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What do Principle Questions look like? (Part 2 of 2)

There are two variations on Principle questions in the LSAT Logical Reasoning section. The first type presents you with a scenario and asks you to identify a principle that justifies the decision made in the scenario. The second type presents you with a principle and asks you to select a scenario in which that principle is applied most accurately. This post pertains to the second type of Principle question.

Here’s an example

Any new tax implemented by a government must be for a specific purpose, and all revenue collected from that tax must be directed exclusively toward achieving that purpose.

Here we have our principle, and now we need to look for a situation in which that principle is accurately applied. There are tons of possibilities, so let’s just take one bad example and one good example. First, the bad answer: “Gorblandia has enacted a new sales tax because the government is worried that it won’t have enough revenue this year to cover its expenses. All the money from the sales tax will go to covering expenses and to providing tax credits for international businesses that want to establish headquarters in Gorblandia.” Okay…this tax sucks. First of all, covering expenses is a pretty weak “specific purpose.” Second, it’s unclear how much of the tax revenue will actually cover expenses versus how much will be spent trying to lure corporations to the country. Nope, nope, nope.

Here’s a good answer: “Chaconia has proposed a new tax on cigarettes that is intended to deter youth from smoking both by raising the cost of cigarettes and by funding a new public school program aimed at educating youth about the risks of smoking.” Excellent. There is a specific purpose (deterring youth from smoking), and all the revenue will go to fund a program that serves said purpose. This is a nice, clean application of our principle to a real scenario.

So, in this type of Principle question, we are trying to locate an answer choice that describes a scenario in which someone correctly followed the principle given in the stimulus. The key to identifying these is to remember that the stimulus will be a principle, whereas the answer choices will contain scenarios.


More Resources

Check out the post LSAT Logical Reasoning Principle Questions for a more detailed overview of this question type and how to approach it, or visit our Logical Reasoning Library for tons of information on this section of the exam.

Below is a list of some of the common forms in which this type of Principle question can be phrased. If you’ve seen one that isn’t on this list, please leave it in a comment so we can include it.

  • The principle above, if valid, most strongly supports which one of the following arguments?
  • Which one of the following describes a scenario in which [some decision was made] according to the principle stated above?
  • Which one of the following is an application of the principle cited above?
  • Which one of the following most closely conforms to the proposition offered above?

Principle questions (both types) will almost always feature language like “principle,” “generalization,” or “proposition.” You also might see “application” pop up in this specific type of Principle question. Additionally, Principle questions often feature elements of Parallel Reasoning questions, since we’re looking for an answer choice that describes the logic used in the stimulus.

This second type of Principle question can be a bit time consuming because you have to read through five different scenarios. The answer choices tend to be lengthy. Fortunately, this is a relatively uncommon question type, with rarely more than one or two appearing per exam. If timing is an issue for you, this might be a good candidate to skip and return to at the end.

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