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Complete Question Explanation

Evaluate the Argument. The correct answer choice is (C).

As with all questions, you must identify the conclusion of the argument.
The conclusion states that if you buy a Bolter’s power hedge trimmer, you
know the trimmer is safe. In the question stem, we are asked to evaluate
the truth of this conclusion. Each answer choice is then posed in the form
of a question. The answer choice that is correct will contain the question
that, when answered, will reveal whether the conclusion is strong or weak.

In order to understand the application of the Variance Test, we will look at
each answer choice in succession and thus we will not perform an initial
analysis of the argument (on the LSAT we would analyze the stimulus
closely). Also note that on the test we would not apply the Variance Test
to each answer choice, only to the Contenders. For teaching purposes, we
will apply the Variance Test to each answer in an effort to give you the best
possible understanding of how the technique works.

Answer choice (A) asks if National Laboratories has performed tests on
other machines from Bolter Industries. To apply the Variance Test, we
should supply different and opposing answers to the question posed by the
answer choice. First, try the answer “No.” With this answer, would the fact
that National Laboratories did not perform safety tests on other Bolter’s
machines affect the safety of the Bolter’s hedge trimmer? No—this does
not help us evaluate the safety of the hedge trimmer. What if the answer
was “Yes” ? Would the fact that National Laboratories performed safety
tests on other Bolters machines affect the safety of the Bolter’s hedge
trimmer? Not at all. So, regardless of how we respond to the question
posed in answer choice (A), our view of the conclusion is the same—we
do not know whether the claim that the hedge trimmer is safe is good
or bad. According to the Variance Test, if the answer is correct, then
supplying opposite answers should yield different views of the conclusion.
Since our assessment of the conclusion did not change, the Variance Test
tells us that this answer is incorrect.

The question in answer choice (B) is, “How important to the average
buyer of a power hedge trimmer is safety of operation?” Again, apply the
Variance Test and supply opposite answers to the question in the answer
choice. In this case, try “Very Important” and “Not Important.” If safety
of operation is very important to a buyer of hedge trimmers, would that
affect whether the Bolter’s hedge trimmer itself is safe? No. Let’s look at
the opposite side: if safety of operation is not important at all to a buyer
of hedge trimmers, would that affect whether the Bolter’s hedge trimmer
itself is safe? No. Because our view of the validity of the conclusion does
not change when we consider different responses to the question posed
in answer choice (B), the Variance Test tells us that answer choice (B) is
incorrect.

The question in answer choice (C) is, what were the results of the tests of
Bolter’s hedge trimmer? Using the Variance Test, supply one response that
says, “Bolter’s hedge trimmer failed the safety test.” If this is true, then
the conclusion is unquestionably weakened. Now supply a response that
says, “Bolter’s hedge trimmer passed the safety test.” If this is true, then
the conclusion is strengthened. So, depending on the answer supplied to
the question posed in answer choice (C), our view of the validity of the
argument changes: sometimes we view the conclusion as stronger and
other times as weaker. Therefore, according to the Variance Test, this is
the correct answer.
In this instance, the Variance Test reveals the flaw in
the argument: the author simply assumed that being tested means safety is
assured. Nowhere in the argument did the author mention that the hedge
trimmer passed the tests, and the Variance Test reveals this flaw.

In answer choice (D), “Yes” and “No” responses do not change our view
of the argument, and answer choice (D) is incorrect.

In answer choice (E), “Yes” and “No” responses do not change our view
of the argument, and answer choice (E) is incorrect.

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