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#9 - Challenge can be an important source of self-knowledge

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Complete Question Explanation

Must Be True—PR. The correct answer choice is (A)

The author of this stimulus presents the conclusion in the first sentence, followed by the premise, which is introduced with the common premise indicator, “since”:

    Premise: ..... Paying attention to how one reacts to challenge can provided useful insight into ones weaknesses.

    Conclusion: ..... Challenge can be an important source of self-knowledge.

In abstract terms, the principle here is something along these lines:
Challenges are good, because paying attention can teach you about your weaknesses.

Since the question asks for the answer choice which most closely conforms to this principle, the correct answer choice should reflect insight as a positive aspect of challenge.

Answer choice (A): This is the correct answer choice. In this case, the referenced challenge is the memory lapse, and the author points out the positive point that this challenge can help the pianist to understand why it happened (gain insight into his or her weakness), and be better prepared.

Answer choice (B): This answer choice lacks both the challenge and the insight necessary to conform with the principle from the stimulus.

Answer choice (C): Like incorrect answer choice (B) above, this choice lacks both the challenge and the valuable insight it can provide.

Answer choice (D): This answer choice also fails to reflect the challenge referenced by the principle in the stimulus, as well as the insight provided by that challenge, so this answer choice cannot be correct.

Answer choice (E): While this answer choice does contain the necessary challenge, and some of the value of taking on that challenge, it lacks the notion of self-insight as a positive aspect of challenge, thereby failing to conform to the principle from the stimulus.
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I picked (E) over (A), because I thought (A) lacked the element of "pay attention to how they react, both emotionally and physically", while (E) specifically mentioned "they will experience the fulfilment of having attempted something that is difficult for them". Could you explain this aspect for me? Thanks a lot!
Adam Tyson
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The crucial elements of the principle are 1) face a challenge; 2) pay attention to your reaction; 3) gain useful insight.

In answer E, the person who faced a challenge (and public speaking certainly IS a challenge!) does not appear to "pay attention to how they react", and they definitely don't "gain useful insight". All that happens is that they feel good about themselves, which is nice but which has nothing to do with the principle given in the stimulus.

In the correct answer, the pianist understands what happens (and I think it's fair to assume that understanding could only come by them paying at least some attention to themselves) and, more importantly, becomes better able to prepare for next time. Sounds like some pretty useful insight to me!
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I've trouble categorizing this question. I've seen this stem before - "Which one of the following most closely conforms to the principle above" - and know it's a MBT principle question. But the stimulus is weird, as it contains an argument with its premise and conclusion. So I first identified it as a parallel principle question, which was then applied to different scenarios in five answer choices, as I know MBT questions contain only a fact set and or just a principle. But then when I tried to use the Elemental Attack™ and eliminated three answer choices where the conclusion contains normative language ("should"), I realized this doesn't work.

In addition, the "principle" in the stimulus is also weird - Challenge can be an important source of self-knowledge. 10-1 of the Course book says "a principle is a broad rule that specifies what actions or judgments are correct in certain situations" and, specifically, "Some companies are profitable" is not a principle, because no rule is involved and no judgment can be drawn. Indeed, a lot of MBT principle questions can even be diagrammed using formal logic as all statements. But the principle in this question uses "can be," which is virtually a some statement.

Am I falling into LSAC's trap spending too much time trying to figure out the so called "question type", or there's a reason/benefit to all this? Or it doesn't matter, as long as I know they are both from the Prove Family, where the information flows from the stimulus to the answer choices?
George George
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There's nothing wrong with digging deeper into Q-stem, in my view. Short answer: It's a "Must Be True Principle" Q. The important thing is to treat the reasoning as a whole as the guiding principle. At the bottom of page 10-29 in Lesson 10 HW, the Coursebook states: "The classification of these questions can sometimes be difficult for students since the relation of the stimulus to the answer choices is so similar to Parallel Reasoning questions (each answer often features a scenario and topic that is entirely different from that in the stimulus). Remember, both Parallel Reasoning and Must Be True questions are in the First Question Family, and they share many of the same characteristics. In the final analysis, when considering the answer choices, ask yourself, 'Does this match the attributes of the principle in the stimulus?'"

Long answer: The stimulus, though an argument, still contains an essential piece of reasoning. There is a link between challenges being important for self-knowledge and challenges teaching people about their weaknesses. Similar to finding an assumption or gap in the argument, here, the principle must contain these elements: (1) a challenge, (2) a weakness, and (3) a useful insight. In law school, this is called "Elemental Analysis" (similar to the Elemental Attack strategy for Parallel Reasoning Qs). Only answer (A) includes all three elements of the principle/reasoning. The "difficult performance" (challenge) reveals the "memory lapse" (weakness) which helps the pianist "understand why the memory lapse occurred" (useful insight).