December 2013 LSAT
Section 3
Question 11

# Secondary school students achieve broad mastery of the curriculum if they are taught with methods appropriate to thei...

Replies

Melody on October 20, 2014

This is a strengthen with sufficient premise question. Remember that a sufficient premise is sufficient for a conclusion, if and only if the existence of the premise guarantees or brings about the existence of the conclusion. Therefore, we need to find the premise that 100% guarantees the conclusion. The way you want to attack these answer choices is two-pronged. Ask yourself, does it strengthen? If it doesn't, then cross it out and continue to the next answer choice. If it does strengthen, however, then ask yourself whether or not the premise guarantees the conclusion.Let's diagram:

"Secondary school students achieve broad mastery of the curriculum if they are taught with methods appropriate to their learning styles and they devote significant effort to their studies."

P: TMA & DSE ==> SABM

not SABM ==> not TMA or not DSE

"Thus, if such broad mastery is not achieved by the students in a particular secondary school, those students are not being taught with methods appropriate to their learning styles."

C: not SABM ==> not TMA

TMA ==> SABM

The contrapositive of our premise states that if we have "not SABM" then we either have "not TMA" or "not DSE." But then we conclude that if we have "not SABM" then we have "not TMA."

So, to strengthen the argument, our correct answer must somehow take "not DSE" out of the running.

Think of it this way: if I go to Barry's Restaurant, I will either have steak or fish. Well, what would have to be true if I ate at Barry's Restaurant, but they were out of fish? I would have then had to have eaten steak. So, likewise, we must choose the answer choice that takes "not DSE," i.e. "fish" out of the running.

Answer choice (A) does just this. "As long as secondary school students are taught with methods appropriate to their learning styles, they will devote significant effort to their studies."

Thus, answer choice (A) strengthens the argument. But, does the premise put forward in answer choice (A) guarantee the conclusion? Yes.

If secondary school students are taught with methods appropriate to their learning styles, they will devote significant effort to their studies.

(A) TMA ==> DSE

not DSE ==> not TMA

So now we know that if we have "not SABM," then we will either have "not TMA" OR we will have "not DSE," which will still give us "not TMA"--according to the contrapositive of (A).

So, either way, we will have "not TMA," if we have "not SABM." Thus, if answer choice (A) is assumed, then the conclusion is guaranteed.

Hope that clears things up! Please let us know if you have any other questions.

Saira on October 25, 2014

Perfect! Thanks a lot