LR - Getting Bogged Down by Irrelevant Answers

Moon10YGMoon10YG Member
in General 43 karma

After about 10 PTs and many painful self-reflections, I came to the conclusion that the reason why I am having a major problem with improving my timing is due to my inability to rule out irrelevant answers.

For some reason, especially for descriptive flaws and weakening questions, I tend to spend too much time with answer choices that JY and many other students rule out immediately.

For example, when I'm contemplating between two or three answer choices, I find myself trying to figure out some sort of relevance of the irrelevant and out of scope answer choices. During this process, not only do I end up wasting a lot of time, but I also end up getting that question wrong.

Good news is that during the BR, I can usually get that question right, but only after serious mental debates and considerations.

Nevertheless, I was hoping that I could train my mind to think about the right things, instead of wasting my time by thinking about things that don't matter.

Currently, I'm only able to finish about 22-23 questions of LR, but my BR score for both sections combined fluctuates from -5 to -7 (so, about -2 to -4 per section).

I am hoping that I can hit two birds (speed and accuracy) with one stone by training my mind to think about the right things.

Could you guys give me some tips on how I can accomplish this? I mostly have this problem with descriptive flaw, weakening, and NA questions.

Thank you very much for your help.

P.S. Also, I was wondering if it's better for me to try and complete all 25-26 questions first, or work on accuracy first. I was never able to finish the entire section without skipping questions. I did not actively try to improve my speed, because I knew that I lacked some fundamental skill. Again, your advice is much appreciated.


  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Monthly + Live Member Sage 🍌 7Sage Tutor
    27598 karma
    I think it’s such a difficult category because there are just so many flaws. There are so few ways an argument can be right, I mean think about it, of all the possible arguments, and you’re telling me that fewer than 10 of them are actually okay? That’s crazy, and it leaves so many different ways an argument can go wrong.

    So here’s what you’ve got to do: Before you even look at the answers, you must identify what the flaw is. With a lot of question types like, NA or something, it’s okay if you need to go into the answer choices and let them guide you. Not so much with Flaw. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, they’re going to throw all this shit at you and you won’t be able to make heads or tails of it. If you read a Flaw stim and you can’t define the flaw just from the stimulus, skip it immediately. Don’t even look at the answer choices, just move on. Pick up those last couple of questions you aren’t getting to. Why waste your time on a question you tend to get wrong anyway? Do the Flaw questions in your bonus time. You’ll have maxed out your easy points and you’ll be more relaxed to break open the flaw.

    As far as improving on flaw questions, the more familiar you are with flaws the more readily you will recognize them.
  • AddistotleAddistotle Member
    328 karma
    @"Cant Get Right" said:
    Before you even look at the answers, you must identify what the flaw is.
    Once again, Cant nailed this one,100%, especially the part about skipping!

    My biggest improvement with this question type came from exposure, the more flaw questions I saw, the more I noticed their cookie cutter similarities; the faster I was able to identify the flaw, the faster I was eliminate all of the irrelevant answers before even looking at them. This trains your mind to know exactly what answer choice you need, and hone in on it without a second thought.
  • runiggyrunruniggyrun Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    2481 karma
    The suggestions above are golden, as usual. I would add one practical point that has helped me with flaw questions - once you've read the stem and you know you're dealing with a flawed argument, read the stimulus with the mindset you'd have if you were in the middle of an argument with someone you REALLY don't like and you want to get back at. You know, those friends that say something and make you immediately want to say "Wait, that's ridiculous - you can't compare apples to oranges".
    We often read things with a "benefit of the doubt" mindset, looking to see how something might make sense. The LSAT (at least the flaw family questions) are the opposite. You go in KNOWING that there's a problem with the argument, and your job is to find out what that problem is.

    And yes, practice will help, especially if you're paying attention in BR. Make a note (even a physical note) when you have those moments of "aaaah, now I see it, so THAT'S why this answer is wrong". In time you'll get much better at seeing those traps for what they are.
  • Moon10YGMoon10YG Member
    edited July 2016 43 karma
    Thank you very much for explaining the difficulty of flaw questions...

    I think identifying the flaw (pre-phrasing) before moving into the answer choices is something I can definitely improve.

