How do I know when I should diagram in LR?

Mateudn
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How do I know when I should diagram in LR?

Postby Mateudn » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:38 pm

Hi everyone, that's my first post here, and I want to thank you for any response in advance.

I've read the PowerScore LR Bible and begun drilling question types. And I've noticed that in pretty much every question one could draw some sort of diagram (causal, conditional). However, I've also noticed that I lose valuable time diagramming on these questions but I end up not using the diagrams to answer the questions. Thus, my question: How does one know when to diagram?

ps: I've researched but couldn't find anything.

Again, Thanks.

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Mattalones
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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?

Postby Mattalones » Tue Mar 20, 2012 11:27 pm

This might sound obvious, but diagram only when it helps. I am assuming you're talking only about the kind of questions that rely on deductive logic. Many questions don't lend themselves to diagraming very well. A lot of the time, you'll be able to just track the logic from the language. Of course, spending up front time diagraming during initial exposure will help that come more naturally. That doesn't mean you should beat a dead horse, though. Once you earn a certain level of familiarity, you can rely on it. To earn it, just make sure you can answer certain question types consistently.

Obviously, you wouldn't have to diagram this unless you're learning how to diagram: "All Xs Y. S doesn't Y. Thus, S isn't an X." However, you might need to diagram this if you're still getting the hang of things (or least some part of it): "Sally sometimes goes to the store in the afternoon, but she never goes a week without a store trip. In the past 20 days, she has only been to the store twice." If you are comfortable enough with the bare language, you'll instantly notice that Sally must go to the store on the 21st day, which may or may not be in the afternoon.

For a longer one, you may think diagraming is a good idea just to keep track of things: "Apple have stems. Colors have pigments. Nothing without a stem lacks color, and things lacking pigment are invisible by definition." It is hard to notice offhand that apples aren't invisible (common knowledge aside, of course). You can get it by diagraming: (A -> S), (C -> P), (S -> C), (~P <-> I). If you have an apple (A), then you get S, which gives C, which in turn yields P. By negative implication P gives ~I. While it is a bit mechanical, it can help for problems with a lot of terms like this one.

Mateudn
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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?

Postby Mateudn » Wed Mar 21, 2012 3:07 am

First of all, thanks for the reply Mattalones. Second, I understand what you're saying and I've already learned that I don't have to diagram simple information from the stimulus, such that X, Y, and S example you gave. In fact, I'm talking about the situation when you have a not-so-intuitive stimulus, and on top of that you can spot a bunch of "if...then" sentences, for example, the stimulus from PT 11 Section 2 pg 123:

Here I immediately noticed many "if...then" sentences and when I started reading the stimulus, I felt I would have some hard time with it. Therefore, I began diagramming everything that I could. However, I ended up answering(correctly) the question without any help from the diagrams. Perhaps, after I read the question stem and noticed it was a Main Point Question, I focused on the conclusion only and kind of disregarded the rest.

So, should I read the whole stimulus, then question stem, and then start diagramming?

ModEdit: Don't quote LSAT questions, just refer to them.
Last edited by Clint Eastwood on Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Quoting LSAT

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Mattalones
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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?

Postby Mattalones » Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:48 am

I think it is a good idea to know what the question is asking of you before doing anything. So, read it first. A lot of time, diagraming isn't needed. I can take a look at the question you mention if you PM me. Others as well. It has been a while since I took the test, though. I'm a 2L and took it a couple years before law school. That's not to say I don't remember how to do them, but some of the terminology I use may revert to y training in logic rather than official LSAT speak.

Mateudn
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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?

Postby Mateudn » Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:45 pm

That's exactly what I was thinking. In the LR Bible they say NOT to read the question stem upfront, but I think is much more insightful to attack the stimulus knowing what type of question you're facing. Moreover, to some types of question no diagram is needed at all, even if it's a fairly complicated question to keep tracked.

I've read the whole bible and now I'm starting to drill question types. I can already "see" that timing it's gonna be my biggest challenge because I'm planning on a very high score, and I know one must master the timing aspect of the LSAT in order to do it.

bp shinners
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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?

Postby bp shinners » Wed Mar 21, 2012 4:27 pm

Mateudn wrote: In the LR Bible they say NOT to read the question stem upfront


That's one of the biggest differences between Blueprint (us) and PowerScore, and one that I think is extremely important, as reading the stem upfront makes answering the question significantly easier, in my opinion.

To your question, outside of the keywords themselves (if, then, only, without, etc...), the question type is going to dictate if you should be diagramming.
For instance:
Must Be True - diagram about 50% of the time
Soft Must Be True (most strongly supported by the above, best illustrated by the above) - diagram about 10% of the time, and those times are almost always principle questions (i.e. "Which one of the following is most strongly supported by the principle stated above?")
Must Be False - there's one strong rule in the stimulus about 50% of the time that is often helpful to diagram
Sufficient Assumption - diagram about 50% of the time
Necessary Assumption - diagram occasionally
Parallel - diagram about 30-50% of the time
Parallel Flaw - diagram on occasion; if it's diagrammable, the flaw is probably a sufficient/necessary flaw (or a quantifier flaw)

This is off the top of my head - I might be forgetting one or two. The big ones to diagram, though, are Parallel, Must Be True, and Sufficient Assumption questions - look to diagram them, if possible.

