LSAT Kung Fu Blog / FAQ Two
Today, we’ll resume our ode to the (now no-longer-new) FAQ page at our site, by answering a couple of , uh, FAQ.
Q: So, how does the Velocity video course work?
A: There’s an awesome 6-step program (you can dance to it, if you want). Like this:
- You enroll for classes here.
- You get a box of books delivered (without shipping charges!) via Fedex Ground (faster than Ground if you want - just choose a shipping option at checkout).
- You consult the appropriate Syllabus calendar to know exactly which pages to read and practice with every day. These calendars contain daily instructions for your work, whether you have 16 weeks until test day or only two.
- You read that assigned material, then you watch the video associated with it (there are videos for all of the Teaching material from your books - those pages are marked with a T at the top of each page).
- You ask question in our LSAT Prep Forum if there’s anything you don’t understand.
- You kick the LSAT in the nuts on test day.
The box of materials for our Comprehensive Course contains 4 books:
- A book cleverly titled Practice Exams that has PrepTests 54 through 62 (tests 54-59 all come with unscored, experimental sections taken from older PrepTests);
- The ingeniously named Logical Reasoning textbook, which contains every remaining Logical Reasoning question asked this millennium (arranged by topic and question type);
- The irreverently titled Games manual, containing every remaining Game administered this millennium (also arranged by type);
- The outrageously nicknamed Reading Comprehension book, with every remaining Reading Comprehension question from the same period (arranged by the purpose of each passage).
Q: What should I do when I’m trying to decide between the two answer choices I have left?
A: OK. Strap yourself in. This one’s a long, multi-part answer:
Answer Part 1 - 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.
Answer Part 2 - 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.
Answer Part 3 - In which we switch gears, to talk Reading Comprehension
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.
Answer Part 4 - Method Questions
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..."
between these two answer choices:
(A) undermining a claim by attacking the evidence offered in its support
(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.
And speaking of being correct, tell us how we’re doing: Check us out online or drop us a line at Info@VelocityLSAT.com, and visit The LSAT Prep Forum to join the conversation, to share your thoughts on our answers here or to ask a question of your own, or to suggest topics for future conversations.
Until next week, be awesome.