Find the premise-conclusion and ignore the rest?

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WaltGrace83
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Find the premise-conclusion and ignore the rest?

Postby WaltGrace83 » Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:39 pm

I am just trying to clarify my understanding here. For assumption family questions (flaw, strengthen, weaken, necessary, sufficient, etc.), do you just (1) find the conclusion; (2) find the premises; and (3) ignore everything else?

For example, if the question looks like this:

Top law schools is a site dedicated to highly astute individuals. Most of the posters on TLS are intelligent but have tried many methods to reaching LSAT success. However, top law schools is not for everyone. It is only for those truly dedicated and truly astute.

Which one of the following, if assumed, would make this argument follow logically?


This is a type of question that is often seen on the LSAT. The first part will make mentions of the same subject in the premise but then will state a really obvious conclusion and a really obvious premise. Should my thinking look just like this?:

[i]Top law schools is a site dedicated to highly astute individuals. Most of the posters on TLS are intelligent but have tried many methods to reaching LSAT success. However, top law schools is not for everyone. It is only for those truly dedicated and truly astute.

Which one of the following, if assumed, would make this argument follow logically?

(A) Not all people are truly astute and truly dedicated.
(B) Everyone who is a person is truly astute and truly dedicated
(C) Some people are truly astute
(D) Most people are dedicated
(E) The goals of Top law schools are often misconstrued

Daily_Double
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Re: Find the premise-conclusion and ignore the rest?

Postby Daily_Double » Fri Jan 17, 2014 12:48 pm

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Last edited by Daily_Double on Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Christine (MLSAT)
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Re: Find the premise-conclusion and ignore the rest?

Postby Christine (MLSAT) » Fri Jan 17, 2014 1:23 pm

While I'm generally wary of blanket rules, yes, that's the general idea. :)

Keep in mind that there can be more than one premise. There are also sometimes chains of premise-subsidiary conclusion-final conclusion. And occasionally a counterargument is brought up that we may care about. If so (or if for any other reason there are multiple possible 'cores' to be addressing), be sure you are weakening/strengthening the correct one.

And you may not be able to predict an answer to the question you're asked, but you should be able to articulate the gap between premise and conclusion. A correct answer should be some iteration of that gap. For instance, if the gap is "it assumes that nothing else could prevent the positive outcome", a necessary assumption could be "it assumes that aliens will not destroy the facility before the outcome can be achieved."

Daily_Double
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Re: Find the premise-conclusion and ignore the rest?

Postby Daily_Double » Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:12 pm

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Last edited by Daily_Double on Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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WaltGrace83
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Re: Find the premise-conclusion and ignore the rest?

Postby WaltGrace83 » Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:26 pm

Daily_Double wrote:I should add a qualifier, my statement above assumes you correctly identify the premises and conclusion and do not confuse those with background/irrelevant information. One thing I should have pointed out is that sometimes there are subtle words/clues within a sentence but since that sentence is mostly background information/unnecessary, students tend to ignore the entire sentence. LSAC uses subtle clues often and the phrases become obvious with time. One example that comes to mind relates to time, basically the flaw revolves around some change. So to borrow from memory, here's a look: "Ten years ago the committee had a budget of $1,000, now it's $5,000, thus they're spending five times as much on the same things." Another relates to a shift in scope, "Part of the valley has seen an increase in bears during the time that the road was closed, thus the valley will have more bears if we keep it closed."

The list goes on and on. And you may already recognize these every time, but I felt it was necessary to add that while the only thing that is important is the argument core, make sure to consider why something should or should not be part of that core before you ignore it.


Totally gotcha. But in the first example about the committee, I feel like it would go like this:

P1: Had a budget of $1k ten years ago
P2: Now has a budget of $5k

C: They are spending five times as much on the same things

But I see what you are saying: only ignore everything else if it is truly background information.

Daily_Double
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Re: Find the premise-conclusion and ignore the rest?

Postby Daily_Double » Fri Jan 17, 2014 2:37 pm

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Last edited by Daily_Double on Fri Apr 25, 2014 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Jeffort
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Re: Find the premise-conclusion and ignore the rest?

Postby Jeffort » Sat Jan 18, 2014 4:22 am

WaltGrace83 wrote:
But I see what you are saying: only ignore everything else if it is truly background information.



Ok, but there is a problem with application of that type of strategy. You cannot know if something really is irrelevant information that doesn't matter to solving the question unless you analyze how it relates to the answer choices before deciding it's safe to ignore.

Sometimes critical details that are key to seeing how/why the CR answers the question and/or why a trap answer doesn't are intentionally planted by the question writers in parts of the argument that may seem like irrelevant fluff at first when initially breaking it down to the core. This is especially true of the higher level difficulty LR questions that tend to be clustered in The Death Zone (roughly question #s 14-22 in each LR section). You'll tank big time on Qs in that range if you selectively decide to ignore parts of those arguments in your analysis of answer choices. It's pretty much guaranteed you'll get a bunch of the harder questions per section wrong if you adopt this as a universal strategy. It can save time on many easy to medium difficulty level questions, but will kill your accuracy on the harder ones that you need to get correct if you want to score above mid-high 150s.

There is no easy way to safely determine which questions are higher level difficulty ones where important details might be buried in seemingly irrelevant fluff versus ones that you can get away with ignoring entire parts of the text in the analysis and still get correct without trouble. The test writers abhor 'it always works this way' patterns that are susceptible to 'always just do this simple trick and it will work' fairly brainless non-analysis based strategies.

This type of strategy can help timing overall and work pretty well for the first 10 or so LR question per section but will intermittently/sporadically fail and cause you to get many wrong later in the section as the difficulty level increases. Since it also works well on at least one or two of the hard questions in the Death Zone that have annoying extraneous fluff and helps save a little time without missing those few questions, you get a false sense of confidence about the strategy since it helps you move faster through the entire zone of the hardest questions of the section without noticing that you easily fell for several trap answers designed to sucker people that ignored something that on first read sounded like irrelevant fluff.

Don't adopt this strategy unless your target score is no higher than mid to high 150s. If mid-high 150s max is an acceptable best possible outcome for you, this strategy can help to scrap together a few more points per LR section overall with limited practice.

Seriously, the test writers intentionally put a lot of effort into writing really attractive trap answers for higher difficulty questions that are specifically designed to sound super awesome and get you to jump at it right away if you completely disregard certain parts of the argument that were also intentionally written to sound fairly non-important during first read/breakdown of the argument so that people don't focus on it when debating the attractive answers. If you review LR question you've gotten wrong in the past that during review you determined were dumb mistakes because you forgot about a particular detail that makes the CR easy to understand in hindsight, you'll find many questions with good trap answers that are really appealing when you ignore seemingly unimportant background information.

In short, there is no reliable way to determine whether certain seemingly irrelevant on first read parts of the text are truly irrelevant to the logic behind the CR without actually analyzing it. Otherwise, you are just randomly picking parts to ignore based on gut instinct/feel before having analyzed and really broken down the reasoning of the argument. The LSAT loves to punish people that gravitate towards universal 'just do this simple trick' simplification strategies/shortcuts meant to avoid having to do some of the analysis in order to save time/speed up in the section.


A good way to make sure you don't accidentally ignore important buried details is to add a verification step in your analysis once you've read the answer choices the first time and narrowed it down to a few. Right after you've read the five choices the first time and identified which ones you think are contenders, reset and re-fresh your focus on the argument itself by re-reading it from top to bottom word for word to fully refresh your understanding of it and the details before doing the analysis to make the final make or break it, get the point or not decision between the contenders.




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