LSAT Logical Reasoning : Main Point / Main Conclusion

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for LSAT Logical Reasoning

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Example Questions

Example Question #21 : Main Point / Main Conclusion

Gaining mastery in a particular skill or field appears to be possible if one merely devotes a sufficient amount of time to study and practice.  Some researchers, in fact, have determined that ten thousand hours is the "magic number" an individual needs for mastery in a particular area.  But this conclusion is too simplistic to be useful; it assumes that every individual begins with the same capacity for learning, when in fact innate abilities vary significantly.  Possibly it would be more accurate to state that ten thousand hours is the average amount of time needed for mastery by a person with an average amount of ability in a particular area.

Which one of the following most accurately expresses the main conclusion of the argument?

Possible Answers:

Some researchers have determined that ten thousand hours is a "magic number" needed for mastery.

Gaining mastery in a particular skill or field is possible with significant study and practice.

It is impossible to predict the number of hours needed for an individual to attain mastery in a particular skill or field.

The determination that an individual needs ten thousand hours for mastery in a particular area is not useful because it is too simplistic.

Innate learning abilities vary significantly from person to person.

Correct answer:

The determination that an individual needs ten thousand hours for mastery in a particular area is not useful because it is too simplistic.

Explanation:

The argument's main conclusion is found at the beginning of the third sentence: the researchers' ten thousand hours figure is too simplistic to be useful.  The other answer choices, while they contain premises and/or inferences based on the argument, do not contain the argument's main conclusion.

Example Question #21 : Main Point / Main Conclusion

Technology expert: Many people believe that smartphones are getting too big nowadays.  They argue that portability is more important than screen size, and that if a person wants a huge screen, he or she should buy a tablet rather than a smartphone.  But these arguments ignore current sales data.  In the last three years, the best-selling new phones have consistently had screen sizes half an inch to an inch larger than their competitors.  Bigger, it seems, is still better in the eyes of consumers.

Which one of the following most accurately expresses the main conclusion of the technology expert’s argument?

Possible Answers:

Many people believe that smartphones are too large.

Those arguing that portability in smartphones is more important than screen size fail to take current sales data into account.

The best-selling new phones have consistently larger screens than their competitors.

Tablets and smartphones are beginning to have overlapping markets.

Most consumers believe that bigger smartphones are more practically useful than smaller ones.

Correct answer:

Those arguing that portability in smartphones is more important than screen size fail to take current sales data into account.

Explanation:

The argument’s conclusion is found in the third sentence: “these arguments (i.e. the arguments of those who believe portability is more important than screen size) ignore current sales data.”  The remaining answer choices either restate premises of the argument, or contain extrapolated statements not contained in the passage.

Example Question #21 : Main Point / Main Conclusion

Computer programmer: Antivirus programs are notorious for reporting false positives -- that is, they detect and alert the user to threats which are not really threats.  This is a popular tactic among developers of this type of software, because it makes consumers feel like the programs are actually doing something.  Consequently, those programs which are most efficient are sometimes seen by the unwary as the least effective.

The computer programmer's statements most closely conform to which of the following assessments?

Possible Answers:

Antivirus programs which report false positives are less effective than those which only report threats that will actually damage a person's computer.

Some people believe that antivirus programs which overreport threats are more effective than programs that are, in fact, more efficient.

Some people purchase antivirus programs solely on the basis of how many threats they can detect and report.

Those who are unwary are unable to determine which antivirus programs on the market are both efficient and effective.

It is more likely that an antivirus program will be bought by a particular consumer if it reports at least some threats which are not really threats.

Correct answer:

Some people believe that antivirus programs which overreport threats are more effective than programs that are, in fact, more efficient.

Explanation:

The correct answer choice is the only which is tempered enough to closely conform to the actual statements of the computer programmer.  As stated in the last sentence of the passage, at least some people believe that programs which give false positives are more effective than those which are more efficient.  There is not enough information in the statements to determine whether this is, in fact, the case -- we merely know that some people believe it to be so.  The remaining answer choices contain possible implications which might be accurate, but they do not express what is actually stated.

Example Question #21 : Main Point / Main Conclusion

When describing weather, people describe only sunny days as "nice" days. Why should this be? The meaning of "nice" in other contexts depends on the subjective preferences of the speaker. For instance, a person would only describe a car as being "nice" if the person personally preferred it, and one person might describe a particular car as "nice" while another would not. A person who prefers rain to sun, however, would likely still describe a sunny day as a "nice" day, but would not describe a rainy day the same way.

Which of the following most accurately describes the main point of the argument?

Possible Answers:

People generally use the word "nice" more subjectively when describing cars than when describing weather

In the context of describing weather, the word "nice" has a different, less subjective meaning than in other contexts

The precise meaning of words depends on the context in which they are used

The meaning of the word "nice" varies substantially from one context to another

Some people prefer rainy days to sunny days

Correct answer:

In the context of describing weather, the word "nice" has a different, less subjective meaning than in other contexts

Explanation:

The key to this question is to not construe the purpose of the passage too narrowly or too broadly.  The passage indicates that the discussion of cars serves only as an example and is not the primary point.  Conversely, the purpose of the passage is not so broad as to apply beyond a discussion of the unique use of "nice" in the context of weather.

Example Question #22 : Main Point / Main Conclusion

Although most people occasionally bring their cars to an automated car wash, few really ensure that their cars are thoroughly cleaned–probably because most people care only that their cars have a generally clean appearance.  An automated car wash will generally accomplish that goal, but a car wash should accomplish more.  An automated car wash will not thoroughly clean a car, and a car that is not thoroughly cleaned will quickly rust.

