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Does anyone else think that the recent PT LR Qs punish prephrases?

TheoryandPracticeTheoryandPractice Alum Member
edited April 2017 in Logical Reasoning 1008 karma

Ok, I might be exaggerating when I say "punish prephrases," but I noticed that the prephrases, especially for the flaw/ assumption type questions, don't work as well in the recent PTs ( 70s up) compared to the older ones (the ones we used for CC). Also, prephrases make me to be a bit inflexible in considering answer choices (I am too quick to eliminate those that do not fit my prephrase), which hurts me as a result.

Most of the prephrases I used for older PT flaw Qs/ assumption Qs were right on, so I just picked the right answer quickly and moved on. With the newer PTs, I see that my prephrases attract me to trap answers. It seems better to leave the AC that matches my prephrase well as a contender (as opposed to choosing it and moving on) and REALLY carefully consider every other answer choice. I found that I do better in the recent PTs when I don't prephrase at all. Rather, I focus on EXACTLY what the conclusion is and stay open minded. Then, I see if the answer choice weakens/ negates the conclusion (in case if the Q type is flaw/ weaken for example).

Maybe prephrasing isn't to fault at all; maybe the recent PTs just punish those who are inflexible and expect the answer choice to have a certain form. Or maybe I don't have a solid prephrasing skill, but wasn't punished at all in older PTs, but am in newer ones.

Either way, does anyone else perceive a similar trend? What do you think about the utility of prephrasing in general?

Comments

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    26321 karma

    Yeah, I'm glad you created this thread. I've had a bit of a vendetta against prephrasing for a while, as many 7Sagers probably know by now, lol.

    I think you're absolutely right that prephrasing can close our minds to trickier answer choices, and they definitely plant traps based on the obvious prephrases. The test writers are very aware of our procedures and tendencies, and they are experts at exploiting them. I think prephrasing as an exercise and learning tool can be highly beneficial, but as an actual testing strategy, I much prefer to focus on achieving a high level understanding of the argument presented in the stimulus. From there, one of two things will happen:

    1. They will give us what would have been our obvious prephrase answer. But if we didn't prephrase, then whatever will we do!? Well, we'll choose that answer choice and move along. Just because we haven't stopped to consciously express our expectation does not mean we will not recognize it.

    2. They will not give us what would have been our prephrase answer. And now our minds are open to freely consider whatever strange direction they're taking the question.

    If I'm at all unclear about the stimulus, I prefer to use that time between stimulus and ACs to solidify my understanding of the argument rather than my expectation of the answer. Higher level understanding of the stimulus beats out a well considered prephrase any day in my book. Understanding is inherently flexible to whatever they throw at us in the ACs, whereas a prephrase is specific and rigid. This approach is what really helped me eliminate most of those "careless error" mistakes which turned out not to be careless afterall but rather deliberate traps set by the test writers.

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    @"Cant Get Right" said:

    If I'm at all unclear about the stimulus, I prefer to use that time between stimulus and ACs to solidify my understanding of the argument rather than my expectation of the answer. Higher level understanding of the stimulus beats out a well considered prephrase any day in my book. Understanding is inherently flexible to whatever they throw at us in the ACs, whereas a prephrase is specific and rigid. This approach is what really helped me eliminate most of those "careless error" mistakes which turned out not to be careless afterall but rather deliberate traps set by the test writers.

    You mention this a long time ago when we were all talking after your first webinar (I think) and I have to say I find this approach so much more effective! When I took PT62 (the only recent PT I've taken), I missed the least amount of LR and was pleasantly surprised.

    I think it was because I simply gave myself the time to understand the arguments at a deeper level rather than pre phrase with that time. A flexible, open-mind with a better understanding of the stim beats out a pre-phrase....

  • TheoryandPracticeTheoryandPractice Alum Member
    1008 karma

    @"Cant Get Right" Ah! Thanks you for your wisdom :D

  • SamiSami Alum Member Sage 7Sage Tutor
    edited April 2017 10710 karma

    Hey @TheoryandPractice
    I think there are two kinds of Pre-phrases and one is helpful and the other one can hinder us on a curve breaker questions. @"Cant Get Right" can probably shed more light on this because I think on a fundamental level we agree but say it differently: ) . Though I could be wrong.

    In any case I find it helpful to pre-phrase in a certain way.

    Two ways to pre-phrase:
    1) Pre-phrase according to our understanding of the stimulus : specific answer choice
    2) Pre-phrase according to our understanding of the argument.

