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Need Help with MSS v. Strengthen, v. Correlation/Causation Strengthen

shindavis16shindavis16 Alum Member

I am stuck on some of the MSS questions, Weaken, and the difference with how to tell MSS and Strengthen apart especially when C/C Strengthen is in play.
For example, PT 16, S2, Q21 was on a webinar with Nicole and presented as a C/C Strengthen question. The stem says what I would take as a MSS question though, stating "Which one of the following, if true, most strongly supports the conclusion drawn by the entomologists?

Nicole suggested looking for the one answer that actually doesn't strengthen the entomologists conclusion at all, rather to choose the AC that doesn't support it, thus making the entomologists conclusion more sound.
Such as A causes B is the conclusion, so the answer needs to be either: B causes A, C causes both A and B, or No relationship.

Can someone please explain how and why I would know that I wasn't supposed to be choosing a supporting answer, but rather a conflicting one? Are there any tricks or key words for questions like these?


  • AllezAllez21AllezAllez21 Member Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    1917 karma

    I'm not sure about the specific question you cited, maybe I will look into it and provide a response later.

    But I want to point out how to spot the difference between MSS and Strengthen questions. The difference is whether you apply the answer choices to the stimulus or whether you apply the stimulus to the answers. I think of it as flowing. Does the question want us to flow down or flow up?

    For MSS, the question flows down. That means that we take what we were given in the stimulus, and apply it to answer choices. From stimulus down to answers. That's why question stems in this category often say "Which of the following is most strongly supported by the information above?" or "The passage most strongly supports which one of the following?"

    For strengthen, the question flows up. That means we take what we are given in the answers, and apply it to the stimulus. From answers up to stimulus. In the question you cited, we know it's a strengthen because it asks "which one of the following" (aka, the following answer choices) supports the conclusion of the entomologists (aka, something in the stimulus). That provides us with a direction of action. The answers are doing something to the stimulus, rather than the other way around.

    This is a great lesson solidifying the concept:

    Even during real PTs, I will draw an arrow pointing up or down on certain questions just to ensure I do not get confused. Practice this with mixed problem sets, identifying if the question flows up or down.

  • BinghamtonDaveBinghamtonDave Alum Member 🍌🍌
    8684 karma

    Hello, your first point is something quite common throughout the process of getting stronger on the LR section of the LSAT. The question you referenced is asking us to pick something that "most strongly supports the conclusion drawn by the person." This is actually a strengthening task. The LSAT has dozens of cleverly constructed ways of essentially penalizing reading by a test taker that is not done carefully. An MSS question stem will say: "which one of the following is most strongly supported by the person's statements?" This question is different from 16-2-21. For an example of the way an MSS question stem is constructed, please see: 41-1-11 For further practice on making questions stems more automatic, please see:

  • dennisgerrarddennisgerrard Alum Member
    1644 karma

    I agree what @AllezAllez21 . MSS questions is like an Inference. Part or All informations are used to supported to one conclusion(not necessarily for the stimulus).

    For PT16,2,21 (A) says no cause, opposite effect(which confirms the conclusion: Fungus CAUSE moth declines. If not Fungus, moth population may or may not Increase). Yet, I assume that POE helps you eliminate (B) to (E) .

    (B) Few insect species? Not mentioned in stimulus.
    (C) Species prey on the moth? Again, not in stimulus.
    (D) Air pollution and acid rain? Where are they???
    (E)Comparison trap. We focus on the decline of moth in "those areas", not compare among forests.

    In general, I won't worry about Causation and Correlation in MSS type.

  • shindavis16shindavis16 Alum Member
    129 karma

    @BinghamtonDave @AllezAllez21 @dennisgerrard
    Thank you all. Seeing the differences in Q stem wording actually helped a lot, how it flowed up or down.

    I keep finding myself stuck on level 4 & 5 MSS questions. I do not know how to attach a link to a question in here, but PT19, S4, Q12 was one that I still feel was badly worded. I felt like between the inferences that had to be made in AC (C) and (E), E was the much shorter stretch and could be logically inferred from the passage. For C, we would have had to not only assume that it was clearly less efficient, (because otherwise why have a pheromone trail to guide you back to your home if it wasn't more efficient), but it was also asking us to make the leap that ANY ants that did forage during afternoons in the Sahara, generally didn't use pheromones to forage.
    E only required that we infer that IF any ants foraged for food in the Sahara in the afternoons, in temps above 45 degrees C, then they were less efficient than they were when temps were lower than 45 degrees.

    Also, if you are able to look, can anyone explain how I would have identified in PT27 S1 Q20 that I was supposed to set everything as a contrast against a poem's definition? I didn't see that, I honestly had no clue how to approach this, aside from looking for something that was a statement of fact.

    If anyone can tell me how to imbed links to things so I don't just reference the PT numbers, I can do that in the future.

    Thanks in advance!!

  • AllezAllez21AllezAllez21 Member Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    1917 karma

    For PT19.4.Q12, I think the entire concept of efficiency is a trap meant to get you to stray from what is actually in the stimulus. At no point in the stimulus is efficiency discussed. Therefore, we can conclude nothing about efficiency. This is why answer E is incorrect. It is just as likely to be true that ants end up foraging more efficiently without pheromones as they do with them. I can say that because we are given no information on efficiency. One would have to bring in outside knowledge to say otherwise, and we cannot bring in outside knowledge.

