pageok
pageok
pageok
LSAT Logical Reasoning:

A friend of mine is planning to take the LSAT, and I'd like to get her a book that can help her prepare for the Logical Reasoning section. That's the only section I'm interested in right now. Can anyone recommend a book that's worth trying on this, or tell me to stay away from certain books?

Other readers, I'm sure, would also find this helpful, so I've enabled comments; please post your recommendations there. Thanks!

NickBlesch (mail) (www):
I found the Kaplan LSAT 180 book very useful, but it's a bit advanced.

It assumes that you've got some familiarity with the material in the first place, and just gives you really hard questions to do. It explains the difficult parts (and well), but if you want something that gives a whole lot of detail on the basics, it's probably not what you're looking for.
2.10.2005 11:17pm
Mike Furdyna (mail):
I used lsat 180 and found it helpful. The best books I've found however are by Powerscore. They're famous amongst lsat takers for their Logic Games Bible, and they've recently come out with a Logical Reasoning Bible as well. They have numerous examples from real LSATs and provide a number of drills to reinforce the concepts they teach. Using LSAT 180 and the Powerscore books I improved 8 points from one test to another!
2.10.2005 11:21pm
Glenn Bowen (mail):
I can't think of any.
2.10.2005 11:33pm
Hollywood_Freaks (mail):
Thanks Glenn. no really. thanks.
2.11.2005 12:15am
Jason Wagenmaker (mail):
I second Powerscore.
2.11.2005 1:33am
UMNlawstudent (mail):
I found LSAT 180 to be helpful.
2.11.2005 1:42am
TWAndrews (mail):
I recommend the Powerscore Logic Reasoning Bible and for the games, the Logic Games Bible, both give lots of insight into approaches to the test. However, the single most important thing one can do to improve their score is to take lots of practice tests, which are available from LSAC in bundles of 10, or as individual tests.

The LSAT is highly learnable, and practice is the best way to improve one's score. Mine went from an initial "cold" (no practice or review) score of 161 to a 175 when I took the actual test, which translates in to a *huge* difference in the schools which will accept me.

The LSAT 180 was also helpful. The books which I didn't find particularly useful were the general Kaplan book and the Princeton Review LSAT book. I found both of these to contain much more cheerleading ("You can do it!") than useful test preperation. They did, however, have some useful information about Law School in general.
2.11.2005 3:44am
Fernando R (mail):
In terms of prep books that arenât useful, Arco GRE/LSAT Logic Workbook, 2000 Edition must be avoided. I picked-up this copy at the Oakland public library to gear-up for the June 14, 2004 LSAT exam and earned a shabby 146. I couldnât afford any of the fancy prep programs nor any prep books, so I made full use of the public system. That was a mistake.
2.11.2005 4:29am
Anonymous Law Student:
I would suggest Penny Press' Logic Games Magazine- each issue is very cheap, and it tends to have far more complex problems than the LSAT. Getting used to doing the box-charts with it (which it usually handily provides, so you only need fill in the dots and Xs) was invaluable.
2.11.2005 4:57am
Ted (mail) (www):
I second Anonymous's recommendation any of the logic games magazines for the logic games section of the test. I grew up doing puzzles from my mother's copies, and using them to practice for the LSAT is the equivalent of Demosthenes' tactic of speaking with pebbles in his mouth. The magazines have puzzles much tougher than anything on the LSAT. I scored a perfect 48 cold because of that experience--and could've scored much higher had there been the opportunity, because I finished each of the logic games sections ten minutes early.

Which doesn't answer Eugene's question about the logical reasoning section, unfortunately.
2.11.2005 7:21am
Volokh fan:
Thanks for the useful info. Any other ideas addressing "why choose law scool?" "how to choose a law school," and "prospects for free-market/ pro-liberty/ objectivish law students" would be most welcome.
2.11.2005 7:47am
Penn3L:
The Kaplan LSAT book did a good job explaining the logic games, and it had 3 practice tests. That and a few practice exams brought me from only being able to finish 60% of the logic games in the allotted time to being able to finish all of them perfectly often with 10 minutes to spare. I swear by that book.
2.11.2005 7:59am
Gerry Ford:
If you're not frantically cramming and want to enjoy learning to do the games section, get a bunch of issues of Games magazine and do the logic games in there. They're much more complicated than the LSAT games, so you'll find the LSAT games a cinch. (I did.)

Also, the key to taking practice tests for the games section is affording yourself less time than the test actually allows -- this is the only way to similate the pressure of the actual test.

