LSAT Reading : Organization and Structure in Law Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for LSAT Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Rhetorical Mode And Style

Adapted from Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke (1790)

In the famous statute called the Declaration of Right, the two houses utter not a syllable of “a right to frame a government for themselves.” You will see that their whole care was to secure the religion, laws, and liberties that had been long possessed and had been lately endangered. They state “in the first place” to do “as their ancestors in like cases have usually done for vindicating their ancient rights and liberties, to declare;”—and then they pray the king and queen, “that it may be declared and enacted, that all and singular the rights and liberties asserted and declared are the true ancient and indubitable rights and liberties of the people of this kingdom.”

You will observe that from the Magna Carta to the Declaration of Right, it has been the uniform policy of our constitution to claim and assert our liberties as an entailed inheritance derived to us from our forefathers and to be transmitted to our posterity; as an estate specially belonging to the people of this kingdom, without any reference whatever to any other more general or prior right. By this means, our constitution preserves a unity in so great a diversity of its parts. We have an inheritable crown; an inheritable peerage; and a House of Commons and a people inheriting privileges, franchises, and liberties from a long line of ancestors.

This policy appears to me to be the result of profound reflection, or rather the happy effect of following nature, which is wisdom without reflection and above it. A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity who never look backward to their ancestors. Besides, the people of England well know, that the idea of inheritance furnishes a sure principle of conservation, and a sure principle of transmission; without at all excluding a principle of improvement. It leaves acquisition free; but it secures what it acquires. Whatever advantages are obtained by a state proceeding on these maxims are locked fast as in a sort of family settlement, grasped as in a kind of mortmain forever. By a constitutional policy working after the pattern of nature, we receive, we hold, we transmit our government and our privileges in the same manner in which we enjoy and transmit our property and our lives. The institutions of policy, the goods of fortune, the gifts of providence, are handed down to us and from us in the same course and order. Our political system is placed in a just correspondence and symmetry with the mode of existence decreed to a permanent body composed of transitory parts; wherein the whole, at one time, is never old, or middle-aged, or young, but, in a condition of unchangeable constancy, moves on through the varied tenor of perpetual decay, fall, renovation, and progression. Thus, by preserving the method of nature in the conduct of the state, in what we improve, we are never wholly new; in what we retain, we are never wholly obsolete. By adhering in this manner and on those principles to our forefathers, we are guided not by the superstition of antiquarians, but by the spirit of philosophic analogy. In this choice of inheritance, we have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood; binding up the constitution of our country with our dearest domestic ties; adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom of our family affections; keeping inseparable, and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities, our state, our hearths, our sepulchers, and our altars.

Through the same plan of a conformity to nature in our artificial institutions and by calling in the aid of her unerring and powerful instincts to fortify the fallible and feeble contrivances of our reason, we have derived several other, and those no small benefits, from considering our liberties in the light of an inheritance. Always acting as if in the presence of canonized forefathers, the spirit of freedom, leading in itself to misrule and excess, is tempered with an awful gravity. This idea of a liberal descent inspires us with a sense of habitual, native dignity. By this means our liberty becomes a noble freedom. It carries an imposing and majestic aspect. It has a pedigree and illustrating ancestors. It has its bearings and its ensigns armorial. It has its gallery of portraits; its monumental inscriptions; its records, evidences, and titles. All your sophisters cannot produce anything better adapted to preserve a rational freedom than the course that we have pursued, who have chosen our nature rather than our speculations, our breasts rather than our inventions, for the great conservatories and magazines of our rights and privileges.

Which of the following BEST describes the author's rhetorical strategy in the passage?

Possible Answers:

The author begins by providing an example of rights legislation in England then attempts to situate that example as part of an abstract system of traditional inheritance.

The author begins by providing an example of regressive social legislation, then attempts to situate that example as part of an abstract system of ill-considered social progressivism.

The author begins by providing an example of rights legislation in England then attempts to situate that example as part of an abstract system of a progressive social movement.

The author begins by providing a positive example of rights legislation in England, then attempts to ironize his intellectual opponents by imitating the the objections to this example that would naturally be generated by their way of thinking.

The author begins by asserting the existence of an abstract system of traditional inheritance, then attempts to justify his claims with an example drawn from English history.

Correct answer:

The author begins by providing an example of rights legislation in England then attempts to situate that example as part of an abstract system of traditional inheritance.


