Just the Tip (of the Day)

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Dave Hall
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Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby Dave Hall » Thu Oct 18, 2012 5:25 pm

So, now that summer's over and I find myself with more time on my hands, I thought it might be fun to work through some LR problems, Velocity-style (which is almost the same as Gangnam Style, but with less screaming at girls' bottoms).

I plan to just pick a question every day from a recent test and explain it using my methodology. I'll try to pick questions that meet two criteria:

1. The problem shouldn't be too easy (cause then, what's the point?)

and

2. The problem should be fairly typical. Many of the most-difficult LR questions are hard precisely because they're different from most other questions. I'm going to try to pick questions that are more typical, so that they'll reveal insights about other questions you'll encounter.

Those criteria apply to my choices - if you have a question about any problem from any test, I'll gladly make my answer the Tip of the Day (no reason for you to try to tailor your questions, is what I'm saying).

While I plan to tackle a new problem every day, I anticipate that there won't be a new tip for every day - repetition is the soul of learning, and since pattern-recognition is at the heart of my method, I think we'll be well-served to see multiple examples of some important principles. In almost every case (and certainly today), we'll be talking about common ways in which arguments go wrong, and means of addressing those flaws.

And away we go!

----------------

TIP ONE

When an argument proposes a solution, to find the flaw, always ask yourself why that solution doesn't work.

----------------

54.2.24

This passage offers a solution to the problem of cows' um, methane emissions. I think it's somewhat difficult, because (1) the third sentence seems to indicate that the solution does work, and (2) Cow farts, ew.

However, since I know by pattern that I'm really trying to figure out why the solution fails (how did I know that? Because it was Tip One!), that knowledge leads me to examine that third sentence more closely. Notice that in that sentence, we're told the cows will produce less methane, but in the conclusion, we're told that such production can be "kept in check". And there it is! The difference! The reason that our solution won't work!

Let me back up a bit to explain: In the first sentence, we're told that the cow population is growing to meet demand, right?

So, given that growing population, the fact that better food lowers per-cow emissions does nothing to keep total emissions in check.

Like this: Right now, say there are 1,000 cows farting 15 times per day, so that we've currently got 15,000 daily cow emissions. Better food will lower those "emissions" to only 10 times per day, or just 10,000 instances. So, if we have the same number of cows, then yeah, sure - we'll totally have less methane.

However, we won't have the same number of cows - the population is growing! Soon, when we have 1,500 cows at 10 farts per day, we're right back up to the 15,000 emissions we started at, and methane has not been kept in check.

Any real solution to the cow/methane problem will have to account for the growth of the cow population. As written, this argument doesn't do that at all, and that's the flaw - this argument is broken because it has failed to scale its solution properly. Less methane per cow doesn't mean the total is kept in check, and that's particularly clear when we consider this growth potential we've been warned about in sentence one.

So, since I knew that I was looking for a reason that the solution didn't really work, I started thinking through the problem using that lens, and it clarified things for me in an actionable way.

Finally, in this instance, the question has asked me to make the argument better, so I want to assert the assumption (that better diets can somehow account for the growth problem, not just the per-cow emissions rate).

And (A) is now perfect for me! If better diets produce much more meat, then we're on our way to solving the growth problem, and our solution just got a lot more palatable.

And this is my big idea; that if you know - before going into it - what the problem with the argument is going to be, you'll be much more efficient at answering questions.

See you tomorrow with another Tip,

d
Last edited by Dave Hall on Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:32 pm, edited 1 time in total.

lsatkid007
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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby lsatkid007 » Thu Oct 18, 2012 9:01 pm

Hey DAVE,
I would like to submit a request for the "Tip of the Day". After surfing the forum, the I see many of fellow lsat brothers & sister having trouble with RC. It would be nice to see you tackle a RC passage Velocity/Gangnam style.

