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### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:54 pm
And ladies and gentlemen he's back. Welcome back Dave.

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 10:58 pm
Tip nine: Photoshop

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:03 pm

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:10 pm
Tagged for future reference. Thanks Dave!

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:25 pm
lsatkid007 wrote:And ladies and gentlemen he's back. Welcome back Dave.

Thank you very much.

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:26 pm

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:26 pm
jrsbaseball5 wrote:Tagged for future reference. Thanks Dave!

Nice! I'll keep it up - hopefully a little less sporadically - until the December test.

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:38 pm
Wormfather wrote:Back to the lab with you! Giving out free advice to the masses. Pft.

BTW, you better have a good joke for !Kung in the video. Zones as well. So many people suffered from them.

Oh, no! I'm going to disappoint you!

Because of the mass suffering caused by Effing Zones, I decided to make full explanations for that game (and all the rest of the test) available for free through the December test. However, I didn't make any jokes - good or otherwise - in that whole video, and now I feel very bad about it. (I'll be uploading the other videos over the weekend).

Slinking back down to the lab,

d

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:47 am
Tip Nine

When looking for the Main Conclusion, make sure you're checking out the "but".

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

Not every single time you're asked for the main conclusion will it be true that the argument includes a "but" - just a whole awful lot of the time. The idea is that many, many arguments exist in order to dispute an ascribed position, like this:

It has often been said that vanilla is the boringest ice cream flavor, but that's unlikely to be true, since vanilla is white and creamy.

The whole purpose of that argument is to rebut the commonly-held belief that vanilla is a boring flavor, and we identify that purpose structurally, by noticing the "but...since" construction - "but that's unlikely...since vanilla". The conclusion lives near the "but."

In this case, right after it: this argument wants us to believe that vanilla is not likely to be the most boring ice cream.

Let's check out one of these in the wild:

55.1.18

You see it? The "however" buried in the middle of the passage? There's our conclusion!

Now check out (E) OMG IT'S JUST LIKE THE "HOWEVER" I CAN'T STOP YELLING.

And that's the deal; when you get a "but" in a passage, examine it closely - you're almost certainly near the main conclusion.

We'll look at another construction with "but" in a future post (and again find the conclusion lurking nearby).

d

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 8:53 pm
Tip Nine Redux

When looking for the Main Conclusion, make sure you're checking out the "but".

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

Last post, I said we'd look at another construction that highlights the conclusion using the word "but" - what I'll call the "but...so" construction.

It works like this:

Some people say that Community is not the greatest show on TV. However, these people are ignorant sluts, so we can be sure they're wrong.

Here, the "but" is still all up on the conclusion, only this time, it's introducing the evidence that leads to the conclusion in the next clause of the sentence:

"...but [I have all this evidence], so [here's my conclusion]".

Let's check it out on a real test question:

54.2.11

This argument gives us a slight modification, in that the "so" part of the sentence is left hanging - the last sentence is a fragmented "but", missing its "so" - it's like the speaker got cut off midsentence: "But there has been no such publicity... so a store won't be opening up."

And just like that, we've got answer choice (B).

(B)itchin'.

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:18 pm
Hey Big D. No matter how much I try I can't seem to get a perfect on any RC passages. No matter how long I take. It's different for LG & LR. With them if I take long enough I can get the right AC. The passages (I think) I understand I only get like 60% or less right and passages that blow me away I get 80% or more right. Any suggestions?

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 10:58 pm
Dave Hall wrote:Tip Nine Redux

When looking for the Main Conclusion, make sure you're checking out the "but".

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

Last post, I said we'd look at another construction that highlights the conclusion using the word "but" - what I'll call the "but...so" construction.

It works like this:

Some people say that Community is not the greatest show on TV. However, these people are ignorant sluts, so we can be sure they're wrong.

Here, the "but" is still all up on the conclusion, only this time, it's introducing the evidence that leads to the conclusion in the next clause of the sentence:

"...but [I have all this evidence], so [here's my conclusion]".

Let's check it out on a real test question:

54.2.11

This argument gives us a slight modification, in that the "so" part of the sentence is left hanging - the last sentence is a fragmented "but", missing its "so" - it's like the speaker got cut off midsentence: "But there has been no such publicity... so a store won't be opening up."

And just like that, we've got answer choice (B).

(B)itchin'.

Community + vintage SNL references make me happy.

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:30 pm
lsatkid007 wrote:Hey Big D. No matter how much I try I can't seem to get a perfect on any RC passages. No matter how long I take. It's different for LG & LR. With them if I take long enough I can get the right AC. The passages (I think) I understand I only get like 60% or less right and passages that blow me away I get 80% or more right. Any suggestions?

So, there's a real disconnect between your understanding of the passage/answer choices and the test writers'.

Fortunately, I think there's a very actionable solution for that; we'll call it reverse engineering.