    I do believe most if not all questions on Logical reasoning are very cookie cutter. Meaning that behind each stimulus the flawed method of reasoning has been repeated a 100 times before in other arguments in different PTs.
    For example:
    When you see that the conclusion is causal in nature and the premises are correlation. We know we have correlation-causation argument type.

    If we go by our first pre-phrase: it would take longer because you would try to think about specifically the different ways causal answers could be phrased in the answer choice. And if you missed one of the ways in your initial thinking- you might miss it in answer choices.

    If we go by our second pre-phrase: We know that this argument is correlation and causation and we jus stay open to reading the answer choices and seeing how it could effect our argument. You don't want to be specific but you do want to think of the direction the answer choices need to take.

    *The danger in not thinking the second pre-phrase way is that LSAT has trap answers which might strengthen or weaken the conclusion but do not strengthen or weaken the argument.

    In my opinion it is super beneficial to pre-phrase but pre-phrase correctly and know how far you should pre-phrase.

  • TheoryandPracticeTheoryandPractice Alum Member
    1008 karma

    Hi @Sami ! Thanks for your wonderful advice. I have one question: how is strengthening/ weakening the conclusion different from strengthening/ weakening the argument?
    If I weaken the argument, wouldn't it naturally weaken the conclusion as well?
    I sometimes employ negating/weakening the conclusion tactic when I can't articulate a specific flaw in the flaw question. Wondering if I am doing that wrong...

  • SamiSami Alum Member Sage 7Sage Tutor
    edited April 2017 10710 karma

    @TheoryandPractice said:
    Hi @Sami ! Thanks for your wonderful advice. I have one question: how is strengthening/ weakening the conclusion different from strengthening/ weakening the argument?
    If I weaken the argument, wouldn't it naturally weaken the conclusion as well?
    I sometimes employ negating/weakening the conclusion tactic when I can't articulate a specific flaw in the flaw question. Wondering if I am doing that wrong...

    Hey so I hope I am not spoiling a PT for you, but for an example take a look at PT 58 Section 4 question 23.
    The argument in short is that the craters described in the stimulus are of different ages so the craters are caused by volcanic events rather than a meteor.
    Conclusion: Volcanic events rather than meteors caused the craters described.
    Premise: these craters were of different ages.

    answer choice "A" says: a similar line of craters of same age is known to have been caused by volcanos.
    answer choice "B" says: no known natural cause would account for similar meteorite craters of different ages.

    Answer choice "A" would strengthen the conclusion only because it says a similar crater was formed by volcanos. But not the argument because it doesn't address how we arrived at the conclusion which is if craters were impacted by meteors they would be of same age.

    Answer choice "B" addresses the argument -An argument is not just the conclusion but how we used the premise to arrive at the conclusion. In this case the argument finds that " different ages of craters" cannot be accounted by meteors. Since this answer choice talks about how other natural causes could not have led to the craters that were caused by meteors to look different in age, this strengthens the argument and not just the conclusion.

    • This is a five star difficulty strengthening question. I am sure a big part of the difficulty of this question is answer choice "A" which strengthens the conclusion but not the argument. Our task always is to strengthen/weaken the argument.

    When we weaken/strengthen an argument we naturally weaken/strengthen the conclusion. But just weakening/strengthening the conclusion doesn't weaken the argument of the stimulus since you are just not addressing what the speaker is saying.

    I hope I was able to explain it in a good way, I am kind of exhausted right now so I wasn't sure if I was writing this out well. So let me know your thoughts: )

  • TheoryandPracticeTheoryandPractice Alum Member
    1008 karma

    Hi @Sami ! This is very well put! very clear, thank you. That helps me a lot.

    This is how I would usually approach the question. Tell me if this makes sense.

    Conclusion: Volcanic events rather than meteors caused the craters described.
    Premise: these craters were of different ages.

    The author thinks that the difference in age is the sole reason why volcanic events, rather than meteors caused the craters described. This means that the author assumes only the volcanic events can create craters different in age.

    In order to strengthen the argument, the author would have to either show

    1. show some kind of example that would show only the volcanic events can create craters different in age or
    2. eliminate possible scenarios in which other events can also create such craters.

    I would go with these two pre-phrases in mind. B matches #2 exactly.

    I agree. A is very tricky. If I prephrase too generally, I might fall into the trap. I def. could. I'd eliminate A based on the fact that A just shows another correlation and doesn't really establish that ONLY the volcanic events can create the craters. However, I would have taken a lot of time in figuring that out. Your explanation makes a lot of sense and I should keep that in mind.

