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What do Method of Argument Questions look like?

Method of Argument questions ask you to analyze the structure of an argument the same way you might analyze the composition of a painting or the plot of a movie. You’ll have to focus on how the argument was designed and which rhetorical tools were used. By rhetorical tools, I mean elements of an argument like supporting examples, counterexamples, facts, expert opinions, or hypothetical questions. These are the building blocks of arguments, and mapping them out quickly will help you answer Method of Argument questions.
 

A quick example

Sea levels will rise faster than previously expected. Scientists have discovered that the largest glacier in Antarctica, is melting at three times the rate predicted ten years ago. That glacier alone could raise sea levels by up to two meters if it were to melt entirely. A leading climate journal has recently expressed concern that glacier melt in the Andes is also contributing to rising sea levels as rivers in the region expand dramatically from the increased glacial runoff.

This argument starts with the conclusion: sea levels will rise faster than we thought. It is followed by the main supporting premise: a huge glacier in Antarctica is melting faster than we expected. Finally, it’s further supported with an expert opinion: a journal thinks rivers in the Andes are making things worse. So, the method of argument is to use expert testimony and scientific evidence to support a prediction.

As with all Logical Reasoning questions, we’re not overly concerned with the real-world accuracy of the statements made. LSAT questions tend to contain accurate information, but that’s irrelevant. We want to ignore the accuracy of the argument and instead focus on its logical structure. Rather than asking whether a given statement is true or false, focus on whether it supports or contradicts the conclusion. That’s the key to nailing Method of Argument questions.
 

More Resources

Check out the post LSAT Logical Reasoning Methood of Argument Questions for a more detailed overview of this question type and how to approach it, or visit our Logical Reasoning Library for tons of information on this section of the exam.

Below is a list of some of the common forms in which a Method of Argument question can be phrased. If you’ve seen one that isn’t on this list, please leave it in a comment so we can include it.
 

  • The [Speaker] uses which one of the following methods to craft his response to the critics’ claims?
  • The argument above proceeds by…
  • [Speaker #2] responds to [Speaker #1] by… (this counts as Method of Argument because it’s asking how the second half of the stimulus is different from the first half)
  • The argument above does which one of the following?
  • Which one of the following describes a technique used by [Speaker] in the argument above?


 
Most Method of Argument questions will include some form of “method” or “technique.” However, there are some tricky forms like the third one listed above, which only appears in questions with dialogues. Method of Argument questions can be difficult to distinguish from Role of Statement questions, but that’s nothing to worry about because you use a similar process to answer both. Just ask yourself whether the question is asking about a specific sentence (Role of Statement) or the overall structure of the stimulus (Method of Argument).
 
 

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