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Author Topic: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?  (Read 1771 times)

mateudn

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How do I know when I should diagram in LR?
« on: March 20, 2012, 10:48:02 PM »
Hi everyone, that's my first post here, and I want to thank you for any response in advance.

I've read the PowerScore LR Bible and begun drilling question types. And I've noticed that in pretty much every question one could draw some sort of diagram (causal, conditional). However, I've also noticed that I lose valuable time diagramming on these questions but I end up not using the diagrams to answer the questions. Thus, my question: How does one know when to diagram?

ps: I've researched it but couldn't find anything.

Again, Thanks.

Micdiddy

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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2012, 01:23:59 AM »
Ah, same post both here and on TLS, must be desperate for an answer!

Unfortunately I don't have one for you. I agree with the advice given on TLS, diagram when it helps you. After reading a question of the diagram seems really obvious to you and you can jot it down quickly before even looking at answer choices, do that. Then compare it to the answer choices as you read.

Likewise, if you decide not to diagram the question right away, but after reading the answer choices you are still supremely confused, skip the question and finish the section (to make sure you have time to answer the easy points), then with the time leftover diagram the tough question.

Hope that helps a bit.

mateudn

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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2012, 03:19:35 AM »
Yeah that helps, thanks. But my concern is that if I read the question, and then only halfway through it I decide to diagram, I will lose valuable time rereading the question. I was wondering if there's some type of clue (perhaps by the type of question) that would make this decision easier and/or quicker. I think by reading the question stem before the stimulus may help on that.

Micdiddy

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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?
« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2012, 03:41:39 AM »
The only clue I can think of is know your poison. After a certain number of diagnostics you should be able to recognize which type of LR questions are giving you problems, as they all fall into some category that's discussed at length on forums and in prep books.

For example I have only gone through 2 1/2 tests and already know parallel reasoning gives me problems, so if I were to diagram (a strategy I have not employed at length yet) I would probably choose to diagram as soon as I recognized it was a parallel question. Beyond that, I guess my advice would be to spend that extra time. Currently I can get through LR sections with at least 3 minutes remaining, which doesn't sound like a lot but it is certainly a cushion to spend even a minute longer on two-three tougher problems.

If you have almost no time leftover then I guess that's not an option...

Jeffort

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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?
« Reply #4 on: March 21, 2012, 03:56:12 PM »
Yeah that helps, thanks. But my concern is that if I read the question, and then only halfway through it I decide to diagram, I will lose valuable time rereading the question. I was wondering if there's some type of clue (perhaps by the type of question) that would make this decision easier and/or quicker. I think by reading the question stem before the stimulus may help on that.

Your question is about an issue many students commonly face early into preparing for the LSAT and one worth asking.

Diagramming is useful for some question types and not for others when you are taking a timed test. 

You must keep in mind that many of the various diagrams in LSAT prep books and the ones instructors write on the white board during prep classes are meant for educational/illustration purposes and not always meant as an example of what/how much you should diagram on test day.  Many of them are meant to illustrate, teach and drill in the concepts and relationships that exist in a given LR question.

For instance, on test day/under timed conditions, it is not very useful to diagram Main Point/Main conclusion questions because your task is simply to identify the main conclusion of the argument and find the answer choice that restates/paraphrases it.  Same thing with role in the argument questions.  Even if there are conditional statements, diagramming them out is not a very efficient way to determine if a given statement is a premise, counter premise, sub-conclusion, or main conclusion.   

The LR question types that diagramming sufficient and necessary condition relationships when presented in the stimulus and/or answer choices is most useful for include:

must be true/most strongly supported
Must be false
sufficient assumption/justify the conclusion
parallel reasoning (non flawed ones, but sometimes with parallel the flawed reasoning ones if the flaw is based on conditional logic)
Principle questions (there are several variations of these)
Flawed method of reasoning (Not all, only when the argument is based on conditional logic)
Strengthen and weaken questions occasionally, but not that often.

