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Tips for flaw questions?

emmorensemmorens Core Member

Hey all!

I've been working really hard on LR and am seeing a lot of improvement so far, however one area that I am still having a lot of difficulty with is in flaw questions...

I have been practicing with the two step test when I can't identify the flaw, but for whatever reason I find it very easy to gaslight my own reasoning with these wrong answer choices, than in comparison to other question types' wrong answer choices.

Any advice on being able to find the right answer even when you don't spot the flaw would be much appreciated!


  • Determined_-1Determined_-1 Member
    919 karma

    I didn't personally find the flaw 2-step approach helpful. For some reason, the "is this the flaw?" part had me second guessing a lot and I found it counterproductive.

    I recommend looking for the gap or jump being made between the premises and the conclusion, which Mike Kim talks about in his book. Let's do an example.

    Some people say Chick-fil-A has the best chicken nuggets because they handle the chicken with care. However, Chick-fil-A does not have the best chicken nuggets, because handling chicken with care is irrelevant to having the best chicken nuggets.

    Okay... so in short, because handling nuggets is irrelevant in having the best chicken nuggets, Chick-fil-A doesn't the best nuggets.

    Where is the jump being made?

    The author says that just because a premise (i.e. handling chicken with care) is irrelevant, the conclusion (Chick-fil-A has the best nuggets) is false. The jump here is that just because the author says the premise used is irrelevant doesn't mean the conclusion is false. The author's only support for saying Chick-fil-A doesn't have the best nuggets is because you don't need to handle chicken with care in order to have the best nuggets. But, perhaps there are other things that make Chick-fil-A's nuggets the best, like that it is nicely breaded or that it is easy to chew.

    The jump here was that the author concluded something was utterly false merely because something didn't have to be true without any more support for their argument.

    Try taking your time and reading Mike Kim's explanation of this ^

    The key is to see the jump being made. He starts you off with simple examples and at first I was like " I doing this". But it made me see the gap clearly for starters and then it helped me practice it for harder questions. He also really highlights using the phrase "takes for granted" or "fails to consider". Never underestimate how much power these words have when looking for a jump being made in a flaw question. For example, in our example above, I would say "the author fails to consider that just because one reasoning used as support is inadequate doesn't mean the conclusion is false"

    Hope this helps!

  • Determined_-1Determined_-1 Member
    919 karma

    Also, I don't know if you are a digital or paper person but try printing it out if you can and really engaging with it. :)

  • sarakimmelsarakimmel Member
    1488 karma

    I would advise practicing flaw questions untimed, and take the time to predict the flaw before looking at the answer choices. If you can't see the flaw, don't look at the ACs. Also, in your review, when you look over your flaw questions especially (but really for all LR), take the time to look at each answer choice and work out why each wrong AC is wrong and why the correct AC is correct. Doing this will allow you to see what you are currently missing in this question type. Once you are able to do this untimed, you will get faster at predicting and eliminating wrong answers to see the right one.

    I cannot emphasize enough, if you cannot see the flaw in the argument, the ACs will only confuse you, add in the pressure of time and it is a recipe for losing those points.

    Best of luck!

  • 279 karma

    Great advice so far. I would just add that you didn't specify the category of flaw you are struggling with so I would assume both.

    Either way, if you confuse yourself while analyzing ACs, you most likely have some gaps in internalizing the concepts. Knowing the material means that if someone comes to your house at 3am, pours a bucket of ice water on you, and throws you out of the bed you can still solve the question correctly.

    Classic Flaws - those require memorization. Make flashcards with examples that you come up with yourself. That requires spending sufficient time grappling with the nature of each flaw to be able to come up with a legitimate version. Just this process will get you at a new level of comfort with the concepts. After that you can practice as much as you need. You should be able to clearly pre-phrase each flaw during practice.

    Descriptive Flaws - this one trips people up a lot because there is no clear definitions to use. Find the loophole, figure out the gap, whatever people call it. This actually boils down to this: remember how many times (probably hundreds or thousands) you talked to a family member or a friend, they said something and your gut reaction was "are you nuts? what about X?" This is literally all there is to it. We worry about these because we get conditioned that the test is sneaky, but I am confident most (if not all) of us have this gut reaction everyday. If you make sure you are translating the stimulus effectively and confidently grasping what is being said, you should be able to trust that gut feeling and articulate the disconnect in the argument. Then just go find it in the ACs.

  • mattscrappymattscrappy Member
    138 karma

    Tagging on to all the great advice in this thread - something that helped me improve was going through any question (untimed) containing an argument and trying to identify the flaw without looking at any ACs. Nearly all questions in LR with an argument/conclusion have some kind of shoddy reasoning and using some of the easier freebies can be a good launching point for recognizing flaws organically. LSAT makers can reuse stimuli from undisclosed tests because they can make a bunch of different question types on the same passage. Create a flaw, then what would strengthen it? Close the flaw! Practice recognizing these on easier ones, then scale up to more difficult questions.

  • Clementine-2Clementine-2 Member
    208 karma

    I took kind of a long winded way to master flaw questions. But here's everything that's helped me!

    1. Translate the answer choices really well. The answer choices in flaw questions are intentionally very confusing and complicated. Take some time to CAREFULLY simplify the language in the answer choices. It will make it so much easier for you. Loophole talks about this if you wanna look into it more.

    2. Studying all common flaws. I took the time to study all the common flaws and make example arguments for them all. Not always will flaw questions use a common flaw, but when they do you'll be prepared. LSAT Labs has a funny video about the common flaws if you wanna start there.

    3. The only reason for X. One thing that really help me contextualize a flaw in an argument is saying the only reason X is concluding (conclusion), is (premise). When I plug in the premise and conclusion in those parentheses, it helps me really get to the flaw.

    4. Pre-phrase the flaw. DO NOT go to the answers until you've pre-phrased the answer, otherwise you risk getting confused by the answer choices. They're designed to take advantage of flaws in your thinking and they do it well. I actually write an abbreviated version of the flaw so I don't get confused, but do what works for you!

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