4 Keys to Review Before the September LSAT
- Sep 23, 2014
- General LSAT Advice, LSAT
It’s the last week before the LSAT. Now isn’t the time to try to cram in all kinds of complicated concepts. Your task is to apply the skills you already have as well as you can. I’ve seen a lot of students stray from basics with the pressure of LSAT test day fast approaching.
Here are some key concepts to review as you try to get those last few points in the bag.
Conditional Logic and Diagramming:
If. Only if. Unless. Whenever. No. The only. Without. If you had anything less than an immediate, automatic response to any of those words, it’s time for you to review conditional logic. You can count on it figuring into a sizeable chunk of Logical Reasoning questions. When you see conditional logic, it’s an enormous advantage to know your indicator words. Which ones indicate sufficient or necessary conditions? What’s your plan of attack for the tricky ones? This is one of the only places where pure memorization helps you on the LSAT. So if you’re shaky, it’s time to review. It’ll help on logic games, too.
Strength of language is huge on the LSAT. The difference between “often” and “usually” can be the difference between right and wrong. If you haven’t been paying enough attention to those little words, now is the time to start. It’s also good to know when you’re looking for weak language, and when you’re looking for strong language. In general, weaker answers are better on Must Be True, Soft Must Be True, and Necessary Assumption questions. Stronger answers are better on Sufficient Assumption, Strengthen, and Weaken questions. There are exceptions, of course, but paying close attention to logical force is the way you’ll know an exception is possible. For example, in a Necessary Assumption question, a strongly worded conclusion in the stimulus means that a stronger answer can be correct.
Finding the Main Point
If you’re going into questions without a really clear idea of the passage’s main point, you’re doing it wrong, friends. Most passages have a question that asks directly about it, but that’s far from the only value of knowing the passage’s main thesis. If you’re confident in exactly where the author stands, you can use that to eliminate wrong answers in lots of other questions, too. Most passages have a sentence or so that you can underline as its main point. Look for shifts in perspective or strong author’s attitude to find that sentence; the main point is whatever claim the evidence in the passage is there to support. In some passages, most commonly when the author is absent, you’ll have to piece together the main point from different parts of the passage. Either way, it’s vital that you be confident in the main point before you jump into the questions.
Breaking a game down into a few scenarios can often make the questions much easier. When there’s a big rule in a game that can only go two or three ways, it makes sense to try out those scenarios in advance and see what they get you. In this last week, try to improve your judgment about when to play out scenarios. Of course, not every game benefits from scenarios—you’re looking for something that’s restricted enough to limit the number of options and also important to the rest of the game. But don’t just wait for the obvious situations. Make it part of your process to check every game for anything that lends itself to a couple of scenarios.
Finally, don’t study all night this week. While you can and should shoot for a couple more points, the hours you spend studying this week have diminishing returns. Take that last LSAT practice test or two and review them carefully, but also arrange your schedule so that you get enough sleep and exercise.
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