Regarding wasting time re-reading the stimulus to make your final selection between two answer choices, that is mostly a mythical fear.  In reality, most students that have trouble finishing LR sections in time waste a lot of time debating answer choices BECAUSE they didn't fully comprehend the stimulus and/or overlooked/forgot some crucial details that make the difference between the correct answer and the most attractive trap answer. 

This is especially true with the higher difficulty rated questions that many test takers answer incorrectly.  A quick re-read of the stimulus once you have it narrowed to two (sometimes three) contender answer choices should take no more than a few seconds since you have already read it and are already familiar with it.  Refreshing your memory of the finer details and nuances of the stimulus can make the difference between getting the point or selecting a trap answer and typically takes less time than people spend debating answering choices on hard questions they get stuck on. 

mateudn

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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?
« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2012, 06:11:28 PM »
Yeah that helps, thanks. But my concern is that if I read the question, and then only halfway through it I decide to diagram, I will lose valuable time rereading the question. I was wondering if there's some type of clue (perhaps by the type of question) that would make this decision easier and/or quicker. I think by reading the question stem before the stimulus may help on that.

Your question is about an issue many students commonly face early into preparing for the LSAT and one worth asking.

Diagramming is useful for some question types and not for others when you are taking a timed test. 

You must keep in mind that many of the various diagrams in LSAT prep books and the ones instructors write on the white board during prep classes are meant for educational/illustration purposes and not always meant as an example of what/how much you should diagram on test day.  Many of them are meant to illustrate, teach and drill in the concepts and relationships that exist in a given LR question.

For instance, on test day/under timed conditions, it is not very useful to diagram Main Point/Main conclusion questions because your task is simply to identify the main conclusion of the argument and find the answer choice that restates/paraphrases it.  Same thing with role in the argument questions.  Even if there are conditional statements, diagramming them out is not a very efficient way to determine if a given statement is a premise, counter premise, sub-conclusion, or main conclusion.   

The LR question types that diagramming sufficient and necessary condition relationships when presented in the stimulus and/or answer choices is most useful for include:

must be true/most strongly supported
Must be false
sufficient assumption/justify the conclusion
parallel reasoning (non flawed ones, but sometimes with parallel the flawed reasoning ones if the flaw is based on conditional logic)
Principle questions (there are several variations of these)
Flawed method of reasoning (Not all, only when the argument is based on conditional logic)
Strengthen and weaken questions occasionally, but not that often.

Regarding wasting time re-reading the stimulus to make your final selection between two answer choices, that is mostly a mythical fear.  In reality, most students that have trouble finishing LR sections in time waste a lot of time debating answer choices BECAUSE they didn't fully comprehend the stimulus and/or overlooked/forgot some crucial details that make the difference between the correct answer and the most attractive trap answer. 

This is especially true with the higher difficulty rated questions that many test takers answer incorrectly.  A quick re-read of the stimulus once you have it narrowed to two (sometimes three) contender answer choices should take no more than a few seconds since you have already read it and are already familiar with it.  Refreshing your memory of the finer details and nuances of the stimulus can make the difference between getting the point or selecting a trap answer and typically takes less time than people spend debating answering choices on hard questions they get stuck on.

First, thanks a lot for the help. Second, let me be a little bit clearer. Should I read the question stem before the stimulus? At least your point that some question should not be diagrammed supports the reading of the question stem upfront. This way a person can identify that a question type need no diagram, no matter how hard the stimulus may be. That is personally what I think is better to do, unlike the PowerScore LR Bible.

Finally, when I was talking about re-reading a question I was referring to questions that sometimes need to be diagrammed. For example, by reading a question stem upfront I know that the question is a Must Be True question, which sometimes makes diagramming recommended. However, how do I know I indeed need to diagram that specific question? Ultimately, what I'm trying to avoid is to read the stimulus and only then realize that I need to diagram it. And if the question is complex enough to require diagramming, it is likely that I'll need to re-read the question because I wont remember the statement that need to be diagrammed.

