to the top

#23 - Editorial: The gates at most railroad crossings, while

PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
Posts: 6671
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2011 4:19 pm
Points: 3,344

Question #23: Justify. The correct answer choice is (C).

This is a somewhat challenging question, in part because the editorial uses none of the usual premise or conclusion indicators to help us determine the structure of the argument. Nevertheless, you should realize that the last sentence supports immediately preceding claim, because it helps explain why railroad companies should not be held responsible for the accidents that occur at railroad crossings due to insufficiently large gates. The editorial’s argument, when reworded, is structured as follows:

Premise—A licensed driver is a capable adult who should know better.

Conclusion—Railroad companies are not responsible for the accidents that occur at railroad crossings.

Interestingly, the conclusion is worded as a rejection of an opposing argument (“some people claim that… but this is a mistake”). Take your time to understand precisely what the author means by that: if the opposing claim is a mistake, then railroad companies are not even partly responsible for the accidents that occur at railroad crossings.

The question stem asks us to identify a statement that, if assumed, would allow this conclusion to logically follow from the premises. Despite the word “assumed” in the stem, this is a Justify question because our job is not to identify a statement upon which the argument depends, but rather to prove the conclusion by adding a piece of information to the premises. The sufficient condition indicator (“if”) in the question stem is a reminder that you must select an answer that is sufficient to prove the conclusion.

As with most Justify questions, there is a logical gap between the premises and the conclusion. Just because the driver is a “capable adult” does not necessarily relieve the railroad company of any and all responsibility for the resulting accidents. The correct answer choice must state that it does in no uncertain terms: the drivers must be entirely to blame.

Answer choice (A): This answer choice strengthens the argument that the railroad companies can do little to prevent accidents at railroad crossings, but does not prove that such companies bear no responsibility whatsoever for the ensuing accidents. Some of the most attractive but incorrect, answer choices to Justify questions are those that strengthen, but do not prove, the conclusion.

Answer choice (B): As with answer choice (A), this one strengthens the position that railroad companies are not entirely at fault for the ensuring accidents, because capable adults should take measures to ensure their own safety. However, the editorial’s conclusion is that railroad companies are not even partly at fault. The mere fact that drivers share some of the responsibility does not relieve the railroad companies of all responsibility, which is what the editorial attempts to argue. Another Strengthen decoy.

Answer choice (C): This is the correct answer choice, as it puts the blame for the resulting accidents entirely on someone other than the railroad companies. If drivers are capable adults who disregard a clear warning of oncoming trains, then they are fully responsible for any resulting accidents. This answer choice immediately relieves the railroad company of any and all responsibility, justifying the editorial’s conclusion.

Answer choice (D): The fact that small children are not involved in the aforementioned accidents is certainly a relief, but it has nothing to do with the editorial’s argument.

Answer choice (E): This is an attractive answer choice, in part because it is worded so poorly. Take the double negative (“not unlimited”) and simplify it (“limited”). In a nutshell, answer choice (E) argues that the companies’ responsibility to promote public safety is limited. Limited responsibility, however, does not mean “no responsibility,” which is what the author is trying to argue. As with answer choices (A) and (B), this one strengthens the conclusion—but it does not prove it.
LSAT Leader
Posts: 97
Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2016 2:41 pm
Points: 5

I have a question...
So, regarding to B, is it because of the part "take some measures" that makes the answer choice wrong?
I thought the stimulus does not necessarily indicate what steps to take...
For C, I was not sure about the part "disregard" because the stimulus says "not large enough to prevent" so I was not sure because it could be coincedence or accident...not intentionally ignored it right?
Adam Tyson
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
Posts: 2636
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:01 pm
Points: 2,449

You are correct about answer B - "take some measure" is the problem, because it doesn't go far enough to justify the conclusion that the railroads are completely blameless.