The author's rhetorical strategy in this passage is to begin with an example of rights legislation in England (The Declaration of Right), and then to situate that example as part of an abstract system of tradition, namely entailed inheritance. Thus, the author situates any progress made in England in terms of personal liberty as part of an inherited tradition, a tradition that need be "conserved." 

The example of the Magna Carta is NOT intended to be cast in a negative light as regressive; rather, it is called upon as an example of the kind of social reform "progressive" intellectual opponents of Burke have been demanding around the time of the French Revolution.

The author's abstract claims and justifications are sincere; they are not intended to ironize or imitate intellectual opponents.

Example Question #1 : Organization And Structure In Law Passages

Adapted from Criminal Psychology: A Manual for Judges, Practitioners, and Students by Hans Gross (1911)

Socrates, in the Meno, sends for one of Meno's servants, to prove the possibility of absolutely certain a priori knowledge. The servant is to determine the length of a rectangle, the area of which is twice that of one measuring two feet. He is to have no previous knowledge of the matter and is to discover the answer for himself. The servant first gives out an incorrect answer, that the length of a rectangle having twice the area of the one mentioned is four feet, thinking that the length doubles with the area. Thereupon Socrates triumphantly points out to Meno that the servant does as a matter of fact not yet quite know the truth under consideration, but that he really thinks he knows it; and then Socrates, in his own Socratic way, leads the servant to the correct solution.

When we properly consider what we have to do with a witness who has to relate any fact, we may see in the Socratic method the simplest example of our task. We must never forget that the majority of mankind dealing with any subject whatever always believe that they know and repeat the truth, and even when they say doubtfully, “I believe— It seems to me,'' there is, in this diffidence, more meant than meets the ear. When people say “I believe that—‘' it merely means that they intend to ensure themselves against the event of being contradicted by better informed persons; but they certainly have not the doubt their expression indicates. When, however, the report of some bare fact is in question (“It rained,” “It was 9 o’clock,'' or “His beard was brown,”) it does not matter to the narrator, and if he or she imparts such facts with the introduction “I believe,'' then he or she was really uncertain. The matter becomes important only where the issue involves partly-concealed observations, conclusions, and judgments. In such cases another factor enters—conceit; what the witness asserts he or she is fairly certain of just because he or she asserts it, and all the “I believes,'' “Perhapses,'' and “It seemeds'' are merely insurance against all accidents.

Generally, statements are made without such reservations and with full assurance. This holds also and more intensely of court witnesses, particularly in crucial matters. Anybody experienced in his or her conduct comes to be absolutely convinced that witnesses do not know what they know. A series of assertions are made with utter certainty. Yet when these are successively subjected to closer examinations, tested for their ground and source, only a very small portion can be retained unaltered. Of course, one may here overshoot the mark. It often happens, even in the routine of daily life, that a person may be made to feel shaky in his most absolute convictions, by means of an energetic attack and searching questions. Conscientious and sanguine people are particularly easy subjects of such doubts. Somebody narrates an event; questioning begins as to the indubitability of the fact, as to the exclusion of possible deception; the narrator becomes uncertain, recalling that, because of a lively imagination, he or she has already believed him- or herself to have seen things otherwise than they actually were, and finally he or she admits that the matter might probably have been different. During trials this is still more frequent. The circumstance of being in court of itself excites most people; the consciousness that one's statement is, or may be, of great significance increases the excitement; and the authoritative character of the official subdues very many people to conform their opinions to his or hers. What wonder then, that however much a person may be convinced of the correctness of his or her evidence, he or she may yet fail in the face of the doubting judge to know anything certainly?

