LSAT Logical Reasoning Tips: June 09, LR1, #25 – or – Shady Campaign Contributions?

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LSAT Logical Reasoning Tips: June 09, LR1, #25 – or – Shady Campaign Contributions?
So I have been slacking on my Logical Reasoning breakdowns, and I apologize. I was temporarily distracted, first by money and then by a problem I had been noting with my students. But now we are back up and running.

If you missed my first two posts on Logical Reasoning questions from the June 2009 LSAT, you can check them out here.

So onward and forward. When I was reviewing the June test, the following question struck me as being exceptionally difficult. We will do this one a little differently. I am going to show you the whole question and the answer choices so you actually get a chance to check it out and try to do it yourself. When you are finished, read on and we will discuss. Here you go, enjoy.

June 2009, LR1, #25

    The law of the city of Oakland regarding contributions to mayoral campaigns is as follows: all contributions to these campaigns in excess of $1,000 made by nonresidents of Oakland who are not former residents of Oakland must be registered with the city council. Barkley’s mayoral campaign clearly complied with this law since it accepted contributions only from residents and former residents of Oakland.

    If all the statements above are true, which one of the following statements must be true?

    (A)     No nonresident of Oakland contributed in excess of $1,000 to Barkley’s campaign.
    (B)     Some contributions to Barkley’s campaign in excess of $1,000 were registered with the city council.
    (C)     No contributions to Barkley’s campaign needed to be registered with the city council.
    (D)     All contributions to Barkley’s campaign that were registered with the city council were in excess of $1,000.
    (E)     Barkley’s campaign did not register any contributions with the city council.

Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo, doop doo doo doo doo doo (that was supposed to be Jeopardy music).

So that one is a little ugly, but the trick is a very common one on the LSAT.

First things first, that is a Must Be True question. This is one of the most basic types of questions on the LSAT. You are given some information in the stimulus and asked to find an answer choice that is necessarily true based on those original statements.

Here, anticipation is key. (Anticipation is really always key.) Bad test takers think that the points come from the answer choices. Good test takers understand that the points are really earned in breaking down the stimulus.

(Side note: I am taking the upcoming LSAT so I was doing some informal practice with some students last night. I kept noticing that they all finished reading the stimulus much faster than I did. I am reasonably certain that I will score very well on the September LSAT and I might read through the 50 stimuli on the test slower than every one of my students. There is a lesson in there somewhere.)

So here is the principle that they give you in the stimulus. If you get over $1,000 in campaign contributions from anyone that is not a resident of Oakland and not a former resident of Oakland, you must register that with the city council. This can be simplified as follows:

    Over $1,000 + Never Lived in Oakland → Register

On the LSAT, it is also always important to keep in mind the contrapositive. To form the contrapositive, you switch the terms and negate all of the terms. So this would also mean that if a contribution does not need to be registered, then it is either under $1,000 or it is from someone that currently lives or formerly lived in Oakland.

    Not Registered → Not over $1,000 or Lives now or Lived in Oakland

So that takes care of the big principle regarding campaign contributions. Next they give you some specific information about Barkley’s campaign. It is stated that Barkley’s campaign accepted contributions only from residents and former residents of Oakland. In other words, they only took money from people who lived in Oakland at some point, and the campaign did not get any money from people that never lived in Oakland.

So here comes the crucial part. The principle states that the contributions only need to be registered if they are over $1,000 and from people who never lived in Oakland. But Barkley did not accept any contributions from people who have never lived in Oakland. So according to this principle, Barkley did not have to register any contributions with the city council. If you were able to anticipate that conclusion, you will be in good shape.

However, as always, there are some twists and turns waiting in the answer choices.

(A)      This one says that no nonresident of Oakland contributed in excess of $1,000 to Barkley’s campaign. The trick here is that we know that Barkley accepted contributions from only residents and former residents of Oakland. So, a nonresident could have contributed lots and lots of money to the campaign as long as they used to live in Oakland. So this one does not have to be true.

(B)      Here we are told that some contributions in excess of $1,000 were registered with the city council. According to the stimulus, Barkley did not have to register any contributions. Maybe they still did, but we cannot say for sure that any contributions were registered, whether they were over or under $1,000. So no go here.

(C)      And look at us. We anticipated the conclusion that Barkley’s campaign did not need to register any of the contributions it received because they all came from people who lived in Oakland at some point. And this one says that Barkley’s campaign did not need to register any contributions with the city council. Bam. And this is going to be our winner on this question.

(D)      This one says that all contributions that were registered with the city council were in excess of $1,000. But we just said that Barkley’s campaign did not have to register any contributions with the city council. So we do not know that they actually did register any contributions. So we definitely do not know that all of the contributions that were registered were over $1,000.

(E)      This one is tricky. My guess is that this was the most popular wrong answer choice. It says that Barkley’s campaign did not register any contributions with the city council. And that is very close to the conclusion that we anticipated. But let me ask you one quick question: have you ever done anything even though you didn’t need to? Ever help an old lady with her groceries? Give a homeless person some change? Buy your little lady something nice for no reason? Sure, we all have at one point or another. And that is the trick on this one. Even though Barkley was not required to register any of his campaign contributions with the city council, this does not mean that the campaign did not register any of the contributions. Maybe Barkley’s campaign wanted to be very open with their financial information, or maybe Barkley’s campaign was not even aware of the rules related to registering campaign contributions. So this does not need to be true.

So there we go. One more question in the books. One more mistake to avoid. Good luck with your studying.

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