Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

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SpiritofFire
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby SpiritofFire » Wed Apr 09, 2014 2:23 pm

Hello,

I see a lot of really good stuff here regarding specific questions. But I would like to ask for more general advice on the lsat. I am at a point where I consistantly score over 170 on PT's so it'd be great to get tips that perhaps helped you get over the hurdle of merely getting good scores to achieving perfection...Things you found helped squeeze extra speed, or some slight variations between questions that are important on some of the hardest questions.

And as a secondary concern, what is the demographic targeted by your company's study guides? It seems to me many guides cater to those that are just starting out, and I've found the strong distillations often utilized to be detrimental to my performance. Where can I turn to for some advanced stuff to squeeze out the last few questions?

Thanks

*edit*
oh and the clarification of the necessary assumption on the last page is great. That one took me a while to figure out on my own xD

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Alvanith
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Alvanith » Fri Apr 11, 2014 12:54 pm

Hi Noah,

Seriously, I suck on RC.

I read the MLSAT RC book but I was not improving a lot... (I am very sorry.)

Could you give me some advices? I am very worried about it.

Thanks a lot:)

AbhiJ
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby AbhiJ » Fri Apr 11, 2014 3:28 pm

Hi Noah,

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.

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:48 pm

SpiritofFire wrote:Hello,

I see a lot of really good stuff here regarding specific questions. But I would like to ask for more general advice on the lsat. I am at a point where I consistantly score over 170 on PT's so it'd be great to get tips that perhaps helped you get over the hurdle of merely getting good scores to achieving perfection...Things you found helped squeeze extra speed, or some slight variations between questions that are important on some of the hardest questions.

And as a secondary concern, what is the demographic targeted by your company's study guides? It seems to me many guides cater to those that are just starting out, and I've found the strong distillations often utilized to be detrimental to my performance. Where can I turn to for some advanced stuff to squeeze out the last few questions?

Thanks

*edit*
oh and the clarification of the necessary assumption on the last page is great. That one took me a while to figure out on my own xD


Congrats on breaking through to the consistent 170+! It's a great place to be!

When I was in the last weeks of my studying for the LSAT, I tried to focus the most on consistency of process. My gut instincts were pretty good by that point, and I was going to let them work their magic whenever it seemed appropriate, but the questions I missed were where those gut instincts *failed me*. Consistency of process was the only thing that was going to shore up those weaknesses.

To that end, I actually didn't engage in anything one might think of as a traditional 'time-saving' trick. I found that most shortcuts simply opened up room for error. The LSAT is not a race, it's a dance - racing through a particular sequence and doing it clumsily is exactly what you don't want to do. Speed will result naturally from knowing the steps/process so well that you are no longer consciously going from step to step. Apologies for the somewhat hokey dance/music references, but I've never found a better analogy for finding the rhythm of the LSAT.

That's not to say there aren't things that help you move more efficiently - it's just that I don't think those things can be separated from correct process to begin with. That's one of the reasons I never believe people when they say they simply have timing issues - if you do have timing issues, that means that *something* in your process is flawed.

The closer one gets to 180, the less of a pattern one tends to see in mistakes (and the harder it is to find patterns that are present). Because of this, it becomes more and more difficult to figure out where to direct your efforts - a lot of people either stop working as hard at improving or work extremely inefficiently at this point (i.e., consuming massive quantities of PTs). So, the first task is to figure out if there ARE any such patterns for you! First, make sure that you are marking questions during drills/PTs that you are unsure of. Widen your net on this idea so that you have multiple levels of uncertainty (I used to underline the question number more times the more I didn't like it). This gives you a wider base of deep review questions than just the ones you actually missed. Review immediately, so that you have access to your initial thought process, and can analyze it. You job here is diagnosis - why were you unsure about that question? What was it about it that made it that way fro you? How could you have seen the true logical structure faster?

Keep an error/uncertainty log - if there is a pattern, this will help you see it. If there isn't, this will at least keep you honest in review. Don't approach all mistakes the same way. Missing an objectively easy question because you psyched yourself out and overthought it requires a different approach than a question you legitimately got caught in the weeds on.

Also, the closer you get to perfection, the larger the concept of 'review' becomes. Many of my students are shocked to learn that in my final stages, when I would miss anywhere from 0 to 3 on a PT, that I would review the misses for at least an hour a piece, sometimes more. I wanted to know *everything about that question*, what made it tick, what made it go boom, what word structure turned my head the wrong way, and most importantly how I could make damn sure I would not be fooled by such a thing ever again. This kind of process is critical, particularly if there's no real pattern in your mistakes to work with.

There are slight variations that are important all over the place! I wish I could give you a pithy list, but what you really want to hone is a heightened sensitivity to language variation as a general matter.

As for the demographic for our study guides, I actually think they have a very wide base for usefulness. The point of the Strategy Guides is process-building, and this is something that everyone needs to do, regardless of their current ability level. I've worked with many students whose natural ability/gut instinct started them off in the high 160s/low 170s. That's a lovely place to start, but those students need to construct a consistent process every.bit.as.much as students starting lower. And in reality, I find that students starting with a high diagnostic have a harder time *accepting* the idea of process-building as a necessary component for improvement, precisely because they are already getting a lot of questions correct without really knowing what they are doing, or thinking too hard about it. But it's not really possible to just improve 'gut instinct' directly - the only way to improve is to create process.

The strategy guides are great for building that process, no matter where you start. I'm curious what you mean when you say that some of the strong distillations are detrimental to your performance - maybe you could give me an example of where you feel that happens?

As for advanced materials, you've probably already got them. :p The difference between someone scoring 165, 172, and 180 is not often as much the materials they use as it is the level of engagement they perform, and the demands that they put upon themselves for perfecting their comprehension.

This got a bit more rambly than I intended, but I really do hope that you find some of it useful!

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Sun Apr 13, 2014 12:51 pm

Alvanith wrote:Hi Noah,

Seriously, I suck on RC.

I read the MLSAT RC book but I was not improving a lot... (I am very sorry.)

Could you give me some advices? I am very worried about it.

Thanks a lot:)


Hi Alvanith!

A lot of people struggle with RC, so you are far from alone! Specific advice for you will likely depend on your particular situation - I'm going to PM you so that we can talk about exactly what you are experiencing in more detail!

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:03 pm

AbhiJ wrote:Hi Noah,

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.


Hi AbhiJ!

I've honestly never thought about RC with respect to a specific WPM rate. However, from what I can tell by scanning a few LSAT RC passages, even 175 WPM would get you in and out of the passage in under 3 minutes - that seems more than sufficient! I'm honestly not entirely sure why you feel the need to specifically improve your WPM beyond that.

That being said, it's a common recommendation that people get familiar with reading dense material from a variety of well-written sources, and I wholeheartedly endorse that for *everyone*, native speaker or otherwise! But whatever you decide to do, I don't think you should *stop* working on LSAT RC! So, if you do decide to do targeted work on your reading skills, do that alongside working on actual LSAT questions, not instead of!

Thoughts?

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manillabay
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby manillabay » Sun Apr 13, 2014 1:22 pm

Christine,

Can you please send me the Manhattan RC 4th edition? I thought RC was my best section but after scoring -6 on it I am concerned. You and I both know that I produced some stellar poems on this thread. I will consider buying all the other guides if you please send me the RC. I am a contributor on your forum and am a decent guy who has been all over this thread soliciting attention to your books. You should thank me for probably 2-4 book sales because of said solicitation. I just want to please ask you because I am poor and need this book. I am running out of time here and have done everything possible to warrant a free book. My poems were superb and you know I was just joking about that one poem where I mixed up your name.

