As you study for the LSAT, you’re going to have questions. Some things will stump you; it’s all part of the game. Today’s LSAT blog post is about a technique, borrowed from the programming world, that will help you ask better questions and even answer some of your own questions. Don’t get scared and stop reading. No programming knowledge is required. I certainly don’t have any.
Here’s the premise: when you run across something you can’t figure out, ask a duck. You don’t need to go to the local pond; a rubber duck will suffice. Come to think of it, for LSAT purposes, you should really use a toy dinosaur. But I digress.
Ask the duck/dinosaur/rubber chicken your LSAT question. Out loud. Ask in thorough detail; you need to be specific about what exactly you don’t understand. “Dinosaur, I don’t get #23. Can you help?” isn’t going to do anything for you. Dinosaurs are extinct, after all. You need to ask something like “Dinosaur, I understand why (A) is right, but I don’t get why (B) is wrong. It seems to me that the claim about stress in (B) should be supported by the part of the stimulus that talks about high blood pressure.”
The dinosaur won’t answer. Even when dinosaurs roamed the earth, they weren’t exactly LSAT experts. By asking your question, in detail, you’re giving yourself the best chance possible of figuring it out on your own. Try asking a dinosaur, and if you commit to putting your question in precise terms, I bet you’ll very often figure out the answer.
Even if you’re still stumped, you’ve helped yourself out. When you proceed to ask someone else, say, your friendly local LSAT instructor, you’ll be able to ask a better question and get a better answer. As an LSAT instructor, I get a lot of emails like, “I don’t get #5.” I can give a much more helpful answer if I know exactly where you’re having trouble. And if you’re not sure exactly where that is, asking a dinosaur is a great way to figure it out.
Here’s one more story illustrating the power of the technique, this time from an engineering background. So find yourself a toy dinosaur. Give it a name. Ask it your LSAT questions, out loud or in writing. That last part is the most important part; you have to commit to asking.
Finally, feel free to use the comments to ask our resident dinosaur any questions you may have!