Real LSAT Practice Questions: Taming the Logical Reasoning Beast!
November 12, 2013
The second half of our weekly real LSAT practice questions just popped out of my EZ Bake Oven, so as per usual remember to try the questions on your own first, then check out the explanations. Keep your eyes on the big picture takeaways and patterns for Optimal LSAT Learnage (yes, yes, it’s not a real word, but it’s a good word). If you’re looking for additional practice, check out the first half of this question set here, and check out our older iterations of real LSAT questions.
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Q11: We are asked how Debbie counters Carl’s argument– a method of argument question (the second in this LSAT practice set). Carl thinks that lawmakers care more about animals than humans, since the law mandates elaborate procedures regarding pain experienced by animals in experiments, but similar procedures do not exist with respect to operations performed on humans. Why do animals receive this protection when humans do not? Debbie argues that human beings don’t need such “pain protocols,” because unlike experimental animals, humans are capable of informed consent; they can be told about the pain involved in potential operations, and make an intelligent decision as to whether the pain is worth it. So, as (B) indicates, Debbie points out a relevant difference between humans and animals that weakens Carl’s argument.
(A) Debbie does not dispute the evidence itself.
(C) Carl’s argument may sound a little hysterical, but Debbie sticks to logic.
(D) What analogy? Debbie never compares the pain protocol issue to anything else.
(E) Debbie describes a range of situations, and never attempts to demonstrate that Carl’s argument hinges on some unknowable issue.
• Always watch for the structural signals that can illuminate structure and save you time and effort. For example, in Carl’s argument, the word “Yet” in the second sentence signals the contrast that is the key to his argument. In the same way “But” signals Debbie’s reaction to Carl’s remarks, and “so” signals her conclusion.
Q12: Now we’re asked to weaken Debbie’s argument that procedures to monitor and reduce pain were unnecessary for operations performed on humans. After all, operations are performed only with the patient’s consent, and the patient can be informed about the pain involved. Oh really? What about babies? Babies cannot consent, and cannot be told what pain to expect. So if some surgical operations performed on infants are painful, then the relevant difference is negated, and (D) weakens the argument.
(A) would tend to support Debbie’s claim that pain protocols are unnecessary.
(B) is outside the scope. The issue is whether pain protocols are necessary for operations performed on humans, given that they exist for animal experiments. The justification for the animal experiments is the subject of another argument, not this one.
(C) is also outside the scope. The usefulness of pain protocols is an issue distinct from the costs associated with those protocols.
(E) is irrelevant. Carl and Debbie would both agree that pain has bad consequences; they disagree as to the procedures necessary to minimize it.
• When you paraphrase, keep your eye on the scope and be precise. You’ll be able to pick out the answer quickly, and you won’t spend too much time on irrelevant choices. Most LSAT questions contain at least three irrelevant/outside the scope choices, so a strong grasp on the scope of the evidence and conclusion is critical to LR efficiency.
Q13: Ah, necessary assumption question: we’ve hit these practice questions before on the LSAT, so weapons at the ready! At first, using a collection agency seems like a pretty bad idea. Collection agencies pay only 15% of the outstanding balance, which doesn’t seem very high. So the author concludes that companies would be better off going after debtors on their own. However, 15% is better than nothing, and it’s also better than anything less. If the companies usually get less than 15% of what they’re owed, then using a collection agency wouldn’t be so dumb after all. So for the argument against collection agencies to hold water, it has to be true, as (A) says, that the companies going after their own debtors tend to collect more than 15% of what’s due.
(B) If a company incurred high costs pursuing debtors on its own, then collection agencies would seem more attractive, but there’s no reason to enforce a cap of 15% on those costs. If, for instance, the companies could collect 50% of the debt while paying 20% in collection costs, they would still do better than getting back only 15% from the collection agencies. Since the denial of choice (B) isn’t fatal to the argument, (B) as written isn’t necessary to it.
(C) and (D) fall outside the scope. The question is whether a company that’s owed money ought to send those debts to a collection agency, given a 15% return. The success of a collection agency once it’s given the debt (C) is another issue altogether. And the companies don’t care about the percent of customers that eventually pay up (D); they care about the total amount of money that is collected. Beware the “percent vs. number” scope shift!
(E) If a company could be profitable with fewer than 50% of its customers paying up, could using collection agencies still be a bad idea? Sure, so (E) ain’t it.
• This stimulus is an excellent example of a type that shows up on the LSAT with some frequency—an argument in which an author examines only one side of an issue and assumes that there’s nothing to be said on the other side. When you suspect that the argument is lacking because it doesn’t include both sides of the story, look for a choice that addresses an issue neglected by the author. Watch out for it in your LSAT practice questions!
• Watch out for the “percent vs. number” scope shift, an LSAT favorite, shown here in choice (D).