Thanks.

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SpiritofFire
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby SpiritofFire » Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:51 pm

Thanks for responding!

I've been rapidly consuming PTs, as you say, inefficiently. It is really frustrating because the reasons I get questions wrong seem to be all over the place. And when I think up a solution, I hardly ever have the opportunity to practice it. Then I eventually lose that "lesson" after a few more PTs. But what can I do at this point? Even if there is a 1% chance that it could help me solve A QUESTION on the real exam, I still should work at it.. T_T. To that end, I think I'll steal your underlining idea. Hopefully by really working on questions I get right, but don't like the answer for, I can still improve.

As for the distillation, I only have experience with Powerscore, but here are 2 examples:

1)Broad categorization of Must be True. Even the name is misleading since not all answers to Must be True questions HAVE to be true no matter what. Questions stems that went like "...most strongly supports..." used to be the bane of my existence until I broke off from Powerscore and actually thought about the question stem. Then I started to look for the purpose of the stimulus which the answer often relies on.

2) Another one would be cause and effect. Powerscore says for the purposes of LSAT, the author assumes, when a casual relationship is declared, there is only that one cause in the universe for that effect. That was mind blowing and flew in the face of logic. I figure its probably to help some people see the flaw in equating correlation to causation, but that rule is certainly not applicable to all cause and effect statements.

Generalizations such as these just made things more confusing since it hid the underlying logic in favor of a one size fits all approach.

And.... before I log, here's another question for you regarding speed. How long does it take you guys to complete a fresh section before you look back to review/double check? I often find myself struggling to finish the last question. In fact, I think most of the time, I finish in the last 30 seconds and rarely finish with more than 2 minutes left. Should I be trying to finish in 30 minutes or what?

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CardozoLaw09
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby CardozoLaw09 » Mon Apr 14, 2014 12:10 am

manillabay wrote:Christine,

Can you please send me the Manhattan RC 4th edition? I thought RC was my best section but after scoring -6 on it I am concerned. You and I both know that I produced some stellar poems on this thread. I will consider buying all the other guides if you please send me the RC. I am a contributor on your forum and am a decent guy who has been all over this thread soliciting attention to your books. You should thank me for probably 2-4 book sales because of said solicitation. I just want to please ask you because I am poor and need this book. I am running out of time here and have done everything possible to warrant a free book. My poems were superb and you know I was just joking about that one poem where I mixed up your name.

Thanks.


If you're considering buying all the other guides, and you consider yourself poor, then why not just buy the RC guide only?

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby akechi » Tue Apr 15, 2014 8:07 pm

Hello MLSAT board members!

I have been spending the last week or so really digging into Flaw and Weaken questions types and have been bothered by a recurring issue. I am continually thrown off by the issue of when it is okay to take certain liberties in trying to determine the out-of-scopeness of an answer choice. Here are a few recent examples that have given me more trouble than they should have: PT44,S4,Q20; PT50,S4,Q12; and PT50,S4,Q17.

PT44,S4,Q20:
Premise(s):
(1) Each of the EMP winners from the past 25 years covered by Acme retirement plan (fact)
(2) winners of the award clearly recognized it offers them security

Conclusion:
(1) It is probably a good plan for anyone with similar retirement needs.

In my first run in with this question, I had several pre-phrases going on in my head prior to jumping into the answer choices. Broadly speaking, the correct AC for Flaw questions will either 1) highlight an implicit / underlying assumption which the argument relies on or 2) brings to light a neglected alternative that the author has failed to consider. With this in mind, I tossed around the idea that the author makes an unwarranted assumption that the terms "financially secure future" and "good plan" mean the same thing, when in fact they could mean different things to different people (what if, for some odd reason, people enjoy financial INsecurity because they are ignorant of proper financial management or they just plain dislike financial security). I was also kicking around the idea that the argument is committing the appeal to authority fallacy (which turns out to be incorrect).

Answer Choices:
A) Eliminated as out-of-scope. The core of the argument is concerned with the relation between those who have used the Acme plan and those with similar needs of the users of the Acme plan.
B) Eliminated as out-of-scope. The argument does not attempt to establish that people with similar needs must use the Acme plan, or that it is the only plan for them, rather it merely states that it probably is a good plan for them. So considering the possibility that several other plans would be good enough does not portray a flaw in the argumentation.
C) Initially chose this AC, but realized that it was wrong during blind review. The reason I eliminated it was because it states that the supposed experts have endorsed the argument's main conclusion, when in fact they might not. The main conclusion was "it is probably a good plan...", but the unidentified experts (which I am guessing are the prize winners) only recognize that it offers them a financially secure future (the intermediate conclusion).
D) I chose D through process of elimination, but still do not understand why it is the correct answer choice. Matt Sherman's analysis of the question hones in on the disconnect between possession and endorsement, but I thought that this was a bit of a stretch given the amount of mental leg-work one must do. Under MS's analysis of the assumption, the author of the argument takes for granted that being in possession of something implies the endorsement of the that thing - which does not have to be the case. This proves problematic for the author's argument because it showcases the possibility that the EMP winners might not recognize it as offering them a financially secure future, maybe they were forced to accept it and are unsure of its future financial benefits. If its possible that they no longer recognize it as offering them the purported benefits, then the author can no longer use their recognition as support for the fact that it is a good plan for others with similar needs.

But my initial thoughts in response to answer choice D were: "so what if they didn't deliberately choose the retirement plan, isn't it also possible that although they did not choose the plan, they still recognize it as offering them a financially secure future?" Is the one side of the possibilities enough to count as grounds for vulnerability? Is our task in flaw questions just to cast the slightest bit of doubt over the argumentation?
E) Eliminated. Inconsistent with the stimulus.

PT50,S4,Q17:
I thought that the correct answer choice to this question also required bit of a stretch.
Premise:
(1) Study showed that high altitude affected the climbers performance (speech, judgment, etc).

Conclusion:
(1) The combination of worsened performances disproves that area of brain controlling speech is distinct from controlling other functions. Or stated positively: area of brain controlling speech is the same as controlling other functions.

Essentially what is going on in the argument is that from the premise that the climbers speech and judgment were negatively affected, the author concludes that the area of the brain responsible for controlling these functions is the same. The assumption is that just because the same external stimuli produced certain negative affects, the cause or internal mechanism responsible for bringing about the effects must be the same. But this does not necessarily have to be the case. However, I am having a hard time seeing how answer choice A highlights this assumption. When I first read A I thought it strengthened the argument by saying that, oxygen deprivation (single external stimuli) affects the entire brain (meaning a single entity, not divided into sub-parts). In merely using the term entire brain, are the test writers assuming that the test-taker is privy to at least some knowledge of the anatomical structure of the human brain, wherein we know that different parts of the brain are responsible for different actions? With this outside knowledge in mind, answer choice A becomes readily apparent. But, if I were to remain completely self-enclosed in the LSAT world, the answer choice does not seem so obvious.

If this is the case, then I guess I am just having a hard time distinguishing when it is okay and not okay to bring in basic outside information into the LSAT realm.