Instead of reading a passage and picking the answers that seem right to you (you've tried that; it didn't work), start now from the right answers from the key. Then, compare those answers carefully against the passage. Why do the test writers say (C) is correct? They've got to have a reason - what does the passage say about it?

From this vantage point, you may begin to pick up cues that are present in the passage that could indicate what the right answer is likely to look like, so that in the future your work can align more closely with the test writers' conception of passages.

Try that on a few passages (maybe two tests' worth) and let me know how it goes, OK?

d

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:33 pm
mrizza wrote:
Community + vintage SNL references make me happy.

Me too!

Because what's life without funny TV as a filter?

Also, do you think Community will still be great when it comes back without Dan Harmon this year?

I'm a little despairing of that (and also regretful that I've maybe flown my nerd flag a little too high).

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:44 pm
Dave Hall wrote:
mrizza wrote:
Community + vintage SNL references make me happy.

Me too!

Because what's life without funny TV as a filter?

Also, do you think Community will still be great when it comes back without Dan Harmon this year?

I'm a little despairing of that (and also regretful that I've maybe flown my nerd flag a little too high).

Funny TV = my opiate

I think it will be funny, because most of the writers are staying, but it has to have a different feel. His attitude is what let them do claymation, 16-bit and all the other weird theme episodes. If the NBC MBAs get their hands on the wheel all of those oddities will be gone. I'm watching no matter what though. At least until AD comes back!

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Mon Feb 04, 2013 9:38 pm
Last year, I did a series here on how to approach answer choices when you've got two remaining and you're trying to decide. I'm going to reprint those tips here.

Because why not?

Inference Questions

For inference questions, remember that the right answer is something that you can prove based on the passage, right?

So, think about it this way: If you have four or five lines' worth of passage, how likely is it that in those few lines you'll be able to prove that "Most successful entrepreneurs have engaged in and enjoyed carnal relations with root vegetables"? Not likely at all, right? I mean, to prove it, you'd have to know how many successful entrepreneurs there are in the world, plus how many of them have engaged in the disgusting relationships indicated here. And if a passage had told you that much information, it would be too easy to answer.

Instead, you're much more likely to prove that "At least some successful entrepreneurs have engaged in and enjoyed carnal relations with root vegetables." To so prove, you don't need to know how many successful entrepreneurs there are in the world, and you don't need to know how many of that aggregate have filthy, filthy habits. You'd only need one example in order to prove that "some" enjoy those relations.

What I'm saying is this:

When you've got it down to two choices in an Inference question, choose the one with smaller, softer language every time. Generally, you'll eschew words like most, usually, all, never, and only, in favor of words like some, sometimes, not all, and not always.

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Tue Feb 05, 2013 9:38 am
Dave Hall wrote:Last year, I did a series here on how to approach answer choices when you've got two remaining and you're trying to decide. I'm going to reprint those tips here.

Because why not?

Inference Questions

For inference questions, remember that the right answer is something that you can prove based on the passage, right?

So, think about it this way: If you have four or five lines' worth of passage, how likely is it that in those few lines you'll be able to prove that "Most successful entrepreneurs have engaged in and enjoyed carnal relations with root vegetables"? Not likely at all, right? I mean, to prove it, you'd have to know how many successful entrepreneurs there are in the world, plus how many of them have engaged in the disgusting relationships indicated here. And if a passage had told you that much information, it would be too easy to answer.

Instead, you're much more likely to prove that "At least some successful entrepreneurs have engaged in and enjoyed carnal relations with root vegetables." To so prove, you don't need to know how many successful entrepreneurs there are in the world, and you don't need to know how many of that aggregate have filthy, filthy habits. You'd only need one example in order to prove that "some" enjoy those relations.

What I'm saying is this:

When you've got it down to two choices in an Inference question, choose the one with smaller, softer language every time. Generally, you'll eschew words like most, usually, all, never, and only, in favor of words like some, sometimes, not all, and not always.

Hey Dave, great info, really appreciate it. Wondering if you have similar advice for picking between two tricky RC ACs-- especially the general questions that ask for an inference in the passage where it is very hard to look at one specific spot since the ACs are all over the place in the passage.

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:18 pm
gobosox wrote:Hey Dave, great info, really appreciate it. Wondering if you have similar advice for picking between two tricky RC ACs-- especially the general questions that ask for an inference in the passage where it is very hard to look at one specific spot since the ACs are all over the place in the passage.

Yes!

In fact, my general advice for RC is precisely the same; since the answer is only ever what we know from the passage, it is likely (though, remember, not certain) that the correct answer is small - if I ever have to choose, I'll choose the one that says the least and I'll feel good about it.

Here's my thoughts in a bit more detail:

In the RC, every question asks you what is supported "according to the passage," right? That means, of course, that the right answer to every question in the RC can be found within the passage that's on the page next to you. It tells us that the answer is available in print. That's something - it means that if we look efficiently enough, we can be guaranteed of finding the correct answer. I love RC because it's like an Easter-egg hunt in this way. The answers are all right there, just waiting to be uncovered. It's so great! So, that's one thing.