    But, most of the time, I'm able to determine the flaw or the gap in reasoning. The problem arises because of my inability to identify the answer choice that I've pre-phrased in my head, or to rule out irrelevant answers.

    Completely ruling out irrelevant answers is something that's very difficult for me... I tend to make up unwarranted assumptions that make it seem relevant...

    As you guys have suggested, I will do more flaw drills until I begin to notice the basic patterns in these questions.

    I guess I'm worried because I feel like I've hit a road block and it's difficult for me to realize what I'm lacking... I sort of feel like I'm climbing up the wrong mountain, and thus wasting my time and energy on things that don't require my attention.

    I just want to make sure that I'm on the right path to mastering the LR section.

    I've met my goal of consistently scoring -0 to -1 on LG and -5 to -7 on RC. (Recent 5 PTs) I would like to meet my goal of scoring -4 combined for the LR section for the chance of breaking170.

    At this point, I feel like meeting my LR goal is out of reach...
  • runiggyrunruniggyrun Alum Inactive Sage Inactive ⭐
    2481 karma
    @Moon10YG said:
    At this point, I feel like meeting my LR goal is out of reach...
    Don't throw in the towel - giving up will just guarantee you won't reach your goal. You are actively trying to understand what's holding you back and looking to do something different - that puts you miles ahead of the people who just keep doing what they're doing and hoping for different results.

    As for having trouble eliminating wrong answers - you say you look for and/or find things that could make an answer right. That's the wrong mindset - you need to actively look for things that can make an answer wrong. For every answer, there's an initial 80% chance it's wrong. If there's anything about it that smells fishy, that chance jumps to 95% or higher. For some of the trickiest questions, the right answer is the one that's left standing after finding issues with all the other four.

  • civnetncivnetn Free Trial Member
    148 karma
    I've only recently seen improvements with my LR sections, so I won't offer too much advice, but the one thing I will say is that from my experience, you don't just get better at one aspect of LR. You don't just get better for example, at eliminating irrelevant answer choices.

    This is because to be able to eliminate those types of incorrect answers requires you have a strong understanding of what the flaw actually is, and to do this, you need to be able to break down the logic of the stimulus fairly quickly.

    So if you get better at understanding the possible logical flaws (because there are only so many) and identifying them in flaw questions, you'll get better a phrasing the correct answer before you even see the answer choice options.

    Flaws were very difficult for me too until I really got deep into my blind review process and began writing out detailed explanations for each answer choice, as well as the premise and conclusion of each stimulus. Breaking the argument down that way, helped me get an understand of the types of flaws the LSAT writers can use.

    I don't know if you're currently doing this, but I can't emphasize enough how this helped me, not only with flaw questions, but also with NA questions (I feel your pain). When you can break the argument down like this and can see the flaw plain and clear, irrelevant answer choices become much easier to eliminate. This made NA questions much easier for me also.

    After a while you get really good at just looking at a flaw question and immediately having a suspicion that you're going to see a certain type of flaw.

    If you're currently unable to identify the irrelevant answers or have trouble identifying which one of two is irrelevant, that would indicate to me that when you're considering the answer choices you haven't pinpointed exactly what the flaw is - whether it's an assumption, correlation, etc, or the exact nature of the relationship between the premise(s) and conclusion.

    So, if I were you, after each of these questions, I'd break the paragraph down into Premise and Conclusion, enough so you can say to yourself, "Ok. What is the flaw and what is it's relationship to the premise and conclusion."
  • MrSamIamMrSamIam Inactive ⭐
    2086 karma
    You need to start prephrasing. And, if you're already doing it, you need to improve that skill. This is ESPECIALLY true for flaw questions, because the incorrect ACs are often worded in a way where they can and will be correct on other questions. That is why they are appealing.
    Read the stimulus, figure out the flaw BEFORE you look at the answer choices, then look at the ACs and pick the one that best describes that flaw.
    This goes for the majority of questions on LR and RC. When you read, "What is the author's main point?" You don't respond with "Okay, which AC is the one that best describes the MP?" You respond with, "The author is trying to convince me that, X Y, which one of these AC's best describes this?"
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