LSAT Kung Fu Blog / How To Answer Point-of-Dis/Agreement Questions

How To Answer Point-of-Dis/Agreement Questions

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Calvin is probably wrong.

Calvin is probably wrong.

So, as part of our occasional LSAT prep series on Logical Reasoning question types, today we’re going to take a look at Point-of-Disagreement (+ Point of Agreement) questions.

First, note that these questions can only be associated with multi-party arguments, in which two distinct arguments are juxtaposed by the test writers. The arguers’ names will inevitably demonstrate a richness of ethnic diversity (which, given how opposed they are to each other’s ideas, demands an answer as to how the LSAT’s authors view the possibility for global harmony.). But I digress…

How they’ll ask:

  • Ronaldo and Cho disagree over whether…
  • The passages above indicate that Tony and Clara would agree that…
  • Olivia’s and Geraldina’s statements provide the most support for holding that they disagree about…
  • Which one of the following most accurately expresses the point at issue between Claude and Kenji?

Point-of-Disagreement Questions stake out a small piece of territory in the no-man’s land between Inference and Main Point Questions. On their face, they’d seem to indicate that we’re to seek the main point, right? You know; the point at issue?

And yet…

The correct answers to these questions can be split – roughly 30/70 – between answer choices that actually supply the main point at issue between the two parties (around 30% of the time), and answer choices that supply only some detail that the parties have committed themselves to disagreement over (the other 70 or-so% of the time). 

Where the former will function like Main Conclusion Questions in every respect, the latter can be best dealt with by using the same approach we apply to Inference Questions. The only little hitch is that you won’t be able to tell by reading the question stem into which of the two camps any given set of answer choices will fall.

Hence, we’ll suggest a two-pronged plan of attack for Point-of-Disagreement Questions:

First, bracket the conclusion made by the first arguer. Now, if we’re dealing with a Main Point-type assignment, we can expect the answer to be in the brackets we’ve just made. After all, the point at issue between two arguers ought most reasonably to be the first speaker’s main point. Look for the second arguer to say “I disagree,” or “You’re wrong, Jorge.” Does the second arguer disagree with the first arguer’s main conclusion? Good. Now, scan the answer choices for a paraphrase of the first speaker’s main point. Find one? Cool; your work here is done. Move along.

Don’t find one?

Then it’s time to pull the second prong of our attack out of our back pocket; a fierce and furious application of logic and of our knowledge of what things among answer choices can be properly inferred (a word, though, to the wise: Not for nothing, but don’t bring only logic to a knife fight. We’re just saying):

Go through each answer choice, and ask yourself “Self, does Bartholomé believe that answer choice (A) is true? Does Machanda?” Four of the answer choices will leave you either:

  • not knowing for certain how one of the two speakers feels about it, or;
  • seeing that both speakers agree on its truth-value

Those four options are all wrong.

One option, on the other hand, will have Bartholomé clearly and unambiguously committed to the statement’s truth, while Machanda just as clearly and provably says that it’s false (or vice-versa, obvs).

For Point-of-Agreement questions, all the same steps in that second prong of attack hold. Though, obviously, there will be only one place where you can prove that both speakers agree on the truth-value, and possibly multiple (wrong) answers on which they disagree.

So, now you’re ready to have at it.

Also, today’s LSAT day. Spare a thought for the thousands of your brothers and sisters in agony right now (many of whom will turn that frown upside down once scores come in!).

Questions, comments, complaints? Sock ‘em to me.

Be good to one another, as goodness is in short supply,

d

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