Finally, I found it very useful to take the practice exams in a public library or other public place, rather than the quiet of my own home -- this prepares you for the distractions of a large test room.
2.11.2005 8:51am
My score on the games section: 100%:
I recommend using the books of real practice tests published by LSAC almost exclusively for problems. There's nothing wrong with reading other books for explanations of the core strategies, but I found that problems in other books are always substantially different from those on the actual test. They contain extraneous information that LSAC wouldn't use and have subtly different sorts of clues and answer choices. If your friend has years to build up her logic-puzzle skills, she should feel free to work with those, but if she's trying to prepare for the next exam she needs to stick to the kinds of problems that will appear on the actual test.

As importantly, questions in other books are almost invariably formatted wrong. You aren't allowed to use scrap paper in the games section, so you have to do all your work in the empty space between questions. I found that other books use much more of the space on the page than LSAC does and will often spread a given game over multiple pages, so it's generally impossible to do the problems unless you do them on scrap paper. That's not the same at all - learning to work with the space LSAC gives you is one of the most important games section skills.
2.11.2005 9:00am
Me (mail):
I didn't like any of the test prep books out there. What your friend should do is buy 20-30 of the old LSATs, available on the LSAC web site, and sit down with them. They don't give you explanations for what you got wrong but I have found that attempting to figure out why you got a question wrong is actually more helpful than being told why. For example, in logical reasoning, I noticed that I almost always answered incorrectly the second question in the two part questions that they have. I realized that my problem was for the second question I never went back and reread the original "fact pattern." When I started doing that my scores started to improve dramatically. Here's my suggestions for LSAT takers: Take ten tests a week for ten weeks and time them. Review all your mistakes. Then do a test or two during the week one to two sections at a time. By the time the LSAT comes around you will be ready for anything rhat they give, because you've seen the real thing and have built up confidence on real exams. If you take 20-30 real exams by the time of your LSAT you will have done 40-60 real logical reasoning sections. It's better than anything Kaplan can provide. With this method, I was able to get in the 97th percentile.
2.11.2005 9:01am
Anny Ominoun:
I second Me's recommendation. Just do tests. Lots of them. Using that alone, I managed 99th %ile, and I'm stoopid.
2.11.2005 9:06am
NickL (www):
Most of the guidebooks that are available are serviceable. When I was studying, I found the following to be the most productive:
1. Purchase a guidebook and read through it but do not worry about taking every test/quiz it offers.
2. Purchase a number of old, actual LSATs from LSAC
3. Take these LSATs under timed conditions (this is important!)
4. Review your mistakes
5. Repeat steps 3 &4 until you feel confident and your score stops improving
Optional: There are tens of old tests available so if you are having trouble on a particular type of section, take those sections only from the old tests (just make sure you still time yourself).
2.11.2005 10:01am
Anderson (mail) (www):
I used the Princeton Review book because the "A, B, C, and D are in an orgy" questions always give me fits. The tips and explanations were great, it did help me learn to solve those problems, and I did great on the first such LSAT question.

Unfortunately, I hadn't picked up the book until the night before the test, and I used half my time to do the 1st of 4 problems. The method went out the window after that. So please tell your friend to START STUDYING EARLY!
2.11.2005 10:21am
kristine (mail) (www):
I would say practice tests are the way to go. LSAC actually sells some of the old tests in booklets with explanations. They're significantly more expensive than just buying the tests, but might be worth it. Logical Reasoning is the section that is probably the hardest to prep for.

I did not use the Logical Reasoning Bible, but I heard many good things about it, and I did use the Games Bible which significantly improved my games. So I wouldn't hesitate to recommend any of the Powerscore books. I also used LSAT 180, but I don't know that the Logical Reasoning section is all that strong. It definitely presupposes an general understanding of the strategies.
2.11.2005 10:35am
Bob Dwyer (mail):
Not a lawyer, but many years ago I spent the weekend before taking the CPA exams kicking back and reading the sherlock holmes anthology. Couldn't hurt.
2.11.2005 10:40am
LizardBreath (mail):
I would avoid anything published by Barrons. I scared the hell out of myself with a Barrons study guide before the LSAT -- the logic puzzles just seemed impossible. I then got the books of old tests published by the LSAT which were comparatively easy, as was the actual LSAT I took. I think Barrons is poorly edited, and as a result ends up with ambiguous or genuinely impossible problems. Useless for studying, and bad for self-confidence.
2.11.2005 10:59am
Leslie Reed (mail):
I used to teach for Kaplan for the LSAT. Their logic method is excellent. They explicate the test itself and show how to approach the problems. She should start now and internalize the approach as quickly as possible to maximize the practice she does on whatever other sources she gets. Kaplan uses real questions, and she can, as noted in other posts, buy even more. The method debunks the test which, to me, provides added confidence and an "I can do this" mindset. Logic went from my worst section to my best after mastering the technique.
2.11.2005 11:04am
Thief (mail) (www):
I swear by Kaplan's LSAT prep. Their essenential lesson is that there are only six or seven questions in logical reasoning, only the words change. Very helpful.