Finally, PT50,S4,Q12:
I am completely at a loss with this question.
Premise:
(1) Studies suggest, clients in STP show similar levels of improvement (regardless of types of PTs)

Conclusion:
(1) ANY client improvement in STP must be the result of aspect(s) common to all PTs.

My misguided analysis of the gap:
I initially thought that the gap in the argument was that the author assumes that because there were similar levels of client improvement in STP, regardless of the types of PT used, that there must be some other universal contributing factor that serves as the explanatory basis for the levels of improvement seen in clients in STP.

To this end, I thought answer choice D was the correct answer, because I interpreted D as undermining / attacking the assumption that there is a alternative universal factor that is responsible for the improvement seen in clients in STP. If the techniques and interventions used by therapists different dramatically, then I thought it must be safe to assume that there were no overlapping features in the different approaches, and thus undermined the assumption. However, even now, I can see that just because the approaches and techniques are "dramatically different", it does not rule out the possibility that they could still in fact share some common characteristics.

But this leads into a greater worry, I still do not see how answer choice A would not be considered out-of-scope. So what if the studies failed to address other kinds of improvement, I was under the impression that the core is concerned with the relationship between STP and the cause of the improvements seen within clients who partake in STPs.

EDIT: Ahhhh, I think I see the issue now. The premise moves from a consideration of the levels of improvements within clients participating in STPs, and then makes a conclusion about the aspect(s) that are common to ALL psychotherapies, effectively casting a wedge between the applicability of the evidence used as support and the intended conclusion. To try to put it more clearly, the premise is concerned with the improvements in clients in STP, while the conclusion offers an explanation on the basis of ALL psychotherapies, which requires a broadening of the premise in order to be applicable to the conclusion. Is this correct?

I am sorry for the incredibly long post. These questions have been a caused me quite a bit of distress. I think I am seriously lacking a fundamental understanding of the underlying concepts associated with Flaw and Weaken questions. I understand the formulaic approach to answering these question-types, but what else can I be doing in order to get better at stripping away the extraneous layers of fat which are forcing me to waste my energy and really focus on the crux portions of the arguments?

evolution
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby evolution » Wed Apr 16, 2014 7:01 pm

Hey Christine,

I have a question about PT26-2-19: Valitania’s long standing practice…
I was torn between (C) and (E), and ultimately ended up choosing (C). Can you explain why (C) is wrong?

The reason why I thought it was right was because if the pay was poor, and since raising the salaries, one would assume that more people would compete for office since they’re attracted to the high paying salaries, but (C) is refuting that claim so it weakens the argument. But after looking at this again, is (C) wrong because the stimulus already stated that V’s long standing practice was to pay high salaries, so the last half of (C), being paid poorly, is just a contradiction?

I also had trouble seeing how (E) weakens the argument.

We had to prove that V politicians are not more interested in making money than serving the needs of the nation. However, when I read (E), I was thrown off by the word “better”. For example, if the salary for a V politician was 500K, and the better paying job was only higher by $100, this still proves that the wrong people are attracted to V politics, because they see the differential amount to be negligible in terms of their total salary. Therefore, money could still be their only motive. How would you justify (E) as being the correct answer?

Thanks!

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:55 am

akechi wrote:Hello MLSAT board members!

I have been spending the last week or so really digging into Flaw and Weaken questions types and have been bothered by a recurring issue. I am continually thrown off by the issue of when it is okay to take certain liberties in trying to determine the out-of-scopeness of an answer choice. Here are a few recent examples that have given me more trouble than they should have: PT44,S4,Q20; PT50,S4,Q12; and PT50,S4,Q17.


Hey there Akechi! Glad to see you really working into the meat and marrow of Flaw and Weaken questions! This kind of in depth thinking will surely serve you well in the long run!

I'm going to break up my responses your questions into separate posts so it's a bit easier to read for all involved. Also, I actually think you've got some fairly different issues going on here, rather than three variants of the same issue.

akechi wrote:PT44,S4,Q20:
Premise(s):
(1) Each of the EMP winners from the past 25 years covered by Acme retirement plan (fact)
(2) winners of the award clearly recognized it offers them security

Conclusion:
(1) It is probably a good plan for anyone with similar retirement needs.


First stop, let's do a quick core revision. There aren't just two independent, equally valid premises hanging about in this core. There's a premise, a subsidiary conclusion, and then a conclusion.

    PREMISE: Each EMP for past 25y has Acme ret. plan
    SUBSIDIARY CONCLUSION: EMPs recognize Acme = financially secure future
    CONCLUSION: Probably good plan for anyone w/ similar ret. needs

This alteration of the core is critical, as the correct answer here hinges on the logical gap between the premise and the subsidiary conclusion. If you treat these two items as if they were both regular premises, the connection between them loses its meaning. Later in your explanation you refer to the subsidiary conclusion, so I'm pretty sure you get this, but I want to be completely clear.

akechi wrote:In my first run in with this question, I had several pre-phrases going on in my head prior to jumping into the answer choices. Broadly speaking, the correct AC for Flaw questions will either 1) highlight an implicit / underlying assumption which the argument relies on or 2) brings to light a neglected alternative that the author has failed to consider.


I'm going to nitpick your language just a tad :mrgreen: , because I think it might help you organize your process just a bit.

Assumptions tend to either 1) connect a direct gap between premise and conclusion or 2) eliminate a competing possibility/alternative.

Flaws tend to simply point out assumptions. Flaw syntax often works in one of two ways:
    1) The argument is flawed because it takes for granted that [assumption].
    2) The argument is flawed because it ignores the possibility that [the assumption might not be true].

akechi wrote:With this in mind, I tossed around the idea that the author makes an unwarranted assumption that the terms "financially secure future" and "good plan" mean the same thing, when in fact they could mean different things to different people (what if, for some odd reason, people enjoy financial INsecurity because they are ignorant of proper financial management or they just plain dislike financial security). I was also kicking around the idea that the argument is committing the appeal to authority fallacy (which turns out to be incorrect).


While I like the critical thinking you employ in evaluating whether "financially secure" and "good plan" mean the same thing, just be aware that such a disconnect runs so near to 'implausible' that it's simply unlikely to be a correct answer! As for the appeal to authority, there is a flaw committed in the leap from the subsidiary conclusion to the final conclusion that seems a lot like appeal to authority. However, I generally think of 'appeal to authority' as a situation where we say "Brand X vitamins are good for you! As evidence, Joe Famous says they are!" Here, we have something closer to "Brand X vitamins are good for you! Joe Famous eats them himself!"

I think you realize that this distinction is the reason why tempting answer choice (C) is wrong!

akechi wrote:Answer Choices:
A) Eliminated as out-of-scope. The core of the argument is concerned with the relation between those who have used the Acme plan and those with similar needs of the users of the Acme plan.
B) Eliminated as out-of-scope. The argument does not attempt to establish that people with similar needs must use the Acme plan, or that it is the only plan for them, rather it merely states that it probably is a good plan for them. So considering the possibility that several other plans would be good enough does not portray a flaw in the argumentation.
C) Initially chose this AC, but realized that it was wrong during blind review. The reason I eliminated it was because it states that the supposed experts have endorsed the argument's main conclusion, when in fact they might not. The main conclusion was "it is probably a good plan...", but the unidentified experts (which I am guessing are the prize winners) only recognize that it offers them a financially secure future (the intermediate conclusion).
D) I chose D through process of elimination, but still do not understand why it is the correct answer choice. Matt Sherman's analysis of the question hones in on the disconnect between possession and endorsement, but I thought that this was a bit of a stretch given the amount of mental leg-work one must do. Under MS's analysis of the assumption, the author of the argument takes for granted that being in possession of something implies the endorsement of the that thing - which does not have to be the case. This proves problematic for the author's argument because it showcases the possibility that the EMP winners might not recognize it as offering them a financially secure future, maybe they were forced to accept it and are unsure of its future financial benefits. If its possible that they no longer recognize it as offering them the purported benefits, then the author can no longer use their recognition as support for the fact that it is a good plan for others with similar needs.

