Wondering how to tackle LNAT Section A and Section B? You’ve come to the right place! This page will guide you through both sections and how to approach them to score highly in the LNAT.
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LNAT Section A
Section A of the LNAT is a multiple choice exam. Effectively, it’s a comprehension test. There are 12 passages. Each one has 3 or 4 associated questions. There are 42 questions in total.
You have 95 minutes to tackle LNAT Section A. That’s actually quite reasonable. In the medical entry exam, the UKCAT, you only get 22 minutes to address 11 (only slightly shorter) passages. The LNAT website itself says: ‘Unlike some multiple-choice tests the LNAT does not put great emphasis on speed. We have designed it so that you have a reasonable amount of time to work through all the questions patiently.’
So, you have time. It’s all about how you use it.
The LNAT website suggests you prepare by reading quality newspapers and thinking about the content from a critical perspective. No doubt this will help.
But when you get in the exam, you really need a clear strategy which you can follow, step-by-step. This will help you to achieve a really good LNAT verbal reasoning score.
LNAT Section A – Logical Inference
When it comes to any verbal reasoning test of this sort, the key is to restrict yourself to what is stated in the passage. As the LNAT website says:
‘Don’t ever rely on what you know from other sources in answering the multiple-choice questions. They are always questions about the passage itself. If it contains falsehoods, never mind – treat them as true for the purpose of the test.’
It sounds simple. But you must ensure you are coming to conclusions based solely on the information given in the passage. Inference and outside knowledge should not sway you in any way.
LNAT Section A – Key Words & Targeted Reading
We would suggest that you do not read the entire passage before tackling the questions. This tends to be quite inefficient. It’s a bit like rummaging through an attic without knowing what you’re looking for.
A better tactic is to go straight to the first question and pick out what we call the key words. These are words in the question – or sometimes the answer options – that stand out and are as specific as possible to that question.
You can then skim the passage looking for the key word. Reading immediately around this key word – using what we call targeted reading – and cross referencing against the question and answer options, you should be able to get to the correct solution in the most direct way.
Work your way down the answer options. Start by immediately discounting obviously wrong ones. If you get to one which is clearly right, select that and move on. If you discount all but one, select the one that remains. If you get down to two and are unsure, go with your gut, flag the question and move on.
This use of key words and targeted reading should form the bedrock of your LNAT strategy.
LNAT Section A – Bridging Phrases
A common trick in verbal reasoning tests like the LNAT is to exploit confusion between causality and coincidence. That is, they will place two things in close proximity and try to get you to assume a link between them.
For example, the LNAT passage might say: ‘Mark Zuckerberg is a world class developer. His tech company, Facebook, is now worth many billions of dollars.’
Then it may ask about causes of Facebook’s valuation in the billions of dollars, presenting as one option: ‘Mark Zuckerberg’s world class developing skills.’
It is incorrect – based on the excerpt – to claim that Mark Zuckerberg’s world class developing skills were a cause of Facebook’s valuation in the billions of dollars. We simply know that Zuckerberg had these skills and that Facebook is worth billions of dollars.
In other words, the positioning of these two facts beside each other does not prove that they are linked. Causation and consequence can only be established when there is a bridging phrase, like ‘because of’, or ‘due to’ or ‘as a result of’.
Had the passage said the following, then causation would have been clear: ‘Mark Zuckerberg is a world class developer. And his tech company, Facebook, is now worth many billions of dollars because of this.’
So, when causation or consequence come up, always look for the bridging phrase.
LNAT Section A – Pick the Low Hanging Fruit
All LNAT questions are equal, but some are more equal than others.
What do we mean by this? Well, though all LNAT comprehension questions are only worth 1 mark, some are harder than others. So, you don’t want to get stuck on one really hard question and miss out on lots of much easier marks later on in the test.
If a question is really bugging you and you just can’t work it out, discount clearly wrong answers. You should be able to get down to two options in most cases. Then… guess! Go with your gut and flag it. You can go back to it at the end of the test if you have time.
Remember, there’s no negative marking in the LNAT, so no question should be left blank. And since the time constraints aren’t too harsh, you may well have time to revisit the question later.
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LNAT Section B
Section B of the LNAT exam, also known as the LNAT Essay, lasts 40 minutes. You will select one of three possible titles and write a well-argued essay.
The key to doing well in this section of the LNAT exam is picking the right title, planning the essay carefully, writing it well, and giving the LNAT examiners what they want.
LNAT Essay – Picking the Right Title
The LNAT website is slightly contradictory. It advises you to pick the topic about which you are most informed, as opposed to the one you feel most strongly about.
However, it also says that they do not care about any data you may have, and that an essay based on assumptions is perfectly fine – as long as you explain what those assumptions are.
This second point is quite instructive. As soon as you read an essay title, you should start thinking: ‘what approach can I take and how can I clearly frame this question’?
Topics tend to be quite esoteric. They are usually either a quote to discuss, or wide-ranging questions. Examples include:
- How should judges be appointed?
- Make the best case you can for public funding of the arts.
- Does it matter if some animal and plant species die out?
- ‘It is right that students should contribute to the cost of their degrees.’ Do you agree?
Ideally, there will be at least one title that you understand well and can formulate some arguments around. Remember: quality of argument trumps personal opinion.
It is essential that you avoid any title which seems to you to be ambiguous, or contains terminology of which you are uncertain. Writing an essay based upon uncertainty is like building a house on sand.
LNAT Essay – Planning
You have 40 minutes to complete Section 2 of the LNAT. Your essay will be 500-600 words long. It won’t take long to write this up.
So, there’s a lot of time to plan. We suggest taking a full 15 minutes to do this. A typical essay plan might look as follows:
- Define key terms
- Explain assumptions
- Frame the question
- Signpost your approach
Arguments in Favour of Your Position
- Why do you agree/disagree?
- Three clear, well-defined arguments with examples
Arguments to the Contrary
- Identify arguments against your position
- Can these be undermined?
- What do you believe and why?
LNAT Essay – Writing Well
The ability to communicate your ideas clearly and concisely is essential. Poor spelling and grammar is an immediate red flag. The examiners are expecting strong, cogent prose.
Clearly planning your essay, as described above, is the first step to producing a great final draft. But when you’re writing it out, there are also certain things to bear in mind:
- Keep sentences short. This will enhance clarity and make your arguments more persuasive. If you are using a lot of semi-colons or employing multiple conjunctives (like ‘and’ or ‘but’) in a single sentence, look to simplify your approach.
- Sound your essay out as you write it. Obviously, you can’t read out loud. But by sounding out the words in your head as you write them, you will get a sense of how they flow – and, crucially, whether they make sense.
- Remember the words of Enrique Jardiel Poncela: ‘when something can be read without great effort, great effort has gone into its writing.’ Make it easy for the examiner to follow your arguments and buy into your view point.
LNAT Essay – What the Examiners Want
There are different types of essay. Some are extremely balanced, appreciating all sides of a contentious topic. The LNAT examiners aren’t looking for this. They want you to argue a position.
The LNAT website specifically says: ‘don’t sit on the fence.’ It claims to be an exam that rewards creativity and originality of argument. It does not want you to play safe, but to offer an interesting view point and defend it rigorously.
Equally, it is clear from scouring the mark scheme that opinions are not highly prized. It’s all about building a strong case. So, avoid listing unexplored views or opinions.
LNAT is also extremely precise on word count. Effectively, it says that 500-600 words is ideal, but more or less will not be looked upon favourably. So, practice writing essays that hit the right length every time.
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