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Secrets to Improving in Logical Reasoning

Many students reach out to me because they are stressed out by the Logical Reasoning (LR) section. And with games soon going away, LR will soon make up more than half of the graded portion of the LSAT. It has never been more important to master this section. Although there is very clear guidance from many test prep companies on how to study for games, it is difficult to find advice on the best way to study for LR. Here are some little known study techniques that many of my students used to help them consistently score perfect or close to perfect in their LR sections.

Tip 1: Avoid doing the bare minimum with questions

Most people are constantly just trying to understand why an answer is right and why the answer they selected is wrong. Once they understand the mistake, they feel like they 'got it' and move on.

But hindsight is 20/20. It is MUCH easier to understand why B is correct if you already checked the answer. It is important to understand the validity of each answer, but that is the bare minimum. There is still so much more to be learned from each question. Even if you got the question correct the second time around, the question remains--how could you have gotten to the correct answer if it was a brand-new question?

This is an issue so many LSAT students face. Instead of focusing on learning HOW to approach the question, they are just focused on understanding why the answer was right or wrong.

Instead of thinking about questions in this way, ask yourself how you could have been able to predict the correct answer purely from reading the passage. The vast majority of LR questions can be predicted. Doing this will train you to recognize patterns regarding the assumptions commonly used on the LSAT.

Also, it is important to be very specific when evaluating answer choices. Instead of just saying 'this answer seems irrelevant' or 'this one is just flat out wrong', find the specific word or phrase in the answer choice that made it incorrect and find as many flaws as possible. Dissecting answer choices in this way forces you to read carefully, which is what the LSAT is all about.

Another example of how people will resort to doing the bare minimum is the way they approach Inference or Must be True questions. They just focus on finding the inference that showed up in the answers, when there were actually several inferences the question could have asked about. Make sure you are finding ALL inferences when you are practicing.

Tip 2: Review CORRECT answers, not just incorrect ones

This doesn't apply as much to individuals who are already at a relatively advanced level and are missing 5 or less questions per section. But for people who are not yet at this stage, reviewing only incorrect answers is not enough. Here's why...

Sometimes, we got a question correct out of pure luck. You may have blindly guessed, but it is also very common for people to select the correct answer or eliminate the wrong answer for the wrong reasons. For example, maybe you thought a specific word made the answer incorrect when it was in fact a different word. This is also why specifically pointing out the word or phrase that made the answer incorrect is important. This allows you to truly understand whether your reasoning is correct.

If you don't do this, the LSAT will begin to seem inconsistent in its reasoning because you are using faulty logic that just happened to work out on a previous question and applying it to others.

Tip 3: Diagram more

This doesn't apply to everyone. Some LSAT experts advise people to avoid diagramming and to just focus on understanding the passage. And for some people, this works really well. But if you have been consistently having issues with Must be True, Sufficient Assumption, and Necessary Assumption questions without diagramming, there is a very high chance that diagramming can help you significantly.

The problem is people often try out a few questions using this technique and give up on it because it takes too long or they still got the question wrong. But the reality is it's not that diagramming itself is the problem--it just takes time to hone those skills enough to where you are able to diagram quickly and efficiently.

Don't give up on diagramming just because it didn't work for you on a couple questions.

Tip 4: Don't focus on finding the 'perfect' answer

Your job is to find the BEST answer. That implies the answer will not always be perfect. Too often, people eliminate all the answer choices and panic. Or they will eliminate an answer because it has a single flaw, only to select another answer that also contains a flaw.

Instead, go into the answer choices expecting small imperfections. Find the one that most clearly and closely accomplishes the task.

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