The issue you raised with answer C overlooks some important language in the stimulus. We are told that the gates "give clear warning" of the danger. If that is true, then it cannot be an accident when someone drives past them, but must be intentional or else, at best, grossly negligent. In other words, there's no excuse, and the driver is to blame.
Adam M. Tyson
PowerScore LSAT, GRE, ACT and SAT Instructor
Follow me on Twitter at
LSAT Apprentice
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:53 pm
Points: 19

Even though this is a justify conclusion/sufficient assumption question, to me answer choice C seems like an answer that you'd expect from a principle question. Is it sometimes helpful to view justify conclusion/sufficient assumption questions through the lens of a principle question?
Malila Robinson
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
Posts: 275
Joined: Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:41 am
Points: 273

Hi Lsatfighter,
I can see how Answer C sounds a bit like it would be a principle, which is a general rule. And keeping that strategy in mind for Justify questions, particularly when they involve S/N reasoning would be ok, as long as you recognize that it will not necessarily work 100% of the time. Because of that I would suggest using it more as a way to double check that your primary Justify strategies have been used correctly.
Hope that helps!
LSAT Apprentice
Posts: 20
Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2018 12:53 pm
Points: 19

Thank you for your help, I appreciate it. I also have some other extremely important questions.

I have been studying for the LSAT for about a year now. I started off knowing absolutely nothing. I then did some free online video lessons, did the PowerScore bibles, did most of the problems from the preptests 52-61 book, as well as many of the problems from the preptests 72-81 book. While I had obviously improved compared to the beginning of my journey, I had hit a plateau. So I took the PowerScore online prep course which started in late April 2018. I've been through all of the problems in the prep course books. I have even read some PowerScore articles regarding plateaus and how to improve, and every once in a while, I read an article from "The Atlantic" to get comfortable with wordy sentences and LSAT topics.

Looking back on it, I can see that my techniques and strategies of studying were wrong for a long time. I just kept on moving from one test to the next, and that's not good enough. That's why I've recently begun CHANGING MY TECHNIQUES AND STRATEGIES. I've recently begun implementing EFFECTIVE TECHNIQUES AND STRATEGIES. I've recently begun repeating previously done problems, doing the blind review method for logical reasoning, doing the fool proof method for logic games, and I plan on trying the Memory Method for Reading Comp. For the "Killer Games" chapter of the PowerScore prep course, I even did each killer game a minimum of 10 times. While my speed and accuracy have improved, I'm still unable to get any of the sections done in 35 minutes. I'm still getting a lot of logical reasoning questions wrong too. This is quite literally the hardest thing which I've ever done in my life. It's extremely frustrating, but I know that I'm capable of acing this test.

So I'm open to all advice, suggestions, feedback, and tips which you guys can give to help me on my journey. Are there any other techniques or strategies which you guys recommend? Is there anything which you think I'm doing wrong? Does PowerScore hold group study sessions, either in person or through Skype? I'm working extremely hard and I would appreciate anything at this point.

Thank you so much for your time and help. It truly means a lot to me. You guys are honestly the best LSAT instructors who I've come across.
Claire Horan
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
Posts: 310
Joined: Mon Apr 18, 2016 3:03 pm
Points: 237

Hi LSATfighter,

I suggest some open-ended hours of one-on-one tutoring. A tutoring could get to learn your difficulties and offer personalized advice in an hour or two. And, of course, the best advice is usually personalized. For example, there are many question types within logical reasoning, so it is difficult to give good advice without knowing which question types you tend to have trouble with.

That said, a few general tips came to mind when I read your post:

1) You do not have to finish every problem to get a very high score. Many people end up scoring better on logic games by PLANNING to finish three games, quickly abandoning the one that appears hardest, and using the extra time to ace the games they choose to complete. This strategy would be most helpful for someone who has a test date approaching somewhat soon and there is not time to realistically become much faster. You can try out this strategy on a practice test or two and compare with your scores from when you try to finish all four games. Remember, there are no awards given for finishing every problem, and you will get about 1/5 of the problems correct even on the game you don't attempt.

2) Set measurable goals in terms of score improvements, rather than the very abstract goal of "acing" the test. After you take a practice test, identify the problems that you think you could have gotten right with a slightly different approach, by reading more carefully, by avoiding a diagramming mistake, by double-checking your answers, etc. Then remember these as you attempt your next practice test or section, in which your goal is to get a few more assumption questions correct, or correctly answer all the main point questions on reading comprehension, for example. Remember that all questions are worth the same amount, so if you are good at one section type and weak in another, you should still study all three types--a gain is a gain. The only way this wouldn't make sense is where you are getting all of the problems right consistently in one of the section types.

3) Find similar problems that test the same skill and use those to practice. Although you may find an instructor who disagrees, I would not recommend doing any problem or game more than twice, let alone 10 times. That's not the best use of your time when you could be exposing yourself to new problems and understanding how they are similar to ones you have already done.

Good luck!