some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Mik Ekim
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Mik Ekim » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:35 pm

relevantfactor wrote:
Mik Ekim wrote:which make up the majority of LR questions and an even higher majority of the most difficult LR questions -- reasoning structure is the key to everything. You could even argue that it's the only thing that really matters.

While I agree with everything else, I have to disagree to that statement. Reasoning structure is not the key to everything nor is it the only thing that matters, and if one chose to argue that point of view, he would be wrong. Here's a counter-example that illustrates just that:
PT16, LR#2, #15
A doesn't have the same error of reasoning as the stimulus, however, the reasoning structure is the same as C and obviously the same as the stimulus.


Hey Relevantfactor -- I'm embarrassed to say that I can't wade through all the junk I've written to find that quote, but per what you are saying I can definitely see, I think, the point you are making -- I certainly don't mean that seeing flaws is not important -- it's hugely important -- sorry if my wording gave a different impression.

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relevantfactor
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby relevantfactor » Wed Sep 26, 2012 3:41 pm

Mik Ekim wrote:
relevantfactor wrote:
Mik Ekim wrote:which make up the majority of LR questions and an even higher majority of the most difficult LR questions -- reasoning structure is the key to everything. You could even argue that it's the only thing that really matters.

While I agree with everything else, I have to disagree to that statement. Reasoning structure is not the key to everything nor is it the only thing that matters, and if one chose to argue that point of view, he would be wrong. Here's a counter-example that illustrates just that:
PT16, LR#2, #15
A doesn't have the same error of reasoning as the stimulus, however, the reasoning structure is the same as C and obviously the same as the stimulus.


Hey Relevantfactor -- I'm embarrassed to say that I can't wade through all the junk I've written to find that quote, but per what you are saying I can definitely see, I think, the point you are making -- I certainly don't mean that seeing flaws is not important -- it's hugely important -- sorry if my wording gave a different impression.


Lol, it's alright. I figured you were saying something else, just clarifying an obvious point for those seeking advice in a later date.

NightmanCometh
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby NightmanCometh » Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:05 pm

Hi Mike,

This is some pretty amazing stuff...thanks a lot.

My LR problems are now confined specifically to a particular subset of Inference type questions; these are very rarely discussed by prep materials that I've read and I was wondering if you could offer your thoughts.

The inference questions I am having problems with are the ones that require that have subtle "leaps", or "warranted assumptions." Most of the time these have a "Most strongly supported" question stem. The reason I have problems with these is because I have trained myself to read so critically as to not take anything for granted in a stimulus, so if it is not clearly implied from the text, I regard it as "could be false". So what happens for these questions is that I go through the answer choices and eliminate every single answer choice, because for the answer is not directly implied in the stimulus.

To give a quick example, there's a late PT50s problem (PT59 S3 21) discussing the QWERTY keyboard format. The stimulus explained that the QWERTY keyboard was designed for a typewriter, in a way to prevent early typewriters from jamming by making it awkward to type, and that otherwise another keyboard format could be used to type faster. The answer was "If the keyboard was developed for use by a computer, then it would not have been designed to limit typing speed." Just looking at the answer choice, I began thinking "well not necessarily, what if there was an additional reason to slow down typing on early computers?" Of course, I guess in hindsight it goes against common sense a bit (bc other than jamming, why else limit typing speed?). But the fact is that the stimulus did not specifically state that it was ONLY with the jamming in mind that they developed the keyboard that way.

At what point do I draw the line between common sense and an unwarranted assumption? How do I get better at navigating these subtle assumptions? Is there a particular thing I should be focusing on with regards to the stimulus? Thanks very much in advance if you have some ideas!

Mik Ekim
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Mik Ekim » Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:15 pm

You are absolutely right to see some of those "most supported" questions as being quite unique relative to other LSAT questions -- the right answers are commonly not 100% justifiable. Along with Explain the Discrepancy, Most Support is the question type that consistently leaves me feeling the least satisfied in terms of finding a right answer that fits live a glove. Regardless, I still have 100% confidence that I'll get these questions correct -- if you don't mind, I'll take a bit of a roundabout way of explaining why --

First, can you think of the biggest structural difference between these two math questions?

