A Selection of the Hardest Find the Conclusion/Main Point Questions

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Here is a selection of the hardest/most representative Find the Conclusion Questions. For the student just exposed to LR, the best thing we can do is to practice different questions by type and difficulty. We use the easier questions to build up and solidify our knowledge and familiarity with the question type, and gradually progress towards harder questions.

For the student stuck in the 150s or 160s, the most effective strategy would be to study the harder/hardest questions in excruciating detail. The intermediate student already has a fairly comprehensive understanding of the quirks of different question types and the different approach/knowledge required to solve them.

LR questions are categorized by type. It is important to note that the only difference between the easier and harder questions is that in the harder questions, the test makers have thrown in more things for us to consider, made the language more abstract, blurred the logical relationship within the stimulus, or laid out more trap answers. In other words, between the easiest and hardest LR questions of the same type, the fundamentals are still the same, albeit now you have to consider not just the fundamentals, but also to identify and avoid all the extra tricks and traps.

So by looking at the harder questions, we are essentially forcing ourselves to operate at higher capacity and analyze the questions on a deeper level. This will not only make us more confident with these harder questions, but also make tackling the easier questions a much more manageable process.

When we look at the questions presented in this book, and harder questions in general, it is crucial to think about the features that made the question difficult to answer. This is especially true for questions that we get wrong or the ones that we had a hard time with. (The final chapter of this book lays out a detailed plan on how to attain LR perfection with the relevant milestones.)

Take just as much time to look over the answer choices as the stimulus, if not more. Half the battle to success in Logic Reasoning is to differentiate between the answer choices, choose the best one, and have a clear rationale for your choice.

In this book, I lay out in detail my analysis of the stimulus and the answer choices, as well as the reason why these questions are tricky and the knowledge and habits we can derive from them. Use my analysis as a guide for doing LR questions on your own.

The most important thing about LR practice is not getting the question right or understanding why you got this specific question wrong, but to use the takeaway from this one specific question to upgrade your skills and habits for subsequent questions. This can only be achieved through in-depth analysis.

So take a look at the questions, and more importantly, my explanations. Don’t worry too much about timing the first time around, and when you are finished with the whole book, come back and redo the questions. If you can get questions of this difficulty done within 2-3 minutes and still see all the patterns that I saw, I’d say you are in a pretty good place.



Difficult Trait #1: The stimulus contains a trap statement which really sounds like the author’s main point, but there’s no premise to support it

PT58 S1 Q13

It is a given that to be an intriguing person, one must be able to inspire the perpetual curiosity of others. Constantly broadening one’s abilities and extending one’s intellectual reach will enable one to inspire that curiosity. For such a perpetual expansion of one’s mind makes it impossible to fully comprehend, making one a constant mystery to others.

Which one of the following most accurately expresses the conclusion drawn in the argument above?

A. To be an intriguing person, one must be able to inspire the perpetual curiosity of others.

B. If one constantly broadens one’s abilities and extends one’s intellectual reach, one will be able to inspire the perpetual curiosity of others.

C. If one’s mind becomes impossible to fully comprehend, one will always be a mystery to others.

D. To inspire the perpetual curiosity of others, one must constantly broaden one’s abilities and extend one’s intellectual reach.

E. If one constantly broadens one’s abilities and extends one’s intellectual reach, one will always have curiosity

This question is quite a handful, complete with abstract terms. Let’s break it down:

Remember how we mentioned that Find the Conclusion/Main Point Questions are first and foremost a categorizing exercise? To be sure that we have found the correct conclusion, we also have to know what the other sentences are; are they premises, intermediate conclusions, background information, concessions, or opposing viewpoints?

Let’s start with the first sentence:

It is a given that to be an intriguing person, one must be able to inspire the perpetual curiosity of others.

Ok, this looks like an opinion of the author’s, and a pretty strong one at that. It has the potential to be our argument’s conclusion.

It’s also a conditional statement, so let’s diagram it out:

Intriguing Person → Inspire Perpetual Curiosity

So the first sentence is a conditional statement and also looks like an opinion, let’s move on:

Constantly broadening one’s abilities and extending one’s intellectual reach will enable one to inspire that curiosity.

Tricky! Conceptually, this statement is linked to the previous one: the first statement talks about the requirement for being an intriguing person is to inspire perpetual curiosity; this sentence talks about how to satisfy that requirement.

Constantly broadening one’s abilities + extending one’s intellectual reach → Inspire that (perpetual) curiosity

This is getting complicated: now we have two statements, both opinions, both conditional statements. Each statement presents a sufficient condition for inspiring perpetual curiosity, but neither statement seems to be supporting the other. Let’s move on to the last sentence:

For such a perpetual expansion of one’s mind makes it impossible to fully comprehend, making one a constant mystery to others.

This last statement supports the second statement. It explains how extending one’s intellectual reach (expansion of one’s mind) will inspire the curiosity of others (by making one a constant mystery to others).

