Sgt Brody. wrote:Hey Mike,
love the trainer and Im using it to prep for the June 2014 exam. I hope you can help me with certain questions I have.
1. On page 38 of the trainer (1st edition), I do get why D is correct, and I get why the reasoning in the argument is similar to the question. But I dont get why A is wrong. The way I see it, is the question tells me higher altitude-> thinner air. since MC has higher alt than PC, it means MC has thinner air than PC.
Answer choice A tells me Older-> wiser. Since H is older than her daughter, it means H is wiser. I just feel like his choice makes too much sense.
2. My next question is in page 250, again I get why C is right, but I dont get why D is wrong. D tells me that the since the residents of neighbourhood are opposed to the plan, the committee should not go ahead with the plan. Isn't this reasoning very similar to the one exhibited in the question?
3. My last question is in page 251, After I read the conclusion, support, and identified the flaw, I eliminated answer choices C,D,E and was left with A and B. I was really stuck and and did not know what to do. Even though your answer key says B, I feel like A could also be right, depending on how you look at it. And lastly, is this is question from a real LSAT test?, and do you have any advice on how to tackle if these questions come up on a test, like if it comes down to just two, how do you approach them. I usually just "go with my hunch", is that ok? or is there is a strategy to tackle these q's.
Thank you so much Mike, and I should say the book is really helping me with my prep. Im using the lsat trainer as my primary book.
Hi there --
Great to hear that you are finding the book helpful --
Though I'm sure it won't make you feel much better, those are most definitely the best wrong answers to be attracted to -- to me, that's a very good sign. Hope these explanations help clear up your issues -- if they don't, please feel free to follow up --
1. (A) is very, very close to the original argument -- the difference is between "The higher the altitude, the thinner the air" and "As one gets older, one gets wiser." Notice, the first statement is a comparison of two different areas, whereas the second is about what happens within one individual. In order for that part of (A) to match the original argument, it would have needed to say something like "Older people are wiser than younger people," so that we are comparing different people, rather than changes within a person.
2. Again, another situation where the wrong answer is very, very close in structure to the original. However, notice that D is about doing something (postponing) because the opinions of a group (many residents) would support that action
The argument is about doing something (demolish old station) because there is something wrong with those who oppose
that action (the local historical society).
(D) contains a ton of double negatives (to throw you off) and I oversimplified that just a bit to make my main point clear, but I hope that makes sense.
3. This last one is the toughest of the bunch, and (A) is one of the most attractive wrong choices you are ever, ever going to see -- it's so attractive that I must admit, if (B) wasn't there, I could easy see myself picking (A) as a correct answer and never thinking twice about it.
The reason that (B) is a better answer than (A) has to do with the fact that "editorial board" is a better match for "student body." "Students" refers to individual students. If (A) said "student body" it would be a better match for the original argument.
The big challenge of an answer like (A) is that, in real life, I think many of us would colloquially use a statement like "the students take mathematics" to mean that some of the students (not all) take mathematics (If someone says “the fans love kobe,” it doesn’t necessarily mean every single fan loves kobe, for example). When stuck in a situation like this (unsure if students refers to individuals or group) it can sometimes be helpful to substitute a few other more basic terms into the same grammatical structure -- that will help you shed real-life biases and help you determine what the correct interpretation ought to be --
so -- "The students take math" is same as "The apples are red" or "The lights are out." Notice that in each example, our "default" understanding would be that each apple (not just some) is red, or each and every light is out. So, we go back to students and think of it as individual students, and that makes (A) not as good as match as (B).
Sorry for getting off tangent for a bit there, but if you end up using the above trick at some point during your test I'm sure it'll be worth it.
And yes, this was a real q -- All of the LR q's in the book are real (the #'s in the front indicate where the q came from -- in this case it's PT 30, Section 2, Q 6) -- I have zero confidence in my ability to make up LSAT-like LR q's.
