Arguments basics


The arguments sections will always be at least two of the five sections on the test, if the experimental section is an arguments section then you'll have three, with two being scored. The basic skill that this section tests is your verbal reasoning, ie your ability to deal with arguments as they're presented in ordinary language, how well you comprehend, analyze, and evaluate them.  The rationale behind this is that as a lawyer what you're fundamentally doing is arguing for something against someone.

These sections consist of 25-26 short passages, about a paragraph in length - generally no longer than four or five sentences - followed by a question, sometimes two.  The passages may or may not be arguments and the questions will ask you something designed to test your abilities to think and reason critically.  We'll be going over each of the different question types and their variations in this section.

Doing well on this section depends on you paying attention to the meaning of the key elements in the passage and in the answer choices.


These sections are difficult for two basic reasons.  One, critically approaching an argument is not a trivial and obvious skill.  You need to be taught to recognize the structure of an argument and analyze and evaluate it; is it good/bad?, what's unstated?, what's implied?, etc.  And on this test you need to be able to do that well.  And two, this kind of critical reasoning is taxing and energy-consuming in and of itself.  Just reading something to sound out the words in your head is one thing, but reading it so that you know what you've read is another, and reading it so that you know what you've read and have critically evaluated it is yet another level of difficulty and mental commitment.  The way that you'll do well on these sections is by first learning what the different question types are and the best way to approach them, and then by practicing as many questions as possible so that you internalize that approach and develop your intellectual stamina to handle two sections under time pressure.

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