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 Dave Killoran
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aaraya wrote:I, like many before me, fell prey to being confused by "direct proportionality." Looking at the dates from this thread, I'm wondering why this question remains in the LRB Must be true practice set. I've run into a handful of questions difficult for me in the practice sets of the PowerScore curriculum where I search for questions in these forums and the response from PowerScore will usually be something to the effect of "the reason you got this question wrong is because it involved some notorious LSAT vocabulary that you haven't encountered yet. But hold on, you'll get there!" Wouldn't it be easier to include that vocab earlier on in the curriculum, or refrain from using questions with advanced vocabulary in earlier chapters? Or maybe even include an index at the end of the books so I can find the term "direct proportionality?"

Hi A,

Thanks for the question—I appreciate it! Although some indeed have fallen prey to "direct proportionality," there are other reasons for including this problem (including how it uses related concepts to get to the answer). And, to be honest, there's never just a single reason that causes a problem to be included in the book, and that particular phrase in this case wasn't the reason this question was included. Do I like that the term comes up? Yes, but it's more of a minor point in its favor as far as this problem goes.

With your broader question about terms, in some instances it's intentional that I don't mention it earlier. The reason is that there is nothing like seeing it in action for the meaning to have the most impact. And, it's not my goal to maximize performance on problem sets; I'm far more interested in using those sets to teach lessons about the way the test makers think, and to teach certain lessons about things that the test makers do.

If we only did basic questions early on, they would have to be very simple, and thus very easy, and thus not really rewarding to do. I have a feeling that the complaints about taking that path would be much greater! Plus, you really can't define every term on the test in a meaningful way before diving into the problems. It would really bog people down, and I already hear some kickback about the word lists that are there early on. I do take your point about an index with that term though, and I'll look to include one in future editions. Thanks for that suggestion!

There's more to this discussion than I have time to post at the moment, so I may come back and try to flesh out my response to more clearly and comprehensively explain what you are seeing and why. Hopefully, this starts to convey the idea that these problems aren't here because of these terms, but that encountering the unknown in this fashion is actually a plus in my opinion because it helps you get better when it matters, which is during the actual test :-D

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Thank you Francis and Dave for those detailed responses. The explanations regarding why the material is ordered the way it is and why certain questions are used gives me a better grasp of exactly what you expect me to learn from those more advanced/complicated questions.

 Katya W
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kingivory76 wrote:
Nikki Siclunov wrote:
Onto your question: the last sentence of the stimulus states that the amount of molecular motion of the molecule rhodopsin is directly proportional to the temperature of the retina. In other words, the warmer the retina, the more molecular motion there is, and - inversely - the colder the retina, the less molecular motion. This is the essence of direct proportionality: we have a positive correlation between motion and temperature. If the relationship was reversed, the last sentence would have said, "The amount of molecular motion is inversely proportional to the temperature of the retina."

So, if the visual system of the animal matches that of its surroundings, then the molecular motion will be higher when the surrounding temperature (and, hence, the animal's own body temperature) is higher. Given the information presented in the second sentence of the stimulus, the visual system of such an animal would be more error-prone.

I am writing because I also had an issue with the vocabulary of this question, due to the usage of terminology, and not based on the logical structure of the stimulus.
After reading Nikki's explanation, and then conducting research, I have to continue to argue that the usage of "directly proportional" is terminology largely used in the scientific and mathematical communities, and not used much elsewhere. Therefore, it cannot be expected to be commonly known that "directly proportional" can only be a positive correlation between temperature and molecular motion. Logically, someone who is not familiar with the usage of this terminology in the scientific and mathematical communities could assume that temperature and motion are definitely proportional, but not that one definitely only increases when the other increases. As anthonycarral states, a person not knowledgeable in the mathematical and scientific usage of this terminology could logically deduce that motion decreases when temperature increases, or it could be vice versa - therefore choosing one direction over the other would be perceived by the test taker as guessing an answer, or adding outside information to the stimulus.
Logically, if this additional clarifying information had been presented in the stimulus, I would have had no problem selecting the correct answer provided. However, without having this information clarified in the stimulus, choosing the correct answer out of the choices provided became a guessing game, as none of the choices could be proven/supported fully by the stimulus without incorporating outside information.
Three years later, but I wanted to say, thank you for speaking up for the non-mathematical/scientific community and giving such a verbose explanation of what we were thinking (directly proportionate could mean high motion=high temperature, or vice versa, high motion=cold temperature) when we had to deal with this question, and how literally none of the answers seemed correct because most seemed to bring in outside information. Thank you.

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