In terms of general advice about what to do when stuck between two answer choices --
First, in terms of your prep, I think it's crucial to see getting stuck between two answers as an effect, rather than a cause, of you having trouble with the question. It could indeed be that you've done everything else right, and that the question is just designed with two super-attractive answers that have a difference between them that you couldn't have predicted, but I guarantee you that for every one time that actually happens, 10 times you will be caught between two attractive answers because you made some mistakes on the way to getting to those two answers -- that is, you are attracted to two answers because you didn't understand the argument or flaw as clearly as you could have or should have, or because you didn't focus on something you should have in the elimination process, or because you lost sight of the task. This is not by accident -- the test writers build in moments when you could get confused, or distracted, and design answers around those issues. So, in terms of studying and reviewing your work, always see getting stuck as a symptom, rather than a cause, and try to look earlier and earlier in your process to figure out how you could have done things better / when thing started to get just slightly off track. I guarantee you that the better you get at focusing in on the core, seeing flaws, eliminating wrong answers, etc., the less you’ll find yourself stuck between two answers.
(Just to illustrate -- if for #3 of your q’s you recognized the main issue as “assigning characteristics of a group to individuals,” and if you were more focused in on that flaw, it makes it just a bit easier to notice and see the significance of the difference between editorial board and students.)
In terms of what to do when you do get into that situation -- know that I'll offer a ton more smaller suggestions as you get deeper into the book, and I hope that the written solutions give you a lot of color in terms of how to actually handle such challenges in the moment (I tried to keep those solutions as accurate as possible -- they really are my real time thoughts, verbalized more clearly than I think in my head, of course) --
However, by the time you go into the test, I think it's really, really helpful for you to try and think of the challenge as simply as possible, and to focus on just a few, central concerns.
- feel free to check the answer choices against one another to notice or confirm differences / issues. Keep in mind that you will never figure out right or wrong directly by comparing answers to one another (more on that next), but comparing answers can help you recognize issues (students vs board, or ah, I see one answer is about changes within individual, whereas original argument and other answer are about differences about different individuals/places, etc.).
- Again, use comparisons to notice issues, but only determine right and wrong based on how the answer "fits" in between stimulus and task -- duh. I know you know to think about this -- my big point is to only think about this -- the better and better you get at focusing in specifically on how that particular answer fits in between that particular stimulus and that particular task, the easier it will be to differentiate between right and wrong answers.
- The flip side of that last point presents, I believe, a more difficult challenge: you want to avoid being distracted by other thoughts that do not directly relate to that situation at hand.
Please note that in what I'm about to say here, my opinion differs from that of many other very good LSAT prep teachers, so, please use your own judgment and only go with this if you believe in it:
If you are trying to get a top score, it is a mistake to make decisions about right and wrong based on "general tendencies" -- things that are typically true 70 or 80 percent of the time. And of course it’s a mistake to make decisions based on superstitions. Here is a list of such issues:
- 1) worrying a certain letter has shown up too often / too little in the answer choices.
- 2) treating one question type as another. So, for example, treating a Sufficient Assumption question like a Strengthen question because your tutor/book told you that they are similar.
As I discuss a lot in the trainer, a big key to really understanding tasks/issues is recognizing both similarities and differences -- sure S.A. and Strengthen q’s are similar, but they are also different, and, most importantly, the LSAT writers are hyper-hyper careful about wording. If they wanted to ask a Strengthen q they would have asked a Strengthen q.
- 3) looking for characteristics that are tendencies of correct answers, like “soft language” etc. Again, I realize that this is advice that goes against what you will hear/see from a lot of other instructors, but I am a mathematician at heart, and I believe that using such markers is not only unhelpful at high score levels, it can actually be harmful.
To discuss why, let’s imagine that “softer language” (“most likely” instead of “must,” for example) does tend to show up more often in the right answers for a “most supported” question, and, just to push it to an extreme, let’s imagine that 80% of the time the right answer is the one with the “softest” language (I totally made up that stat, btw, and I’m certain it’s absolutely not true) -- if that stat were true, though, does that mean that when you are stuck between two attractive answers to a hard question, you should go with the one with the softer language?
For the main reason why, please see the previous point -- don’t distract yourself with things that do not directly relate to that particular stimulus and task. Focus on that particular stimulus and that particular task and do your best to differentiate right and wrong just based on those two things. Additionally, consider the following: when are questions not likely to follow tendencies? What types of questions will tend to be different from what you expect -- easy ones or hard ones? Very often, hard questions are hard because they defy our expectations -- so, using tendencies to answer them isn’t the best route to take.
Way, way longer than I planned -- sorry about that! -- my fault for answering while drinking too much coffee -- But I hope it was helpful -- please follow up if you had trouble with any of the above, and take care -- Mike