Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Special forum where professionals are encouraged to help law school applicants, students, and graduates.
User avatar
BPlaura
Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:51 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's semi-weekly office hours

Postby BPlaura » Fri Mar 14, 2014 12:59 pm

Hey all - happy Pi Day. I'm checking in til ~5 today.

User avatar
BPlaura
Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:51 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's semi-weekly office hours

Postby BPlaura » Fri Mar 14, 2014 1:11 pm

jmjm wrote:For D to be correct there has to be evidence of how only the games that grant intellectual property rights described in first para are the ones that are being specifically called 'intentionally commodified' by the author. Is this apparent or any specific evidence of this in the passage?


Hey again,

Glad we're in agreement on the "in-world" thing. It's been a while since I've had to do such a close textual analysis of a RC passage!

In your quote above, I take issue with the word "only" - the question simply asks for something that is "a characteristic" of "some" games that are intentionally commodified, so it doesn't have to apply only to intentionally commodified games or even to all intentionally commodified games.

The key phrase in that first sentence is "...some actually encourage [real-world trade in virtual items]." It's clear from that phrasing that these games are, in fact, intentionally commodifying (sp? No idea how you would make that a gerund.). So while that paragraph mentions IP rights only as an example, since the question only asked for a characteristic of some of these games, that's ok.

Your thoughts?

edit: Oh, and good spot on the source for this! It's actually a really interesting premise for a law review article. This is the type of stuff that makes me think law school would be fun... and then I remember the crippling debt, pressure to find a job, etc. ;)

User avatar
BPlaura
Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:51 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby BPlaura » Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:49 pm

Hi everyone! Checking in with a quick procedural announcement: we've decided that, instead of having me hang around at certain times at certain days, it makes more sense to just keep an eye on the thread and answer questions as they come in. So post questions whenever, and I'll get you an answer ASAP!

User avatar
SteveJobsRevived
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:46 pm

.

Postby SteveJobsRevived » Wed Mar 19, 2014 2:00 pm

.
Last edited by SteveJobsRevived on Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
BPlaura
Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:51 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby BPlaura » Wed Mar 19, 2014 2:13 pm

The way that you're reading and annotating sounds pretty good. However, you should take some time to analyze whether it can be improved. You say that you often run out of time - does it take you longer than it should to answer specific reference questions (i.e. "The author says which one of the following")? If so, then think about how you can improve your annotations to help you locate that information more quickly in the passage.

You say you read for structure - after you're finished reading, do you feel you have a good understanding of the passage and how the different pieces fit together? Do you spend a lot of time re-reading?

What types of questions are you getting wrong, and what makes you pick the wrong answer? Keep in mind that you can treat RC passages like a really long LR question. That means that if a single word in an answer choice doesn't accurately characterize what the passage said, the answer is wrong. You may be picking answer choices that are close, but just slightly wrong.

To sum it up, it sounds like you need to look closely at a few RC questions from tests you've already taken and try to diagnose where you're going wrong. Look for trends among the questions you're getting wrong, if any exist, and think about how well you understood (or thought you understood) each passage after reading it. It's going to be difficult to improve your RC scores if you don't have a clue about what's going wrong.

And hopefully you're doing this already, but after you complete and score your sections, you should be spending a lot of time on each question you got wrong to figure out the exact answers to the following: 1) why the answer you chose was wrong, 2) why the right answer is right, and 3) what tricked you into picking the wrong answer rather than the correct answer.

(By the way, the questions I asked above are mostly rhetorical - you can feel free to post your answers to them, but you certainly don't have to. I just wanted to give you some ideas of things to think about.)

User avatar
SteveJobsRevived
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:46 pm

.

Postby SteveJobsRevived » Wed Mar 19, 2014 2:34 pm

.
Last edited by SteveJobsRevived on Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
BPlaura
Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:51 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby BPlaura » Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:05 pm

SteveJobsRevived wrote:Also, does a passage always have 1 main point that I should be looking out for all the time? I understand that there could be multiple sub-points (proponents views, critics views, ...),.

Does the Main point question need to have the authors point (usually emerging in the last paragraph)?


Yes. We actually tell our students that they should figure out the main point of the passage before they look at the questions for that passage.

