LSAT Logical Reasoning: What is an Argument?

Logical reasoning, or LR, is one of three multiple choice questions on the LSAT. According to the official LSAT website, LSAC, logical reasoning questions test your ability to “analyze, critically evaluate, and complete arguments.” So what is an argument?
An argument may be something you think of as occurring in politics (two sides arguing over an issue such as the payroll tax cut), or as part of a celebrity feud, but in LSAT terms, an argument is not a conflict at all. An argument is simply a declarative statement supported by examples.
The LSAC states that there are ten concepts tested in Logical Reasoning:

  • Recognizing the parts of an argument and their relationships
  • Recognizing similarities and differences between patterns of reasoning
  • Drawing well-supported conclusions
  • Reasoning by analogy
  • Recognizing misunderstandings or points of disagreement
  • Determining how additional evidence affects an argument
  • Detecting assumptions made by particular arguments
  • Identifying and applying principles or rules
  • Identifying flaws in arguments
  • Identifying explanations

These LSAT concepts will be based on a short passage accompanied by one (or occasionally two) multiple choice questions. The questions can ask about any part of the argument: the conclusion, the evidence, the assumptions, or it can ask how an outside piece of information relates to the argument (parallel reasoning, complete the passage, additional evidence, etc.)
While the subject matter for logical reasoning is vast, the actual vocabulary of the passages is quite simple. Passages can come from newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, advertisements, or mock conversations. The arguments are designed to mock the type legal reasoning you’ll be required to know in law school in both their format and complexity, but the arguments themselves will not always be explicitly about the law, and you’ll notice that they are easily read and understood from an RC standpoint.

LSAT Logical Reasoning Practice Question

Joe: Search engines provide us with information that contributes to our understanding of the cultural zeitgeist. Even more worthwhile than this, however, is the fact that these engines allow students access to a much wider range of educational information than previously.
Jill: Joe is mistaken. Increasing human interaction on the global level is what matters most of all. Without search engines, communication would be much slower.
1. Joe and Jill disagree on whether search engines:
A. derives their importance in part from communicating the cultural zeitgeist
B. expand the limits of our knowledge
C. should place more value on increasing human interaction
D. have their most valuable achievements in our access to information
E. have any value apart from their role in providing basic information

The Answer Explained

The answer here is (D). Joe believes the most worthwhile thing about search engines is the wide range of info, while Jill believes the increase in interaction is the most importance. There is nothing to indicate that Jill disagrees with the first of Joe’s statements, so (A) is out of scope. It is reasonable to infer that Jill would also believe search engines expand knowledge through communication, so (B) is incorrect. The priorities of the search engines themselves are not the issue here, so (C) is incorrect – our focus is on the individual opinions of Joe and Jill. Finally, both Joe and Jill praise search engines for value apart from providing info. Joe praises the “wider range” of information, implying more than simply what is “basic.” Jill praises them for faster communication. Thus, (E) can also be eliminated. This would be considered a medium-level LSAT question.
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