1. What is 2 + 3?
(A) 3
(B) 4
(C) 5

2. Which of these is an odd number?
(A) 2
(B) 3
(C) 4

In the first case, the question stem completely determines the answer -- I know 2 + 3 is 5, I do the work, and I look for 5. I really spend no time thinking about the other answers.

In the second case, I'm looking for certain characteristics in the answer choices -- I know 3 has what I am looking for, but I also know that 2 and 4 do not. The accurate LSAT way to make this decision if your life depended on it would be to first eliminate the numbers that are not odd, then confirm (maybe by trying to divide by two) that the remaining answer is indeed odd.

It's important to remember that Most Support are far more like the second of those math problems than the first. The other important factor to think of is what I call "the test writer's burden." The test writer MUST come up with clear distinctions between the right answer and the four wrong answers -- that's his job.

As we discussed, when it comes to Most Support questions, right answers are commonly not slam-dunk provable. So, how do they clearly differentiate that right answer from the wrong ones?

By making the wrong ones slam-dunk bad. The nature of the question is such that the wrong answers are always very clearly wrong, and (just like in an orientation question for a logic game) it's much easier to see why wrong answers are wrong than to see why the right answer is right.

So, all this is just a long-winded way of saying that I really believe the elimination process is critical for solving these questions, and that has to do with the way the questions are designed. If I were asked to describe what right answers to these questions feel like, I would say "pretty reasonable." If I walk into the answer choices for a Most Support question with a mindset that I'm going to see which answer sounds "pretty reasonable," these questions are really hard -- a lot of answers seem pretty reasonable. If I walk in thinking "why don't these match the text," (and keep in mind that for the first round of eliminations I'm looking for significant, not subtle, differences in content or meaning) wrong answers jump out. Even for the hardest questions, after the elimination process, the vast majority of time I will have just one answer to really carefully evaluate and deem "reasonable."

HTH - please let me know if you have any follow up q's and good luck.

Mik Ekim
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Mik Ekim » Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:33 pm

I should also respond about the QWERTY question! I hate that question!

Is the right answer predictable or provable? No, and during the test I absolutely hate having to pick a right answer like this. Who is to say that computers don't have some internal issue that requires limiting typing speed?

But if I'm looking out for wrong answer characteristics, the issues in the other answers jump out much faster --

(A) is tempting but not all non-qwerty keyboards are faster than qwerty - in real time i may need to glance back at "keyboard configurations more efficient than qwerty" (which shows that the stimulus is much narrower in scope than answer) to confirm answer.
(B) makes no sense - has typewriter tech gotten worse?
(C) makes no sense - they were designing for their time, not the future - we don't not include wheels with cars now because we may not need wheels on cars in 70 years.
(D) is definitely not provable by the text, and goes against the general meaning

In real time, I would certainly have eliminated (B) - (D), and almost certainly (A) - (D) (depending on how well I happened to read A) by the time I got to (E).

When I read (E), my first reaction is that it is jarring and unexpected. But I know right answers to questions can seem that way (remember, right answers to most supported q's' are not predictable, and test writers sometimes like to go to the other end of the spectrum from "predictable" -- "unexpected.") I also know that the keyboard was designed to limit typing speed, and I remember that was "because" of the design of the typewriter. So, to me, (E) is pretty reasonable. If it was one in a sea of reasonable answers, I don't think I'd like it too much, but since it's the only one standing, and, much more importantly, since I know the others are wrong, I'm okay with it.

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BlaqBella
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby BlaqBella » Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:34 pm

Mik Ekim wrote:I should also respond about the QWERTY question! I hate that question!

Is the right answer predictable or provable? No, and during the test I absolutely hate having to pick a right answer like this. Who is to say that computers don't have some internal issue that requires limiting typing speed?

