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The key difference btw recent lsats and the older ones

TheoryandPracticeTheoryandPractice Alum Member
edited April 2017 in General 1008 karma

My PT scores took a hit when I initially moved onto recent PTs (60s and up) from the older PTs.
I wondered why. Below is my theory and I was wondering if anyone can corroborate.

(This is limited to LR and RC)

My theory is that the LSAT is testing more on "meaning" of the text as opposed to "literal" understanding. What I mean by "meaning" is something like the range of valid inferences that can be made from the information, whether that is either from a sentence alone, or in combination with other parts of the stimulus/ passage. In the previous LSATs, they did test the meaning, but the correct answer choices also closely matched what's stated in the text quite literally. The wrong answer choices were more obviously wrong, in that they did not match the "text" in very obvious ways. So what I'm saying is that in the older LSATs, you could afford to NOT understand the meaning and still get the question right most of the times. In the more recent ones, you really have to understand the meaning, or else you are in for trouble.

In the more recent LSATs, they really test whether you've understood the meaning of the text. The "meaning" must be matched, as opposed to literally matching the text.

Attractor answers: They are very similar in wording from the text. It is sometimes just one word, one preposition, or something that's so subtle as to almost imperceptible that makes the answer choice wrong. "They sound right," which means that they contain familiar language.

Correct answers: matches in meaning, but not necessarily the language. It's easy to dismiss as wrong because it contains unfamiliar and "not sounding right" language.

So the litmus test for a correct answer is : Does it match the meaning?

There is nothing new about this. But I find myself needing to be especially more careful in the more recent PTs.

I used to have a very precise pre-phrase and looked for certain wordings. They works alright in PTS before 60s. They began to backfire on me on PTs after 60s.

Comments

  • nessa.k13.0nessa.k13.0 Legacy Inactive ⭐
    edited April 2017 4141 karma

    @TheoryandPractice said:
    I used to have a very precise pre-phrase and looked for certain wordings. They works alright in PTS before 60s. They began to backfire on me on PTs after 60s.

    This is so true. In the recent PTs I've noticed I have to be extremely careful and much more open minded about what I anticipate the answer to be.

    I think generally you are right with you theory. The things I note that run counter to your theory may just be an issue of semantics, so let me know. The recent PTs seem to focus much more on how the use of specific changes in language affects the logic vs primarily testing your understanding of logic in the older PTs. It has also been my experience that, with older PTs, it was easier to answer questions without focusing as much on the meaning of the stimulus because the correct answer matched the language of the stimulus. When I would do an LR section in an older PT I wouldn't have to be as meticulous with my attention to the language.

    Yup, trap answer choices now match the language and the right answer
    can appear to be unrelated at first glance. I have noticed that with some longer and more convoluted stimuli there are questions that suck up time because the details (like multiple embedded conditionals, referential phrases, and false dichotomies) don't matter that much to analyzing the argument. In this way, I think seeking out the crux of the argument has been more tricky in a different way on recent PTs. More often diagramming traps people when analyzing these questions because they don't fit as neatly into such visually represented statements. In this way I agree with you, finding a more literal understanding is more difficult and not as necessary as understanding the meaning.

  • TheoryandPracticeTheoryandPractice Alum Member
    1008 karma

    The recent PTs seem to focus much more on how the use of specific changes in language affects the logic vs primarily testing your understanding of logic in the older PTs.

    Hi @"nessa.k13.0" ! Could you possibly give me an example of how the use of specific changes in languages affects the logic? I think you are getting at something very deep here, but I have trouble applying it.

  • nessa.k13.0nessa.k13.0 Legacy Inactive ⭐
    edited April 2017 4141 karma

    Hey @TheoryandPractice ! I haven't forgotten I just really want to think about this and methodically list out all the ways I've noticed the above idea as well as provide you with specific examples (that don't ruin test questions). I'll post that soon. I want to be as precise as I possibly can with this.

  • TheoryandPracticeTheoryandPractice Alum Member
    1008 karma

    @"nessa.k13.0" o wow thank you so much!! super excited to listen to your insights

  • TheoryandPracticeTheoryandPractice Alum Member
    1008 karma

    @"nessa.k13.0" Hey! I am not sure if the question below (PT 17. 3. 4) showcases "how the use of specific changes in language affects the logic," but I think the question captures what I mean by testing the understanding of "meaning" as opposed to what's literally stated.

    I think the key in this stimulus is the word "short-sighted." What is the valid range of the meaning of the word "short-sighted?" What can be considered "short-sighted?" What cannot? Larissa's argument nowhere uses the word "short-sighted" but her phrase "a potent source of social unrest" implies that the policy is "short-sighted." In other words, we have to ask ourselves, can we validly infer that " a potent source of social unrest" matches the meaning of "short-sighted?"

    Ironically this is a question from rather an old PT, but I think the skill required to correctly answer this question (understanding the meaning 'short-sighted" and how Larissa's argument relates to it) is the skill that the recent PTs require more and more.