  • SamiSami Alum Member Sage 7Sage Tutor
    10710 karma

    @TheoryandPractice said:
    Hi @Sami ! This is very well put! very clear, thank you. That helps me a lot.

    This is how I would usually approach the question. Tell me if this makes sense.

    Conclusion: Volcanic events rather than meteors caused the craters described.
    Premise: these craters were of different ages.

    The author thinks that the difference in age is the sole reason why volcanic events, rather than meteors caused the craters described. This means that the author assumes only the volcanic events can create craters different in age.

    Hi @TheoryandPractice,

    So I think up till here its great. You see the assumption the author is making but I think what you wrote below is too specific and can trap you.
    - I would just stop at knowing that age is a factor that lead to the elimination of meteor's as the cause and affirmed Volcano's.
    -I would then just go to the answer choices with that in mind and consider how each answer choice affects that argument -different age being relevant to meteors being eliminated as one of the causes of Craters or different age of craters confirming volcanoes as the cause. I think anything more can be a hindrance depending on how crazy the answer choice is.

  • TheoryandPracticeTheoryandPractice Alum Member
    edited April 2017 1008 karma

    Hi @Sami, thanks for your help. Hmm now I am confused. I solved the problem based on your description of P and C. (which is very precise.) I went to the actual question and then I realized that I actually misread your description of answer choice A. I thought A said "craters different in age" but I think answer choice A is playing a shell game in which "different in age" has changed to "craters similar.... but are all same age"

    At this point I don't think that answer choice A even strengthens the conclusion. It's irrelevant to argument and the conclusion as a whole, because A is talking about a different type of crater. Only B would weaken the argument and weaken the conclusion. This question is difficult because its correct answer choice is formulated in necessary assumption terms: ones that strengthen very little, but still strengthen.

    I also think that my prephrase had to be that specific. It really needs to capture the relationship that ONLY volcanos (and not meteors) can cause craters different in age.. which helped me to spot answer choice B immediately. (which is a contrapositive of my prephrase. If it can cause craters different in age -> must be volcanos. If not a volcano -> cannot cause them. Therefore, nothing else can cause them. (answer choice B )

    Now I'm just confused in general about how specific my prephrase should be and the relationship between weakened conclusion and weakened flaw.

    Anyone else wants to contribute to this discussion? @"Cant Get Right" could you possibly take a shot at this? Much appreciated.

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    26321 karma

    So with this question, my interpretation of the stimulus is the same. I recognize the conclusion and premises and wonder what the age of the craters has to do with anything. That kind of comes out of nowhere. It seems to missing a premise about meteorite craters needing to be the same age. I'm not looking for this or anything, it's just an observation. And that's all I do. I understand the argument and I go into the ACs. So I guess @Sami and I do go about this in a similar fashion. Just be careful with it if you're going to do it.

    A. This talks about a line of craters that are all the same age which I agree is a shell game. As far as I'm concerned, this may as well be talking about a plate of nice cheeses that are so fancy that I don't even know the names for them. I'm not sure if there's anything we could say about this whole other thing that could ever affect our argument.

    B. Here we go. This basically says that this can't have been meteorites. Okay, excellent. If we can now eliminate from consideration one of the other things it could have been, that's great news for our conclusion.

  • SamiSami Alum Member Sage 7Sage Tutor
    edited April 2017 10710 karma

    @TheoryandPractice said:
    Hi @Sami, thanks for your help. Hmm now I am confused. I solved the problem based on your description of P and C. (which is very precise.) I went to the actual question and then I realized that I actually misread your description of answer choice A. I thought A said "craters different in age" but I think answer choice A is playing a shell game in which "different in age" has changed to "craters similar.... but are all same age"

    So "A" is talking about "same age craters". While our stimulus is talking about "different age craters". They are two different nouns and so "A" is irrelevant in that regards. What I was trying to show with answer choice "A" is that it does strengthen the conclusion but not the argument.

    I also think that my prephrase had to be that specific. It really needs to capture the relationship that ONLY volcanos (and not meteors) can cause craters different in age.. which helped me to spot answer choice B immediately. (which is a contrapositive of my prephrase. If it can cause craters different in age -> must be volcanos. If not a volcano -> cannot cause them. Therefore, nothing else can cause them. (answer choice B )
    Now I'm just confused in general about how specific my prephrase should be and the relationship between weakened conclusion and weakened flaw.

