Law School Admission Test Time Management and Guessing Strategy Help Area
Time management is a critical factor in your LSAT success. A familiarity with the test's time element, coupled with a detailed knowledge of the inherent answer choice trends from past LSATs, will optimize your ability to attack and ultimately overcome one of the biggest challenges in the law school admissions process.
In the beginning of preparation, students should not concern themselves with timing at all. The goal of early preparation should be solely to become competent in the methods used to attack individual question types and sections. Once fluency in these areas has been achieved, LSAT takers may 'train' for the upcoming test by taking timed practice tests and sections under realistic test conditions. Optimally, takers should begin to focus on timed preparation with approximately four to six weeks left before test day. Timing will improve solely through practice of the correct methods.
- The Answer Choices and Answer Transferring Theories
There are two competing theories for answer transferring. One involves transferring the answers one at a time, while the other involves doing a page of LR or one RC passage/LG game at a time and then bubbling in all the answers found on that page/passage/game. Generally, the first method is considered slower but more accurate, while the latter is faster but runs a risk of misbubbling.
- LSAT Guessing Strategy and Probability Tables
As there is no penalty for incorrect answers on the LSAT, takers should guess on any question they cannot solve or reach due to timing issues. There is very little statistical difference between individual letter answer choices; for example, choice 'A' does not occur substantially more often than either of the other four. Unlike some other standardized tests, the number of correct answer choices of each letter are not adjusted to be even, nor does the LSAT seek to avoid long strings of the same answer choice in a row.
- The Importance of Using a Timer
Timing your progress on test day is critical, as is practicing with the timer during the weeks leading up to the test. Generally, the taker should set benchmarks for each series of questions or passages/games.
Each section is 35 minutes, which breaks down as follows: 1:20 per LR question 8:45 per RC passage 8:45 per LG game
In seeking a benchmark for timing, strict division of the time allotted by number of questions in the section may not be entirely accurate due to the shifting difficulties of section questions. As a general trend, the 3rd quarter of any given section will be the hardest and most time consuming; this corresponds roughly to LR questions 15-21 or the third RC/LG passage/game. Takers should thus attempt to complete the first several questions or passage more quickly to leave time to tackle the harder problems later.
Logic Games Help
Each Analytical Reasoning section contains four games and a total of 22-24 questions. Since you have 35 minutes to complete the section, you have an average of 8 minutes and 45 seconds to complete each game. Of course, the amount of time you spend on each game will vary with the difficulty and the number of questions per game.
- Excerpt from the LSAT Logic Games Bible
- October 1996 LSAT Game Setups
- Profile Charting Game Discussion
- Basic Game Types and Frequency of Appearance
Logic Games test two main skills: ordering and grouping. The vast majority of games fit into one of these two categories or test a combination of both; however, there are games that call for neither.
The Basic Games Approach
- Create a master diagram consisting of the barebones setup. How many variables are there? How many slots?
- The diagram must contain all of the available pertinent information;
- The diagram must be as visually simple as possible.
2. Symbolize the rules.
3. Make deductions or draw out scenarios.
- Include these in your master diagram. Scenarios occur when there are only a few possible solutions for the game; in this case, draw them out as completely as possible. Scenarios cost time on the setup, but they save enough time in the questions for a net gain.
4. Attack the questions.
Ordering involves placing the variables into slots in sequence.
Methods of diagramming for ordering games:
For general order, like “A is before B," use a plain old dash.
A – B.
If A is first, B could be 3rd, 15th, etc. A is before B.
If two variables must go right next to one another, use a Block.
Here, if C is 1st, D is 2nd. If C is 36th, D is 37th, etc. C is always immediately before D.
E is not immediately before F? Use a block with a slash through it.
Reversible blocks, Split blocks
Blocks can be reversible; if G and H are next to each other but we don’t know which is first, use a block with a little two-way arrow above it.
Likewise, if a rule says that “I is two spots before J” or “there’s one spot in between I and J,” you can add a space into the block and split it:
[I _ J]
You can even have reversible split blocks.
We get linked options when either of two variables could occupy one space. If either K or L is last, draw that option right into the master diagram:
We get these with variables constrained by the same rule. We can also get linked options, which is where two variables can each go in one of two spots:
Either M or N is 1st; the other is 2nd.
M/N N/M (switching the order makes it easier to see at a glance).
Grouping games occur when the setup asks you to place variables into one or more groups. The groups will always function as the base.