Thank You Big D

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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby gerrand » Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:37 pm

Wow, great explanation and Tip of the day

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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby Dave Hall » Fri Oct 19, 2012 6:44 pm

TIP TWO

When you encounter a dense/abstract/difficult RC passage, double down on your structural reading and on identifying the main point.
-----------------------

LSAT Reading Comp rewards structural reading - an engaged, active style of reading that focuses not on data points but instead on big picture items (like the author's main point and purpose). This feature is especially important in assessing difficult passages: often, you can answer a great many of the questions in a passage by appeal to the main point alone!

Today, we'll follow our dictum of examining a fairly difficult, but also quite typical, problem, applying our Tip generously throughout.

54.1.13-19

This was, to me, the most difficult passage on this test. I want to focus on how reading with an eye toward the main point (with a strong dose of structural thinking) can short-cut a whole lot of tedious investigation into details and data once we dive into questions.

After I've read the passage, I've come away with the understanding that Walker made the cakewalk popular for complex social reasons (I've got line 45 marked as my thesis sentence - the one sentence that most clearly gets across the author's main point). Notice two things right here:

1. I've taken the thesis of the passage and rendered it in my own language. I'm taking ownership.

2. I haven't re-written the passage. I have a good, working description of the passage that is not very detailed - it's enough to be meaningful, and no more.

Now, using only that main idea, I want to apply a structural mode of thought to the questions.

13.

(A) This is a passage about the cakewalk, not Walker - she was the medium through which the dance achieved popularity. This answer describes some other passage somewhere else.

(B) This answer picks out one reason as though it were more important than the others. Look back at our answer from above - there were complex reasons that the cakewalk became popular, not just one reason.

(C) This looks awfully close to our answer above.

(D) A perfect time for application of structural reading - this choice makes it sound as though this passage existed to compare Walker's version to other versions. However, where is such a comparison in the passage? If that were the main point (or, hell, even part of the main point), we would have indicated that in our answer! The structural wrongness of this choice allows us to eliminate without much concern.

(E) Whoa. The first?! If this were a passage about the first art form, wouldn't that have to be a bigger part of the text? I mean, just structurally speaking, if you had a passage whose point was that this thing was the very first of its kind, how could you miss that? You couldn't, and we didn't - this isn't a passage about the cakewalk being first - it's about the cakewalk being culturally complex, parodic, and popularized by Walker - the three components of correct answer (C).

Now, let's use that knowledge (complex, parodic, and Walkerized) to tackle the remaining questions:

14. Why mention socioeconomic flux in a passage about the complex cultural factors of a dance? Well, maybe to talk about how that flux interacted with the dance, right? So, now we must be looking at answer choices (A) and (D), both of which identify the interaction of culture and cakewalk. These answers are similar; we'll identify the correct one by assessing how they're different.

Notice that that's once again a structural issue - (A) says the culture was a necessary condition, where (D) says the culture was only a "favorable" condition. Here's another pro tip - when in doubt on RC, choose the smaller answer. It's much more likely that a passage has indicated that conditions were favorable than that they were necessary (because, really, how could you demonstrate that these circumstances were the only ones that could've given rise to the dance? How would we possibly know that?). And that likelihood is born out in this case.

15. Again, from our main point answer - Walker made the dance popular partly by blending in "the effects of later parodies". Thus, we want an answer in which something that was intended as a parody ends up becoming popular with the very audience it set out to satirize. The first three of these answers are close, but (A) doesn't tell us why (and why is the important part!), and (B) is popular with the wrong audience. Notice that again, when choosing between similar answers, I'm looking for their differences to isolate what makes the wrong ones incorrect.

16. Fetch. Nothing for it but to comb the passage for what the author wrote down. This one seems a little tougher than many other such questions we've seen, mostly because none of these answer choices seem ridiculous compared to our Main Point. We'll just have to find the place in the passage where the author says one of these things. Ah, yes; line 22 says what (E) says (notice that this also disproves (E) for #13, as it happens).

