to the top

Prephrasing

Mi Kal
LSAT Leader
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Sat Jun 10, 2017 8:07 pm
Points: 48

Hi Dave,

Prephrasing has got my head spinning. I am having difficulty seeing how things connect, putting the pieces of the puzzle in place, and the "What comes next" aspect.

I'm trying to do what was in the article you wrote "Retaking the LSAT when you’ve seen all of the practice questions." However, I think I am missing something when it comes to Prephrasing and just overall knowledge.

For example:

— Is there a difference between Facts and Premises (meaning Premises without Indicators are Facts and Premises with Indicators are Premises)

— When deconstructing a Stimulus that has Fact(s), Premise(s), Conclusion(s), Sufficient Condition(s), Necessary Condition(s), Sufficient and Necessary Condition(s), Additional Premise(s), Counter-Premise(s), etc., does one take precedence over any of the others when Prephrasing or when choosing the correct answer?

— Are we supposed to Diagram and/or Prephrase everything? I know you wrote an article on that too, which I did read. The takeaway that I got was, the all important law school answer, it Depends. It's really based on the individual, but for timing purposes you should prephrase everything, but you shouldn't diagram everything. Even though I know this I don't feel confident with knowing what to diagram.

— Is there some kind of connection that we are supposed to make? If so, what does that connection look like? How do we know if we are making the correct connection and assumptions? Is there a formula to follow (like, are there steps that we should take first, second, third, etc.)? Or, is it just basic, like studying the Indicator words and being able to recognize the situation as it is presented?

— I find it is difficult to determine if the Indicator words are being used as Indicators or if they are just more words in a sentence. Should we focus on the Indicator words or just key in on them when they appear?

Thanks.

Michael
Jon Denning
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
 
Posts: 866
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 4:36 pm
Points: 1,130

Hi Michael - thanks for the questions!

Prephrasing is one of the most crucial, and yet often one of the most counterintuitive (or at least elusive), steps in the question-attack process, so we hear these concerns from students pretty often. In fact, over the years I was hearing them so often that I sat down and wrote out a lengthy, two-part blog series on Prephrasing that addresses a lot of the points you raised (some directly, some indirectly). I even outline a specific drill I've used and encouraged students to copy to help improve the speed and accuracy (and effectiveness) of prephrases!

So before we get too deep into anything here, let me refer you to those. Give them a read and see what you think! I suspect they'll resolve most, if not all, of your questions concerning how to proceed :)

Part 1 http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/bid/153 ... ing-part-i

Part 2 http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/bid/153 ... ng-part-ii

Thanks!
Jon Denning
PowerScore Test Preparation

Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jonmdenning
My LSAT Articles: http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/author/jon-denning
Dave Killoran
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
 
Posts: 3172
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:18 pm
Points: 3,168

Hi Michael,

Jon has very helpfully posted some excellent resources on prephrasing, and I'll add a few thoughts too since this is such an important topic.


Mi Kal wrote:Is there a difference between Facts and Premises (meaning Premises without Indicators are Facts and Premises with Indicators are Premises)

No, there really is no difference. I use the terms nearly interchangeably, and you can consider both terms to refer to building block for a conclusion. Now, when a conclusion is then used as a premise for another conclusion, things get a bit different, but let's leave that specific scenario alone for our purposes here :-D




Mi Kal wrote:When deconstructing a Stimulus that has Fact(s), Premise(s), Conclusion(s), Sufficient Condition(s), Necessary Condition(s), Sufficient and Necessary Condition(s), Additional Premise(s), Counter-Premise(s), etc., does one take precedence over any of the others when Prephrasing or when choosing the correct answer?

No, it is the way the whole adds together that makes a difference. Think about each argument as visiting a new city. Every city has roads, houses, restaurants, big buildings, etc. But how they are configured is different in each city, and in each argument. Now, certain landmarks are always notable, such as big monuments, which could be thought of like conclusions in our analogy. But how you travel through a city to reach that monument changes for each city. Along those paths, some detours and diversions are more important than others, and in each case you have to identify what is important and what is not, what will be crucial in the formulation of the argument, and is not.




Mi Kal wrote:Are we supposed to Diagram and/or Prephrase everything? I know you wrote an article on that too, which I did read. The takeaway that I got was, the all important law school answer, it Depends. It's really based on the individual, but for timing purposes you should prephrase everything, but you shouldn't diagram everything. Even though I know this I don't feel confident with knowing what to diagram.

Absolutely not when it comes to Diagramming: http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/bid/333 ... To-Diagram

With Prephrasing, yes, when you can. Some question types are easier than others to prephrase, however. See Jon's links for more there.



Mi Kal wrote:Is there some kind of connection that we are supposed to make? If so, what does that connection look like? How do we know if we are making the correct connection and assumptions? Is there a formula to follow (like, are there steps that we should take first, second, third, etc.)? Or, is it just basic, like studying the Indicator words and being able to recognize the situation as it is presented?

Connection between...? Experience is important here, and the more questions you review in-depth, the more you will understand what the right path looks like each time, and how they attempt to throw you off.

While there are certain things to analyze, you cannot reduce it to steps that always go in a perfect order. It's more like a high speed highway where the best path changes each mile based on the cars around you.




Mi Kal wrote:I find it is difficult to determine if the Indicator words are being used as Indicators or if they are just more words in a sentence. Should we focus on the Indicator words or just key in on them when they appear?