But my initial thoughts in response to answer choice D were: "so what if they didn't deliberately choose the retirement plan, isn't it also possible that although they did not choose the plan, they still recognize it as offering them a financially secure future?" Is the one side of the possibilities enough to count as grounds for vulnerability? Is our task in flaw questions just to cast the slightest bit of doubt over the argumentation?
E) Eliminated. Inconsistent with the stimulus.


Okay, so let's tackle (D).

Let me give you a slightly different argument:

    PREMISE: Most 16 year olds in Town X drive Volvos.
    CONCLUSION: Clearly, the 16 year olds in Town X have recognized the value of a safe vehicle.

But...wait a second! That assumes those 16 year olds actually CHOSE those cars! What if their PARENTS chose those cars for them? If that's the case, then we can't conclude anything about what the 16 year olds value - we have no idea! Now, if the parents chose those cars, is it possible that the teens value safe vehicles? Sure! But the premise doesn't tell us that!

This is all underscoring the idea that a negated assumption kill the argument. It does not necessarily make the conclusion false in all cases. Allow me to quote myself :lol:
Christine (MLSAT) wrote:The negation test is unfortunately very often misunderstood. To "destroy an argument", the negation of a necessary assumption does not have to make the conclusion categorically false, it merely has to make it unsupported. In other words, the 'destruction' is not so much the conclusion as it is the link between the premise and the conclusion.

Take a crazy simple example:
PREMISE: All boys like sports.
CONCLUSION: Andy likes sports.

This argument is clearly assuming that Andy is a boy. That's necessary to the argument. If we negate it, we get "Andy is not a boy". Now, if Andy is a girl, it is still possible that she likes sports, right? If Andy is a girl, we have NO IDEA about her sports preference, and there would be zero connection between the premise and the conclusion. The conclusion would not be definitively false, but it would be wholly unsupported.


Applying this all here, if none of the EMPs chose their own retirement plan, then who knows what they recognize? It's possible they recognize the financially security of the plan, but the fact that they are on the Acme plan can't tell us that anymore since they didn't choose it. If they didn't choose it, then the fact that they are on it cannot tell us anything about their opinions as to its financial stability.

When a flaw answer trots out an assumption as the flaw, as (D) does, it's best to use our tools for assessing necessary assumptions - i.e., the negation test. Negating the assumption should destroy the argument, though it may not make the conclusion categorically false.

The keys to understanding this answer choice are

    1) understanding the 3-part core
    2) understanding that flaws often point out assumptions
    3) understanding that negated assumptions destroy argument, but don't necessarily make conclusions false

Does that help clear this one us a bit?

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Thu Apr 17, 2014 5:30 am

akechi wrote:PT50,S4,Q17:
I thought that the correct answer choice to this question also required bit of a stretch.
Premise:
(1) Study showed that high altitude affected the climbers performance (speech, judgment, etc).

Conclusion:
(1) The combination of worsened performances disproves that area of brain controlling speech is distinct from controlling other functions. Or stated positively: area of brain controlling speech is the same as controlling other functions.


This is a great start! I'm going to tweak your core once again, just a tad.

    PREMISE: high altitude affected both climbers' speech AND judgment
    CONCLUSION: The combination proves the brain-area for speech is the same as the brain-area for other functions

akechi wrote:Essentially what is going on in the argument is that from the premise that the climbers speech and judgment were negatively affected, the author concludes that the area of the brain responsible for controlling these functions is the same. The assumption is that just because the same external stimuli produced certain negative affects, the cause or internal mechanism responsible for bringing about the effects must be the same. But this does not necessarily have to be the case. However, I am having a hard time seeing how answer choice A highlights this assumption.


I worry that you're over-abstracting the thought process here in a way that's making it harder for you to understand what's really happening. Everything you say here is technically correct, but I'm going to rephrase it in slightly less abstract language:

The assumption is that because one thing caused impairment to both speech and something else, that those two functions must be controlled by the same area of the brain.

Put another way, the author assumes that the only way speech impairment and judgment impairment could happen in tandem is if they were controlled by the same brain-area.

akechi wrote:When I first read A I thought it strengthened the argument by saying that, oxygen deprivation (single external stimuli) affects the entire brain (meaning a single entity, not divided into sub-parts). In merely using the term entire brain, are the test writers assuming that the test-taker is privy to at least some knowledge of the anatomical structure of the human brain, wherein we know that different parts of the brain are responsible for different actions? With this outside knowledge in mind, answer choice A becomes readily apparent. But, if I were to remain completely self-enclosed in the LSAT world, the answer choice does not seem so obvious.


I'm not sure why the fact that they refer to 'the entire brain' means that the brain can't have sub-parts? In fact, the very fact that they feel the need to specify "the ENTIRE brain" suggests that they are trying to distinguish "the entire brain" from merely "one part of the brain". Saying "the entire brain" is equivalent to saying "all the parts of the brain".

The LSAT is not expecting you to come in with any outside knowledge about the anatomical structure of the human brain. But the stimulus has already referred to an "area of the brain", which is clearly a 'sub-part of the brain'. Imagine if I started talking about an "area of my house". Then at some point I said that my "entire house" was painted purple on the inside. You don't need to have outside knowledge of the architectural structure of my house to understand that "an area of my house" is a sub-part of "my entire house".

I think what turned you around here is that in your abstracted assumption language above, you got focused on the idea that the argument assumed that "the cause or internal mechanism responsible for bringing about the effects must be the same". Because you were looking at only that abstraction, the idea that "the entire brain", as a "single entity" could be that cause/internal mechanism seemed to fit just fine.

But this over-abstraction loses the original meaning of the real assumption. The assumption wasn't just about ANY single "cause or internal mechanism". The argument assumed that the functions were controlled by the same area of the brain.

Once you recharacterize the assumption back to it's full meaning, (A) should make more sense as the flaw. If all the various areas of the brain were affected simultaneously, then we would have no earthly idea if the brain-area for speech was the same as the brain-area for judgment. Either it's the same area, and it got affected, or they are two different areas, and they both got affected - no way to tell! If the whole brain (all the areas) got affected, the conclusion is not supportable!

akechi wrote:If this is the case, then I guess I am just having a hard time distinguishing when it is okay and not okay to bring in basic outside information into the LSAT realm.


I think the problem here was less about the degree of outside knowledge, and more about the level of abstraction you employed in distilling the argument!

What do you think?

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:10 am

akechi wrote:
Finally, PT50,S4,Q12:
I am completely at a loss with this question.
Premise:
(1) Studies suggest, clients in STP show similar levels of improvement (regardless of types of PTs)

Conclusion:
(1) ANY client improvement in STP must be the result of aspect(s) common to all PTs.


