Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

When to Treat Strengthening Questions as PSA/SA?

kzeng826kzeng826 Alum Member

I am a bit confused on how come some Strengthen questions require us to use the Assumption skills from PSA and SA questions. However, there are also some strengthen questions that did not require us to draw out the conditional chains and only requires us to affirm paraphrased "assumptions".

Is it only for questions that have "principle" that we automatically should treat them as PSA or SA questions? Or is it safe to use the PSA and SA method for ALL Strengthen questions?

Any insight on this matter would be greatly appreciated!


  • edited March 2017 1020 karma

    Hello @kzeng826, I am currently in the CC at the moment, but I can reference back to the way J.Y. taught this issue.

    Here is a visual way to see how these three are interrelated (SA (PSA (Str))) I wish I could do a venn diagram like J.Y. does, but this will do.
    From this representation, all strengthening questions COULD be a PSA or SA question, because all three of these do in fact strengthen the argument.

    While all three of these question types strengthen the argument, it is important to understand how the differ. If you can remember back to the SA lessons, the difference between the three are found in the various levels of strength. A SA AC must make the argument perfectly valid, while PSA questions are just a notch below this notion of a validity, where the AC might not make for a perfect argument, but it is very close. Right underneath both of these two question types are the strengthening questions. Strengthening an argument could be supporting merely one premise in a giant stimulus.

    That said, when you are doing a strengthening question, you simply need to keep an eye out for any strengthening ACs. If an AC turns the strengthening question into a perfectly valid argument, then awesome. If it strengthens any premise/conclusion support, it is just as right. But if one uses the SA/PSA method (looking for an AC to make the argument fully valid) for all strengthening questions, they will miss the questions where the AC is only subtly strengthening a part of the argument.

    Edit: To answer your first question, the key indicator for SA would be "valid," "validity" "completes the argument" ect. I cannot think of any more off the top of my head, but I would love to hear others weigh in on your question as well.

  • JustDoItJustDoIt Alum Member
    3112 karma


    I agree with @TheDeterminedC. It's deeper than an overarching classification. It really comes down to the question stem and what is the required task. Some strengthening questions will have answer choices that will validate the argument. But for most they will only make the argument just a little bit stronger. I mean it's always great to try to find the assumption but it can get you in trouble if you are trying to validate an argument that doesn't need to be validated. Use the stimulus to determine your plan of action.

    Hope this helps!

  • apublicdisplayapublicdisplay Alum Member
    696 karma

    I usually find that Strengthening questions involve blocking potential weakening assumptions, similar to how Weakening questions involve exposing assumptions. It doesn't involve conditional logic as much as PSA and SA which are more about validity.

Sign In or Register to comment.