The main point is basically a very short summary of the passage that encapsulates any viewpoints that were discussed in the passage, as well as the author's attitude. Here are the criteria for the correct answer for the main point question:
    - must mention or allude to any viewpoints that were discussed in the passage
    - must express the author's viewpoint (so if the passage discusses two views, X and Y, but the author clearly prefers Y, the main point will reflect that)
    - must accurately characterize the passage - again, if a single word is not supported by the passage (for instance, because it describes a slightly different topic or is too strong of an opinion to be supported by the passage), then it's not a correct answer

For instance, a very common structure for passages is a passage that says "we used to think X; now we think Y." The main point for that type of passage would need to emphasize the newer theory that is preferred by the author: "Although scientists used to believe that X, recent evidence shows that Y."
SteveJobsRevived wrote:lastly, when a stem says, "inferred", does that mean it will be explicitly stated? I always was iffy about that.


Nope, "inferred" actually means that it won't be explicitly stated. However (and this is key), it still needs to be supported by something in the passage. So while the passage won't come out and say the right answer, you should still be able to point to a part of the passage that supports the right answer.

User avatar
SteveJobsRevived
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:46 pm

.

Postby SteveJobsRevived » Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:19 pm

.
Last edited by SteveJobsRevived on Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
BPlaura
Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:51 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby BPlaura » Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:52 pm

SteveJobsRevived wrote:Since those inference questions are supported by the passage, do you suggest eliminating answers, then just picking, without confirmation, and just rely on my memory? or should I confirm the Answer?


I would say that if an answer choice really jumps out at you and you're positive it's the correct answer, you don't need to look back at the passage. But if you're unsure or stuck between two answer choices, you'll probably need to glance back. Also, if you find that you rarely check the passage for this type of question but are getting the question wrong fairly often, that would be a good indicator that you should check the passage rather than relying on your memory.

I'll add my comments to your list in bold

-MP and Primary purpose: does not require looking back to passage I agree. You should also pre-phrase the main point and primary purpose before looking at the questions.

-Detail, purpose of detail: yes, requires looking back and re-reading a part of the text. yep

-structure: glance at notes in margins, and get a general idea or structure. Sure. Since you're paying attention to the structure of the passage as you go, you may even know the correct answer from memory.

-Author/other persons Opinion (what would the author most likely agree with): since there is no subject matter involved, just go to the answers, eliminating and confirming answers. We teach our students to underline any parts in the passage that contain author attitude. That way, it's easy to look back for this type of question if necessary. I'm not sure what you mean by "no subject matter involved," but keep in mind that once again, the correct answer for this type of question must be supported by something the author said in the passage.

-Author/other persons Opinion (With reference to subject matter): go back to passage, and re-read? not sure about this one. I'm guessing that by this you mean questions like "which one of the following statements regarding 20th century art would the author be most likely to agree with" or something like that. It might not be a bad idea to look back at the relevant part of the passage to refresh your memory. Again, underlining author attitude in the passage can help with this.

Lastly, I'm not sure what you mean by "synthesis question." Can you give an example of what that question stem would be like?

Edited to add:
Also, your list seems pretty complete. There are those questions that are like "which of the following could be the title of the passage," but those are essentially repackaged main point questions. There are also questions that will ask you to pick a sentence that could go at the end of the passage; for those, you're looking for a sentence that references something stated earlier in the passage. That one would be hard to figure out by looking back, so you'd probably want to try process of elimination first. Oh, and there are the questions that ask what a certain word in the passage means, and for that you'd definitely want to look back (but they'll give you the line reference).

Personally, my strategy for questions other than specific reference/detail questions is always to start by eliminating answer choices that are obviously wrong. (For the specific reference questions, I usually need to look back at the passage before I can eliminate anything.) If, at that point, I haven't found an answer that I know to be right, then I'll look back at the passage. That's what works for me, but YMMV.

User avatar
SteveJobsRevived
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:46 pm

.

Postby SteveJobsRevived » Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:35 pm

.
Last edited by SteveJobsRevived on Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
BPlaura
Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:51 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby BPlaura » Thu Mar 20, 2014 10:17 am

SteveJobsRevived wrote:Btw, I am looking at my mistakes from my last pt that I posted about a little earlier (-9 on rc section). The mistakes are very simple, and they look like I can easily correct them.

