The "Best" possible answer

delusional
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Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2010 7:57 pm

The "Best" possible answer

Postby delusional » Mon Nov 08, 2010 10:03 am

I'm sure this simple question has been posed before, but it's a simple question anyway, so here goes:

What is the "best" possible answer? Is there really a possibility that there will be more than one answer that can be considered correct?

Is there really a possibility that there will be NO answer that meets the criteria in the question?

As an example - I just did the RC section about bipolar vs. multipolar military interactions. Question 4 refers to the authors impression of the Cold War. The correct answer says "convinced that it is a good example..." or something, the key word being "convinced". Looking back at the article, there is no way you can say he's "convinced." He uses the qualifier "may have been" every time he mentions the cold war in that context. On the other hand, the rest of the answer choices are so far off base that this is clearly the closest to being true, AKA the "Best".

In a nutshell - can RC and/or LR contain either more than one answer that's technically correct, so long as one is better, and can they contain only flawed options, so long as one is clearly the least flawed?

SpiteFence
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Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 12:26 pm

Re: The "Best" possible answer

Postby SpiteFence » Mon Nov 08, 2010 10:05 am

Its so if they accidentally don't give a technically correct answer, but they still want to count one as the "correct" answer, they can tell complaining people that it was the "best" answer. They are just covering their ass.

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kazu
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Re: The "Best" possible answer

Postby kazu » Mon Nov 08, 2010 10:05 am

delusional wrote:In a nutshell - can RC and/or LR contain either more than one answer that's technically correct, so long as one is better, and can they contain only flawed options, so long as one is clearly the least flawed?

Yes

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

Re: The "Best" possible answer

Postby tomwatts » Mon Nov 08, 2010 1:33 pm

You almost never have to appeal to the fact that an answer is not perfect but is the best one available, in actual practice. The LSAT is quite good about this. (Other tests, such as the MCAT, are notorious for not being good about this.) It's mostly just there so that they can shut down almost any objection that the answer wasn't really phrased the way a test-taker would want to phrase it by saying, "Who cares? Is there another answer that's better?" And bam, argument ended. It's standard language for a test-making company to use for this reason.

There are occasional questions — maybe half a dozen in the entire history of the LSAT — in which I make the appeal of "best answer available rather than best answer possible."

bp colin
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Re: The "Best" possible answer

Postby bp colin » Mon Nov 08, 2010 1:44 pm

I think I remember this happening on some 90s tests, but it really doesn't happen anymore. In the one you brought up, the question specifically says "the author's attitude can most accurately be described as," so even if you think the answer choice isn't 100%, it's would still fit the parameters of the question. When the questions have a higher burden of proof (e.g. "which one of the following does the author believe"), then the answer choice really does have to be pretty much perfect.

The nature of the LSAT is that there is one AC that is correct, and four that are inherently wrong. Which is different than lots of other tests, as someone pointed out. Even if the right answer choice was blacked out, for any given problem you should be able to go through the four wrong ACs and kick them all out based on their own merits. Wrong ACs aren't wrong because the right ones are better - they're wrong in a vacuum.

Realizing this can be hugely helpful. When you're down to two ACs on a problem, as so often happens, you're usually trying to figure out which one is "more correct." But what can be better in such a situation is turning it around, and looking for the wrong AC, because one will have a fatal flaw.

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incompetentia
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Re: The "Best" possible answer

Postby incompetentia » Mon Nov 08, 2010 2:52 pm

If there's a legitimate gripe about multiple/zero valid answers, the question usually gets removed from scoring. This has only happened roughly 6-7 times on the 61 disclosed PTs.

Sometimes, there will be cases where you could sort of make a case one way or the other. However, there will still be one choice that is clearly better.




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