A Good Personal Statement and a Frenzy of Violations (Ep. 318)

Ben and Nathan have read a lot of shoddy personal statements on the show in recent weeks. If you’re wondering what a really good one sounds like, you don’t want to miss today’s first submission—one that actually follows the guys’ advice. The best personal statement in weeks is followed by a frenzy of violations. But first, the guys tackle a Parallel Reasoning question from PrepTest 73 and dispel a myth about diagramming arguments on the LSAT.

First, Nathan reiterates the pearl of LR advice from episode 317: Mentally blur out the question and answer choices as you read the passage. Focus on one sentence at a time, and make sure you actually understand it.

The first sentence is an if-then statement. Does that mean you should write it out with symbols and arrows and diagram the contrapositive? No! Doing that is counterproductive. Instead, just think about what the sentence means. Ben puts it simply: Either Suarez or Anderson is the most qualified.

Halfway through the next sentence, Ben predicts what the argument can logically conclude. The conclusion matches his prediction, so the argument is valid. That is, the evidence forces the conclusion to be true.

The question asks for a parallel argument. The given argument is valid, so the correct answer must be valid as well. Nathan describes the type of argument he’s looking for as, roughly, “It’s gotta be one of these two things. So, if it’s not this one, it’s that one.” Answer B is a perfect match.

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