Renaming The LSAT – Let’s call it the “READ” Test
Principle: The best acronyms should be descriptive acronyms!
What does the acronym “LSAT” stand for?
LSAT is an acronym that stands for “Law School Admission Test”.
The LSAT is:
- a four letter word;
- a barrier between you and the law school of your choice (or perhaps any law school)
- a standardized test (every test taker gets the same questions);
- a multiple choice test (rewarding answer identification first and understanding second);
- a long test;
- a test administered under strict time constraints;
- an important test
But, most importantly:
The LSAT is a test of reading and reasoning in different contexts.
The LSAT requires you to:
First, read and understand the information; and
Second, reason with and make deductions from that information.
(In my experience as an LSAT prep teacher I have found that people have far more trouble reading LSAT information effectively than with reasoning with that information. If you don’t understand what you are reading your reasoning skills become irrelevant. Update August 3, 2011: It is interesting that LSAT courses and books pay place so little emphasis on how to improve LSAT reading comprehension.)
The “Law School Admission Test”, the LSAT should be referred to as the “READ” Test. “READ” is an acronym for:
“Reading Effectively And Deducing”
“READ” is descriptive of what the LSAT actually tests.
If the LSAT were thought of as a dance, there are four steps to the dance..
Step 1 – What is the information telling you? (conclusion, premise, main point, conditional statement, etc.)
Step 2 – Why? (premise)
Step 3 -What aspect of the “what” and the “why” does the question ask about?
Step 4 – Which answer choice is best?
The three general contexts for the “READ” test (Reading Effectively and Deducing) are: Logical Reasoning, Analytical Reasoning (Logic Games) and Reading Comprehension.
Context 1 – Logical Reasoning
LSAT logical reasoning questions require you to determine “how the argument goes”. That is how the premises bear on the conclusion. Often this will require you to identify different types of arguments including causal arguments and arguments by analogy.
Context 2 – Analytical Reasoning or Logic Games
LSAT logic games questions require you to understand the content of information, how pieces of that information relate, and to then use this information to recognize:
- what is always true
- what is sometimes true
- what is never true
Note the emphasis on definite truths.
Context 3 – Reading Comprehension
LSAT reading comprehension questions require you to determine how different ideas relate to each other. How are these ideas similar? How are they dissimilar? Reading is the most complex skill tested by the LSAT.
If you think of it as the “READ” test – you might pay more attention to your reading!