joeisreallycool wrote:Hi Mike,
First off I want to thank you for writing the LSAT trainer, and for consistently answering all of these questions to the best of your ability. It really means a lot to me and to this whole community.
I picked up your book because of the phenomenal reviews I heard it got, specifically in teaching LR, which has by far been the bane of my existence. Your tips and drills in finding the flaw seriously opened my eyes and assumption questions rarely phase me. I've found that I actually cannot turn off finding the flaw, and I have lost subsequent friends because of this.
That is besides the point though. Going from sucking at LR as a whole to now only a few question types is a great feeling that I owe to you. My question now is what do I do with my weakness, which is basically parallel reasoning+flaw/Most strongly supported. Any one size fits all tips on these types of questions?
Thanks so much for your comments -- I appreciate hearing them --
And sorry for the delay -- (as you'll see) I had a lot of thoughts about your q and needed some time to bring them together.
As I often say, I'm not quite sure what's going to apply to your situation, so I'll mention a few different things that you might find helpful -- please feel free to use what u want and ignore whatever is not relevant.
1) Keep in mind that these questions often represent harder ways of testing the very same things that other q types do, and so they can be very useful for exposing some underlying fundamental weaknesses that may be easier to overlook on easier q’s --
This has to do both with the nature of the q’s themselves, and the way in which the test writers choose to utilize them.
To illustrate, if we were to compare a Match the Flaw to an ID the Flaw q --
For the ID the Flaw q, imagine you go into the answers with a 70% correct sense of the reasoning issue in the argument -- maybe all 4 wrong answers have obvious tells and can be easily eliminated, and, when you see the right answer, it helps fill in the remaining 30% of your understanding and you can answer w/confidence (and feel that you understood the flaw “well enough” initially).
Now imagine going into Match the Flaw answers w/the same 70% correct sense of the reasoning issue in the argument -- now you have to try to hold on to this sense as you focus your primary attention on the unique and new situation each answer choice presents -- you have to hold on to it as you mentally structure these individual answers, and try to find their own unique flaws. All these actions can very likely reduce your level of understanding far below the 70% you started with, and make it that much more difficult to recognize the right match when you run into it.
All of the q types you brought up require this sort of extra thinking/work, and so again, they can be useful for exposing fundamental issues (such as not understanding the reasoning flaw as absolutely as you can/should) you may not notice while solving other types of q’s.
Additionally, as I mentioned, it also has to do w/way test writers choose to design LR sections -- typically (in large part obviously because these q types are more difficult by nature), they tend to use these q types for the harder q’s in a section -- you are far more likely to see them show up at the end of a section then the beginning of one.That in and of itself can explain at least in part why these q’s can, as a whole, feel more difficult.
2) When I think about what all these q types -- Match Flaw, Match Reasoning, MSS -- have in common, it’s that they all require very strong elimination skills.
To give an analogy -- do you remember those worksheet games you used to play as a kid where you are given one drawing of something, and then four others that are almost identical except for that in 3 of the 4 the artist has changed something (3 bananas in the original picture/4 in the new picture, etc.), and the goal of the game is to identify the correct match?
Now, imagine you have a fairly complex picture, and you take just one of those answer choices and spend a ton of time comparing it to the original. Imagine you can’t find any differences, no matter how hard you try -- would you feel 100% confident that you’ve gotten the right match? I certainly wouldn’t. There is no “proof” that I am right, and I’d be concerned I missed something.
So, in that situation, what you can you do to feel 100% confidence? You can find things wrong with the remaining three options. If you can find definitely differences in those other three, you can know for sure that the one remaining is the right match.
All three q types you mentioned are ones for which it’s very, very difficult to feel a sense of absolute confidence just from choosing a good match. However, for all of those problems, every single wrong answer has something that is absolutely inconsistent with the information given in the stimulus.
To expand on this a bit more, if you think of a sufficient assumption question, or a required assumption question, there are ways to know with certainty that a right answer is right -- the answer has to fulfill a very specific task (which you can define ahead of time) and you can verify an answer relative to that task. The right answer to a “most supported” or “match the reasoning” will be very consistent
with the given stimulus, but the verification process won’t give you the same sense of absolute correctness.
So, I know I stress elimination techniques a lot in the book, but I can’t over-emphasize how important it is prioritize them for the three types of questions you brought up.
With that in mind, here are some things you can do to help yourself eliminate better --
a) Give yourself extra time for these q’s -- they require more steps and take longer, and they are harder -- the last thing you want to do is rush by holding yourself to the same timing standards you use for easier q’s. If you can get fast enough at other q’s to have up to 1:40 or so per any one of these q’s (you often won’t need to use all that time but nice to know it’s there) it will give you a better chance to perform your steps more accurately.
b) Know what you ought to get out of the stimulus -- For each of these q types, the “main event” is the elimination process -- however, how easy or difficult that elimination process is is based on what’s in your mind after you are done going through the stimulus.
Make sure that you are prepared enough before going into the answers choices to be able to notice and catch suspicious or inconsistent elements in the answer choices.
More specifically --
For Match the flaw -- you ought to have a very strong sense of the type of point being made, and the reasoning issue in the original argument.
For Match the reasoning -- you ought to have a very strong sense of the conclusion and premise(s) (and the relationship between them).
For Inference -- you ought to have a general sense of the main subject matter discussed, and a very strong sense of the relationships -- the stated links between the various elements mentioned.
c) Next, you want to be really, really good at proving with absolute certainty that answers are wrong. You want to develop a rhythm where you spot suspicious elements in answer choices, match those against the text to confirm they are inconsistent, then eliminate answers. Get automatic at this and all these q types become much easier.
d) Only when you have eliminated as much as possible do you then start to evaluate whether answers could be correct -- I recommend that you try to confirm in as many “layers” as possible -- for example, for a match the flaw, you want to first think about whether they have the same type of flaw, then the same type of conclusion, then the same type of support. If an answer hits the mark on all three fronts, you are in good shape.
Those are my thoughts for now -- try some of those suggestions out and see if they help -- if you happen to run into a particularly tough q that causes you trouble when you try to apply some of those recommendations, feel free to post it and I’ll be happy to discuss w/you --