Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Logical Reasoning Zen Task Standard: LSAT Best Example of Principle

Today we'll introduce one of the tasks from the principle strand of the LSAT logical reasoning section: best example of principle.

This Zen task is one of the most difficult to recognize as it widely varies in its structure and can easily be conflated with its opposite task of best principle for example. That part of the principle strand zooms out, whereas the task for today's post zooms in to the specifics. 

The correct answer to a best example of principle question will map onto the principle in all the relevant relationships and degrees. Thus, the same strategy of identifying actors, their relationships, and degrees of certainty that works for the extrapolation strand will also apply for this task.

    All the free Zen of 180 explanations are for the two sample PrepTests, from June 2007 and October 1996, although the 96 test didn't have any best example questions. The question stem for this task is very difficult to identify, so be sure to actively read it to determine the principle you're looking for. Marking the stimulus for actors and relationships with both highlighter and pencil will help you make a clean prephrase of the components you'll look for in the answer choices.

    Above is a gallery of the logical reasoning sections that have a greater than average density of the task, and below is the frequency that this task has been asked on modern LSATs and the percentage change in frequency from pre-2007 LSATs. It averages 3.5% of the points on a modern LSAT, and you can reasonably expect at least one point to be devoted to exclusively finding an example of a principle.
      16 times
      on LSATs since 2007
      3.5% of LR
      (2 per LSAT, range 1-3)
      0.9% growth from pre-2007
    This task has not only become more common on modern LSATs, it has also become slightly more complicated in that the stimulus is sometimes presented as its own example.  Thus, not only must you find the unstated, underlying principle of the stimulus, you must also then match it accurately to a new set of facts.