But if I'm looking out for wrong answer characteristics, the issues in the other answers jump out much faster --

(A) is tempting but not all non-qwerty keyboards are faster than qwerty - in real time i may need to glance back at "keyboard configurations more efficient than qwerty" (which shows that the stimulus is much narrower in scope than answer) to confirm answer.
(B) makes no sense - has typewriter tech gotten worse?
(C) makes no sense - they were designing for their time, not the future - we don't not include wheels with cars now because we may not need wheels on cars in 70 years.
(D) is definitely not provable by the text, and goes against the general meaning

In real time, I would certainly have eliminated (B) - (D), and almost certainly (A) - (D) (depending on how well I happened to read A) by the time I got to (E).

When I read (E), my first reaction is that it is jarring and unexpected. But I know right answers to questions can seem that way (remember, right answers to most supported q's' are not predictable, and test writers sometimes like to go to the other end of the spectrum from "predictable" -- "unexpected.") I also know that the keyboard was designed to limit typing speed, and I remember that was "because" of the design of the typewriter. So, to me, (E) is pretty reasonable. If it was one in a sea of reasonable answers, I don't think I'd like it too much, but since it's the only one standing, and, much more importantly, since I know the others are wrong, I'm okay with it.


But how do we know this? Nothing in the stimulus suggests that (E) must be true. Isn't this answer choice also speculation?? It only speaks of typing speed in relation to typewriters, not computer boards. I just don't get it.

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CardozoLaw09
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby CardozoLaw09 » Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:48 pm

BlaqBella wrote:
Mik Ekim wrote:I should also respond about the QWERTY question! I hate that question!

Is the right answer predictable or provable? No, and during the test I absolutely hate having to pick a right answer like this. Who is to say that computers don't have some internal issue that requires limiting typing speed?

But if I'm looking out for wrong answer characteristics, the issues in the other answers jump out much faster --

(A) is tempting but not all non-qwerty keyboards are faster than qwerty - in real time i may need to glance back at "keyboard configurations more efficient than qwerty" (which shows that the stimulus is much narrower in scope than answer) to confirm answer.
(B) makes no sense - has typewriter tech gotten worse?
(C) makes no sense - they were designing for their time, not the future - we don't not include wheels with cars now because we may not need wheels on cars in 70 years.
(D) is definitely not provable by the text, and goes against the general meaning

In real time, I would certainly have eliminated (B) - (D), and almost certainly (A) - (D) (depending on how well I happened to read A) by the time I got to (E).

When I read (E), my first reaction is that it is jarring and unexpected. But I know right answers to questions can seem that way (remember, right answers to most supported q's' are not predictable, and test writers sometimes like to go to the other end of the spectrum from "predictable" -- "unexpected.") I also know that the keyboard was designed to limit typing speed, and I remember that was "because" of the design of the typewriter. So, to me, (E) is pretty reasonable. If it was one in a sea of reasonable answers, I don't think I'd like it too much, but since it's the only one standing, and, much more importantly, since I know the others are wrong, I'm okay with it.


But how do we know this? Nothing in the stimulus suggests that (E) must be true. Isn't this answer choice also speculation?? It only speaks of typing speed in relation to typewriters, not computer boards. I just don't get it.


It doesn't have to be 100% true though. The question asks, "which one of the following is most strongly supported." That isn't the same thing as "which one of the following must be true."

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BlaqBella
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby BlaqBella » Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:54 pm

CardozoLaw09 wrote:
BlaqBella wrote:
Mik Ekim wrote:I should also respond about the QWERTY question! I hate that question!

Is the right answer predictable or provable? No, and during the test I absolutely hate having to pick a right answer like this. Who is to say that computers don't have some internal issue that requires limiting typing speed?

