Mike's Trainer Thread

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The LSAT Trainer
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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Apr 18, 2014 1:11 pm

WaltGrace83 wrote:Mike,

I am reviewing a strengthen EXCEPT question (PT39-S4-Q13 "Nearly every criminal...") and I am a little confused by it. There really isn't a core in this strengthen EXCEPT question, just a hypothesis that states that, "misidentification by eyewitnesses is a common reason for mistaken convictions in criminal trials." Now my first thought was to strengthen the idea that eyewitness' identifications actually mattered, that judges oftentimes will convict someone primarily on the grounds of a eyewitness testimony.

I still don't understand how (B) and (C) strengthen :? . It seems to just strengthen the idea of misidentification but we are not really concerned about strengthening that, are we? What I mean is that we are supposed to strengthen the connection between "misidentification" and "mistaken conviction." We already know that the misidentification happened - do we need to know why it happened? Does this question even have a core? Whenever a strengthen question talks about strengthening a "hypothesis" or a "claim" then usually a core is not in place. Does that have something to do with what is going on?

    (A) seems like the ideal strengthener because it gets at this gap. It says that the misidentification actually means something. What if eyewitnesses misidentify but the jury doesn't take it seriously anyway? (A) rules out the idea that this hypothetical would happen more often than not.

    (D) doesn't do much (which is why it is right). It just says that judges will say when eyewitnesses are fallible. But this doesn't answer the question of how misidentification leads to convictions. We want to STRENGTHEN that misidentification actually leads to convictions. Can the courts know when someone is being misidentified? If so, do we know when misidentifications are fallible? There are just too many further questions to ask and the only way to strengthen the hypothesis would be to add unwarranted assumptions.

    (E) this also strengthens quite well! If unreliable witnesses (those who misidentify) → usually appear confident → jurors very likely to believe them, then this would help solidify the idea that misidentification leads to false convictions. Why? Because apparently those who misidentify appear confident! Those who appear confident usually win over the jury! If you win over the jury, it seems very reasonable to conclude that the jury would then falsely convict someone.

So I wonder about (B) and (C). I just don't see its function but I knew that they were wrong because they were both similar and (D) was clearly wrong. (B) and (C) just seem like premise boosters - which I know don't strengthen the argument. I just feel like there is something here that I am missing.

Thanks


Hey WG --

You are right to notice that this is a different sort of q, and that there is no argument here to evaluate -- the test writers tell you as much in the q stem -- "hypothesis" is just like conclusion or claim, and so you know your job is not to evaluate how the answer relates to some sort of premise-conclusion relationship, but rather just to the point being made.

As I've mentioned before, in order to give more specific advice I have to make some conjectures about how you solved the problem and what went wrong for you -- if I'm off please feel free to ignore me, but see if this helps --

In my opinion where things went wrong for you is when you jumped to thinking, "Now my first thought was to strengthen the idea that eyewitness' identifications actually mattered, that judges oftentimes will convict someone primarily on the grounds of a eyewitness testimony." What you did there was jump to one narrow aspect of the point being made, and I think that's what made the other answer choices less attractive.

Imagine the following arguments:

"Eating ice cream caused Mike a stomachache."

So, if I want to support that, I want to think about what you mentioned -- I am looking for some validation that it was indeed the ice cream, or that it wasn't something else.

Now think of a slightly different argument:

"Eating ice cream frequently causes Mike stomachaches."

Notice in this case the point is a bit different -- it's not just about the fact that there is a cause-and-effect relationship, it's that it occurs frequently -- and so, yeah, info about the fact that the relationship does exist would help a bit, but info about frequency is a bit more directly relevant.

Now imagine I change it up a bit more --

"Eating ice cream frequently causes Mike stomachaches at night."

So now I'm not only looking for information that speaks to the frequency of the relationship, but also speaks to a more specific relationship -- not just stomachaches, but stomachaches in the night time.

39.4.13 has a hypothesis that misidentification is a common reason for mistaken convictions. the bolded are the areas I'm looking to strengthen -- if you take a look at the answers on those terms, I think the problem should make more sense.

I'll leave it at that, but I know this is a subtle issue (I've gotten a lot of q's about it) so if you have more follow-up please don't hesitate to continue here or through pm -- do know that, as I think I mention in the trainer, the frequency of LR q's that ask you to evaluate a conclusion rather than an argument seems to be going down. And (I'm sure you already know but) if you need some further instruction on s/w that deal w/conclusion rather than argument, I talk about it both in the mlsat book and the trainer --

MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby WaltGrace83 » Fri Apr 18, 2014 1:22 pm

As always, thanks a lot Mike! Great explanation.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri Apr 18, 2014 2:05 pm

heydude wrote:Hi Mike,

I've been studying the LSAT almost 3 months now and am still very slow at the games (I average about 15 minutes a game) and often get tripped up by questions. I read your earlier post on things to focus on to improve speed however I was wondering if you could offer some advice on the best practical way to engage in that practice.

When I go back to questions I have previously done I am able to make the correct inferences since I already know the answers, however when I get to a new problem I often get stuck. As a result, even though I'm putting in time I feel like I am just spinning my wheels and not really improving.

Anyway, if you had any insight on ways that I may be able to re-focus my studying that would be most helpful. Should I just keep re-doing questions i have previously done? Or should I try to engage in a wider variety of questions? Should I spend more time on re-doing the problems or should I spend my focus on the diagrams that I had previously drawn?

Thanks!


Hey -

So here's a big-picture fact that I think is really interesting/instructive -- other than for a few, very specific instances, the rules of a game, as they are given, do not directly impact answer choices -- that is, if a rule tells you, for example, that M can't go in the yellow car, other than for the rules question (typically the first question of a game), you will rarely see an answer be right or wrong directly because of M being, or not being, in the yellow car.

