How to Decide Between Similar Answer Choices on the LSAT

On the LSAT, as in the practice of law itself, right answers are rarely unambiguous. Particularly on the logical reasoning and reading comprehension sections, there may be plausible arguments for more than one answer choice. That’s why test-takers are advised to choose the “best” answer.

Without a doubt, this is one of the most fiendishly frustrating aspects of the LSAT. How can you be sure that the answer that seems most true to you is the correct answer choice? It’s easy to get stuck in a form of indecision called analysis paralysis, in which the mind flips between arguments for each answer choice, unable to make a final call.

Analysis paralysis is a stealthy drain of time and brainpower on the LSAT. It can feel like you’re moving closer toward an answer, when really your mind is just racing in circles. This feeling of powerlessness can exacerbate test anxiety.

[What to Do When You Get LSAT Practice Questions Wrong]

Here are three strategies to break out of this mental deadlock and make a final determination between similar answer choices on the logical reasoning and reading comprehension sections of the LSAT:

— Re-read each answer choice carefully.

— Focus on the conclusion.

— Stop and take one step forward.

Re-read Each Answer Choice Carefully

Psychological studies show that the mind’s attention is highly selective, especially when it is focused.

One famous study called the “Invisible Gorilla Test” asked participants to watch a video of people tossing a basketball to each other and to mentally tally when certain players passed the ball. On the videotape, someone in a gorilla suit passes through the scene multiple times, unacknowledged. When asked afterward, only about half of the participants had noticed the gorilla because they were so intently focused on counting baskets. It was literally invisible to them!

The same principle applies on the LSAT. Test-takers may read an argument or an answer choice over and over, but because they are thinking so hard about it, they may miss a critical word or phrase that changes the answer’s meaning.

[Read: Remote vs. In-Person LSAT: How to Choose]

So, if two answers seem similar, read over each one as if you are reading it for the first time. Force your brain to consider each word, without preconceptions. You may find you overlooked a crucial clue.

Focus on the Conclusion

Most of the argument prompts for logical reasoning questions have a conclusion. That conclusion is critical, whether you are trying to strengthen or weaken it, or find an assumption or a flaw in it.

Read the conclusion carefully and apply each answer choice you are considering to it. Stacked up next to the argument’s conclusion, do you notice any subtle differences that shift the meaning of each answer choice as it relates to the argument in question?

Stop and Take One Step Forward

If your mind seems to be cycling through the same thoughts about a question, it needs a mental reset. Halt and take a deep breath.

Instead of rehashing the same thoughts, focus on taking action. What is one immediate step you can take to bring you closer to a higher score?

[What Is a Good LSAT Score?]

Is there an advanced strategy to try, based on the question type? Could you diagram the argument’s reasoning? Is it worth flagging the question and returning to it later with less time pressure?

Just like a marathon runner has to take one step at a time to avoid being overwhelmed by the length of the course, focusing on taking one small action after another can help you stay on pace when your brain is in overdrive.

Finally, note that breaking through analysis paralysis can be practiced just like any other skill on this test.

When you are preparing for the test by doing practice sections, don’t just focus on the questions you get wrong. Try to stay mindful of when you are getting stuck or losing time due to indecision. Gaining awareness in such moments is a precursor to approaching difficult questions more decisively, to help keep your cool on the actual test.

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How to Decide Between Similar Answer Choices on the LSAT originally appeared on

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