LSAT 36 – Section 3 – Question 14

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT36 S3 Q14
Necessary assumption +NA
+Medium 144.548 +SubsectionEasier

Model student summary:

Okay so I got this one wrong and failed to identify it as a blind review question. Bummer. Going to try and explain this one to really understand why I got it wrong.

It is a necessary assumption question that deals with how we learn to use machines. Parsing out the stimulus we get:

Premise: We learn to use most of the machines in our lives through written instructions, without knowledge of machines’ inner workings, because most machines are specifically designed for use by non-experts.

Conclusion: So, in general, attaining technological expertise would prepare students for tomorrow’s job market no better than would a more traditional a more traditional education stressing verbal and quantitative skills.

Looking back at the question its actually not that difficult, and I don’t quite know what prompted me to choose answer choice (B). In any event, we need to find an assumption upon which the argument depends. Well, at its core the argument is simply saying that a technical education (something that goes over the inner workings of machines) is no better than a traditional education at preparing students for jobs in the future. What does this depend on? It depends on the machine requirements staying the same. If all of a sudden we have to start using machines not designed for non-experts then a technical education would be superior and this argument would fall apart.

Answer choice (A) is incorrect as it has no bearing on the argument. Consider if it were not true, and the number of people receiving a traditional education today has actually increased. Would that invalidate the argument? No. Would it even weaken the argument substantially? No. How many people are receiving each type of education is irrelevant to which type of education is actually better – teachers/policymakers could be making a mistake and teaching the wrong type.

Answer choice (B) is incorrect and based on the answer statistics looks like the most frequently chosen wrong answer choice. But how does this actually change the strength of our argument about the relationship between traditional and technical education? Our argument is that technical education is not better than traditional education at preparing children for the future. This answer might further support the argument, but it is certainly not necessary. Consider if it were negated – facility in operating machines designed for use by non-experts is enhanced by expert knowledge of the machines’ inner workings. The fact that it is enhanced tells us nothing about the relationship between technical and traditional education. For all we know there is something else that enhances the ability to use machines even more that is associated with traditional education.

Answer choice (C) is the correct answer. If most jobs tomorrow require the use of machines designed for experts, then a knowledge of the inner workings of those machines would be critical and this would give a substantial benefit to a technical education. Therefore, this argument must assume that the nature of machine use in jobs will not change in the future.

Answer choice (D) is incorrect. Again, consider if it is negated – students can attain technological expertise and also receive an education that does not neglect verbal and quantitative skills. Does this in any way alter the relationship between which type of education fosters the greatest preparedness? No. The fact that they can be taught together has no impact on which one is superior.

Answer choice (E) is incorrect as well. It may, however, be a sufficient condition. I don’t think its 100% valid, but the superiority of verbal and quantitate knowledge in learning to use a machine (expert & non-expert since it is not specified) goes a long way towards supporting the notion technological education prepares students no better than a traditional one. This is not, however, a necessary condition. The stimulus is limited to discussing machines that are made for non-experts. If we negate this answer choice it tells us that sometimes technological expertise is more important than verbal and quantitive skills. These times could be when the machine in question is designed for experts. The negation of this answer choice is completely consistent with the authors conclusion and is thus not necessary.

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