Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

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D. H2Oman
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby D. H2Oman » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:51 pm

citrustang wrote:[strike]Our original thread was locked/deleted, so I need to tread lightly. I will only make passing reference to the specifics of the particular issue I am raising, so as not to anger the Mods or the LSAC. As such, I can no longer post a copy of the letter I am sending to the LSAC, since it contains many details that I am prohibited from discussing in the public square. For those of you who recognize or will eventually recognize what I am talking about, please follow a similar code of conduct and refrain from posting anything that might result in bans or the locking/deletion of this thread.
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Now that's out of the way, let's talk in general about the fourth game in the scored LG section.

I believe there is a case to be made that the fourth LG contained a critical ambiguity in its use of a single term. I will avoid disclosing the term here. But the term in question can, in common language, be used to describe two different, competing elements from the game.

From M-WOnline wrote:2 a : an area or division of an activity, subject, or profession
b : the sphere of practical operation outside a base (as a laboratory, office, or factory)

Judging from last night's discussion, many of us interpreted the term incorrectly and suffered the consequences of trying to solve an unworkable game. Some recognized the ambiguity and were able to go back and start over, this time using the correct interpretation, while others were not so lucky. Just to be clear, this was not a case of simply misreading a rule; this was an instance where reading a rule conceivably yielded two distinct meanings and test-takers were forced to choose between two different, seemingly valid, interpretations. The issue reared its ugly head when the term in question failed to appear in the opening paragraph of the LG and test-takers were forced to grapple with what, if appearing in an LR section, would be considered a shift in scope.

Why is ambiguity in LG language an issue?
Image
(excerpt from LSAC handbook found at http://www.lsac.org/pdfs/Policies-web.pdf)

The above is a list of three criteria every LSAT question must meet before being included on an official test. Historically, only individual LR questions have been successfully challenged on the grounds that ambiguous language allowed for more than one correct answer (and thereby breaking at least two of the three rules). So it is with a sober realization of the far-reaching implications of my challenge that I am writing to you all. Ambiguous language in LG is especially problematic when it appears in the opening paragraph or any of the rules. An ambiguity that appears in the setup is bound to affect one's ability to answer all of the corresponding questions for that game. This is why the LSAT writers are so careful to use phrases like "sits immediately to the left of" and "there is exactly one space between them." Clear, unequivocal language is necessary to the functioning of a well-designed LG. Can you imagine a rule that read "Jack sits over there, but Jill sits over there"? It's unclear what "there" is referring to in either instance, and whenever there is uncertainty in the interpretation of an LG rule, there is a problem.

I think that's as far as I'm allowed to proceed, so I will stop there. If none of the above made sense to you, then I am sorry to have wasted your time. However, if while reading my post you thought to yourself, "I completely know what he's talking about and I encountered the same difficulty," then I invite you to write an official challenge to LSAC.

The policy handbook for challenging LSAT questions can be found here: http://www.lsac.org/pdfs/Policies-web.pdf
The general guidlines for a challenge are as follows:

LSAC FAQ Page wrote:How can I inquire about a test question?

If, while taking the LSAT, you find what you believe to be an error or ambiguity in a test question that affects your response to the question, report it to the test supervisor as soon as you finish the test and write immediately to: Law School Admission Council, Test Development, 662 Penn Street, Box 40, Newtown, PA 18940-0040. You may also contact us by e-mail at LSATTS@LSAC.org. The LSAC document, Policies and Procedures Governing Challenges to Law School Admission Test Questions PDF Icon can be found here.

(http://www.lsac.org/AboutLSAC/faqs-and-support-lsat.asp#questions)

Please write professionally and in a well thought-out manner if you decide to submit a challenge on this issue. LSAC can simply ignore flippant or poorly crafted emails and faxes. If the battle is to be won, it will be won using reason and convincing argumentation. Do your future profession proud, and fight this cause if you deem it justified. I know there are others out there who noticed this, and I hope you will be willing to speak up.

I thank you all for your time and I apologize for the length of this post. Feel free to contact me via PM.[/strike]


Idiot.

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citrustang
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby citrustang » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:52 pm

whuts4lunch wrote:Even if a whole game could be thrown out, the LSAC couldn't adjust for mistakes made on other parts of the test resulting from the flawed game. For instance, say a test taker left a few choices blank in an earlier game and planned to go back to them after finishing the 4th game. Say again that the test taker did not have time to go back after reworking the entire 4th game, but would have had enough time to go back had the rules in the 4th game been made clear. Or, what if the ambiguity of the game had a profound psychological impact on test takers that hurt performance on subsequent sections?