So, imagine you were to diagram all of the original rules for a game in black, and all the inferences you make from bringing together those rules (and conditions and such when questions bring them up) in red -- for the vast majority of q's (and pretty much all must be true/could be true/must be false/could be false q's), only the parts marked in red would be relevant for directly determining right and wrong answers.

So my point is, when it comes to games, inferences are pretty much everything, and, in general, the person who is better at making inferences is better at playing games. If I conjecture a bit about what you wrote, it sounds to me like you are a bit more passive about these inferences than you perhaps ought to be. This is causing you to do your thinking about inferences too late in your process, which typically leads to doing more work/spending more time, etc.

So, my two main suggestions are to
1) make sure you become so automatic at notations that you don't have to think about them -- 9/10 test takers do not give themselves even a chance to "inference at their best" because they can't get comfortable enough with the rules. It's so, so easy to stop at 80% or 90% comfort with the rules -- become automatic with them, to the point that you don't have to think about how you notate things/ worry about mis-notating, and you free yourself up to properly focus on inferences.
2) Be really aggressive about seeking inferences out, and give yourself extra time, especially at the beginning, to do so. This doesn't mean exhausting possibilities and creating 8 diagrams every time -- it does mean
a) thinking carefully about how the rules might come together before you even start diagramming
b) taking rules in an order that leads to bringing them together (and making inferences) rather than the order in which they are given
c) giving yourself time after you have diagrammed to make sure you are comfortable with your notations (because you are going to be playing around with them a lot when you get to the q's) and to look for final inferences -- it's often in this "pause" that you can see the whole board and make sure serious deductions.
d) making sure you fully play out inference chains with conditionals -- know that when they give you new info in a question them, this new info, when combined with what you already know, will most definitely lead you on a chain of inferences, and it will be this inference chain that either allows you to see the right answer (for a mbt or mbf) or eliminate the wrong ones (for cbt or cbf).

Here's a super-simple example to illustrate some of these points --

Four friends -- M, N, O, and P -- finish a race, one at a time and in order --

M finishes second.
O finishes after M.

If O does not finish third, which of the following must be false?

(A) P finishes third.
(B) P finishes fourth.

The correct answer here is (B) -- let's backtrack to see exactly how we get there --

1) during the setup, we can infer that combining those rules means O must finish in 3 or 4.
2) from the condition in the q stem, we can infer that O must then finish fourth.
3) so when we look down at (B), we can infer that P cannot finish fourth.

So, notice that success requires us to make the right inferences at each step of the way -- during setup, in the q stem, then at the point of the answer. None of us can be perfect at this all the time, but this is what you want to strive for -- typically, when games are taking too long, and when you are spending much too much time and energy having to evaluate answers on the backend, it's because you aren't making the key inferences upfront. Also think about how much harder all this work would be if the initial rules were much more complicated, and if it was tougher to bring them together -- it makes you realize how important it is to not have to waste energy thinking too much about the original rules themselves.

So, as I mentioned above, work to become as automatic as possible with notations, and keep working to be more and more aggressive about seeing inferences earlier and earlier -- as I've mentioned in some other posts, I think it's great to use old games you've played to work on this stuff -- take a scenario and rules, draw a diagram, and put it away. Come back an hour later, look at your diagram, say to yourself what each notation means, and check what you thought against the original rules -- take note of the situations where your understanding/notations were less than ideal, and keep working to make them so -- keep in mind there is a very limited number of rule types that commonly appear (I have them all on one infographic on my website) and so this is definitely doable. Also use these older games to practice fishing for all inferences possible -- a great resource for thinking about this is jy's 7sage lg videos on youtube -- I think jy would tell you the videos represent idealized versions of performance -- he figures out the best way to play a game and records himself -- and so they are great for checking up on all the inferences you could have caught, etc.

One last, secondary point I want to make -- make sure you are not wasting time eliminating wrong answers on MBT/F more than you need to -- if I could reuse the example above to talk about why --

If you think about our chain of inferences, there is nothing we thought about that directly relates to (A), which is something that could be true or false -- if you spend time evaluating each answer that could be true or false in a real game, it will take you forever, because those answers, if you've thought about a game/question correctly, have less to do with your chain of inferences. So instead, if you are confident in the work you've done, be aggressive about seeking out that one answer that either must be true, or must be false, based on what you've uncovered.

Lots and lots of info, but hope it helps -- if you have any follow up, please let me know here or through pm --

MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby SpiritofFire » Fri Apr 18, 2014 4:51 pm

Hi, I just picked up the book and have a specific question.

Pg 201 game 4- simple known grouping game. One of the rules says J and I will either be teamed with F or with G.

When I diagrammed it, I drew it so J must be with f or g, and I must be with f or g. However, in the solution, the diagram is set up so J and I are grouped together., with the third element being either f or g. Am I missing something here? Shouldn't J and I be allowed to be in different groups as long as both are grouped with f or g?

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Sun Apr 20, 2014 1:50 pm

SpiritofFire wrote:Hi, I just picked up the book and have a specific question.

Pg 201 game 4- simple known grouping game. One of the rules says J and I will either be teamed with F or with G.

When I diagrammed it, I drew it so J must be with f or g, and I must be with f or g. However, in the solution, the diagram is set up so J and I are grouped together., with the third element being either f or g. Am I missing something here? Shouldn't J and I be allowed to be in different groups as long as both are grouped with f or g?