Grouping games come in two basic flavors: In and Out and Multiple. In and Out grouping games occur when the game asks you to select a number of variables out of a larger number for inclusion in some group; the fact that other variables must remain unselected gives rise to the Out group.
Relationships There are four main conditional logic relationships that come about in grouping games. For multiple groups, the easiest diagramming method is to use subscripts:
If A in Group 1, then B in Group 1:
A1 → B1 ; /B1 → /A1.
The first is the standard S → N statement:
If A is In, then B is In.
A → B.
Every conditional statement contains its contrapositive:
/B → /A.
A and B don’t have to be together. If B is In, we don’t know where A is. If A is Out, we don’t know where B is. All we know is that if A is In, B is In, and thus if B is Out A must be Out.
Must Be Together
If C is In, D is In, and vice versa;
C is In if and only if D is In.
C ←→ D.
Contrapositive: /C ←→ /D.
Both C and D will be in the same place.
If E is In, F is Out, and vice versa
E and F are not both In.
E ←|→ F.
Contrapositive: same thing.
The ‘double-not’ arrow actually contains two simultaneous statements:
E → /F F → /E
Notice that these are contrapositives of each other! We really only need either statement to derive the Not Both rule. Any time we have a positive S condition and a negative N condition, we can shorten it to the double-not arrow: both variables will not be In.
However, both can be Out.
Either Or/At Least One
If G is not In, H is In.
/G → H
In the last rule, we had a positive S and negative N; now we have a negative S and positive N. Once again, the contrapositive is implied:
/H → G
The combination of the two statements results in the logical necessity that at least one of the two is In:
G OR H
Both can be In.
OR rules frequently give rise to Scenarios, since they limit the further resolution of the game into two possibilities.
Games Question Types
Almost all games questions will fit into one of eight categories, split by two categorizations:
Is the question absolute or conditional?
Absolute questions ask a general question about the entire game. They are solved by referring to the master diagram.
"Which of the following must be true?" "Which of the following days could Piggy go to market?"
Conditional questions introduce a new condition for that question only. For these, draw a new diagram, first putting in all the information from the master diagram, then adding the new condition and any deductions from it. Never draw over your master diagram.
"If G is opened second, where must K go?"
"If L is last, which of the following could be true?"
What is the logical scope?
- Must Be True
- Must Be False
- Could Be True
- Could Be False
Logical Reasoning Help
By sheer numbers, the most important section on the test.
There are two scored sections of Logical Reasoning on each LSAT. Each section is composed of 24 to 26 questions, and you have exactly 35 minutes to complete each section. Thus, you have approximately 1 minute and 25 seconds to complete each question.
LR requires an understanding of formal logic, especially conditional diagramming.
- When to Read the Question Stem
Reading the question stem or prompt before the stimulus allows the taker to quickly categorize the question and focus on the essential information within.
- Conditional Reasoning: Multiple Sufficient and Necessary Conditions
- The Limitations of Venn Diagramming
Venn Diagramming is next to useless for LSAT purposes. Forget it exists for now.
Formal Logic Structures
Argument structure covers the argumentative roles of individual statements.
Conclusions are the point of the argument, or what the author wishes the reader to take away.
- Words that generally indicate conclusions: hence, therefore, thus, it follows that, in conclusion, etc.
Premises are the support or reasons why the conclusion follows.
- Signal words here: due to, as, because of, since.
Assumptions are missing links necessary to go from premise to conclusion: unstated statements crucial to argument validity, almost like premises that aren’t there.
P: It is hot in herre.
C: Thus, you have taken off all your clothes.
Assumption: when hot, you get naked.
Validity means the truth of the premises guarantees the truth of the conclusion. The premises need not be actually true in real life. For instance,
P: Elvis is alive.
P: Everybody alive lives in Dallas.
C: Elvis lives in Dallas.
Note that none of these are true, but the argument is valid – if the Ps were true, the C would be as well.
Roles of the sufficient and necessary conditions: the S guarantees the N will happen, while the N means the S can happen.
Indicator words for each:
Reading Comprehension Help
The Reading Comprehension section of the LSAT is designed to test your ability to analyze large amounts of material for content and understanding. The Reading Comprehension section always contains a total of four passages, and a total of 26 to 28 questions. Each passage is approximately 450 words in length, and a set of five to eight questions immediately follows each passage. On average, you have 8 minutes and 45 seconds to complete each passage.
- Reading Comprehension Reading List
- Approaching the Passages
- October 1996 Reading Comprehension Discussion