Now one of the most difficult tasks of the criminalist is to hit, in just such cases, upon the truth—neither to accept the testimony blindly and uncritically, nor to render the witness, who otherwise is telling the truth, vacillating and doubtful. But it is still more difficult to lead the witness, who is not intentionally falsifying, but has merely observed incorrectly or has made false conclusions, to a statement of the truth as Socrates leads the servant in the Meno. It is as modern as it is comfortable to assert that this is not the judge's business—that the witness is to depose, his or her evidence is to be accepted, and the judge is to judge. Yet it is supposed before everything else that the duty of the court is to establish the material truth—that the formal truth is insufficient. Moreover, if we notice false observations and let them by, then, under certain circumstance, we are minus one important piece of evidence pro and con, and the whole case may be turned topsy-turvy. We shall, then, proceed in the Socratic fashion. But, inasmuch as we are not concerned with mathematics, and are hence more badly placed in the matter of proof, we shall have to proceed more cautiously and with less certainty than when the question is merely one of the area of a square. On the one hand we know only in the rarest cases that we are not ourselves mistaken, so that we must not, without anything further, lead another to agree with us; on the other hand, we must beware of perverting the witness from his or her possibly sound opinions. Whoever is able to correct the witness's apparently false conceptions and to lead him or her to discover his or her error of his or her own accord and then to speak the truth— whoever can do this and yet does not go too far, deducing from the facts nothing that does not actually follow from them—that person is a master among us.

The author most likely references his earlier discussion about mathematics in the concluding paragraph in order to do what?

Possible Answers:

To undermine the impact of Socrates on the formation of legal practice and to suggest that the Socratic method is no longer of any real significance in the courtroom

To reveal the limitations of mathematics as an arbiter of truth

To show how much more difficult the task facing the criminalist is in deciphering the truth when compared to mathematicians

To demonstrate his disagreement with Socrates and the Socratic method

To reveal how little importance he places in the study of mathematics

Correct answer:

To show how much more difficult the task facing the criminalist is in deciphering the truth when compared to mathematicians


In context, the author declares, “But, inasmuch as we are not concerned with mathematics, and are hence more badly placed in the matter of proof, we shall have to proceed more cautiously and with less certainty, than when the question is merely one of the area of a square.” Seeing as the author describes how it is necessary to proceed “more cautiously and with less certainty” and uses the word “merely” to describe the task facing the mathematician, it is reasonable to conclude that he highlights the story told earlier to show how the criminalist faces a much more difficult task in deciphering the truth than a mathematician does.

Example Question #2 : Organization And Structure In Law Passages

Adapted from The Common Law by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1881)

If it were necessary to trench further upon the field of morals, it might be suggested that the dogma of equality applied even to individuals only within the limits of ordinary dealings in the common run of affairs. You cannot argue with your neighbor, except on the admission for the moment that he is as wise as you, although you may by no means believe it. In the same way, you cannot deal with him, where both are free to choose, except on the footing of equal treatment, and the same rules for both. The ever-growing value set upon peace and the social relations tends to give the law of social being the appearance of the law of all being. But it seems to me clear that the ultima ratio, not only regum, but of private persons, is force, and that at the bottom of all private relations, however tempered by sympathy and all the social feelings, is a justifiable self-preference. If a man is on a plank in the deep sea that will only float one, and a stranger lays hold of it, he will thrust him off if he can. When the state finds itself in a similar position, it does the same thing.

The considerations that answer the argument of equal rights also answer the objections to treating man as a thing, and the like. If a man lives in society, he is liable to find himself so treated. The degree of civilization which a people has reached, no doubt, is marked by their anxiety to do as they would be done by. It may be the destiny of humanity that the social instincts shall grow to control our actions absolutely, even in anti-social situations. But they have not yet done so, and as the rules of law are or should be based upon a morality that is generally accepted, no rule founded on a theory of absolute unselfishness can be laid down without a breach between law and working beliefs.

If it be true, as I shall presently try to show, that the general principles of criminal and civil liability are the same, it will follow from that alone that theory and fact agree in frequently punishing those who have been guilty of no moral wrong, and who could not be condemned by any standard that did not avowedly disregard the personal peculiarities of the individuals concerned. If punishment stood on the moral grounds that are proposed for it, the first thing to be considered would be those limitations in the capacity for choosing rightly that arise from abnormal instincts, want of education, lack of intelligence, and all the other defects which are most marked in the criminal classes. I do not say that they should not be, or at least I do not need to for my argument. I do not say that the criminal law does more good than harm. I only say that it is not enacted or administered on that theory.

The author uses the metaphor of the man "on a plank in the deep sea that will only float one" __________.

Possible Answers:

to deepen the reader's interest in the matter of criminal law

to dramatize the perspective the state has towards criminal law

to create a heightened sense of tension for the reader

to parallel the same case in civil law

to introduce concepts from maritime law

Correct answer:

to dramatize the perspective the state has towards criminal law


The metaphor about the man on the plank is introduced by the author to immediately state that this is how the state views criminals. Just as the man on the plank will prioritize his own survival, the state will take criminals out of society to advance their own security. This dramatizes the perspective of the state towards criminal activity.

