At its core, the LSAT tests your understanding of relationships.

If the relationships in your life are anything like mine, then they are usually difficult, painful, and short. Thankfully, the LSAT is not concerned with interpersonal romantic relationships. It’s concerned with the very concept of a relationship in the most abstract way.

Let’s consider what relationships are by looking at some examples that we’re all familiar with. Consider the relationship “mother of.” That phrase describes a relationship between, say, you and your mom. Simple enough, right?

Let’s try another. How about “friendship?" That's a relationship that exists between, say, Harry Potter and Hermione Granger.

One more? The “greater than” relationship. That’s a relationship between the numbers 10 and 7 or, to use another example, the number of “your mama” jokes possible and the number of “your mama” jokes that are appropriate for an LSAT lesson.

These examples illustrate what relationships are. A relationship is something abstract that exists between two or more things. In “mother of,” the two things were you and your mother; for “earlier than,” the two things were last Saturday night and last Sunday morning; and in “greater than,” the two things were 10 and 7. But “thing” is much too callous. I’d get upset if someone called your mother a “thing”—she is a lady and quite a lady at that! Let’s instead use a more neutral term: how about “relata?" So, a relationship is something that exists between two relata. Things, people, ideas, events, categories, groups can all be relata.

The Relationship

The two circles represent the two relata. The dotted yellow line represents the relationship. That’s what a relationship is: something abstract that exists between two ideas. I hope by now I’m beating a dead horse, but it’s very important that you see that a relationship cannot exist without its (at least) two relata. It may help you to think of relationships as derivative entities—derivative in the sense that it derives its existence from that of other entities. The number 7 is one such “primary” entity. Its existence is in no way dependent upon the relationship between it and the number 10. The relationship “greater than,” on the other hand, cannot exist without two relata to give rise to its existence. Capisce?

On the LSAT, you’ll be expected to wrangle with many different types of relationships: comparative relationships (there were more climbing accidents on Mt. Fuji this year than last year); sufficiency-necessity relationships (if someone lives in New York, then they live in the United States); relationships of intersection (some students who major in economics are also pre-law); causal-effect relationships (stretching before running prevents injuries); support relationships (between a premise and a conclusion); the relationship between a phenomenon and a hypothesis or an explanation; the relationship between a referential phrase and its referent; the relationship between rules and facts; the relationship between paragraphs in reading comprehension; and the list goes on and on and on, but I think you get the point.

Don’t worry if some of the relationships I listed above mean nothing to you at this moment. We will dive in to each of them (and more!) as the course progresses. Right now, I just want you to remember that at its core, the LSAT tests your understanding of relationships.

See full diagram.


Relationships are important. A relationship is an abstract idea that exists only by reference to its two (or more) relata. Also, did I mention that relationships are really important?

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