Monday, February 8, 2010

Logical Reasoning Zen Task Standard: Argumentative Strategy Employed

The Zen task argumentative strategy employed is fairly easy to recognize even though it has a myriad of different key words that can be used in the question stem.  The correct answer choice will be a restatement of the argument, with its various elements--premise, evidence, bridge, and conclusion--translated into "LSAT speak."

All the free Zen of 180 explanations are for the two sample PrepTests, from June 2007 and October 1996, although there was only one argumentative strategy employed question on the June 2007 LSAT. The question stem for this task requires extensive processing so you can be sure to focus on the correct speaker's point of view, especially when presented with a stimulus for two different authors.
 

Zen clients first read the question stem, determine which of the stimulus' arguments will be translated into "LSAT speak," and identify the premise, evidence, bridge, and conclusion as they read. Usually they highlight the conclusion, [bracket the bridge], and underline the key evidence, leaving the premise unmarked.

            


Above is a gallery of the logical reasoning sections that have a greater than average density of the task, and below is the frequency that this task has been asked on modern LSATs and the percentage change in frequency from pre-2007 LSATs. While it averages 2.0% of the points on a modern logical reasoning section, the task is one of the most volatile. For example, on five of the modern LSATs, there has been only one argumentative strategy employed question; however, PrepTest 56 from December 2009 had four!

16 times
on LSATs since 2007
3.5% of LR
(2 per LSAT, range 1-4)
0.7% growth from pre-2007

The volatility of this task makes it hard to predict if you'll lock in a point for practicing it; however, the entire task strand of analyzing argument structure is important to complete almost all the other tasks. After all, if you can't tell what the argument is trying to accomplish, how can you evaluate its evidence use or identify parallel structure?