  • nessa.k13.0nessa.k13.0 Legacy Inactive ⭐
    edited April 2017 4141 karma

    @TheoryandPractice
    There are a few ways I've noticed how shifts in language appears differently. Some of these changes are easier to deal with than others and you can classify/consider them in different ways. I decided to not do examples for every case because I really don't want to mischaracterize the issue or give away key inferences in questions you haven't seen yet. Let me know which more recent PT's you've seen so I can note specific examples.

    I've had to be more disciplined about the following points because there are more questions that feature the word "most" in later PTs than on older ones. Some examples of those question stems are: which of the following most logically supports the conclusion, most undermines, can be most reasonably concluded, et cetera
    1. Slight changes in terms on more question types (than just PSA) where the distinction in word use is slight but various word choices offer different levels of validity. This is usually an issue to consider when selecting an answer choice.
    2. Dichotomies (usually with conditionals) that may appear to focus on elements or intersections that are not central to the argument. Examples of this are usually in stimuli that are dense and convoluted. SA questions feature this.
    3. Testing your understanding of the specific relationship between factors in the reasoning and the conclusion:
    a. Sometimes this idea is tested with the notion of causes being "indirect" vs "direct"
    i. You may have to select an answer that is needed to help increase the level of validity in the argument. Let's say you are dealing with people who decide to do things and their actions have an impact (that being part of the context and the effect being or relating to the conclusion). Then you have an A----->B------>C reasoning structure where the conclusion of the argument is A---->C, you have to note that whomever decided to make A happen, did not directly cause C to happen. Furthermore the stimulus can have an argument where the person who made A happen is indirectly responsible for C (or the effects of C), which is different than A itself directly causing C. In this particular case, you have to note the specific role of the actors in the situation as well as what they do and how those things cause others to happen.
    b. There's also an idea of intention. I'm currently working through how I should think about this concept based on how this idea occurs in recent PTs. I hear it plays a much bigger role in PT 80. Tyler pointed out some questions from PT 72 where you can see the emergence of this idea on the test.
    i. From what I've encountered so far, the idea of intent comes into play in Flaw, NA, and, miscellaneous questions (that are like principle or justify questions). For now, I'm thinking of this as similar to how the LSAT has played with the use of the word belief and synonyms (that may or may not be synonymous) on the test.

    So...a lot of that^ is really confusing and specifically non-specific without examples. Let me know what PTs post 60 you've seen, so I can note specific questions and so I don't ruin questions for you.

  • nessa.k13.0nessa.k13.0 Legacy Inactive ⭐
    4141 karma

    PT 17.3.4
    Yes! This question definitely gets at that issue! I think it's a great example actually and is why when you have more questions that require you to find the one that does something most to an argument, the difficulty shifts more towards your understanding or interpretation of the meaning of the language used and the degree to which it impacts validity. You have to understand the specific effect that specific words and their definitions have on the reasoning at hand.

    @TheoryandPractice said:
    @"nessa.k13.0" Hey! I am not sure if the question below (PT 17. 3. 4) showcases "how the use of specific changes in language affects the logic," but I think the question captures what I mean by testing the understanding of "meaning" as opposed to what's literally stated.

    Yeah, it bears more weight on the reasoning structure than "logic" I would say in this instance.

    I think the key in this stimulus is the word "short-sighted." What is the valid range of the meaning of the word "short-sighted?" What can be considered "short-sighted?" What cannot? Larissa's argument nowhere uses the word "short-sighted" but her phrase "a potent source of social unrest" implies that the policy is "short-sighted." In other words, we have to ask ourselves, can we validly infer that " a potent source of social unrest" matches the meaning of "short-sighted?"

    Does "a potent source of social unrest" match the meaning of "shortsighted" though?? When I first read through it----yes, I mentally categorized that attribute (shortsighted) to certain ideas to get through the stimulus but after going through the stimulus more meticulously, I'm not so sure we should do that. I think making that assumption is exactly the thing later PTs test and punish people for. Here's why: when I read "short-sighted" in Walter's conclusion I went into in Larissa's argument wanting terms that were more similar than how she phrased it as putting "everyone at equal risk"(---when referring to Walter's conclusion). I saw Larissa's main idea framing what Walter said as----this injustice is bad policy, not because it is shortsighted (in the sense that it will eventually happen to the wealthy/well educated) and thus places everyone (wealthy, well educated, disadvantaged etc) at equal risk of injustice, but because it is a potential source of unrest. I think Larissa's use of "a potent source of social unrest" (which yeah contributes to a reason why the policy is "morally wrong" and "short-sighted") is her introducing a new reason for why the policy, as she puts it a "bad policy" (which Walter doesn't mention policy but does refer to an act as "an injustice" that is "morally wrong but also shortsighted").
    I think it's crucial to note that distinction (Larissa adding a new reason for why such injustices persisting is bad policy) because as we've been discussing the later tests require more meticulous attention to use of language.

    Ironically this is a question from rather an old PT, but I think the skill required to correctly answer this question (understanding the meaning 'short-sighted" and how Larissa's argument relates to it) is the skill that the recent PTs require more and more.

