Mastering the Analytical Reasoning Section of the LSAT Exam
Terms You'll Need to Understand
Techniques and Concepts You'll Need to Master
Practice to increase familiarity with game format
Practice to recognize patterns of question formats
Sequence and Matrix
The LSAT always contains one Analytical Reasoning section. You'll be given 35 minutes to work the section. Typically, the section will contain 2324 questions. As with Reading Comprehension, the one variable in the Analytical Reasoning section is that you won't be able to predict where it shows up in the order of the different sections of the exam.
How It Stacks Up to the Other Sections
Analytical Reasoning is the definitive "love it or hate it" kind of section. Although the section has no mathematical equations on it per se, it does seem that those who intuitively understand spatial reasoning and variable-laden equations (if set A, not set B) do best here. Those of us who enjoy brain teasers and abstract mental puzzles will enjoy what this section has to offer.
It’s important to remember that a lot of the fear people feel when facing this section is not due to the problems being incredibly difficult. Rather, it is unfamiliarity with facing a logic game for the first time. A logic game is a particular type of question that you will only find in this section of this exam.
A sample of what a logic game might look like follows:
Charles has to put together a roster for his company's annual softball game against their cross-town rival. He's got eight healthy people that want to bat for the team: Corwin, Dorian, Hal, Joseph, Kamal, Peter, Ralph, and Seth. He's allowed to submit five names for his roster. However, there are some things to take into consideration:
If Ralph plays, Hal must play immediately after Ralph on the roster.
Two of the three managers, Dorian, Kamal, and Ralph, have to be on the team.
Corwin and Seth can't be next to each other on the roster.
If Kamal is on the team, then Joseph can't be picked.
Peter has to play either first or second.
Among the questions that people often have at this point is, "What on earth does this have to do with my ability to become an attorney?" While not as directly applicable as the skills tested for reading and evaluating conclusions from arguments, the Analytical Reasoning does play a vital role in the testing process. Logic games are, at base, designed to measure your ability to quickly understand a system of relationships and to draw conclusions about those relationships.
In this sample logic game, it’s arguable that how Charles puts together the roster for his company’s annual softball game isn’t applicable to legal training. However, what if Charles were your client in a complex tort case involving an industrial accident? Or a murder case where there were multiple gun shots being fired by a half-dozen individuals during a bank robbery? In these cases, being able to untangle a web of facts to draw the right conclusions—and even understanding who sat next to whom as the events unfolded—is a crucial skill.