Mateudn
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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?

Postby Mateudn » Wed Mar 21, 2012 5:03 pm

bp shinners wrote:
Mateudn wrote: In the LR Bible they say NOT to read the question stem upfront


That's one of the biggest differences between Blueprint (us) and PowerScore, and one that I think is extremely important, as reading the stem upfront makes answering the question significantly easier, in my opinion.

To your question, outside of the keywords themselves (if, then, only, without, etc...), the question type is going to dictate if you should be diagramming.
For instance:
Must Be True - diagram about 50% of the time
Soft Must Be True (most strongly supported by the above, best illustrated by the above) - diagram about 10% of the time, and those times are almost always principle questions (i.e. "Which one of the following is most strongly supported by the principle stated above?")
Must Be False - there's one strong rule in the stimulus about 50% of the time that is often helpful to diagram
Sufficient Assumption - diagram about 50% of the time
Necessary Assumption - diagram occasionally
Parallel - diagram about 30-50% of the time
Parallel Flaw - diagram on occasion; if it's diagrammable, the flaw is probably a sufficient/necessary flaw (or a quantifier flaw)

This is off the top of my head - I might be forgetting one or two. The big ones to diagram, though, are Parallel, Must Be True, and Sufficient Assumption questions - look to diagram them, if possible.


I understand what you saying. Yet, my question is is there any way to know upfront whether or not to diagram those 50% of the questions that must be diagrammed or one has to read the whole question first and then realize " I might need to diagram this one "? This is likely to make one rereads the whole question because if it's hard enough to require a diagramming, it probably is hard enough for one to remember the specifics that must be diagrammed.

Do I make sense?

bp shinners
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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?

Postby bp shinners » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:16 am

Mateudn wrote:I understand what you saying. Yet, my question is is there any way to know upfront whether or not to diagram those 50% of the questions that must be diagrammed or one has to read the whole question first and then realize " I might need to diagram this one "? This is likely to make one rereads the whole question because if it's hard enough to require a diagramming, it probably is hard enough for one to remember the specifics that must be diagrammed.

Do I make sense?


Ah, gotcha. In that case, I say diagram every sentence you see with a keyword in it. But that's just a personal preference - I like to have sentences boiled down to their basics so I can quickly check answer choices against them. It's also easier for me to see Keyword->Diagram than "Diagram the statement whenever you see a keyword." It might be an easy question that I could otherwise answer in my head, but diagramming takes maybe 2 seconds, and I'll probably save that 2 seconds checking the answer choice against my diagram instead of a full sentence.

The one caveat here is if you see quantifiers. If there are a bunch of Mosts and Somes, I skip diagramming because I probably can't combine anything there. The best example of this is the Bach chorale preludes question. The first half of the question throws 'some's around all over the place, and the second half talks in absolutes. Skip the somes, diagram the alls, and you get your answer.

Mateudn
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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?

Postby Mateudn » Fri Mar 23, 2012 12:41 pm

bp shinners wrote:
Mateudn wrote:I understand what you saying. Yet, my question is is there any way to know upfront whether or not to diagram those 50% of the questions that must be diagrammed or one has to read the whole question first and then realize " I might need to diagram this one "? This is likely to make one rereads the whole question because if it's hard enough to require a diagramming, it probably is hard enough for one to remember the specifics that must be diagrammed.

Do I make sense?


Ah, gotcha. In that case, I say diagram every sentence you see with a keyword in it. But that's just a personal preference - I like to have sentences boiled down to their basics so I can quickly check answer choices against them. It's also easier for me to see Keyword->Diagram than "Diagram the statement whenever you see a keyword." It might be an easy question that I could otherwise answer in my head, but diagramming takes maybe 2 seconds, and I'll probably save that 2 seconds checking the answer choice against my diagram instead of a full sentence.

The one caveat here is if you see quantifiers. If there are a bunch of Mosts and Somes, I skip diagramming because I probably can't combine anything there. The best example of this is the Bach chorale preludes question. The first half of the question throws 'some's around all over the place, and the second half talks in absolutes. Skip the somes, diagram the alls, and you get your answer.



Thanks a lot again. I think I'm heading to the right direction because I've noticed on my own some things that you saying (i.e. few questions with some and most need diagramming). I believe I'm improving since I'm "seeing" the conclusion easier now then before. So far I have drilled 20 MBT questions (got 13 right) and 20 Main Point (got 18 right), yet the Main Point questions took less time and less thinking to conclude. Are they easier? I ask because I was happy thinking the I was improving but then I'm drilling Weaken Questions now, and boy are these questions confusing to me.

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glucose101
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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?

Postby glucose101 » Fri Mar 23, 2012 3:02 pm

Main Conclusion questions should be easy because, generally, for every question you should be (mentally) identifying the main conclusion anyhow. Very little thinking is required.




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