So, great breakdown of the core. I just want to point out that you allcaps'd a particular word here that you then really did not focus on in your analysis - which is interesting to me, because this word is the key to this question. I wonder if some subconscious part of you knew that? Hmmmm...we'll come back to that.

akechi wrote:
My misguided analysis of the gap:
I initially thought that the gap in the argument was that the author assumes that because there were similar levels of client improvement in STP, regardless of the types of PT used, that there must be some other universal contributing factor that serves as the explanatory basis for the levels of improvement seen in clients in STP.


Okay, I need to stress here that this analysis of the core is NOT AT ALL misguided. Not one bit. The argument is ABSOLUTELY making this assumption. That's just not the assumption that happened to be in the answer choice! Remember, arguments can have multiple critical assumptions!

akechi wrote:To this end, I thought answer choice D was the correct answer, because I interpreted D as undermining / attacking the assumption that there is a alternative universal factor that is responsible for the improvement seen in clients in STP. If the techniques and interventions used by therapists different dramatically, then I thought it must be safe to assume that there were no overlapping features in the different approaches, and thus undermined the assumption. However, even now, I can see that just because the approaches and techniques are "dramatically different", it does not rule out the possibility that they could still in fact share some common characteristics.

But this leads into a greater worry, I still do not see how answer choice A would not be considered out-of-scope. So what if the studies failed to address other kinds of improvement, I was under the impression that the core is concerned with the relationship between STP and the cause of the improvements seen within clients who partake in STPs.


Careful! If the conclusion were only about immediate symptom relief, then you're right, we wouldn't care about "other kinds of improvement". But the conclusion is about "any client improvement" - so both immediate symptom relief and other kinds of improvement are all relevant!

akechi wrote:EDIT: Ahhhh, I think I see the issue now. The premise moves from a consideration of the levels of improvements within clients participating in STPs, and then makes a conclusion about the aspect(s) that are common to ALL psychotherapies, effectively casting a wedge between the applicability of the evidence used as support and the intended conclusion. To try to put it more clearly, the premise is concerned with the improvements in clients in STP, while the conclusion offers an explanation on the basis of ALL psychotherapies, which requires a broadening of the premise in order to be applicable to the conclusion. Is this correct?


I hate to disappoint you, but this actually isn't the issue that makes (A) right! The good news is, though, that you have just picked up on yet ANOTHER assumption the argument makes - the unsupported leap to "all psychotherapies"!

The real key to this question is the word that you allcaps'd in your original core breakdown: "ANY". The premise talks about the improvement that studies show. Then suddenly the conclusion leaps to "ANY client improvement". But what if the studies only capture one kind of client improvement, and ignore all the others? That would totally undermine a conclusion about "ANY client improvement"! It would be way too broad!

There are a number of different assumptions running around in this stimulus, and the correct answer could have attacked any one of them. This is a major reason why it's good not to get overly attached to a predicted assumption! You might be 100% correct, but that still might not be the assumption the answer choice meets head on.

Does that help a bit?

akechi wrote:I am sorry for the incredibly long post. These questions have been a caused me quite a bit of distress. I think I am seriously lacking a fundamental understanding of the underlying concepts associated with Flaw and Weaken questions. I understand the formulaic approach to answering these question-types, but what else can I be doing in order to get better at stripping away the extraneous layers of fat which are forcing me to waste my energy and really focus on the crux portions of the arguments?


Don't feel the need to apologize!

I think some of what's going on for you in all three of these is that you may be trying too hard to be overly formulaic. This is dangerous on LR. It's a fine balance, because there are absolutely patterns and repeatable logical structures that you want to build pattern recognition for, and having a consistent process is critical to consistent performance...

That being said, an overly formulaic approach is damning. You will find yourself trying to shove a square peg into a round hole because you'd already decided that the square peg is the right formula to apply. Assumptions may not always be pre-phrased well, or predicted in full syntax. Sometimes trying to do so is problematic, at best. Sometimes the assumption that we predict is not the one the answer picks up on - and that's okay. And sometimes over-abstracting the core/assumption will get us in trouble.

I think you're wrestling with some really important meta-issues here. Don't get discouraged! Give these three questions and explanations some thought, and come back and chat with me about it. I'm always happy to get into the weeds. :)

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Clyde Frog » Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:18 am

Why is Matt Sherman not on any of the covers of the 4th edition books?

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby akechi » Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:26 pm

Thank you so much for the in-depth analysis of my post. I cannot express how grateful I am to have such a excellent instructor lend their time to the TLS boards.

Now I just want to really shore up my understanding on these three questions and make sure that I am walking away with the proper take-home lesson from your reply.

PT44,S4,Q20
I see how my initial critical error of not separating the three relevant parts into the "Premise->Intermediate Conclusion->Main Conclusion" stimulus structure lead to my confusion. I was so pre-occupied with my concern of finding the traditional "core" (premise + conclusion), that I lost sight of the fact that there can be non-traditional stimulus set-ups. It also doesn't help that I have been trying to reinforce the idea that in Assumption and Flaw question-types, we should be taking the premises as given and we are not usually allowed to attack the validity of the premises. Combine these two together and I just sort of glanced over the transition from Premise to Intermediate Conclusion.

I also now see how the move from possession / ownership (being covered by the Acme retirement plan or owning a Vovlo) to recognition of value requires an assumption. Would a very simple necessary assumption be something along the lines of: being covered by the ARP implies you recognize that it offers a financially secure future? However, I must be the stupidest person to ever take this test, but I still don't see how answer choice D is a necessary assumption. If we negate D we get "NONE of the winners of the EMP have deliberately chosen the ARP...". But how does NOT deliberately choosing something deny the move from ownership -> value recognition?

Edit:
Okay, I believe that I can finally put this question to rest after thoroughly going over your response and talking to Patrick about the issue I was having with this question. I was initially failing to see how deliberately choosing was related to the move from being covered by the ARP and recognizing it as offering a financially secure future because I still thought that necessary assumptions had to "kill" or "destroy" the argument - which I falsely interpreted as making the conclusion "categorically false". But, now I understand that it just has to make the link between premise and conclusion "wholly unsupported".

What really tripped me up was the fact that answer choice is prefaced with "it takes for granted..." (which indicates a necessary assumption), but it just didn't seem like a necessary assumption, it seemed more like a correct Strengthen answer choice. I thought the answer choice was importing new evidence (i.e. the fact that deliberately choosing bears some relevance to ownership and value recognition, or that you needed something IN ADDITION to ownership to be able to recognize the value of something). I was under the impression that correct Necessary Assumption questions weren't allowed to do so, whereas Strengthen and Weaken questions had a bit more wiggle room / "freedom of scope".



To expand on your Volvo example, Driving Volvo -> recognize value of safe requires an assumption. But why does this have to assume that the drivers must have CHOSEN their car? How does choosing something upon your own volition connect at all ownership and recognition of value? The chain in my head is "Ownership -> (Assumption) Deliberately Choosing -> Recognize Value. Yet, I just don't see why deliberately choosing something is required to recognize the value of that something.

As for your question-type distinction between Assumption and Flaw questions:
Assumptions tend to either 1) connect a direct gap between premise and conclusion or 2) eliminate a competing possibility/alternative.

Flaws tend to simply point out assumptions. Flaw syntax often works in one of two ways:
1) The argument is flawed because it takes for granted that [assumption].
2) The argument is flawed because it ignores the possibility that [the assumption might not be true].


