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The Toughest Questions From the October 2012 LSAT

Now that the dust has settled from the release of the October LSAT (as well as its LSAT scores), it’s time to take a look at the actual meat of the test. There were a number of different questions that people struggled with, but I probably heard more complaints about the following three than any others (excluding the zones game and !Kung reading comp). We can’t reproduce the questions in full, so if you took the October LSAT look at your test PDFs to follow along.

Toughest October 2012 LSAT Question No. 1: LR 1, #13

Building material controversies. It doesn’t get much more exciting than this. In this question we learn that there’s some rogue construction material called papercrete. Most builders think it’s no good for big buildings. But there still are some papercrete fans out there who use it for small-scale projects. These guys are going around building papercrete birdhouses and bookshelves, and they think it would work for skyscrapers, too. And since hey, they’re the ones who are familiar with the stuff, shouldn’t we believe them?

Well, no, because we have no reason to believe that they’re the only ones who know its properties. Maybe all the builders who aren’t using it have made that choice because they’re very familiar with the stuff as well, and they know it’s not good. And that’s what you get in (E). This one was hard mostly because it just takes a while to parse out everything that’s happening, and to describe the flaw when anticipating.

Toughest October 2012 LSAT Question No. 2: LR 2, #8

It’s not common to get a hard question early, but this one really confused people. At first it seems pretty easy. We learn that if a proposed policy change is going to hurt poor people disproportionately, then we shouldn’t do it. And we’re trying to strengthen the claim that we shouldn’t go with the city’s de-icing plan. While it’s nice that the rock salt doesn’t hurt new cars, because nowadays cars are built to resist the damage, we want to show that it burdens poor people to strengthen this. And in the stimulus there’s no given reason to think this is true, but you do get one in (D). If poor people are driving older cars, then they’d still be vulnerable to the damage, while rich people with their new cars are benefitting.

The problem with this question was that it had a really attractive sucker choice – (B). If road maintenance is funded by sales tax, which disproportionately burdens poor people, isn’t that exactly what we’re trying not to do? At this point, many people tried to figure out which AC strengthened the application more, but this is a great example of a time where you don’t want to ask which one is better, you want to ask which one is wrong. Because there will never be two right ACs. And the reason (B) does nothing is that the sales tax isn’t a proposed policy change. It already exists, and allocating its funds to de-icing wouldn’t add a burden to poor people; that burden was already there.

Toughest October 2012 LSAT Question No. 3: LR 2, #11

This one was hard because there were so many premises to work out. This is a good example of a question that you can’t just rush through, because if you don’t find the gap beforehand, you’ll be totally lost in the ACs.

We start by learning that when people read sci-fi, it makes them want to go explore the universe. That’s not something we’re going to be able to do any time soon, however. But when people don’t get what they want they become discontented, so our conclusion is that sci-fi makes people dissatisfied. But the problem here is that while we know that sci-fi might make people want to explore space, that doesn’t mean that they expect to explore space. This argument is making the big assumption that people not being able to explore space actually does create a gap between expectations and reality, which you get in (A). If you denied (A), and said that this creates the gap for no one, then this whole argument wouldn’t make sense.

Hopefully that helped clear up some of your misses. Any other October LSAT questions you can’t figure out?