Probably a familiar question but...

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Lemonman97

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Probably a familiar question but...

Postby Lemonman97 » Tue Apr 23, 2019 2:30 pm

I’ve been a lurker here for several months now but felt the need to actually post to hopefully receive some advice. Just for a general perspective of where I’m at, the latest full-length PT I took (number 46) was my best score to date. I was -10 for a 169 and went -2 RC, -5 LR, -2 LR, and -1 LG. I have been stuck in the -5 to -2 range for LR for probably a month now and just can’t seem to break out of it. I blind review individual sections after taking them and try and review the relevant portions of the LRB but I’m still stuck. I am aiming for Harvard or Columbia and want to score 175+. Does anyone have any advice or similar experiences?

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Re: Probably a familiar question but...

Postby LSATWiz.com » Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:55 pm

Re - LR

1.) List the question types you got incorrect - you want to drill individual question types of questions you get wrong, not only full sections.

2.) State whether you got any questions wrong in the first 10 questions. If you get anything wrong in the first 10, it normally indicates you need help with that specific question type.

3.) Timing wise, aim to get the first 15 questions right in 15 minutes. Questions 16-25 are much more difficult and going 15-15 while having 20 minutes for the 10 difficult questions is critical to getting -1's and -0's on LR.

Re - RC and LG

Your scores are strong. Keep practicing. Ideally, you should have a -0 game but a -2 RC is very strong. Some people find that RC gets more difficult post-PT 50.

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Re: Probably a familiar question but...

Postby Lemonman97 » Wed Apr 24, 2019 5:18 pm

LSATWiz.com wrote:Re - LR

1.) List the question types you got incorrect - you want to drill individual question types of questions you get wrong, not only full sections.

2.) State whether you got any questions wrong in the first 10 questions. If you get anything wrong in the first 10, it normally indicates you need help with that specific question type.

3.) Timing wise, aim to get the first 15 questions right in 15 minutes. Questions 16-25 are much more difficult and going 15-15 while having 20 minutes for the 10 difficult questions is critical to getting -1's and -0's on LR.

Re - RC and LG

Your scores are strong. Keep practicing. Ideally, you should have a -0 game but a -2 RC is very strong. Some people find that RC gets more difficult post-PT 50.


Thanks. There’s no consistency in the Q-stem of any of the LR questions I am missing at all (6 of the 7 questions I missed on PT 46 were different types, with Sufficient Assumption being the only one repeated). This has made it hard to really zone in on my possible mistakes. I think I’m simply not understanding some of the stimuli or the way certain premises connect to the conclusion of certain difficult to understand arguments. Not sure what the best way to drill this would be other than consistently reviewing mistakes

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Re: Probably a familiar question but...

Postby LSATWiz.com » Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:49 pm

Lemonman97 wrote:
LSATWiz.com wrote:Re - LR

1.) List the question types you got incorrect - you want to drill individual question types of questions you get wrong, not only full sections.

2.) State whether you got any questions wrong in the first 10 questions. If you get anything wrong in the first 10, it normally indicates you need help with that specific question type.

3.) Timing wise, aim to get the first 15 questions right in 15 minutes. Questions 16-25 are much more difficult and going 15-15 while having 20 minutes for the 10 difficult questions is critical to getting -1's and -0's on LR.

Re - RC and LG

Your scores are strong. Keep practicing. Ideally, you should have a -0 game but a -2 RC is very strong. Some people find that RC gets more difficult post-PT 50.


Thanks. There’s no consistency in the Q-stem of any of the LR questions I am missing at all (6 of the 7 questions I missed on PT 46 were different types, with Sufficient Assumption being the only one repeated). This has made it hard to really zone in on my possible mistakes. I think I’m simply not understanding some of the stimuli or the way certain premises connect to the conclusion of certain difficult to understand arguments. Not sure what the best way to drill this would be other than consistently reviewing mistakes

Did the other ones have the words "argument" or "conclusion" in the question stem? It may be a minor weakness in the way you interpret argumentative structure permeating into related q-types.

Read my guide on sufficient assumptions on here, and see if it helps.

