LSAT and Law School Admissions Forum

Get expert LSAT preparation and law school admissions advice from PowerScore Test Preparation.

User avatar
 Dave Killoran
PowerScore Staff
  • PowerScore Staff
  • Posts: 4105
  • Joined: Mar 25, 2011
|
#48229
Hi Howard,

Thanks for the question! I know what you are thinking here in that the before and after covers both sides of the "spectrum", but if the same result (or similar) is seen by people who already had that skill, it suggests that the skill isn't part of the cause here, which hurts the argument.

I'm not sure this will help, but let me use an analogy:

  • "Researchers gave 100 high school basketball players lessons in dribbling. They found that those whose shooting skills had improved the most had learned to dribble the best. This suggests that dribbling better frees up mental resources that allowed them to improve their shooting."

    (B) The basketball players who were the best dribblers before receiving the lessons in dribbling showed the greatest improvement in their shooting skills over the course of the lessons.
Now, let's consider that for a moment. The worst dribblers (let's just call them that; it doesn't mean they were bad per se) got better at dribbling and their shot improved, so the researchers said it was the better dribbling that made their shot better (in a roundabout way, but still). Now (B) comes in and says, yeah, but the best dribblers also showed the same effect. So, was it getting good at dribbling that made everyone's shot better? No, because the people who were already good also saw an improvement. Further, if both bad dribblers and good dribblers had the same effect, it suggests that maybe it was something else entirely that caused it, and not the dribbling.

Often, when we see information about the "other half," it really helps complete the picture of what's occurring, but in this case, it actually confuses it more than anything because it shows that making it automatics was unlikely to be the main cause of what's occurring with composition skills.

Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!
 AM4747
  • Posts: 17
  • Joined: Oct 22, 2018
|
#61855
Dave Killoran wrote:Hi Howard,

Thanks for the question! I know what you are thinking here in that the before and after covers both sides of the "spectrum", but if the same result (or similar) is seen by people who already had that skill, it suggests that the skill isn't part of the cause here, which hurts the argument.

I'm not sure this will help, but let me use an analogy:

  • "Researchers gave 100 high school basketball players lessons in dribbling. They found that those whose shooting skills had improved the most had learned to dribble the best. This suggests that dribbling better frees up mental resources that allowed them to improve their shooting."

    (B) The basketball players who were the best dribblers before receiving the lessons in dribbling showed the greatest improvement in their shooting skills over the course of the lessons.
Now, let's consider that for a moment. The worst dribblers (let's just call them that; it doesn't mean they were bad per se) got better at dribbling and their shot improved, so the researchers said it was the better dribbling that made their shot better (in a roundabout way, but still). Now (B) comes in and says, yeah, but the best dribblers also showed the same effect. So, was it getting good at dribbling that made everyone's shot better? No, because the people who were already good also saw an improvement. Further, if both bad dribblers and good dribblers had the same effect, it suggests that maybe it was something else entirely that caused it, and not the dribbling.


Often, when we see information about the "other half," it really helps complete the picture of what's occurring, but in this case, it actually confuses it more than anything because it shows that making it automatics was unlikely to be the main cause of what's occurring with composition skills.

Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!

Hello,

Thank you very much for the explanation.

I too was confused about B.

I just want to explain it in abstract terms and see whether I understood it correctly.

The conclusion is that X causes Y. The premise that purportedly supports this is that those who, in the course of time, had X increase in them also had an increase in Y.

(B) then comes in and states that those who already had a high degree of X (indeed the highest) showed the greatest increase in Y.

Intuitively, this seems to strengthen the argument. For highest X is correlated with highest increase in Y. But what I construed from the explanations is that in a sense, this answer choice weakens the argument: the argument seeks to establish that INCREASE in X amounts to INCREASE in Y. But answer choice B essentially takes this increasing out of the occasion. X is now constant (though at its highest), but Y increases anyway. In a sense, therefore, this answer weakens by showing that when the cause (increase in X) does not occur, the effect (increase in Y) occurs. This could have been the correct answer choice in a Weaken Question perhaps (which would have been super hard).

Is my reasoning correct?

