How Do I Approach LSAT Assumption Questions?

How Do I Approach LSAT Assumption Questions?

Depending on how you classify them, the LSAT Logical Reasoning section has something like 10-15 different types of questions. LSAT assumption questions are, by far, the ones students ask me most frequently about. They also tend to be the ones students have the most difficult mastering. Here are a few tips to help you unlock what these questions want you to do.

How Do I Approach LSAT Assumption Questions?

1. If you struggle with assumption questions, create a diagram!

Assumption questions inherently ask you to point out something that is unstated. Very basically, LSAT assumption questions can be diagrammed like this.

1. Background information provided by the question

2. (UNSTATED ASSUMPTION)

3. Stated conclusion

The correct answer for LSAT assumption questions requires you to figure out what goes in the #2 slot. The statement should allow you to logically move from #1 to #3. Here’s a short example to give you an idea.

1. Strawberry licorice does not taste good.

2. (UNSTATED ASSUMPTION)

3. Therefore, strawberry licorice will not sell out at the county fair.

In trying to bridge the gap in the above scenario, there are several statements that could be the correct answer. A correct answer could be something like “Only candy that tastes good will sell out at the county fair,” or “People do not buy candy that doesn’t taste good.” Either can complete the statement, and allow you to move easily from point #1 to #3.

Use this diagram if you struggle with assumption questions! Students most often struggle with LSAT assumption questions because they do not understand the relationship between the information provided and the conclusion. An assumption is meant to link the two, so creating a diagram like the one above can help you see the blank you need to fill in.

2. LSAT assumption questions vary in form, so identifying the conclusion is key.

Assumption questions sometimes provide the information to draw the conclusion first. Often, they provide the conclusion somewhere else in the passage. Identifying the supporting information and the conclusion correctly is key to diagramming these questions. So, do not take for granted that the last sentence of the passage is the conclusion. Rather, read the entire passage and use your judgment to pick out the conclusion. It really could appear anywhere!

3.  Neither the information provided nor the assumption  have to be objectively correct!

The wrong way to approach LSAT assumption questions is to take an example like the one above and pick apart the assumptions given. Yes, you might think strawberry licorice tastes great, or that people buy candy that tastes bad all the time. And you might be objectively right about these facts. But that’s not what LSAT assumption questions are asking you to do! Assumption questions require you to take the initial information you are given as fact, and work to reconcile it with the conclusion reached by choosing an assumption that allows you to get there. So, don’t get caught up in semantics or value judging the information given!

In the above example, you could very easily question either of the potential correct answers on their merits. People, in your opinion, might buy bad tasting candy all the time. But, remember, you are not judging the assumption in these LSAT questions. Rather, you are simply trying to choose an answer that allows you to draw the conclusion based on the information you are given. So, either of the potential answers I provided above accomplish that goal, and would be correct if given in an answer set.

4. Assumptions are always unstated. so if part of the passage is repeated in an answer, rule it out immediately!

Finally, assumptions, by definition, are unstated. So, if an answer choice just restates part of the information given, rule it out immediately. LSAT assumption questions require you to fill in the blank with something unsaid. So if you see information from the passage just stated again in an answer, you can quickly eliminate it as an answer choice.

Nick, one of our LSAT tutors, wrote this post. Nick  scored high on the LSAT and enjoys helping students achieve their dream scores and get into their dream schools!  If you are looking for any other LSAT advice, LSAT timing tips, or LSAT tutoring, please feel free to contact us. We are happy to help you!

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