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 morrisonxia
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#103984
New to logical reasoning. I understand that one of the steps to "attacking the question" is to prephrase. From my understanding, that means using the question stem to mentally formulate an answer-- however, I'm having trouble understanding what that means and how it functions.

What does this mean in practice? How does one pre-answer a question before reading all the ACs, separating into contenders/losers, etc.? What does prephrasing actually look like and how is it applied?
 Luke Haqq
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#103995
Hi morrisonxia!

I'd slightly modify how you describe paraphrasing. More than the question stem, it's the stimulus itself that you can use to prephrase answers.

For example, suppose you were given the following stimulus: "Person A believes that the latest scientific study isn't valid. However, Person A has a financial interest in the study not being valid. Therefore, the study must be valid." You might find various problems with this reasoning. One issue could be that the reasoning seems to attack the person--it could be seen as a form of ad hominem argumentation. That's something that you could spot just from looking at the stimulus, without reaching the question stem or the answer choices. Then, once you get to those, you'll have a possible answer already formulated.

There are several types of flaws that are used frequently throughout the LSAT, so being familiar with those can be a useful aid in helping you become more comfortable with prephrasing answers. Lesson 7 in PowerScore's course books provides an in-depth look at flaws in reasoning commonly found on the test, including sample language. You might look at that lesson in working to strengthen your abilities to prephrase answers.
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 morrisonxia
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#104264
Thank you so much for the help! It's starting to make more sense as we move through the lessons in class-- from how I'm understanding it now, prephrasing is more like gathering potential clues from the stimulus as a framework to arrive at the correct answer, not an attempt at predicting future correct answers. Again, I appreciate the clarification!
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 Jeff Wren
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#104282
Hi morrisonxia,

Prephrasing is both gathering potential clues from the stimulus and actually considering what you might be looking for in a correct answer.

Exactly how you prephrase (or what you are looking for in your prephrase) varies depending on question type.

For example, for Must Be True questions, the correct answer is often an inference that can be made by linking two or more statements in the stimulus, so if you see statements in the stimulus that link together logically to form an inference, that inference would be a possible prephrase.

For Weaken and Strengthen questions, you want to think about specific ways to weaken or strengthen the argument given in the stimulus. For example, if the argument contains causal reasoning, there are very specific ways to weaken and strengthen a causal argument.

Keep in mind that there may be (and often is) more than one way to weaken or strengthen an argument (and likewise there can be many possible prephrases), so you don't want to take a long time trying to come up with every possible prephrase. Prephrasing is simply taking a few seconds after reading the question (but before reading the answers) to actively think about what you might be looking for in the correct answer.

Prephrasing is definitely a skill that takes practice, so the more that you do it, the easier it becomes.

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