The LSAT Analytical Reasoning Section
LSAT Analytical Reasoning Outline
The Analytical Reasoning section of the LSAT, colloquially known as "logic games," includes 22-24 multiple-choice questions over a total section timing of 35 minutes. Test-takers will have at least one and possibly two Analytical Reasoning sections on their LSAT administrations (if there are two, one is experimental and unscored). All LSAT multiple-choice questions, including those on the Analytical Reasoning section, have the same value in terms of the scaled total score of 120-180. Analytical Reasoning scores are not separately reported to test-takers or to law schools, and aggregate section scoring statistics are not publicly disclosed by LSAC.
LSAT Analytical Reasoning Texts
LSAT Analytical Reasoning exercises are based on short textual passages (about 100 words) that are referred to as "setups." Setups consist of two parts: a descriptive list of items (e.g. Person A, B, C, D, and E) and a list of conditions (e.g. Person A is older than Person B; Person C is younger than Person D). Each passage is associated with 5-7 questions, and all questions have five answer options. Passage topics are general and do not delve into any academic subject; examples include appointment schedules, participants in a meeting, or conditions for manufacturing consumer goods.
LSAT Analytical Reasoning Question Types
Analytical Reasoning questions require test-takers to select answer options using inferential logic. LSAC's listed Analytical Reasoning question types are Orientation Questions, Questions That Include the Phrase "Any One of Which," and Questions That Ask About What Must Be True. Orientation Questions ask test-takers to select the answer option that could be true given the set of circumstances presented in the passage of text. "Any One of Which" exercises involve answer options with lists of items, and only one of these options has a list in which all items match every condition laid out in the question and setup. In order to correctly answer Questions That Ask About What Must Be True, test-takers must choose the answer option that directly follows from the setup (these types of questions are sometimes rendered in the negative, as in what cannot be true).
A Hypothetical Example of an Analytical Reasoning Setup and Questions
Analytical Reasoning setups typically proceed in a manner similar to the following hypothetical example: Six trains, designated A, B, C, D, E, and F, depart one at a time from the same station. Only one train may leave per day, under the following conditions: Train C must depart on the day before either Train D or Train E; Train E must depart before Train B and Train F; and either Train D or Train F must depart the day before Train A. An example of an Orientation question associated with this setup is "Which of the following departure orders would be acceptable?" A question that asks about what must be true might be along the lines of "If Train C leaves on the fifth day, when must Train E leave?" An example of the "Any One of Which" question type could be "Choose from the following groups of trains, any one of which cannot leave last."
Important LSAT Analytical Reasoning Skills
An effective approach to Analytical Reasoning questions is to use process of elimination to exclude answer choices that don't match the circumstances of the setup or question text. For example, if the setup specifies that event A must occur before event B, it is possible to quickly eliminate any answers that list B before A. Test-takers can often go item by item through the list of circumstances in the setup, each one of which will preclude certain answers until there is only one remaining. Obviously, learning to conduct this process at a rapid pace is essential because of the section's time constraints. At the beginning of the study period, it is a good strategy to take as much time as necessary to deduce the correct answers; the student should then gradually reduce the time per question over the rest of the approximately three-month LSAT study timeframe. Finally, test-takers should make sure that they learn to read setups carefully, paying special attention to the difference between words such as "and" versus "or" and "could" versus "must."
LSAT Analytical Reasoning Validity
Given the role that logic plays in the study and practice of law, it is somewhat surprising that the LSAT's Analytical Reasoning section has by far the lowest validity coefficient of the three multiple-choice exam sections (0.277). This is a relatively weak correlation with first-year law school grades. However, the Analytical Reasoning correlation coefficients with the other LSAT sections are much stronger, at 0.566 for Logical Reasoning and 0.444 for Reading Comprehension, suggesting that strong Analytical Reasoning skills contribute to higher scores on those other sections.
LSAT Analytical Reasoning Compared to Logical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension
LSAT Analytical Reasoning skills are much more distinct from the other two sections than those two sections are from each other. All types of Analytical Reasoning exercises should therefore be practiced carefully in isolation, with the goal of developing sound technique first and speed second.