I still, however, despise logic games with every fiber of my being. That is the only part of the LSAT which need be feared.
2.11.2005 11:45am
Fernando R (mail):
Powerscore and Testmasters are both well known prep course providers for the LSAT. I know that the quality of any prep course depends on the actual instructor, but can someone provide reasons as to which prep method is better of the two? Also, who are the best instructors under both methods? Professor Volokhâs friend might benefit from your responses.
2.11.2005 12:15pm
Fernando R (mail):
For clarityâs sake:

Rank the instructors from best to worst for each aforementioned prep course program (in terms of effectiveness, accuracy, and LSAT pedagogy that actually churns-out effective LSAT examiners.)--for the greater Los Angeles area.
2.11.2005 12:29pm
AG:
Through lots of prep, I improved my LSAT score 25 points from my awful first practice test, with most of that improvement coming in the logical reasoning section. So I speak with too much experience on this.

The commercial books are fine for learning strategies. I actually went to the public library and checked out every book that covered the test after it switched to the 180 scale. Of the six books, each was a little different, and some my final approach was a combination of ideas I found in several of them. Since it takes only an hour or two to read each strategy section of these books, why not read them all? And why buy them when you'll only look at each for a day (assuming you have a good library nearby, or plan ahead for interlibrary loan)?

Unfortunately, the practice books ranged from bad to awful in how well they simulated the actual test questions. (perhaps Kaplan or Princeton Review were the least bad). REAL LSAT's direct from LSDAS are the only way to go. A group of my friends bought a pool of about 30 tests. It seems expensive compared to just buying one practice book that claims to have six or ten (lousy) practice tests in it, but it's still cheaper and more effective than those overpriced classes and that you will save money in the long run on application fees and stress medication. Getting a 175 instead of a 165 means assured admission applying to just 4 or 5 schools instead of 10 or 15, and perhaps even some scholarship money.

A final note on tracking your improvement: the older tests are great for practice, but I think because of everyone does prep now the scores are scaled tougherr. So if you get a 170 on a test from 1996, tougher scaling and nerves may mean a few points lower on the actual test day.
2.11.2005 12:38pm
Sean Sirrine (mail):
I took a look at almost all the different books out there and I'd have to say that the best source was certaintly the 10 test bundles of the old LSAT tests. However, I still think it is a good idea to get a copy of Kaplans and Barrons as the idea ins studying for this particular section is to learn new ways of attacking a problem. The real tests give you a good idea of what you'll see at teat time, but these other books are good for priming your mind to think in certain patterns. I found taking the old tests with a timer (www.silent-timer.com) was the most beneficial way to practice.
2.11.2005 12:44pm
Matt (mail) (www):
I recommend practicing logical reasoning sections of real LSATS, over and over again. I spent about 4 hours/day for 2 weeks just drilling through old tests and checking answers - one section at a time.

My best advice: practice a logical reasoning section (timed), find out what problems were answered wrong, and then immediately go on to another. The LSAT is a test of endurance, and the logical reasoning section especially so.
2.11.2005 1:21pm
C. Carlson:
I second the notion that there is no substitute for taking as many actual, released tests from LSDAS as possible. Stay away from any tests prior to test #19, however -- thats when the people that make the ACT started adding their own material to the test, changing LR and RC and revamping LG. The test is a lot harder now, so any test prior to 19 will give you a more inflated score than you would have gotten on the more recent exams. The LG's from those tests are no longer representive of the type of games they give now, either. One kaplan teacher (on a website that I can't think of right now) compared them to "Dungeons and Dragons" type stuff.
2.11.2005 1:25pm
Bill Logan (mail):
I highly recommend the Princeton Review materials. They had an approach to the logic games that really clicked with me. But you should practice their questions on lots of old real LSAT questions, not just the practice ones in their book.
2.11.2005 2:04pm
Sean O'Se:
You need both (1) a lot of practice and (2) finely honed basic skills. For the first requirement (practice), do the tests like everyone says. But keep in mind that almost all the main books, like Kaplan &Pton and Barrons,
have *easier* logic questions than the actual LSAT. The only book I've seen that has a fair number of harder questions than the LSAT is the Arco GRE/LSAT Logic Workbook. Unfortunately, they're not always identical in
style to actual questions, but they're still a great supplement to actual tests. On the second part (the basic skills front), the Arco Logic Workbook is also good. I did a lot of their simple combinatoric drills--like how many ways you can fit X items in Y bins--and found I was getting a small but significant number wrong--and I'm a mathematician! Their explanations made me slow down and think more carefully, and when I'd internalized the rules *properly* I sped up again.

