- Thu Oct 01, 2020 5:17 pm
The language on the LSAT can be tough to break down--you are completely correct that it's intentionally complex wording. The best way to manage it is with practice. It sounds like you are already doing a great job at paying attention to key language, like conditional reasoning terms, that can help you understand the structure of the stimulus or answer choice. Exactly how to break down the language depends a lot on the specific language used. But here's a few things you should look for.
1) Quantity terms. Terms like most, all, none, never, occasionally, and frequently can change the logical validity of an argument. These are always words to notice.
2) Probability terms. Terms like likely, probable, certain, and impossible also can change the logical validity of an argument, and are important to pay attention to.
3) Awkward language. Often I can simplify the language used to something that means the same thing, but is easier to understand/track. For example, if I see "the flight delay is not unlikely to occur" I would simplify that double negative to "the flight is likely to be delayed." Obviously you don't want to change the logical meaning of the phrase, but things like removing a double negative can help make the language smoother.
4) Language that gives information about a type of reasoning. Causal reasoning, conditional reasoning, terms like "for example," and other terms that indicate type of reasoning/argument are important to look for and note.
Once I've looked for the above, if I'm still having trouble with language, I try to break things down phrase by phrase. For example, you might have seen an answer choice in a method of reasoning question that looks like this:
"generalizes a rule based on a few isolated instances"
For that answer choice, I would need to see a conclusion in the stimulus that 1) states a general/broad rule, and 2) draws that conclusion based on specific isolated events.
But mostly, spsa, it's going to take lots of practice. Practice breaking down the language in the stimulus. Practice breaking down correct answer choices. Practice breaking down wrong answer choices. Pay attention to language everywhere you see it on the test. Pay attention to where you misinterpreted a term, or where you didn't understand the language, and work on reading explanations and analyzing the terminology until you do.
Hope that helps!