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Are You Implying Something!?

If you’re at the beginning of your LSAT odyssey (and a bunch of you no doubt are), then you’re just learning about implication questions. That is, you’re examining the techniques to tackle questions where the correct answer choice is based on what can or cannot be logically proven by the stimulus.

This is the first place where many get tripped up. They fight the stimulus. The stimulus will say that “all people who drink beer wear pants,” but just last weekend a friend of theirs drank lots of beer and (you guessed it) hastily disrobed. You cannot take this attitude into an implication question and expect to do well (no matter how entertaining your drunk friends are).

For the purposes of an implication question, you must accept everything in the stimulus as true. No matter how absurd, if question #15 is an implication question, the stimulus on that question is your entire universe while you’re doing that question. Nothing else exists. Everything you read in that stimulus in an unassailable fact. After all, you’re being asked what must be true or false based solely on that stimulus so you can’t possibly reach a correct answer if you start mucking around with what you’ve already been told.

Now, let’s take a look at a subset of implication questions: Must Be True questions. You can basically break these down into two categories: 1) questions with stimuli that need to be diagrammed and 2) questions with stimuli that don’t need to be diagrammed. The distinguishing characteristic will be the presence of conditional statements.

If you have a bunch of conditional statements (“if . . . then”, “unless”, etc) then diagram your little heart out. The vast majority of the time, the correct answer will have something do with those conditional statements (and it’ll usually be a permutation of them based on using the transitive property, contrapositive, etc).

If you don’t have a bunch of conditional statements, then you want to look for statements that are related to each other and try to anticipate the correct answer choice by coming up with implications of your own. The most helpful thing to remember is that the assertion made by the correct answer choice will most often be very weak. That is, it will rarely make a bold, definitive statement. Rather, it will make a statement that is easy to prove, precisely because it does not say much. If you see words like “never”, “always” or “every” chances are good that you do not have the right answer. If you see words like “some”, “possible” or “maybe” you’re probably on the right track.

Bear these little tidbits in mind while practicing your implication questions and you should be in good stead. Stay safe out there kids.