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When you're taking your timed, practice LSATs, you must practice skipping the hard LR/RC/Games questions. That seems to go against intuition: How am I supposed to get a high score on the LSAT if I don't even attempt some of the questions?
I'll answer with something cryptic, which the rest of this lesson will further explain: you're making a bad assumption. You're assuming that you will actually get everything you answer correct, which is, for 99.99% of the people, false.
The way you want to approach your LSAT is to embrace a principle borrowed from Economics: the low hanging coconut.
When we say an argument is "good," what do we really mean? Well, recall that an argument is just premise(s) plus conclusion. Premises supports the conclusion and the conclusion is supported by the premises. So, “good” really just describes how well the premises support the conclusion. In other words, “good” describes the strength of the support relationship between the premises and the conclusion. Just how “good” can the relationship be? Until it becomes perfect, of course. When that happens, it is said that the argument is valid. Turn your attention to the chart below:
To weaken any argument on the LSAT's Logical Reasoning section, you have to understand one thing.
This thing is not tangible nor obvious. It’s instead abstract and subtle – which means it’s hard to understand. Here it is: You have to take away the support. What support? The support that the premises give to the conclusion. Please read that again. It may sound very obvious, but you’d be surprised at how often you will fall prey because you didn’t heed this warning. It’s only nature since our instinct when arguing is to deny our opponents’ premises. He asserts that there are bugs in the kitchen and therefore an exterminator visit is in order. You deny his premise by asserting that there are no bugs in the kitchen. But what would be the point of asking a question like this? All you did was to say “no.” Much more interesting is it to concede to your opponent her premises and then try to argue that despite your concession, her conclusion still doesn’t follow from her premises. That’s what Weaken (weakening) questions test you on. It most certainly does not say that you are to contradict, attack or weaken a premise nor does it ask you to contradict, attack or weaken the conclusion. It says you are to deprive the support that the premises give to the conclusion, as if with magic. Let me illustrate. Did you watch Dragon Ball Z growing up? Remember Goku’s Kamehameha?
Necessary assumptions can wreck an argument.
First, let’s understand what a necessary assumption is. It’s an assumption (definition: unstated premise) that is necessary for the argument. “Necessary” here means the same thing it does when we talk about a “necessary condition” (as opposed to a “sufficient condition”). Let’s put the relationship between argument and necessary assumption in Lawgic and then run the contrapositive.
Argument (valid) –> Necessary Assumption (true)
/Necessary Assumption –> /Argument
In English, this means that when we negate the necessary assumption, the argument falls apart. No necessary assumption, no argument.
Necessary Assumption questions present you with an argument (premises + conclusion) where in order for the conclusion to be valid, there is a necessary (critical) assumption not stated in the argument. Without this particular assumption, the argument falls apart. Your job is to find this sucker, a necessary assumption, in the answer choice.
There are two types of Necessary Assumptions (NA).
I cannot over-stress the importance of being able to identify premises and conclusions on the LSAT. Not only that, but to do it fast. But, we gotta start somewhere so slow is better than not being able to do it at all. Here are three distinctive slow ways that students have found very effective.
As a learning device, this is good. You can rely on these. But, take this caveat to heart. You can’t consciously rely on these three devices. At the end of the day, you have to internalize all of it. It has to be very, very quick. Intuitive. You read the passage and you just know that this is the premise and this is the conclusion. Somewhere in the back of your mind, one of these three devices is operating subconsciously and telling you what the premise is and what the conclusion is.
LSAT Conditional Logic GROUP 2 is made up of the following terms:
- Only if
- Only when
- Only where
All the words in this group follow this translation rule:
The ideas introduced by (i.e., immediately following) these words are the necessary conditions.
Let’s try it:
LSAT Conditional Logic Group 1 is made up of the following terms:
- The only
All the words in this group follow this translation rule:
The ideas introduced by (i.e., immediately following) these words are the sufficient conditions.
Let’s try it
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Thomas Edison said that genius is "1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration." Rene Descartes said "You just keep pushing. You just keep pushing. I made every mistake that could be made. But I just kept pushing." Lucretius, the Roman philosopher, said "Constant dripping hollows out a stone." The point is that hard work counts a lot. Especially when it comes to the LSAT. Yes, how well you do on the LSAT does depend on your raw intellect too, but do not discount how large a role your work ethics will play.