17. OK, remember; cakewalk + complex cultural forces + Walker = success! (A) is way too broad for this passage. (B)... Really? It's like the test writers thought they might fool someone by lifting some phrase out of the passage. This answer is about as coherent as a bonobo's ass. (C) again extends farther than the reach of this passage; the author just doesn't tell us about other art forms. We could really level precisely the same charge against (D). On the other hand, (E) reflects that main point again (interaction of cakewalk + culture), and once again is the smallest of these choices (remember our pro tip from #14?).

18. Again, main point, my ninjas! If (C) for #13 is the point, then (A) for #18 must be true! Also, notice again the structural reasons bad answers are bad: (B) (as did (B) in #13) acts like there's one most important point. Nonsense. (C) is flatly denied in the first sentence of the final paragraph ("...within her interpretation..."). (D) is the same foolishness we saw in (B) for #17. Honestly, it's the equivalent of jazz hands: "C'mon errybody! Mimetic Vertigo time!", and (E) is backward; Walker synthesized, she didn't analyze!

19. As with #16, we've just got to find the one that the passage says. Again, as with #16, this question is a little more difficult than some of its brethren from other passages, because none of these answer choices leap out as being absurd in relation to the main point. For (A), I can tell you what some of those attributes were: "gliding steps" and "an emphasis on improvisation" - as had to be the case in order to choose an answer choice, there is direct textual support at the very end of the first paragraph.

So, while there will always be those "fetch' questions that simply demand that we return to the text for answers, notice how many of these questions are answerable by appeal to structural concerns and a good apprisal of the main point of the passage.

Until tomorrow,

d

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Dave Hall
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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby Dave Hall » Sun Oct 21, 2012 10:26 pm

Tip Three

Conditional chains are the secret to answering most Sufficient Assumption questions nowadays.

---------------------

Syllogisms had their day in the sun (and - who knows - you still may see one or two on test day), but today's Sufficient Assumption questions are all about linking conditional statements. The basic idea is that you'll have an argument that presents you with one long conditional chain, from which one link is missing. To prove the claim, your job, then, is just to supply that missing link.

Like this:

All poodles are assholes. After all, poodles are white, overly-primped, and pretentious, and any animal that's got more in common with Paris Hilton than with Jay-Z is bound to be an asshole.

We can symbolize these relationships conditionally:

P [poodles] → W [white, primped, pretentious]

H [more Hilton than Hova] → A [asshole]

Thus, P [poodle] → A [asshole]

And you can see we've got most of a chain going on here:

P → W __ H → A

If we could just complete the chain by connecting W to H, we'd have full proof that poodles are assholes; the right answer to the question will supply that missing link. It'll just say that White, overly primped, pretentious things are more like Paris than like Jay [W → H].

Let's check this thinking out on a recent test question:

54.2.26

Let's start by symbolizing the argument:

D [Difficult to obtain replacement parts] → N [gov. will install New sirens]

N [New sirens] → S [Safety will be enhanced]

Thus, since No L [Local company is out-of-bidness] → S [Safety will be enhanced]

Again, we see the (almost) chain:

No L __ D → N → S

Now, if we can only establish that missing link between No L and D, we'll have our argument! Thus, we want an answer that says: No L → D.

And, hey, check out answer choice (D)! Plus, notice that (C), which gets us sort of close to what we wanted, doesn't close the deal - just because it was the only store in the area doesn't mean that the process is now difficult (think about Amazon - how difficult is it to order something that's not in your area?).

99 problems and a poodle ain't one,

d

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hallbd16
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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby hallbd16 » Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:21 am

Diggin' these posts! Keep 'em coming. Thanks alot

Will the questions keep coming from PT 54? I had it saved for later in my prep, but I will do it this week if I knew where your future questions are coming from. Thanks again.

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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby Theopliske8711 » Mon Oct 22, 2012 10:28 am

Awesome stuff!