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Re: Probably a familiar question but...

Postby Lemonman97 » Thu Apr 25, 2019 3:07 am

LSATWiz.com wrote:
Lemonman97 wrote:
LSATWiz.com wrote:Re - LR

1.) List the question types you got incorrect - you want to drill individual question types of questions you get wrong, not only full sections.

2.) State whether you got any questions wrong in the first 10 questions. If you get anything wrong in the first 10, it normally indicates you need help with that specific question type.

3.) Timing wise, aim to get the first 15 questions right in 15 minutes. Questions 16-25 are much more difficult and going 15-15 while having 20 minutes for the 10 difficult questions is critical to getting -1's and -0's on LR.

Re - RC and LG

Your scores are strong. Keep practicing. Ideally, you should have a -0 game but a -2 RC is very strong. Some people find that RC gets more difficult post-PT 50.


Thanks. There’s no consistency in the Q-stem of any of the LR questions I am missing at all (6 of the 7 questions I missed on PT 46 were different types, with Sufficient Assumption being the only one repeated). This has made it hard to really zone in on my possible mistakes. I think I’m simply not understanding some of the stimuli or the way certain premises connect to the conclusion of certain difficult to understand arguments. Not sure what the best way to drill this would be other than consistently reviewing mistakes

Did the other ones have the words "argument" or "conclusion" in the question stem? It may be a minor weakness in the way you interpret argumentative structure permeating into related q-types.

Read my guide on sufficient assumptions on here, and see if it helps.


Where do I access this guide? It doesn’t seem to be under the LSAT articles section of this site or linked to in the stickied forum above. I’m probably just blind though and not seeing it

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Re: Probably a familiar question but...

Postby LSATWiz.com » Thu Apr 25, 2019 12:36 pm

Brothers and sisters, this is my guide to assumption questions - it breaks down all of the techniques I use to help students dominate assumption questions. It is a damn good guide and should be damn helpful. However, it may have a lot of damn typos. If you want to repay me, please point out the typos. I'm also helpful to answer any questions and respond to any questions, but if possible, please point out the damn typos. Thanks!!

Part Two: Questions Based on the Assumption

Now that we have covered each of the questions that test argumentative structure, we will segue into questions that require the test-taker to identify an assumption. This section will breakdown each of the question types that stem from the link between an argument’s facts and its conclusion. These question types include sufficient assumptions, necessary assumptions, strengthen, weaken, flaw, parallel flaw and justify the principle questions. Collectively, these questions will comprise roughly half of the logical reasoning questions on the LSAT (about 25% of the total test).

IV. Sufficient Assumption Questions

Like the previous question types, assumption questions require the test-taker to identify the author’s conclusion. In fact, the correct answer on any assumption question must reference the conclusion either directly or indirectly. Unlike the previous question types, the test-taker is not being asked to merely identify the conclusion, the relationship between a given statement and the conclusion or how the writer reaches his or her conclusion. Instead, the test-taker is being asked to identify the assumption.

So what is an assumption? Simply put, an assumption is a gap between the facts and the conclusion. It is something unstated, but the validity of which the writer takes for granted is valid in reaching their conclusion. To paint by analogy, if the facts are New Jersey and the conclusion is New York, then the assumption is the George Washington Bridge that connects New Jersey to New York.

Although we may not be cognizant of it, we make and hear others make assumptions every day. From recommending a restaurant because it has great prime rib to telling someone they have to bring an umbrella because it’s going to rain, we frequently draw conclusions that are supported by evidence, but that are not necessarily true. For instance, although the restaurant may have great prime rib, perhaps the person it is being recommended to is vegetarian and notwithstanding the rainy forecast, it’s possible the person you’re telling to bring an umbrella wants to get wet.

Virtually every subjective statement that contains a recommendation, prediction or judgment will be predicated on an assumption. If you pointed out every assumption you heard, you’d be an insufferable jerk. On the LSAT, you want to be that jerk. Besides, every time you see an assumption, strengthen, weaken or flaw, LSAC is trying to trick you, which is a jerk-move so it’s okay to be kind of a jerk back.

