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#18 - Salesperson: When a salesperson is successful, it is

tdsykes0
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Hello,
I would like some help in determining what the right answer choice is for #18 in Section 1. I noticed the conditional reasoning and thus set this up:

SS (succeed as salesperson)--> SCB (strong client base)
Not SCB--> Not SS

When I was looking through the answer choices I ruled out B as a Loser and had A and C as contenders. Can you explain the reasoning that makes B the right answer and the other answer choices wrong?


Thanks
Tiffany
Steve Stein
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Hi Tiffany,

You got the first part exactly; the author's first premise is that to succeed as a salesperson, you must have a strong client base. The conditional statements you diagrammed are valid.

The next premise: If you've spent at least 3 years developing a client base, you can make a decent living in sales.

3+ years of development --> client base big enough for decent living.

The contrapositive would be:

Not big enough client base --> Less than 3 years of developent

So, the author has established that 3 years is sufficient to develop a big enough client base--but has not established that 3 years is an absolute necessity.

This is the flaw that is discussed in answer choice B: The author has failed to consider that some salespeople can do it in less than 3 years.

I hope that's helpful! Let me know whether everything is clear--thanks!

~Steve
Steve Stein
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SLF
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Hello,

As I go through practice questions, I constantly find myself struggling with "most vulnerable to criticism" questions...what the Logical Reasoning Bible calls "Flaw In Reasoning" questions.

LSAT #53, Section #1, Question #18...I don't have a means of confidently selecting the correct answer.

In breaking the stimulus apart for this specific question (53/1/18), I come up with the following:

Premise: to succeed as a salesperson, must first establish strong client base

Premise: studies show anyone who spends >= 3 yrs can eventually make living in sales

Conclusion: salesperson successful :arrow: salesperson in sales >= 3 years

Then, the question stem tells me that the argument is "vulnerable to criticism" because it fails to consider a possibility...

Answer choice 'A' doesn't seem correct because the stimulus seems pretty strong on "at least" and "can eventually".

Answer choice 'C' doesn't seem correct because it is a re-worded point made in the stimulus...and therefore does not seem to be a failed consideration.

Answer choice 'D' doesn't seem correct because it is simply a stronger version of answer choice 'A'

Answer choice 'E' doesn't seem correct because it seems to be somewhat of an off-topic stretch.

That leaves me with answer choice 'B' as the answer I select...which seems reasonable to me...as it seems to go against the emphasized "flow" of "at least" and "eventually" in the stimulus.

The problem is, my approach took me way too long to reach this answer choice and on top of that, I have a low level of confidence that my final selection is even correct.

So, any additional insight or information to help me with these kinds of questions...and any thoughts or feedback on anything I have said above?
David Boyle
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Hello,

Some students go so far as to make a little booklet listing the various logical flaws, etc.--one could even have flashcards or something!
There's no magic quick and easy way to solve things, but a strong familiarity with logical reasoning in general could help, which can likely be attained by massive practice.
As for problem 18: answer choice A is already acknowledged in the stimulus, which says, "can eventually make a comfortable living…", emphasis on "eventually".
Answer B is not just reasonable; it tackles a sufficient-necessary problem in the stimulus which must be dealt with. I.e., three years developing a client base is sufficient to be successful in sales…but is it necessary? Some people may need only three minutes, not three years!
So after that, it's wrong to assume you must need three years to be successful in sales. Actually, it may be a bit of a mistaken reversal. (If three years, then successful in sales (eventually); not the other way around!)

Hope this helps,
David
SLF
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Thank you David for your well-thought-out reply. I deeply appreciate it.
SLF
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David Boyle wrote:Answer B is not just reasonable; it tackles a sufficient-necessary problem in the stimulus which must be dealt with. I.e., three years developing a client base is sufficient to be successful in sales…but is it necessary? Some people may need only three minutes, not three years!


Again, I deeply appreciate all the feedback, input, and help. As I continue thinking upon this and studying this, I still have a question...maybe I am being too literal...or not literal enough...or maybe it's just a matter of multiple word usages.

As I indicated above, I did recognize the conditional:

Conclusion: salesperson successful :arrow: salesperson in sales >= 3 years

Based upon what I understand the PowerScore Bible's to teach, this conditional breaks down into:

Sufficient = salesperson successful

Necessary = salesperson in sales >= 3 years

As I understand things, the necessary is required in order for the sufficient to be true...and if the sufficient is true, then it guarantees that the necessary part is true.

Moreover, the PowerScore Bibles repeatedly emphasize that a person accept what is given in the question components and they should NOT bring in outside knowledge.

Now, having been in sales for a very long time, I know from the real world that it is definitely NOT an absolute necessity for a person to be in sales for 3 or more years in order to be successful.

So, my question is: how do I know when it is appropriate for me to determine a necessary condition given by test-makers is not really necessary...that it is in fact a bogus necessary condition that I should reject...versus when is it appropriate for me to accept a necessary condition without question, and treat it as inviolably sacred regardless of how not-real-world it might be?
Dave Killoran
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SLF wrote:Moreover, the PowerScore Bibles repeatedly emphasize that a person accept what is given in the question components and they should NOT bring in outside knowledge.

