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 Nikki Siclunov
PowerScore Staff
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  • Joined: Aug 02, 2011
The following is a response to a privately received question:

I finished the evaluate the argument section and it says to not use the Variance Test unless you've narrowed it down to Contenders, but I didn't find or see anything in the chapter about how to narrow down to contenders in this question type. Should we just be using strategies from other chapters and then once we have 2-3 contenders feel okay about using the Variance Test?
Our response:

Applying the Variance Test is a bit of a pain, so you should only use it as a way to distinguish between two attractive Contenders. How do you narrow them down? Well, when going over the answers, think about whether each of them raises an important or relevant question. Adopt the mindset of the author: if you made this argument, would you care about (A)? What about (B)? Etc. If answer some of these questions with, “Well, yes, maybe I care about this” - then keep it as a contender. Many of the answers will raise completely irrelevant issues, and thus need not be tested using the Variance Test. Usually, the arguments presented in the stimulus are flawed for a particular reason, or make a central (probably unwarranted) assumption. If you can identify that ahead of time, then you already know what would be relevant to evaluating that argument.

I always try to look at the argument critically and think about what’s wrong with it ahead of time. Once I have that locked down, going over the answers is much, much easier.

Hope this helps!

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