The most important piece of strategy is to start slowly. Really suck out all the information a problem has, fitting its pieces together and seeing what the underlying structure is. Only when you've worked out all the consequences of the rules should you look at the questions. As you get better, after a month, you can decide more accurately how soon you can jump from rules to answering questions. But start slowly, because it's by
exploring the game structure that practice will eventually speed you up!

Headed to Yale Law School in 9/05.:)
2.11.2005 2:06pm
DC Corporate Lawyer (mail):
I think the books by themselves generally aren't very useful. The Test Prep companies wouldn't stay in business long if they published their techniques in cheap books when they want to charge around a grand for a class.

If Prof. Volokh's friend is looking to focus on the Games section, I would use the old LSATs as practice material. However, I would also recommend spending a little money for one or two one-on-one sessions with an instructor (I'm biased in favor of The Princeton Review, mostly because I taught for them and the guy who runs the L.A. office is a friend of mine), who could lay out some of the basic strategies for you. Most of the problems are just variations on one of the main types, and a good instructor with an advanced pupil shouldn't need more than a couple sessions to instruct on how to set them up.

It's good that the friend is looking to improve on the Games -- I think that section is the one on which a person can improve the most. I personally went from a 167 on my first practice test to a 174 on the real test, and it was almost solely via improvement on the Games section. It's very difficult to teach people to read in a prep class -- it's very easy to lay out problem-solving strategies.
2.11.2005 2:08pm
Narkoleptik (mail) (www):
I have to join the Powerscore Logic Games Bible train. I thought the book was awesome.

The biggest pitfall to avoid however, is using too many books. They all have different and often conflicting methodology which tend to do more harm than good. So I say pick one or at most two and keep at it with those. Powerscore is great. And, practice, practice, practice.
2.11.2005 2:10pm
DC Corporate Lawyer (mail):
Fernando:

It's very hard to get a ranking of the various companies, mostly because you don't have a very large sample of people who take more than one company's test program. I suppose you could use the "Average Score Improvement" the companies compile, but those are based on improvements from whatever practice test they choose to administer, and they're "average", which is a pretty useless concept unless you have information on the sample and possible skewness.

That said, in Southern Cal, I have always thought TPR and Testmasters were the two best. Of course, I was last a TPR teacher in San Diego in 1999, and things could have changed since then.
2.11.2005 2:14pm
DC Corporate Lawyer (mail):
Prof Volokh:

I want to apologize -- you asked about the Logical Reasoning section (Arguments), not the Analytical Reasoning section (Games).

If you want to improve on Arguments, I think the best book is a typical "Introduction to Logic" type book for an undergrad logic course -- specifically one that spends some time on common logical fallacies and the components of an argument.

The general practice information tends to hold for all the sections -- practicing on the real tests is the best way to go. I think The Princeton Review book and Kaplan book are good for general overviews on this section.

If your friend does decide to use old tests for practice, she should save some of the newer tests to take as whole, timed exams. That is the only way to really guage how she is doing overall, as scores on sections taken individually tend to be higher than those taken as part of an overall timed test. As someone mentioned above, there is definitely an endurance element to the LSAT.

BTW, as far as it goes, Arguments are half your LSAT score, so it makes sense to focus some time on them.
2.11.2005 2:29pm
UVA1L:
The Nova book was helpful to me, but like most others here, I suggest taking at least 8-10 timed exams before taking the real one.
2.11.2005 5:26pm
Katherine (mail):
If you're actually going to score yourself in practices make sure you are taking actual, real LSATs instead of knockoffs written by testing companies. Some of the knockoffs are lousy--my score dropped 10 points on a practice the week before the test and I got all unnecessarily freaked out.