Example Question #11 : Tone, Structure, And Purpose Of Law Passages

Adapted from Commentaries on the Laws of England by William Blackstone (1765-1769)

Law, in its most general and comprehensive sense, signifies a rule of action, and is applied indiscriminately to all kinds of action, whether animate or inanimate, rational or irrational. Thus we say, the laws of motion, of gravitation, of optics, or mechanics, as well as the laws of nature and of nations. And it is that rule of action, that is prescribed by some superior, and that the inferior is bound to obey.

Thus when the supreme being formed the universe, and created matter out of nothing, he impressed certain principles upon that matter, from which it can never depart, and without which it would cease to be. When he put that matter into motion, he established certain laws of motion, to which all moveable bodies must conform. And, to descend from the greatest operations to the smallest, when a workman forms a clock, or other piece of mechanism, he establishes at his own pleasure certain arbitrary laws for its direction; as that the hand shall describe a given space in a given time; to which law as long as the work conforms, so long it continues in perfection, and answers the end of its formation.

If we farther advance, from mere inactive matter to vegetable and animal life, we shall find them still governed by laws; more numerous indeed, but equally fixed and invariable. The whole progress of plants, from the seed to the root, and from thence to the seed again—the method of animal nutrition, digestion, secretion, and all other branches of vital economy—are not left to chance, or the will of the creature itself, but are performed in a wondrous involuntary manner, and guided by unerring rules laid down by the great creator.

This then is the general signification of law, a rule of action dictated by some superior being; and in those creatures that have neither the power to think, nor to will, such laws must be invariably obeyed, so long as the creature itself subsists, for it's existence depends on that obedience. But laws, in their more confined sense, and in which it is our present business to consider them, denote the rules, not of action in general, but of human action or conduct: that is, the precepts by which man, the noblest of all sublunary beings, a creature endowed with both reason and free will, is commanded to make use of those faculties in the general regulation of his behavior.

The purpose of the final paragraph is best described as __________.

Possible Answers:

adding an additional technical use of a word that had been used according to its more common meaning earlier

marking out a special set of the possible meanings of a term as those that are most proper

contradicting a preliminary definition of a term that further analysis showed to be inadequate

delineating the scope of a term for subsequent discussion

redefining a term in a way that incorporates discussion from earlier in the passage

Correct answer:

delineating the scope of a term for subsequent discussion


The primary purpose of the final paragraph is to show how the term "law," which has been discussed in its most general sense up to this point, is to be used in a more limited way in later discussion. While Blackstone has been discussing what laws are in the most general sense, in ways that include laws of nature, the final paragraph is where he transitions to his main theme, laws that govern human conduct. While he does offer another definition of the term "law" in the opening of the paragraph, this redefinition does not contradict the earlier definition he gave in the opening of the passage, nor is it the primary purpose of the final paragraph. Furthermore, while he does limit and delineate the boundaries of what he will mean by "law" in future discussion, there is no evidence in the passage to support the position that this meaning is either the most proper or most common meaning.

Example Question #4 : Organization And Structure In Law Passages

Adapted from Wilkerson v. Utah, 99 U.S. 130 (1878)

Cruel and unusual punishments are forbidden by the Constitution, but the authorities referred to are quite sufficient to show that the punishment of shooting as a mode of executing the death penalty for the crime of murder in the first degree is not included in that category, within the meaning of the eighth amendment. Soldiers convicted of desertion or other capital military offences are in the great majority of cases sentenced to be shot, and the ceremony for such occasions is given in great fullness by the writers upon the subject of courts-martial.

Where the conviction is in the civil tribunals, the rule of the common law was that the sentence or judgment must be pronounced or rendered by the court in which the prisoner was tried or finally condemned, and the rule was universal that it must be such as is annexed to the crime by law. Of these, says Blackstone, some are capital, which extend to the life of the offender, and consist generally in being hanged by the neck till dead.

Such is the general statement of that commentator, but he admits that in very atrocious crimes other circumstances of terror, pain, or disgrace were sometimes superadded. Cases mentioned by the author are where the prisoner was drawn or dragged to the place of execution, in treason; or where he was emboweled alive, beheaded, and quartered, in high treason. Mention is also made of public dissection in murder, and burning alive in treason committed by a female. History confirms the truth of these atrocities, but the commentator states that the humanity of the nation by tacit consent allowed the mitigation of such parts of those judgments as savored of torture or cruelty, and he states that they were seldom strictly carried into effect.

