Many people take logic classes in college in order to avoid taking a more traditional math class that could harm their GPA. Courses like "Introduction to Logic" often fulfill math-related course requirements required for graduation and provide useful tools for students with majors completely unrelated to the more complex, STEM-focused concepts focused on by college calculus or statistics courses. Some find, however, that symbolic logic can often be even more abstract and difficult than math. The trick, however, is to see logic as a set of puzzles to be solved rather than a confusing mystery. This can help even the most frustrated students pass their logic class, so long as they put in the required work.

Treat Logic Class As A Class

If you want to pass your logic class, you'll still need to do the basics: attend class, do your reading, and complete all the homework. If you are already afraid of the subject matter, avoiding it, will only make it harder. Time and patience are required for any course, and your logic course will be no different, even if you're taking it as the "easy" alternative to a math course. At the same time, don't think you can forget the concepts covered a unit once you pass the test. Logic, more than any other course, builds on what comes before, and you will keep using axioms and laws learned in the first unit when you get to the final exam.

Approach Material As It Is

Remember that logic is supposed to make sense. There are no hidden tricks, and your professor isn't trying to teach you some kind of mysterious language. Once you have figured out how one axiom, law, or derivation works, it will never do anything differently. This can be difficult to students in certain majors, so it may help to treat your logic course like an introductory philosophy class: if it helps you to translate the abstract symbols into real statements defining ideas, do so. It may take more time to figure out some of the more complicated proofs, but it can help you get a handle on the material if you feel lost in the clouds.

Follow The Rules of Logic

Don't over think the problems. Symbolic logic works by following very simple rules. They are also the only rules that can be used. If you know P and P → Q, you may write down Q. If you know ~ Q and P → Q, you may write down ~ P. Think like a robot if that helps. If you don't know a rule for how to do something, try another rule. One will eventually work. Approach proofs as games. You are given a starting point (your assumptions) and your end point (what you are trying to prove). The "rules" of the game are the axioms and laws you have learned in class. Try to figure out which rules of the game you can use in order to transform your assumptions into the conclusion.

Practice and Get Help

Do extra practice exercises. Even if it feels like torture, getting good at logic is like getting good at a game. You have to practice in order to know when each rule is appropriate to use. For some students, assigned homework simply is not enough to ensure that you can complete exam proofs effectively, so be prepared to do extra work if you are struggling. If even extra work isn't helping, don't be afraid to find a tutor. Many campuses have academic skills centers where you can get help with particular courses. If you have a TA, use them for one on one tutoring. Do no get discouraged by people in your class who seem to "get it" immediately. Most logic classes break down into two groups. One half, for some reason, seems to be able to do their work perfectly without even thinking about it. The other half feels like they are trying to learn a foreign language. Accept it if you are in the second half, and realize that it only takes practice to succeed.

Related Articles