Hi there -- I've been thinking about your q for several days -- thanks for bringing it up --

I also remember thinking about this rule carefully when I wrote the book, and I'm pretty sure I derived it from an actual LSAT game/rule -- but I can definitely see what you are saying, so I've put it on the error drive review list for now (viewtopic.php?f=6&t=227486), and I'll spend some more time thinking about this/looking for a reference next week --

I do think the common-usage understanding of this sort of phrase, per the way it's written, is that you prioritize the "and" before the "or" --

Whatever phrases I come up with using that grammatical structure --

"The shirt and tie can be worn with either jeans or with slacks."

"Tom and Sherry will ride either with Frank or with Ben."

"The mustard and the pickles either go with order one or with order two."

I believe the implied, common-usage understanding is that the pairing is together, and they together go with one thing or another.

Having said that, the thing that's making me think again about this is that I can definitely see your understanding of the rule as being totally valid -- and I know the test writers, though they do have to test common-usage expressions, are obviously super-careful about considering alternative, but viable, interpretations -- basically your question is making me wonder if I went more "gray" with this than I should have --

So again, I'll look for a reference rule for this, and if I find it I'll keep it in there, but otherwise I'll change it up and add it to the error drive. In the meantime, if you have any additional thoughts, or if you can think of an example/phrase that would point the understanding more in your direction, please let me know --

Sorry I couldn't get you a more definitive answer, but hope that helps -- and hope you are finding the book useful otherwise -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby hjjeon » Sun Apr 20, 2014 8:26 pm

Hi, I have a quick question about Test 50 - RC Passage 3.

I'm currently reviewing it after I did PT as a part of 16-week plan, but having hard time to get a grip of the "reasoning structure of the passage" like you map out in LSAT trainer.

Could you please help?

Thanks in advance!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby SpiritofFire » Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:21 pm

Hey Mike.

If you could post what PT the game is from that'd be helpful!

I really like your examples, especially the shirt and tie one. Because the two are commonly seen as a pair in life, when I read that sentence, I did read it as one unit given an attribute. I don't know if the same applies to Tom and Sherry though. If they were a couple, then maybe I'll infer that. But doing so makes abstraction really difficult.

If I said Mike Kim and Vladimir Putin got to work today by either cab or train, I wouldn't want to assume you utilized the exact same method transportation as Mr. Putin even if I still apply the attribute to both of you: mike took the train or cab + Putin took the train or cab. So what's the difference here to the shirt and tie example? In the end, when abstracted it's X and Y are either 1 or 2. Don't know if it applies, but in programming, there should be 4 permutations for X and Y: 11, 12, 21, 22

For me, the important thing was assigning the attribute to each thing on the list. I treated it no differently than I would to a list of more than 2.

John, Robb, Brandon, and Rickon are either dead or in danger of dying. Arya on the other hand is having fun trouncing through the Forrest with her dog. Lol hope you watch game of thrones.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Mon Apr 21, 2014 4:56 pm

SpiritofFire wrote:Hey Mike.

If you could post what PT the game is from that'd be helpful!

I really like your examples, especially the shirt and tie one. Because the two are commonly seen as a pair in life, when I read that sentence, I did read it as one unit given an attribute. I don't know if the same applies to Tom and Sherry though. If they were a couple, then maybe I'll infer that. But doing so makes abstraction really difficult.

If I said Mike Kim and Vladimir Putin got to work today by either cab or train, I wouldn't want to assume you utilized the exact same method transportation as Mr. Putin even if I still apply the attribute to both of you: mike took the train or cab + Putin took the train or cab. So what's the difference here to the shirt and tie example? In the end, when abstracted it's X and Y are either 1 or 2. Don't know if it applies, but in programming, there should be 4 permutations for X and Y: 11, 12, 21, 22

For me, the important thing was assigning the attribute to each thing on the list. I treated it no differently than I would to a list of more than 2.

John, Robb, Brandon, and Rickon are either dead or in danger of dying. Arya on the other hand is having fun trouncing through the Forrest with her dog. Lol hope you watch game of thrones.


Yeah, I definitely hear you, and my thinking right now is that the way I wrote that rule is too vague and I ought to change it -- thanks again for your careful eye, and for going back and forth with me on it --

I do think the issue is a very tough one, because it's based on grammatical rules of common usage -- and switching around the wording even just a little bit (as you did in your example) can impact the interpretation of meaning -- to me, "Mike and Vladimir with either be grouped with Bill or with Hillary" is a construction that lends itself, much more so, to an understanding that you prioritize the and before the or. Having said that, I took a quick look through about 40 tests worth of games, and I couldn't find a reference point, so at this point my thinking is that in this instance I went for a phrase that is a more vague/open to interpretation than the test writers would have --

Sorry for the confusion/time waste this may have caused, and thanks again for bringing this up -- Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby WaltGrace83 » Mon Apr 21, 2014 8:25 pm

Here is something that I have been thinking about recently and I wanted to hear what you thought: the word "some" in strengthen/weaken questions. This word is everywhere and is usually a wrong answer but sometimes it is a right answer. I know that there are no hard and fast rules when thinking about how "some" affects the argument in a strong enough/weak enough way but what do you think about when you are doing a strengthen/weaken question and you see this "word" in the context of an attractive answer. I just feel like "some" could be strong enough for a particular context but not strong enough for another context. My question is how can I have an easier time figuring out what context that "some" works in?

What made me think more deeply about this is 10.4.1 "A physician who is too thorough..." The conclusion: "it is generally unwise" (very weak language) with the right answer, "some serious diseases..." (also kind of weak)

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:40 pm

hjjeon wrote:Hi, I have a quick question about Test 50 - RC Passage 3.

I'm currently reviewing it after I did PT as a part of 16-week plan, but having hard time to get a grip of the "reasoning structure of the passage" like you map out in LSAT trainer.

Could you please help?

Thanks in advance!


