August 31, 2016 at 5:47 pm #2646
Hi again, Mike! I have been struggling to wrap my head around weaken questions for the past couple of weeks. No matter what, I get every weaken or undermine question wrong on every PT even when I’m convinced I have it right. As an example, for PT 64, Section 1, #13, I cannot understand why D is correct. This type of answer is one that I usually avoid because it doesn’t seem to affect the argument in my opinion. As you mention in the Trainer (which I have finished reading by the way), the flaws in strengthen/weaken and required assumption stimuli are often more difficult to catch than for other question types, and that’s exactly what I sense here. Any clarification is appreciated. Thanks in advance.
September 1, 2016 at 12:48 pm #2650Mike KimKeymaster
Hey! — I have a lot of thoughts, but before I mention them, I was thinking I might be more helpful to you if I can get a tiny bit of information from you — namely —
For 64-1-13 — do you mind just sharing with me the thoughts you had about the stimulus?
If you want to let me know about any other part of your problem-solving process that would be great too, but I’m most curious about your answer the above — thanks — mk
September 2, 2016 at 11:07 am #2655
Ok, I will be as concise as possible.
I easily identified the last sentence as the conclusion and the first two as support. From that I got the argument to be (in a nutshell) that stretching did not make a difference because the group that stretched and the group that didn’t had the same number of injuries anyway. Thus, the medical researcher fails to consider that stretching may have indeed had an impact on the first group; perhaps they would have been injured much more had they not stretched.
I should mention that looking at the question again, and taking my time to understand it without a time constraint, really allowed me to clearly define and lay out the flaw on paper without just holding it in my head for the answer elimination process. On the real exam, this would be too long of a process to go through, I think.
In any case, answer D still doesn’t do it for me. I can try to wrap my head around it, but it does not explicitly state that stretching will have a positive outcome on the joggers. I find myself having to make that additional inference for myself and thus taking more time to sift through each answer to make sure I did not miss anything.
September 2, 2016 at 2:08 pm #2656LSAT DanParticipant
Just a couple of quick thoughts, since Mike is already on this one. So, we’ve got two groups; one group stretches, and other doesn’t. If (D) is true (remember, on a weaken question, you can assume that each answer choice is true for the sake of analysis), then the stretching group (let’s call them Group A) is going to be more injury prone than the non-stretching group (let’s call them group B). But what happens? Group A, *despite the fact that they’re more injury prone than Group B*, gets the same number of injuries. That’s a surprising result, and the only difference between the groups that we know of to explain it is that they stretched.
September 5, 2016 at 10:03 am #2675Mike KimKeymaster
BTW, not sure if you know, but Dan is also a Bruin (law school) —
You are definitely right to say that the answer is commonly not predictable for weaken q’s —
One thing you mentioned was that you didn’t have as clear an understanding of the flaw when trying the problem in real-time. I think being able to see the flaw correctly really is your best tool for evaluating the relevancy of answer choices, so, whenever you are in a situation where you are finding the flaw difficult to see, you should feel less pressure to move on to the answer choices, and more pressure to really try and nail the reasoning issues.
BTW, this argument has a fairly common underlying structure:
Group A and Group B got similar results on a test of Issue X.
Therefore, Issue Y does not impact the broader group, Group C.
So, we know going in that the argument is indeed flawed, and we need to think about why — there are three main ways this type of structure could have problems —
1) Group A and Group B may not be good samples for Group C. For example, maybe for a question they sample the executives at a company then use that to generalize about the company as a whole.
2) The issue in the premise is different than the issue in the conclusion. Maybe they talk about one type of injury in the premises and a different (more general, more specific, or just different) type of injury in the conclusion.
3) Group A and Group B have differences that throw off the comparison.
For this specific problem, notice we don’t really have concerns 1 or 2 — the premises are about a large group of joggers, and the conclusion is about joggers; the premises are about getting injuries, and the conclusion is about getting injuries.
And so the most suspicious weak link is that perhaps there are differences between Group A and Group B that throw off the comparison.
Per what you wrote, and I could be wrong, it seems like you pretty much got to this same point —
In any case, going into the answer choices, if that’s your understanding of the flaw, then what you are looking for is a potential explanation that tells us Group A and Group B (in this case joggers who stretch vs those who don’t) are not comparable in a relevant way (in this case, the amount of injury they tend to sustain) —
Looking at the answers from that perspective, I think (D) jumps out as being a bit more obvious.
Not sure if the above helps, but thought reading through it might make something click for you —
Another comment I have is that often strengthen / weaken right answers don’t give off that “slam dunk” sort of feeling you might get from, say, a Sufficient Assumption or ID the Conclusion q, where there are much more absolute ways to gauge correctness. That’s another reason they can feel more difficult, and it’s a reason why elimination skills are very important for these problems.
You mentioned you sometimes get wrong q’s you felt certain you got right, and I also get the sense that you feel you dismissed the eventual right answer here a bit too easily at first — make sure to keep working on your elimination process — you want to develop a stronger and stronger sense of when you feel certain that an answer must absolutely be incorrect, and, otherwise, you want to not eliminate those answers that, at first glance, don’t seem right, but, that, regardless, you can’t find an explicit reason to get rid of. Think of eliminating what turns out to eventually be the right answer the worst of all LR sins, and try to be hyper critical every time it happens.
Ended up writing more than I planned (as always) — sorry about that — in any case, please feel free to use what helps and to also ignore whatever doesn’t apply to you — you know yourself best — but hope that helps —
September 13, 2016 at 6:31 pm #2723
Thank you so much for the additional help! While we’re on the subject of these questions not feeling like a ‘slam dunk,’ I have to say that that has been the case for me so many times. I have found that required assumption, strengthen, and weaken, with the occasional flaw question just confuse the hell out of me and hurt my brain hahaha.
Also, I am getting a bit discouraged right now because I scored a 160 on my last two PTs, which is definitely not where I want to be at this point. My two best scores before that were 165 and 168, so these last two PTs were really concerning for me. I got a whopping -9 on both LR sections of PT 70, which is a new low for me, and this was mostly due to the question types I mentioned above. I’m not sure if it is really possible at this point, but I’d like to do whatever I can to succeed on the real exam. I know that I have the potential to kick butt on test day; I have read the Trainer twice in depth, but whenever it comes to the real thing, I blank out, get overwhelmed and frustrated, and end up missing questions that I would normally (under no pressure) be comfortable with. I don’t want to excuse myself by remembering that I can take it again in December because I wouldn’t really know how else to study but review exams and go over what I already know. Any and all advice is welcomed.
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