Here, the author is using slightly different terms to express the same idea. This is something we should always be on the lookout for.

 So, in terms of this stimulus’ structure, we are fairly clear now: sentence 3 is supporting sentence 2, which does not support any other points; while sentence 1 seems to be on its own, it’s actually a premise. If you combine S1 and S3, you get:

Perpetual Expansion of One’s Mind à Impossible to Fully Comprehend à Constant Mystery to Others/Intriguing Person à Inspire Perpetual Curiosity 

(the author is making a pretty reasonable assumption here that if you are a constant mystery to others, you are an intriguing person, we will look at assumptions in greater detail in Chapter 9)

S2, on the other hand, states that:

Constantly broadening one’s abilities + extending one’s intellectual reach → Inspire that (perpetual) curiosity

Remember how we said that the correct conclusion will ALWAYS have support? You can have a statement in the stimulus that is clearly the author’s opinion, at the end of the stimulus, or even have the words “as a result” predicating it. But the correct conclusion will have two important features:

  1. It is supported by at least another statement in the passage (both intermediate and main conclusion)
  2. It does not go on to support another statement (main conclusion)

 So the conclusion of this stimulus is the second sentence: Constantly broadening one’s abilities and extending one’s intellectual reach will enable one to inspire that curiosity.

Let’s move on to the answer choices:

A. To be an intriguing person, one must be able to inspire the perpetual curiosity of others.

This is the first sentence and not what we are looking for.

B. If one constantly broadens one’s abilities and extends one’s intellectual reach, one will be able to inspire the perpetual curiosity of others.

This looks like a word-for-word repetition of the second sentence, but always check all the answers just to be sure.

C. If one’s mind becomes impossible to fully comprehend, one will always be a mystery to others.

This answer choice has two issues: one, it’s a variation of the third sentence, which is a premise; and two, the third sentence as presented in the stimulus is NOT a conditional relationship, so there is a subtle shift in logic here. (We will cover logic later in the book)

D. To inspire the perpetual curiosity of others, one must constantly broaden one’s abilities and extend one’s intellectual reach.

Close but no. This answer choice reverses the conditional relationship as stated in the second sentence of the stimulus.

E. If one constantly broadens one’s abilities and extends one’s intellectual reach, one will always have curiosity.

This answer takes the first half of the correct answer but messes up the second half. Remember the stimulus is saying one will “inspire the curiosity of others.

***

Most students who got this question wrong ended up choosing answer choices A or D. But it does teach some valuable lessons:

  1. The main conclusion of the argument will be the last link in the author’s chain of reasoning; meaning that it is supported by others but supports no one.
  2. Beware of tricky answer choices which differ from the correct conclusion as stated in the stimulus.

The correct answer is B.

PT85 S2 Q8

Normally, political candidates send out campaign material in order to influence popular opinion. But recent ads for Ebsen’s campaign were sent to too few households to serve this purpose effectively. The ads were evidently sent out to test their potential to influence popular opinion. They covered a wide variety of topics, and Ebsen’s campaign has been spending heavily on follow-up to gauge their effect on recipients.

Which one of the following most accurately expresses the conclusion drawn in the argument above?

A. Normally, political candidates send out campaign material to influence popular opinion.

B. The recent ads for Ebsen’s campaign were sent to too few households to influence popular opinion effectively.

C. The recent ads for Ebsen’s campaign were sent out to test their potential to influence popular opinion.

D. The recent ads for Ebsen’s campaign covered a wide variety of topics.

E. Ebsen’s campaign has been spending heavily on follow-up surveys to gauge the ads’ effect on recipients.

Let’s look at this question in detail:

Normally, political candidates send out campaign material in order to influence popular opinion.

As soon as we start reading a stimulus, we should be ready to think on the implications of each sentence/statement. When I read this sentence, the first thought that went through my mind was “so, does the normal situation apply here? Why or why not?” Let’s keep on going.

But recent ads for Ebsen’s campaign were sent to too few households to serve this purpose effectively.

So the normal situation doesn’t apply here, why? Because too few were sent out. If we arrange the first two statements in logical order, it would look like this:

Normally, we send out campaign materials to influence public opinion, but Ebsen sent too few, so that could not have been his purpose.

Let’s look at the third statement:

The ads were evidently sent out to test their potential to influence popular opinion.

So this is Ebsen’s real purpose. It’s not to influence popular opinion, but to test their potential in influencing popular opinion. Ebsen is testing the waters, so to speak.

Now let’s turn to the final statement, just like the previous example, the last sentence is crucial in getting this question right:

They covered a wide variety of topics, and Ebsen’s campaign has been spending heavily on follow-up to gauge their effect on recipients.

This statement details the scope of the study and Ebsen’s follow-up. These are facts. Which one of the author’s opinions is this statement supporting? Is it A. their purpose is not to influence popular opinion, or B. their purpose is to test their potential to influence opinion? I’m sure you would have chosen B: the last statement directly supports the third statement.