Regarding re-reading the stimulus before picking the "winner" choice, in my little experience I've already learned that it is well worth it and takes little time.

Jeffort

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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2012, 10:38:52 AM »
Yeah that helps, thanks. But my concern is that if I read the question, and then only halfway through it I decide to diagram, I will lose valuable time rereading the question. I was wondering if there's some type of clue (perhaps by the type of question) that would make this decision easier and/or quicker. I think by reading the question stem before the stimulus may help on that.

Your question is about an issue many students commonly face early into preparing for the LSAT and one worth asking.

Diagramming is useful for some question types and not for others when you are taking a timed test. 

You must keep in mind that many of the various diagrams in LSAT prep books and the ones instructors write on the white board during prep classes are meant for educational/illustration purposes and not always meant as an example of what/how much you should diagram on test day.  Many of them are meant to illustrate, teach and drill in the concepts and relationships that exist in a given LR question.

For instance, on test day/under timed conditions, it is not very useful to diagram Main Point/Main conclusion questions because your task is simply to identify the main conclusion of the argument and find the answer choice that restates/paraphrases it.  Same thing with role in the argument questions.  Even if there are conditional statements, diagramming them out is not a very efficient way to determine if a given statement is a premise, counter premise, sub-conclusion, or main conclusion.   

The LR question types that diagramming sufficient and necessary condition relationships when presented in the stimulus and/or answer choices is most useful for include:

must be true/most strongly supported
Must be false
sufficient assumption/justify the conclusion
parallel reasoning (non flawed ones, but sometimes with parallel the flawed reasoning ones if the flaw is based on conditional logic)
Principle questions (there are several variations of these)
Flawed method of reasoning (Not all, only when the argument is based on conditional logic)
Strengthen and weaken questions occasionally, but not that often.

Regarding wasting time re-reading the stimulus to make your final selection between two answer choices, that is mostly a mythical fear.  In reality, most students that have trouble finishing LR sections in time waste a lot of time debating answer choices BECAUSE they didn't fully comprehend the stimulus and/or overlooked/forgot some crucial details that make the difference between the correct answer and the most attractive trap answer. 

This is especially true with the higher difficulty rated questions that many test takers answer incorrectly.  A quick re-read of the stimulus once you have it narrowed to two (sometimes three) contender answer choices should take no more than a few seconds since you have already read it and are already familiar with it.  Refreshing your memory of the finer details and nuances of the stimulus can make the difference between getting the point or selecting a trap answer and typically takes less time than people spend debating answering choices on hard questions they get stuck on.

First, thanks a lot for the help. Second, let me be a little bit clearer. Should I read the question stem before the stimulus? At least your point that some question should not be diagrammed supports the reading of the question stem upfront. This way a person can identify that a question type need no diagram, no matter how hard the stimulus may be. That is personally what I think is better to do, unlike the PowerScore LR Bible.

Finally, when I was talking about re-reading a question I was referring to questions that sometimes need to be diagrammed. For example, by reading a question stem upfront I know that the question is a Must Be True question, which sometimes makes diagramming recommended. However, how do I know I indeed need to diagram that specific question? Ultimately, what I'm trying to avoid is to read the stimulus and only then realize that I need to diagram it. And if the question is complex enough to require diagramming, it is likely that I'll need to re-read the question because I wont remember the statement that need to be diagrammed.

Regarding re-reading the stimulus before picking the "winner" choice, in my little experience I've already learned that it is well worth it and takes little time.

When beginning prep in a class or by self study with a book like the LRB, it is a good idea to start with reading the stimulus first for several reasons.  Right from the start you need to learn how to and get good at breaking down arguments and it takes time to learn all the different question types.

