This week, I am going to be addressing the issue of the significance of the LSAT to the “real world.” One thing I routinely do in my LSAT Prep courses is to get students to view the world in which they live, and the things they take for granted, with the mindset of the skills tested on the LSAT. Developing a logical thinking and reasoning process that is consistent with the way in which the LSAT tests students (i.e., developing the skill of “thinking like a lawyer”) can be exceedingly helpful in improving your LSAT score.
Let’s focus today on the LSAT’s Logical Reasoning section and the connection between LSAT questions to the work routinely done by law school students and lawyers. Please take a look below at some examples:
1. The LSAT’s “flaw” questions test one’s ability to recognize logical fallacies in arguments, and to recognize the weaknesses of an argument. One uses these skills all the time in attacking an opponent’s position. For example, good lawyers routinely ask themselves why their opponent’s conclusion does not logically follow from its premises. In addition, good lawyers will evaluate their own arguments to make sure they do not contain such flawed logic. There are certain patterns of basic logical fallacies that routinely appear on the LSAT (and in real life), and they are critical to know and understand going into the exam.
2. The LSAT’s “strengthens” questions test one’s ability to recognize how to make an argument stronger – i.e., better. Lawyers routinely use this skill – we always are looking for facts or case law that will help bolster the argument we are making. For example, if you are trying to show that a company has put a toxic chemical into a water supply consumed by humans, how can you “strengthen” that argument? What facts would you need/want to make your argument better?
3. The LSAT’s “weakens” questions test one’s ability to recognize how to make an argument weaker – i.e., worse. Lawyers use this skill to attack their opponent’s position. Using the same example in #2, what facts would you want to be able to show to demonstrate that the chemical is not toxic and/or not harmful to human beings? What facts would you want to be able to establish to make your opponent’s argument worse?
4. The LSAT’s “parallel reasoning” questions (and other questions) test the ability to draw analogies. The use of analogies are absolutely critical to being an effective lawyer. One is often dealing with unusual facts that your judge or jury may not be familiar with. Drawing an analogy between the facts of your case (unfamiliar to judges/juries) and examples that are familiar to the average person is a highly useful skill. The LSAT tests the ability to distinguish between things that truly are analogous to each other and those that may appear similar but, in fact, are not analogous.
5. The LSAT’s “resolve the paradox/conflict” question tests one’s ability to show how two seemingly inconsistent facts can, in fact, co-exist. As a lawyer, you often will face facts that appear to be inconsistent with your position. For example, if you are a criminal defense lawyer, you may have to deal with the following question that judges/juries will be asking themselves about your client: “If your client actually is not guilty, why did he lie about the circumstances of the crime when questioned by the police?” The ability to show how those two things could occur together – a client who is not guilty but who also lied – is a critical skill for lawyers in many practice areas.
I could go on, but you get the idea. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Next time: the relevance of the LSAT’s Reading Comprehension section to real life!