Thanks for the help. I can always trust BP. (the lg book was amazing.) :)


That's great news! The easy-to-fix mistakes are the best kind. :) Glad to hear you've had a good experience with BP, and definitely check in again if you have any other questions as you continue to study!

User avatar
SteveJobsRevived
Posts: 20
Joined: Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:46 pm

.

Postby SteveJobsRevived » Thu Mar 20, 2014 11:34 am

.
Last edited by SteveJobsRevived on Sun Oct 05, 2014 2:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
BPlaura
Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:51 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby BPlaura » Thu Mar 20, 2014 12:40 pm

One non-LSAT related note before I actually answer the question: for kicks, I made a bracket based on law school rankings. (Yes, this is what I do for kicks.) See my Lounge post here: http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=226485 Harvard, Stanford, UMich, and Wisconsin in the Final Four - sounds likely, right?!

Now, for my good friend SteveJobsRevived:

Strengthen/weaken questions on RC are approached in much the same way as they would be for LR. You need to find a flaw in the argument made by the passage, and then correct/fix that flaw in some way.

Purpose of detail is a variant of Role questions, so I'm actually a little surprised that you got some of those wrong, because it sounds like you're pretty careful about noting the structure of the passage. Generally looking at the sentences immediately before and after wouldn't be enough - you'd want to look at the detail in the broader context of the passage.

Does that help? In order to get any more specific, I'd probably want to take a look at the exact questions you got wrong.

mymrh1
Posts: 15
Joined: Thu Dec 03, 2009 5:11 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby mymrh1 » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:31 pm

June 2007 Section 2 #19

I have a question regarding (E). At first, I thought "...the more likely that person is to vote" doesn't mean "that person" would vote for the Land Party. Therefore, it might or might not strengthen the historian's argument. However, after reading "Permissible Assumptions on the LSAT: Part II of II" on your blog, I believe as long as it "could potentially" strengthen the argument, (E) would be the correct answer for a strengthen question (assume it is not a "EXCEPT" question)? Am I correct to view (E) in this way? Thanks!

jmjm
Posts: 329
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 1:59 am

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's semi-weekly office hours

Postby jmjm » Fri Mar 21, 2014 5:11 pm

BPlaura wrote:The key phrase in that first sentence is "...some actually encourage [real-world trade in virtual items]." It's clear from that phrasing that these games are, in fact, intentionally commodifying (sp? No idea how you would make that a gerund.). So while that paragraph mentions IP rights only as an example, since the question only asked for a characteristic of some of these games, that's ok.

Your thoughts?

edit: Oh, and good spot on the source for this! It's actually a really interesting premise for a law review article. This is the type of stuff that makes me think law school would be fun... and then I remember the crippling debt, pressure to find a job, etc. ;)


Thanks bp, I was hesitant to equate "encouraging real-world trade" with the term "intentionally commodifying" but clearly in this question one needs to do that. For composite words such as this, should one really infer its meaning/definition during the test? I've tried to rely on explicit literal connection in the passage but it may be a wrong way to go about it.



A question: 71.LR1.Q12
B is the best answer and therefore correct. I'm having trouble with cases if B weren't available as one of the choices. I've analyzed it as follows, but I may be missing something. Sorry for the long text below.

Since this is a strengthen question, all other answer choice must not strengthen the stim argument even a bit.
If we look at C, it talks about "on average regions of rocky mountain with milder winter" and an observation about them. This seems to support the cause-effect reasoning asserted in the stim. Since in general regions of rocky mountains with milder winter have one of the effects mentioned in the stim argument, it strengthens the argument.

The same goes for D except that it's talking about "regions in the world with milder winters, on average."
If the choice in B were not provided as an answer choice and B instead had an obvious incorrect answer choice in its place, then wouldn't C and D strengthen?

What precisely is it about C and D that one should think they don't strengthen the argument even by a bit?

If the potential objection against these choices is that they're talking about an observation about "regions with milder winters" "on average" and not for all regions, then that's not all that clear cut.

If someone says "when there is plenty of rain, a river overflows" without any other information, then it seems a statement that says "on average, rivers located in regions with plenty of rain overflow more compared to one located in regions with less rain" strengthens the argument at least by bit. If we know that on average rivers that have a certain characteristic (rain) that the river in the argument does, show the same effect (overflow) as the river in the argument, it's not a knowledge that's neutral or weakening to the argument.

