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Objection’s LSAT Tips – “Role” Questions (LR)

Question Type: Role
Section:
Logical Reasoning
Sample Prompts:

Which one of the following most accurately describes the role
The information cited functions in the argument to…
The assertion…plays which one of the following roles

Introduction

“Role” questions are in the same family as “main point” and “describe” questions (among others). Rather than doing something to or drawing something from the argument, you are simply trying to characterize an aspect of the argument. In “main point” questions, you are asked to summarize the conclusion of the argument. In “describe” questions, you are asked to describe in abstract terms the way an argument proceeds. A “role” question asks you to determine the purpose of a statement in the context of the argument, i.e. its role. “Role” questions are somewhat rare (around two per test) and relatively simple to master.

Method

The way to approach “role” questions is similar to the other questions in this family. You must first understand what is being asked. Remember, you’re not being asked to interpret; you’re being asked to characterize.

The best technique is to locate the conclusion. If you can locate the conclusion, then not only do you know which sentence plays the role of the conclusion (if that is what ends up being asked), but you also know that the other statements support the conclusion in some way. Your job may then be to figure out how they do so.

For example:

All dogs have four legs. Fido is a dog.

Therefore, Fido has four legs. If the question asks the role of the statement “Fido has four legs,” the answer would be “It serves as the conclusion,” or something to that effect.

If the question asks the role of the statement “Fido is a dog,” the answer would be something along the lines of “It’s a premise that enables the conclusion to be properly inferred.”

So in a nutshell, you want to identify the various parts of an argument and understand what role they play in making that argument. Be careful, though, as these questions tend to have a lot of trap answers.

Examples

Corporations are engineered to resist change. Thus, despite growing dissatisfaction with complex corporations, it is unlikely that they will ever be simplified.

The claim that corporations are engineered to resist change plays which one of the following roles in the argument?

A) It is a premise offered in support of the claim that it is unlikely that corporations will be simplified.
B) It is a conclusion for which the only support offered is the claim that dissatisfaction with corporations is growing.
C) It is cited as evidence that corporations are becoming more and more complex.
D) It is used to weaken the claim the corporations should be simplified.
E) It is a conclusion for which the claim that corporations are unlikely to be simplified is offered as support.

Analysis:This question is simple enough. The conclusion is that corporations will likely never be simplified. The premise is that corporations are engineered to resist change. With that in mind, head into the answer choices.

A – Correct. The claim that “corporations are engineered to resist change” sets up the conclusion that they likely won’t ever be simplified. Simplification is a type of change.
B – Incorrect. It is not a conclusion.
C – Incorrect. This is out of left field.
D – Incorrect. It is not being argued that corporations should be engineered to resist change, just that they are. The argument gives no opinion on whether or not corporations should be simplified.
E – Incorrect. It is not a conclusion.

-----

Few leaders will support rules that conflict with their own self-interest. A case in point is Jack Sheppard, who throughout his 30 years in a leadership position has consistently opposed legislation limiting the advantage incumbent leaders enjoy over their challengers. Therefore, if such measures are to be enacted, they must result from direct popular vote rather than from legislative action.

The case of Jack Sheppard plays which one of the following roles in the argument?

A) It provides evidence, the falsity of which would guarantee the falsity of the author’s conclusion.
B) It is cited as an example illustrating the generalization.
C) It gives essential background information concerning a measure being advocated.
D) It demonstrates the extent to which incumbents have the advantage over their challengers.
E) It gives an example of the limits of direct popular vote.

Analysis: The conclusion is that for rules conflicting with leaders’ self-interests, it must come from popular vote. Why is that? Because leaders themselves usually won’t support such rules. To back up this claim, he cites the case of Jack Sheppard. Now that the parts of the argument are broken down, let’s look at the answers.

A – Incorrect. If the case of Jack Sheppard were false, it would not falsify the author’s conclusion. The author doesn’t contend that all leaders vote against resolutions conflicting with their self-interests – just most of them.
B – Correct. As mentioned in the analysis above, Jack Sheppard was cited as an example of the claim the author made.
C – Incorrect. Jack Sheppard is not essential background information.
D – Incorrect. There is no incumbent-challenger scenario mentioned – implicitly or explicitly – in the case of Jack Sheppard.
E – Incorrect. Out of left field.

Final Notes

Like many other logical reasoning questions, the key to successfully answering “role” questions is to accurately identify the parts of the argument. While “role” questions are somewhat rare, many other logical reasoning questions will assume that you have a firm grasp on the parts of the argument and the roles they play. For this reason, practicing “role” questions can be helpful for many other types of questions.


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