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Identifying Premises and Conclsions

LSAT Apprentice
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Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:27 am
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I just wanted to see if any one has any advice on drills I can do to help me identify the premise(s) and conclusions better when it comes to Logic Reasoning?

I'm struggling identifying them accurately and/or 5the correct number of premises.

Aside from rereading the chapters on the question types is there a more succinct study guide or review sheet anyone has used or made in the past?

Any help or pointers would be much appreciated!

Emily Haney-Caron
PowerScore Staff
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Hi Matt,

It's great that you've been able to pinpoint where you're struggling! I'm not certain what materials you have/are using, but Chapter 2 of the Logical Reasoning Bible provides a deep dive into identifying the parts of arguments, and includes several drills to help you practice. Otherwise, give us some more info on what you've been using to study and we can give you a more targeted approach. :)

Good luck!
LSAT Apprentice
Posts: 23
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:27 am
Points: 23

Hi Emily!

I have fully dived into the powerscore curriculum.

I have all three bibles, workbooks and training books...they're great! I am on the 4 month self study guide in prep for the July LSAT as well as plan to start the powerscore course end of april!

I find myself going back a lot and rereading things but was hoping there was a way to remember little tricks or hints as to what can help me identify those sections with more seamless ease.
James Finch
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Hi msirchia,

A good way to attack the Logical Reasoning stimuli is to read through the entire stimulus, then look over it again for keywords used to denote a conclusion (So, Then, Thus, Therefore, etc.). Once the conclusion is identified, then you can work backwards to identify which statement(s) support that conclusion. For example, here is the stimulus from Question #8, Section 3, June 2007 LSAT:

Advertisement: Fabric-Soft leaves clothes soft and
fluffy, and its fresh scent is a delight. We
conducted a test using over 100 consumers to
prove Fabric-Soft is best. Each consumer was
given one towel washed with Fabric-Soft and one
towel washed without it. Ninety-nine percent of
the consumers preferred the Fabric-Soft towel. So
Fabric-Soft is the most effective fabric softener

Reading through it, we can see that "so" begins the final statement, which then turns out to be the conclusion of the stimulus. This is the simplest structure, but many questions' stimuli will be similar. Then looking at what statements support that conclusion, the three sentences preceding the conclusion describe the survey from which the conclusion is derived, making them the premises upon which the conclusion relies.

The next question, #9, is a bit trickier:

Naturalist: The recent claims that the Tasmanian tiger is
not extinct are false. The Tasmanian tiger’s
natural habitat was taken over by sheep farming
decades ago, resulting in the animal’s systematic
elimination from the area. Since then naturalists
working in the region have discovered no hard
evidence of its survival, such as carcasses or
tracks. In spite of alleged sightings of the animal,
the Tasmanian tiger no longer exists.

Here we don't have a strong signifier word/phrase, so we have to look at the stimulus more holistically and find the statement that answers "What point is the author ultimately trying to prove?" It's tempting to pick the final sentence, due to its placement in the stimulus as well as its conclusory nature. But in fact, it serves as an intermediate conclusion, supported by the two preceding sentences, which then goes on to support the actual conclusion, which is the first sentence.

I hope this helps somewhat, and let us know if you're still struggling with identifying premises and conclusions.
LSAT Apprentice
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Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:27 am
Points: 23

Hi James,

This helps greatly!

In regards to the tiger a weaken scenario I would attack the first statement as it is the conclusion and search for the answer that weakens that conclusion and vice versa for strengthen?

In a MBT or MP I would use the other statements as premises to prove my answer? right?

Essentially if I can seamlessly and accurately identify premise and conclusion in all LR questions that is the key to getting the answer right?
Adam Tyson
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In a weaken question, msirchia, it might be slightly oversimplifying things to say that you are to attack the conclusion, although much of the time it seems that's exactly what we are doing. What we are really doing, though, is attacking the space between the premises and the conclusion. That is, we are not attempting to show that the conclusion is false, but rather to show that the premises may not necessarily lead us to the conclusion. We want to bring in additional evidence, not previously considered, that raises some doubt about the conclusion. Likewise, with a strengthen question, we are looking for new information which, when added to the existing evidence, makes the conclusion seem more likely. So it isn't really about attacking or proving the conclusion, but instead about widening or narrowing the gap between the premises and the conclusion.

Identifying the premises and the conclusion is a huge help in most LSAT questions, but it's not the end of the process. Many times we are dealing with fact sets that have no conclusion! However, even when an argument is present and we have clearly identified those elements, we have to do more - we have to know what to do with that information. It's an important step to identify a conclusion, but another step to determine what is wrong with it, or to describe how the author got there, or to replicate that structure, or to support it or undermine it.

To add to James' point about a holistic view of the stimulus, if you are unsure of whether a given claim in a stimulus is a conclusion or not, ask yourself whether the author used that statement to support another statement. Could you make that claim and then say "therefore, this other thing that the author said is also true"? If you can use the claim in question to support another claim, then the claim in question is NOT the main conclusion. Also ask yourself whether some other claim in the stimulus is being used to support that claim. If there is no support, then you are not looking at a conclusion! It might be a premise, or it may just be a statement that neither supports nor is supported by anything else.

Identification is a key step, and you should keep practicing that! Then, when that is going well, you can go further by getting better at understanding what you are supposed to do with that info, and at knowing how to do what it is you are supposed to do. That's your mission, should you choose to accept it! Good luck!
Adam M. Tyson
PowerScore LSAT, GRE, ACT and SAT Instructor
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