strengthen&weaken tips

elg
Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Jul 08, 2013 12:48 pm

strengthen&weaken tips

Postby elg » Thu Sep 05, 2013 6:03 pm

Hi all,

I am currently scoring in the low 170s and looking to bump up to mid to high 170s, I have found that strengthen and weaken questions tend to give me some difficulty. Does anyone have a list of different ways to strengthen and weaken an argument? My current strategy is basically find the assumption and then look for answers that make that assumption more/less likely depending on question type. My question is what other ways can an LSAT argument be strengthened or weakened? So far I have come up with making the supporting evidence more/less convincing, but is there any other ways? I have found that the toughest of these question types generally have answer choices that I would never think of.

Thanks for any help

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neprep
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Joined: Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:16 pm

Re: strengthen&weaken tips

Postby neprep » Thu Sep 05, 2013 6:21 pm

I think there are different ways to look at these question types based on the nature of the argument in the stimulus. There are certain ways to strengthen or weaken arguments driven by conditional reasoning; other ways to attack or bolster those with causal reasoning; and yet other ways to handle prescriptive arguments.

Just as an example, one way to weaken a causal argument is to reverse the arrow of causality. You argue A causes B, but really, B causes A. This is very potent in real life, culminating as it did in the train wreck that was my seminar thesis before I had to change the entire argument two weeks before the deadline after looking at the regressions.

So it might help — when you fish around and collect tips and tricks for strengthen / weaken questions — to broadly organize the strategies by argument type.

bp shinners
Posts: 3091
Joined: Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:05 pm

Re: strengthen&weaken tips

Postby bp shinners » Fri Sep 06, 2013 5:36 pm

elg wrote:My current strategy is basically find the assumption and then look for answers that make that assumption more/less likely depending on question type. My question is what other ways can an LSAT argument be strengthened or weakened?


That is pretty much the only way that you can strengthen or weaken an argument - you need to make the assumption either more or less likely to be true.

So far I have come up with making the supporting evidence more/less convincing, but is there any other ways? I have found that the toughest of these question types generally have answer choices that I would never think of.


This again relates to making the assumption more or less likely to be true. You're not strengthening or weakening a premise; your strengthening or weakening its connection to the conclusion.

Those ones that you would never think of tends to bring in outside information that impacts the assumption. Any answer that brings in outside information is fair game for these types of questions, so you can't rule them out just because of that.

The secrets to these is to figure out how the LSAT normally strengthens and weakens different types of assumptions.

For example, by far the most prevalent fallacy in these questions is a causal fallacy. It's about 40% of the time. To strengthen this fallacy, the LSAT almost always:
1) Gives you another example of the cause and effect being correlated; or
2) Give you an example where there was no cause and no effect; or
3) Eliminates another possible cause.

To weaken it, the LSAT almost always:
1) Gives you an example of the purported cause without the effect; or
2) Gives you an example of the effect happening without the cause; or
3) Identifies another possible cause.

There are similar patterns to the other fallacies. A bad comparison fallacy will often bring up similarities/differences or pros/cons not mentioned in the stimulus. If you categorize the strengthen/weaken questions by the type of assumption being made, you can find patterns in the answer choices. Even for those answer choices that seem to come out of nowhere.

One more piece of advice for those questions that have answer choices that seem to come out of nowhere. For these, you shouldn't have a specific answer predicted; you should have an idea of what the correct answer choice will do. So I might go into the answer choices thinking, "I'm looking for a pro of a worker-owned business." I don't know what that positive is going to be, but knowing that I'm looking for that will help me find something that I might otherwise skip over because it seems outside the scope.




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