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Dave Hall
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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby Dave Hall » Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:01 pm

hallbd16 wrote:Diggin' these posts! Keep 'em coming. Thanks alot

Will the questions keep coming from PT 54? I had it saved for later in my prep, but I will do it this week if I knew where your future questions are coming from. Thanks again.

You know, I didn't have a firm plan for that. I think the rest of this week will all come from that test, and then the next week from 55, then the week after from 56, etc.

I'll continue to identify the source right up top, so you can easily skip the tip if it's something you're saving for later.

d

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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby Dave Hall » Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:28 pm

Tip Four

The Necessary Assumption answer is likely to be small and squishy.

-------------------------

Here's what I mean: Consider an argument that says Alanis never took a college-level English course. It's therefore not surprising that she doesn't know the difference between irony and pathos.

What does college English have to do with irony? I dunno. This arguer has just assumed that they're related. The necessary assumption of this argument is something like this: College-level English helps people distinguish between irony and pathos. Clear?

OK, here's the thing; while we do need to know that there's a connection between these isolated ideas (English and irony), we don't have to know the precise nature of that connection, and we don't need to postulate any exclusivity about that relationship. Here are some examples of badly-written answer choices that may help clarify:

(A) College-level English is the only way to distinguish between irony and pathos

Nope; we don't have to know it's the only way, so long as it is one way!

(B) College-level English helps distinguish between irony and pathos by indicating formal categories for understanding each, and delinieating the salient characteristics that underlie those categories

Nope; again, while we do need to know that it helps, we don't need to know how it helps - college-level English could operate using a different mechanism than this one, and yet still help people distinguish between irony and pathos. We don't have to assume that it helps in this particular way. This answer is too precise to be necessary.

(C) College-level English is the most appropriate way of achieving an understanding of the distinction between irony and pathos

No once more - like (A), this choice is bigger than we need. We need to know that it's helpful, not necessarily that it's the most helpful.

(D) College-level English can help people distinguish between irony and pathos.

Thought I'd throw in a correct answer. We need this; if it isn't true (if there's no connection between our argument's two sentences), then why the hell are we going on about irony and pathos?

(E) College-level English gives all students a precise and correct understanding of the nature of irony, while simultaneously providing a rigorous investigation into the quantifiable components of pathos.

Yeah, right. This one's both too big and too specific to be necessary to our argument.

Let's put that thinking into practice, now.

54.4.24

The assumption of the argument is that the buildings that were demolished haven't been replaced! It totally helps that (E) says that, but even if I didn't have an argument to look at, and just had to guess based on answer choices, (E) would be my guess.

Same thinking as above:

(A) Why would we need such specificity? "evenly spread"? Who cares? Too specific.

(B) "Never"? Why would we need to assume that anything at all had never happened?

(C) We almost never need to know why something happened - far more frequently, we only need to know that the thing happened.

(D) "built on the same sites"? Why on earth would we have to know exactly where the new buildings were built? Way too specific.

And that's today's Tip.

Now, remember, all of this reasoning is a good general guide; it's a reference that should make you more efficient. These are not inviolable rules, but they are true for the great majority of Necessary Assumption questions.

Happy practicing,

d

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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby Dave Hall » Tue Oct 23, 2012 7:42 pm

Tip Five

For Method questions, keep the conclusion in mind as you describe the argument.

-----------------------

This one seems self-explanatory; let's put it into practice:

54.2.18

The right answer will describe the reasoning in the passage. Notice that the conclusion of this passage tells us a rule for when not to take a strong position on an issue.

That in mind, let's breeze through those answer choices. We want an answer that says something like "Don't take a position until you know all the facts," right?

OK:

(A) tells us when we can take a position. Different description.

(B) tells us how we're supposed to consider evidence, not when to avoid taking a position. Doesn't describe this passage.

(C) tells us when we should not take a position. Looks like a winner.

(D) tells us when we should try to learn the facts. No good.

