LSAT Kung Fu Blog / Quick Hit: Structural Reading and Your Changing Body

Quick Hit: Structural Reading and Your Changing Body


Hot Tip: 66.2.19

As you get deeper into your LSAT prep, you'll find that one of the most important skills on the LSAT—in both the Logical Reasoning and the Reading Comprehension!—is the ability to condense what you read into smaller, salient bits. I call this Structural Reading, and this passage—and its question—provides a typical example of the utility of this sort of reading. The awesomeness will be made more plainly evident if you read the argument first as it was originally presented. So please, take your time. I'll be here when you get back.

OK. Long and awful, right? We'll make it better. But first, let's attend to our Four-Fold Path of Velocity (and to a greater velocity).

  1. This question is asking us to provide a sentence that will solve all the problems of the argument.
  2. The right answer will (almost always) tie the evidence in the passage to the conclusion conditionally. 
  3. The answer will use conditional (what I call Load-Bearing) language. It will almost certainly be what logicians call the Major Premise of a syllogism (the argument itself contains the Minor Premise and Conclusion; the right answer fills in the missing piece).
  4. Expect to very often see a wrong answer that provides us the Major Premise, but BACKWARD. That is, lots of times we'll see a bad answer that is enticing because it's exactly the opposite of what you actually needed (are you seeing the similarity to our discussion of Weaken questions from yesterday? Good). This fact alone should suffice to make you study your conditional symbols and eat your broccoli.

[Ed. note: Here, I assume that you already know how to do conditional symbols. If you do not, I highly recommend the free video series on conditionals available right here]

So, back to our structural reading. Here, the whole argument correctly boils down to this:

Marxism is a scientific theory.

Thus, Marxism is not a political program.

In my mind, I condense it even further, until it's just symbol:

S(cientific theory)

∴~P(olitical program)

Knowing (from our Four-Fold Path) what we've got to do, and how we're likely to do it, we now head into answer choices looking for something specific. We want an answer that says S → ~P

Because look how neatly that solves our argument:

S → ~P

If the conditional is true, then we've proved our case! Too. Easy.

And this is what I'm talking about when I talk about the importance of structural reading.

Hope that helps!


chaim1's picture

Cam you explain how the correct answer will be diagrammed?

majorgeneraldave's picture

As with the above, we will want an answer that says E(vidence)  C(onclusion).