Tag Archive: lsat diagramming

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How to Diagram “Unless” LSAT Logical Reasoning Questions

Welcome to our ongoing series on the more nefarious elements of diagramming.

Topping the agenda today are “unless” questions. These are much more straightforward than the “only” conditionals we reviewed last week. Unlike “only” questions, which require one to search for the referent, “unless” questions have a more standardized approach. Consider the following:

“Unless I just brushed my teeth, you’ll find me sipping a cold glass of orange juice”

What does this mean? It tells us that, in all cases where I haven’t just finished brushing my teeth, I’ve got a tall glass of nature’s goodness by my side. To simplify: if I have not just brushed, then I’ve got OJ. Look diagrammable?

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How to Diagram Ornery “Only” Logical Reasoning Questions

If only the LSAT would stick with easy-to-diagram conditional statements like “if it’s a carrot, then it’s a vegetable”, or “if I get Mike Tyson’s tattoo, I’ll forever regret it.”

Alas, your Logical Reasoning section will rarely be quite so friendly. You’ll be nailed with parallel flaws, double negatives, “EXCEPT” questions and, most of all, lots of diagramming. So, to perfect your diagramming skills, we’re launching a series of articles that will cover some of the trickier elements of conditional statements.

Up first: “Only” Questions.

If memorization is your forte, then remember simply that “only” always introduces a necessary condition. As in “the only time you’ll see ‘only’ on LR is when it is introducing the proposition that is guaranteed by the sufficient condition.”

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The Keys to Becoming an LSAT Diagramming Master

Diagramming is an essential skill on the LSAT, but it’s also a bit like speaking a foreign language. At first you will feel awkward and clumsy and slow; then suddenly you’re spitting out full sentences and fully understanding the answers and you wonder why you ever had such a problem with it.

What is diagramming and why is it important on the LSAT?

Diagramming is a shorthand way of representing conditional statements (otherwise known as if-then statements). I don’t have enough space to fully get into the basics here, but if you’re studying for the LSAT and you’re not comfortable or familiar with conditional logic, you should do yourself a solid and look it up.

Diagramming crops up mainly on the Logical Reasoning sections and on Logic Games (for instance, Tanika is in every photo that Morlanda is in).