Flaw, criticism or flawed reasoning questions, whatever you call them, are some of the most common questions in the logical reasoning section of the LSAT. And since logical reasoning makes up half the LSAT, that makes flawed reasoning questions some of the most common questions on the LSAT.
We cover everything you need for approaching flaw-criticism LSAT questions in our online lsat prep course, but that’s a bit too much to go over here. What we’ll look at today is one strategy to improve on these question types.
Identifying Flaw-Criticism Questions on the LSAT
Before we get started let’s just make sure you know how to identify a flaw-criticism LSAT question. They will include a flaw or error in reasoning in the argument or stimulus. But something that is easier to spot is the question stem which often look like the following:
The reasoning in the argument is most vulnerable to criticism on the grounds that the argument:
Which one of the following most accurately describes a flaw in the argument above?
Anything that asks you to find the flaw or error in the argument or to criticize it. Now on to the actual strategy for improvement
Improvement Strategy for Flaw-Criticism Questions on the LSAT
Flaw-Criticism LSAT questions often repeat or re-use answer choices. So the answers you see for one Flaw-Criticism LSAT question, both right and wrong answers, will often appear again in future questions. The reason they repeat answers is that there are a limited number of logical flaws that can occur in an argument. So if you can learn from the answers the first time, you have an advantage when you encounter that same or similarly worded answer choice again on a future Flaw-Criticism question.
The answer choices in Flaw-Criticism questions describe flaws and as such they can often be complicated and abstract in their wording. You will find answers such as “confuses a condition’s being required for a given result to occur in one case with the condition’s being sufficient for such a result to occur in a similar case”. Now for some of you logic experts that may make perfect sense, but if it does it’s probably because you’ve seen that type of wording before. Most of us normal humans don’t immediately get that kind of statement to the point where we understand it perfectly and can describe a scenario where it occurs or match it up with an argument in our stimulus.
We can, however, improve our chances of understanding this in the future by reviewing it now. And because the answers are often reused, if slightly re-worded, understanding it now will improve our score on future tests.
So how do you understand it better now? Whenever you encounter a Flaw-Criticism LSAT question – go through each answer choice and formulate your own sample argument that would match up with that flaw. So you are creating your own argument that would make this answer the correct answer. Do this for each answer choice and your understanding of the flaws used on the LSAT will sky-rocket. And there are only so many types of flaws that you need to understand for the LSAT. For an added challenge, make your sample arguments on the same topic as the stimulus/argument for that question. So if the question is about biological processes and their causes, then make your sample arguments about this same topic. Picking new topics tends to make the exercise easier but still helps your understanding of flaws.
A word of warning, don’t do this sample argument strategy when you’re writing your timed tests or sections, instead go back and do it when you’re marking the test.
Do this for a couple dozen flaw questions and you’ll have prepared over one hundred sample flawed arguments and have a much better understanding of the types of flaws used on the LSAT and how they are described in the answer choices. Next time you encounter an answer choice about confusing the necessary with sufficient conditions you’ll know exactly what it’s talking about.