In an episode of Bob’s Burgers, Tina spends all night practicing a song and dance for her book report on Call of the Wild (which she didn’t read).”You’ll be fine,” says Tina’s mom. “Just remember all the steps … memorize all the lyrics … and don’t mess it up.” For the most part, memorizing for the LSAT has a lot in common with practicing for a report on a book you didn’t read. You’ll be a lot better off working through actual LSAT questions (or just doing the reading for your book report) than you will be trying to take shortcuts.
In the case of the LSAT, the main exceptions are a limited number of key terms and concepts that will be important to memorize in order to do the actual work of LSAT studying. It’s like learning to read before you do your book report reading. It doesn’t take the place of your deeper work at all, but it’s the very first step. If you are a brand new LSAT student, the list below is a necessary (though maybe not sufficient) list of words you should memorize and understand for your LSAT study.
Premise/Conclusion Indicator Words: terms that signal the premise or conclusion of an argument. For example: “Since Tina didn’t read for her book report (premise), it follows that she must improvise (conclusion).”
These indicator words will help you to dissect and evaluate arguments, by showing you how the same premises and conclusions can be presented in different ways. With different indicator words, the same premise and conclusion above can be re-written as “Clearly, Tina must improvise, because she didn’t read for her book report.”
Conditional Words: words indicating the sufficient or necessary condition of a conditional statement, as in “If Tina learns to tap dance (sufficient condition), then she will get an A on her book report (necessary condition).”
So the same example above can have different order and indicator words, and still have the same meaning: “In order to get an A on her report, Tina must learn to tap dance.”
These are not the only conditional words … there are many, many more. But in general, if word works the same was as “if” or “all,” it introduces sufficiency. If a word works the same way as “only” or “necessary,’ it introduces necessity.
Causal Words: words that indicate a causal argument, which reasons that one event is caused by a correlated event. For example: “Tina forgot the words to her song-and-dance performance, and she failed her report. Therefore, Tina’s failure was caused by her forgetting the lyrics.”
Using different words, the same causal argument may be structured as: “Forgetting the lyrics was the reason for Tina’s failure. She forgot the lyrics, and then failed her report.”
Logical Force: terms that can make an argument stronger or weaker. Example: “Tina will be ready to present her report,” is stronger than “Tina could be ready.”
When you’re beginning your studies, it may seem impossible to memorize the words above in any way that will be useful on the exam. But as you progress through LSAT concepts, you’ll grasp how each of these words is really meant to highlight a certain structure on your exam questions, and that memorizing each of the words in the above categories will aid you in understanding the structure each type of word is framing.