Difficulty would attend the effort to define with exactness the extent of the constitutional provision which provides that cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted; but it is safe to affirm that punishments of torture, such as those mentioned by the commentator referred to, and all others in the same line of unnecessary cruelty, are forbidden by that amendment to the Constitution.

The author lists the kinds of punishments that are "cruel and unusual" in his third paragraph in order to __________.

Possible Answers:

create a sense of confusion about what the proper definition of "cruel and unusual punishments" is

demonstrate his knowledge of different types of punishment

discuss possible forms of punishment that could be used instead of shooting

outline appropriate types of punishment throughout history

more clearly delineate what could be considered excessive under the Constitution

Correct answer:

more clearly delineate what could be considered excessive under the Constitution


The author actually cites another authority to create his list of excessive punishments that are obviously out of bounds under the Constitution. Every single example that the author cites is mentioned in order to rule it as clearly "cruel and unusual" as a form of punishment, in the service of clarifying that "the punishment of shooting as a mode of executing the death penalty for the crime of murder in the first degree is not included in that category."

Example Question #5 : Organization And Structure In Law Passages

"The Supreme Court" by William Floyd (2015)

Supreme Court decisions frame the understanding of law in America in a way no other body of writing has come close to approaching. While the Constitution and Acts of Congress are the actual law of the land, only through the interpretation, approval, and arguments of the nine Justices of the Supreme Court do these laws have a full meaning and power throughout the nation. Despite this place of prominence, the actual knowledge of Supreme Court decisions by most Americans is shockingly limited. The full depth and meaning of what the Supreme Court says is often elided for a popular opinion that remarkably distorts the ultimate meaning of the rulings of the highest court in the land.

Take the famous 1973 decision Roe v. Wade. Popularly, the case is known as the event which made abortion legal throughout the United States, becoming a flash point both for pro-abortion and anti-abortion activists in the four decades since the Court handed down the decision. In actuality, the court decided that there was an inherent right to privacy in the Constitution through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which could not be violated by state or Federal laws that outlawed aborting a fetus, whether it targeted the woman seeking an abortion or the doctor performing the procedure. In essence, the court did not assert that abortion was legal, but rather that the state could not make abortion illegal. The practical difference might be quite small, but the legal difference is significant.

More importantly, the ruling was a 7-2 decision, which meant that along with the majority opinion which found a right to privacy, there were two dissents which emphatically did not find such a right. Justice Byron White famously wrote, “I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the court’s judgement.” While lower courts, legislators, and law enforcement officials had to comply with the majority opinion, a future Supreme Court decision can look to what Justice White argued and find that there is in fact no right to privacy inherent in the Fourteenth Amendment. This is the part of Supreme Court decisions that most confuses the general public. The majority decision holds as law, but all the opinions are part of the larger record and fabric of the Supreme Court. This means that the law of the land, when filtered through the arguments of the Supreme Court, can and will change depending on who is sitting in the nine chairs of the dais in the Supreme Court building.

Why does the author directly quote the dissenting opinion of Justice Byron White in the final paragraph?

Possible Answers:

The author specifically wishes to highlight the importance of dissenting opinions in understanding Supreme Court cases.

The author wishes to add a sense of confusion about the meaning of the Roe v. Wade decision.

The author wishes to belittle the arguments made in the dissenting opinion of Roe v. Wade.

The author wishes to show that most Americans cannot present an argument like the one made by Justice Byron White.

The author has a particular fondness for the arguments of Justice Byron White.

Correct answer:

The author specifically wishes to highlight the importance of dissenting opinions in understanding Supreme Court cases.


The author uses Justice White's words, which are extremely pointed and go directly against the majority opinion, to introduce the main point about dissenting opinions. The author needs to show that a dissenting opinion is still important for future Supreme Court justices, and using the actual dissenting opinion in Roe v. Wade allows the author to more explicitly demonstrate what role these opinions could play in the future. Direct quotation, especially when talking about legal arguments, is powerful evidence in support of claims based on rulings.

Example Question #1 : Organization And Structure In Law Passages

Passage adapted from Courts and Criminals (1912) by Arthur Train.