User avatar
BPlaura
Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:51 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby BPlaura » Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:40 pm

mymrh1 wrote:June 2007 Section 2 #19

I have a question regarding (E). At first, I thought "...the more likely that person is to vote" doesn't mean "that person" would vote for the Land Party. Therefore, it might or might not strengthen the historian's argument. However, after reading "Permissible Assumptions on the LSAT: Part II of II" on your blog, I believe as long as it "could potentially" strengthen the argument, (E) would be the correct answer for a strengthen question (assume it is not a "EXCEPT" question)? Am I correct to view (E) in this way? Thanks!


A blog reader! So exciting!

This is an interesting question. I don't want to just say that, yes, it's enough to say that the people described in answer choice (E) "could potentially" vote for the Land Party. After all, everyone who is legally able to vote in Banestria could vote for the Land Party; we need to know that they are somewhat likely to vote for the Land Party.

You're absolutely right that the person described in answer choice (E) may or may not vote for the Land Party (henceforth abbreviated as LP because I'm lazy). However, we already know that the Land Party focused specifically on the type of person described in (E). So, if we take (E) into account, we're talking about exactly the type of person the Land Party targeted, AND that person is more likely to vote than the average person. We can't assume that he/she will definitely vote for the LP, but there is a pretty good chance of it.

And really, that's what I was trying to get at in my blog post. Assuming that this person *would definitely* vote for the LP is much too strong of an assumption. However, based on what we know from the stimulus and answer choice, we know that there's a better-than-usual chance that he/she would vote for the LP - and that's all we need for the answer choice to work.

Let me know if that helps!

User avatar
BPlaura
Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:51 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's semi-weekly office hours

Postby BPlaura » Mon Mar 24, 2014 12:57 pm

jmjm wrote:Thanks bp, I was hesitant to equate "encouraging real-world trade" with the term "intentionally commodifying" but clearly in this question one needs to do that. For composite words such as this, should one really infer its meaning/definition during the test? I've tried to rely on explicit literal connection in the passage but it may be a wrong way to go about it.


Well, the definition of "commodification" (paraphrased from my dear friend Wikipedia) is "transformation of goods and services, as well as ideas or other entities that normally may not be considered goods, into a commodity." If someone is intentionally turning (in this case) virtual items into a commodity that can be bought/sold/traded, then that person is encouraging trade. So by looking at how these words are defined and how they are used in the passage, we can see that they are referring to the same thing.

To answer your question more broadly, you won't always be able to rely on explicit connections. This passage is a great example of how, sometimes, you will need to use your own understanding and the context of the passage to determine whether two things are the same. Do so carefully, but yeah, that's something you'll need to keep in mind.

jmjm wrote:A question: 71.LR1.Q12
B is the best answer and therefore correct. I'm having trouble with cases if B weren't available as one of the choices. I've analyzed it as follows, but I may be missing something. Sorry for the long text below.

Since this is a strengthen question, all other answer choice must not strengthen the stim argument even a bit.
If we look at C, it talks about "on average regions of rocky mountain with milder winter" and an observation about them. This seems to support the cause-effect reasoning asserted in the stim. Since in general regions of rocky mountains with milder winter have one of the effects mentioned in the stim argument, it strengthens the argument.

The same goes for D except that it's talking about "regions in the world with milder winters, on average."
If the choice in B were not provided as an answer choice and B instead had an obvious incorrect answer choice in its place, then wouldn't C and D strengthen?

What precisely is it about C and D that one should think they don't strengthen the argument even by a bit?

If the potential objection against these choices is that they're talking about an observation about "regions with milder winters" "on average" and not for all regions, then that's not all that clear cut.

If someone says "when there is plenty of rain, a river overflows" without any other information, then it seems a statement that says "on average, rivers located in regions with plenty of rain overflow more compared to one located in regions with less rain" strengthens the argument at least by bit. If we know that on average rivers that have a certain characteristic (rain) that the river in the argument does, show the same effect (overflow) as the river in the argument, it's not a knowledge that's neutral or weakening to the argument.


I'm going to copy-paste an explanation for this question that I wrote a few pages back (slightly edited). It seems to me that you understand why (B) is better than (C) and (D), which I discuss below, but I think it will also help explain why (C) and (D) themselves are not strong eough to strengthen the argument.

