LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

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ccordero
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LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

Postby ccordero » Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:45 am

For LR Strengthen and/or Weaken questions, what's tripping me up is the fact that the normal rules I would apply to determine if an answer is out-of-scope doesn't apply since these types of questions ask on the basis of if the answers were true.

What ends up happening is that when I'm eliminating "clearly wrong" answers, I'll actually eliminate the correct answer, and then debate on choosing between two remaining incorrect answers (wasting considerable time) or I'll go through each answer and eliminate ALL of them and then I'll say WTF and then try to re-read and try again (wasting even more time).

Does anyone have any tips for me? I'm doing really well on Flaw and Assumption questions because I can eliminate answers without really thinking -- I just look for keywords to see if an answer is out-of-scope or not, but I'm struggling to make the shift for Strengthen and Weaken questions.

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cloudhidden
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Re: LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

Postby cloudhidden » Tue Aug 07, 2012 12:38 pm

I have the same struggles and often I feel like I select the least wrong answer. However, it has been helpful for me to focus on strengthening/ weakening the argument and not merely the conclusion. These questions ask you to find the same gaps in going from the evidence to the conclusion that other assumption questions require, but they take it one step further. There are many, many different ways to put into words how an argument might be strengthened or weakened, let alone the numerous abstract possibilities. I imagine that increased exposure to their subtlety can only help, although I too long await the day I no longer frown when I see them.

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gaud
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Re: LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

Postby gaud » Tue Aug 07, 2012 12:40 pm

cloudhidden wrote:I have the same struggles and often I feel like I select the least wrong answer. However, it has been helpful for me to focus on strengthening/ weakening the argument and not merely the conclusion. These questions ask you to find the same gaps in going from the evidence to the conclusion that other assumption questions require, but they take it one step further. There are many, many different ways to put into words how an argument might be strengthened or weakened, let alone the numerous abstract possibilities. I imagine that increased exposure to their subtlety can only help, although I too long await the day I no longer frown when I see them.


The bolded is/was the same for me. I always found it more helpful to work with the assumption. Stengthening or weakening the assumption will strengthen or weaken the question.

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Br3v
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Re: LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

Postby Br3v » Tue Aug 07, 2012 12:55 pm

if I understand your problem correctly, the solution is an easy one.

When you see a strength/weak stimulus, tell yourself to not do that lol.
Easier said then done haha. But for real, you need to understand that these questions are a different beast but easy to tame. Just ask yourself, if this was true, would it strengthen/weaken the argument? If yes then its the answer, if not then it is not the answer (of course swap that for EXCEPT questions)


So exchange your in/out of scope test with a does this help/not help test.

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cloudhidden
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Re: LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

Postby cloudhidden » Tue Aug 07, 2012 12:57 pm

Manhattan LSAT does a great job of covering assumption family questions in general, but I agree that the issue with scope can wreak havoc.

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Br3v
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Re: LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

Postby Br3v » Tue Aug 07, 2012 12:59 pm

Also remember that in these questions the answer can be virtually anything as long as it strengthens/weakens.
If the argument is John has a a Pepsi, he likes Pepsi and is thirsty, so he should drink it.

A correct strengthen argument could be "If John does not drink the pepsi he would instantly catch on fire, and john does not like to be on fire"

That sounds crazy but does it help the argument? YES

A correct weaken answer could be "This is the last Pepsi in the Universe and john could sell it for a Billion dollars if he doesnt drink it now"

That also sounds crazy and would fail your typical scope test but does it weaken the argument? YES

The point being the answers do not have to fit in any particular degree of scope.

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cloudhidden
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Re: LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

Postby cloudhidden » Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:13 pm

Also, it's very helpful to know exactly what the question stem asks for on these questions, as you cannot just think "okay, weaken question, let's undermine the conclusion.". Often these questions specifically ask you to address the evidence.

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ccordero
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Re: LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

Postby ccordero » Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:17 pm

I'm reading through the Manhattan LSAT LR book right now and sometimes it'll explain that an answer is wrong because it is too out-of-scope. I'm just trying to figure out how to determine what constitutes an out-of-scope answer with strengthen/weaken questions without an in-depth look into the answer choices... if this is possible.

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cloudhidden
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Re: LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

Postby cloudhidden » Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:27 pm

One technique is to study except questions because they give you a trove of somewhat tangential answers that the LSAT considers to be within scope. You have to learn what the LSAT considers true, not what's metaphysically true

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flem
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Re: LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

Postby flem » Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:29 pm

Also put yourself in the argument - if weakening, picture yourself as an opponent to the speaker. If strengthening, think of it as you're on the same side and you're adding an additional point that helps out.

Personalizing the argument can keep your more actively involved.

Mik Ekim
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Re: LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

Postby Mik Ekim » Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:18 pm

ccordero -- if u don't mind me asking, how are you defining, for yourself, what is "in scope" vs "out of scope" for a s/w question?

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ccordero
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Re: LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

Postby ccordero » Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:34 pm

ccordero -- if u don't mind me asking, how are you defining, for yourself, what is "in scope" vs "out of scope" for a s/w question?


To be honest, that's hard to really say... I'm looking for key words that pertain to what is discussed in the stimulus and something that affects the argument.

