With the release of the September and December 2017 LSATs, there are a number of trends from recent exams that can give you a better idea of how you can get the most out of your studying. While merely identifying the most common question types won’t do you much good, refining your skills on the most common question types from recent LSATs is a great use of your study time.
That’s why we’re going to focus on how to do one of the most popular Logical Reasoning question types of recent LSATs: the Disagree question. In a Disagree question, you have two speakers with two arguments that include some point of disagreement with one another. The question stem will ask where “the authors disagree” or ask for the “point at issue between Speaker #1 and Speaker #2.”
Here are the three pieces you need to tackle a Disagree question:
1. Breaking down the speakers’ arguments
This just means identifying the conclusion and premise(s) of each speaker’s argument. Easy enough.
2. Predicting the point of disagreement
You’ll get a lot further by trying to predict the correct answer choice while you read. For Disagree questions, you can do this by underlining the main points made by the first speaker in the stimulus and then underline the areas of disagreement in the second speaker’s argument. When you finish reading the stimulus, you should paraphrase how the two speakers disagree, and then, you’ll have a good idea of what to look for in the answer choices. Predicting the correct answer is a great way to build speed on LR questions.
For instance, if you get a Disagree question with the following stimulus, you can underline it like so:
Elmer Fudd: It’s wabbit season, and I’m hunting wabbits, so be vewy, vewy quiet!
Bugs Bunny: It’s not rabbit season. It’s duck season.
It should be vewy, vewy obvious in this example that the thing Elmer and Bugs disagree about is whether or not it is rabbit season.
3. Grouping the speakers’ beliefs
For the last part of answering a Disagree question, I like to think of it like a simple In & Out Grouping game from the Logic Games section of the LSAT. I make a little Agree/Disagree diagram next to my answer choices (or often, just in my head). Then I look at the statement from each answer choice, and group the speakers based on whether the each agrees or disagrees with the statement. The correct answer choice will be the statement where one speaker is in the Agree group and the other is in the Disagree group.
Here’s how this looks in practice:
Timon: Those sparkly dots in the sky–they’re fireflies. They got stuck up on that bluish-black thing.
Pumbaa: Oh, gee. I always thought they were balls of gas burning billions of miles away.
Based on the agree/disagree groups made above, there’s only one answer choice where one speaker (Timon) is on the “Agree” side and the other speaker (Pumbaa) is on the “Disagree” side — (A). That’s our right answer.
One thing you want to watch out for on Disagree questions are the answer choices where one speaker disagrees with the statement, and the other speaker’s position is neutral or unknown. These answer choices are incorrect, because the right answer will always allow you to put the two speakers on opposite sides from each other.
For example, if you get a disagree question with the following stimulus:
Buzz Lightyear: This is an intergalactic emergency. I need to commandeer your vessel to Sector 12. Who’s in charge here?
Woody: Buzz, you’re not a Space Ranger, you’re just a children’s toy.
Don’t be drawn in by answer choices such as:
(A) Buzz Lightyear is a children’s toy
We know from the stimulus that Woody agrees that Buzz Lightyear is a toy, but Buzz Lightyear didn’t say that he actually disagreed with the statement. He could agree, disagree or be neutral, so this answer choice must be incorrect.
You also want to be careful to avoid falling for answers that are too extreme. Take another example stimulus to a Disagree question:
Marge: You always go out drinking at Moe’s after work instead of spending time with me and the kids.
Homer: That’s not true–I don’t always go to Moe’s.
If the question asks you what Marge and Homer disagree about, you might be tempted by an answer choice which says:
(A) Homer never goes to Moe’s Tavern after work
We know that Marge disagrees with this, but what about Homer? The word “never” in answer choice (A) is too strong. Homer just said he sometimes doesn’t go to Moe’s. Maybe he would admit that he sometimes does go to Moe’s. Or maybe he wouldn’t admit to ever going to Moe’s — “I don’t always go” can imply “I never go.” So we don’t know if he would agree or disagree with (A) and this can’t be the correct answer.
I hope this breakdown makes the Disagree questions a little less disagreeable. And if you have further questions on this question type, feel free to post them in the comments!