Underlining the Argument/Conclusion - Crucial LR tip?

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Underlining the Argument/Conclusion - Crucial LR tip?

Postby kpuc » Sun Sep 12, 2010 7:36 pm

Following some recent inconsistencies with LR, I decided to spend a couple of hours today going over my most recent LR mistakes. I didn't have a particularly weak question of categories, but rather, I noticed that if I had identified and underlined the argument, it would've made the question much easier to answer.

So I decided that for any question that referred to the "argument" or "conclusion", I'd underline the phrase that served as either of those. These phrases are easy to identify, as they state an opinion and make a general statement.

I did a few LR sections, and not only did I finish faster than usual, but I was getting everything right and everything seemed so much easier! I no longer had to juggle between two A/Cs, because it was now clear which one directly referred to the argument/conclusion, and which one missed it.

For example, this is an LR question that I got wrong due to my not knowing what the exact argument was:

Global ecological problems reduce to the problem of balancing supply and demand. Supply is strictly confined by the earth's limitations. Demand, however, is essentially unlimited, as there are no limits on the potential demands made by humans. The natural tendency for there to be an imbalance between demand and sustaianable supply is the source of these global problems. Therefore, any solutions require reducing current human demand.

Which one of the following is an assumption on which the argument depends?

A) Supply and demand tend to balance themselves in the long run.
B) It is possible to determine the limitations of the earth's sustainable supply.
C) Actual human demand exceeds the earth's sustainable supply.
D) It is never possible to achieve a balance between the environmental supply and human demand.
E) Human consumption does not decrease the environmental supply.

I vacillated between B and C, eventually choosing B and getting it wrong.

It seemed to me that both could be true. With regards to B, who said that it was possible to know what earth's sustainable supply? If it was impossible, then the notion of determining whether demand was too high was rendered impossible as well, right?

But upon review, if I had isolated the argument of the stimulus - Thus, any solutions require reducing current human demand - the right answer would've been clearly obvious. While B would've been an adequate answer, C clearly addresses the argument directly.

Instead of wasting time dwelling on this question, I would've answered it quickly and never looked back.

This is quite exciting. All this time, my big problem in LR was that I thought of arguments as these broad general statements with many points to address. Now, it seems to me that they can be boiled down to one phrase that's directly in the text.

I feel like this was one of the main points of the LRB, but somehow, I must've missed it.

Learn how to identify arguments/conclusions, and learn how to master LR?


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Re: Underlining the Argument/Conclusion - Crucial LR tip?

Postby whymeohgodno » Sun Sep 12, 2010 7:44 pm


You should completely master being able to identify the conclusion and always underline or put parenthesis around it.

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Re: Underlining the Argument/Conclusion - Crucial LR tip?

Postby gdane » Sun Sep 12, 2010 9:58 pm

Well you want to do this for difficult questions in which its important to know the conclusion/premises. Dont do it for every question. Huge waste of time.

The most important questions to know what the conclusion is:


Focus on these.

Good luck!


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Re: Underlining the Argument/Conclusion - Crucial LR tip?

Postby tomwatts » Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:17 am

IDing the conclusion is fundamental to doing something like 70%-90% of LR questions. Yes, do this. (I'm not sure why the previous poster downplayed it; I disagree.)

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