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How to Approach the LSAT’s Challenging Paradox Questions

The LSAT’s logical reasoning questions can often be confusing and challenging for test takers. One of the more challenging types of logical reasoning questions on the exam is the paradox question section, where the prompt doesn’t provide or depend on a conclusion.

“Paradox questions ask you to provide an explanation for a pair of facts that seem to contradict each other,” Travis Coleman, of Magoosh, writes. “These are similar to Assumption questions in that each answer choice will introduce a new piece of information that could affect how you interpret the facts in the stimulus. The difference between Paradox and Assumption questions, however, is that in a Paradox question there is no argument being made. The stimulus is just a couple of facts.”

Gabriel Kuris, founder of Top Law Coach and contributor at US News, recently discussed how test takers can best handle paradox questions.

UNDERSTANDING PARADOX QUESTIONS

One of the first steps to approaching a paradox question is to focus on the claims.

“Sometimes those claims are explicit: I had my glasses on, and now I can’t find them,” Kuris writes. “Other times they are unstated: My sock went into the dryer with all my other clothes, but it did not come out of the dryer with all my other clothes.”

Kuris recommends test takers to isolate the claims and then come up with a connection.

“I like to think of a paradox as a ‘pair of docks,’” Kuris writes. “The claims in a paradox are like two docks that seem far apart. You need a new claim to connect those docks across the water.”

RESOLVING PARADOX QUESTIONS

Paradox questions can often be challenging because they present claims that are usually incompatible. But, Kuris says, there’s an easy way to find the connecting answer.

“The trick is that all the claims presented in the question must be addressed by the answer choice,” Kuris writes. “It cannot contradict one, like ‘You didn’t put your socks in the wash.’ It cannot just apply generally, like ‘Socks often go missing in the wash.’ It cannot just add evidence, like ‘The sock is not still in the dryer.’ It must squarely show that all the claims are compatible, assuming they are true.”

If you still find paradox questions challenging, Kuris says, it’s best to take on each answer choice one at a time.

“Rule out any that are not fully compatible with all the claims presented,” Kuris writes. “Choose the answer that best explains how the claims could all be true together, without requiring any leaps of faith. Often, the answer will be hiding in plain sight, like the glasses on top of your head.”

Sources: US News, Magoosh