Most of the time they are indicator words that are designed to give you hints about the directions things will take (just like road signs in a city). But on occasion those indicators aren't indicators but actual direct uses of the word , or perhaps even a mid-direction use (such as a sub-conclusion indicator trying to trick you into thinking it's the main conclusion).

Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
Dave Killoran
PowerScore Test Preparation

Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DaveKilloran
My LSAT Articles: http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/author/dave-killoran
PowerScore PodCast: http://www.powerscore.com/lsat/podcast/
Mi Kal
LSAT Leader
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Sat Jun 10, 2017 8:07 pm
Points: 48

Hi Dave and Jon,

Jon, your articles were really good and I have read them before. I've been using your practice method with the 25 questions and the Post-It Notes. But, Prephrasing is kicking me into submission. I find it a lot like watching a movie that is very difficult to follow and there is no way to anticipate what's coming next. And, if I do try to anticipate what's coming next I couldn't have been more wrong. In a way Prephrasing is like someone splicing a few different movies together and rearranging them in such a way that a person couldn't possibly know what to expect next.

Dave, I liked your analogy with the Cities. It helped give me some perspective. But, I suspect that Prephrasing and I are a long way from being friends.

Thanks.

Michael
Dave Killoran
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
 
Posts: 3172
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:18 pm
Points: 3,168

Hi Michael,

Prephrasing is just anticipation of what you think will happen. It's based on what happens in the stimulus and and in the question stem, though, so you can't make it formulaic.

In all honesty, you prephrase all day long as a human. Driving a car, you anticipate where other cars will go or identify the signals they will use to make changes; walking through doors you watch other people to see who will go left or right, or let you go first. Are you always right with your predictions? No, but you're already intimately acquainted with the process—it's actually hardwired into you. All that is changing here is the context, but the question to ask yourself is, "what comes next? What would I do to hurt/help/resolve etc this argument?"

Thanks!
Dave Killoran
PowerScore Test Preparation

Follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DaveKilloran
My LSAT Articles: http://blog.powerscore.com/lsat/author/dave-killoran
PowerScore PodCast: http://www.powerscore.com/lsat/podcast/
Mi Kal
LSAT Leader
 
Posts: 48
Joined: Sat Jun 10, 2017 8:07 pm
Points: 48

Hi Dave,

I will try to keep that in mind. I will try to follow the signs (detours and all) and hopefully I won't get lost (too bad I don't have GPS). :)

Thanks.

Michael
silent7706
LSAT Apprentice
 
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:59 pm
Points: 24

Hi Jon,

Your articles on prephasing are really helpful.

I want to follow up on scenarios when you encounter questions like, "Which one of the following can be properly concluded from the passage?" How do you normally prephrase? The mental note I use is "something must be supported by the argument". I'm not sure whether I can or should be more specific, because an argument may contain many statements said to be true. Do you have any suggestions on how to improve prephrasing with this type of question?

Thanks in advance!
Last edited by silent7706 on Mon Apr 22, 2019 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.
Adam Tyson
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
 
Posts: 2648
Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:01 pm
Points: 2,461

Jon may also add his thoughts here, silent7706, but I'll chime in for now. When faced with a question stem like the one you described, your prephrase needs to be something a little more specific than just "something that must be supported by the argument", and it for sure needs to be something that the author did NOT explicitly say (because these questions ask about what is ALSO true - a new inference, not repetition of an old one.) What does the argument support? What connections can you make that are not already explicit?

A very common scenario (but far from the only one) involves conditional reasoning, where the stimulus establishes that something is sufficient for something else. "Whenever an egg-laying bird is malnourished, any eggs it lays will have especially thin and fragile shells" is such a claim - it tells us that "malnourished egg-laying bird" is sufficient to prove "eggs with thin, fragile shells". If that's true, what else must be true? We would prephrase the contrapositive of that conditional relationship, which is a claim that in the absence of the necessary condition, the sufficient conditional cannot occur. Here, that would be "if a bird lays eggs with think, strong shells, that bird must NOT be malnourished." Conditional relationships coupled with Must Be True questions usually lead to Contrapositive prephrases and answers.

Another scenario might involve correlation and/or causation. If the stimulus tells us that "there is a strong correlation between the shape and size of a dolphin's dorsal fin and its place of dominance within the pod, such that larger fins with less posterior curvature are found on the pod leaders", we might prephrase something like "a dolphin with a relatively small dorsal fin is unlikely to be the pod leader." We would avoid answer choices like "Pod leaders have larger dorsal fins because they eat better than other dolphins" because we cannot know WHY the correlation exists, only that it DOES exist.

Must Be True prephrases are all about connecting the dots in the stimulus. Facts are presented, and inferences based on those facts can be made by putting two and two together. Sometimes those inferences will seem blindingly obvious, and they might even feel like a repetition of something in the stimulus. Other times we have to string together several bits of information to come to a new inference with some effort. Some level of detail will be required in order to tell good answers from bad ones, though, so don't go into the answers with just "I need something that I know is true." Start with figuring out what inferences you can make, as if this was a short-answer test instead of multiple choice, and then go find the best match among the answers. That's what prephrasing is all about!
Adam M. Tyson
PowerScore LSAT, GRE, ACT and SAT Instructor
Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/LSATadam