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Necessary Assumption Questions

LSAT Master
Posts: 104
Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:11 pm
Points: 104


I am having particular trouble with Necessary Assumption questions. Even the "easier" ones become hard for me. I am particularly bad at anticipating an answer and once I jump into the answer choices, it becomes even more difficult. I understand the Negation Technique and it works for me sometimes, but other times I am left confused whether it weakens the conclusion at all. Unless I am able to see the assumption immediately, I tend to struggle and use valuable time on these questions and end up getting them wrong anyway. I have reviewed this chapter in the Bible multiple times and try to apply the defender/supporter techniques too. At this point, just seeing that the question is a Necessary Assumption, scares me off. I have done a TON of questions and I am not seeing improvement. Can anyone suggest how I can refine my strategy with these questions? I know they comprise a lot of questions on LR and assumptions are common flaws in other types of questions too, so I'd really appreciate any words of advice I can get.

Thank you!
Dave Killoran
PowerScore Staff
PowerScore Staff
Posts: 3178
Joined: Fri Mar 25, 2011 1:18 pm
Points: 3,174

Hi BK,

A few thoughts:

    The Supporter/Defender system isn't really something you apply, but rather something you recognize. It's simply a descriptive system that shows the roles that Assumptions can play within an argument. That information can be tremendously useful in understanding what they are doing, however.

    The Assumption Negation Technique simply converts these questions into Weaken question. You should only be using it on one or two answers at most, however. But if you are having trouble applying it, then you are actually having trouble with either the process of converting to a different question type, or simply having trouble with Weaken questions.

    You mention that, "Unless I am able to see the assumption immediately, I tend to struggle..." I hope you realize that many, many assumptions aren't immediately obvious, especially those that are Defenders (because they are infinite). If your struggle comes from feeling nervous about not knowing the assumption, that's a problem that will never go away—there is simply no possible way to know the assumption every time.

    Most assumptions are about holes and missed connections in the argument, so how well are you doing on seeing mistakes in author's arguments? Or on Weaken questions? If you can see holes, these questions get a lot easier.

    Every time questions about how to do these problems come up, there is often an issue with a clear understanding of what an assumption is. So, without looking anything up, how would you define an assumption? what is is?

    Last, you say you've studied a ton of these. I'll ask you this question then: if you brought me all the Assumption LR that troubled you the most, could you explain them to me perfectly right now? If not, that means you didn't study them enough previously. You have to master that which is most difficult, and doing so helps unlock the underlying problems you have.

I'd also do a search in these Forums for questions about assumptions, since I know I've answered dozens (example: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=7606). Our blog also expands on certain finer points of these questions (example: ... Bedfellows)

Dave Killoran
PowerScore Test Preparation

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