What it also says for us, that we may overlook, is that all RC questions are Inference questions. Every one asks us - explicitly or in essence - what we can prove on the basis of the passage. This means that the answers to all RC questions are Inference answers - the right answer choice, then, will tend very strongly to be small.

So, for all RC questions, when choosing between two answer choices, choose the smaller of the two. Exactly the way we talked about Inference questions in Part 1.

One other thing:

Imagine two answer choices, when you've been asked for the author's attitude. (A) says "scornful" and (D) says "critical." I can tell you right now, without any passage to reference, that the correct answer between those two has to be (D). I don't need any evidence at all in order to be positive in my choice.

Here's why: if an author is "scornful," then she must also be "critical." It isn't possible to express scorn without the element of criticism. So it isn't possible for "scornful" to be correct in this instance - if (A) were true, then (D) would also have to be true. And it's not possible to have two correct answers. On the other hand, it's entirely possible to be critical of someone without being scornful of her. There's no reason that (D) can't be true without needing (A).

In RC, when in doubt, choose the smaller answer.

You'll be right most of the time.

d

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Fri Feb 15, 2013 11:31 pm
And now, for Sufficient Assumption Questions:

These questions demand of you that you provide an answer that, if true, would be sufficient to prove that the argument's conclusion is true. And proof? That means that it's impossible for that conclusion to be false.

That's a really big job. How do you do that?

I mean, how do you prove, in a sentence, that some claim is true? It would take some heavy-duty information to do that, right?

So, expect that the right answer to a Sufficient Assumption question will be big. Expect it to employ what I call Load-Bearing language (the kind of language that can bear the burden of proof).

Words like all and always and never and every and only. Also superlatives - words like best and first and smartest and weakest and surest.

When choosing between two answer choices for a Sufficient Assumption question, choose the more-aggressively worded choice.

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Sat Feb 16, 2013 7:09 am
Tag. Thanks Dave.

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Sat May 04, 2013 3:02 am
Tagged.

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Sun May 05, 2013 3:34 am
evolution wrote:Tagged.

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Sun May 05, 2013 11:46 am
Dr. Dre wrote:
evolution wrote:Tagged.

Thanks

### Re: Just the Tip (of the Day)

Posted: Mon May 06, 2013 9:35 pm
So, I'm operating under the assumption (yes, I DO know what happens when I assume, and about how I'm an ass and all) that being "tagged" means you'd like to hear more tips.

Also, it's been a long time since I've added a tip here. So here's some thoughts on Method questions that you might enjoy:

Method questions ask you to articulate the method of reasoning used by the argument. The demand can be suitably met if you think of every Method question as asking you this: "Please describe the argument above" (in which the introduction of the word "please" makes the whole thing go down better, don't you think?).

So you begin your answer by describing the way the argument goes in gross, structural terms. And then you find an answer that matches that description. But what if there are a couple that seem enticing?

Before we tackle that directly, here's something important to keep in mind when you're looking at answer choices: the test writers are very unlikely to take sides. That is, the writers do not tend to denote any agreement with (nor disapproval of) the content of these passages. They just put the information out for us to reason through. And this makes sense, right? I mean, if the test writers were to indicate that any conclusion was, in fact correctly drawn, then that could potentially lead to challenges (this whole test is, after all, being administered to a bunch of future lawyers).

So rather than take any part, the test writers will pepper their work with phrases like "...according to the passage..." and "...if the above statements are true..." at least partly so that they, as an entity, cannot be accused of having taken an invalid or unsound - or just unpopular - stand on any issue.

Now, here's how we can use that bit of knowledge to our advantage: The right answer to a Method question is very unlikely to be declarative. Instead, the right answer is much, much, more likely to be qualified in some way. So, for a question asking

"The argument proceeds by..."

(A) undermining a claim by attacking the evidence offered in its support

and

(D) attempting to refute a view by showing that it rests upon a questionable assumption

choose (D) every time, even if you don't have a passage in front of you to compare these answers to!

Here's why: if (A) were credited, that would mean that the test writers have said that this argument has in fact undermined some claim. This means the argument worked. Now, it's possible to undermine a claim, but it's incredibly unlikely that the test writers would ever indicate that an author has done so successfully (as we discussed above).

Instead, it's much more likely that the test writers will indicate that the argument has proceeded by attempting to refute a view. See, this removes all voice - the test writers aren't saying that the argument succeeded, and they're not saying that it didn't succeed. They're just describing - saying that the argument tried to refute a view.

And that's the kind of carefully-worded answer choice that's likely to be correct.

So, for Method answer choices, choose a moderated, qualified statement over an unmodified declarative answer choice. Almost all the time, you'll be correct.