Tutor profile: Kendyl K.
Students often ask me about Logical Reasoning and what kinds of strategies to use in preparing for these sections. What are the most effective ones?
Generally speaking, the Logical Reasoning portion of the LSAT is the most important- it comprises half of your score and uses the skill sets most often associated with being a lawyer! To help students prepare for these sections, I generally begin with a crash course on logical fallacies and critical thinking. The exam handles similar patterns of fallacious reasoning throughout, and once students have the vocabulary to recognize these patterns they can complete the exam more efficiently and accurately.
Some students look for help in law for courses they are taking as undergraduates; of those, many of the students I've worked with struggle with vocabulary related to mental states- what exactly is the difference between negligence, recklessness, and knowing/intentional behavior?
Given the length of this answer, I do risk some oversimplification. However, as a general rule, we can think of mental states as a spectrum from negligence to intentionality. Let's use a hypothetical to illustrate! First, Negligence: a person is negligent when they commit an act and do not know, but should know, that the act will cause harm. For example, let's say that Amy and Bob are walking down the hallway. Amy receives a text message that she and her boyfriend are going to get back together, and in a fit of joy swings her fist into the air. As she swings her fist, she strikes Bob. In this instance, we would call Amy "negligent" because she did not realize she would hit Bob, but a reasonable person in her position should have realized the danger inherent in swinging her fist. Next, Recklessness: a person is reckless when they knowingly disregard a known risk. So let's use the same scenario- Amy and Bob walk down the hall when Amy gets good news. However, this time, a nearby friend, Cassie, notices that Amy is clenching her fist and smiling, and she says "Hey, Amy, you're about to swing your fist and will likely hit Bob right in his face!" This time, Amy looks at Cassie and thinks, "well I could hit him, but that wouldn't be the worst thing!" Then, Amy swings and hits Bob. This would be reckless. Intentionality is less nuanced- if a person performs an act of their own volition knowing that their actions were likely to bring about an outcome, we would call them intentional. So, in our hypothetical, this would be where Amy got good news, and then decided that she wanted to punch Bob in the face to celebrate.
Teachers frequently emphasize to students that writing in the passive voice creates confusion and needlessly adds length to sentences. What's the easiest way to remove passive voice from my writing?
For the most parts, teachers tell students that they should re-read their sentences and determine who the "actor" in the sentence is. This is useful, but primarily only helps students remedy passive voice once they know it exists already! If you're reading a paper trying to determine whether you've used passive voice, read the essay and search for any "being" verbs. (i.e. "be," "is," "was," "were.") As a general rule, if your sentence uses one of these words it's more likely written in passive voice. To fix this, re-write the sentence using an active verb!
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