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Weakening questions

Mikey O.Mikey O. Legacy Member

These are by far the hardest and most difficult type of LR questions for me. As soon as they turn into 3/5 stars in difficulty or greater I start missing them regularly. What is the best technique for tackling these question types? I've gone over the CC multiple times and it still doesn't explain it.


  • TimLSAT180TimLSAT180 Alum Member
    619 karma

    So, usually when people say that they have trouble with a particular type of LR question, it's not really about the type of question (weakening, strengthening, resolve the paradox, etc.). I mean some people say that they are good at strengthening questions but bad at weakening questions, which really doesn't make sense because they are basically two sides of the same coin. If you're able to figure out the assumption of any given argument, you should be able to come up with answer choices that could potentially strengthen or weaken. So, I think personally it's not the question type specifically that may be tripping you up, but might be specific skills such as recognizing and deciphering conditional logic, parsing out difficult grammar, understanding causation theory, etc. The really difficult LR questions are sometimes not really difficult in the logic, but difficult because of the extra layer of grammar that is difficult to parse out.

    Simply put, I personally think there really is no "technique" to solve a particular LR question type. I think it's better to think of a simple framework that applies to all argument-based LR questions and a simple framework for all non-argument-based LR questions. If you're given an argument, the way to approach it whether it's strengthening, weakening, flaw, sufficient assumption, method of reasoning, main point, argument part, should really be the same. Hope this helps!

  • jknaufjknauf Alum Member
    edited February 2017 1741 karma

    Really break down the argument. Look for certain logical structures like Causal or Conditional reasoning. Once you have done that, you can begin learning ways to weaken the argument.

    One way to weaken a causal conclusion is by showing the effect does not have to follow the cause, thus, the argument is weakened by showing no causal relationship. Or, show that there is an alternate cause which causes the effect.

    For conditional conclusions, you can weaken an argument by showing that if the sufficient condition occurs, the necessary doesn't necessarily have to occur.

    These are just a couple examples, but really try and focus on argument analysis. Argument analysis is important for all questions because most questions have similar ways of approaching them as @TimLSAT180 said above.

    Good luck!

  • twssmithtwssmith Alum
    5120 karma

    Agree with advice above:) Great awareness that you recognize a "weakness" in Weaken question but as related above, a flawed argument is a flawed argument no matter what question is asked.
    Take your last few PTs and look at all flaw/assumption questions to see if you can identify a trend in the type of argument presented in the stimulus. Many people think they are struggling with a question type when it is actually a specific flaw type(s) that is causing the lack of understanding to identify the correct answer choice. If you are able to find a correlation on flaw type, then you can focus on the great advice above to implement strategies based on the flaw.

    Another great resource is a Webinar on Strengthen/Weaken Questions -

    All the best!

  • BinghamtonDaveBinghamtonDave Alum Member 🍌🍌
    8678 karma

    Excellent, excellent advice by @twssmith @jknauf and @TimLSAT180

    A variety of approaches here that have a similar thread through them: reviewing questions and taking them apart for analysis can be very beneficial.

  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    27385 karma

    Strengthen/Weaken questions are the hardest type for me too. Of course a deep intuitive understanding of the argument is essential, but from there, the answer choices can really come out of nowhere. Sometimes it won't even be immediately clear how the right answer has anything to do with the argument. I do not prephrase on Strengthen/Weaken, and I do so deliberately as an active part of my approach. Rather, I want to just consider the answer choices with an open mind. This allows me to be creative with each AC and see how something completely out of left field actually does affect the strength of the argument.

  • MrSamIamMrSamIam Legacy Inactive ⭐
    2086 karma

    Practice, practice, practice. I remember absolutely hating weakening questions. The nice thing about them is that they're practically all the same. The more you expose yourself to weakening questions, the easier it'll be to hone in on what exactly weakens the argument.
    Something in the argument is prone to an attack. Find that thing (almost always a premise), and attack it.
    Like @"Cant Get Right" mentioned, sometimes it's difficult to prephrase on certain question types. Specifically, those where the answer could be 1 of 100 potentially good answers. This may sound time consuming, but on weakening questions try to plug the ACs in. Read each AC carefully, see if it harms the argument in some way. If it doesn't, or you're not entirely sure what it does to the argument, move to the next.

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