LSAT 15 – Section 2 – Question 11

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT15 S2 Q11
Main conclusion or main point +MC
+Easier 142.72 +SubsectionEasier

From the question stem, “Which one of the following most accurately states the conclusion of the argument above?” we can tell that we are looking for the main conclusion or main point of the argument.

This argument opens with a question, so first we ask ourselves if it's rhetorical or not. In other words, is it just being used as a language tool to make a point, or will it be explicitly answered? Before breaking down the content and details of the first sentence, I’ll skim forward to see if I can glean a quick answer as to why the author included this question. The first few words of the following sentence tell me the answer is a contingent “no.” Contingent upon what? Well, let’s break down the content of the question first. The author is wondering if it’s cool for journalists to start their stories with this set phrase, “in a surprise development.” Immediately, the answer follows with “not if,” indicating to us that we have at least one situation in which the answer is no (journalists shouldn’t do that). That situation is if the “surprise development” is referring ONLY to the journalist's own surprise. Then, we are given a premise in support of that answer, which just lays out a principle we don’t want to violate in the “world” of this stimulus: that journalists shouldn’t insert themselves in their stories. We then read another “not if” or contingent no, that under the condition that the “surprise development” was some other individual’s than the journalist. Again, this is supported by a quick premise that any person’s surprise that was worth mentioning should have been explicitly attributed to them in the story.

Quick recap: we have a couple scenarios in which the answer to the first sentence is going to be no. I’m wondering if the author is setting this up to point to a final scenario in which the answer would be YES, or if the author will lay out more contingent “no’s” so as to exhaust all the possibilities and point to a final answer of NO. Maybe there is some other point to this as well, but we only have one sentence left to find out. The last sentence opens with “the one possibility remaining,” so we at least know that the author intends to exhaust all the possibilities and point us towards some final answer of yes or no. If many people were surprised by this development, there is no point in pointing out superfluously that the story comes as a surprise! In this scenario, he is also implying that journalists should not use this phrase.

So, the author has laid out three scenarios that are intended to cover the full range of possibilities and point us towards a final answer of no, journalists shouldn’t start stories with “in a surprise development.” Looks like this is a main conclusion question where we can’t point to a single sentence as the conclusion itself, but where each sentence acts as a premise that, altogether, truly couldn’t take the argument in a different direction than the one we are thinking. The author’s conclusion here is supported by each premise: in any scenario, the answer to the first sentence is no. Let’s find this in the ACs:

Answer Choice (A) Bottom line, this doesn’t match our prediction. Our prediction was based on evidence from the text, so we trust it. There is nothing in the text that points to some scenario where journalists should use that phrase, so I don’t even need to read past the comma to eliminate A.

Answer Choice (B) Again, this doesn’t line up with the prediction that the final answer is no. We are sure there are no scenarios in which to use this phrase appropriately, due to the author’s phrasing “the one possibility remaining” before laying out the third contingent no.

Answer Choice (C) Ah. Maybe true, and at first glance does seem to be supported due to that same phrasing we referenced in the line above. But, my first question is if that was the author’s main point in writing this argument?? If it were, why would the author phrase the opening question like they did? This is definitely an argument about whether or not journalists should do something, not an argument about when a certain phrase is used. Also, (C) doesn’t even mention journalists’ use of the phrase. Bye!

Answer Choice (D) As much as I agree with the “when introducing a story” part of this AC, I hate the rest. It goes too far! We don’t know if the author thinks journalists should use that phrase when summing up, just that it’s never appropriate to use when introducing a story.

Correct Answer Choice (E) Easy! Done. This is a rephrase of exactly what we predicted, that the answer to that initial question is an all-applicable no. Introducing stories this way is not good to do as a journalist. Uncomplicated and to the point.

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