As you may know, arguments are a fundamental part of the law, and analyzing arguments is a key element of legal analysis. The training provided in law school builds on a foundation of critical reasoning skills. As a law student, you will need to draw on the skills of analyzing, evaluating, constructing, and refuting arguments. You will need to be able to identify what information is relevant to an issue or argument and what impact further evidence might have. And you will need to be able to reconcile opposing positions and use arguments to persuade others.
The LSAT’s Logical Reasoning questions are designed to evaluate your ability to examine, analyze, and critically evaluate arguments as they occur in ordinary language. These questions are based on short arguments drawn from a wide variety of sources, including newspapers, general interest magazines, scholarly publications, advertisements, and informal discourse. These arguments mirror legal reasoning in the types of arguments presented and in their complexity, though few of the arguments actually have law as a subject matter.
Each Logical Reasoning question requires you to read and comprehend a short passage, then answer one question (or, rarely, two questions) about it. The questions are designed to assess a wide range of skills involved in thinking critically, with an emphasis on skills that have proven to be central to legal reasoning.
These skills include:
- Recognizing the parts of an argument and their relationships
- Recognizing similarities and differences between patterns of reasoning
- Drawing well-supported conclusions
- Reasoning by analogy
- Recognizing misunderstandings or points of disagreement
- Determining how additional evidence affects an argument
- Detecting assumptions made by particular arguments
- Identifying and applying principles or rules
- Identifying flaws in arguments
- Identifying explanations
Logical Reasoning questions do not require specialized knowledge of logical terminology. For example, you will not need to know the meaning of specialized terms such as “ad hominem” or “syllogism.” On the other hand, you will be asked to understand and critique the reasoning contained in arguments. To do so, it is important to have a university-level understanding of concepts such as argument, premise, assumption, and conclusion. If you are not familiar with these concepts, it would be a good idea to get better acquainted with them. You can find explanations of these concepts and how they are used in Logical Reasoning questions in SuperPrep and SuperPrep II.