Now, having been in sales for a very long time, I know from the real world that it is definitely NOT an absolute necessity for a person to be in sales for 3 or more years in order to be successful.

So, my question is: how do I know when it is appropriate for me to determine a necessary condition given by test-makers is not really necessary...that it is in fact a bogus necessary condition that I should reject...versus when is it appropriate for me to accept a necessary condition without question, and treat it as inviolably sacred regardless of how not-real-world it might be?


Hi SLF,

In glancing at your post, I wanted to address three things in your comments.

1. Outside Knowledge

Ok, be very careful here in what you are thinking, because your comment makes it seem as if the one and only thing you can use is exactly what is stated in the stimulus, and I don't want other readers to get the impression that the LSAT Logical Reasoning Bible says that in such rigid terms. In the early discussions of the LR section, I make a very strong point that LSAC expects you to make what they call "commonsense assumptions." They don't provide a list of what those are, of course, so you have to use a degree of judgment in making a determination as to what is included in each question.

Second, remember that certain concepts act as an umbrella, and that they automatically imply other things. For example, a discussion of all cats thereby includes all white cats, all black cats, etc. In this way, elements that appear to be unmentioned can then be brought into the answers.

2. The Real World vs the LSAT World

The example of a salesperson you cite definitely is not something you can bring into a problem (nor is it something you need; the problem itself contains enough information to realize that an element that is sufficient does not have to be necessary). At the same time, keep in mind that some of the statements made by authors can be flawed (as is this one, but my point is broader than just this question). An LSAT author may think they are valid, but that doesn't mean that are in fact valid (which is why you see Flaw in the Reasoning questions like this one, etc). Of course, the question type indicates whether the flaw made by the speaker (if any) will be challenged or identified, or if you simply need to use what was said by the author as-is.

3. Where The Error Lies

The greater problem here is that this particular question isn't about outside knowledge. I think it may seem that way to you because you happen to be familiar with this situation, but even without that knowledge you can see this argument as flawed based on the way the author goes from premise to conclusion. And this is the key that I think may make this easier for you: statements made in an author's premises are usually accepted unchallenged (and you normally don't need to challenge them). The errors occur in going from those premises to the conclusion itself. That's what you need to focus on here—that leap of logic (or illogic, as it were). In this problem, there's nothing wrong with the premises (even if they are broad, and in the real world I'd be thinking they weren't valid). They aren't the problem—the way the conclusion was drawn is the problem.

Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
Dave Killoran
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Annah
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Hello!

Could you please explain this question in detail? It involves conditional reasoning but also seems to have some formal logic present (at least= some?). What is the best way to diagram this question and furthermore, what should one generally look for in a flaw question mixed with formal logic?

Thanks!
Steve Stein
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Hi Anna,

That's a good question. In that one, the salesperson presents the argument's main conclusion in the first sentence of the stimulus (to be a successful salesperson you need at least three years in sales). Let's reorder this stimulus, and begin by considering the premises of the argument:

Premise i) To succeed as a salesperson, you need to establish a client base:

..... ..... succeed in sales :arrow: establish client base

Premise ii) According to studies, if you spend at least 3 years developing a client base, you can make it in sales. Note the new condition that has now appeared--at least 3 years:

..... ..... 3+ years establishing client base :arrow: comfortable living in sales

Note that this condition is distinguishable from the necessary condition in the first premise, which requires that a client base be established but doesn't specify a minimum number of years.

Conclusion: When a salesperson is successful, it shows that the person has been in sales for 3+ years:
..... ..... Succeed in sales :arrow: 3+ years in sales

Why is this conclusion flawed? It is not supported by either premise.

Premise (ii) provides that if you spend 3+ years you can make a comfortable living in sales:
..... ..... 3+ years establishing client base :arrow: comfortable living in sales

This does not support the conclusion, which, at best, reverses this relationship:
..... ..... succeed in sales :arrow: 3+ years in sales

(I say "at best" because it is not entirely clear that making a comfortable living is the same as success)

As for Premise (i), it provides that to succeed in sales you need to establish a client base. This is very different from the conclusion's more specific requirement that to succeed in sales you need to put in at least three years:

Premise: ..... ..... ..... succeed as a salesperson :arrow: establish client base
(Flawed) Conclusion: ..... succeed as a salesperson :arrow: at least 3 years in sales

Based on the premise above, we know that if you are a successful salesperson you need to establish a client base. The problem is that that doesn't necessarily require 3+ years.

Again, the premise merely requires that a client base be established. The author jumps to the conclusion that salesperson success requires at least three years. This is what correct answer choice (B) provides: the author doesn't consider the possibility that a client base could be established in under three years.

Tricky one! I hope that's helpful--please let me know whether this is clear--thanks!

~Steve
Steve Stein
PowerScore Test Preparation
Annah
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Thanks a lot Steve!
That helps clarify the question perfectly.
Any tips on how to not confuse conditional reasoning questions with those containing formal logic when indicator words for both are present in the stimulus?