Using the LSAT to study for the GMAT, part 1

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Using the LSAT to study for the GMAT Part One

This is the first part in a 3-part article on using LSAT questions to study for the GMAT.

Many people feel that the lack of Official Questions released by the GMAT writers is a limitation to studying for two areas of the GMAT in particular: Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning. Eventually many GMAT students searching for a source additional high-quality, low-cost questions ask, "Can I use LSAT questions?" This article is designed to offer detailed suggestions concerning the use of LSAT questions to study for the GMAT.

Anyone who has written various types of GMAT questions would have to candidly admit that the two hardest types of questions to really simulate are Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. Quantitative questions are not simple to write, but the answer choices do not require the same level of attention in order to effectively distract, yet remain fair, with just one right answer. In addition, reading comprehension requires that the passage be of the correct type and quality. For this reason, quality CR and RC questions can be hard to come by. The LSAT can be used as source of difficult Reading Comprehension and Critical Reasoning questions if some rules are followed.

1) Know your enemy.
For both CR and RC, before you begin using any non-GMAT source for questions you really need to know just what kinds of things to expect on the GMAT - so that you do not waste valuable study time on things that you will not see on the test. For this reason, you should begin your study with high quality GMAT-specific material. This should include the Official Guide (actual questions from past GMAT tests) as well as additional material that helps you to categorize and understand the types of questions you will see on the GMAT. For example the Veritas Prep SWIMMER technique for critical reasoning helps to make sense of the types of CR questions on the GMAT. So, prior to beginning any use of LSAT materials, the Official Guide 12th Ed. and 2nd edition Verbal Review, plus an additional GMAT-specific source should be used first for both Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension.

2) Achieve some success before moving to LSAT questions. Anyone who is really struggling with GMAT questions will not find help in LSAT questions. GMAT questions are more predictable - for example, the main conclusion is very often in the last sentence of an official GMAT question, not always, but this is a good place to start looking. In LSAT questions, this and other things are less predictable. So, until you start getting more than half of GMAT questions right, you should avoid LSAT questions. The point of using LSAT questions is to find high-quality, challenging material.

3) Understand the differences between the LSAT and the GMAT. The differences between these tests go far beyond the fact that one is on paper the other is computerized. One difference is focus. Fully one-half of the total score of the LSAT is determined by critical reasoning (typically 50 questions out of 100 total). On the GMAT Critical Reasoning accounts for only about 1/6 of the score (1/3 or a little less of the verbal section). And LSAT reading comprehension is also based on longer passages and somewhat vaguer questions that on the GMAT.

4) Think of lawyers as "accountants who use words instead of numbers." This will help you to understand that many LSAT questions turn on one particular word or phrase that is placed (or misplaced) in the stimulus. Law schools really want to know that the students that they accept are sensitive to the tiniest shifts in language, so LSAT questions are usually more "subtle" than GMAT questions. Therefore, do not worry too much if you miss an LSAT question because you overlooked such a tiny shift.

5) Return to GMAT questions as you near your test date. It is a good idea to save some official GMAT questions so that you can study these in the days before your test (or revisit some questions that you have not seen for a while). This is important because GMAT questions follow certain patterns that are not necessarily true of the LSAT. As mentioned above, just look through the GMAT OG 12th edition and see how many times the main conclusion is the last sentence.

6) Look at LSAT questions through the lens of the GMAT. People who use LSAT questions often fall into the trap of treating all LSAT questions equally. Some LSAT questions will be more useful to GMAT study than others. When analyzing LSAT questions that you miss, do not spend too much time on questions that you cannot fit into one of the categories of question on the GMAT. For example, on the LSAT there are reading comprehension questions that rely on two passages and compare these passages. This is not something that you would see on the GMAT.

In the end, it is an individual choice to use LSAT questions or not. Yet some things can be said about the students who would benefit most from LSAT questions: first, a student who is already fairly proficient at Critical Reasoning and/or Reading Comprehension and has already nearly exhausted his/her source of good GMAT-specific questions or, second, a student who is trying to score very well on the verbal and is looking for an additional challenge. These are the students who can probably best use this material.

Happy Studying!

David

Coming Soon:
Part 2 of this article focuses on using LSAT Critical Reasoning questions, with examples of questions that are similar to GMAT questions and of those that are not.
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by money9111 » Sun Sep 19, 2010 7:18 pm
I was using LSAT material for a good month and a half. I found that my brain does not work as a lawyers works - otherwise I would be trying to get into law school. While I believe the LSAT can work for some people...like you said if you aren't mastering GMAT RC and CR then LSAT will not help. For me, it wasn't so much the passages or premises that I didn't understand, but the wording of the answer choices. They were all so similar on the surface. I also couldn't get past a lot of the legal jargon. I think that for the GMAT if you encounter a word that you're unfamiliar with, it probably isn't necessary to know the definition in order to answer the question properly, but with LSAT material I think you need to know what those words mean. Some of the word I had never seen before in my life! Then when I would look at the explanations of the answers - LSAT Superprep - I couldn't see why their answer was right over the one I chose. Needless to say, I put the LSAT materials down - and my tutor agreed that would be the best for me.