But as the examination of the panel and the opening address come last in point of chronology it will be well to begin at the beginning and see what the labors of the prosecutor are in the initial stages of preparation. Let us take, for example, some notorious case, where an unfortunate victim has died from the effects of a poisoned pill or draught of medicine, or has been found dead in his room with a revolver bullet in his heart. Sometime before the matter has come into the hands of the prosecutor, the press and the police have generally been doing more or less (usually less) effective work upon the case. The yellow journals have evolved some theory of who is the culprit and have loosed their respective reporters and "special criminologists" upon him. Each has its own idea and its own methods—often unscrupulous. And each has its own particular victim upon whom it intends to fasten the blame. Heaven save his reputation! Many an innocent man has been ruined for life through the efforts of a newspaper "to make a case," and, of course, the same thing, though happily in a lesser degree, is true of the police and of some prosecutors as well.

In every great criminal case there are always four different and frequently antagonistic elements engaged in the work of detection and prosecution—first, the police; second, the district attorney; third, the press; and, lastly, the personal friends and family of the deceased or injured party. Each for its own ends—be it professional pride, personal glorification, hard cash, or revenge—is equally anxious to find the evidence and establish a case. Of course, the police are the first ones notified of the commission of a crime, but as it is now almost universally their duty to inform at once the coroner and also the district attorney thereof, a tripartite race for glory frequently results which adds nothing to the dignity of the administration of criminal justice.

The coroner is at best no more than an appendix to the legal anatomy, and frequently he is a disease. The spectacle of a medical man of small learning and less English trying to preside over a court of first instance is enough to make the accused himself chuckle for joy.

Not long ago the coroners of New York discovered that, owing to the fact that the district attorney or his representatives generally arrived first at the scene of any crime, there was nothing left for the "medicos" to do, for the district attorney would thereupon submit the matter at once to the grand jury instead of going through the formality of a hearing in the coroner's court. The legal medicine men felt aggrieved, and determined to be such early birds that no worm should escape them. Accordingly, the next time one of them was notified of a homicide he raced his horse down Madison Avenue at such speed that he collided with a trolley car and broke his leg.

The author ends the passage with the story of the medical examiner who was run over in order to __________.

Possible Answers:

counter the claims made about investigators earlier in the passage

demonstrate the average involvement of a coroner in an investigation

illustrate the best way for a coroner to be involved in an investigation

highlight the often curious nature of the involvement of coroners in a criminal investigation

decry the lax nature of securing crime scenes in investigations

Correct answer:

highlight the often curious nature of the involvement of coroners in a criminal investigation


The author punctuates his general disdain for the role of the coroner in an investigation by discussing a medical examiner who in such a hurry he got run over by a trolley. This both reflects that the individual in question was not very smart and that people did not respect what he did in the investigation.

Example Question #7 : Organization And Structure In Law Passages

"Lynch Law" by William Floyd (2015)

“Lynch Law” as it was known can appear as a peculiar feature of the past only. Never in the present day does a mob, carrying torches, clubs, and small firearms, descend upon a county jail to take from a cell an accused criminal who is supposed to have committed a crime so heinous and unspeakable that the crowd believes the only justice is to find the nearest sturdy tree to hang the accused from. This action, so common in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, particularly in the Southern portion of the United States, died out after World War II, with only a few isolated incidents, roundly disparaged, revealing the last gasp of the Lynch Law.

Perhaps the exact mechanisms of lynching culture do not exist, features of a bygone society, more rural, prejudiced, and violent than that which replaced it. Yet the attitudes have never left the consciousness of many Americans. On the chyrons of the nightly news and splashed across front pages of newspapers, accused criminals are only treated as such out of formality. In actuality, the tone of the reports reveals that the poor soul accused of a crime is assumed to be found guilty once the proper processes of the judicial system have run their course. Through a nod to a presumption of innocence and unwavering fidelity to the slow march of the courts, any sensible citizen can congratulate themselves that they are well beyond their ancestors, whether by blood or thought, who invoked the lynch law.

