## Breaking the LR Barrier: Beating 50/50s

Prepare for the LSAT or discuss it with others in this forum.
TMC116

Posts: 284
Joined: Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:08 pm

### Breaking the LR Barrier: Beating 50/50s

So after taking the June 2007 PT, I was a bit discouraged. I've been studying for about 3-4 weeks now

I went
LR: -2, -2 (experimental), -5 (ugh)
LG: -3 (w/ about 8 minutes left over at the end)
RC: -5
Total (w/o exp): -15

If i remember correctly, a -15 was a 165 or something like that (it was a ridiculously hard curve).

After taking the test i reviewed my wrong answers. Of the 9 LR questions i missed, i had at least 6-7 of them down to 50/50.

So here's my question: how do i start getting the 50/50s to go my way? It's discouraging as hell to go back and see so many missed. Nearly every question i marked as troublesome during the test, i ended up missing.

help!

soj

Posts: 7890
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 11:10 pm

### Re: Breaking the LR Barrier: Beating 50/50s

If you're getting stuck with two ACs, you're doing something wrong because every correct answer is completely correct and every wrong answer is completely wrong. There's no gray area.

Review each AC thoroughly and make sure you understand why each correct answer is correct and each wrong answer (or at least ones you chose) is wrong. Force yourself to write out explanations if you have to.

Also, take a look at what went wrong in LG. You seem to have the pacing down--what happened? Get that down to -0. Good luck.

SanDiegoJake

Posts: 149
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:17 pm

### Re: Breaking the LR Barrier: Beating 50/50s

I have a simple solution to this common problem. Take two passes through the answer choices. Do what you're doing on the first pass, which is to focus on keeping the answer choices that you think are good. If you're narrowing a bunch down to 2 choices, you're already doing this step correctly.

Here's the tip on making 50/50s go your way. Once you've narrowed the choices down to 2, STOP focusing on what makes one answer better than the other. Instead, START focusing on what makes one of these two WORSE than the other. If you cannot put your finger on the exact word or phrase that makes an answer choice wrong, keep it. If you can identify one word or phrase that makes the answer choice questionable (words like "Most" or "Always" are often the culprit), eliminate it.

In other words, when you've got it down to A or B, look for a reason to eliminate one, not a reason to choose one.

Feel free to get specific with me (cite Q. #'s). Let's say the credited response is A, but you put B. Ask yourself not why you selected A, but why you eliminated B.

kaiser

Posts: 2886
Joined: Mon May 09, 2011 11:34 pm

### Re: Breaking the LR Barrier: Beating 50/50s

When you get down to a 50/50 choice, you need to remember one key point: There is something wrong with one answer choice. That might sound intuitive, but most people would instinctively try and find the right choice of the two. That is a misguided approach. One of the answers is wrong for a clear and tangible reason, whereas the right answer is only right because it deductively cannot be proven wrong.

This mindset lies of the heart of the LSAT. Be critical and be skeptical. Try and cut away at answer choices and get into the habit of saying why the wrong answers are wrong. Perhaps this will help you on those 50/50 choices. Try and find the wrong choice, and tell yourself why it is wrong.

SanDiegoJake

Posts: 149
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:17 pm

### Re: Breaking the LR Barrier: Beating 50/50s

soj wrote:If you're getting stuck with two ACs, you're doing something wrong because every correct answer is completely correct and every wrong answer is completely wrong. There's no gray area.

This is dead wrong. Many incorrect answer choices are partially right, with only one word or phrase making it wrong. For example, some questions ask you to identify what role a certain phrase plays in the argument. It could very well be that the phrase is a premise that supports the conclusion, but the answer choice could phrase an incorrect answer as "This is a premise that supports the conclusion that (incorrect conclusion)". Yes, it's a premise supporting the conclusion. No, that's not the conclusion.

Samara

Posts: 3238
Joined: Wed May 11, 2011 4:26 pm

### Re: Breaking the LR Barrier: Beating 50/50s

SanDiegoJake wrote:
soj wrote:If you're getting stuck with two ACs, you're doing something wrong because every correct answer is completely correct and every wrong answer is completely wrong. There's no gray area.

This is dead wrong. Many incorrect answer choices are partially right, with only one word or phrase making it wrong. For example, some questions ask you to identify what role a certain phrase plays in the argument. It could very well be that the phrase is a premise that supports the conclusion, but the answer choice could phrase an incorrect answer as "This is a premise that supports the conclusion that (incorrect conclusion)". Yes, it's a premise supporting the conclusion. No, that's not the conclusion.

