I’ve written explanations for thousands of LSAT questions, and I’ve made videos for thousands more. I consider myself extremely fortunate to do so. The test is a fun, easy game if you approach it correctly, and I love helping students see it the way I do.
My constant goal is to help students learn the aggressive, offense-first approach that helped me, the rest of the Demon staff, and hundreds of our former students achieve killer scores. One key to this approach is learning to have the proper disrespect for answer choices, 80% of which are bullshit by definition—since only one out of five answers is right, four out of five answers are wrong.
Novices give the answer choices far too much respect.
Most answers aren’t even close to right—most of them are wrong for multiple reasons. But students read answer A (which is wrong 80% of the time) hoping that it’s right. They come up with all sorts of convoluted reasons why it might be correct. They latch on to two words that they think are good, ignoring the fact that the rest of it is bad. They willfully misinterpret some or all of it, trying to shoehorn it into being right. They add all sorts of implausible and unwarranted assumptions, hoping to force it into correctness. But it’s not correct—like answers B, C, D, and E, answer A is wrong 80% of the time.
Students fail to see why it’s wrong because they’re trying so hard to make it right. Then they repeat the process for the remaining four answer choices. It’s unnecessarily time-consuming and even worse—it results in multiple “contenders.”
Having two or three “contenders” for each question is the kiss of death.
Narrowing it down to three answers is terrible—there are never three good answers. All you’ve done here is get seduced by at least two wrong answers. Even narrowing it down to two answers isn’t nearly as good as you might think. You’ve increased your chances from 20% (one in five) to 50% (one in two). That’s three-tenths of a point of increased expectation. That’s not what we want. We want full points, not partial points.
The lightbulb won’t go on for these students until I can convince them to stop trying so hard on behalf of wrong answers. I need them to be active instead of passive. I need them to expect wrong answers to be wrong, then gleefully eliminate each one the instant it stops making sense.
To teach students this aggressive approach, I will frequently stop halfway through a wrong answer and say something like, “Huh? What does this even mean? Next” or, “No way—that’s not even what this passage was talking about” or, “Come on now, how could that possibly help this argument?”
On the real LSAT, I wouldn’t give this wrong answer a moment’s more thought. The wrong answers are wrong, and often they don’t even make any sense. Terrible answers—and there are tons of them on this test—deserve no better than a cursory dismissal. If my responses sometimes have a bit of stink on them, that’s fine too. It’s intentional!
I’m trying to teach you to disrespect the wrong answers.
But sometimes, I get pushback along the lines of:
Can you please ask the people preparing the answer explanations to not be so obnoxious? Explanations that begin with “Yeah right...” or “What?...” put off students who are genuinely trying to learn. This continued snarky badgering has turned me off to an otherwise wonderful learning tool that is LSAT Demon.
I’m sorry you’re offended, but I’m not yelling at you! I’m yelling at the LSAT. Please don’t take it personally. When I drop-kick a wrong answer, I’m trying to teach you to do the same. My “snarky badgering” isn’t directed at you, unless you’re the one who wrote the test. I’m just trying to show you how truly revolting these wrong answers are.
Wrong answers are obnoxiously bad. They twist the meanings of the passages under discussion. Or they completely fail to respond to the questions being asked. Or they simply don’t make any sense. Sometimes, all three at once.
If you think one of my dismissals is hasty, and the answer merits a more detailed response, we’re happy to give you one. Just use the Ask button, ask a detailed question, and our team of tutors will get back to you within 24 hours. But please don’t take my snark personally. It’s not you—it’s the LSAT.
In time, I hope you’ll learn to see the test the way I do.
Students who stop giving the wrong answers so much respect are most likely to see dramatic improvements in their scores. “I started expecting the answers to be wrong instead of right” is music to my ears. Come join me! Our June 2021 LSAT Study Group is absolutely free. It happens every Thursday evening on Zoom. Register here.