    Answer C is correct because it says that such ants forage for food only during the afternoons. During the afternoons pheromones are rendered entirely ineffective due to heat. We can conclude, generally, that such ants do not use pheromones to navigate.

    Look at some of the other comments on the explanation video, they are good:

    For PT27.1.Q20, I think many of the harder MSS type questions involve intersectional statements. Given that the stimulus starts out by listing a bunch of characteristics of poems, and then contrasts that with other forms of art, I'm already looking to see what does or does not intersect.

  • dennisgerrarddennisgerrard Alum Member
    edited May 2017 1644 karma

    For the link issue, you can just copy JY's video explanation's link and post on forum. Anyone would like to help you out.

    PT19 S4 Q12
    After reading your post, I don't100% understand your views on C and E. I would contribute my insight and share with you.

    (E) First of all, it is a comparison statement.Ants move above 45 VS. Ants move lower 45. Do we know the latter??? I'm not quite sure if you can find the exact support in stimulus. Your assumption on EFFICIENCY seems reasonable. However, the stimulus(context) DIDN'T say a word about the EFFICIENCY(this is a new concept).

    PT20 S1 Q20

    The first sentence is a conditional statement. Poem-->art with some musical characteristics(meter, rhythm...) And sentences behind talk about novel, symphony and limerick. First sentence is an standard to judge one work is poem or not.Bear this on mind.

    Novel: Usually not having musical characteristics of language( so we can't judge it's a Poem or nor since "Usually" indicates an exception)

    Blank verse: Not rhyme. (still doesn't know if it's poem or not)

    Limericks( NOT art-->NOT poem)

    (A) What about movies? Is movie an form of art?
    (B) If verse has rhythm and euphony, it can still be a poem.
    (C) Right. Novel with meter and rhyme, it sure is a poem.
    (D)False statement. Limericks is not poem.
    (E) We can't say symphony is not poem. But we don't know the requirement of being a art. So, defer the judgement here.(We don't have support in stimulus).

    General approach: First sentence is like an Principle. You can skim details following behind. 3 choices are Conditional, you can directly check them comparing with Core conditional statement(Poem--->art use some characteristics of language).

    Having a Strong understanding on stimulus outweighs knowing the question type and using specific approach.

    Let me know if my lengthy words are helpful;)

  • goingfor99thgoingfor99th Free Trial Member
    edited May 2017 3072 karma

    Write out flashcards for the question stems of each question type (one question stem per flashcard) and run through them every night once you're finished with your work. This helped me to be able to quickly and easily identify the flow of the argument from the stimulus to the answer choices or from the answer choices to the stimulus.

  • shindavis16shindavis16 Alum Member
    129 karma

    @goingfor99th Thanks for the idea, I like that. @dennisgerrard Thank your for the explanation. You mentioned that Limericks are not poems, but they are silly or humorous 5 line poems that consist of rhyming and some verbal rhythm. I didn't really know which answer to choose originally, just looked for something that was true. Why was D not true? Or was C just more true?

  • dennisgerrarddennisgerrard Alum Member
    1644 karma

    @shindavis16 Check the last sentence in stimulus. It basically says limerick is NOT ART. (D)says limerick is poem(regardless the "non-artist type"). We can eliminate (D)right away once you catch the core part "limerick is a poem". We know in the stimulus poem/poetry IS art(poem-->art...) Make sure you recognize the logical chain. Do the contrapositive (NOT art--not poem)

    Last sentence, limerick is NOT art. Therefore, using the contrapositive, limerick is not poem(Why? It is not art at the first place). (D) is against to this idea. It MUST BE FALSE, not an attractive choice at all.

    (C) is a Must be True. Check it with the logical chain, the core of this question.

    Don't hesitate to ask if you have any doubt. For me, (D) shouldn't be tempting for you. Don't use your extra knowledge in solving LSAT questions.

  • dennisgerrarddennisgerrard Alum Member
    1644 karma

    If it helps, treat MSS like Inference type question. You need find some support to justify the answer choice. Re-read the stimulus again and again.

  • JustDoItJustDoIt Alum Member
    3112 karma

    @dennisgerrard said:

    If it helps, treat MSS like Inference type question. You need find some support to justify the answer choice. Re-read the stimulus again and again.

    This is key. Because as stated, the information in inference questions flow downward. It's kind of interesting too if you think about the stems in terms of the task they present and not the words they contain. With the question you stated we are looking for an answer choice that basically supports the hypothesis presented. So even though it says "most strongly supports," it's not that we are trying to determine which is supported based off the evidence, we are actually trying to use the evidence to help the dudes out. I know this was kind of stated but just wanted to add my own two cents.

  • shindavis16shindavis16 Alum Member
    129 karma

    @dennisgerrard @JustDoIt Thanks guys. You are right. I was absolutely using my outside knowledge for the questions. That is constantly tripping me up. Things that wouldn't ordinarily be correct are flagging something in my brain and wasting my time and attention. I am going to work another problem set focusing only on the information given.

    One question though, which type require us to make inferences that are not there? Flow up or flow down? Are the inferences really just information already contained in the stimulus anyway?

  • dennisgerrarddennisgerrard Alum Member
    1644 karma

    For this one, it's flow down.Yet, you don't have use all details in stimulus. Even you can make a reasonable inference, you need eliminate all other 4 incorrect answer choices(POE) like other 4 in this one.

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