Although some test prep companies teach assumption questions as a single question, there are actually two types of assumption questions: sufficient necessary and necessary. The difference between sufficient and necessary assumptions is that while a sufficient assumption guarantees the truth of the conclusion, a necessary assumption is something needed for the conclusion to have any chance at being true.

In many situations, an assumption is both sufficient and necessary to drawing the conclusion. For instance, if someone argued that Mike Trout is the best baseball player, because he produces the most wins above replacement, the statement that the player with the best WAR is always the best player is both sufficient and necessary to drawing the argument’s conclusion. If, however, we said that the Los Angeles Angels are a good baseball team because they have Mike Trout who is the best player and solid pitching, then linking “best player” to “good team” is sufficient to drawing the conclusion but not necessary.

The approach that the test-taker uses on sufficient assumption questions will be similar to necessary assumption questions, but they will differ slightly.

Typical Prompt:

• “Which one of the following, if assumed, allows the argument to be properly drawn?”

• “The conclusion follows logically if which one of the following is assumed?”

• “Which one of the following, if assumed, would be sufficient in drawing the conclusion above?”

• Which one of the following, if assumed, most strongly justifies the argument?”

Why LSAC tests this: LSAC tests assumption recognition early and often. As discussed supra, flaw, strengthen, weaken and justify the principle questions are all based on the assumption. The reason LSAC tests assumptions so frequently is because unlike the previous question types we’ve seen, and the must be true questions (as we’ll see later), assumption recognition requires more than just applying law to fact. While applying law to fact is necessary to effective lawyering, it is insufficient. Police officers are entrusted with applying law to fact every day, but lawyers are expected to do something more.

The ability to recognize assumptions is the single most important component to thinking like a lawyer. It requires one to distinguish fact from opinion and be able to reduce an argument to its bare logic. In law school, the ability to properly breakdown a case will require the ability to identify not only the verdict, but the logic that the judge utilizes to support that verdict. On law school exams, the facts likely won’t directly support anyone conclusion but could be argued to support several different conclusions. In order to score above the median, a law student must be able to use the same facts to make several different arguments.

In legal practice, many cases will clearly favor one side over another and result in a settlement. However, when cases go to trial, the facts often won’t favor either side. The side that wins will require an attorney who can argue that even though the facts presented by opposing counsel are valid, their conclusion is always invalid. The way they can accomplish this is by discrediting the assumption(s) in opposing counsel’s argument.

What LSAC is looking for: LSAC is looking for the test taker to identify a link between the facts and the conclusion that would guarantee the validity of that conclusion.

Approach: As with the previous questions, your first step on any assumption question is to identify the conclusion. I recommend glancing at the last sentence first to see if there is a conclusion trigger-word like “Thus” or “Therefore”. If so, I advise bracketing this sentence and reading it first. If not, read the passage from the beginning focusing on finding the conclusion. I recommend bracketing the conclusion not only because you may need to read it later, but also because the right answer choice must reference the conclusion.

After identifying the conclusion, breakdown the facts the writer uses to support the conclusion. Remember, every substantive word of the conclusion requires evidentiary support. If a substantive word or phrase in the conclusion lacks direct evidentiary support, then congratulations. You have identified the assumption! The right answer choice must link the key fact or facts to that substantive word.

On a sufficient assumption question, simply linking the facts to the conclusion is sufficient to get the correct answer, because the sufficient condition is always that the writer’s facts beget the writer’s conclusion. If someone argues that because there is a 75% chance of rain, you should bring an umbrella, then the sufficient assumption is that if it will probably rain, then you should bring the umbrella! The correct answer choice must be consistent with this statement.

For those looking for a more specialized technique, there are three techniques I use with students to help them identify the assumption:

1.) Informal Logic:

Most test-takers are aware of formal logic, and this primer will discuss formal logic in greater detail later. Put simply, a formal logic statement is any statement that can be expressed as an application of a rule. It is a statement that can be reduced to having two parts, and in which the presence one part guarantees the presence or lack of presence of the second part. Formal logic is as old as written language itself and is the foundation of nearly every legal system in human history. A classic formal logic statement is “anyone in New York is in the United States”. In this statement, the presence of New York is sufficient to guarantee the presence of the United States. On the LSAT, this is typically represented as “If NY -> US”.

