What are the meanings of should/would/could on the LSAT?

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What are the meanings of should/would/could on the LSAT?

Postby WilliamD » Wed Jan 07, 2015 2:52 pm

Many questions and answer choices include language like should, could, and would. As I am relatively new to the LSAT world, it would be really helpful if anybody can provide me with some tips regarding how I should be processing these words.


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Re: What are the meanings of should/would/could on the LSAT?

Postby BillsFan9907 » Fri Jan 09, 2015 3:39 am

You SHOULD rely on a basic understanding of these terms.

Should almost always Is part of the conclusion:

You don't want cavaties so you SHOULD brush your teeth.

Give me an example where you have problems with could and would.

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Re: What are the meanings of should/would/could on the LSAT?

Postby WaltGrace83 » Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:49 am

I may be wrong (I don't think so, but maybe someone else can confirm), but I understand the words like this:

There are many highway traffic fatalities this year. Thus, we SHOULD reduce the speed limit.
There is nothing conditional with the word "should." HOWEVER, this word can really help you out when it comes to sufficient assumption and necessary assumption (you can almost guarantee that the right answer will have the word "should" directly or will have something talking about a really big benefit to whatever "should" happen). In other words, should is a prescriptive word and typically these words need a lot of support to back them up.

If one is unhappy, this WOULD lead to being depressed. Therefore, whoever is unhappy also loves gravy on his or her turkey.
This assumption is obviously that being depressed automatically means that one enjoys gravy on the turkey. The word "would" will typically mean conditional. When I see "would," it typically shows the necessary assumption. In this case, unhappy --> depressed. However, it is important to understand that this fairly vague word might rely on the context in which it was spoken in. If I said, "While we would have thought X, it is actually Y," this is a very different type of statement that really has no coniditonal.

COULD just shows possibility. Really nothing you need to know here.

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LSAT Hacks (Graeme)
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Re: What are the meanings of should/would/could on the LSAT?

Postby LSAT Hacks (Graeme) » Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:00 pm

As others have said, the basic English definition is the right one. This applies to all LSAT words.

"Should" requires a bit more commentary though. The LSAT makes a clear distinction between facts and morality. You can't say you "should" do something based on factual information.

So if I say:

* The house is burning
* We are inside the house
* We are physically able to leave the house
* We will die if we don't leave the house

That doesn't mean that we should leave the hosue. None of the facts above say what we should do. We'd need another fact, such as:

* We should avoid dying, if possible

Combine that moral statement with the facts above, and we can conclude that we should leave the house. A lot of principle questions make this distinction between what is true and what should be.

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