attribute.

For example, 46-story apartment buildings in New York City are gigantic! So, does that mean each individual apartment unit is also gigantic?! No! Of course not! It’s NYC; individual unit is closet sized. Los Angeles is a sunny city. Does that mean each day in LA is sunny? Uh, from my experience going to LA to escape the NYC winter, only to find myself in a week-long rain storm…. I can tell you that definitely isn’t true.

Just because each individual part has a certain attribute, doesn’t mean that it will continue to have that attribute when combined.

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Whew, that was a lot of things to review. The good news is, you have nothing but time and sunshine in the summer! We get it, school can be rough! Classes, internships, break-ups … life can be tough! Studying the more difficult LSAT concepts now will help save you time later on! Nailing down these concepts now will be key for time-efficient studying during the semester.

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