A Damn Good LSAT Tutor's Guide to Role of Statement Questions

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A Damn Good LSAT Tutor's Guide to Role of Statement Questions

Postby UBETutoring » Tue Nov 20, 2018 4:34 pm

This is part of my free logical reasoning series, and an excerpt from the primer I'm using to train my students and train my tutors to train their students (which I guess is hearsay tutoring). As will become a recurring theme, LSAC tests you on the same shit over and over again and that is the big C.

II. Role of Statement Questions

Next, we will move onto role of statement questions. Note that some test prep companies will refer to these as logic function questions. Feel free to use whichever terminology is easier for you. As will quickly become a recurring theme, I could care less about what you call something if you approach it correctly.

Like main point questions, role of statements are not particularly common. You can expect to see 3-4 of them spread across the two logical reasoning sections of a given LSAT. However, it is useful to master them before moving onto other question types as consistent success on role of statement questions requires fluency with argumentative structure, and such fluency will prove highly beneficial on a litany of types of questions. Like main point questions, they will show up in reading comprehension.

Typical Prompt:

• “The statement “__________” plays with one of the following roles in the argument?”

• “The statement about “______” figures into the argument in which one of the following ways?”

• “Which statement most accurately reflects the function of “_____” in the argument?”

As you can see, LSAC may present this question type to you in multiple ways. Whether the question asks about a statement’s role, function or job, you are looking at a role of statement question and your task is the same.

In reading comprehension, they will show up as questions asking you to identify the role a sentence plays in a given paragraph or how a particular paragraph functions in the passage.

Why LSAC tests this: Like main point questions, LSAC tests role of statement questions because in law school and in legal practice, you will be expected to identify not only the ruling of a case or the position of opposing counsel but the process by which a judge or attorney supports their opinion. In addition, you will need to know what facts help your client’s position and which ones hurt their position. Role of statement questions test your ability to competently analyze the relationship between facts and conclusions.

What LSAC is looking for: LSAC will present the test-taker with a statement from the stimulus and ask the test-taker about its role in the argument. LSAC is looking for you to identify the relationship between a given statement, and the conclusion.

Approach: As we discussed in the Main Point portion, on the LSAT, the words “conclusion” and “argument” are synonymous. In any question that contains the words conclusion or argument, your first task after reading the stimulus will be to identify the author’s conclusion.

After identifying the conclusion, you should read the statement in the question stem. Next, you should analyze the relationship between the statement and the conclusion. Broadly speaking, there will only be three types of relationships. Most of the time, the statement will either support the conclusion, be something that the conclusion argues against or does not preclude the validity of the conclusion. On some occasions, LSAC will try to trick by making the statement the conclusion. In such instances, the correct answer will always be that it is the conclusion.

In reading comprehension, if the question asks about the role of a particular sentence, analyze the relationship between that sentence and the main point of the paragraph it is located in. If the question asks about a paragraph, analyze the relationship between that paragraph and the conclusion of the entire passage.

If you find yourself struggling, always remember that there is always only one conclusion any statement will either support that conclusion, be something that it works against or be the conclusion. If the statement is preceded by words like “since” or “because”, it will always be supporting evidence. If there is a contrast word like “but” or “however” between the statement and conclusion, it is very likely that the statement is something that the conclusion argues against or is a fact that may undermine the conclusion. If the statement is written like a conclusion, but is not the conclusion that you identified, then it is very likely a supplemental conclusion. A supplemental conclusion is a conclusion-like statement that’s used as evidence to support the actual conclusion.

Example:

The example below contains an argumentative structure typical of role of statement questions, and will include a skeletal breakdown of each statement’s role:

“When healthy, Mike Trout is the best baseball player, because he produces more wins above replacement than any other basketball player. Therefore, the Los Angeles Angels have the best baseball player. However, the Angels have limited positional depth and pitching. The Yankees have more positional depth and pitching and are therefore a better baseball team.”

Conclusion: The Yankees are a better baseball team than the Angels.

Mike Trout is the best baseball player = a statement directly supporting a contention that according to the argument does not preclude the validity of the writer’s conclusion.

“Because he produces more wins above replacement than any other basketball player” = an evidentiary statement indirectly supporting a contention that does not preclude the validity of the writer’s conclusion.

“the Los Angeles Angels have the best baseball player” = a contention that according to the argument does not preclude the validity of the writer’s conclusion.

“the Angels have limited positional depth and pitching” = a supplemental conclusion used to bolster the argument’s main/only conclusion.

“the Yankees have better positional depth and pitching” = an evidentiary statement directly supporting the argument’s conclusion”

Final tip: If an answer choice references the conclusion, make sure it is the right conclusion. On more difficult role of statement questions, LSAC will present you with two choices that correctly identify the relationship between the statement and conclusion, one of which references the wrong conclusion. LSAC is also testing your ability to identify the conclusion on these questions, and role of statement questions enable them to test you on two types of questions simultaneously.

To recap, your play by play move on a role of statement question should be as follows:

1.) Identify the conclusion
2.) Read the statement in the question stem
3.) Analyze the relationship between the statement and conclusion
4.) Predict the general wording of the right answer – eg: “it supports the conclusion by…”
5.) Select the choice that matches your prediction.

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Carry on my wayward sons (and daughters), there'll be 180's after you are done.


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