If we make the stimulus a bit more abstract, then the conclusion is not hard to find, if we use A to represent “influence popular opinion” and B to represent “testing the potential to influence popular opinion,” this is what we get:

Normally political candidates do A, but Ebsen is not doing A. Ebsen is doing B, and this is why he is doing B

Remember, the correct conclusion of any argument will always have support. It’s true that the second sentence expresses a strong opinion on the author’s part, and may look and feel like a conclusion, but it does not have explicit support. The third sentence has the support we need, and as such, is the argument’s conclusion.

The trait we saw in the last two questions is a common trick LSAT test makers apply in the harder Find the Conclusion Questions. The test makers will throw in something that looks like and feels like a conclusion, but follow it up with the actual conclusion. It’s our job to analyze and categorize the function of each statement and separate the wheat from the chaff.

Don’t be afraid to rearrange the ordering of how information is presented in a stimulus when we are reading, if we simply switch up the positions of statement 3 and statement 4, doesn’t it make more sense now?

Normally, political candidates send out campaign material in order to influence popular opinion. But recent ads for Ebsen’s campaign were sent to too few households to serve this purpose effectively. They covered a wide variety of topics, and Ebsen’s campaign has been spending heavily on follow-up to gauge their effect on recipients. The ads were evidently sent out to test their potential to influence popular opinion.

Watch out for the real/fake conclusion trap, and remember that the correct conclusion will always have supporting evidence within the argument.

If you had chosen B, then you have committed the error we were warning against in the last question! Remember that the correct conclusion will ALWAYS be supported by other information.

The correct answer is C.

An invaluable skill to have when reading for the LSAT is the ability to differentiate between related, but distinct concepts.

Influencing popular opinion” and “testing the potential to influence popular opinion” are two different things. Just because they look very similar, it’s easy to assume they mean the same thing.

PT12 S1 Q1

It is probably within the reach of human technology to make the climate of Mars inhabitable. It might be several centuries before people could live there, even with breathing apparatuses, but some of the world’s great temples and cathedrals took centuries to build. Research efforts now are justified if there is even a chance of making another planet inhabitable. Besides, the intellectual exercise of understanding how the Martian atmosphere might be changed could help in understanding the atmospheric changes inadvertently triggered by human activity on Earth.

The main point of the argument is that

A. It is probably technologically possible for humankind to alter the climate of Mars

B. It would take several centuries to make Mars even marginally inhabitable

C. Making Mars inhabitable is an effort comparable to building a great temple or cathedral

D. Research efforts aimed at discovering how to change the climate of Mars are justified

E. Efforts to change the climate of Mars could facilitate understanding of the Earth’s climate

Notice a pattern here? The test makers are using the same trick again. The stimulus begins with a strongly opinionated statement, but is it the author’s main point? By now we know the correct conclusion will have direct support, so we must tread carefully and think about the relationship between each statement before making a decision.

It is probably within the reach of human technology to make the climate of Mars inhabitable.

Ok, so human technology has the potential to allow us to colonize Mars. Is this the conclusion? Will the argument talk about how close we are in terms of technological advances, the feasibility of space travel? Let’s read on.

It might be several centuries before people could live here, even with breathing apparatuses, but some of the world’s great temples and cathedrals took centuries to build.

The second statement introduces a separate point from the first statement. In the first statement, the author talks about the technological feasibility of colonizing Mars; here, they talk about how long it might take.

What the author does in the second statement is called arguing by comparison. Essentially, they suggest that taking a long time to colonize Mars is okay, because historically, many of our most celebrated architectural projects also took a long time. Combined, the first and second statements are basically saying “we have the technology to adapt Mars’ climate for human habitation, it may take a long time, but that’s not a problem.”

The third statement ties in subtly with the first and second:

Research efforts now are justified if there is even a chance of making another planet inhabitable.

If there is a chance of making another planet (Mars) inhabitable, research efforts are justified.

So does such a chance exist? Sure it does! The author just stated that the technology is close and time is not an issue. So essentially, what is the author saying in this statement? That research efforts now are indeed justified.

Besides, the intellectual exercise of understanding how the Martian atmosphere might be changed could help in understanding the atmospheric changes inadvertently triggered by human activity on Earth.

In the final statement, the author again lists a benefit of this research, namely that it will benefit our endeavors on earth as well.

Let’s restate the argument in simple English:

  • The technology to transform Mars’ climate is close
  • It may take a long time but it’s still worth it
  • This research is justified
  • This research will help us better understand the earth as well

Does it make more sense now? Statements 1, 2, and 4 are all talking about the benefits of Martian research/why it’s something we should pursue. All three are supporting premises for the conclusion, which is statement 3.

The correct answer is D. Sometimes, the correct answer choice is not a verbatim quote of the conclusion from the passage; but rather, a summary of the idea the author is trying to convey. This is also quite common among the harder questions, and this is something that we will now turn to.