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Imply and Inferred

dedicatedstudent
LSAT Novice
 
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:35 pm
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I am having a hard time predicting answers for "imply" and "inferred" questions before moving onto the answer choices. If I jump straight into the answer choices, I easily get confused.

For inference questions, I am treating them like must be true. But sometime I miss these questions because I don't recall all of the details from the passage. I am not sure how to predict what the correct answer should look like before looking into the answer choices. Any suggestions?

For imply questions, if the author is making a claim in the passage, I try to think of why he/she might be making such a claim. What was the author's thinking in making such a claim?
For example, if the author argues for low admissions requirements, we can imply that the author believes that education should be more open to people regardless of their level of competence. We can also imply that the author believes in the value of education since he is supporting education. We can also imply that the author believes that reducing admissions requirements will not have any major negative implications on the education system or workforce. These points may or may not be explicitly stated in the passage but we can imply them based on the argument and claims made by the author. Is this correct way of thinking about "imply" questions?

Any tips or suggestions, input or advise? Any critique of the technique I am using? Let me know if I am approaching these questions incorrectly.

Thanks!
Adam Tyson
PowerScore Staff
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Hey dedicated, nice name - I like where your head is at with that!

I have to admit, I am not familiar with "imply" questions as a category, so I want to be careful about how I answer this. Can you give me an example of what you are calling an imply question? My guess is that it is probably what we at PowerScore call a Must Be True question, which others sometimes call an inference question, but I don't want to lead you astray by making bad assumptions of my own.

That said, let's talk semantics for a moment. The difference between imply and infer is the difference between the speaker and the listener. Speakers (or writers) imply things - they suggest things without saying them explicitly. If I write that "Phil should not expect to beat Paul in the backgammon match today", I am implying that Paul stands the greater chance of winning and that Phil will probably lose. Listeners infer things - they make deductions (inferences) based on what others say. In the case of the statement above, you might infer that I think Paul is probably going to win. You might also infer that I think Paul is a superior player, although I may only be implying that he stands a better chance in this particular instance.

In your examples, every case where you talked about implying something based on what the author said, the correct usage would be to say that you were inferring those things. The writer implies things, the reader infers things. Sometimes their implications and our inferences match up, but they don't have to. We might miss an implication and make a bad inference!

Now, putting that aside, and substituting "infer" for each of your uses of "imply" in your example, you are absolutely going about it the right way. You're thinking about the underlying assumptions, the things the author is suggesting without directly saying. You can make all of those inferences based on that claim by the author. As to what the author was implying, that's another story. They may not have been suggesting (implying) any of those things!

One last thing - you said "If I jump straight into the answer choices, I easily get confused." Ready for some obvious advice? Don't do that! Instead of jumping into answer choices, you should always begin by deciding for yourself what the correct answer should say, or do, or contain. We call that "prephrasing", and it's what separates the top test takers from the rest. If you jump to the answers with no prephrase, no actively planned idea of what you should be looking for, you are sure to fall victim to the authors, who are brilliant at making good answers look bad and bad answers look good. Don't walk into their trap unprepared! Go in armed with a prephrase that will allow you to cut through the junk answers and zero in on the best answer more easily.

Please follow up if you have specific LR or RC questions you want to use as examples for those imply questions, and we'll see what we can do to help you with your process. Just be sure to prephrase before jumping!

Stay dedicated!
Adam M. Tyson
PowerScore LSAT, GRE, ACT and SAT Instructor
Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/66adamt
dedicatedstudent
LSAT Novice
 
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Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 1:35 pm
Points: 4

Thanks, I am having difficulty prephrasing what the correct answer should look like or do for this question type, especially for RC more than LR. Any tips on that?

I will try to post some specific examples of questions over the weekend.
Adam Tyson
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
 
Posts: 1688
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:01 pm
Points: 1,509

Prephrasing can be tougher on some RC questions because there is so much info to juggle. "Which of the following would the author be most likely to agree is true?" is pretty huge - the author probably said a lot of stuff, so how do you prephrase something that big? I start with the Main Point and the Tone - the author will agree with things that agree with the Main Point and that maintain a similar tone as he used in the passage. Then, I sort my answers into losers and contenders, and I tend to be very, very forgiving of most answer choices. That is, I am willing to call an answer a contender unless I am absolutely sure my author would disagree. Finally, with my contenders in hand I return to the passage to find evidence to support his agreeing with one of them.

Send us a few specifics and we'll see what we can do.
Adam M. Tyson
PowerScore LSAT, GRE, ACT and SAT Instructor
Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/66adamt