Far fewer test takers are aware of the related concept of informal logic. However, any argument on the LSAT can be broken up into a simple informal logic statement. Like a formal logic statement, an informal logic statement is a statement that can be reduced into two parts. Unlike a formal logic statement, the presence of one part does not logically guarantee the presence of the second part. However, from the perspective of the writer, the presence of one part does guarantee the presence of the second part.

For instance, the argument that the tax will not pass because it harms businesses, can be reduced to “If harm business -> No Pass”. In fact, the right answer choice in a sufficient assumption question will more often than not be written in a way that resembles a formal logic statement. This is because as stated supra, a sufficient assumption is an unstated premise that guarantees the truth of the conclusion. However, a conclusion is a subjective statement and very few subjective statements are guaranteed to be true. Formal logic statements, on the other hand, by their nature guarantee the truth of a particular result. Consequently, LSAC writers often write sufficient assumption questions that are contingent on formal logic or that can be reduced to an informal logic statement.

To write an informal logic statement, treat the facts as the sufficient condition and treat the conclusion as the necessary condition. For example, “the Yankees will win because they are the better team” becomes “Better team -> Win”. Although this statement is not necessarily true logically speaking, it is necessarily true according to the writer. On a sufficient assumption question, you are not being asked to identify something that is true, only something that is true according to the writer.

LSAC will frequently present the choices in a way conducive to formal logic. In the example above, they may say something along the lines of “Any team that is better will win the game”. LSAC may try to increase the difficulty by presenting the correct answer choice in a way that despite being worded differently is logically identical. For instance, they may give you the contrapositive. The correct answer choice may read, “The team that loses must always be the inferior team”. Although this choice speaks about losing and inferiority instead of superiority and winning, it is logically example because it matches the logic structure of our statement above.

Using formal logic is a relatively foolproof way to getting any sufficient assumption correct, and this is the exact approach I use when looking at a question for the first time (and I never get them wrong). In fact, you can also use informal logic on necessary assumption, flaw, strengthen and weaken questions but they are most effective on sufficient assumptions where they will lead you to the correct answer 100% of the time.


2.) T-Charting

Some test takers struggle with formal logic and will avoid using it wherever possible. Consequently, the burden of using informal logic may be too much bear. In my experience, students currently scoring below the mid-150’s may have trouble grasping the concept of informal logic as set forth above. For such students, I created an alternative method that will also get them the same result.

As we discussed earlier, the most common assumption on any LSAT question is that the facts lead to the conclusion. While the test-taker is expected to always accept the facts presented as valid, they are expected to never accept the conclusion as necessarily being valid. On assumption questions, the test taker’s job is to distinguish facts from conclusions.

A great way of doing this is to create a T chart, which you can do by drawing a big T next to the test question, which results in one column. Label the left-hand column “F” for facts, and label the right “C” for conclusion. Next, shorthand the key facts in the left-hand column and the conclusion in the right.

Then read the problem back as if these facts, then this conclusion. This produces the same result as informal logic but in a way that simplifies the concept for individuals who struggle to grasp formal logic.

3.) Equivocations

If one of the two approaches above does not lead you to the clearly write answer, there is a third approach – identifying the equivocation. As mentioned earlier in this section, every substantive word in the conclusion must have evidentiary support. If an important term that shows up in conclusion was also used in the same context in the facts, then that’s not the assumption. If, however, a substantive term shows up for the first time in the conclusion, then that term is very likely the assumption.

In this technique look for any term or phrase of substance such as a value judgment or prediction; eg: “negative effect”, “will win”, “good/bad”, etc. Next, try to find the word that the premises that the writer appears to be relying on to introduce the new term. The sufficient assumption will be that the word or phrase as used in the facts is identical to the word or phrase as used in the conclusion.