This is the heart of the debacle. The LSAC can claim (as they may have on previous tests), that the effect of one poorly-constructed LR question was minimal. They will be hard-pressed to make the same claim regarding an entire LG.

whatjusthappened
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby whatjusthappened » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:52 pm

What's the problem H2OMAN?

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bk1
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby bk1 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:53 pm

It may not have been the best choice of words, but there was clearly only one way to read it.

I can feel for people whose first language is not English as that might have caused problems with the way certain words are commonly used, however this has always been a difficulty for non-natives who take the LSAT.

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citrustang
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby citrustang » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:53 pm

D. H2Oman wrote:Idiot.


Thanks for you input.

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D. H2Oman
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby D. H2Oman » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:56 pm

Nightrunner wrote:
whatjusthappened wrote:What's the problem H2OMAN?

What just happened is that your one-week ban has been increased to a month for using alts.

Thanks for playing.



LOL!

Near
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby Near » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:57 pm

bk1 wrote:It may not have been the best choice of words, but there was clearly only one way to read it.

I disagree. There was clearly more than one way to read it.

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Mr. Matlock
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby Mr. Matlock » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:58 pm

Nightrunner wrote:
whatjusthappened wrote:What's the problem H2OMAN?

What just happened is that your one-week ban has been increased to a month for using alts.

Thanks for playing.

So who was it? :lol:

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whuts4lunch
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby whuts4lunch » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:59 pm

whatjusthappened wrote:
whuts4lunch wrote:Even if a whole game could be thrown out, the LSAC couldn't adjust for mistakes made on other parts of the test resulting from the flawed game. For instance, say a test taker left a few choices blank in an earlier game and planned to go back to them after finishing the 4th game. Say again that the test taker did not have time to go back after reworking the entire 4th game, but would have had enough time to go back had the rules in the 4th game been made clear. Or, what if the ambiguity of the game had a profound psychological impact on test takers that hurt performance on subsequent sections?


No, because they throw out LRs occasionally, which is the same thing but on a smaller level.


I don't see how what you said addresses what I said.

akikaze
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby akikaze » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:00 pm

Is the crux of the issue here that it was not clear what it meant when they said that X and Y work in the same (term in question)? Well, if I recall correctly they clearly defined what (term in question) was in the directions... And they also defined the other grouping set using a different word. Both were used throughout the game in a consistent fashion.
Last edited by akikaze on Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Barbie
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby Barbie » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:01 pm

I had a very similar experience. I misinterpretted the term I am sure you speak of, and had to go back and change everything after realizing my answers were off. I had to re-read the game a handful of times for security, wasted valuable time, and ended up guessing on the final 3. I hope that your letter at least influences them to give a fair curve. :)

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citrustang
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby citrustang » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:02 pm

bk1 wrote:It may not have been the best choice of words, but there was clearly only one way to read it.

I can feel for people whose first language is not English as that might have caused problems with the way certain words are commonly used, however this has always been a difficulty for non-natives who take the LSAT.


English is my first language. I was born in the US. Most people would claim I have a reasonable command of the language. Again, the ambiguity need not have affected everyone. If even a statistically relevant portion of test-takers encountered this same difficulty, it must be addressed.

Possibly most damning is that the perceived ambiguity struck seemingly indiscriminately. This was not a phenomenon isolated to a particular scoring band: high scorers and lower-scorers alike struggled with the uncertainty. This was not an issue of intentional design, but an ambiguity that introduced a high level of frustration to an otherwise manageable game.

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3|ink
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby 3|ink » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:08 pm

citrustang wrote:
D. H2Oman wrote:Idiot.


Thanks for you input.


There's no way it was ambiguous. It was very clear. If you look up the terms in question in websters, you'll find that there's little room to argue here.

I agree the game was difficult. I guessed on all 6 questions. However, ambiguous word usage was not my problem. I simply didn't prepare enough for questions like that one. Join me and the rest of those who are taking it like men (and women). You will never get the LSAC to fold on this one. NEVERZ!1one. They believe they're the gold gods of logic. If stuck-up people really did release 'smug' as depicted in 'South Park', Pennsylvania would be a wasteland right now.

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citrustang
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby citrustang » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:10 pm

3|ink wrote:
citrustang wrote:
D. H2Oman wrote:Idiot.


Thanks for you input.


There's no way it was ambiguous. It was very clear. If you look up the terms in question in websters, you'll find that there's little room to argue here.