In actuality, a person can be arrested on the most base of suspicions, that they have the same vague hairstyle, shirt color, or peculiar mannerism of suspect’s description given by a witness. Then this poor soul will have to be questioned by any number of detectives, who look for the slightest pause, tic, or odd gaze. And heaven help him should he forget where he was for some small sliver of time. At that point, he is all but done for in front of the criminal justice system, being as he is with some apparent similarity to the description of the suspect, no alibi, and the accusations of police and prosecutors. While he is exceedingly lucky not to have to worry about being taken out of his cell and murdered underneath a large tree, he is still shunted forward to a removal from society after his placement in a labyrinthine prison system.

The author details how lynching operated in the opening paragraph in order to __________.

Possible Answers:

illustrate the attitudes that caused lynching at the start of the passage

highlight a peculiarity of the American criminal justice system

reflect on an historical anomaly in the American criminal justice system

decry the brutality of the practice of lynching

describe the way that the criminal justice system has involved

Correct answer:

illustrate the attitudes that caused lynching at the start of the passage


The author's argument revolves around showing that the basic attitudes which caused lynching have not been taken out of the criminal justice system. In order to adequately portray this, the author needs to carefully describe the attitudes that caused lynching at the very beginning of the passage, so that when the author begins to hone in on the argument, the reader understands what lynching entailed.

Example Question #1 : Organization And Structure In Law Passages

"529 College Savings Plans"

Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code encourages saving for future college costs through a kind of tax-advantaged savings account. A 529 plan describes a program establishing savings accounts for all manner of college costs in which the account holder trades investment risk for the prospect of growing the balance. As with all securities, novice investors should consult with a licensed broker before investing money in a 529 plan.

A 529 college savings account comes into existence when an investor chooses a plan and names a beneficiary. States drove the creation of this investment vehicle in response to rising education costs and still manage the investment funds for all 529 plans. Brokers come into the picture when selecting a plan since an account holder need not be a resident of the state managing it. Plans offered by individual states differ, but all benefit from favorable federal tax treatment.

However, securing the tax benefits requires professional care. Section 529 shields contributions to plan savings accounts from federal income taxes up to an annual limit of $14,000 for each beneficiary. The money remains tax-exempt as long as it goes to pay for “qualified higher education expenses,” a definition which now includes computer and internet costs. A withdrawal from a 529 account for any other purpose will likely trigger federal tax liability and a 10 percent penalty.

For his or her part, the beneficiary enjoys a passive role in the investment process. The account holder controls the investment strategy and can choose to allocate funds to conservative or aggressive growth options. Many state 529 plans offer something similar to a retirement pathways account that becomes more conservative as the beneficiary gets closer to the anticipated date of college enrollment. A professional broker can help navigate the options.

A broker can also help an investor avoid missteps after the account is created. Unlike with retirement accounts, federal tax law restricts investment changes to one per calendar year. An account holder can change the beneficiary of a 529 plan or rollover unused funds to a new beneficiary without penalty, but only if the original and new beneficiaries are related. The state agency managing a 529 plan may place additional restrictions on changing the account.

Finally, it is important to have guidance fitting a 529 account into the overall strategy for paying for college. A beneficiary can use 529 plan funds for the same broad purposes as financial aid. As a result, it may reduce the beneficiary’s eligibility for need-based grants or loans.

Of course, using a broker will increase the transaction costs. A broker who helps the account holder navigate to the best state plan will charge a transaction fee or “load.” The broker can shift the load to various phases in the investment process in order to optimize the cost depending on how long the account holder plans to keep the investment.

Which of the following best describes the organization of the passage?

Possible Answers:

A theory is posited, evidence to support that theory is introduced, and alternative theories are disproven.

Advice on an investment choice is offered, criticisms of that choice are addressed, and the choice is defended against those criticisms.

Advice on an investment choice is offered, reasons to justify that advice are presented, and a reason for disregarding the advice is addressed.

An investment product is explained, the pros and cons of the option are weighed, and the option is rejected as unwise.

An investment product is explained, a critique of that option is offered, and alternative options are suggested.

Correct answer:

Advice on an investment choice is offered, reasons to justify that advice are presented, and a reason for disregarding the advice is addressed.


Correct answer: The passage argues that novice investors should navigate 529 plans with the aid of a broker, reasons are given to support this opinion, and the issue of additional costs associated with working through a broker is addressed.

Wrong answers: The passage does not weigh the pros and cons of 529 plans; The passage does not discuss a theory and its alternatives; The purpose of the passage is not to defend the choice of retaining a broker against criticisms; The objective of the passage is not to address the value of a 529 plan as an investment product.

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