lovejopd wrote:"the best trap answer immediately precede the correct answer choice"
This statement is really true for especially LR.
Yes, the order of correct answer choice among 5 is NOT random.
The same goes for Game section as a lot of "Could be" Answer choice is "A" Imagine ALL Could be answer choices are "E" It would take more than 2-3 minutes added to 8 min 30 sec rule. I believe that test makers take into consideration the time each question normally requires.
It is true that the order of the answer choices is not random.
However, it is not true that the most attractive trap answer/sucker choices (meaning the incorrect answer choice that the largest percentage of test takers that answered the question incorrectly selected) usually precedes the correct answer choice. Also, the incorrect answer choice that is attractive to one person can be different than the one another person thinks is correct and selects. Many of the high difficulty LR questions have multiple attractive sucker choices.
The design of the test is very sophisticated in a way so that there are no brainless shortcuts (meaning a trick to use without applying logic, reasoning and analysis to the substance of the question and answer choices) you can apply universally that will boost your score beyond your current ability level.
The LSAT punishes people that do not prepare well and rewards people that do. It is a test that motivated people with brain power can significantly improve their score on by putting in quality study/prep time work and effort.
As a matter of design, the LSAT is constructed so that people that try to use simple brainless/cut and dry -- just do this simple thing every time-- tricks rather than applying logic and reading skills end up choosing an incorrect answer choice on many of the questions, especially on the high difficulty rated ones.
One of the many factors involved in answer choice order is designed to make sure that each (A) through (E) choice is the correct answer close to 20% in the pool of correct answers spanning ALL
administered test forms overall so that there is no easy blind guessing or other simple trick/strategy that will help substantially boost somebodies score higher than their ability level.
The 20% frequency per answer choice letter is not held constant per section nor per test-form. The LSAT is constructed that way intentionally. If anybody that reads this does not believe me, take the time to tally up the numbers and percentages per section and per test, put the data into a spreadsheet or some other program to compare the various statistics and you will see what I'm talking about.
To see that the idea that the trap answer is usually right above the correct answer choice is not true, here are a few recent examples:
PT #61 October 2010 Section 4 (second LR)
LSAC did a study/experiment a while back where they administered experimental sections with the same questions and same answer choices but put the answer choices in a different order in the several versions of the experimental sections they used to do the experiment. There is at least one LSAC study report about it that is still available if you dig into their resources area.
Any-hoo, bottom line: just focus on learning the basic logical concepts tested, improve your reading, grammar/vocabulary (buy and use a dictionary) and reasoning skills, learn the format of the test and solid logically based strategies to attack the questions. Stop stressing about the psychometrics and other things that are out of your control with the intention of finding some sort of easy shortcut/trick, doing that is a fools errand.
First, I completely agree with you. lovejopd took part of my post out of context, and the result is that it seems he (without meaning to) implied this assumption that this must always be the case. Of course it doesn't and there are many cases where that doesn't hold true.
I also agree that I don't think there is any favorable ordering of could be true answers in LG being A. I've certainly never noticed it.
However, I think it would be foolish, on questions when you have no justifiable base for choosing one among two or three choices, to not factor in the likelihood that a very attractive trap answer tends to precede the correct answer choice quite often. My claim is that most people have no trouble ruling out 2-3 of the answer choices for a lot of question types, and these garbage answers are designed to lure you toward a trap answer generally speaking.
I consider a "clever trap" choice to be something that involves language in the stem and that manipulates it in a seemingly non-obvious way. If you can pick up on it (and you should be able to identify these in most cases if you read closely enough initially), then that's great. But if you can't, are pressed for time, and have eliminated all but two answer choices, if the one preceding the two is garbage, there's a good chance the first answer is a trap choice and the second is correct.
I realize the implication here, but the issue is that there is no brainless shortcut here, and to learn and master this method already requires a significantly better understanding of the test than most test takers have. It's something that might give the top few percent an advantage will not providing any boon for the bulk of test makers (and in fact, likely hindering them).
I also agree that the distribution of answer choices is random across questions, but within the questions, the distribution of false answer choices has a tendency to conform to a few canned distributions. There is NO substitute for picking the best answer, but taking advantage of answer choice trends can definitely help you when you're in a bind and pressed for time. It's something you may (hopefully) never have to use, but at least for me, mastering the LSAT involves being prepared for damage mitigation. If I am genuinely stumped, I can't spend all day on the question, and may not have time to reconsider later. In this case, I might use something like answer choice trends to choose an answer and move on.
Further, while there's no reason to doubt the questions you've listed as being exceptions to this trend (and I haven't ordered a copy of that PT yet), it certainly doesn't disprove the general trend.
Essentially, I agree with the reasoning behind why you don't think it's a good idea to focus on these kinds of strategies, and I agree with you that they are by no means a substitute for just picking the correct answer. For certain question types (formal logic, parallel, etc) it's unlikely there can't be at least a few very attractive choices because they must cover most of the possibilities of error. I also think it would be foolish to bank on this strategy for a given section.
However, as a method of last resort under time constraints, I strongly feel there is some credence to be lent to trend-spotting as a means to choose an answer and move on. In fact, to imply that they are not random also implies that certain wrong answer choices are more attractive than others, and that the order of the wrong answer choices relative to the correct one is at least somewhat important. And if there is some intentional ordering, at least I believe that there are a few thought processes that guide the ordering and appear quite often.
edit: and thanks for that link!