But if I'm looking out for wrong answer characteristics, the issues in the other answers jump out much faster --

(A) is tempting but not all non-qwerty keyboards are faster than qwerty - in real time i may need to glance back at "keyboard configurations more efficient than qwerty" (which shows that the stimulus is much narrower in scope than answer) to confirm answer.
(B) makes no sense - has typewriter tech gotten worse?
(C) makes no sense - they were designing for their time, not the future - we don't not include wheels with cars now because we may not need wheels on cars in 70 years.
(D) is definitely not provable by the text, and goes against the general meaning

In real time, I would certainly have eliminated (B) - (D), and almost certainly (A) - (D) (depending on how well I happened to read A) by the time I got to (E).

When I read (E), my first reaction is that it is jarring and unexpected. But I know right answers to questions can seem that way (remember, right answers to most supported q's' are not predictable, and test writers sometimes like to go to the other end of the spectrum from "predictable" -- "unexpected.") I also know that the keyboard was designed to limit typing speed, and I remember that was "because" of the design of the typewriter. So, to me, (E) is pretty reasonable. If it was one in a sea of reasonable answers, I don't think I'd like it too much, but since it's the only one standing, and, much more importantly, since I know the others are wrong, I'm okay with it.


But how do we know this? Nothing in the stimulus suggests that (E) must be true. Isn't this answer choice also speculation?? It only speaks of typing speed in relation to typewriters, not computer boards. I just don't get it.


It doesn't have to be 100% true though. The question asks, "which one of the following is most strongly supported." That isn't the same thing as "which one of the following must be true."


Thanks. But where in the stimulus supports this answer choice?

wwUSMC84
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby wwUSMC84 » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:12 pm

BlaqBella wrote: Thanks. But where in the stimulus supports this answer choice?


It never explicity provides support for this in the stim, but in the first sentence it refers to the fact that one of the reasons QWERTY was developed was to limit typing speed. It then proceeds to give the reason why it was done for early keyboards on typewriters; they would jam if adjacent keys were struck. It is implied that there was a concrete mechanical reason why this was done. Computers lack this requirement to prevent a mechanical malfunction. Therfore one can make this inference that if the QWERTY keyboard had been developed for computers it would have been done for some other reason besides speed.

Hope that helps.

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BlaqBella
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby BlaqBella » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:16 pm

I guess what I do not appreciate with this question is the test-taker has to rely on the outside assumption that the keyboard is designed for non-computers (ie humans).

I just didn't think we could bring an outside assumption (or common knowledge) and apply it to an inference question!

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BlaqBella
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby BlaqBella » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:19 pm

wwUSMC84 wrote:
BlaqBella wrote: Thanks. But where in the stimulus supports this answer choice?


It never explicity provides support for this in the stim, but in the first sentence it refers to the fact that one of the reasons QWERTY was developed was to limit typing speed. It then proceeds to give the reason why it was done for early keyboards on typewriters; they would jam if adjacent keys were struck. It is implied that there was a concrete mechanical reason why this was done. Computers lack this requirement to prevent a mechanical malfunction. Therfore one can make this inference that if the QWERTY keyboard had been developed for computers it would have been done for some other reason besides speed.

Hope that helps.


RE: the bolded, again, this is relying on a fact outside LSAT world. Ugh.

So now I know there are different type of inference questions (ie MBT v. Most Supported v. Possible other type?). UGH.

Thanks for explaining.

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MikeSpivey
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby MikeSpivey » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:25 pm

I'm glad I read this.

I am retired from law school admissions and my law schools administration days but was thinking about doing something similar (how to get in to law school--myths and realities...or something like that) based on having read so many applications over the years and having traveled with and gotten to know many deans of admissions at other law school. I wasn't sure how this would be viewed but it seems like this is very much value-added and appreciated by the moderators and folks on TLS so I very well might do this.

wwUSMC84
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby wwUSMC84 » Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:48 pm

BlaqBella wrote:
wwUSMC84 wrote:
BlaqBella wrote: Thanks. But where in the stimulus supports this answer choice?