Hi Hjjeon --

It's been long enough that I don't remember this passage, and I know you've been wanting some more help with rc (from this and from your our pm's) so I figured I'd try the entire passage and q's and highlight my thought process -- i was going to time each component too but i forget to hit start at the beginning -- anyway, hope you find this helpful --

Read:

I guessed right away that what was discussed in the first part of the first paragraph would be the main subject of the passage -- and my understanding of it was that current agendas shape way we view the past, specifically in terms of what we include and what we exclude. I carried this idea through the rest of the first paragraph, the second, and the third, and went through all these very quickly because I felt I could easy categorize them as examples of that main point made right at the beginning.

The beginning of the fourth paragraph makes me pause -- for me at least, it's an unexpected idea that shifts the flow of the passage a bit (though in retrospect I think may have only felt that way because I missed some of the more specific nuances of some of the points made earlier) -- now we're not just talking about examples of how present agendas shape interpretations of history, but rather a very specific point about how a history of these actions has created a lasting and very specific impact -- countries defining themselves in terms of "sovereignty" and "dominance." The author ends by making a point that contradicts this nationalistic attitude -- we are as aware as ever of how mixed together our cultures are -- and then he/she, in the final sentence, ties this point to the theme he/she started with -- that current agendas shape what we include and what we exclude.

The final paragraph make me reconsider my understanding of the passage, and it made me wonder if I missed attaining some sort of more accurate understanding of the point made originally (that is, that I saw it more generally than I could have), and I knew going into the questions that I may need to be very careful about my understanding of that final paragraph if I need to rely on it. Still, I felt pretty strong I had a good, general understanding, and to be honest, I focused a bit more on what I had taken away as the point/structure of the first 3 paragraphs.

I think that's what threw me for a bit of a loop on #14. That's the only question I found difficult --but I can totally see how, if you weren't that confident in your understanding of the passage, that q could mess you up in a way that would impact how you approach all the other q's as well --

Anyway, here we go --

#14 - I left (A) even though I didn't love it, because it did touch on a lot of different aspects of the passage. I got rid of (B) and (C) very quickly because they are much too specific, and I got rid of (D) quickly because it clearly went above and beyond the passage. I was hoping to see a slam dunk answer in (E), but I didn't -- it was fine, but not a great, great match for my understanding of the passage. Now between (A) and (E), I review them more carefully -- I don't love (E), but I can't find much wrong with it, and it is a way to describe of the different parts of the passage -- upon closer inspection, (A) has much clearer and more obvious flaws -- specifically, it's focus on imperial societies does not align well with all the discussion of native and independent societies in p's 3 and 4 (as well as the greeks in p 1). Thus, I reluctantly picked (E) because it was best available.

#15 - An except detail q -- can be a classic time sucker -- my goal is to have to check as few answers against the text as possible which not losing accuracy -- (A) and (B) are both big topics from the passage that I remember clearly, so I can get rid of those answers quickly. When I read (C) I feel fairly certain it's correct, because the passage discussed Africa/Greece very briefly, and I really don't recall them discussing the "ways in which..." only that the Greeks deny the influence. So, I leave it. (D) was also a big subject, but I did just check the text quickly to make sure we can answer the q of "why" and that's pretty easy to find right in the sentence mentioning Queen Victoria ("thus" = "why") -- (E) I did not remember seeing in the text -- I felt it was probably wrong because it's a very specific type of question -- however, because I didn't remember seeing this, I had to scan the entire passage -- did not take that long though, and ended up seeing the poets mentioned in p3. Went back to (C), reread the relevant part of p 1 to see that (C) was not discussed, and picked it.

#16 - With this types of q's, generally most important decision is: is the author in agreement w/opinion or no? Here, the opinion cited is something the author agrees with -- using just that, can eliminate (B)-(E) quickly.

#17 - when a word like traditional is put in quotes, that means we have to question or rethink the use of that word (Like if I wrote, "The guy thinks of himself as a "professional," the instinct is that there is something wrong/unusual with him thinking this about himself). Here, the word "traditional" is being used in the context of fake tradition used to prop up a new imperialist ruler -- more specific hints about why the word "traditional" is in quotes is provided in the text right after it, and I read that quickly (as well as the sentences before the word "traditional" is used) before evaluating the answers. With all that in mind, A, B, C, and E all seem clearly to incorrectly represent the situation, and (D) is pretty much exactly what I expected (not in terms of wording, but in terms of substance) and so it's an easy pick.

#18 - so, thinking simplistically, I know these purveyors are on the opposite side of the author, and I know they are all for, well, "nationalist dogma." (A) is not something they would agree with, (B) is off topic, (D) is the opposite, and (E) is far more specific than what the passage can support (and a little extreme and dr. evil). Again, not a tough choice here -- only one attractive answer, and so I pick (C) and move on.

#19 - I know these things were used, per the passage, to shape and reinforce images of European authority -- and I also notice the answer choices specifically make a point of differentiating between native culture and colonizing culture -- if you focus in on those issues, (A), (C), and (E) are all clearly wrong. I had to think about (B) more carefully, but the new converts, and the service originally being from colonizing country don't jive well with the ideal of creating a legitimacy based on false longevity, as the paragraph further discusses. (D) seems like the type of example I was looking for, and it's the only answer remaining, so I checked it against the paragraph, found nothing suspicious about it, and picked it.

#20 - A matched up very well with my initial understanding of the passage and all the other answers had some obvious issues so I picked (A) quickly and moved on.

#21 - (A) goes far beyond the text, (B) mixes up the relationship between the subjects discussed in the passage (if anything, it's imperialist attitudes that influence desire for cultural uniformity, per the passage), (C) is not what the text is about at all, and (E) is far too specific. (D) is actually exactly what I thought of the passage initially, and finding it there made me feel good about leaving the passage on a good note.