That still makes the answer completely wrong. I'm with soj. There's never a gray area. There's often a very fine point put on the answers, but there's never a situation where one answer is "more correct" than another. Ugh, I always hate tests with answers that are "more correct."

Samara

Posts: 3238
Joined: Wed May 11, 2011 4:26 pm

### Re: Breaking the LR Barrier: Beating 50/50s

I have this problem too, where I've narrowed down but can't quite find the crucial piece of information that reveals the correct choice. What has helped me a lot is skipping it and coming back to it. I read possible answer choices up to three times and if I can't be sure, I choose the one I'm leaning towards (in case I run out of time) and come back to it. Often, when I read the question "fresh" for the second time, the correct answer becomes clear.

You don't mention how you did on time in those sections. For me, when I limit my agonizing to a minimum, I'm able to always have at least a couple minutes left to go back and check. I find it's a much more efficient use of time. Hope that helps!

JamMasterJ

Posts: 6648
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:17 pm

### Re: Breaking the LR Barrier: Beating 50/50s

Compare the answers to the stimulus, not to each other.

kaiser

Posts: 2886
Joined: Mon May 09, 2011 11:34 pm

### Re: Breaking the LR Barrier: Beating 50/50s

Another mindset thing that has been mentioned but deserves more focus:

There is only one right answer, and all other answers are COMPLETELY wrong. It doesn't matter if 9 out of 10 words in an answer choice sound great, but one word makes it wrong. That answer is COMPLETELY wrong. It is an all or nothing game.

Most people don't realize that the test used to not use phrases like "most strongly supports", "most logically follows", etc. These phrases are tricks designed to subconsciously convince you that there can be 2 right answers, but one that is more right than the other. This is absolutely NOT the case. And once you subconsciously accept that its not a "right and righter" test, you adopt a more critical mindset that allows you to hone in on flaws. Once again, the right answer is only right because it doesn't have any flaws. Its much easier to find a flaw than a lack of a flaw.

annyong

Posts: 317
Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:17 am

### Re: Breaking the LR Barrier: Beating 50/50s

Samara wrote:
SanDiegoJake wrote:
soj wrote:If you're getting stuck with two ACs, you're doing something wrong because every correct answer is completely correct and every wrong answer is completely wrong. There's no gray area.

This is dead wrong. Many incorrect answer choices are partially right, with only one word or phrase making it wrong. For example, some questions ask you to identify what role a certain phrase plays in the argument. It could very well be that the phrase is a premise that supports the conclusion, but the answer choice could phrase an incorrect answer as "This is a premise that supports the conclusion that (incorrect conclusion)". Yes, it's a premise supporting the conclusion. No, that's not the conclusion.

That still makes the answer completely wrong. I'm with soj. There's never a gray area. There's often a very fine point put on the answers, but there's never a situation where one answer is "more correct" than another. Ugh, I always hate tests with answers that are "more correct."

+1 - one answer is right, the others are wrong. They may sound "more right" or "less wrong" compared to each other - one may be completely irrelevant that everyone will throw out and one may have the word "most" that makes it subtly different than the correct response - but that still makes BOTH of them 100% wrong, just in different ways. There is one credited response that is 100% right based on the stimulus and the question. Going through each question you're wavering on, finding these patterns, and sorting out why these are right and others are wrong will get you to consistently better LR scores.

Posts: 2063
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 4:40 am

### Re: Breaking the LR Barrier: Beating 50/50s

TMC116 wrote:So after taking the June 2007 PT, I was a bit discouraged. I've been studying for about 3-4 weeks now

I went
LR: -2, -2 (experimental), -5 (ugh)
LG: -3 (w/ about 8 minutes left over at the end)
RC: -5
Total (w/o exp): -15

If i remember correctly, a -15 was a 165 or something like that (it was a ridiculously hard curve).

After taking the test i reviewed my wrong answers. Of the 9 LR questions i missed, i had at least 6-7 of them down to 50/50.

So here's my question: how do i start getting the 50/50s to go my way? It's discouraging as hell to go back and see so many missed. Nearly every question i marked as troublesome during the test, i ended up missing.

help!

If there is a question type you are missing, remember the "checks" you can do.

For example, on MBT questions, you must remember that when you're down to two answers one of them CAN BE FALSE, but the other CAN'T - assuming one of your choices is the correct answer. Oftentimes the other answer is the "trap" answer, and many people won't solve the question without doing the checks.

