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Complete Question Explanation

Assumption. The correct answer choice is (D)

Although one is very unlikely to win the lottery, the few who do win receive significant media
attention. And most people are aware of the issues that get significant attention from the media.
From these two premises, the author concludes that many people greatly overestimate their chances
of winning the lottery. The author has not explicitly said so, but clearly believes that many people’s
awareness of lottery wins equates with many people’s overestimation of their own chances of

..... ..... Premise: Lottery winners get a lot of media attention.

..... ..... Premise: Most people are aware of big media stories.

..... ..... Conclusion: Therefore many people overestimate their own chances of winning.

The unstated premise—the supporter assumption, in this case—will likely tie the awareness of big
winners to overestimation of one’s chances to win.

Answer choice (A): The author makes no mention of the media’s downplaying the odds of winning,
and this choice fails to provide the supporter assumption prephrased above.

Answer choice (B): There is no discussion of the other parties who receive significant media
attention, and this choice is not an assumption on which the author’s argument depends.

Answer choice (C): The author does not say or imply that the media is the sole reason for people’s
overestimation of their chances, so the argument does not depend on this assumption.

Answer choice (D): This is the correct answer choice. This answer links the elements which were
not explicitly linked in the stimulus: awareness of others’ big wins must lead some to overestimate
their own prospects for such a win.

To test this choice, we can apply the Assumption Negation Technique, negating the answer choice
to see if taking away the assumption will weaken the author’s argument. The negated version of this
answer choice is “Becoming aware of major jackpots leads no one to overestimate his or her own
chances to win.” This negated version would certainly weaken the author’s conclusion, confirming
this to be the correct answer choice.

Answer choice (E): The only group mentioned in this context is that of the people who greatly
overestimate their own chances to win the lottery. There is no discussion about those who do not
overestimate their chances.
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Hi-- can anyone please explain the difference between A and D for me? I chose A and admittedly when I look back I can see how D is a better answer. However, I wanted to know what it is about A that eliminates it from consideration?

I guess what tempted me to choose A was the use of "most people" and how that links to the reference of "many people" in the stimulus. Is it because the language is too strong for an assumption question?

 James Finch
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Hi Rhea,

This is a Supporter Assumption question, which means we should looking for a new element in the conclusion that isn't present in the premises, but which we can link to a premise via the correct answer choice to make the argument whole. When deciding between two Contender answer choices, we can also use the Assumption Negation technique to determine which of the two is actually necessary to the argument.

So in looking at this question, the stimulus introduces the concept of overestimating the odds of winning a jackpot, implicitly (but not explicitly!) tying it to awareness of jackpot winners. So our prephrase would be:

Most people aware of jackpot winners :arrow: likely many greatly overestimate odds of winning

Both answer choices (A) and (D) seem to include these elements, but in different ways. Answer choice (A), when negated, would look like:

Most people who overestimate the likelihood of winning a major jackpot do not do so because media coverage of other people who have won major jackpots downplays the odds against winning


It is not likely that many people greatly overestimate the odds of their winning a major jackpot

While (D) negates to:

Becoming aware of individuals who have won a major jackpot doesn't lead anyone to incorrectly overstimate their chances of winning a jackpot


It is not likely that many people greatly overestimate the odds of their winning a major jackpot

Looked at this way, we can see that (A) doesn't actually fit with the argument at all, while (D) is a perfect fit to support the conclusion.

Hope this clears things up!
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Why are we assuming that in option D when it says that "becoming aware...people incorrectly estimate their own chances of winning such a lottery" means that these people are incorrectly overestimating and not incorrectly underestimating their odds of winning? Even if we can make this assumption, the standard of "at least some people" could be met if 2 people incorrectly estimate their own chances, but that's far from many people overestimating.
For the record I went with A, thinking that it was the best possible answer even though it has the flaw of talking about "most people who overestimate the likelihood" when that could be true even if only one person in the entire world overestimated their likelihood and they did so in part because of the media's portrayal of the story.
 Robert Carroll
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Ultimately, the argument needs people to overestimate their chances. Answer choice (D) expresses the assumption that at least some people will incorrectly estimate their chances. Because this is a Necessary Assumption question, we're NOT looking for an answer that completely shores up the argument against all attack. Instead, we want an assumption that the argument needs, even if that assumption is not strong enough to prove the argument right.

So, as you point out, we need people to overestimate their chances. Well, then we need those people to have erroneous estimations, right? You're pointing out that answer choice (D) is compatible with an UNDERestimation of chances. And I agree! But that doesn't make it wrong as an answer. If at least some people overestimate, then those people, at least, wrongly estimate their chances. And the answer says that, so that's a good assumption! Look at it from the perspective of the Assumption Negation technique - if NO ONE wrongly estimated their chances, then no one would overestimate (or underestimate), and the argument would completely fail.

You also say that "some" means "at least two". Well, that's wrong - some means "at least one". You're pointing out that that doesn't really go far toward demonstrating that "many" people overestimate. And I agree...but again, for an Assumption, that's not a problem. We don't need the answer to prove the conclusion. We need the answer to prove an assumption without which the argument couldn't work. If the argument wants "many" people to overestimate, we'd better hope at least some do!

The problem with answer choice (A) is that it talks about "people who overestimate" without ever getting around to showing me that there are any such people in the first place. The problem with the argument is that I don't know there are any such people. An answer that tells me more about those people won't close the gap.

Robert Carroll
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If answer A were changed to "There are people who overestimate the likelihood of winning a major jackpot who do so at least in part because media coverage of other people who have won major jackpots downplays the odds against winning such a jackpot", would that answer be valid?
 Adam Tyson
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I still would not like that answer, Tajadas, although it would be more attractive. Try the negation technique on it and you get "There are NO people who overestimate the likelihood of winning a major jackpot who do so at least in part because media coverage of other people who have won major jackpots downplays the odds against winning such a jackpot." What does that mean? It means they aren't being swayed by the media actively downplaying the odds. But could they still be overestimating just because of the coverage itself? Could the media be talking about how overwhelming the odds are against this happening, and some people still determine that the odds are better than they are? I think so. It's the "because" aspect of this answer that hurts it. It doesn't matter WHY they are overestimating the odds, but only that they ARE overestimating them.

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