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The LNAT incorporates a number of different types of questions. The most popular ones are:
Argument-style questions assess your ability to understand what arguments are being made in the passage, for example: „The writer is arguing that…”, or, more difficult, „What is the main argument of the writer?” You can also come across questions like: „The writer is not arguing that…”, or you may have to extract and analyse the strength of arguments made by the author on a particular issue. You might also be also asked to analyse why the author makes a particular argument – this is asking you about the evidence which the author is providing to support the argument.
In order to be able to tackle those types of questions you need to know what an argument is, and how it is possible to undermine an argument through various fallacies.
„An argument is a series of statements (…) which are purposely presented in order to prove, or disprove, a given position.”
A good argument usually involves two premises and a conclusion:
Premise 1: All lawyers are smart.
Premise 2: I am a lawyer.
Conclusion: Therefore, I am smart.
An assertion is simply a statement of opinion (a claim) that is not backed up by any evidence. On the other hand, an argument is a statement supported by reasoning (which might be good or bad – that is a different question!).
Let us consider the following sentences:
Here, we can clearly see that the assertion is a mere statement of opinion – there are no premises on which it is based, there is no reasoning presented. Thus, we cannot really argue with it.
In the case of the argument, however, we can clearly see that the author is basing it on two premises:
In this case we can argue against both of the premises in order to undermine the argument.
It is important that you can analyse each argument and extract the premises on which it is based (even if they are implied). Be careful with making assumptions which the author is not making. For instance, in the example above, the author made an assumption that all people who have PhD from Yale are necessarily intelligent – but not that e.g. PhD alumni of all Ivy League universities are.
In order to analyse the strength of an argument, you need to first dissect it – separate the various premises (whether express or implied) and the logical reasoning made from them. Then you should approach and analyse each of the parts separately. Firstly, see if each of the premises is actually strong, or if you could easily argue against it. Then, Try to see whether the reasoning is logical, or if it is fallacious.
Arguments are fallacious if they improperly apply the laws of logic, making the argument less solid (or even invalid). A good book presenting (in a very sarcastic manner) the most popular fallacies is „The Art of Being Right” by Arthur Schopenhauer.
The following are some of the most commonly-encountered fallacies:
Although those types of arguments often appear to be a convincing, they provide anecdotal evidence disguised as facts; therefore, they should not be regarded as „strong” arguments. For example: „I have witnessed a number UFO landings during my lifetime. I even found a couple of other people who had the same experience. Therefore, extra-terrestrial civilisations have to exist.”
This is a type of fallacy which aims to convince the reader that something is right simply because it is old. For example: „People for centuries believed that heterosexual orientation is the only one right and acceptable. Why would we change our minds now?”
This is a type of fallacy used by some people, in order to make their audience believe in the truth of a particular statement, by using abusive language or threats. For example: „Abortion is murder, if you do it, you will burn in hell!”
Happens when someone justifies the refusal to believe in some statement by offending a person who made that statement or another person who shares (seemingly) the same values. For example: „Joe Doe is a thief, therefore what he says about morality must be wrong.” „Mussolini would agree with you saying that euthanasia can be justified! You are a fascist.”
This fallacy is committed when someone argues that something is true simply because it is new. For example: „The latest version of Titanic is so much better, it is so new and modern.”
A fallacy of asserting that something is correct because a significant amount of people believe that it is. For example: „So many people believe that God exists. How can all of them be wrong? This is not possible.”
Occurs when someone states that there are only two options to choose from. For example:
„You don’t believe in a right-wing ideology, therefore you must be leftist.”
A fallacy of stating that because one member of a set has a particular attribute, all of the members do. For example: „My aunt who is a feminist is a men-hater – all the feminists must be men-haters.”
This fallacy is committed when someone asserts that any two events are in some way connected, even if they are not. To put differently, this confuses correlation with causation. „There has been an increase in usage of mobile phones among university students, while the average score on university exams has been decreasing. Therefore, we should prohibit the usage of mobile phones in order to improve the results.”
This type of fallacy is used to show that a first event is a catalyser for other, potentially harmful events. For example: „We legalised same sex marriages. What next? Are heterosexual marriages going to be banned in the future?”
Analytical questions include the ones such as „What is implied but not stated?” or „What can we assume from the passage?”.
They might require you to carefully read the text, making sure that you do not make any assumptions which the author is not making – as it is easy to over-interpret or infer information which is not actually stated in the text. Remember also that you are not supposed to rely on your general knowledge to interpret the text – try to focus on what is actually written and the facts which are presented – as they are, not as you believe they should be.
They might also require you to look at the bigger picture and try to interpret the words of the writer, rather than just to look for the answer in the passage. Therefore, it is indispensable to read the whole text, as you will need deep understanding of what the author is trying to convey.
Literary style questions focus on the understanding of the actual message conveyed by the writer. An example could be: „The writer uses this phrase to suggest…”. These questions often rest on your understanding of a particular unusual word or phrase. This is why it is so important to read plenty of articles and books on regular basis. Make sure that each time you come across an unusual phrase or word, you check its meaning.
The broader your vocabulary is, the easier it will be for you to score highly on the LNAT.
There are a few ways in which you could prepare for this types of questions. Firstly, practice makes perfect – thus the more multiple choice questions you solve, the more confident you will become. See the section below „Sample LNAT questions”.
Secondly, it is important that you read articles on daily basis, but with a particularly critical approach. Each time you read an article, try answering the following questions:
You might also consider reading some books on critical reasoning, such as: A. Fisher: Critical Thinking: An Introduction (Cambridge University Press 2001), or N. Warburton: Thinking From A to Z (Routledge 2000).
There is no better way to prepare for the LNAT multiple choice questions than by practicing them. Our online platform provides a unique opportunity to practice LNAT multiple-choice questions in a simulated timed environment, closely resembling the actual exam. It is also much cheaper than the alternatives.
The more practice you do, the more confident you will feel about approaching the LNAT.