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What to do with an LR question stem that has a lot of contextual information?

CocoZhangCocoZhang Alum Member
edited April 2016 in Logical Reasoning 476 karma
JY is recommending reading the LR question stem first and figure out what question type it is before moving on the the stimulus, which I fully agree and find useful.

However, there are some question stems referring to a specific part of the stimulus and it probably won't make sense if you read it first. (here is an example where JY recommends returning to the questions stem later:

So, my question is, what to do with an LR question stem that has a lot of contextual information? Do I just stop thinking about it if I found the question stem containing too many contextual information? Or do I try to figure out a bit what is going on, who the question stem is referring to, etc. and carry the question stem when reading the stimulus? For example, in the example above, should I just skim the question stem and return to it later after reading the stimulus, or should I try to figure out that I am going to support Zimbabwe's argument and then read the stimulus?


  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Yearly + Live Member Sage 🍌 7Sage Tutor
    edited April 2016 27725 karma
    I think in this case, they’re just using specific terms where they normally use more generic language. So they could just as easily have said “the opponents’ counter argument” or something like that. So I think you should definitely recognize that you’re going to need to provide the principle upon which Zimbabwe’s argument rests, but I don’t think the specific information in the question stem complicates this anymore than a more generic stem. If anything, the stimulus specific terminology just further clarifies things.

    There are questions that contain long passages from the stimulus, and in those cases, it is very important to bring that information into your reading of the stimulus. So if this question were to ask: “What role does Zimbabwe’s claim that the problem lies not with the ivory trade but with the conservation policies of other countries play in the argument,” then you need to be sure to identify exactly where this is in the argument.
  • CocoZhangCocoZhang Alum Member
    476 karma
    @"Cant Get Right" Yeah, I understand that. But sometimes the question stem can be overwhelmingly confusing without reading the stimulus, like this one: What would you suggest?
  • runiggyrunruniggyrun Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    2481 karma
    Maybe I'm going against conventional wisdom here, but for a stem as convoluted as that I'd just glance at it and go right back to the stimulus, trying to understand the argument as well as I could, then read the stem thoroughly at the end.
    The habit of reading the stem first to know what to look for is great to save you time and focus your attention in >90% of cases, because the vast majority of time you can quickly say to yourself "Ah, it's a NA, SA, W, MSS, PF, F, etc" and proceed to read the argument accordingly. Just make sure you don't miss any "Except" or "does not strengthen/weaken/explain.
    I think if you do that consistently for those 90% of the questions it doesn't really matter how you approach the rare oddball, and I'd go with whatever makes most sense and feels more natural to you.

    (BTW, there are people who swear that reading the stem first for ANY question throws their focus and flow, so they perform better if they always read the stimulus first - we are not all the same and some things just won't work for you even if they work great for others. It's great that you are actively trying to find what's best for you now, rather than winging it on the day of the test)
  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Yearly + Live Member Sage 🍌 7Sage Tutor
    edited April 2016 27725 karma
    Oh wow, that is a crazy ass question.

    So yeah, here I think I’m just going to think "ok that’s really weird" and then read the stim to see what’s going on. I think it’s okay to maybe stumble a little here, because they’re presenting the information in such an odd way. What makes this so awkward is they’re actually adding to the stimulus within the question stem, really bizarre construction. It’s like the LR equivalent of when they throw rules into the setup in Games or something. It’s all the same types of information, they just structure it in an unconventional way. So you’ve just got to be flexible here and take a second to sort things out. Once you realize they’re expanding the stimulus within the question stem, I think it should be fairly easy to get back on track.

    I think @runiggyrun basically covered it as to how, more generally, to look at this. It’s usually not an issue, and when you hit an oddball, you’ve just got to accommodate it however seems best. I wouldn’t let it throw too much of a wrench into your normal system if you’ve found something you’re comfortable with.
  • CocoZhangCocoZhang Alum Member
    476 karma
    @runiggyrun @"Cant Get Right" Thanks for your input, I think you make a good point that it is more important to find my own pace.

    I recently encountered this question stem when doing the quiz for identifying the question stems, it reads like:"if the statements in the passage are true, which one of the following must also be true about Kay's course of action in any election to select on candidate for a position?"

    I personally will quickly identify the question stem as a MBT Question and just glance through the rest (starting with Kay's) and re-read the whole thing after I go through the stimulus. Do you have any suggestions to improve this method? Like, to keep in mind "1 candidate 1 position" etc etc when reading the stimulus will be helpful and save more time.
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