Grammar is Underrated

It might strike you as odd that we're going to do lessons on grammar. After all, this is the LSAT, a test that assumes some college-level education. And here I am trying to teach you grammar, which sounds like an elementary school subject.

But, as it turns out, one of the main reasons students have such a hard time with the test is because of its complex grammar.

Have you ever read a sentence on the test and heard a loud whoosh sound? That's the sound of complex grammar flying over your head, taking several precious points with it.

Here, look at this sentence excerpted from PrepTest 27, Section 1, Question 17:

This is clear from the fact that unless the majority of individuals have a predictable and enduring set of aspirations, it will be impossible for a legislature to craft laws that will augment the satisfaction of the citizenry, and it should be obvious that a society is stable only if its laws tend to increase the happiness of its citizens.

Isn't that a crazy sentence? It's too long. It's packed with too much information. And importantly, this is not the kind of language we're used to dealing with on a day-to-day basis. Our typical, day-to-day grammar parsing is subconscious. We follow the rules, we parse out the different components of a sentence, we understand how each piece relates to the others, and we synthesize meaning without much effort.

Now granted, I picked a challenging sentence on purpose. Most sentences on the test aren't as complex. They won't require as much conscious effort to understand. But, many will. Many sentences will contain grammar so complex that your subconscious instincts simply fail. When that happens, you have to fall back on your explicit knowledge of grammar rules so that you can explicitly parse the sentence and extract the meaning. Otherwise, whoosh.

In this set of lessons, we'll break down English grammar for the purpose of dealing with complex sentences on the test. With all due apologies to bona fide linguists, I'm going to oversimplify the academic theory. I'm taking what I need and organizing it into the way I find most helpful to tackle this test. I'm also going to try to avoid jargon as much as possible. I can't completely avoid it but I'll try to be sparing.


Grammar is a bitch. Don't underestimate it.

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