LSAT Prep Version of the Word "When" -- The Temporal "If"

Throughout your LSAT Prep, you have learned that the main indicator for a sufficient condition is the word “if.” Most often the word “if” will introduce the condition that will sit to the left of our Sufficient & Necessary arrow (an exception is when we are faced with “only if,” which introduces a necessary condition). Today, I wanted to go over the temporal version of “if,” i.e. “when.”

The word “when” or “whenever” will similarly introduce a sufficient condition. Let’s look at a few examples:

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.” –Mark Twain

The sufficient condition is “find yourself on the side of the majority.” You know from the stimulus that if you find yourself on the side of the majority, then it is necessary that you pause and reflect.

Let’s diagram:

FSM ==> P & R

not P or not R ==> not FSM

Let’s try another:

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are.” –Paulo Coelho

Remember, the sufficient condition is introduced by the “when.” So, we can write this as: If we love, then we strive to become better than we are.

Let’s diagram:


not SBBWA ==> not L

An important thing to always keep in mind is not to get trapped mindlessly following the Sufficient & Necessary rules. First make sure you understand what the sentence is saying. Once you understand it, then you’ll easily be able to point out which is the sufficient condition and which is the necessary condition. Ask yourself: which condition tells you something else? For instance, in the Coelho quote, we know that loving means we strive to become better. But, if one strives to be better, we do not necessarily know that they love. Do you see?

Alright, keep moving forward with your LSAT prep and remember to dissect the statements you encounter so that you can really get to the heart of what each one is saying.

Happy Studying!

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