*** by the way, I think it's very interesting to juxtapose #14 and #21 -- two similar q's with very different answers -- the test writers really like to do this, and it's really a sign that you have to have strong elimination skills, and you have to be flexible in terms of how you think about your understanding.***

As usual, longer than I wanted, but I hope the above gives you something against which you can check your own process, and hopefully that will illuminate some issues and give you some things to work on -- if you have any q's about any of the above, as always, please feel free to continue on here or through pm -- mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:53 pm

WaltGrace83 wrote:Here is something that I have been thinking about recently and I wanted to hear what you thought: the word "some" in strengthen/weaken questions. This word is everywhere and is usually a wrong answer but sometimes it is a right answer. I know that there are no hard and fast rules when thinking about how "some" affects the argument in a strong enough/weak enough way but what do you think about when you are doing a strengthen/weaken question and you see this "word" in the context of an attractive answer. I just feel like "some" could be strong enough for a particular context but not strong enough for another context. My question is how can I have an easier time figuring out what context that "some" works in?

What made me think more deeply about this is 10.4.1 "A physician who is too thorough..." The conclusion: "it is generally unwise" (very weak language) with the right answer, "some serious diseases..." (also kind of weak)


Hi WG (i must admit i end up picturing that you all are your actual avatars) --

This is an issue about which my opinion differs from that offered by a lot of other prep companies (maybe every other prep company), so, as I'm sure you would anyway, please keep that in mind and of course feel free to weigh it against some of the other advice out there --

In my opinion you really shouldn't use/think too much about tendencies such as when "some" appears in a correct or incorrect answer. Just know that some means "an unknown amount bigger than zero" and try not to over-infer meaning from that. I think it's fine for an average student who wants to flatten out at pretty good to use such tendencies when stuck on questions/thinking about answers, but for the types of goals that I know you have, I strongly feel that those types of strategies can get in the way of you performing at your best -- to put it in overly simplistic terms, you can't get 95% of q's correct using tendencies that are true 80% of the time.

To put it another way, a "some" answer might strengthen a "most" conclusion, it might not "be enough" as you say (more on this later), or it might not even matter for the main issue at hand -- it's dependent on that particular context (as the q you chose shows) - you want to be able to focus in on these actual issues in the actual problem as much as possible -- having a correct and exact understanding of words will help you with that, but thinking about tendencies generally won't. Thinking about such things clouds your head, and hinders you from correctly focusing in on the true issues in that particular problem.

For the question you mentioned, the support given is --

1) it's tough for physicians to know how thorough to be.
2) when they are over-thorough, there are negative consequences -- discomfort and expense.
3) when they are under-thorough, there are negative consequences -- missed problems and false sense of security.

The conclusion reached is: therefore, it's generally unwise for patients to have medical checkups when they feel unwell.

The GIANT hole in this argument is that the author jumps from giving a limited set of negative consequences to saying that because of these issues, unless people don't feel sick, they shouldn't have medical checkups at all.

Again, that's a giant, giant leap for this author to take, and I think a natural reaction to have is "So what if the doctors sometimes do too much, or sometimes miss things? What if I had some sort of serious disease that a doctor could detect? Isn't it totally worth it to go to a doctor, even if he ends up charging me more and doing too much? Isn't it still totally worth it to go (as opposed to not getting checked out at all) even if there is a chance he might miss the issue?

(A) address that line of thought, and it really doesn't matter if "some diseases" or "a few diseases" or "most diseases" or "all diseases" have this characteristic -- in any of these cases, there is a reason to go get a checkup from a doctor that clearly exposes the flaws in reasoning in the original argument.

Again, in my personal opinion, I think worrying about things like tendencies and such, or just focusing in on a word like "some" every time you see it, can distract you from seeing the true issues in the particular problem.

Another thing I want to stress -- and I may be reading too much into what you wrote and this may not be an issue for you -- is something I talk a lot about in the trainer -- the right answer does not need to weaken or strengthen a lot, and thinking about degree is another way you can lose focus -- in all of these problems, there will be one answer that strengthens or weakens, and four that don't -- your job is to separate the one that does from the four that don't, not decide between ones that do a little and a lot. In the case of the question you brought up, (B) - (E) all have nothing to do with the argument, and can be easily eliminated -- so again, not sure if this is an issue for you, but just wanted to make the reminder --

Hope that helps -- as always, feel free to follow up if you have anything else -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby WaltGrace83 » Mon Apr 28, 2014 10:19 am

Saw Arcade Fire with my cousin last night. I hadn't really listened to them too much other than the few songs you recommended.

....but they ROCKED. It was an absolutely unbelievable show and I've seen (literally) hundreds of concerts. They also played Ready to Start. Thanks for the recommendation! No Cars Go was my favorite song I think.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby zaetoroftheprotoss » Tue Apr 29, 2014 1:27 am

Hi Mike,

Thanks again for putting together this amazing book!

I'm currently wrapping up Lesson 18's Drill Set #10. I have a question with regards to PT 55.1.21. I am having difficulty understanding why the answer choice is B (I chose A). I know (1) C does not work because not everyone needs to take actions, just those who care about preserving the show, (2) D does not work because there is no mention of actions lowering the likelihood/probability of cancellation in the stimulus, and (3) E does not work because the stimulus does not discriminate between those who feel most strongly (vs. the rest) about preserving shows.

I went with A over B because B felt like B was over generalizing with everyone as opposed to A which focuses on the single individual. Could you clarify why the logic of the principle in answer choice B better matches the support>point logic?

