Strengthen isn't my strength :(

User avatar
cc.celina
Posts: 602
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 1:17 pm

Strengthen isn't my strength :(

Postby cc.celina » Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:02 pm

I just got yet another strengthen question wrong in a way that is becoming a pattern and I don't know how to fix it. Help!!

Take PT 60, S3, Q21 (minivans) as an example:

I picked C. My internal reasoning went something like this:
"Well, the stimulus tries to explain why minivans have less injuries/vehicle. In accidents, they're no better than other big cars at protecting passengers, so he concludes that they're probably driven by low-risk drivers, presumably lowering injury/vehicle ratio by avoiding accidents in the first place. But what if minivans have less injuries/vehicle simply because they have less PASSENGERS per vehicle than most other cars, while continuing to get in accidents at the same rate? C rules out this alternative explanation, making it more likely that minivans are driven by low risk drivers."

I understand that E strengthens the argument by adding evidence that minivans are not only NO SAFER than other big cars, but actually LESS SAFE than other big cars. The reason I didn't pick E is because the "other vehicles of similar size" part. I had identified the switch in the stimulus from "other vehicles of similar size" to just plain old "other vehicles," and was specifically looking for an AC that fixed that gap. Not finding one, I looked for ACs that ruled out alternative explanations, hence C.

I'm less interested in knowing why I got this particular question wrong and more in figuring out why I suck at strengthen questions. I continually can't distinguish between ACs that CAN strengthen and ACs that DO strengthen, and they're the only ones I stay confused about after I've had fifteen minutes to stare at them.

Help! How do I get better at strengthen questions? Don't say "do more," I bought the cambridge "strengthen" packet and did the entire thing and reviewed the ones I got wrong/wasn't sure about. I try to do this on all my pt's too. LSAT q&a says I stand to gain an entire point if i start getting these right more often.

Does anyone else have this difficulty? what did you do to beat it? am i just going about this whole thing wrong?

User avatar
princeR
Posts: 308
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:10 pm

Re: Strengthen isn't my strength :(

Postby princeR » Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:39 pm

Maybe you need to approach them in a different way and not just, "I need to strengthen the argument". Try this:

1. Treat it as a necessary assumption question:
- There is a gap in the argument, you need to find that gap (nec. assumption) and ASSERT the truth of that assumption, after all, you are trying to strengthen the argument.

2. Think about some of the more common argument types:
- Causal argument: To strengthen a causal argument you can; eliminate other causes for the effect, assert the cause causes the effect, deny that both are the effect of another cause
- Prescriptive argument: The author is telling you to DO something. You need to assert that it will work or that it won't have the same negatives as whatever (if there is) other method
- Ascriptive argument: The author just told you that some other position is wrong and gave you some evidence as to why that is, assert that the given evidence actually matters for the conclusion.
- Choice: The author explains something and gives one reason for it, assert that that thing is the most important or is necessary.

Think of it this way, if it's a strengthen question, you KNOW that you can strengthen it. Thus, there needs to be something wrong/missing from the argument. If you ever get lost, just refer back to the conclusion, you need to strengthen this.

As to 60.3.21, I was very proud of myself when I got this one right.
Look at what the author tells us, they are safer primarily because they are driven by low-risk drivers. So, how do we ASSERT this? Either reinforce this idea by giving us evidence that this is true (safer drivers so drive minivans) OR negate other causes for the safety of minivans (the care isn't actually inherently safer).
Answer choice E does this perfectly by telling us that minivans are actually have many features about the car itself that make it pretty unsafe. So, this helps establish that it could primarily be the drivers.

User avatar
cc.celina
Posts: 602
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 1:17 pm

Re: Strengthen isn't my strength :(

Postby cc.celina » Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:47 pm

princeR wrote:1. Treat it as a necessary assumption question:
- There is a gap in the argument, you need to find that gap (nec. assumption) and ASSERT the truth of that assumption, after all, you are trying to strengthen the argument.


This is good advice, but too often I identify the wrong gap. In this question I thought the gap was the link between "minivans are safer than other vehicles of similar size" and "minivans are safer than other vehicles, period" which made me eliminate E.

Either reinforce this idea by giving us evidence that this is true (safer drivers so drive minivans) OR negate other causes for the safety of minivans (the care isn't actually inherently safer).


But I thought C DID rule out an alternative explanation, e.g. that the statistics are misleading and minivans just appear to be safer because they generally carry less passengers.



The common argument types may be a key to solving my issue, though. Thanks for suggesting the different approach, I'll definitely try this in the next few sections I try.

User avatar
princeR
Posts: 308
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:10 pm

Re: Strengthen isn't my strength :(

Postby princeR » Wed Jun 06, 2012 7:56 pm

Well, your identification of the gap was completely wrong, so yes, that would make it difficult. How did you think that was the gap? Look at the conclusion of the argument. The gap is that we have NO evidence for the conclusion that it must be primarily low-risk drivers contributing to the safety of the vehicle.

User avatar
cc.celina
Posts: 602
Joined: Fri May 25, 2012 1:17 pm

Re: Strengthen isn't my strength :(

Postby cc.celina » Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:11 pm

Right, I acknowledged that I was wrong, but even if I had immediately identified the right gap, E doesn't actually offer any evidence in favor of low risk drivers, right? I mean, it basically revises the claim "minivans aren't safer" to "minivans are less safe." At which point the gap is still there - we STILL don't have any evidence that low risk drivers tend to pick minivans. I could even see myself thinking this would weaken, since why would low risk drivers pick inherently risky cars?!

Am I overthinking? How do I stop overthinking?

User avatar
princeR
Posts: 308
Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:10 pm

Re: Strengthen isn't my strength :(

Postby princeR » Wed Jun 06, 2012 8:52 pm

It take away other potential causes for our conclusion to not stand. Like I said, we have made the claim that it is the low-risk drivers that are contributing to the safety of minivans, that is, low-risk drivers are the cause, the effect is minivans are safe. To strengthen this we need to either assert this causal explanation by stating how this is accurate, maybe some studies indicating this, OR, explain how other things (causes) are not contributing to the effect (minivan safety). Answer choice E does the later in that it takes away other considerations that could contribute to the minivans safety.

If you were to tell me that minivans actually have terrible brake systems, well, than that definitely hurts the argument that it is the minivans inherent safety and therefore supports our conclusion that it is probably the low-risk drivers contributing to the safety of minivans.




Return to “LSAT Prep and Discussion Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: 180orDie, BobBoblaw and 8 guests