One of the first important things you need to learn and get good at for LR is to be able to differentiate whether the stimulus is an argument or just a set of facts/information, and then how to break down arguments into their components such as main conclusion supporting premises, counter premises, sub conclusions.  Focusing on getting good at doing that from day one of prep is a crucial foundation building block everything else you learn in progression about the LR section rests on.  It is important to read the stimulus first in the early and mid stages of learning about the LR section while getting all the other basics and concepts down.

The other important part early into LSAT prep is learning all the different LR question types, their respective characteristics, and becoming familiar with the various different ways the question stem can be phrased for each given question type.  It takes time to learn what all the different question types are and get familiar with them.  Early to mid-way in the process you will not know all the question types since good books and classes teach them one at a time and it should take at least several weeks to be exposed to, learn the basic ins and outs of each type, practice some of each type before moving to the next, etc. 

Once you have learned all the basics of each type and how to identify them, strategies and relevant concepts to apply to each, have worked many of each time slowl and then move more into the mainly practice and drilling phase, it then becomes a matter of what works better for you in terms of whether to read the stem or stimulus first.  It only takes one second at most to glance at a question stem to identify the type once you have covered and become familiar with them all. Some people perform better reading the stem first, while others prefer reading the stimulus first, which is why there are conflicting positions about which part you should read first.

Regarding diagramming, knowing when to do it or consider doing it not only depends on the question type, it also depends on the substance of the stimulus.  If you see conditional premises, conclusion, or conditional answer choices (usually by noticing commonly repeated sufficient or necessary indicator words and phrases), then you know that diagramming things out can be helpful.  If you do not see conditional statements in the question, then you should not try to force diagramming (arrow diagrams A--> B) onto the problem.  Diagramming things out is not efficient for all questions, not even all must be true ones. 


mateudn

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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2012, 12:29:33 PM »
Thanks Jeffort, everything you said just confirms what I was thinking. Right now I believe I'm in somewhere in the middle of my prep. I've read the whole LGB and LRB ( doing all the questions on them) just to get a good grasp about the whole thing. Now I'm going back to each chapter in the LRB to seriously study the main concepts of each question type. So, far I've studied Must Be True and Main Point, and I've drilled 20 questions of each (untimed).

My plan is to take the LSAT in June and I want to spend April doing what I'm doing nw(deeply studying each type of question/drilling) and taking full sections of the LSAT, after I'm done with all types of question. Then, in May I plan to do just full PrepTest in real test conditions. Meanwhile, I plan to do the same with LG but I'm kind of not too worried with them because when I was reading the LGB I did 90% of the question right, so I think I just need more practice and I'll be fine.

As a final note, the first 20 Must Be True question that I drilled I got 13 right but it took me a ridiculous amount of time (I'm talking about 8 hours) because I was trying really hard to get ALL of them right. From next 20 questions, Main Point, i got 18 right and it took less time than the MBT questions. Thus, my question: Is it Main Point Questions easier than Must Be True or it's me who's improving?

ps: I'm starting with Weaken question and they are REALLY confusing to me.

NiceOne

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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?
« Reply #8 on: June 04, 2012, 04:12:20 PM »
Dear Mateudn,

Although there have been many great tips on this thread regarding diagramming LR questions, here's another thing to consider:

The better you get at the LR questions, the less you will chart. People whom expertly solve the LR section rarely, if ever, diagram any arguments in the LR section. This goes back to something Jeffort mentioned: people teaching you the Logical Reasoning section will diagram arguments for you to follow their analysis, not necessarily as an example of the optimum way to solve these questions.

I liken this to training wheels on a bike; when you are learning how to ride, you will use training wheels (diagramming/notating LR Arguments), but when you learn how to ride a bike, the training wheels get in the way and are tossed aside.

Hope this helps; best of luck.

PhoebusYi

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Re: How do I know when I should diagram in LR?
« Reply #9 on: June 09, 2012, 02:05:01 AM »
having the same question,thx for every answer above.