(E) tells us... what!? This says you should only take a position if you have "important evidence" that you're wrong?! Whoa. Crazy-town.

And that, as the cool kids can tell you, is that.

Your description can be as simple as "This author believes [X] because [Z]", but make sure you're including the conclusion in your description. Cuts out a lot of mental heavy lifting that way.

Best,

d

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Dave Hall
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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby Dave Hall » Wed Oct 24, 2012 10:09 pm

Tip Six

Any time you see a sample population referenced, ask yourself why that sample isn't representative (cause for sure it isn't).

-----------------------

Consider an argument:

So, I'm awesome at basketball. What? Don't believe me? Here's the proof: I make 62% of my attempts. You know MJ, and how he's supposed to be so good? Greatest of all time and all that? Yeah, well he's lifetime 49.7% on his attempts. So, there. Awesome.

OK; did you notice the sample poplulation in that argument? I make nearly two-thirds of my attempts. In order for you to know whether that makes me a good basketball player, you need some more info - you need to know whether the sample population of my attempted shots is representative. Whether it's a meaningful slice.

Because if it is a representative sample - if my attempts are similar to MJ's, then it does look like I might be a better scorer than he was.

On the other hand, if you found out that the only time I attempt a shot is when I get a free throw, then maybe my 62% of attempts made isn't really that impressive (for comparison, MJ was over 83% lifetime from the line) - in other words, the sample doesn't tell the story unless you know what the sample represents!

Now, let's apply that thinking to a recent question.

54.4.20

Do you see it now? The exact same sampling error as in my basketball argument?

And here's the beauty part - if we can recognize that error (instead of having to try to evaluate what's wrong with the argument, we just see that there's a sampling problem), then we can head into answer choices knowing exactly what kind of answer we want.

Since we're making the argument better, I want an answer that tells me that the sample population (those times when we forecast rain for the next day) is meaningful.

Armed with that idea, I really only have to look at (A) and (E) - none of the others even try to address the sample.

If (A) is true, then we're getting a better percent of a larger number than anyone else is. Now, that sounds like we actually are more reliable!

If (E) is true, then super - at least some of our competitors are behaving similar to our forecasting methods - but how does that help us prove that we're better than they are?

And this again is the big idea - if we can recognize rather than analyze, our work becomes faster, more efficient, and more correct.

Happy practicing,

d

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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby Dave Hall » Thu Oct 25, 2012 8:04 pm

Tip Three Redux

Conditional chains are the secret to answering most Sufficient Assumption questions nowadays.

------------------------

Repetition. The score you save may be your own. Own.

Own.

54.2.13

Let's take a symbolic approach to the passage:

First sentence: What's this got to do with anything? You're right. This is useless. Let's move on.

Second sentence: No C [don't attract consumers] → B [bankrupt]

Conclusion: No Q + No P [not highest quality and not best price] → B

And again, we have ourselves an (almost) chain:

No Q + No P __ No C → B

In order to prove No Q + No P → B, we just need to fill that blank spot there - we want a connection between Q+P and C. So let's find an answer choice that says No Q + No P → No C.

Hey! Look at answer choice (B)!

And the conditional chain strikes again.

Sweet jambalaya!

d

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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby Platodium » Fri Oct 26, 2012 9:44 pm

i didn't know the guy from community was so good at the lsat :wink:

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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby Lawquacious » Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:43 pm

Dave Hall wrote:Tip Four

The Necessary Assumption answer is likely to be small and squishy.

-------------------------

Here's what I mean: Consider an argument that says Alanis never took a college-level English course. It's therefore not surprising that she doesn't know the difference between irony and pathos.

What does college English have to do with irony? I dunno. This arguer has just assumed that they're related. The necessary assumption of this argument is something like this: College-level English helps people distinguish between irony and pathos. Clear?