    I think its easier to judge how specific your pre-phrase should be once you know that answer choice and a lot of times because of how LSAT stimulus is written, our specific pre-phrase do work. But this is a test that also requires speed. In my opinion, its much faster to understand the specific nouns and their relationship and go into answer choices with that and consider each answer choices individually. The two pre-phrases you have are great, but they do require time and you really don't need that. I do think from what I can read that at this point you can understand the relationships between nouns and see the argument behind them and not pre-phrase specifically.

    But this is just my opinion. I think at the end you should let your score determine your strategy. If the specific pre-phrase strategy works for you and you still have a lot of time at the end then keep doing it. If it doesn't, then it might be time to re-evaluate it. I think LSAT strategies for everyone do not have to be the same. : )

  • SamiSami Alum Member Sage 7Sage Tutor
    edited April 2017 10710 karma

    @"Cant Get Right" said:
    So with this question, my interpretation of the stimulus is the same. I recognize the conclusion and premises and wonder what the age of the craters has to do with anything. That kind of comes out of nowhere. It seems to missing a premise about meteorite craters needing to be the same age. I'm not looking for this or anything, it's just an observation. And that's all I do. I understand the argument and I go into the ACs. So I guess @Sami and I do go about this in a similar fashion. Just be careful with it if you're going to do it.

    lol @"Cant Get Right" "I guess we do go about this in a similar fashion". Are you dissapointed? :joy:

    I have only been saying this for like ever now. :smiley:

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    26321 karma

    haha @Sami . I still don't like pre-phrasing!

  • SamiSami Alum Member Sage 7Sage Tutor
    10710 karma

    @"Cant Get Right" said:
    haha @Sami . I still don't like pre-phrasing!

    lol If I say it's more like "observing" the argument. Does that make it any better? :joy:

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    26321 karma

    Yeah, observation is great, haha.

  • TheoryandPracticeTheoryandPractice Alum Member
    edited April 2017 1008 karma

    @Sami oh yes that makes sense! thanks :) You are right. Maybe I just hate the uncertainty and spend unnecessary time being very specific. I will look into that.

    Also I came across a question that the correct answer relies on the concept that conclusion strengthened does not mean argument strengthened (and also conclusion weakened /= argument weakened).

    PT 29. 1.16.
    I think I would have been tempted by A if I didn't have that thought in mind. A is wrong for other reasons too (maybe they got fish through trading. Doesn't mean that the sea was nearby). But it is easy to be attracted to this answer choice because the conclusion says that they were isolated from the sea, and A seems to suggest that they were not (and weakens the conclusion).

    I was able to eliminate A quite easily thanks to you. I moved on to B and that described the flaw exactly.

    @"Cant Get Right" Thanksss!!

  • Jonathan WangJonathan Wang Yearly Sage
    edited April 2017 6432 karma

    I've been thinking about this and I've come to the following:

    The LSAT rewards pre-phrasing, but punishes tunnel vision, and the two are not mutually exclusive.

  • twssmithtwssmith Alum
    edited April 2017 5120 karma

    That is Why I love the concept of "anticipation"
    It is all a matter of semantics...

    If you understand your purpose when analyzing the stimulus - the degrees of anticipating are more specific or broader based on understanding the question stem and comprehension of the stimulus whether you call it pre-phrase or anticipating.
    - I can "anticipate" with 100% accuracy on certain questions
    - I can "anticipate" with a clear understanding of the QStem/Stimulus then go into "hunt mode" no matter how the correct AC is presented.
    - I can "anticipate" what the issue is in the stimulus and go into POE mode to determine correct AC.
    - I can "anticipate" that I need to SKIP this question and come back.

    However it works for anyone, then make it work to build confidence and improve pacing :smiley:

  • ltownsjrltownsjr Alum Member
    84 karma

    I know this conversation was really a long time ago, but it's an interesting topic of discussion. It's something that I've often wondered about as well. (How specific/non specific should a prephrase be)

  • Leah M BLeah M B Alum Member
    8392 karma

    Yeah sometimes old threads are worth a bump.

    I think I agree with a lot of the analysis above. I wasn't ever rigid with pre-phrasing, but I feel like newer tests have more answer choices with very subtle differences, making them traps. It was easier for me on earlier tests to choose the first answer that seemed to fit and move on. But I feel like on newer tests there are more choices that could possibly fit, unless you notice some small detail in how it's written.

    I personally tend to have a rough sketch in my head of what the answer might be, but have realized that you need to remain open in case it really is something else.

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