I have heard from multiple high-scorers that they perform their best when they are thinking less...which seems counter-intuitive to me. I mention this cause at this stage in my prep, I am still struggling with how the question types in the assumption family exactly differ from one another, which leads to me mis-applying a lot of the question-type specific strategies during my drilling. To illustrate my confusion here is my thought process when I am doing Flaw questions: I immediately think "okay, we are in the assumption family; we are going read a flawed argument; there will be a gap between the premises and conclusion". I am getting better at recognizing the gap, but I am having a hell of a time seeing how the answer choices function as either assumptions, weakeners, or strengtheners. Even within your distinction between Flaw and Assumption questions above, I don't see a clear distinction between the classes of Assumptions, Flaw, Weaken and Strengthen. The way I see it is: Flaw Tendency 1 could either come in the form of a Necessary Assumption or a Strengthener, while Flaw Tendency 2 comes in the form of a weakener (e.g. a case of a neglected alternative). I am sort of jumbling these classes together since I don't see how they differ from one another. Except for Strengthen and Necessary Assumption questions - All correct Necessary Assumptions answer choices strengthen an argument, but all correct Strengthen answer choices do not have to be Necessary assumptions.

I once again apologize for my lack of understanding. I swear I am not trying to be obtuse on purpose. I am leaving to head to Patrick Tyrrell's class right now but I will type out the rest of my response to the two remaining questions when I get back!

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Manhattan LSAT Noah
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Manhattan LSAT Noah » Fri Apr 18, 2014 1:28 pm

Clyde Frog wrote:Why is Matt Sherman not on any of the covers of the 4th edition books?

Pedagogical concerns. He's just too wholesome and happy-looking. Distracting to all the folks studying for the LSAT in dark basements, shaking from red-bull-smoothie overload*.

Also, now that I've crafted that nifty respond, I realized we don't have pics of teachers on any of the 4th edition books--unless you got some limited edition ones I don't know about.

* Not recommended.

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Fri Apr 18, 2014 2:53 pm

SpiritofFire wrote:Thanks for responding!

I've been rapidly consuming PTs, as you say, inefficiently. It is really frustrating because the reasons I get questions wrong seem to be all over the place. And when I think up a solution, I hardly ever have the opportunity to practice it. Then I eventually lose that "lesson" after a few more PTs. But what can I do at this point? Even if there is a 1% chance that it could help me solve A QUESTION on the real exam, I still should work at it.. T_T. To that end, I think I'll steal your underlining idea. Hopefully by really working on questions I get right, but don't like the answer for, I can still improve.

As for the distillation, I only have experience with Powerscore, but here are 2 examples:

1)Broad categorization of Must be True. Even the name is misleading since not all answers to Must be True questions HAVE to be true no matter what. Questions stems that went like "...most strongly supports..." used to be the bane of my existence until I broke off from Powerscore and actually thought about the question stem. Then I started to look for the purpose of the stimulus which the answer often relies on.

2) Another one would be cause and effect. Powerscore says for the purposes of LSAT, the author assumes, when a casual relationship is declared, there is only that one cause in the universe for that effect. That was mind blowing and flew in the face of logic. I figure its probably to help some people see the flaw in equating correlation to causation, but that rule is certainly not applicable to all cause and effect statements.

Generalizations such as these just made things more confusing since it hid the underlying logic in favor of a one size fits all approach.

And.... before I log, here's another question for you regarding speed. How long does it take you guys to complete a fresh section before you look back to review/double check? I often find myself struggling to finish the last question. In fact, I think most of the time, I finish in the last 30 seconds and rarely finish with more than 2 minutes left. Should I be trying to finish in 30 minutes or what?



Hmmm...those distillations do seem to be problematic.

MUST BE TRUE
I know that the Manhattan LSAT Inference chapter goes into a brief discussion of the difference between a "must be true" question stem and a "most strongly supported" question stem. I do believe that it is critical to understand the differences. To be fair, I think after understanding the difference, the approach to the two should be the same for the most part, as the LSAT is not actually demanding that we differentiate between the 'definitely provable' and the 'pretty darn well supported'. But if you don't realize there is a difference, the answers on "most strongly supported" questions may drive you to distraction, as you rage "but that's doesn't absolutely, positively HAVE to be true!!!". But as I said, once you acknowledge the slight evidentiary distinction, the overall process for Inference questions is the same.

CAUSE-EFFECT
As for the cause-effect, I suppose I'd have to see it put into full practice to be clear on it, but my initial reaction is essentially the same as yours - a simple declaration of cause-effect does not necessarily mean that the author thinks that cause is the only cause.

However.... if we have a classic causation/correlation core:
    PREMISE: It rains whenever I tap dance.
    CONCLUSION: My tap dancing must cause the rain!
In this particular scenario, the author is assuming that no other cause could possibly have played a part. Why? Because if any other causes were even on the table, then the conclusion that the tap dancing was DEFINITELY the cause is ridiculous, and the argument falls apart.

The author must be assuming away all competing possibilities. This structure is not limited to cause-effect, though, it actually applies to a wide variety of cores where the conclusion is the some event DEFINITELY occurred, or some explanation is DEFINITELY the one, or some future event will DEFINITELY follow. In all these scenarios, the author must be assuming that any alternative explanation/event/prediction will NOT happen.

And, to be clear, in a totally different situation, if the author had declared a cause-effect relationship as a premise, that would not necessarily mean that the author was claiming that cause to be the only cause.

So, there are absolutely times when an author is assuming that no other causes exist, but only when the author has concluded that cause-effect must be the explanation. By doing so, the author is assuming all other competing explanations (causes) did not occur.

TIMING
I think you are putting yourself in danger if you are finishing right at the buzzer. That means you have no room to go back to a sticky question, and no room for the vagaries of adrenaline, etc. If you are consistently 170+, you should absolutely be finishing with a bit more wiggle room.

Do you spend a lot of time on problems that are sticky, or do you mark them to return to them? You could be eating up a lot of time there if you get caught in the 'ponder the sticky too long with no pathway out of the mire'. Sometimes I find that two competing answer choices are just impenetrable after too long staring, but when I come back 5 minutes later, it seems clear as glass. Human brains are weird.

As a practical exercise, you could practice getting the first 10 questions done in 10 minutes. Once that's consistent, expand it up to the first 15 in 15 minutes. At your scoring range, you should have very high accuracy on these, and tightening up your timing while maintaining your accuracy can be a serious boost for your overall timing.

Let me know what you think!

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Fri Apr 18, 2014 3:48 pm

evolution wrote:Hey Christine,

I have a question about PT26-2-19: Valitania’s long standing practice…
I was torn between (C) and (E), and ultimately ended up choosing (C). Can you explain why (C) is wrong?

The reason why I thought it was right was because if the pay was poor, and since raising the salaries, one would assume that more people would compete for office since they’re attracted to the high paying salaries, but (C) is refuting that claim so it weakens the argument. But after looking at this again, is (C) wrong because the stimulus already stated that V’s long standing practice was to pay high salaries, so the last half of (C), being paid poorly, is just a contradiction?

I also had trouble seeing how (E) weakens the argument.

We had to prove that V politicians are not more interested in making money than serving the needs of the nation. However, when I read (E), I was thrown off by the word “better”. For example, if the salary for a V politician was 500K, and the better paying job was only higher by $100, this still proves that the wrong people are attracted to V politics, because they see the differential amount to be negligible in terms of their total salary. Therefore, money could still be their only motive. How would you justify (E) as being the correct answer?

Thanks!



