The Virtues of Simplicity on the LSAT

One of my LSAT clients recently told me about a debate he had with a couple of co-workers who were also planning to take the LSAT. He was helping them with a certain kind of question in logical reasoning that they were having trouble with.

He showed them how to get the correct answer on a few sample questions, and immediately ran into resistance. Both of his co-workers were in a big-box company classroom LSAT prep course, and they pressed my client with, “But what about these techniques [which they’d been taught]—you didn’t use any of them, and what about the contrapositive…?”

My client’s answer cut through the jargon-y malarkey—“Whatever, I got them right and you didn’t. Take my word that this is the way to do these or not but…”

Now, my client, by this point, was very, very good at the LSAT—he got that good by keeping his analysis and attack simple and straightforward. As I’ve said before, the LSAT is a hard test because the writers are very good at writing tests. What makes it hard is just that—not that it’s complicated because it’s not. The writers have a clear theory of argument in mind and they stick to it; no tricks, no sneak attacks, no changing of the rules; they play by the rules and are simply asking you whether you can play by the same rules they do, and can do it as well as they do. If you can, you get the answer; if you can’t, you don’t.

I got a perfect score on the LSAT the only time I took it because I understood that—and I understood that all the jargon and complicated techniques employed by various programs (which I didn’t use exactly because of the jargon and complications) get in the way of understanding and breaking down the argument that’s sitting on the page, and accepting and rejecting answers for the right reasons—not because they feel right or don’t but because they work or don’t. Simplicity has two virtues: it makes you both more accurate and more efficient.

My client understood all that, too. He doesn’t have his score back yet, but I’m very confident that he did very well, at least matching my clients’ average near-12-point and 25-percentile improvement from their initial test or their last test in other programs. Although I’ll never know, I’m pretty sure he’ll have done better than the co-workers who made the test as complicated as possible because it made them feel like they had some secret knowledge that the guy who got the right answers didn’t have. Whether they sound less sophisticated or clever than others, clients who buy into what I do will settle for getting the answers right. And I’ll settle for helping show them how to do that.

~ by Kyle Pasewark at Advise-in Solutions on October 4, 2017.

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