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Difference Between 'Principle Justify' Questions and 'Sufficent Assumption' Questions

UnicornFartsUnicornFarts Alum Member

Hi guys, I have trouble distinguishing between the so called 'pseudo sufficient' questions where you are asked to use one of the following principles to justify the conclusion vs. a regular sufficient assumption question. Can someone please explain or distinguish the steps to doing them? Thanks!


  • foxtrot96foxtrot96 Member
    147 karma

    I guess the easiest way to distinguish between them would be this: when the question stem says which of the following MOST helps to justify then thats a PSA question.

    when it mentions: which one the following if assumed would help justify the argument then thats a SA question.

    Be on the lookout for the word MOST, that is what differentiates the two.

  • Lucas CarterLucas Carter Alum Member
    2798 karma

    "Most helps justify" is the most common type of PSA question stem. These differ from SA questions because the credited answer choice will not need to be sufficient to make the argument completely valid.Remember validity means that the conclusion 100% must be true based on the premises. SA questions will get you there, while PSA will generally get you extremely close, if not exactly there. I have found a lot of "Most helps justify" stems do have correct answer choices that make the argument valid, however, the wording of the stems does not mean they must be valid.

    Approaching PSA questions like SA questions is how I improved on them significantly. My original approach was looking at them as strengthening questions, however, the support required is generally more than a traditional strengthening question.I found that these questions become really formulaic and easy to see if you really focus in on what the argument is concluding and find the answer choice that gets the premise there. There is a great webinar about PSA questions. Here is the link:

  • eRetakereRetaker Free Trial Member
    2038 karma

    @"Lucas Carter" is correct. PSA questions are slightly different from SA questions due to not needing to be fully sufficient, but honestly the vast vast majority of the time the PSA credited correct answer might as well be the correct answer for an SA question as well. Treat them as the same and don't worry about differentiating them.

  • samantha.ashley92samantha.ashley92 Alum Member
    1777 karma

    So it looks like you have some good advice on here. What I will add is that there are two quizzes in the CC that can really help with identifying question stems, as well as flash cards. I like to make my own flash cards, actually.

  • jhbm_nycjhbm_nyc Alum Member
    edited September 2018 568 karma

    Agreed with the above responses. I approach principle PSA pretty much the same way I do an SA question because they're so similar. The only difference is that an SA answer choice makes the argument completely airtight/valid, whereas a PSA comes really close, but the test writers probably just want some wiggle room to avoid liability.

    Here's an example (an analogy of a question I just did): "The proposed law is vague and can be subject to different interpretations depending on the special interests of the individual. Therefore, the mayor can abuse the proposed law, if it passes, for his/her own personal gain."

    An SA answer choice would be, "If a law is vague and subject to multiple interpretations, then the mayor can abuse it." This is P → C, which makes the argument valid.

    A PSA answer choice would be, "The power to interpret the law belongs solely to the mayor." I don't think this makes the argument valid, but it sure does come close. It's just a small jump from "sole power to interpret" to "can interpret in a way that's for one's personal gain."

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