Structure of an LSAT Writing Prompt

All LSAT Writing prompts ask you to make an argument for one of two options—e.g., “Should Flo order tacos or pizza?” You’ll get two criteria for making your choice—say, “Flo wants to enjoy the meal”; “Flo wants to be heart-healthy.” Finally, you’ll get two short paragraphs of facts that illuminate how the options may or may not fulfill the criteria. The informational paragraphs may tell you, for example, that Flo feels weird about taco meat, which would seem to support the case for pizza on the basis of the first criterion, that Flo wants to enjoy her meal. LSAT Writing is a closed-universe test, so you’ll never have to draw on knowledge beyond the provided facts.

Let’s take a look at a real prompt.

The Setup: Two Options

We start with a few sentences laying out the alternatives. Here’s an example from PrepTest 80.

Tony, a beer brewer, is deciding whether to start a production brewery—a brewery that brews, packages, and distributes specialty beer to be sold at other locations—or to start a brewpub—a full-service restaurant that serves specialty beer brewed on-site.

The Criteria

Next, we get two criteria on which to base our argument.

Using the facts below, write an essay in which you argue for one option over the other based on the following two criteria:

  • Tony wants to develop a reputation among beer critics and connoisseurs for producing high-quality beer.
  • Tony wants to be able to devote time and resources to the development of new beer offerings.

The Facts: Two Paragraphs

Finally, we get two short paragraphs of information. You can think of the first as a list of pros and cons for the first option, and the second as a list of pros and cons for the second option. Here are the facts from PrepTest 80 (with the headers added):

Brewery Pros and Cons

A production brewery would be able to distribute its products to a large geographic area. In order to get the brewery’s beers to be carried in stores or offered at bars, Tony would need to put time into sales and marketing. There are already a large number of breweries that distribute to the area. A production brewery’s products are likely to be reviewed by beer critics. A production brewery would initially need to focus on a small number of core offerings. If these proved to be popular, Tony would be able to introduce a series of experimental, limited-edition beer offerings.

Pub Pros and Cons

A brewpub would draw most of its customers from the local area, which has few brewpubs. Tony would need to oversee the day-to-day operations of the restaurant side of the business. Tony might be able to eventually hire a restaurant manager. Many customers at brewpubs are interested primarily in the food. Brewpubs are more likely to be reviewed by restaurant critics rather than beer critics. Beer connoisseurs enthusiastically seek out brewpubs, and share information about brewpubs on social media. Tony would interact directly with customers at a brewpub. Brewpubs brew batches of beer in relatively small volumes and can rotate their offerings relatively quickly.

Each sentence of each paragraph can be interpreted to support one of the options on the basis of one of the criteria.

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