The LSAT is a test of reasoning, not memorization. That said, there are some things that you must memorize for the LSAT, and there’s nothing better for memorization than that bit of 1st century BC technology, the flashcard. Here’s a list of things that should make it onto flashcards and into your grey matter:
1. Sufficient and necessary condition indicators
2. Conclusion and premise indicators
3. The Logical Reasoning flaws
4. The Logical Reasoning prevalent valid argument forms
5. The Logical Reasoning question types
6. The Logic Game types
7. The Reading Comprehension structural elements (examples, studies, causal claims . . . )
8. The common wrong answer choices for each LR question type
9. The ideal approach for each LR question type
Some items on this list are an absolute must and you should memorize them ASAP (like items 1 through 3). Some items on the list you’ll learn over time as you work through your study plan (like items 4 and 5).
Here’s a little trick for memorizing sufficient and necessary condition indicators. Here’s a list of sufficient condition indicators:
See how they’re essentially synonyms for each other? If and when. All, any, every, and each. They even sound alike. So really, you just need to memorize “if” and “all” and then think, “Well what are their synonyms?” The same is true for the necessary condition indicators:
Just memorize “only” and “needs” and you can guess the rest by trying to think of their synonyms.
Now, you can also go the other way. Say, you spot a rare indicator and you’re sure it’s a sufficient or necessary keyword indicator but it’s not on your list. Well, just ask yourself if it works as a synonym for “sufficient” or any of your memorized sufficient keyword indicators, or if it works as a synonym for “necessary” or any of your memorized necessary indicators. For example, what kind of indicator do you think the word “essential” is? Essential, is that the same as necessary or required? Or the same as sufficient or all? If it’s essential, it’s necessary. You need it. So it’s a necessary condition indicator.
What about the word “enough”? Is that the same as necessary or required? Or is it more like sufficient or all? If something is enough, then you have it all. Everything you want. If it’s enough, then it’s a synonym for sufficient. So enough is a sufficient keyword indicator.
You can use the same trick to help you remember your premise and conclusion indicators.
Now for the harder stuff: the Logical Reasoning flaws. There are about 15 or so common LR flaws, depending on how you split them up and categorize them. Flash cards for these are great, but here’s a pro tip: The best method I’ve found to memorize these, and I insist that all my students have them memorized, is known as the “memory palace.” This is an ancient method, and it is still used to great success today. Just do some googling and you’ll be able to figure out how to use it. A full explanation is a bit too long for this blog post. I’ve used this method to memorize the LR flaws. I also do a demo in class of my memory palace.
The memory palace method is awesome and very flexible. You can use it for anything.
Good luck, and happy flashcarding (is that a word?) and palace building!