OK, here's the thing; while we do need to know that there's a connection between these isolated ideas (English and irony), we don't have to know the precise nature of that connection, and we don't need to postulate any exclusivity about that relationship. Here are some examples of badly-written answer choices that may help clarify:

(A) College-level English is the only way to distinguish between irony and pathos

Nope; we don't have to know it's the only way, so long as it is one way!

(B) College-level English helps distinguish between irony and pathos by indicating formal categories for understanding each, and delinieating the salient characteristics that underlie those categories

Nope; again, while we do need to know that it helps, we don't need to know how it helps - college-level English could operate using a different mechanism than this one, and yet still help people distinguish between irony and pathos. We don't have to assume that it helps in this particular way. This answer is too precise to be necessary.

(C) College-level English is the most appropriate way of achieving an understanding of the distinction between irony and pathos

No once more - like (A), this choice is bigger than we need. We need to know that it's helpful, not necessarily that it's the most helpful.

(D) College-level English can help people distinguish between irony and pathos.

Thought I'd throw in a correct answer. We need this; if it isn't true (if there's no connection between our argument's two sentences), then why the hell are we going on about irony and pathos?

(E) College-level English gives all students a precise and correct understanding of the nature of irony, while simultaneously providing a rigorous investigation into the quantifiable components of pathos.

Yeah, right. This one's both too big and too specific to be necessary to our argument.

Let's put that thinking into practice, now.

54.4.24

The assumption of the argument is that the buildings that were demolished haven't been replaced! It totally helps that (E) says that, but even if I didn't have an argument to look at, and just had to guess based on answer choices, (E) would be my guess.

Same thinking as above:

(A) Why would we need such specificity? "evenly spread"? Who cares? Too specific.

(B) "Never"? Why would we need to assume that anything at all had never happened?

(C) We almost never need to know why something happened - far more frequently, we only need to know that the thing happened.

(D) "built on the same sites"? Why on earth would we have to know exactly where the new buildings were built? Way too specific.

And that's today's Tip.

Now, remember, all of this reasoning is a good general guide; it's a reference that should make you more efficient. These are not inviolable rules, but they are true for the great majority of Necessary Assumption questions.

Happy practicing,

d


Dave Hall go away dude. You've lost your credit. Even if you are a psychometric genius, as you essentially claim to be, you've lost your cred on TLS. Go away dude and advertise in other channels.

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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby LexLeon » Fri Oct 26, 2012 11:14 pm

Dave, I appreciate your advice and welcome you to this community. Thank you for your help; it has certainly done well to increase my understanding of the test.

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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby lsatkid007 » Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:42 pm

Don't worry Dave. We love you and appreciate all the help.

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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby JamMasterJ » Sat Oct 27, 2012 4:45 pm

Lawquacious wrote:
Dave Hall wrote:Tip Four

The Necessary Assumption answer is likely to be small and squishy.

-------------------------

Here's what I mean: Consider an argument that says Alanis never took a college-level English course. It's therefore not surprising that she doesn't know the difference between irony and pathos.

What does college English have to do with irony? I dunno. This arguer has just assumed that they're related. The necessary assumption of this argument is something like this: College-level English helps people distinguish between irony and pathos. Clear?

OK, here's the thing; while we do need to know that there's a connection between these isolated ideas (English and irony), we don't have to know the precise nature of that connection, and we don't need to postulate any exclusivity about that relationship. Here are some examples of badly-written answer choices that may help clarify:

(A) College-level English is the only way to distinguish between irony and pathos

Nope; we don't have to know it's the only way, so long as it is one way!

(B) College-level English helps distinguish between irony and pathos by indicating formal categories for understanding each, and delinieating the salient characteristics that underlie those categories

Nope; again, while we do need to know that it helps, we don't need to know how it helps - college-level English could operate using a different mechanism than this one, and yet still help people distinguish between irony and pathos. We don't have to assume that it helps in this particular way. This answer is too precise to be necessary.