Allow me to give an example.

From PT29, S1, Q16 (recreated in Manhattan LSAT LR Book Pg. 249):
I basically interpreted the argument core as:

Conclusion: people who spoke Proto-Indo-European descended from a cold climate isolated from the ocean or sea.
Premise: Their language lacks a word for "sea," yet contains words for "winter," "snow," and "wolf."

On my initial run-through to eliminate obviously wrong answers, here's what I was thinking --
(A) I kept this at first because I thought that if their language had "fish" that means they weren't isolated from the ocean or the sea.
(B) This seemed to weaken the argument so I didn't eliminate it right away. (it ended up being the right answer)
(C) Eliminated this because I thought that it was out-of-scope since it was talking about languages today and the argument discusses proto-indo-european which is from the past.
(D) This seemed relevant so I kept it. I thought that if they didn't have a word for "sea," then actually having a word for "heat" could say something against living in a cold climate.
(E) Eliminated this because being nomadic seemed out-of-scope.

So I was left with A, B, and D.
I reviewed (A) again, and eliminated it because fish don't ONLY come from the ocean or the sea -- they could have found a fish in a lake.
I reviewed (B) again, and eliminated it (incorrectly) because it was talking about "Some languages" and I was unsure about whether that should matter since Proto-Indo-European might not be part of those "some" languages. In hindsight, I do realize that whether or not this is true, the answer choice weakens the argument but for some reason this isn't clicking with me while doing a problem.
I reviewed (D) again, and decided that it was wrong too because if they had a blanket they could have come up with a word for "heat" even if they were living in a cold climate.

After incorrectly eliminating B and correctly eliminating A C D and E, I was left with nothing. I was very confused.

I'm trying to break this "mind-block" so to speak...

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Br3v
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Re: LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

Postby Br3v » Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:35 pm

ccordero wrote:I'm reading through the Manhattan LSAT LR book right now and sometimes it'll explain that an answer is wrong because it is too out-of-scope. I'm just trying to figure out how to determine what constitutes an out-of-scope answer with strengthen/weaken questions without an in-depth look into the answer choices... if this is possible.


Give me an example.

A way it could potentially be out of scope could be something along the lines of:

Survey of children found that those who play outside eat hot dogs more often

an out of scope answer could be "a survey of adults found that those who work outside eat hotdogs more"

it has nothing to do with the children because it address adults and is thus "out of scope" in that regard.
The basic, does this help/weak the argument question applies here.

While this is a type of borderline example that I have seen go both ways, typically it does not effect the argument.

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ccordero
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Re: LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

Postby ccordero » Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:57 pm

Give me an example.

Given above! Thanks

Mik Ekim
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Re: LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

Postby Mik Ekim » Tue Aug 07, 2012 4:08 pm

I appreciate your thought out response --

I know it's just one question, but based on your description of your thought process, I think that perhaps your issues stem from underemphasizing one key step--the critical evaluation of how the support in the core relates to the conclusion.

You nailed it in terms of isolating the conclusion and the premise, but it seems that at that point you jumped into the answer choices --

Before you go into the answers, you want to think critically about the relationship between the support and the conclusion. For every single assumption family question, the support given does not justify the conclusion reached. It is essential you understand specifically why not. The idea of looking for an assumption, looking for a "gap," or looking for a flaw (the last of which is my personal favorite) are all in place in order to help you understand, in as clear a way as possible, the "hole" that exists between the support and the conclusion.

This "hole" should define your understanding of scope for strengthen/weaken questions. If you can't figure out the hole, then you have to go to the premise and conclusion (but many more of the answers will seem attractive), and if you can't find premise and conclusion then you would define scope in terms of the entire stimulus (in which case even more answers would seem attractive).

Thinking about the question you mentioned, once you get down to the core:

C: folks lived in cold climate isolated by ocean or sea
P: they don't have a word for "sea"

What I would be thinking (because I KNOW the argument MUST be wrong) is "Just because they don't have a word for sea don't mean they don't live near one." With this in mind, (B) seems much more "in scope."

Sorry for the long-winded response (especially because I could be totally off on what is causing you trouble) but I hope some of that is helpful.

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Re: LR Strengthen/Weaken Questions

Postby bp shinners » Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:58 am

gaud wrote:I always found it more helpful to work with the assumption.


This is why I call the entire Operation family "Flaw+ questions". If the argument was 100% valid, you couldn't weaken it (without knocking out a premise, which you don't do on the LSAT). If it was 100% valid, you couldn't strengthen it (because you can't be 101% valid).

So +/- questions will either have you make the assumption more likely to be true (strengthen) or less likely to be true (weaken).

In either case, I wouldn't really think about stuff being 'outside the scope', because sometimes you can relate a seemingly unrelated situation to the argument in question because of similar assumptions.

So instead of trying to find something that +/- the argument, first find the flaw/assumption in the question. Then, find an answer that would affect the likelihood of that assumption being true. It could be a blanket statement about the assumption. It could be a parallel situation where the assumption proved to be true/false. It could be a situation that makes it ever so slightly more/less likely that the assumption is true.

Whatever the case, it's going to affect the assumption, so that's what you should be looking at.




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