I agree the game was difficult. I guessed on all 6 questions. However, ambiguous word usage was not my problem. I simply didn't prepare enough for questions like that one. Join me and the rest of those who are taking it like men (and women). You will never get the LSAC to fold on this one. NEVERZ!1one. They believe they're the gold gods of logic. If stuck-up people really did release 'smug' as depicted in 'South Park', Pennsylvania would be a wasteland right now.


I was waiting for the "/sarcasm," but it never materialized. If you look at my original post, you'll see that M-W is on my side.

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bk1
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby bk1 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:12 pm

It has to do with the way a word is commonly used. That word is used in one context and not in another.

The way I think it has happened is that it was slightly ambiguous at first glance (though there was only one correct way), and due to the stress of the LSAT and the time constraints a lot of people interpreted it one way or the other. The people who interpreted it wrong have realized that the other interpretation was implied and are now trying to rationalize that both interpretations are valid and find a way to talk LSAC into their rationalization that the wording was completely ambiguous so as to get the question thrown out.

I love semantics and ambiguity in language, but certain words are not used in certain ways, though they may be similar to words that are used in that way. The word in this case is like that, it may be similar to words used in a certain context but would never be used in that context itself.

itseightfortyfive
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby itseightfortyfive » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:13 pm

IDK, i didn't do well on that game bc i didn't make the appropriate deduction in time. I was panicking bc i was running out of time and still needed to go back to the craft one. but I thought that word was VERY clear especially when you went back and read the stem. It very clearly stated what which one was.

d34d9823
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby d34d9823 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:13 pm

citrustang wrote:
3|ink wrote:
citrustang wrote:
D. H2Oman wrote:Idiot.


Thanks for you input.


There's no way it was ambiguous. It was very clear. If you look up the terms in question in websters, you'll find that there's little room to argue here.

I agree the game was difficult. I guessed on all 6 questions. However, ambiguous word usage was not my problem. I simply didn't prepare enough for questions like that one. Join me and the rest of those who are taking it like men (and women). You will never get the LSAC to fold on this one. NEVERZ!1one. They believe they're the gold gods of logic. If stuck-up people really did release 'smug' as depicted in 'South Park', Pennsylvania would be a wasteland right now.


I was waiting for the "/sarcasm," but it never materialized. If you look at my original post, you'll see that M-W is on my side.

Dude, you're delusional. That is all.

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scruffs mcguff
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby scruffs mcguff » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:14 pm

citrustang - were you able to work down a list question to only one correct answer?

akikaze
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby akikaze » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:17 pm

scruffs mcguff wrote:citrustang - were you able to work down a list question to only one correct answer?


The list question didn't require a full understanding of the rule that he's referring to, if I recall correctly. It was also an unusually easy list question.

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scruffs mcguff
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby scruffs mcguff » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:19 pm

Yeah I realize that. I'm just curious if you can get it down to only one correct answer if you misinterpreted a word.

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citrustang
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby citrustang » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:19 pm

Sometimes the word refers to the type of work being done, and sometimes the word refers to the area the actual work is being performed in. The word was never used in the opening paragraph, so it was unclear exactly what kind of limitation the rule was indicating. The rule did not provide adequate context for an ironclad interpretation one way or another.

Attack me all you want, I have a legitimate argument. If you don't agree, I don't feel the need to convince you otherwise. If you do agree, write the LSAC.

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bk1
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby bk1 » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:24 pm

You won't be dissuaded. You've already convinced yourself despite the fact that it is not true.

But you do not have a legitimate argument because it falls apart when applied to how terms are conventionally used by English speakers today.

I see exactly how you are using the dictionary to back you up and understand the examples you have given yourself conform with that. However, I could easily provide you with 3 or so sentences that show you that you are wrong.

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3|ink
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby 3|ink » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:24 pm

citrustang wrote:I was waiting for the "/sarcasm," but it never materialized. If you look at my original post, you'll see that M-W is on my side.


You mean this?

citrustang wrote:b : the sphere of practical operation outside a base (as a laboratory, office, or factory).


It's funny how you omitted the example W-M had for this one.

geologists working in the field.

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WhatSarahSaid
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby WhatSarahSaid » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:26 pm

I was also a little confused by it (I remember scanning the game a couple times for the word "field"). That said, they're not going to throw the game out.

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citrustang
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Re: Official challenge to the 4th game in the scored LG section

Postby citrustang » Tue Jun 08, 2010 2:27 pm

I omitted it because it contains the word we are not allowed to mention. Please edit your post.




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