The one thing I will say that LSAT material helped with was stamina! When I went back to GMAT material and would only see 3 questions per passage or 4 questions per passage, I would say to myself "Wait... that's it?"

Just thought I'd add my sqrt(2^2) cents! ;-)
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by [email protected] » Sun Sep 19, 2010 9:20 pm
I definitely feel like the LSAT material helped me improve my verbal score. On my real exam, I only got 3 reading comp passages, and the final two resembled the RC passages from the past LSATs more than they did OG passages (both in terms of length and in terms of difficulty of the questions). I think the LSAT LR really helped me as well, but to give readers a full disclosure, I read through the PowerScore Logical Reasoning Bible rather than the CR bible (my friend that is in law school gave it to me and I'm cheap so I used it...lol). I basically knew all of the types that were LSAT specific, and weren't on the GMAT, so if I got a Point at Issue question wrong, I ignored it because that question type isn't on the GMAT. I think if you're going to use the LSAT materials, it is important to know which question types are LSAT specific, so you don't get nervous or worried if you miss those.
https://www.beatthegmat.com/the-retake-o ... 51414.html

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by [email protected] » Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:36 am
Money and Osirus -

Thanks guys for the comments! It is great to here from two experienced GMAT warriors who have tried to use LSAT questions. Your results and your comments definitely mirror what I wanted to share with people and that is the potential advantages and disadvantages of using LSAT questions.

Osirus dove into the LSAT questions fully, even studying from an LSAT manual. He knew which types of LSAT questions would not be on the GMAT and did not worry too much about those. The challenge of the LSAT questions worked for him...

Money ran into my fourth point, which is that "lawyers are like accountants, only with words instead of numbers." He found that the subtle differences in the answer choices were completely unlike the answers to GMAT questions. And wisely stopped using them...

I agree with both of you!

Thanks guys!
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by money9111 » Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:42 am
Osirus is my partner in crime though our brains think differently.
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by uwhusky » Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:22 am
Who wants to donate me a LSAT book?! I know you do, osirus!
Yep.

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by [email protected] » Mon Sep 20, 2010 11:58 am
uwhusky wrote:Who wants to donate me a LSAT book?! I know you do, osirus!
LOL...I would, but I already gave most of my materials away. I have a Princeton Review math workout guide, and GMAT for Dummies still if you want either one...lol
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by uwhusky » Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:00 pm
LOL, nevermind! I'll be nice!
Yep.

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by money9111 » Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:05 pm
LMAO... I'M ON A CONFERENCE CALL AND JUST LAUGHED OUT LOUD!!!! WOOPS!! THAT WAS HILARIOUS....
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by [email protected] » Mon Sep 20, 2010 12:11 pm
Osirus -

Don't be too harsh on that GMAT for Dummies! If it is the 2006 edition, look at the acknowledgments page.
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by [email protected] » Tue Sep 21, 2010 9:16 am
[email protected] wrote:Osirus -

Don't be too harsh on that GMAT for Dummies! If it is the 2006 edition, look at the acknowledgments page.
I don't think its the 2006 version. I think its the fourth edition, not sure which year it is. The book wasn't bad, it was solid. It's a good starter book, but you have to get more materials as you go along.
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by mundasingh123 » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:33 am
[email protected] wrote:Osirus -

Don't be too harsh on that GMAT for Dummies! If it is the 2006 edition, look at the acknowledgments page.
hi david, can you suggest me a source where i can purchase LSAT test some limited number and doesnt happen to be very expensive and just fits the bill for GMAT

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by [email protected] » Sun Nov 14, 2010 6:16 pm
I am not sure which sources you use to buy books - something such as Amazon - but whatever place you use to purchase, if you can get any version of the "10 Official LSAT PrepTest" books you should be able to get it for something like $5. Each book will contain 10 tests and there are 50 critical reasoning questions and 28 reading comprehension questions per test (so 500 critical reasoning and 280 reading comp total). You can try all 28 reading comprehension per test - they may be a little tougher questions but they should translate pretty well to the GMAT. However, you will not be able to use the entire 50 critical reasoning questions from each test because some of these are better for studying the GMAT than others.

I have posted one question that I think translates well in part two of this article at https://www.beatthegmat.com/lsat-to-stud ... tml#316353

I will be posting several LSAT questions in the coming days - examples of those that are good to study and those that are not as good. So look for those you will know what questions are worth looking at.

Just one more thing - any LSAT question that you just find strange or with very unfamiliar wording- skip it, after all you are using these to study for the GMAT so if the question does not seem to fit then just move to the next!
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