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Complete Question Explanation
(See the complete passage discussion here: lsat/viewtopic.php?t=10953)

The correct answer choice is (E)

This question tests your understanding of the recommendations proposed by the New Urbanists, and asks you to consider their implications. Due to the general nature of this question, the method of elimination is likely to prove useful—any answer choice describing an outcome that does not logically follow from the application of the New Urbanists’ recommendations will be incorrect.

Answer choice (A): There is no reason to suspect that building new housing subdivisions in suburban communities in accordance with Duany’s recommendations will obviate the need for zoning laws to regulate traffic flow. Such laws would probably exist in any community where people occasionally drive. (Duany et al. do not advocate the abolition of cars).

Answer choice (B): The New Urbanists do not advocate the building of single-family homes, so it is unclear why applying their principles will necessarily decrease the percentage of multi-family dwellings.

Answer choice (C): This is the Opposite answer. If new housing subdivisions are built in accordance with the principles advocated by the New Urbanists, the amount of time people spend commuting is supposed to decrease, not increase.

Answer choice (D): There is no reason to believe that building new housing subdivisions in suburban communities will make it unnecessary for cities and their suburbs to coordinate zoning policies.

Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. If the New Urbanists’ proposals are implemented, the new suburban neighborhoods will offer residents neighborhood schools and corner grocery stores all within walking distance (lines 37-43). This would clearly require building more schools and grocery stores within the same geographical area, suggesting that communities will experience an increase in the per capita number of such venues.
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With E: I would think that it would be the opposite perhaps?

If everyone lives on one block (lets say 1,000 people) and there is one grocery store; then 1000:1. However, if we now spread everyone out and they needed to walk to the one on the corner, I would think there would be one grocery store on each corner and only 1 or 2 homes. Am I missing something?
 James Finch
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Hi Etsevdos,

I think you misinterpreted what answer choice (E) is saying: it's referring to an increase in the number of grocery stores and schools per capita in suburban cities, not an increase in people per school/grocery store, so if it's currently one school per thousand residents (1:1000) it would increase to 1 per hundred residents (1:100). In other words, assuming the population remained the same, there would be a tenfold increase in the numbers of grocery stores and schools.

Hope that clears things up!
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I understand why A - D are wrong, and I chose E as the answer. However, I am struggling to figure out why it is the right answer, other than that the others are wrong. Wouldn't the New Urbanists also be okay with more densely packed communities? This wouldn't cause a per capita increase in the number of grocery stores or schools necessarily. It could just cause everything to be closer together?
 Claire Horan
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Hi Beeke,

I think you are saying that the New Urbanists' goals could also reached by packing people in tighter, such as in tall apartment buildings, and that this could result in no increase per capita in the number of grocery stores and schools. While I suppose the New Urbanists might be okay with a community where those changes were made, the question stem refers to the New Urbanists' recommendations. Following line 40, some of the recommendations include "narrow, tree-lined streets, parks, corner grocery stores, cafes, small neighborhood schools, all within walking distance." That recommendation is about adding those spaces.

Furthermore, the problem of housing subdivisions discussed in the passage involved people having to drive elsewhere to shop, so it sounds like in those areas there are 0 stores in the neighborhood. The change that would be most direct given the discussion in the passage would be to add communal spaces, not add both those spaces and densely-packed people.

The takeaway I would offer is that you can't assume more than one thing is changing at a time. In order to follow the recommendations and not increase the stores per capita, you have to add the stores and add more people. But we would be wary of an answer that requires two changes and only mentions one.
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I thought (E) might be wrong because in line 38 it says "urban neighborhoods..." instead of "suburban communities" as indicated in the answer choice. Could you explain it for me? Thanks a lot!
 Adam Tyson
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You bet, lilmissunshine! "Duany and his colleagues advocate development based on early-twentieth century urban neighborhoods" means just that - these new neighborhoods are BASED on those urban neighborhoods, with their mix of stores and parks and schools and residences, but they are still suburban neighborhoods that are being built on that model. The New Urbanists aren't talking about how to build cities, but how to build developments outside cities that solve the problems of road rage, lack of diversity, and lack of "community" that current suburban developments cause.

Also, look at the question itself - what would be true of those suburban communities that were built in this new way? They would look more like early 20th-century urban neighborhoods!
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Hi Powerscore,

I eliminated E because of "per capita" - I didn't know what per capita meant. I have heard the term before, but I didn't know it to exclusively mean just per person - I thought it could also mean per area (like as in per 10 sq miles or something), etc.

Googling the term, it is defined by "for each person" - when adding this with the stimulus' admission that suburban communities are "low-density," we have enough to assume that even few people would be frequenting the grocery stores and schools, which supports the answer.

All this is fine and well - my query here pertains to the age-old debate about what constitutes "outside knowledge" and what doesn't. For this question, one needs to know the precise definition of "per-capita" in order to affirmatively select E - I suppose one could have marked it down as unsure and differed, and try to eliminate the other choices to avoid having to make a decision of consequence on the uncertainty. Can you explain why per capita isn't outside knowledge and is commonsense knowledge?

Could you also provide commentary on what other possible latin-rooted demographic metrics may also constitute "commonsense" knowledge? I know what is "commonsense" is inherently subjective to the test taker, but I'm searching for any tangible criteria that would help me know perhaps what I need to study and know off the top of my head, because I clearly did not know what this meant.

 Adam Tyson
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The bad news is that what constitutes commonsense knowledge is completely up to the folks at LSAC. They get to decide what's fair game and what's not. Not everyone takes a course in economics, but they expect us to know that there is some relationship between supply and demand, and that profits are determined by subtracting costs from revenues. They have some high standards for what vocabulary they will test (not unlike the GRE and even the SAT and ACT in that regard). There's more, too much to list here, and if we tried we would surely miss a lot.

In general, they expect everyone who has a Bachelor's Degree, or is close to completing one (and that is the target market for the LSAT) to have certain baseline knowledge no matter what course of study they followed. We are expected to know what "ameliorate" means, and "equivocate," and we are supposed to understand that toxic means poisonous or dangerous but not necessarily deadly. But we are not expected to know specialized knowledge like what "per stirpes" means, or what a prion is, or how long a day lasts on Mars. Even most historical knowledge is not taken for granted on the test, which is odd considering some of the things they do think we should all know, like what "virulence" means.

My advice to anyone studying the LSAT is to do everything you can to expand your general vocabulary. Find "word a day" apps, look up vocab lists for the GRE, and for sure create your own vocab list for everything you encounter along that way that gives you trouble. There is no vocabulary section on the LSAT like there is in many other standardized tests, but that doesn't mean they won't be challenging us with some very esoteric words not frequently seen in ordinary conversation!

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