For example, if a prompt states that “all great artists have a unique sense of reality. Therefore, all great artists have creative splendor,” then the assumption is that having a unique sense of reality indicates that one has creative splendor.

Any of these 3 methods can lead you to the correct answer in a time efficient matter. Now to recap, in any sufficient assumption question you should:

1.) Identify the conclusion
2.) Breakdown the evidence
3.) Use one of the 3 techniques outlined above
4.) Predict the sufficient assumption
5.) Find a choice logically identical to your prediction.




Necessary Assumption Questions

Necessary assumptions are just as common as sufficient assumption questions, but individual tests vary as to which of the two assumption types is more common. Between the two of them, you can expect to see anywhere from 8-10 assumption questions and as discussed, roughly half of all LR questions are predicated on the assumption. Thus, it is necessary to be great at picking up on assumptions to get a great LSAT score.

Speaking of necessary, necessary assumption questions are very similar to sufficient assumption questions. In both, your task is to identify the conclusion, breakdown the key facts, and identify the gap between the facts and the conclusion. There is, however, one key difference. The difference between sufficient and necessary assumptions is that while a sufficient assumption guarantees the truth of the conclusion, a necessary assumption is something without which the conclusion has no chance of being valid. If the necessary assumption is not there, the conclusion is deader than disco. It must be done and finished.

To paint by example, recall the baseball argument we used in the sufficient assumption section:

“The Los Angeles Angels are a good baseball team, because they have
Mike Trout who is the best baseball player and they have solid pitching.”

This argument supports its conclusion that the Angels are good with two facts. They have the best player, Mike Frickin’ Trout and they have solid pitching. The conclusion relies on its alleged link with these two facts. Now, if we could link both or even one of these two facts individually, namely having the best player or having solid pitching with being a good team, then our conclusion would be sufficiently drawn.

Conversely, if we were to remove the link between one of these two facts and the conclusion, our conclusion could still stand. If it were established that having the best player or having good pitching is each individually insufficient to establish that a team is good, that does not necessarily mean that having both qualities together (best player and solid pitching) does not guarantee that a team is good. If, however, it was established that there is no link between having both the best player and solid pitching, and being a good team, then the conclusion is disco. Poof. Gone. Dead. Finished.

The necessary assumption need not be obviously relevant to the argument. It just needs to be something without which the conclusion cannot stand. For example, if we established that it was impossible to determine whether a baseball is good or bad, our conclusion would fall apart even though it does not directly reference the link between our facts and conclusions. It does, however, preclude our facts from leading to our conclusion.

On necessary assumptions, this is exactly what you’re looking for – that link that, if removed, makes the conclusion fall apart.

Typical Prompt:

• “Which one of the following is an assumption upon which the argument depends?”

• “The argument relies on which one of the following assumptions?”

• “Which one of the following assumptions is necessary to establish the conclusion above?”

• “The validity of the argument requires which one of the following assumptions?”

Why LSAC tests this: As discussed supra, LSAC tests assumption recognition early and often. As discussed supra, flaw, strengthen, weaken and justify the principle questions are all based on the assumption. The reason LSAC tests assumptions so frequently is because unlike the previous question types we’ve seen, and the must be true questions (as we’ll see later), assumption recognition requires more than just applying law to fact. While applying law to fact is necessary to effective lawyering, it is insufficient. Police officers are entrusted with applying law to fact every day, but lawyers are expected to do something more.

The ability to recognize assumptions is the single most important component to thinking like a lawyer. It requires one to distinguish fact from opinion and be able to reduce an argument to its bare logic. In law school, the ability to properly breakdown a case will require the ability to identify not only the verdict, but the logic that the judge utilizes to support that verdict. On law school exams, the facts likely won’t directly support anyone conclusion but could be argued to support several different conclusions. In order to score above the median, a law student must be able to use the same facts to make several different arguments.

In legal practice, many cases will clearly favor one side over another and result in a settlement. However, when cases go to trial, the facts often won’t favor either side. The side that wins will require an attorney who can argue that even though the facts presented by opposing counsel are valid, their conclusion is always invalid. The way they can accomplish this is by discrediting the assumption(s) in opposing counsel’s argument.