I did 3-4 times exams &that served me well, but the more the better I guess.
2.11.2005 6:23pm
Brad (mail):
I found that my best practice for the logic portions of the test were two-fold. First, I bought those cheap little logic puzzle magazines that you can get at the grocery store and worked on those until I became pretty good at solving them. Then I took a practice LSAT test to find out exactly how hard those questions were compared to the ones I was doing in the magazine. I was surprised to find that the ones on the LSAT were much easier! So my advice is get the logic puzzles and do them until you feel comfortable and then get a practice test to feel out the timing.
2.11.2005 6:41pm
Fernando R (mail):

DC Corporate lawyer:

Thanks for the reply!


I understand your skepticism with regard to an inter-comparison of LSAT prep programs in general for lack of an overriding mutual criterion by which to assess them. However, narrowing the number of programs for inter-comparison is a viable project that does not involve complicated numerical consideration. A general consensus about the quality of the prep courses tends to build up after years of conducting the courses.
First, my question dealt with two particular programs: i.e., TestMasters and Powerscore. I asked for opinions based on reasons that might opt for one program over the other. Second, I asked if one could rank the instructors per program--that is, an intra-comparison within a prep course program, since there are several instructors for each program throughout the greater Los Angeles area. Presumably one can ask such questions within this blog-posting venue and expect to read well-informed replies given the collective wisdom herein.

So the question is: Do TestMasters or Powerscore instructors better inform students about LR &AR than does self-study by covering the actual LSAT exams? $1,000-1,250 is a relatively expensive investment. Also, do law school admissions committees place any weight on whether or not one does take the prep courses? Thereâs a question on the actual exam asking if one did prepare by taking prep courses.
2.11.2005 6:54pm
Glenn Bowen (mail):
Hollywood_Freaks-

"Thanks Glenn. no really. thanks."

a couple years ago I emailed Eugene and asked if he could recommend 2-3 informative books on the constitution for a reader (me) that had no scholastic background, but was interested to get a healthy start on the subject; he replied, "I can't think of any."

best served cold:)
2.11.2005 7:37pm
Michael:
I took the test this morning, so I've got a fresh perspective on this.

The Kaplan books were both helpful. "Kaplan LSAT 2005 Edition" had a lot of helpful information for people unfamiliar with the test. For instance, what exactly is the difference between an assumption and an inference? They're similar, and if you think about it the difference is obvious... but you don't want to be thinking about it on test day! Simple, helpful information and strategies can be found in there (like reminders to read the question stem carefully, and how to INTERPRET question stems). I would START with that book.

Also, the Kaplan book comes with a CD. Taking the diagnostic test on the computer was useful in that it showed me where I was messing up. For instance, I learned that the more time I spent on a question, the more likely I was to get the wrong answer. It seems obvious, you can only learn stuff like that for sure if you take the test on a computer (because humans can't really time each question).

The "Kaplan LSAT 180 2004-2005" had some good advice for the tough questions (if you don't want a really high score, don't bother with this). One thing I did _not_ like is that both books use some of the same questions (so you can't take practice tests in the first book after you've read 180).

This is okay, though, because the practice tests in the Kaplan books were _not_ as helpful as the practice tests put out by the LSAC.

After reading the Kaplan books, I'd recommend taking LSAC's practice tests ("10 Actual, Official LSAT PrepTests", or the other books in that series). I found them to be closer to the actual LSAT questions.

Michael Levy

PS: I ran out of time on one of the three logical reasoning sections of my test today. Does anyone know which section was experimental?
2.12.2005 6:11pm
Michael:
What I meant was: I found them to be closer to the actual LSAT questions than the questions from the Kaplan books. I don't know "why" I think they were closer, but it felt that way.

Summary: Start with the Kaplan LSAT book, it's the place to start for logical reasoning (or any section).
2.12.2005 6:17pm
JamesS (mail):
The best LSAT prep for the logic (not games) part of the test is (1) the deductive/inductive logic chapter(s) of a good Intro to Logic textbook (the one I used was called "On Logic" and was published in the 80s), plus (2) lots of real LSAT practice questions. I used that approach without taking a paid prep course and didn't miss any questions on the LSAT, and I'm no legal eagle. The key insight for me was that each of the incorrect Logic (not Games) answers can be proven false using basic logic principles. The one that cannot be proven false is necessarily correct.
2.14.2005 3:08pm