The argument itself is pretty straightforward here: global warming will cause warmer temps, which will lead to more rain. Therefore,
(1) the snowpack will melt earlier, leading to
(2) more spring flooding, and
(3) less storable water.

Notice that this is a causal conclusion. As a reminder, a causal conclusion can be strengthened with same cause/same effect, no cause/no effect, or by eliminating alternate causes.

There is one BIG problem with both (C) and (D) - they both just describe correlations. (C) says that, in other areas of the Rockies, warmer temps are correlated with less storable water - but that does nothing to establish that the warmer temps are actually causing the water shortage. Similarly, (D) says mild winters are correlated with less storable water and with flooding, but again, we have no way of knowing whether the warmer temps are CAUSING those two things. In fact, it's a chicken-or-egg situation in which we can't know which came first, the warm weather, the shortage or the flooding.

Let's contrast those with (B). First of all, whereas (C) only mentions storable water and (D) only mentions storable water and flooding, (B) talks about all three of the things that are mentioned in the conclusion of the stimulus. That should catch your eye right away. But more importantly, (B) says that the melting of the snowpack has LED TO flooding/less storable water, so it's establishing the causality that is lacking in the stimulus. It's same cause/same effect, which is why it strengthens the argument.

So I understand why (C) and (D) are tempting, but because they're just discussing correlations, they actually don't strengthen the argument at all. ( B), on the other hand, is same cause/same effect, which we know is a good way to strengthen a causal argument.

jmjm
Posts: 329
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 1:59 am

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's semi-weekly office hours

Postby jmjm » Mon Mar 24, 2014 3:53 pm

BPlaura wrote:There is one BIG problem with both (C) and (D) - they both just describe correlations. (C)

So I understand why (C) and (D) are tempting, but because they're just discussing correlations, they actually don't strengthen the argument at all. ( B), on the other hand, is


wait, evidence of correlation doesn't strengthen cause-effect stimulus? Correlation is simply a necessary condition for the sufficient condition of causation. Showing that necessary condition (correlation) occurs doesn't justify but at least strengthens the case that sufficient condition (causation) occurs?

User avatar
BPlaura
Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:51 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby BPlaura » Mon Mar 24, 2014 4:12 pm

No, you're right - I should have been more careful with my phrasing there.

Correlations can support an argument, but they have to be correlations that are really similar to the situation in the stimulus - otherwise there are just too many factors involved.

We already talked about the elements that are missing from (C) and (D) ((C) only mentions storable water and (D) only mentions storable water and flooding), and that's a big reason why those correlations don't properly support the conclusion. Because the situations they describe differ in important ways from the situation in the stimulus, we have no idea whether there might be other factors at play, so they don't strengthen the conclusion.

So in summary, yes, a correlation can support a causal conclusion. But it needs to be a pretty exact replica of the stimulus in terms of the factors discussed.

jmjm
Posts: 329
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2011 1:59 am

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby jmjm » Tue Mar 25, 2014 2:44 am

BPlaura wrote:((C) only mentions storable water and (D) only mentions storable water and flooding), and that's a big reason why those correlations don't properly support the conclusion.


So C and D strengthen the argument a bit or not at all ("don't properly support" is ambiguous) each taken individually assuming B is not provided?
I think shinners have said before many times that in strengthen/weaken all choices other than the correct one would do the opposite of what question asks or be neutral.

If C, which doesn't include one of the effects (more spring flooding), is modified to include the effect of more spring flooding, it'd look like this -- "On average, in areas of the Rocky Mountains in which winters are relatively mild, there is more spring flooding and less storable water to meet summer demands than in regions of the world with much colder winter." Would such a choice then strengthen?

D seems to not miss any of the three factors (1 cause and 2 effects) in the stim: mild winters leading to more spring flooding and less storable water. Can you say what you mean by saying it doesn't mention all three.

BPlaura wrote:- otherwise there are just too many factors involved.

But it needs to be a pretty exact replica of the stimulus in terms of the factors discussed.