    Yup the skill required here is definitely required more in recent tests to a higher degree. I think this stimulus gives you much more leeway regarding the definitions of words because you can assume certain terms from each statement are analogous to others and answer correctly. This was definitely a good early PT question to look at for the origins for the issue we're discussing. In the study group, we just finished review of PT 73 and those point at issue/how someone responds type questions do not allow for such broad interpretations of words or phrases.

  • TheoryandPracticeTheoryandPractice Alum Member
    1008 karma

    I saw Larissa's main idea framing what Walter said as----this injustice is bad policy, not because it is shortsighted (in the sense that it will eventually happen to the wealthy/well educated) and thus places everyone (wealthy, well educated, disadvantaged etc) at equal risk of injustice, but because it is a potential source of unrest.

    @"nessa.k13.0" Hmmm I went back to the stimulus and read it over several times, and I am not so sure about your reasoning. I think it depends on what Walter's conclusion is.

    I find the main crux of Walter's conclusion to be tolerating injustice against the disadvantaged is not just morally wrong but also short-sighted. And then Walter proceeds to give a reason (premise) for why it is short-sighted. Then Larissa disagrees with Walter's premise. (she is saying that that is not the reason why it is short-sighted). To me, "the social unrest" part seems to describe another reason why it is short-sighted. Here, the key is "bad policy." I think she uses "bad policy" to refer to both "morally wrong but also short-sighted" -- her version of summary of Walter's conclusion. The correct answer D suggests that Larissa agrees that tolerating injustice is short-sighted, but disagrees with the reason why it is short-sighted.

    For your reasoning to be correct, @"nessa.k13.0" I think we need to employ a more liberal/broad understanding of Walter's conclusion. I guess what Walter is IMPLYING through his conclusion is that the socially-privileged shouldn't tolerate injustice. If that's the case, then I can see how your reasoning would work.

    Either way we would have both gotten the answer D right, but I want to make sure whether my reasoning is right. So the question is, what exactly is Walter's conclusion?

  • TheoryandPracticeTheoryandPractice Alum Member
    1008 karma

    @"nessa.k13.0" Hi! Thank you so much for your analysis on the language shift. Ive seen PT70 and 71 so far! Your analysis is great and I prob need to read it mutliple times & see examples for myself to really ingrain these insights. I will post in the future if I have any questions. Again, thank you so much!

  • nessa.k13.0nessa.k13.0 Legacy Inactive ⭐
    edited April 2017 4141 karma

    @TheoryandPractice said:

    @"nessa.k13.0" said: I saw Larissa's main idea framing what Walter said as----this injustice is bad policy, not because it is shortsighted (in the sense that it will eventually happen to the wealthy/well educated) and thus places everyone (wealthy, well educated, disadvantaged etc) at equal risk of injustice, but because it is a potential source of unrest.

    I should say, Larissa's point of disagreement with Walter is over the reason why tolerating that injustice is bad and like you said his premise. He says it's because it could also affect the wealthy and she says it's bad because it's a source of unrest.

    I find the main crux of Walter's conclusion to be tolerating injustice against the disadvantaged is not just morally wrong but also short-sighted. And then Walter proceeds to give a reason (premise) for why it is short-sighted. Then Larissa disagrees with Walter's premise. (she is saying that that is not the reason why it is short-sighted). To me, "the social unrest" part seems to describe another reason why it is short-sighted. Here, the key is "bad policy." I think she uses "bad policy" to refer to both "morally wrong but also short-sighted" -- her version of summary of Walter's conclusion. The correct answer D suggests that Larissa agrees that tolerating injustice is short-sighted, but disagrees with the reason why it is short-sighted.

    Yeah I totally agree with what you stated Walter's conclusion and premise are. I also agree about what you stated is why Larissa disagrees with the reasons Walter states why the policy is shortsighted.

    For your reasoning to be correct, @"nessa.k13.0" I think we need to employ a more liberal/broad understanding of Walter's conclusion. I guess what Walter is IMPLYING through his conclusion is that the socially-privileged shouldn't tolerate injustice. If that's the case, then I can see how your reasoning would work.

    Yeah so from what I have seen in more recent tests sometimes that broad understanding is where point of disagreement questions may not be enough. You have to point more to exactly where and what they disagreed with (which I definitely think you did).

    Either way we would have both gotten the answer D right, but I want to make sure whether my reasoning is right. So the question is, what exactly is Walter's conclusion?

    Yeah true. I think the conclusion is "For the economically privileged in a society to tolerate an injustice perpetrated against one of society's disadvantaged is.....also shortsighted" Which I agree with you about :)

    @TheoryandPractice said:
    @"nessa.k13.0" Hi! Thank you so much for your analysis on the language shift. Ive seen PT70 and 71 so far! Your analysis is great and I prob need to read it mutliple times & see examples for myself to really ingrain these insights. I will post in the future if I have any questions. Again, thank you so much!

    You're welcome! I really had to think about your theory. It was a great exercise for me! I'm curious for you to encounter some of those things on later PTs. All the best with your studies!

  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma

    What a great conversation about the old tests vs. the new tests. I have to remember this thread so I can refer people who ask about the differences!

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