(C) College-level English is the most appropriate way of achieving an understanding of the distinction between irony and pathos

No once more - like (A), this choice is bigger than we need. We need to know that it's helpful, not necessarily that it's the most helpful.

(D) College-level English can help people distinguish between irony and pathos.

Thought I'd throw in a correct answer. We need this; if it isn't true (if there's no connection between our argument's two sentences), then why the hell are we going on about irony and pathos?

(E) College-level English gives all students a precise and correct understanding of the nature of irony, while simultaneously providing a rigorous investigation into the quantifiable components of pathos.

Yeah, right. This one's both too big and too specific to be necessary to our argument.

Let's put that thinking into practice, now.

54.4.24

The assumption of the argument is that the buildings that were demolished haven't been replaced! It totally helps that (E) says that, but even if I didn't have an argument to look at, and just had to guess based on answer choices, (E) would be my guess.

Same thinking as above:

(A) Why would we need such specificity? "evenly spread"? Who cares? Too specific.

(B) "Never"? Why would we need to assume that anything at all had never happened?

(C) We almost never need to know why something happened - far more frequently, we only need to know that the thing happened.

(D) "built on the same sites"? Why on earth would we have to know exactly where the new buildings were built? Way too specific.

And that's today's Tip.

Now, remember, all of this reasoning is a good general guide; it's a reference that should make you more efficient. These are not inviolable rules, but they are true for the great majority of Necessary Assumption questions.

Happy practicing,

d


Dave Hall go away dude. You've lost your credit. Even if you are a psychometric genius, as you essentially claim to be, you've lost your cred on TLS. Go away dude and advertise in other channels.

*credibility

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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby jmart154 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:47 pm

Dave, I like what you're doing here. Keep on keepin' on.

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Dave Hall
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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby Dave Hall » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:25 pm

Hey, guys,

Thanks for the kind words! I'm glad you're finding this helpful.

As I write this, Frankenstorm Sandy is bearing down on the East Coast; I hope you guys are safe and dry.

On to the next tip:

TIP SEVEN

Recognizing flaws by type - instead of by analysis - makes your work faster and more effective!

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So, you wanna go to Yale Law, eh? Well, consider this argument:

In order to get into Yale, you're going to have to gain access to a #2 pencil. You don't have to own the pencil outright - you can borrow it, or rent one, or you could finance one if you can find someplace that'll give you a reasonable interest rate - but you do need to have a pencil you can use. If you don't have a pencil, you won't be able to take the LSAT (can't do it in pen), and if you don't take the LSAT, you won't be admitted to Yale. Therefore, since Leroy has procured for himself a particularly fine yellow #2 round-bodied Ticonderoga pencil, we'll be sure to see him headed off to Yale next year.

OK, this one's pretty easy, right? I mean, it's obvious that having a pencil isn't enough to guarantee you'll get into Yale. The evidence has told us - correctly! - that having a pencil is necessary for admission to Yale. You need it. However, that certainly doesn't mean that it's all you need, and in this ridiculous argument, it's easy to see the flaw - you'll need a lot more than a pencil to get into Yale. But I bring it up not because it's so easy to spot here, but instead because it will help illustrate the utility of seeing flaws like this one by type, instead of having to analyze the problem with each argument individually as it comes up.

In this example, we're given a clear case of confusing necessary and sufficient conditions - a pencil is necessary to get into Yale, but our conclusion acts as though it were sufficient to get into Yale.

And if we can recognize that this is a type of flawed reasoning that recurs on this test, we can recognize it even in instances where it may be less obvious than in the Yale/pencil argument above.

Let's apply:

54.4.14

You see it? The same exact error as in the above? The group of researchers has claimed that for the antenna to work, it must be symmetrical and fractal. Those criteria are necessary. And now we recognize that their necessity does not indicate that they are enough to make the antenna work.