What's "too many factors"?
Say C denotes the cause and E1, E2, E3.. and so on its effects in a causation.

|-- >E1
|
C-->E2
|\
| \->E3
|
|... >

If an answer choice presents a correlation between the cause and one of the effects (C and E1), then even though the correlation doesn't mention the other effects E2 and E3, it's still better than no correlation between C and E1 (cause and any of the effects). If the causal relationship in the stim is true, then this correlation has to be true. So it strengthens as it validates a necessary condition of correlation.
If a factor is not mentioned in the answer choice then only the factors mentioned in the choice can be considered to decide whether it is a strengthener/weakener or is neutral.

If choice C is modified as described earlier then does it become an "exact replica"; how does one define an "exact replica"?

User avatar
Louis1127
Posts: 817
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2013 9:12 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby Louis1127 » Sun Apr 06, 2014 5:47 pm

Hey Laura,

You may remember a few weeks ago, I asked you a question about what is a valid term shift on the LSAT. I have another one of those questions for you:

On PT 15 S2 Q9 ("Over the Past twenty-five years"), is the following a legal term shift that I should have picked up on when I read the stimulus? Here is what I am referring to:

"Average amount of time a worker needs to produce a given output" = "average hourly output per worker".

I did not connect these two phrases and thus I could not understand what the stimulus was getting at and thus I missed the question.

It is so frustrating to feel like I am slowly getting better at LR and then miss a question because I couldn't connect a simple legal term shift in my head! :x

I guess I just want to make sure that the above is indeed a legal term shift and that is why I missed the question. If the above is not a legal term shift, then I have no idea why I missed the problem. Thanks.

AbhiJ
Posts: 66
Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2011 4:16 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby AbhiJ » Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:35 pm

Hi Laura,

Seek your advice for LR and RC.

As a non-native speaker my reading speed is around 200 WPM on moderately difficult texts. On difficult texts my reading speed is 175 WPM. I believe this is a limiting factor and no amount of strategy/practice would help to break the ceiling unless I can get the reading speed to 250-300 WPM. This would need a long term strategy of 4 months totally focussed on reading. So given the background what should be the optimum strategy

a.) Spending 50% time reading difficult texts and the rest practicing LSAT LR/RC problems/review simultaneously.
b.) Spending 2-3 months focussed on reading and the next 2 months on LSAT specific practice.

Thanks
AbhiJ

User avatar
alecks
Posts: 155
Joined: Wed Sep 11, 2013 8:24 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby alecks » Tue Apr 15, 2014 10:38 pm

I have some specific questions on flaws, my fave (NOT).

PT 45 sec 4 #17 (119 in the flaw packet): I cannot wrap my head around this question. I don't even know what the conclusion was. I chose answer A.

PT 50 sec 4 #19 (129 in the flaw packet): I choose e. I don't really see how a is right... I don't understand where that comes from, if that makes sense.

User avatar
BPlaura
Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:51 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby BPlaura » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:09 am

Hey guys, so so sorry about the slow responses - the last couple weeks have been absolutely nuts.

alecks wrote:PT 45 sec 4 #17 (119 in the flaw packet): I cannot wrap my head around this question. I don't even know what the conclusion was. I chose answer A.


Haha, okay. I can see why you'd be confused about this one - it's one of those tough questions that's written to be kind of impenetrable. First let's talk about what the stimulus is saying:

Criticism focuses on two things: (1) whether a piece of art's value is inherent/intrinsic, and (2) whether judgments about its quality are based on personal preference or are objective. These issues are related. Why? Because if a piece of art's value is not intrinsic, it's extrinsic (i.e. coming from outside of the art; not inherent), and if the value is extrinsic then judgments about quality must be subjective. The conclusion is the part after "thus" - that the judgments must be subjective.

Well, they're making a pretty big jump in that last bit. They're saying that extrinsic value -> judgments must be subjective, but they never established their reasoning for saying so. After all, there's no inherent reason why that should be the case. Even if the value of art comes from importance we place on the art, you could still conceivably judge its quality objectively. So the argument is assuming that when value is extrinsic, judgments must be subjective, which is a big assumption to make.

That's what we get in answer choice (C), the correct answer.

(A) says that judgments are always a matter of taste, but the argument actually is NOT assuming that; it seems from their point #2 that it's possible to judge art objectively at times.

(B) is irrelevant because the argument isn't assuming anything about whether people will agree.