Thanks
All best
 Adam Tyson
PowerScore Staff
  • PowerScore Staff
  • Posts: 3694
  • Joined: Apr 14, 2011
|
#62355
That's how I analyzed it, too, AM4747! That would have been a tough Weaken answer, but a good one, I think. Nice job!
 zhangori000
  • Posts: 1
  • Joined: Apr 08, 2020
|
#75002
I am confused as to why B is wrong

as you stated,
cause = writing automatically
effect = frees up mental resources for other activities (such as writing and composition)

And according to the Bible, to strengthen a CE we want to show that when the cause occurs, the effect occurs.
B says that first-graders who had automatic writing before lessons (cause) also showed improvement in composition (freeing resources).

C says the same thing. More automatic writing (cause) improves composition (freeing resources).

And in the justification of why B is wrong, you stated something along the lines of how the fact that kids are automatic before receiving education implies that they are smart. But I thought we aren't allowed to "help the answer choices" to that extent.
User avatar
 KelseyWoods
PowerScore Staff
  • PowerScore Staff
  • Posts: 981
  • Joined: Jun 26, 2013
|
#75006
Hi zhangori000!

Dave already gave a great in depth explanation for answer choice (B) up above. So I won't repeat him here, but be sure to check it out!

As for your specific concerns, notice that the causal relationship here is not quite as simple as it seems at first glance. The author notices that there is a correlation between learning to write letters automatically and improving composition skills. It's not a relationship between static states "can write automatically" and "mental resources available." It's about the process. The process of producing letters more automatically frees up mental resources that allow you to improve in other areas. Answer choice (B) gets rid of that process component of the cause. The first-graders already know how to write letters automatically--that's not quite the same cause as learning to write letters automatically. Dave's analogy above is a good example of why this subtle difference makes a big impact on the helpfulness of the answer choice.

Hope this helps!

Best,
Kelsey
 Coleman
  • Posts: 42
  • Joined: Jul 07, 2020
|
#79336
Hi,

I've been stuck in this question for an hour and read all those previous posts but still didn't get a clear answer. My contenders were (B) and (C) and my reasoning for (B) goes like this:

The first-graders who wrote letters the most automatically are people who have the largest freed-up mental resources for other activities. These people were already equipped with these mental resources even before they receive the after school lessons in handwriting. However, they took this lesson to write letters more automatically, and it is no wonder they showed the greatest improvement in their composition skills over the course of the lessons.

As one of the instructors explained here, "freeing-up the mental resources" account for other activities is the process that is invoked by more automatized letter writing skills and is conducive to better composition skills. The first-graders mentioned in the answer choice (B) are the people who already have the best, or at least better mental resources because they write letters the most automatically. Therefore, over the course of the lessons, their extra mental resources will get better or more freed up, so their composition skills will improve proportionately.

I don't understand why this reasoning doesn't strengthen the conclusion in the passage. Any follow-up or clarification will be much appreciated!
 blade21cn
  • Posts: 85
  • Joined: May 21, 2019
|
#81010
I've an extra question. The argument structure is correlation to causation - the cause being "automatic character production/letter writing" and the effect "mental resources for other activities, e.g., composition skills." (C), the credited answer choice, takes the form of "the ..., the ..." Specifically, the greater improvement in automatic letter writing, the greater improvement in composition skills. In essence, the more of the cause, the more of the effect, which provides more gradient that the premise "the most of the effect, the most the cause," which is basically the same batch of first-graders. So if anything, the "arrow" would be bi-directional, when superlatives are used. But I tend to think when comparatives are used, it does make a difference which comparative comes first, at least grammatically speaking. So my question is, would (C) still be the correct answer establishing a correlation, if it had stated "the first-graders who showed greater improvement in composition skills also generally showed greater improvement in their ability to write letters automatically," i.e., when it takes the form of "the more of the effect, the more of the cause"? Thanks!
 Adam Tyson
PowerScore Staff
  • PowerScore Staff
  • Posts: 3694
  • Joined: Apr 14, 2011
|
#84221
Blade21cn: Yes, that answer would have worked either way, because showing that a correlation is strong helps (but does not prove) a causal argument based on that correlation.

Coleman: Answer B does nothing to strengthen the claim that more automatic handwriting frees up mental resources for other things, like becoming a better writer, because it sets up a situation where there is no explanation for the improvement in composition skills. The ones who were already the best before the lessons began would have had less room for improvement, and perhaps did not improve their automatic handwriting at all, and yet showed the greatest improvement in composition skills. If anything, that actually breaks the correlation, suggesting that something else must have contributed to their improvement in composition.

Get the most out of your LSAT Prep Plus subscription.

Analyze and track your performance with our Testing and Analytics Package.