topic thats been asked a lot, but delving further into it!

sangr
Posts: 459
Joined: Sun Jun 07, 2009 4:45 pm

topic thats been asked a lot, but delving further into it!

Postby sangr » Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:37 am

ok so i've done some amount of questions and studying the types (im not 100 percent on them but
im starting to get a hang of them)
this is about the whole stimulus vs question stem
originally, i was used to looking at the stimulus. The main reason for this was because i found that i found
it easier to just read the stimulus, get a good understanding (im not sure how "good" my understanding
of stimulus analyzing is really) THEN just apply the stem to it.

however im being helped on the LSAT currently and my mentor STRONGLY suggests that i study the stem first.

HOWEVER, this is not simply a "stem or stimulus first?" post.
So I tried it once more today, and don't know what to think about it. it was honestly a little more difficult.
what I really want to know for the people who use the stem first is...

1) did it take you a while to get accustomed to it? as in did you make more mistakes at first, or find it difficult.
perhaps many of you who check the stem first did not have this problem if you delved into stems from the start.

2) how do u look at the stem? i found myself forgetting what the stem was many times while reading the stim.
this was main problem number one. do you FIRMLY go "THIS IS A STRENGTHEN/WEAKEN, etc" then scan actively
for whatever you think will allow you to solve this? i just found myself forgetting ...OTHERWISE, if i kept a strong
imprint of what the question stem was in my head.....it leads to main problem number TWO..which is

3) because im thinking about the stem, it slowed me down a little more and distracted me from absorbing the whole
story of the stimulus..so how exactly is it supposed to work?

after doing much research here on boards and off-line.. im pretty convinced that if one is capable of doing so, reading the
stem is great choice (not that reading stimulus first is a poor choice).. however doing so just bothers me.. i would really
like to at least see if question stem is REALLY not for me, or if im just not doing it 100% right! thanks!

give me your own experience/input on the above!

tomwatts
Posts: 1551
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2009 12:01 am

Re: topic thats been asked a lot, but delving further into it!

Postby tomwatts » Mon Apr 05, 2010 12:47 pm

I've always been an ardent stem-first proponent. The idea is this: you ID the question type (Strengthen, Inference, whatever). That tells you what to look for in the argument. It breaks down like this:

IF YOU'RE DOING THIS TYPE OF QUESTION, FIND THE CONCLUSION, IDENTIFY THE PREMISES, AND FIND ANY ASSUMPTIONS/FLAWS:
Strengthen
Weaken
Assumption (either type)
Flaw
Principle-Strengthen (also known as Principle-Justify)
Parallel-Flaw

IF YOU'RE DOING THIS TYPE OF QUESTION, JUST FIND THE CONCLUSION AND SEPARATE IT FROM THE PREMISES (ASSUMPTIONS/FLAWS ARE IRRELEVANT):
Parallel (straight Parallel, not Parallel-Flaw)
Main Point
Reasoning (that is, role of a claim, proceeds by, responds by, etc)
Point-At-Issue

IF YOU'RE DOING THIS TYPE OF QUESTION, THERE PROBABLY ISN'T A CONCLUSION, SO JUST READ FOR THE INFORMATION YOU'RE GIVEN:
Inference
Principle-Match (also known as Principle-Conform) — on these, ID the principle
Resolve/Explain — on these, ID the discrepancy/thing that needs explanation

So whether you remember you're dealing with a Strengthen questions specifically or a Weaken is not terribly important; you can check that again when you are about to go to the answer choices. If you underline the one or two key words that identify the question type (as in, "strengthen"), this really just means looking at the one word that you've underlined, so it isn't really a time-suck. However, what is important to know as you go into the argument (the "stimulus") is what to look for: am I reading for conclusion, premises, and assumptions/flaws (CPA), just conclusion and premises (CP), or just information (I)?

The reason that this matters is that, for example, it's pointless to read a Main Point question look for any assumptions that are made, whereas it's tremendously helpful to read an Assumption question looking for assumptions. This DOES mean that you have to have a decent understanding of question type before reading the stem first becomes significantly better than the other way, but it also means that when you DO get a decent understanding of question type, you will find it better.




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