What LSAC is looking for: LSAC is looking for the test taker to identify a link between the facts and conclusion without which the conclusion cannot possibly be valid.

Approach: As with the previous questions, your first step on any assumption question is to identify the conclusion. I recommend glancing at the last sentence first to see if there is a conclusion trigger-word like “Thus” or “Therefore”. If so, I advise bracketing this sentence and reading it first. If not, read the passage from the beginning focusing on finding the conclusion. I recommend bracketing the conclusion not only because you may need to read it later, but also because the right answer choice must reference the conclusion.

After identifying the conclusion, breakdown the facts the writer uses to support the conclusion. Remember, every substantive word of the conclusion requires evidentiary support. If a substantive word or phrase in the conclusion lacks direct evidentiary support, then congratulations. You have identified the assumption! The right answer choice must link the key fact or facts to that substantive word.

On a necessary assumption question, linking the facts to the conclusion is very helpful but is by itself inadequate to get the right answer choice. The test-taker can form a general prediction but must still analyze the choices to identify a choice without which the argument cannot be valid. *There is a quick failproof for this that we will discuss shortly.

To breakdown the argument and expose the assumption, use any one of the three techniques that we discussed in the sufficient assumption section:

1.) Informal Logic
2.) T-Diagramming
3.) Equivocation

After using one of these three techniques to expose the assumption, read through the choices using the negation test.

Negation Test

On a necessary assumption question, you’re asked to identify an assumption without which the conclusion cannot be true. But how can we prove that something has to be true?

A smoker may say that they need their cigarettes, but how do we know if this is true? If we give the smoker their smokes, and they live, then we have failed to determine whether they need their cigarettes. If, however, we do not give them their cigarettes and they die because of want of cigarettes, then we have determined that they did, in fact, need cigarettes.

Necessary assumptions work similarly. If we plug in the assumption and the conclusion seems fine and dandy, then that doesn’t necessarily mean that the assumption was necessary to the argument. If, however, we take away the assumption and the conclusion falls apart, then we have identified a necessary assumption.

To use the negation test, simply negate the choice so that it reads antonymous to how it previously read. For example, the word “all” becomes “none” and “will” becomes “will not”. Just make sure not to negate the choice in such a way that it becomes an irrelevant statement. For example, if we took a choice the read “all unicorns will have horns” and stated “all animals that are not unicorns will not have horns”, then we have created a different but not antonymous statement – one stating that any animal that isn’t a unicorn will not have horns. A properly negated statement would read that “all unicorns have no horns”.

When using this technique, make sure to properly negate a choice and analyze the negated choice against your conclusion. If it does not make it fall apart, it must be wrong. If it does make it fall apart, it must be right.

Some quick tips on negating:

- All becomes not all
- Some becomes not some (i.e. none)
- Many becomes not many
- Most becomes not most
- None becomes not none (i.e. some+)
- Few becomes none
- Will becomes won’t
- Must becomes must not
- Always becomes not always
- Sometimes becomes not sometimes (i.e. no times)
- Frequent becomes infrequent.

Hopefully, you get it by now because my fingers are tired. Anyway, just negate the choice and then see if it makes the conclusion fall apart.

If used properly, you should always be able to identify the right answer choice with 100% certainty.

To recap, here are the step by step approaches on necessary assumption questions:

1.) Identify the conclusion
2.) Breakdown the evidence
3.) Use one of the 3 techniques
a. Informal Logic
b. T-Diagramming
c. Equivocation
4.) Use the negation test
5.) Choose the choice that makes the conclusion fall apart.

Before moving onto strengthen/weaken questions, here are two common assumption patterns you are likely to see on your LSAT:

1.) If the conclusion speaks about causation, there is a 99% chance the assumption is that two variables have a causal relationship and are not merely correlated or the causal relationship is not the vice-versa of what the prompt states.
2.) If the conclusion is that something has high degree of certainty, there is a very good chance that it is generalizing from facts that merely establish it to be probable or likely.



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