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 Dave Killoran
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We often receive private questions but due to time constraints we cannot answer them privately. Instead, when possible, we post those questions publicly in order to help as many students as possible. Here's a recent pair of questions we received:
I just started using the Powerscore books a couple of weeks ago and am really enjoying and learning from them! I have two questions regarding the logical reasoning questions.
In the directions for the logical reasoning questions on the LSAT say " you are to choose the best answer." which gives the impression that other answers may be right but not "as right" as the correct answer. My first question is whether this is the case. I know for example on page 109 of the Logical Reasoning Bible it gives the example of a question asking which option strengthens the argument and lists that the correct answer would strengthen and the four incorrect answers would not strengthen. So for this case, only one answer would be right and the rest would be wrong. Is this the case for all types of logical reasoning questions or are there some that give options that in reality could be somewhat true but only one is the best option.
It might help to realize that the "you are to choose the best answer" advice doesn't come from me, but instead comes directly from LSAC. This is their test, and those are their guidelines, not some interpretation that I am making of what they say :-D So, when they say it, they do in fact mean it. The reason they do this, however, is because the test is made by humans and they need to cover themselves in case they make a small error and another answer fits the bill just a bit, but not as well as the credited answer. In the vast majority of cases, the wrong answers are definitively wrong, but there are a few instances where that hasn't been the case. This language covers them in those instances, and that's why you are always advised to read every answer and choose the answer that best fills the task at hand. One note: don't worry about going around looking for "second best" answers that you think are defensible. It's very hard to see the nuances during the test anyway, and in any event it's a losing battle because you can't argue with the LSAT. Go into every answer looking for one and only one correct answer, and that will serve you best!


My second question is if you think when going through the logical reasoning sections of practice tests we should go through all the techniques mentioned in the book such as trying to determine what kind of the 13 types of question is being asked of if we should save those for the practice problems given in the text book. Would going through all the techniques on the practice tests waste time and is there anywhere we could find the correct answers (if we are trying to determine what kind of question we are being asked) if we do go through them?
Over time this will/should become an instantaneous process that is second nature. With question stems, for example, after a while it's really easy to see exactly what the question type is. At first it looks like a lot (13!), but in practice it's like learning the signs on a roadway: takes a bit of work but after a while you see them and hardly think about whether it was a Yield or Stop sign. So, definitely try to apply that to every question you encounter.

Beyond that, most of the techniques we talk about are situational. For example, you wouldn't use the Assumption Negation Technique on a Weaken or Parallel questions, but would only use it on an Assumption question. So, that really reduces the techniques you would consider in a certain situation. On practice tests the goal is to learn what they are doing and how you can respond to that, so apply the ideas as you can, and then in the aftermath as you review the exam figure out what you did right and wrong (for more on that, see Episode 38 of our podcast, at https://www.powerscore.com/lsat/podcast/). There is no one "right" way to review the ideas, so what works best for you is what you are looking for. For me, I'm always analyzing problems and seeing what ideas are in play, and then using my knowledge of the test to pull in the right methods. that means that any questions I do are automatically testing grounds and you should always be looking at each question to break it apart, see what was really happening, and then seeing what you should have done and what methods you should have used.

I hope the above helps. Thanks!

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