I think you may have meant PT6! Lucky for both of us, there are only so many google hits on "Valitania". :mrgreen:

This is a great example of how when we pick an incorrect answer, we are actually committing two distinct mistakes: 1) accepting a flawed answer and 2) rejecting a correct answer. Sometimes these are smooshed together in our heads, but it's important to realize that in many ways they are two completely separately processes - which is actually good news for us, because that means it's two different areas we've uncovered for improvement!

Let's get a working core before we go further:
    PREMISE: 1) Valitania has high salary for elected politicians
    2) High salary = attractive to people with primary goal of $$

    CONCLUSION: Valitanian politics attracted people who MORE interested in $$ than in serving the nation

The leap here is interesting - we've established that Valitanian politics would attracted people interested in money. But that's a single characteristic, existing in a vacuum. Suddenly the conclusion is making a comparison statement - that we'll attract people who are not only interested in money, but MORE interested in money THAN something else. We don't really have good justification for that comparative element!

Let's take a look at (C) first: What the LSAT wants you to think is that the argument is suggesting that when the salaries are low, you've got 10 altruistic people competing for the job. Then, the salaries rise and suddenly you've got 10 greedy jerks come in and compete in addition to the 10 altruistic people from before. If this is the scenario that plays out in your head, (C) would certainly seem to refute that and weaken the argument!

But wait! What if when those 10 greedy jerks enter the scene, the 10 altruistic people decide to go become social workers? Then we'd have just 10 people competing for the job AGAIN - but it's the WRONG 10 people! In this universe, (C) is true, and yet the argument is strengthened!

Essentially, (C) doesn't tell us anything about who the people are that are competing. It just tells us the numbers. We have to make an assumption that the greedy jerks would increase the number in order to lock (C) in to weaken!

Now, let's turn to (E)!

If a person who was "more interested in making money than in serving the needs of the nation" were faced with the choice between: 1) a job in politics @ $500K and 2) a job elsewhere @ $600K - which are they most likely to choose? Think of the two jobs like this: Each job gives you $500K plus something. For job #1, that something is "politics/serving the nation". For job #2 that something is "an extra $100K". We can't assess the $500K part of either job - that's a given for both jobs. We have to look at only the differences. And the differences between the two jobs are that one pays more while one lets you 'serve the nation'. If someone were MORE interested in $$ than in 'serving the nation', they'd likely pick the $100K extra OVER the opportunity to 'serve the nation'.

You said "because they see the differential amount to be negligible in terms of their total salary" - but if that's true, then that means that person does NOT value that $100K all that much. In fact, they value it LESS than they do the opportunity to 'serve the nation'. And that would directly contradict the conclusion!

This question is sticky, because it's very easy to over-simplify the conclusion into the idea that "people super interested in $$ are attracted to Valitonian politics". And if you make this mistake, then you can easily make an argument that the people choosing the $500K/politics job are still 'super interested in $$'. But the conclusion gave us comparative information that we can't ignore - the comparison between money and 'serving the nation'. (E) is the only answer choice that gives us information with the same comparative line-up (and it pulls the opposite direction from the conclusion).

What do you think?

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby WaltGrace83 » Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:53 pm

I am going over weaken questions now. However, I just want some reaffirmation on how to weaken a causal argument (or any argument really). Is it merely the opposite of strengthening it or is there something else I am missing?

Weaken / Strengthen
    (1) Provide an alternate cause / Rule out an alternate cause.
    (2) Assert that actually B → A / Show that B does NOT cause A
    (3) Provide an analogous situation in which (same cause) = (not same effect) / Provide an analogous situation in which (same cause) = (same effect)
    (4) Show that the ~(cause) = (same effect)*** is this right? / Show that ~(cause) = ~(effect)

Those are all that I can think of. Is there anything else particularly helpful to remember when weakening (or strengthening) arguments? I have been trying to pick up these patterns and I think before long I'll have a complete understanding.

I have another quick question, too. On 6.3.2 ("The use of money..."), I noticed that the premise, ("use of money as a substitute for things of intrinsic value"), is actually more narrow then the conclusion, ("The use of money"...). If we are going from a narrow scope in the premises to a wide scope in the conclusion, there is no reason to think that this is a term change correct? So we don't have to worry about validating this shift in scope? After all, "the use of money" in the conclusion ENCOMPASSES the "use of money as a substitute for things of intrinsic value."

However, let's say we flip it around: "use of money as a substitute for things of intrinsic value causes civilization to decline because the decline of Western civilization exactly parallel the increasing use of money." This is where we get the cookie-cutter LSAT problem because the "use of money" doesn't necessarily have to mean its use as a substitute for things of intrinsic value; it could be talking about a particular use. Maybe people use money as toilet paper and THAT is was caused civilization to decline, not specifically its use as a substitute for things of intrinsic value. This make sense right?
Last edited by WaltGrace83 on Mon Apr 21, 2014 5:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby evolution » Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:56 pm

Christine (MLSAT) wrote:
This question is sticky, because it's very easy to over-simplify the conclusion into the idea that "people super interested in $$ are attracted to Valitonian politics". And if you make this mistake, then you can easily make an argument that the people choosing the $500K/politics job are still 'super interested in $$'. But the conclusion gave us comparative information that we can't ignore - the comparison between money and 'serving the nation'. (E) is the only answer choice that gives us information with the same comparative line-up (and it pulls the opposite direction from the conclusion).

What do you think?


I see where I went wrong now, thanks for clearing that up!

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby SpiritofFire » Mon Apr 21, 2014 5:24 pm

I can usually go 10 in 10 min in LR. Though it usually takes 16-17 for 15 though. Seems like I keep running into answers I'm not completely sold on. I get so tied up in perfection and not making any mistakes that it's sometimes a detrimental. Actually the 15 in 15 min rule makes it a little harder for me to move on. If I skip a question the timing will be off.. It's not 14 in 15... I'll be less sure of myself, and the second half will only get harder!

Actually I really hate how in the first half of the section, they sometimes don't reuse the exact same words. They often use "interchangeable words" that my instinct tells me to nitpick. It's so stupid, even after I eliminate all but one, I could think the remaining choice isnt perfect, waste time, doubt myself, etc.

Bah... How long does it take you to complete an LR section on average?

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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:12 pm

Some great stuff here, as usual WaltGrace83!

WaltGrace83 wrote:I am going over weaken questions now. However, I just want some reaffirmation on how to weaken a causal argument (or any argument really). Is it merely the opposite of strengthening it or is there something else I am missing?

Weaken / Strengthen
    (1) Provide an alternate cause / Rule out an alternate cause.
    (2) Assert that actually B → A / Show that B does NOT cause A
    (3) Provide an analogous situation in which (same cause) = (not same effect) / Provide an analogous situation in which (same cause) = (same effect)
    (4) Show that the ~(cause) = (same effect)*** is this right? / Show that ~(cause) = ~(effect)

Those are all that I can think of. Is there anything else particularly helpful to remember when weakening (or strengthening) arguments? I have been trying to pick up these patterns and I think before long I'll have a complete understanding.


I think this is a great list! And yes, in (4), showing a situation without the purported cause that still had the effect would weaken the causal claim. If you have the effect without the claimed cause, there must be something causing that effect! So, indirectly, this would actually be the same as (1) - you'd be providing the existence of an alternate cause, you just wouldn't be saying specifically what that alternate cause was.


