Monday, August 9, 2010

LSAT Logical Reasoning Zen Task Standard: Most Similar in Reasoning

Today we'll introduce one of the most infamous tasks on the LSAT, in that many test prep companies suggest to simply skip it to save time: identify similar or parallel reasoning

This Zen task is easy to recognize but difficult to complete, if only because the entire text for a question can take up one column on a logical reasoning section's page. In addition to their length, the questions turn on your ability to take abstract logic and compare it against multiple distortions of that logic structure: many people's idea of mental torture.

In order to accurately complete this task, Zen clients focus on the actors, their explicit relationships, and the degree of certainty.  Once these elements are identified, you can turn those relationships into a pre-phrase similar to a principle or into a formal logic statement with symbols similar to a logic game diagram.  These tools can then be compared against the answer choices until a perfect match is found.

    All the free Zen of 180 explanations are for the two sample PrepTests, from June 2007 and October 1996. The question stem for this task is about as straightforward as they come, so you should be actively reading the stimulus and marking it with both highlighter and pencil. 

    Almost all PrepTests have have 1 or 2 most similar in reasoning tasks, so you can reasonably expect to encounter them during your practice. 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 2.4% of the points on a modern LSAT, and you can reasonably expect at least one point to be devoted to exclusively finding the main point.
      11 times
      on LSATs since 2007
      2.4% of LR
      (1 per LSAT, range 0-2)
      -0.5% growth from pre-2007
    As we mentioned earlier, many test prep companies recommend skipping this question type for anyone with significant timing issues on the logical reasoning sections.  While this may be solid advice for those not finishing 5 or more questions per section, we don't generally advocate skipping tasks for those hoping to score above 165.