To solve MBT, MP and Point at Issue/PAI questions, read a prospective answer as a "conclusion" to the stimulus. Negated, the wrong answer can still follow from the premises in the stimulus, whereas the correct answer - in its negated form - cannot follow from the premises. For a refresher, go back to the LR Bible and revisit the chapter on "negation" ("all" v. "not all", "some" v. "not some/none", "one" v. "not the case that one/not one", etc.). For Flawed Reasoning (FR), Method of Reasoning (MR) and Parallel Reasining (PR) questions, the correct answer is the one that, given the stimulus, cannot be false, so negate it just the same, just don't plug it into the stimulus.

It is very important to nail the six MUST question types (MBT, MP, PAI, FR, MR, & PR) because LR is comprised largely of that question type. Chances are high that these are the ones you keep missing. If they weren't, you would have easily identified it in your original post.

Do the same for assumption questions..use the negation-verification system. The difference is that the negated answer should be added as a "premise" when doing the check.

Other than that, it sounds like you are not paying close enough attention to the subtleties in the stimulus language and the answer choices. If you are simply all over the board in the question types you are missing, go back to the LR Bible and re-study the entire book. Get into the habit of practicing your steps. Be sure you are identifying the conclusions correctly every time.

You will get the concepts etched in your head and start doing whatever it is you are missing. That helped me back when I was studying.
Last edited by PDaddy on Tue Aug 02, 2011 12:06 am, edited 2 times in total.

soj

Posts: 7890
Joined: Sat Jan 16, 2010 11:10 pm

### Re: Breaking the LR Barrier: Beating 50/50s

SanDiegoJake wrote:
soj wrote:If you're getting stuck with two ACs, you're doing something wrong because every correct answer is completely correct and every wrong answer is completely wrong. There's no gray area.

This is dead wrong. Many incorrect answer choices are partially right, with only one word or phrase making it wrong. For example, some questions ask you to identify what role a certain phrase plays in the argument. It could very well be that the phrase is a premise that supports the conclusion, but the answer choice could phrase an incorrect answer as "This is a premise that supports the conclusion that (incorrect conclusion)". Yes, it's a premise supporting the conclusion. No, that's not the conclusion.

I don't think we actually disagree here. "Almost right" is wrong. "Part of it's correct but another part is wrong" is wrong. Test-takers need to hold ACs to a very high standard when evaluating them.

There's always a correct approach that will lead to exactly one correct answer. The approach might require you to disqualify an answer choice for a very small error, but it doesn't mean that answer choice is only "kind of" wrong.

SanDiegoJake

Posts: 149
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 3:17 pm

### Re: Breaking the LR Barrier: Beating 50/50s

Samara wrote:
SanDiegoJake wrote:
soj wrote:If you're getting stuck with two ACs, you're doing something wrong because every correct answer is completely correct and every wrong answer is completely wrong. There's no gray area.

This is dead wrong. Many incorrect answer choices are partially right, with only one word or phrase making it wrong. For example, some questions ask you to identify what role a certain phrase plays in the argument. It could very well be that the phrase is a premise that supports the conclusion, but the answer choice could phrase an incorrect answer as "This is a premise that supports the conclusion that (incorrect conclusion)". Yes, it's a premise supporting the conclusion. No, that's not the conclusion.

That still makes the answer completely wrong. I'm with soj. There's never a gray area. There's often a very fine point put on the answers, but there's never a situation where one answer is "more correct" than another. Ugh, I always hate tests with answers that are "more correct."

OK. I'll amend my answer. I agree that a single wrong word does make the answer completely wrong. Just trying to make the point that there may be some parts of the answer choice that are correct (which is why it makes to the final 2 in the first place) - it's not like every single word in every single wrong answer is completely wrong.

JamMasterJ

Posts: 6648
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:17 pm

### Re: Breaking the LR Barrier: Beating 50/50s

SanDiegoJake wrote:
soj wrote:If you're getting stuck with two ACs, you're doing something wrong because every correct answer is completely correct and every wrong answer is completely wrong. There's no gray area.

This is dead wrong. Many incorrect answer choices are partially right, with only one word or phrase making it wrong. For example, some questions ask you to identify what role a certain phrase plays in the argument. It could very well be that the phrase is a premise that supports the conclusion, but the answer choice could phrase an incorrect answer as "This is a premise that supports the conclusion that (incorrect conclusion)". Yes, it's a premise supporting the conclusion. No, that's not the conclusion.

um.... No