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Strengthening and Weakening Questions

jrose.smithjrose.smith Free Trial Member

Hi guys,

I keep getting strengthening and weakening questions wrong and I can't figure out why... does anyone have any suggestions or helpful tips that help them get through these types of problems?


  • jmarmaduke96jmarmaduke96 Member Sage
    2891 karma


    I think that strengthening and weakening questions can be some of the hardest on the LSAT simply because the test writers have an entire world of plausible phenomena to pull from when making correct and incorrect answer choices.

    I suppose I should first ask if you have trouble with any particular types of strengthening and wearing questions. Do ones with causal reasoning trip you up more? what about numbers v percentages?

    I think that for some of these types of reasoning, spending time on your own to make analogies is very helpful. It is one thing to learn formulaically that saying "X tends to rise with Y" is a correlation and that concluding "X therefore causes Y" is erroneous. It is a very different thing to understand the logic behind it. For questions dealing with that kind of logic, I would start by making some very easy examples for yourself, where the error isn't hard to spot. For example, "every single person who drinks water ends up dying. Therefore, I believe that consuming water causes death." Other examples can be harder to see because the LSAT will play on your prejudices - "Almost every single person who smokes gets lung cancer. Therefore, cigarettes probably contain carcinogens or somehow otherwise cause cancer."

    While we realize with real world knowledge that water does not cause death and cigarettes do cause cancer, both of those arguments are logically similar. They are both atrocious. Both take a strong correlation as evidence of causation. Neither conclusion has any business being drawn on the basis of the evidence given for it. Once you get comfortable with making more complex examples for yourself and switching up the words that you use, spotting those mistakes will become a lot easier.

    Im just picking on correlation/causation because the LSAT uses that on almost every PT, but I think the same idea applies to all of the other types of reasoning.

    Once you are sure that you understand the theory behind the logic, make sure that you are reading the question properly on the test. Make sure you are breaking apart the premises and conclusion. Make sure you know exactly what the premises are saying (some vs most, etc). When you are doing the questions in BR, try covering up the answers. Only look at the stimulus and try to come up with a couple examples of things that would weaken the reasoning on your own. Forcing your brain to go through these mental gymnastics is the best and most efficient to get more comfortable making these determination on the fly, which is exactly what you have to do on the real test.

    Good luck! I hope this made sense, let me know if there are specific types of reasoning you struggle with and we can look at those in some more detail!

  • EddieMEddieM Alum Member
    edited April 2020 279 karma

    For weaken questions, it really helps me to transform them into RRE questions. I think I got this from something JY posted one time.

    For example, to answer a weaken question with this stimulus, "Johnny loves pasta, so he must love all Italian food," you would (1) negate the conclusion (Johnny doesn't necessarily love Italian food), and (2) ask it to yourself as a "resolve the discrepancy" question: "How could it be that Johnny doesn't necessarily love all Italian food even though he loves pasta?" or "How could it be that Johnny's loving pasta doesn't prove/guarantee that he loves all Italian food?" The correct answer will be the one that helps to answer your question.

  • dazedandconfused-1dazedandconfused-1 Member
    258 karma

    Hello, to add some of my two cents on the strengthening/weakening question on top of the already solid advice given by the other contributors -
    1) I always underline the conclusion (the point) first before I read the rest of the stimulus and use that conclusion as an anchor as I continue reading for the support. If that anchor feels like it's detaching because of the wordiness of the stimulus, I'll remind myself of the conclusion again.
    2) Try to work on pre-phrasing (predicting what the answer choice might be) before you actually read the answer choices. I've found this to be quite difficult at first, but once I started getting the hang of it, I realized it's helped me really get a more intuitive understanding of the flaw in the stimulus.
    3) (this is when you're doing BR) - sometimes, when I'm just typing out the stimulus in my own words, I realize what the problem in the stimulus is (or at least I start realizing that the logic in the stimulus feels unnatural). I think typing out the stimulus helped me understand strengthening/weakening questions better.

  • lsatgirl-1lsatgirl-1 Alum Member
    256 karma

    I struggle with these questions as well. But the webinars gave me some clarity. Maybe you can check that out.

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