Which of the following best expresses the main point of the passage?

Possible Answers:

Cars are generally not washed often enough to be protected from rust

Cars that are only cleaned at automated car washes will quickly rust

Automated car washes provide some protection against rust, but alone are not sufficient protection

Most cars are not thoroughly cleaned

Most people are overly concerned about their cars having a generally clean appearance

Correct answer:

Cars that are only cleaned at automated car washes will quickly rust

Explanation:

The purpose of the passage is to establish that cars cleaned only at automated car washes will quickly rust.  The other claims in the passage are intended only as support for that primary assertion.  The passage makes no claim about how often a car should be washed or about whether automated car washes offer at least some protection from rust. 

Example Question #21 : Determining Which Answer Most Accurately Expresses The Main Idea Of The Argument

Consultant: While most businesspeople are concerned about customers taking off with their merchandise or suppliers overcharging them, the actions of their employees often go overlooked. Yet because an employee can bilk small amounts from a company with little notice, a persitent thieving employee can amass a large amount of stolen money simply by being able to do it over a long period of time.

Which of the following best summarizes the consultant's main point?

Possible Answers:

Most small business owners are incredibly vigilant about customers taking off with their merchandise or suppliers overcharging them.

Theft from small business owners is much easier than theft from large corporations due to lax standards.

Theft by customers and overcharging by suppliers is not a significant problem for small business owners.

The biggest threat to small business owners is theft by their own employees.

Many suppliers cheat and swindle small business owners without the owner catching on to the deception.

Correct answer:

The biggest threat to small business owners is theft by their own employees.

Explanation:

The argument centers on the issue of theft from small businesses by employees. It is important that this issue is compared to the typically thought of ways people steal from small businesses and that theft by employees is much more prominent and problematic than theft by customers and cheating by suppliers.

Example Question #23 : Main Point / Main Conclusion

In medieval times, kings put great trust in the church. Not only would the church often support their efforts, but the legal actions that church leaders could take often outstripped the rights of the crown. If a subject was causing some problem, a king was quite likely to ask the church to bring the troublemaker forward on charges of heresy.

Which of the following statements best summarizes the passage main argument?

Possible Answers:

The role of religion in medieval government was rarely clear.

A king had absolute power over all of his subjects in medieval times.

Religion had special legal powers in medieval times.

Kings used religion as an extra mechanism of power in medieval times.

The combination of church and state in legal matters is always dangerous.

Correct answer:

Kings used religion as an extra mechanism of power in medieval times.

Explanation:

While this passage is about religion and politics, there is a clear through line to the passage's main argument. Kings had power, but not the same power as the church, which allowed kings to use that religious power to their advantage. This notion of an extra mechanism of power is the best statement of the passage's argument.

Example Question #21 : Main Point / Main Conclusion

A local politician, while being questioned by local media, is asked whether or not she had destroyed the only copy of a recent private interview where an embarrassing fact about the politician’s history had been the topic of conversation. The politician, after declining to answer, stated that no such video existed.

Which is the most accurate evaluation of the politician’s reply?

Possible Answers:

It never answers whether or not the interview had even taken place.

It does not even answer the question posed by local media.

It is not an accurate representation of an accurate answer.

It shows how grudgingly the politician answered the question.

It never answers whether or not she had destroyed the video.

Correct answer:

It never answers whether or not she had destroyed the video.

Explanation:

The politician’s answer does not deny that a video had at one point existed. In fact, the politician’s answer is perfectly consistent with a scenario where she had destroyed the video because after she destroyed it, there would be no video in existence.

 

Example Question #22 : Main Point / Main Conclusion

Very few people are able to understand the full nuances of the complete tax code. This confusion can allow many people to trust a financial professional completely and totally. Such trust needs to be placed carefully, however, as it can open up many people to unscrupulous business practices and financial losses from less than honest financial planners.

What best states the main conclusion of the above passage?

Possible Answers:

The tax code is too complicated and should be revised to be simpler.

People should not trust other people to prepare their taxes for them.

Tax preparers are more likely to cheat customers than people in other professions.

The lack of knowledge about tax preparation can lead to people being mistreated.

The business of tax preparation is full of professionals who are willing to defraud customers.

Correct answer:

The lack of knowledge about tax preparation can lead to people being mistreated.

Explanation:

The passage emphasizes that the complexity of the tax code can easily make people be defrauded by unscrupulous tax preparers. The passage does not, however, state that all tax preparers are unscrupulous or that people should not trust tax preparers. Instead, the main conclusion is that people can be mistreated because the tax code is so complex.

Example Question #24 : Main Point / Main Conclusion

Every class in Sally's Dance studio has one or more students. None of the students in Sally's Dance Studio who are taking jazz classes are taking hip hop classes, but most of the students taking hip hop classes are taking ballet classes. Additionally, none of the students taking modern dance classes are taking hip hop classes.  

Which of the following statements follows logically from the statements above?

Possible Answers:

There are students who are taking ballet but not jazz.

There are students who are taking both ballet and jazz.

None of the students taking jazz are taking ballet.

There are students who are taking modern but not jazz.

None of the students taking modern are taking jazz.

Correct answer:

There are students who are taking ballet but not jazz.

Explanation:

If most of the students taking hip hop are also taking ballet, but none of those hip hop students are also taking jazz, it follows logically that there are students taking ballet who are not taking jazz. Note: "Most" on the LSAT implies that more than half of the students taking hip hop are also taking ballet.

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