And this expert asshat is pretending to have proved the researchers wrong by showing that symmetry and fractal-(-ity? -ication? -ness?) are not sufficient to ensure the antenna works equally at all frequencies. But the fact that those criteria are not sufficient has nothing to do with the question of whether or not those criteria are necessary! The expert has confused the ideas of sufficiency and necessity!

Schmexpert.

By seeing this argument as exhibiting a type of flaw, I know very quickly what I'm looking for from the right answer - the argument is bad because it has mixed up necessary and sufficient factors. Hellll-oo, answer choice (D)!

Stay warm, stay dry, and let me know if you find a reputable pencil purveyor (preferably one that accepts someone who may have lost his credit).

Best,

d

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Paraflam
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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby Paraflam » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:38 pm

Dave Hall wrote:Stay warm, stay dry, and let me know if you find a reputable pencil purveyor (preferably one that accepts someone who may have lost his credit)

BAM!

This is awesome, Dave, thanks for doing this! :D

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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby ams212 » Mon Oct 29, 2012 7:55 pm

Tag

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Dave Hall
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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby Dave Hall » Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:53 pm

Tip Six Redux

Any time you see a sample population referenced, ask yourself why that sample isn't representative (cause for sure it isn't).

-----------------------

We've seen this one before; check out how it keeps coming up!

55.1.24

The advertisement tells us that the ones who lost the most weight had followed a certain dietary regimen. Then the ad claims that anyone who follows that regimen will be sure to shed pounds.

The flaw in this passage is the same as the one we looked at last time we mentioned Tip Six; since the conclusion has equated the biggest weight losers with anyone who follows the regimen, it has thereby assumed that the sample population is representative of anyone in the world.

Another way of saying that is to say that it has ignored the possibility that the sample is not representative of everyone.

So, given the question we've been asked, as we head into answer choices, we're looking for a choice that tells us that the people who had followed that regimen (protein > carbs, big breakfast) are not representative of everybody on Earth.

First, notice that (A), (B), (C), and (E) are talking about users of some other regimen. Who cares about that?

Second, and most important, notice that (D) tells us explicitly that the biggest losers are not representative of everybody - some people used their regimen without any success. In other words, there's some reason that the people on that regimen who lost the most weight are different, and therefore not representative.

Samples! Whee!

d

lsatkid007
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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby lsatkid007 » Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:26 pm

Hey Mr Dave
I am anxiously waiting for your tip of the day.

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Dave Hall
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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby Dave Hall » Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:40 pm

lsatkid007 wrote:Hey Mr Dave
I am anxiously waiting for your tip of the day.

Sorry it took so long!

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Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Postby Dave Hall » Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:56 pm

Tip Eight

Parallel questions are Method questions in drag.

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You know how when you're at New York City's hottest club, Whesh, and you see that really hot looking-- Wait. I don't think I like where this is going. Let's just say that Parallel questions function in pretty much exactly the same way as Method questions, and leave the metaphors to themselves.

Really, the only difference is that in a Parallel question, the right answer will exemplify the description, rather than simply describing the passage (as we saw with Method answer choices).

55.3.23

So, given our tip, let's begin by describing the passage. Here's my description: These two things share an attribute, so thing Two must be a kind of thing One.

With that in mind, let's take a look at answer choices:

(A) Where is the conclusion that thing Two is a type of thing One? Nowhere! This doesn't match our description, and it's therefore out.

(B) Ooh - good start. All the way up until the end, when it should've concluded "...poetry is a kind of plastic art...", but instead concluded some other nonsense about the nature of the verbal narrative blah blah.

(C) Organisms have this characteristic. Communities have it, too. Thus, thing Two (communities) is a kind of thing One (organisms). I've got goose bumps.

(D) I can find no similarity between this answer and our passage.

(E) This one, like (B) starts great. But unlike (B), it takes a shift for the terrible pretty quickly. The second sentence explicitly tells us that thing Two is NOT a kind of thing One. Totally different method of arguing.

Have a great weekend,

d




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