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#9 - Psychologist: Although studies of young children have

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Complete Question Explanation

Main Point. The correct answer choice is (E)

Answer choice (A): The argument is not about whether language
acquisition can ever be explained, but about what influences exist on
language acquisition and to what degree.

Answer choice (B): The psychologist asserts this statement at the end of
the first sentence and if this were a Must Be True question, this would be
the correct answer. But, this is more than a Must Be True question and
the correct answer must meet the Main Point criterion. So, although this
answer choice is true according to the psychologist, it does not capture
the point of the argument as indicated by the last sentence and is therefore

Answer choice (C): The argument does not attempt to establish that
language acquisition is solely the product of innate mechanisms, but
that innate mechanisms have some influence, as does environment.
This answer choice tries to confuse test takers by going in the opposite
direction of the psychologist’s statement that “one cannot contribute such
acquisition solely to environmental influences.” This does not mean that
we can therefore attribute such acquisition solely to innate mechanisms.

Answer choice (D): “Parents and peers” would qualify as environmental
influences and the argument is not about determining if the environmental
influence is the most important factor, but about the relative roles played
by environment and innate mechanisms in language acquisition.

Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer, and this is the only answer
that addresses the relative roles of environment and innate mechanisms.
Note that the language of the answer choice could have indicated that
either plays a greater role because what ought to be studied is a question
that determines which is a greater influence.
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For this question, I'm just wondering if (E) is correct, why not (D)? After all, "parents and peers" are referring to environmental influence factors, am I right?
Lucas Moreau
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Hello, GLMDYP,

This is a Main Point question. It sets us up by saying that language acquisition is influenced by two things: environmental influences and innate mechanisms. A reasonable followup to that might be to try to determine which of those two things is a greater or more important influence, as E says. That is close to the main point of the stimulus.

D, though, mentions parents and peers, which is not what the central issue of the stimulus is about. It can be thought to be part of "environmental influences", but the focus of the stimulus is not on one influence over another. It is about both and how they could be compared.

Hope this helps,
Lucas Moreau
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I was reading Question #3 of the additional 10-pager guide on Main Point Questions on the Student Portal, but I don't understand why the correct answer is E, not B.
I thought answer choice E was a bit too exaggerated in saying that "innate mechanisms play a MORE important role in language acquisition".
In the stimulus it did mention that one cannot attribute language acquisition SOLELY to environmental influences.
So I thought as long as we are able to find evidence that it is NOT SOLELY environmental influence, that would be sufficient for the sake of the argument.

Can you please explain why B is not a good enough answer?

Thank you very much!
Rachael Wilkenfeld
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Hi Sakfi,

This stimulus is set up presenting a few facts about language acquisition. It's not just environmental, there are innate mechanisms that play a part as well. It presents two factors, but doesn't tell us anything about which is more of a factor. The stimulus ends by concluding that SOMETHING would be a good source of further study. We are left to figure out what that would be.

A natural place to start would be comparing the two factors, or trying to figure out which is more important. That's what answer choice (E) states. It's not stating that innate mechanisms DO play a more important role, but that it would be reasonable to explore if they do.

Answer choice (B) is restating a premise. We know from the stimulus that innate mechanisms contribute to language learning. But that wouldn't make sense as source of future study, because it's something that we already know.

Hope that helps!
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Hi Rachael,

Thank you very much for your explanation, although I'm still concerned about how I will approach future questions.
I thought we have to only work with what is in the stimulus and we always should be cautious about making too much inferences. The world "SOLELY" gives me the impression of "100%", so as long as we say environmental influences is not "100%", it is sufficient. Anything that's OVERSTATING this would be wrong, for example when answer E says innate mechanisms play a MORE important role.

I'm not trying to argue with the LSAT test, but I'm just worried about how I can keep a consistent "rule" or "pattern" on how to approach future LSAT questions.

Can you please give me some suggestions on how to obtain the correct mindset?

Thank you!!

Fei Fei
Brook Miscoski
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It's good that you are thinking about how closely the answer must reflect the passage.

To understand how the answer will relate to the stimulus, focus on the question stem. In this case, the question stem asks you to "complete the passage."

To complete the passage, you must add something to it. The additional material should flow from the discussion in the passage, but it should not repeat the passage.

The stimulus says that we know that both environmental factors and innate factors play a role in language acquisition. To complete the last sentence, we need to identify what question should be studied next.

As Rachael points out, (B) and (C) state questions that the stimulus has already answered. (A) is a bad choice because it does not follow from the passage.

(E) is the best choice. Because we know that both environment and innate factors play a role, one sensible question is which one is more important. It's not "overstating" the passage to ask which is more important. (D) is not as good, since the passage was focused on environment versus innate rather than trying to break down either of those factors into smaller components. The best answer maintains that environment versus innate analysis that has been present throughout the passage.

The summary answer to your test-approach question is that you need to understand the task that the question stem assigns to you in order to understand what answer choice you should be choosing. Answer choices will be relevant to the stimulus you read (except in some rare cases where you are asked to eliminate all the decent choices and pick the one that doesn't work), but past that you will need to focus on the question stem to understand how the choice will relate to the passage. Additional, relevant information--or in this case, an additional, relevant question--can often be the correct choice, and that is determined by the question stem.
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Thank you Rachael and Brook!!