WaltGrace83 wrote:
I have another quick question, too. On 6.3.2 ("The use of money..."), I noticed that the premise, ("use of money as a substitute for things of intrinsic value"), is actually more narrow then the conclusion, ("The use of money"...). If we are going from a narrow scope in the premises to a wide scope in the conclusion, there is no reason to think that this is a term change correct? So we don't have to worry about validating this shift in scope? After all, "the use of money" in the conclusion ENCOMPASSES the "use of money as a substitute for things of intrinsic value."

However, let's say we flip it around: "use of money as a substitute for things of intrinsic value causes civilization to decline because the decline of Western civilization exactly parallel the increasing use of money." This is where we get the cookie-cutter LSAT problem because the "use of money" doesn't necessarily have to mean its use as a substitute for things of intrinsic value; it could be talking about a particular use. Maybe people use money as toilet paper and THAT is was caused civilization to decline, not specifically its use as a substitute for things of intrinsic value. This make sense right?


Your thinking in regards to this specific example is spot on. I just want to caution you about the application of this idea to other examples - whether the shift from narrow->broad or broad->narrow is okay depends on what kind of shift is being made.

Two different examples of narrow->broad:

    PREMISE: Arsenic killed him
    CONCLUSION: Therefore poison killed him

    PREMISE: Arsenic smells like almonds
    CONCLUSION: Therefore poison smells like almonds

The first is totally legit. We know that a specific poison killed him, so we can more generally conclude that 'a poison' killed him. But the second scenario takes a characteristic we only know to be true about one specific poison and concludes, inappropriately, that it's true for ALL poisons. The primary difference here is that the first one is simply genericizing (totally a word) a fact we know, while the second is generalizing to a broader category.

Similarly, if we flip both of these around to broad->narrow, the legitimacy flips too:
    PREMISE: Poison killed him
    CONCLUSION: Therefore arsenic killed him

    PREMISE: Poison smells like almonds
    CONCLUSION: Therefore arsenic smells like almonds

Now the first argument is bad: we only know a general category to be responsible for his death - placing blame into a sub-part of that category is unsupported. But the second argument becomes legit - we know the entire category has a characteristic of smelling like almonds, so it's safe to say that a particular sub-part of that category has the same characteristic. We might have phrased the first arguments premise as "A poison killed him", and the second argument's premise is understood to be "ALL poison smells like almonds". And that's the fundamental difference in whether we're allowed to move from narrow->broad or broad->narrow.

PT 6.3.2 follows the pattern of the first argument here: we've got two different 'labels' for the issue (use of money vs use of money as a sub for intrinsic value things) and one is more generic than the other. So narrow->broad is acceptable, and broad->narrow would be inappropriate.

Does that make sense?

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WaltGrace83
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby WaltGrace83 » Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:15 pm

Absolutely! Thanks a lot!

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Geek thread - Manhattan LSAT Q & A

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:34 pm

SpiritofFire wrote:I can usually go 10 in 10 min in LR. Though it usually takes 16-17 for 15 though. Seems like I keep running into answers I'm not completely sold on. I get so tied up in perfection and not making any mistakes that it's sometimes a detrimental. Actually the 15 in 15 min rule makes it a little harder for me to move on. If I skip a question the timing will be off.. It's not 14 in 15... I'll be less sure of myself, and the second half will only get harder!

Actually I really hate how in the first half of the section, they sometimes don't reuse the exact same words. They often use "interchangeable words" that my instinct tells me to nitpick. It's so stupid, even after I eliminate all but one, I could think the remaining choice isnt perfect, waste time, doubt myself, etc.

Bah... How long does it take you to complete an LR section on average?


Oh no! Don't do the bolded! :) Any guideline like that should just be a general 'let's push for this, yeah!', NOT yet another thing to undermine you. If you have to skip one, shrug and skip it! Letting it bother you just eats up valuable time and energy!

I know it's easier said than done, but you have to get your subconscious in on the game that once you've hit a question that you're not okay with, that damage is done. Fretting about it after the fact doesn't change the sunk cost that the question didn't go awesomely, it just means you're wasting MORE energy. You've got to get yourself to a point where you can mark a question to come back to, wipe your brain clean and just MOVE FORWARD.

This is what I like to think of as a healthy dose of 'whatever, screw it'. Obviously we can't have too much of that attitude, or we stop taking the whole exam seriously! But a bit of it in the right places can free you up to move on from that question that's irritating the hell out of you in that moment.

I think it's time for you to run a few experiments on sections where you try to engage in aggressive 'letting go'. I can't predict for sure what will happen, but it's going to be enlightening no matter what. Here's one thing that *might* happen:

Perhaps right now you are spending an *extra* minute on 5 different problems sprinkled throughout the section. This 'extra minute' is kind of a useless minute - it's the minute you spend after you've got it narrowed down to two and you just keep waffling back and forth between them with no real useful analysis. Or perhaps you've settled on what you see as the best of bad options, but it's bad, so you just keep poking it with a stick and being annoyed.

Okay, so in this experiment, you'll notice this useless minute beginning (key to this experiment is being able to KNOW that you are doing it in the moment!), and you'll FORCE yourself to move on. Net result, you'll finish with 5 minutes to spare. Now, you'll flip back to those 5 annoying ones that you marked. But now that you're looking at them with clean eyes, 2-3 of them just POP right out at you - maybe you'll suddenly notice a tiny wording issue you just didn't see before, or maybe you'll just *see* it and wonder what was wrong with you before! The remaining are still obnoxious, but you spend the last 2 minutes of your banked 5 minutes on one of them and finally ferret out what seems to be the issue.

If *that* is how the experiment goes, it will be a marked improvement! 8)

Personally, I always get to the final question of the section at or under the 30 min mark. My paranoia works differently than yours - if I'm investing a ton of time into one particular question, I'm paranoid that there's a harder, thornier question lurking later in the section. So I have a fire under me to GET OUT of the question I'm on just in case there's the devil waiting around the corner. Once I've hit all the posts (questions), then at that point (with a few minutes left on the clock) I can go back to what I now know was my stickiest question and feel safe spending that remaining time.

Also, it sounds like you need to remind yourself that the early questions *are typically easier*. :) My friend Brian likes to say "let the easy be easy". If you're scoring well, you know you've got the easy stuff. Let your instincts guide you, and don't overthink the early ones! Again, I know it's easier to say than do, but you've got to notice when your brain starts to go there, and give it a stern talking to immediately!

Try the experiment on a section or two, see what happens! If you do it, and feel like you were perhaps *over-aggressive* (and that damaged your general accuracy), just try to find the right balance. I will say that it's far easier to take the idea too far and have to ratchet it back a notch than it is to not be able to go far enough with it though!

Let me know what you think!




**Edited to add: The 'whatever, screw it' can totally save your performance. I've mentioned before that my LSAT had Zephyr airlines. It's actually the only specific thing I remember about my LSAT day experience. After I finished that game, I VERY MUCH had to engage the 'whatever, screw it' mindset in order to focus on the rest of the section (and exam!). If I hadn't, Zephyr could have completely ruined my entire performance - I had actually gotten all the questions right, but I wasn't *SURE* about that at the time, and the game did seriously freak me out. I could totally have gotten sucked into a mental vortex about it, and tanked the rest of the exam. Instead, I said 'whatever, screw it' (....albeit, far more colorfully than that in my head) and got on with the business of getting on with it. And that saved my LSAT, no question.


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