This post is a follow up in which I posed the question ‘Can Prepping for Entrance Exams Make Ya Smarter? According to a recent study conducted at The University of California at Berkeley, this is certainly true with the LSAT. Given this finding, it would be interesting to explore how the LSAT is structured, the types of questions asked and how a good round or two of preparation might make one’s brains sharper.
The Bones of the LSAT
The LSAT consists of 5 35-minute sections. Four are scored and one is experimental.
Two of those sections contain what are called logical reasoning questions (similar to critical reasoning questions on the GMAT and often referred to as ‘arguments’). In this section, each question consists of a stimulus, a question and a set of five answer choices. The stimulus is usually around a couple of hundred words long and is an argument or a set of facts. The questions come in a variety of different flavors including but not limited to ‘strengthening’, ‘weakening’, ‘identify an assumption,’ and ‘resolving the paradox’ in the author’s argument.
To do well at these questions, one must learn to understand what the chain of reasoning is in the stimulus, identify what are the facts given by the author to support his or her conclusion, what is the ultimate conclusion or claim the author is trying to make and often understand what assumptions or leaps in logic the author is making in his/her argument.
Life is not all about Reading and Games, or is it?
The other two sections are a reading comprehension section and an analytical reasoning section. The latter section is most popularly referred to as ‘logic games’ or simply ‘games’. In this section, the test-taker are given four games all of which start with a scenario in which variables (such as people, dinosaurs, etc.,) will need to be placed within a particular linear/non-linear setup according to rules that follow the scenario. What makes these games interesting but difficult at the same time is that while the rules serve to de-limit the placement of variables, the rules also allow for enough possibilities to make it possible to ask questions that could yield a variety of setups.
This is Where Ya Get Smarter
Learning how to do a variety of different games is important. Furthermore, understanding how to do the variety of different logical reasoning questions and being able to break up the questions in which the stimulus is an argument into its requisite parts including – premises, conclusion and assumptions – is particularly important to not only gaining comfort and proficiency with the questions but also necessary to build the speed required to take to finish each section. The rules of logic (e.g., contrapositives, necessary and sufficient conditions, etc.,) are a particularly important reason why students opt to get an LSAT tutor and engage in mindful and systematic test preparation.