The Evolution of the LSAT

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Last week I was working with a student when we came across a very poorly worded 22 year old LSAT Logical Reasoning question. I’m usually a huge fan of the people who write LSAT questions but this one was awful. It was almost unfair. The really old LSAT questions tend to be a bit strange, sometime even poorly written. The student wondered, “Should we just skip all the old questions?”

Personally, I would still do every one of these old LSAT questions, but there are a few things you need to keep in mind, because the LSAT has evolved over time.

Logical Reasoning

I think the more recent Logical Reasoning questions focus more on testing your ability to think in terms of logical structure.

The more difficult questions these days tend to require difficult to see logical inferences, or they may have more premises/subsidiary conclusions, or you might have to deal with complex contraposition, or you could have to parse nuanced distinctions to avoid falling into false equivocations. You feel like a real logician slogging your way through a though modern Logical Reasoning question.

In contrast, some of the really difficult Logical Reasoning questions from the 90s tend to be written in a very convoluted manner, even though they have rather simple logical structures. Instead of feeling like a logician you feel more like a 5th grade English teacher trying to decipher a student’s horrible writing.

So, if you do plan on working through a ton of old Logical Reasoning questions, expect terrible wording and very weird prompts. However, I promise all the question types are still the same, they’re just a little harder to identify on the old LSATs.

Reading Comprehension

If you only do Reading Comprehension sections from the 90s you will feel like a rock star. Unfortunately the modern Reading Comprehension section has had its difficulty turned up to 11. The old Reading Comprehension passages don’t feature comparative reading, and they tend to be a bit shorter.

So, if you’re going through a lot of old Reading Comprehension sections just remember that they are a bit tougher these days.

Logic Games

The Logic Games section has gone through huge changes. In the distant past, the LSAT offered more than just Ordering and Grouping games.

You might be asked to, say, plow a path in the snow from house A to house E. Are you ordering houses here? Nah. Are you grouping the houses? Nope. The houses are just laid out on a map. What the heck are you doing? You’re doing graph theory, but you probably don’t have to worry about that anymore, since this type of game doesn’t show up anymore.

Essentially, if you’re going through the old LSAT logic games, you can skip anything that doesn’t look like grouping or ordering, unless you really want to just do them for a special challenge, or lord forbid, some fun.

In short, you should do most of the old LSAT questions, but you should also know how the test has evolved.

Good luck!

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