Thanks!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby heydude » Wed Apr 30, 2014 12:53 pm

Hi Mike,

So I just got to lesson 31 and I had some trouble on the "extreme links" drills, particularly the ones involving "most" and "some" (particularly the "Oldie's Diner" sample). In the instructions you note that it may be helpful to diagram some of the statements, however I can't seem to figure out an effective way to diagram "some" and "most" statements. I tried using conditional arrows with a "some" or "most" notation, and also made a Venn-type diagram but neither effectively conveyed the information.

Can you offer some tips on diagramming such statements?

Thanks!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:04 pm

WaltGrace83 wrote:Saw Arcade Fire with my cousin last night. I hadn't really listened to them too much other than the few songs you recommended.

....but they ROCKED. It was an absolutely unbelievable show and I've seen (literally) hundreds of concerts. They also played Ready to Start. Thanks for the recommendation! No Cars Go was my favorite song I think.


I'm soooo jealous.

I've got to remember to leave this desk every once in a while.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:15 pm

zaetoroftheprotoss wrote:Hi Mike,

Thanks again for putting together this amazing book!

I'm currently wrapping up Lesson 18's Drill Set #10. I have a question with regards to PT 55.1.21. I am having difficulty understanding why the answer choice is B (I chose A). I know (1) C does not work because not everyone needs to take actions, just those who care about preserving the show, (2) D does not work because there is no mention of actions lowering the likelihood/probability of cancellation in the stimulus, and (3) E does not work because the stimulus does not discriminate between those who feel most strongly (vs. the rest) about preserving shows.

I went with A over B because B felt like B was over generalizing with everyone as opposed to A which focuses on the single individual. Could you clarify why the logic of the principle in answer choice B better matches the support>point logic?

Thanks!



That's a great question -- thanks for bringing it up (and thank you for the comments about the book) --

The difference between anyone and everyone is a red herring (a false issue intended to throw you off the scent) --

"Anyone who supports basketball should be happy Donald Sterling got banned" and "Everyone who supports basketball should be happy Donald Sterling got banned" mean the same thing -- each and every person who has this characteristic should feel this way (and, btw, "each" and "every" can be used to create a red herring as well).

The true issue in this question is a very subtle one, and I think they threw in the above to make it so that those who were on the fence about (A) and (B) might gravitate toward (A).

However, if you see that everyone is a fine replacement for anyone, and in terms of that issue both (A) and (B) are fine, the difference between them to focus on becomes "unless one took certain actions" vs "unless many people took certain actions" -- if we look back to the original argument, it clearly states "many people...buy the advertising products."

So, when we think about that difference, (A) gives the impression the shows could be saved if one person took an action -- (B) better matches the stimulus because it makes it clear many people need to take the action.

Hope that helps -- please feel free to follow up if you need any further clarification -- again, it's a great question -- it's a very subtle issue, and they did a great job of cloaking it inside another false issue (and then hiding that further in the way they structured the answer choices) -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby WaltGrace83 » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:49 pm

Mike,

I know this is probably going to be a hard question to answer and maybe it is unanswerable. However, I wanted to get your initial thoughts anyway. I am working on weakening answers right now (which I feel are the hardest questions I've gone through to date) and I am just okay. I have the cambridge packets and I'd say I am getting about 70-80% correct of the level 2's. I need to bump that up. However, when reviewing them blindly, I can much more easily decipher the right answer, making me get to the right answer before actually making sure that its correct about 90-95% of the time.

What does this tell me? I am taking 1:20 per question and I feel like I should already be doing these under 1:00 because they are the "easier" ones. What do you recommend?

EDIT: okay, just did an "official" tally. I got 115/131 correct off the bat (assuming I remembered to highlight everyone I got wrong). So it be more about 85% correct. However, these are still the easy questions so I am still a bit anxious.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed May 07, 2014 7:09 pm

heydude wrote:Hi Mike,

So I just got to lesson 31 and I had some trouble on the "extreme links" drills, particularly the ones involving "most" and "some" (particularly the "Oldie's Diner" sample). In the instructions you note that it may be helpful to diagram some of the statements, however I can't seem to figure out an effective way to diagram "some" and "most" statements. I tried using conditional arrows with a "some" or "most" notation, and also made a Venn-type diagram but neither effectively conveyed the information.

Can you offer some tips on diagramming such statements?

Thanks!


Hey --

One thing to keep in mind (as I'm sure you saw in the instructions for the drill) is that these are really extreme drills -- you will not find a real LR q that forces you to think about as many of this issues at once as this drill does (also keep in mind there was a small wording error, which is mentioned on the trainer 1.3 errors post) --

Having said all that, of course you want to feel that you have control over situations similar to the ones presented in the drill (though smaller in scale) --

In terms of diagramming,

I suggest that when you decide to diagram, you
1) diagram conditional statements -- and link them up when you can
2) write out inferences than can be figured out by bringing together certain most and most rules

and that's really it. If you want to write out original some and most statements so you have them on a list you can, but otherwise, I generally would not recommend using a venn diagram or any other elaborate system for trying to "bring together" all the various rules.

So, for the diner q, if I were you I'd just write out write out --

Some unhealthy on special
Special -> fries or soda
Special - > written on chalkboard

And again, if you want to write out the original some and most rules --

Most dishes unhealthy
Most on special

to just have them all together on a list that's cool too. But I personally would not take it much further than that.

You really want to avoid is representing some or most statements as guarantees -- so, I strongly recommend against something like "Some people like ice cream" becoming "Some p --> i" -- by definition, a conditional statement is a guarantee, an absolute that happens all the time, and so conditional notation is not the best way to represent things that happen just some or most of the time.

