How to Make Inferences for the LSAT - dummies

How to Make Inferences for the LSAT

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

Logical reasoning inference questions on the LSAT ask you to make an inference from a series of statements. These questions may contain the word infer, but more often they ask you to choose the answer that is most strongly supported by the statements. So you may make inferences for questions worded like these:

  • Which one of the following is most strongly supported by the consumer’s statements?

  • The information above provides the most support for which one of the following statements?

The key to answering these questions correctly is to remember that they usually ask you to make an inference based on information in the paragraph’s statements rather than draw an overall conclusion based on all of them. So you should choose an answer that makes a plausible inference about or connection between one or more of the statements.

Like the correct answer choices for the conclusion questions, the best answers to this type of question don’t go beyond the scope of the information provided in the passage. So eliminate answer choices that concern information not specifically addressed by at least one of the statements.

Television ratings are based on the number of overall viewers, but the highest-rated television shows do not always command the most advertising dollars.

Many advertisers are willing to pay more for spots that run during shows that attract a high proportion of males between the ages of 19 and 34 than for ads that run during other, more highly rated shows that do not attract as large a proportion of males aged 19 to 34. Ads that run during televised sporting events are often more expensive than ads that run during other programs.

Which one of the following is most strongly supported by these statements?

  • (A)Advertisers have done little research into the typical consumer and are not using their advertising dollars wisely.

  • (B)Sports programs are viewed by a greater proportion of males aged 19 to 34 than are other prime-time network programs.

  • (C)The ability to reach a particular demographic is more important to many advertisers than reaching the greatest number of overall viewers.

  • (D)Many advertising executives prefer sports programs and assume that other Americans do as well.

  • (E)Ads that run during the most popular sporting events are the most expensive of all ads.

You know you’re dealing with an inference question because the question asks for the most strongly supported answer based on the statements. Focus on the paragraph’s statements as you read. Then look through the answer choices and eliminate any that don’t address or connect the statements.

The statements say nothing about advertising research and don’t make value judgments about particular advertising practices, so you can eliminate Choice (A) immediately. Likewise, Choice (D) mentions the program preferences of advertisers, but none of the statements concerns what advertisers like to watch, so you can get rid of Choice (D).

Choice (E) is wrong because the statements don’t support an inference about what would constitute the most expensive ads. Just because sporting events ads are “often more expensive” than other ads doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re always the most expensive. This leaves you with Choices (B) and (C).

The author implies that some televised sporting events have lower overall ratings, even though they have higher advertising rates. Plus, the statements don’t indicate who watches televised sporting events. So you can’t justify Choice (B).

You’re left with Choice (C), which provides an explanation for the information in the second sentence that states that advertisers are more willing to pay more for lower-rated shows that are nevertheless viewed by a larger proportion of males between 19 and 34. This practice makes sense if the advertisers are trying to attract young male consumers. Choice (C) is best.

Remember to check your outside knowledge about the subjects at the door! You may know that Super Bowl ads are the most expensive ads, which may tempt you to pick Choice (E). Using your own knowledge rather than what’s expressly stated in the test questions will cause you to miss questions that someone with less knowledge may answer correctly.