Skip to content

Step 3: Predict

At the most basic, predicting means pausing for a second between reading the argument and looking at the answers. During that pause, you reminder yourself in your understanding of the argument.

A prediction anchors you in your understanding as you move through the confusing answer choices.

Predictions save you time by allowing you to move confidently through the answers.


The answers are not your friends in the Reasoning section. Only 1 of the answers is correct. The other 4 have been carefully engineered in a high-tech lab to confuse you!

If you are confused about the argument, then you will only get more confused by the answers.

More: How the LSAT confuses you

There are 3 levels of prediction. The level of prediction you can expect to make depends largely on the style of the question.

level meaning when to use it
anchor know what the argument said any question, especially very hard and easy questions
specific know exactly what you want from the correct answer MECHANICAL style questions
flexible know the problem with the argument ORGANIC style questions


Specific predictions aren't better than flexible predictions. On an ORGANIC question, a specific prediction can lead you down a too narrow path, blinding you to correct answers that have new information.

Anchor in your understanding

An anchor prediction is a minimal prediction that you can always do. Basically, an anchor prediction is just a boiled down understanding of the argument. Anchoring means knowing what you know.

On a harder questions, an anchor prediction might be the best you can do. On an easier question, an anchor prediction might be all you need.

On DESCRIBE questions, your anchor prediction is basically a specific prediction. That's why DESCRIBE questions are all MECHANICAL, a specific prediction is both achievable and useful.


On a question that asks "The argument proceeds by...", the best prediction is just a break-down of the argument.

On INFER questions, your anchor prediction is basically a flexible prediction. Knowing what you know allows you to test each answer choice, to see if they follow from what you know.

On ARGUE questions, an anchor prediction might not reveal the right answer, but should help you cross out irrelevant answers.


Anchor predictions provide a useful check on your understanding. If you find yourself unable to say what happened in the argument, you might need to re-read it.

Stay flexible on ORGANIC questions

On ORGANIC questions, the correct answers are harder to predict, and specific predictions are less useful.

  • On ORGANIC ARGUE questions, the answer will often include new information, like new facts or alternative explanations.
  • On ORGANIC INFER questions, the answer will not include new information, but the given facts may give rise to many possible logical combinations or extensions.

A flexible prediction will serve you better on an ORGANIC question.

On the ORGANIC ARGUE questions, including HURT, ORGANIC-HELP, and some DEPENDS questions, the most flexible prediction is a precise description of the argument's problem. A specific solution may or may not show up in the answers. A diagnosis of the problem will better prepare you to see which of the answers actually address the problem.


Often, my brain skips right over the problem and goes immediately to a specific solution. When this happens on ORGANIC questions, I take a second to reflect on my solution in order to identify the more general problem.


What would weaken this argument?

Sunscreen contains many chemicals that have been correlated with with elevated cancer rates. Therefore, rather than preventing skin cancer, wearing sunscreen actually increases your risk of cancer.

Not a good prediction: "That's a bad argument."

Useful, flexible predictions:

  • increases is a fresh idea in the conclusion: how do we know the risk from the chemicals is greater than the risk from the sun?
  • There's an association in the facts (correlated with) and causation in the conclusion increases your risk so there might be a causation flaw to exploit?
  • It contains the chemicals, but how much of them?

Be specific on MECHANICAL questions

A specific prediction is a good investment on MECHANICAL questions because, unlike ORGANIC questions, you can reliably guess what the correct answer will say.

Wrong answers can be especially tricky on MECHANICAL questions. If you aren't prepared, they're likely to turn you around, or at least waste your time and energy.

If a question features conditional logic, then it's likely a MECHANICAL question. By diagramming those conditional statements, you can come up with a specific prediction.

  • On PARALLEL questions, diagram the argument to reduce it to the abstract structure. Then diagram the answers to see if they're the same.
  • On MECHANICAL-HELP questions, diagram the argument to reveal a gap between the facts and conclusion.
  • On MECHANICAL INFER questions, diagram the facts to combine them.
  • On RULE questions, diagram the rule to see what answer follows it.
Suggested skill practice
  1. Write down your prediction before you look at the answers.
  2. Answer the question.
  3. Compare your prediction to the correct answer.
  4. Ask yourself: "Did I trust my prediction?"
  5. Ask yourself: "Did I predict enough or too much?"