With stimuli that include a lot of some or most, along with conditionals, it's really important not to over-infer. Just try to get a clear sense of the rules, and then go into the answers with a mindset of "I probably can't prove this based on the given info -- let me just double-check." I think approaching it on those terms, rather than being over-zealous to cleverly diagram or see inferences, is typically the better way to go for q's that involve these sorts of situations.

I know that extreme links exercise is really killer -- hope that helps -- let me know if you need anything else --

Mike

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Wed May 07, 2014 7:24 pm

WaltGrace83 wrote:Mike,

I know this is probably going to be a hard question to answer and maybe it is unanswerable. However, I wanted to get your initial thoughts anyway. I am working on weakening answers right now (which I feel are the hardest questions I've gone through to date) and I am just okay. I have the cambridge packets and I'd say I am getting about 70-80% correct of the level 2's. I need to bump that up. However, when reviewing them blindly, I can much more easily decipher the right answer, making me get to the right answer before actually making sure that its correct about 90-95% of the time.

What does this tell me? I am taking 1:20 per question and I feel like I should already be doing these under 1:00 because they are the "easier" ones. What do you recommend?

EDIT: okay, just did an "official" tally. I got 115/131 correct off the bat (assuming I remembered to highlight everyone I got wrong). So it be more about 85% correct. However, these are still the easy questions so I am still a bit anxious.



Hey Walt --

85% is fine for now, and certainly not cause for you to not go on to harder q's or anything like that, but, at the same time, you definitely want to bump that up, and, hopefully, get the time down as well -- if all goes as it should, these two goals can and should coincide --

I don't know if there is a whole lot more I can say than what is in the book -- it could be that you are do have specific issues "getting" what the test writers are after in a weaken answer, or it could be that these problems have more subtle arguments, and therefore they are exposing reading or reasoning issues that aren't necessarily specific to weaken q's --

I do think it's essential to be as practical as possible about assessing your performance, and to make sure to set benchmarks/have methods of assessing your understanding/progress -- even if these benchmarks are not perfect, they give you something to work off of --

At a basic level, every problem you miss is because of one or more of three reasons --

1) you read it wrong -- either you don't focus in on the core correctly, or you don't notice a key modifier in one of the answers, etc.

2) you reason it wrong -- you read the stimulus and answers correctly, but you don't see the reasoning issues as clearly as you should.

3) you solve it wrong -- you eliminated the correct weaken answer because you didn't think it "weakened enough" for example, or you compared the answers just against the point rather than the argument.

Be hyper-critical and keep track of the q's that challenge you on the above terms. Use this information to change up strategies, and assess whether the changes help.

Again, your assessment doesn't have to be 100% in order for this to be useful -- in fact, the whole point of it, arguably, is to get to a point, later on in your process, where you can "see yourself" much more clearly than you do now. You keep thinking about q's on these terms, and you'll continue to develop a more accurate sense of which actions truly are correct/ineffective, and a more accurate sense of when you are using those correct actions or not.

HTH -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby BillsFan9907 » Thu May 08, 2014 9:35 am

Hey Mike -

I just wanted to clarify one of the fundamentals of your strategy:

For the first example of logic games in the book, you don't write out all the rules AND THEN apply what you can to the template. Some obviously can be added to the graph without first writing them down (P is 1 or 7). But I notice that you did not write down the M,P rule (I did), and instead put it directly on the template (splitting the template into two). Only after do you write out the remaining rules that cannot go directly on the templates.

I want to make sure that I understand the strategy properly - rules like the M,P rule should not be written out. Anything that can go on the template directly should be done so.

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Bilka » Thu May 08, 2014 5:30 pm

Hey Mike

On Parallel Reasoning questions, when we are matching the conclusion, is the a hierarchy of what to look for?

For Example:

Let say that the Stimulus's conclusion is a conditional statement and we are left with two ACs.

Everything matches except the conclusion
One has a conditional statement but is normative (should, ought, etc) and the other conditional but contains an 'and/or'


Does something like this ever come up?

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby Arshavin25 » Fri May 09, 2014 3:36 pm

Hey Mike,

I just wanna say first, that your book is excellent. And why it's excellent I'll detail below:

So i signed up for 7sage in Jan this year, and on my first prep test i got a 154. I got about 50-60% of the LR right, 78% of RC and about 34% of LG. Now, I'm doing really really good on LG, maybe missing from -6 to -2 a section,. However, I have done SO SO POORLY with LR pertaining these categories : Necessary Assumption. and i do worse on the harder Flaw questions.

It's not like I have not been trying either, I actually bought your book because even though I was using 7sage, I wasn't improving that much in LR, as I was in LG and I'm aiming for a 165+ score, and preferably 170+.

My biggest question is how do I truly understand NA question. I'm doing everything you are stating in the book, but I honestly dont know what to do. As it is, Im registered for the June test, but I dont feel confident because I'm missing (well mostly the harder 4 star & 5 star ranked NA & Flaw questions on 7sage) What do I need to do differently? Your Logic Games and RC plans are working perfect for me might I add, so idk what to do...


LOL i just realized something....that 3-% score means i got no more than 9 right on the test
i getting at least 18-19 right now
so I would be at a 160-162 at least...oh wow ok I guess the answer is to take more Practie Tests huh!

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri May 09, 2014 7:00 pm

Seoulless wrote:Hey Mike -

I just wanted to clarify one of the fundamentals of your strategy:

For the first example of logic games in the book, you don't write out all the rules AND THEN apply what you can to the template. Some obviously can be added to the graph without first writing them down (P is 1 or 7). But I notice that you did not write down the M,P rule (I did), and instead put it directly on the template (splitting the template into two). Only after do you write out the remaining rules that cannot go directly on the templates.

I want to make sure that I understand the strategy properly - rules like the M,P rule should not be written out. Anything that can go on the template directly should be done so.


