LSAT 12 – Section 1 – Question 15

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT12 S1 Q15
Strengthen +Streng
+Easier 147.398 +SubsectionMedium
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We should recognize that this is a strengthening question, as the question stem asks: Which one of the following, if true, most strengthens the argument?

The stimulus begins with a definition of salmonella, which identifies it as a possible cause of intestinal illness. The second sentence tells us that this intestinal illness can be fatal, with an increased likelihood if not identified quickly and treated. So Salmonella can cause intestinal illness which can cause death, especially if you don’t know you have the illness; got it! Following this context about salmonella, we learn about conventional salmonella tests; basically, they suck. They are slow and can miss unusual variants, which since we know you want to quickly identify and treat intestinal illness, is pretty bad. Luckily, there is this new test which identifies whether salmonella is present based of a piece of genetic material which all subsets of salmonella possess. The argument concludes that it would be prudent for public health officials to swap the old conventional tests for the new genetic tests.

A key takeaway from this stimulus you should have is that we need more information about this new test. We know a decent amount about the old one, namely that it’s bad because it is slow and unreliable, but all we really get from the stimulus about the new test is that it is more reliable than the old one. A key detail we are missing is the speed of the test. A necessary assumption of the argument is that the new test isn’t too slow to be a good test for salmonella. As things stand, it is entirely consistent with what we know that the new test is 10 times slower than the old one! While there are always lots of ways to strengthen an argument, the fact that the stimulus mentions the importance of quickly identifying intestinal illness should have us on the lookout for an answer choice that fills the gap in our argument about the new test’s speed. Let’s see what we get:

Answer Choice (A) All this answer choice introduces is a disadvantage of the new test compared to the conventional test. Since our conclusion is that the new test should replace the conventional test, this answer choice actually weakens our argument.

Correct Answer Choice (B) Bingo! This answer gives us another important advantage of the new test over the old test, and fills in our assumption that the new tests aren’t too slow.

Answer Choice (C) Always anchor yourself in the conclusion on strengthening questions. We are looking for reasons why the new test should replace the old test. Our argument is about testing, not treatment.

Answer Choice (D) Ok? How often people get salmonella has nothing to do with relative superiority of the new tests to the old ones. Maybe if, for example, we were told it is hard to mass produce the new tests this answer might do something for us, but as the question is written this answer adds no support.

Answer Choice (E) Cool! We don’t care. Same as C, our argument and conclusion are all about the testing for Salmonella. This answer adds nothing to our argument.

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