It never explicity provides support for this in the stim, but in the first sentence it refers to the fact that one of the reasons QWERTY was developed was to limit typing speed. It then proceeds to give the reason why it was done for early keyboards on typewriters; they would jam if adjacent keys were struck. It is implied that there was a concrete mechanical reason why this was done. Computers lack this requirement to prevent a mechanical malfunction. Therfore one can make this inference that if the QWERTY keyboard had been developed for computers it would have been done for some other reason besides speed.

Hope that helps.


RE: the bolded, again, this is relying on a fact outside LSAT world. Ugh.

So now I know there are different type of inference questions (ie MBT v. Most Supported v. Possible other type?). UGH.

Thanks for explaining.


You can rely on information outside the LSAT world, but you must be careful to what extent you make logical leaps. If something can be assumed to be a fact that most people would reasonably be expected to know, i.e. some dogs have short snouts, you are safe. However, if you make a huge leap to say, all dogs have short snouts, that is outside common sense and cannot be assumed reliably.

In the QWERTY question it is not unreasonable that the LSAT author assumes that an average person would generally know that a computer does not rely on mechanical means to accomplish the transference of user input.

NightmanCometh
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby NightmanCometh » Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:08 pm

Mik Ekim wrote:You are absolutely right to see some of those "most supported" questions as being quite unique relative to other LSAT questions -- the right answers are commonly not 100% justifiable. Along with Explain the Discrepancy, Most Support is the question type that consistently leaves me feeling the least satisfied in terms of finding a right answer that fits live a glove. Regardless, I still have 100% confidence that I'll get these questions correct -- if you don't mind, I'll take a bit of a roundabout way of explaining why --

First, can you think of the biggest structural difference between these two math questions?

1. What is 2 + 3?
(A) 3
(B) 4
(C) 5

2. Which of these is an odd number?
(A) 2
(B) 3
(C) 4

In the first case, the question stem completely determines the answer -- I know 2 + 3 is 5, I do the work, and I look for 5. I really spend no time thinking about the other answers.

In the second case, I'm looking for certain characteristics in the answer choices -- I know 3 has what I am looking for, but I also know that 2 and 4 do not. The accurate LSAT way to make this decision if your life depended on it would be to first eliminate the numbers that are not odd, then confirm (maybe by trying to divide by two) that the remaining answer is indeed odd.

It's important to remember that Most Support are far more like the second of those math problems than the first. The other important factor to think of is what I call "the test writer's burden." The test writer MUST come up with clear distinctions between the right answer and the four wrong answers -- that's his job.

As we discussed, when it comes to Most Support questions, right answers are commonly not slam-dunk provable. So, how do they clearly differentiate that right answer from the wrong ones?

By making the wrong ones slam-dunk bad. The nature of the question is such that the wrong answers are always very clearly wrong, and (just like in an orientation question for a logic game) it's much easier to see why wrong answers are wrong than to see why the right answer is right.

So, all this is just a long-winded way of saying that I really believe the elimination process is critical for solving these questions, and that has to do with the way the questions are designed. If I were asked to describe what right answers to these questions feel like, I would say "pretty reasonable." If I walk into the answer choices for a Most Support question with a mindset that I'm going to see which answer sounds "pretty reasonable," these questions are really hard -- a lot of answers seem pretty reasonable. If I walk in thinking "why don't these match the text," (and keep in mind that for the first round of eliminations I'm looking for significant, not subtle, differences in content or meaning) wrong answers jump out. Even for the hardest questions, after the elimination process, the vast majority of time I will have just one answer to really carefully evaluate and deem "reasonable."

HTH - please let me know if you have any follow up q's and good luck.


Amazing explanation- thanks so much! This concept is something that other LSAT teachers have failed to explain clearly to me in the past, and I think it's been a problem that ironically gets worse as I do more LSAT practice as I tend to read more and more critically. Very impressed. I guess I will approach these as finding "the best of the worst" and hope that I just don't get a weird one on test day..thanks!

Ron5150
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Re: some thoughts on how to get to 170 and beyond

Postby Ron5150 » Mon May 06, 2013 10:16 am

+1




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