Hi Seoulless --

Are you korean? Or lacking some koreanness? --

The most important thing is that you have total control over the rules /your diagram -- if taking a few extra seconds to write out the rules before you incorporate them helps you understand/retain/use them a bit better by all means go for it -- it's totally worth it --

Having said that, I do generally recommend that whenever you have the option, it's better to represent a rule directly on the diagram as opposed to on the side of it/below it etc. (as long as, of course, the notation on the diagram represents the rule completely).

In terms of the example you mentioned, I think one really important issue to consider is that I designed the diagram that way in large part because of that rule --

That is, I didn't come up w/diagram first, then figure out how to incorporate that rule -- I saw the impact of that rule (in combination w/the p in 1 or 7 rule) before I ever set pen to paper, and designed the diagram to take advantage of what I had noticed.

In my opinion, and I'll continue to stress this a lot throughout the rest of the book -- games become markedly easier when, instead of habitually just dealing with the rules in the order in which they are given, you become better and better at recognizing the important rules/combinations of rules/inferences, focusing on those issues first, and organizing the rest of your thought process around those issues --

To me, the impact of being able to do the above is as significant as being able to focus in on the "argument core" for LR -- it puts you in a position to see the game more like the test writers did, and makes it much easier for you to get in to the proper "flow."

Sorry to go off on a bit of a tangent, but I thought that it was relevant to the question you were asking -- hope that helps, and don't hesitate to reach out if you need further clarification or need anything else --

MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri May 09, 2014 7:16 pm

Bilka wrote:Hey Mike

On Parallel Reasoning questions, when we are matching the conclusion, is the a hierarchy of what to look for?

For Example:

Let say that the Stimulus's conclusion is a conditional statement and we are left with two ACs.

Everything matches except the conclusion
One has a conditional statement but is normative (should, ought, etc) and the other conditional but contains an 'and/or'


Does something like this ever come up?


Hi Bilka --

I think what you are asking is -- are there certain similarities/differences that are "more important" than others --

There may be, but I haven't really seen it -- I think the two most important issues to consider here are

1) The similarities and differences you want to most attention to are the ones that are most relevant to the reasoning structure. I think that's obvious per the nature of the question type, but I figured it's still important to state it. When I'm comparing the answers to the stimulus, I'm focused most on the words that define the specific conclusion-support relationship, as I always am for all argument-based q's. If you just zero in on this correctly, the vast majority of wrong answer choices are very obviously wrong -- speaking of which--

2) For parallel reasoning questions, just like for strengthen/weaken, most supported, etc., I think it's really important remember what I talk about a lot in the book as "the test writer's burden." The test writer has to have one answer that is clearly correct, and four that are clearly wrong, beyond debate. However, in order to put certain challenges into the test, the test writer has to have certain questions for which the right answer isn't of a type that is 100% provable. For example, a "most supported" inference answer isn't 100% justifiable, and if they had to only q's that involved "must be true" 100% justifiable answers, it would really tie their hands in terms of the quality of exam they could produce.

Parallel Reasoning q's represent another one of these situations -- the right answer is not going to be a 100% perfect match for every facet of the stimulus -- otherwise you'd just have the same stimulus written over again.

So, how do you create clearly correct/clearly incorrect answers when a correct answer isn't 100% justifiable? By making wrong answers that are clearly wrong -- that have absolute and clear issues.

So, just as a "most strengthen" q won't require you to choose between two answers that strengthen (instead, it will require you to separate out one that strengthens from the four that don't) -- a //reasoning q typically won't require you to choose between two answers that are both very, very similar to the original argument (though some of these q's are really, really well written and may initially seem like it) -- in almost all cases, there are clear and absolute reasons why four of the choices are bad matches --

Because of this, it's really helpful to solve these q's with a mindset of first trying to prove why four answers are clearly/significantly very different from the original, as opposed to trying to see the ways in which they are most similar.

Hope that helps -- if I was off on what you were asking about, or if you have any follow up, please let me know -- MK

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Re: Mike's Trainer Thread

Postby The LSAT Trainer » Fri May 09, 2014 7:20 pm

Arshavin25 wrote:Hey Mike,

I just wanna say first, that your book is excellent. And why it's excellent I'll detail below:

So i signed up for 7sage in Jan this year, and on my first prep test i got a 154. I got about 50-60% of the LR right, 78% of RC and about 34% of LG. Now, I'm doing really really good on LG, maybe missing from -6 to -2 a section,. However, I have done SO SO POORLY with LR pertaining these categories : Necessary Assumption. and i do worse on the harder Flaw questions.

It's not like I have not been trying either, I actually bought your book because even though I was using 7sage, I wasn't improving that much in LR, as I was in LG and I'm aiming for a 165+ score, and preferably 170+.

My biggest question is how do I truly understand NA question. I'm doing everything you are stating in the book, but I honestly dont know what to do. As it is, Im registered for the June test, but I dont feel confident because I'm missing (well mostly the harder 4 star & 5 star ranked NA & Flaw questions on 7sage) What do I need to do differently? Your Logic Games and RC plans are working perfect for me might I add, so idk what to do...

LOL i just realized something....that 3-% score means i got no more than 9 right on the test
i getting at least 18-19 right now
so I would be at a 160-162 at least...oh wow ok I guess the answer is to take more Practie Tests huh!


Hey --

You aren't the first one to get flummoxed by N.A. q's --

If you don't mind, can you tell me a little bit about how you think about them? If you want, you can reference a particular q you tried, and talk about why it was difficult for you (feel free to do that here or through private message, whatever is more comfortable for you) -- if I can hear how you are approaching them/what your thought process is during a q, maybe I can recognize something that may be of use to you --

Mike


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