(D) is the inverse of (C), but the argument doesn't assume that intrinsic value = objective judgments. It just seems to be assuming that objective judgments are only possible for art with intrinsic value.

And (E) is wrong because the argument never makes clear whether art's value IS or IS NOT intrinsic/extrinsic. It just talks about what else would be true in those cases.

In terms of what you can learn from this question, they clearly chose the topic with care to be something that would be especially confusing. The words they're using here aren't important; you just need to look for any jumps in logic that they're making. Just slow down and figure out whether they're saying anything that doesn't seem to be quite supported by the rest of the argument.

alecks wrote:PT 50 sec 4 #19 (129 in the flaw packet): I choose e. I don't really see how a is right... I don't understand where that comes from, if that makes sense.


We know two things about smokers: that they are more likely to have heart disease, and that they're more likely to drink caffeine. But then something weird happens in the conclusion of the argument: while it's not saying that caffeine causes heart disease, it does say that those two things are "positively correlated," which means that when you have one you're more likely to have the other.

Well, that doesn't seem quite right. The variable that these people have in common is SMOKING. But the conclusion is acting as if, any time any person consumes caffeinated beverages, that person is more likely to have heart disease as well. There's no basis to believe that's true, unless that person also happens to be a smoker. To put it another way, we don't know whether drinking caffeine correlates with heart disease; we just know that smoking correlates with heart disease. It could even be the case that consuming caffeine makes you LESS likely to have heart disease.

(A) is a confusing way of getting at that point. It says that it's possible that smokers who drink caffeine are less likely to have heart disease than smokers who don't. I think part of the reason why this answer choice is confusing is that you forget about the "it's possible" part of that statement (which is buried in the prompt) - we're not saying that we KNOW that this is the case, but we are saying that it's within the realm of possibility. Since we have no idea what effects caffeine itself might have on heart disease, (A) is certainly possible, but the argument's conclusion acts as if it's not possible. Does that make sense?

(E) is definitely an extremely tempting wrong answer choice. It says that something else is causing both the heart disease and the caffeine/smoking. However, remember that our (flawed) conclusion said that there was a positive correlation between heart disease and caffeine. Answer choice (E) doesn't actually affect that conclusion - it would still be the case that heart disease & caffeine were correlated.

Those questions are both very tricky, and they're excellent examples of traps LSAC sets for you. If you didn't go into the answer choices with a very clear idea of the flaw, it's very easy to be tricked by those trap answers. So the best way to avoid getting questions like this wrong in the future is to force yourself to slow down and break the argument down until you've got a clear idea of the flaw, and THEN go to the answer choices.

I hope that helps! It's early (and I'm distraught by the snow in Boston today, wahh), so let me know if anything wasn't clear.

User avatar
BPlaura
Posts: 197
Joined: Mon Dec 02, 2013 4:51 pm

Re: Blueprint LSAT Prep's ongoing ask-an-instructor extravaganza

Postby BPlaura » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:21 am

AbhiJ wrote:Hi Laura,

Seek your advice for LR and RC.

As a non-native speaker my reading speed is around 200 WPM on moderately difficult texts. On difficult texts my reading speed is 175 WPM. I believe this is a limiting factor and no amount of strategy/practice would help to break the ceiling unless I can get the reading speed to 250-300 WPM. This would need a long term strategy of 4 months totally focussed on reading. So given the background what should be the optimum strategy

a.) Spending 50% time reading difficult texts and the rest practicing LSAT LR/RC problems/review simultaneously.
b.) Spending 2-3 months focussed on reading and the next 2 months on LSAT specific practice.

Thanks
AbhiJ


Hello AbhiJ - thanks for stopping by our thread!

A lot of my students whose first language isn't English struggle with speed on the LSAT, so you're definitely not facing an uncommon issue. However, I'd recommend against doing so much practice that isn't LSAT-specific. One of the things I try to teach my students is how to be more efficient on the LSAT - for RC, that means taking useful but limited notes, reading actively, and noticing features of a passage that are likely to be brought up in questions (like examples, studies, cause & effect).

So, I'm going to go with option (C) here - keep doing mainly LSAT-specific practice, but continually ask yourself how you can make your reading more efficient. Your goal should be to do as little re-reading as possible.


Return to “Free Help and Advice from Professionals”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest