Coupon Accepted Successfully!



Unlike the games, arguments are inherently easy. In most arguments, the writer is trying to convince you of the validity of her position, so she has a vested interest in presenting the point as clearly as possible. Of course, the point may be complex or subtle or both. Nevertheless, she wants to express it clearly and simply. To obscure this underlying simplicity, the writers of the LSAT cannot change the wording of the statement much because that would leave it vague and poorly written. Their only option, therefore, is to camouflage the answer-choices.

Creating a good but incorrect answer-choice is much harder than developing the correct answer. For this reason, usually only one attractive wrong answer-choice is presented. This is called the “2 out of 5” rule. That is, only two of the five answer-choices will have any real merit. Hence, even if you don’t fully understand an argument, you probably can still eliminate the three fluff choices, thereby greatly increasing your odds of answering the question correctly.

Every wrong answer fails to satisfy the conditions of either the argument or the question. Try as the writers of the LSAT may to obscure this fact, it is generally easy to spot the deficiency. Better yet, once you become familiar with the four obfuscating tactics used with the arguments, you can turn them to your advan­tage: they will flag the wrong answer-choices.

In the arguments section, the four obfuscating tactics used to make wrong answers appear correct are
Making a statement that is true, but irrelevant.
This tactic attracts the test-taker because one expects the answer to be true.* This is the most common obfuscating ploy.
Repeating the same language used in the statement.
This tactic attracts the test-taker because it relates directly to the argument and therefore “sounds” right.
Overstating or understating the point made in the argument.
This tactic attracts the test-taker because it is in part correct. The second-best answer-choice is often created by using this ploy.
Falsely claiming something not supported by the argument.
This tactic attracts the test-taker because it is often couched in authoritative language.

Clearly there is much overlap in these categories. Furthermore, the writers of the LSAT are not loath to use these tactics in various combinations. It is not necessary, however, that you learn all the combinations that can be used; your intuition that you are being manipulated will be sufficient. Also, don’t get carried away with identifying the obfuscating tactics used in a particular problem. You need only to develop some awareness of them so that you don’t waste time on the fluff answer-choices. Knowledge of the obfuscating tactics directs you to the 2-out-of-5 choices that have any real merit.

Notice how these tactics are combined to obscure the answers in the following arguments—both taken from recent LSATs.


A linguist recently argued that all human languages must have a common origin because some concepts are universal; that is, they appear in all languages. For example, all languages are capable of describing lightness and darkness.
Which one of the following, if true, would most seriously weaken the argument?
  1. The Bernese language does not contain basic nouns like automobile and airplane.
  2. No one linguist could possibly speak all known languages.
  3. All speakers regardless of their languages are confronted with similar stimuli like lightness and darkness.
  4. The similarity between human language and dolphin language has not been attributed to a common origin.
  5. Some languages include concepts of which speakers of other languages are not even aware.
Choice (A) uses a false claim ploy. We have no way of knowing whether the Bernese language contains words for automobile or airplane (it probably does not); regardless, automobiles and airplanes are not universal terms.
Choice (B) is true but irrelevant, not to mention silly.
Choice (D) is irrelevant [unlike with choice (B), we have no way of knowing whether it is true or false].
Notice how this answer-choice is baited with terms, common origin and human language, that use the same language as in the argument.
Choice (E) overstates the claim. The author says only that some, not all, concepts are universal. This is the only incorrect choice with any merit.
Finally, choice (C) is the correct answer because if all people are subject to similar stimuli, then one would expect that they would all create words for those stimuli.


The free press is one of the fundamental parts of a democratic society, since it acts both to disseminate information and to express dissent. If a democracy is to remain viable, its press must remain free.
Which one of the following conclusions can most logically be drawn from the passage above?
  1. If a society has a free press, it is a democracy.
  2. Only a free press acts to disseminate information and to express dissent.
  3. A democratic society can place no restrictions on the expression of dissent.
  4. If a society does not have a free press, it does not have a viable democracy.
  5. A democracy that is not viable does not have a free press.
This problem is hard because the second-best answer-choice is nearly as good as the answer.
Choice (A) overstates the argument. The author implies merely that a free press is necessary for democracy, not sufficient.
Choice (B) uses the same language used in the argument to overstate the second clause.
Choice (C) is second-best; it slightly overstates the argument. It is conceivable that the author considers a press with certain restrictions to still be free; for example, restrictions against slander and libel.
Choice (D) is the answer since it necessarily follows from the argument. You may have noticed that it is the contrapositive of the conclusion found at the end of the argument. (We will discuss the use of formal logic to solve arguments later.)
Finally, choice (E) makes a false claim. A society may have a free press yet fail to be a democracy.
For example, historically the U.S. has had a free press. Yet many people would claim that it did not become a true democracy until the right to vote was granted to women and blacks.
Notice that choice (E) is merely a rewording of choice (A).

Test Your Skills Now!
Take a Quiz now
Reviewer Name