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Tips for Answering Analytical Reasoning Questions on the LSAT

By Lisa Zimmer Hatch, Scott A. Hatch, Amy Hackney Blackwell

As you tackle the logic games in the analytical reasoning section of the LSAT, follow these “to do’s” to optimize your experience and increase your chances of a better test score.

Take time to develop your game board

You may feel you’re wasting precious time analyzing the rules and creating a game board. But if you spend several minutes setting up the board and extending the conditions, you’ll spend very little time actually answering the questions.

Pick your battles

You don’t have to answer the questions for a logic game set in order. In fact, sometimes working out answers to later questions in a set gives you the information you need to answer an earlier question.

When you get stuck on a question, skip it and move on. If answering other questions in the set doesn’t help you solve it, eliminate answers that must be wrong, guess from the remaining ones, and get on with the rest of the test.

Don’t skip the first question in the set, though. You can almost always answer this question by simply applying the rules one by one and eliminating answers that violate them.

Remember that four wrongs make a right

Identifying wrong answers is often a lot easier than searching for the right one. For many questions, violations of rules are easy to spot; answers that don’t violate any rules can be harder to see. When you eliminate four of the answers, the right answer remains.

Stay calm

Panic destroys some potentially brilliant LSAT scores. A student starts to work on a problem, doesn’t immediately see the relationships among the characters, looks at the clock, realizes she only has five minutes left and seven questions left to answer, looks back at the problem, gets increasingly flustered, looks at the clock again, sees her future sinking, and suddenly she’s blown the whole thing. It happens all the time.

Guess what? That approach doesn’t help! Sure, it’s nerve-racking, facing down this scary test amidst a roomful of strangers and knowing that your professional life could be on the line. Take a deep breath and remind yourself you’re just playing a few games. Get back on course by applying the game method.

Decide which problem to confront first

Each analytical reasoning section contains four logic games. You don’t have to work them in order. You can work the second one first, and then the fourth, the first, and the third if you want to. No one cares — as long as you answer them all.

How do you decide which problem to work first? One method is to skim all four logic games, rank them in order of difficulty, and then work them in order from easiest to hardest. The problem with this method is that distinguishing between the easy sets and the difficult sets may not be obvious at first and takes away from time you could be using to work the problems.

A less time-consuming method is to work the problems with the most questions first. If you see a logic game with eight questions and another one with five, work the one with eight questions first. Each fact pattern takes about the same amount of time to figure out, so if you choose the problem with the greatest number of questions, you maximize the payoff from your time investment.

Maintain your perspective

Don’t let this section psych you out. The test provides you with every piece of information you need to answer each question. The LSAT doesn’t expect you to have experience in city planning when it presents you with a logic game. It does try to make this section difficult by making problem sets seem more complex than they are. Simply remind yourself that you have the tools you need.

If a particular logic game or question spikes your adrenaline and sparks your natural flight reaction to the point where you’d like to flee the room, give yourself a break. Sit back in your chair, close your eyes, and take a deep, cleansing breath to get the oxygen flowing to your brain.

You can solve every analytical reasoning problem on the LSAT. The test-makers have checked to make sure. When doubt arises, combat it with this important truth.

Keep practicing

The best way to get better at answering logic games is to apply the strategies to a bunch of them. Additionally, it’s recommended that you work on the questions from prior LSAT exams that are available from the LSAC. Order copies of the most recent LSAT exams from LSAC.org and work as many of them as you have time for before you sit for the exam.