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Crush the Answers

You can eliminate, defer, or select an answer. This page describes when and how to do each.

Which you aim to do first will depend on the size of the question.

  • On BIG and MEDIUM-big: Aim to eliminate the confused answers.
  • On SMALL and MEDIUM-small: Aim to select the proven answer.

Learn more: about question size

Moving decisively through the answers it the best way to gain speed on the LSAT.

  • Eliminate when you know it's wrong.
  • Select when you know it's right.
  • Defer when you don't know.

Eliminate Poisoned Answers

Each of the wrong answers is wrong for a reason--there is always a word or phrase that poisons the answer.

Immediately cross out any answer that you have a reason for eliminating.

If an answer is part-sweet and part-poison, it's all wrong.

Poison is not: "it doesn't feel right."

Suggested skill practice

Finding poison is a great example of a skill worth practicing deliberately.

It's always easier to just go with your vague feelings about an answer. If you aren't intentional about looking for poison, you'll default to evaluating answers based on feel.

Looking for poison will make the test more difficult, at first. Finding poison is a muscle that will strengthen with exercise. And, ultimately, it will help you be smoother and more accurate.

You might also be resistant to looking for poison because it feels risky. Giving a specific reason exposes you to the risk of being wrong. But this is a more useful way of being wrong.

  • When you only eliminate based on vague feelings, then all you learn is that you can't trust yourself.
  • When you eliminate based on specific poison, you can learn what counts as poison. You'll be able to say: "Oh X wasn't a good reason to eliminate because Y."

Ultimately finding reasons will help improve your intuitions, so that, on test day, you can better rely on your vague feelings.

In the Reading section, wrong answers tend to be wrong because of either

  1. content or
  2. strength.

Confused Answers

Answers are wrong when they're confused about what the text said.

Confused answers might...

  • Say the opposite of what the author believes.
  • Attribute the right idea to the wrong person.
  • Treat a detail like it's the main point.
  • Use words from the text to express new ideas.
  • Say something the author wouldn't have said.

Be careful of eliminating answers because you don't remember it.

Extreme Answers

Answers are also wrong when they're too strong.

Strong words are definitive. Strong language makes answers hard to prove.

Conditional Absolute Normative Comparative Opinionated
Must All Should Most Best
Only No Ought More than Better than
If Never Ideally Same as Obviously

Weak words create wiggle room. Weak language makes answers easier to prove.

  • May
  • Could
  • Some
  • Sometimes
  • Not all

Strong language doesn't automatically make an answer wrong. It's just that most Reading section texts are nuanced, so strong statements tend to be unsupported.

The real key is to match the strength of the answer to the strength of the passage.

Defer On Weirdos

Weirdos are answers that you

  1. Don't understand or
  2. Aren't sure about.

Don't spend too much time on the weirdos. Don't try to understand them, yet. There's a good chance that the weirdo has confused you because it's confused about the text.

Once you evaluate all 5 answers, there's two possibilities for the weirdos:

  1. If you found another answer you like, you don't need to explain why the weirdos are wrong.
  2. If you got rid of every other answer, then you can pick the least bad weirdo and move on.

Review tip

During race or skill practice, you don't always need to explain why each answer is right or wrong. But when you don't have clear reasons, flag the question so you can come back during puzzle practice to figure it out.

Select Answers You Love

On bigger questions, when you fall in love, you should still scan all the other answers to make sure they're wrong.

On smaller questions, when you find an answer you love, immediately go back to confirm that it's proved by the text.

When you don't find love in the answers, select the least bad answer. Often this will be the answer that isn't wrong.

Evaluating answer choices is not unlike swiping on a dating app

Hopefully, on the apps, when you see a deal-breaker you swipe left without hesitation.

If you need to swipe left 5 times then you swipe left 5 times. Don't lower your standards on those apps!

Be even tougher on the LSAT. When you see a bad answer, swipe left.

That said, there's only 5 eligible answers. So once you cross out 5 answers, you do actually need to go back and lower your standards a smidge.

And, like dating, having some detailed list of requirements can get in your way. Sure, know your boundaries and what you're into. But maybe don't go in looking for something so specific. Be open to the right ideas in new words.