If you’re thinking ahead and potentially looking for something that proves that the gas buildup could not have caused the warming, you might spot that in (B) right away! (B) makes it impossible that the gas buildup was the primary cause of the warming. If the warming happened before 1940, and the gas buildup happened mostly after that, then how could the gas buildup be what caused the warming? X can’t be the cause of Y if Y happened before X. Bingo.
(Note that the year didn’t have to be 1940. It could have been 1941, 1942, 1999, 1907 – and still would have had to be the right answer. As long as Y happened before X, it’s impossible that X caused Y, no matter the particulars of when they happened. You’re just looking for something that if true, would have to weaken the argument.)
OK, great! You found the answer. Or did you?
What if, by doing step 3, you didn’t find any easy answers? Or, what if you found two easy answers?
If you found anything other than one easy answer, then move onto step #4.
4. (If you don’t already have the answer) Do a more detailed analysis of the answers remaining
This is your second, more detailed pass through the answers, if need be. You may have crossed some answers off as definitely wrong – great. Whichever ones are left standing as potentially right, read through again more carefully. This is your chance to do that more detailed analysis you were hoping to skip in step #3! This will happen a lot, but the point is that you saved yourself that time on the many other questions on which there is a simple right answer.
In our example question, (C) is a trick answer commonly picked. Let’s say you have it narrowed down to (B) and (C) by the time you get to this step.
Think carefully about each one. (C) is saying that the solar radiation wasn’t constant throughout the century – it was greater in some years, and lesser in other years. Would this make it less likely that the gas buildup was the cause of the global warming?
No! Regardless of whether there was a steady stream of radiation, or whether it was greater in some years than others, the temperature increase could still just as easily been due to gas buildup. If (C) said “Over the last century, Earth received slightly more solar radiation than it had in the past century”, then this could arguably show an alternative cause for the warming (greater solar radiation!). But it doesn’t say that; it says that there was more radiation in some years of the century than in other years of the same century. This wouldn’t explain why this century got warmer than the previous century. I’m convinced that most people pick (C) on this question because they read it too quickly and misinterpret it as saying the above.
This is the kind of mistake that you can catch upon close reading in step #4!
Repeat step #4 as necessary until you have one definitely right answer. If you’ve crossed all 5 answers out – that means you definitely misinterpreted something, but don’t sweat – time to go back and revisit each one more carefully.
Voila! Congrats on finishing a logical reasoning question. Time to do 25 more…
General section tips:
- If you get to an impossibly tough question (they exist) and you’re having trouble, skip it and come back later. There’s nothing to gain from continuing to hit your head against the wall once you realize that you’re hitting your head against the wall. The confidence and rhythm of answering a few other questions could be all it takes to clear your mind for when you return to it.
- There is a clear answer for each question. I know that sometimes it feels like “you can make an argument for (A) and also for (C)”, but the truth is: no, one is right and one is wrong, and it’s your job to figure out exactly why. If you read them carefully enough, you’ll see what your error was. Go for the point of clarity on every question, when you can confidently circle one answer and be sure that none of the others are correct. It could take you extra time, but don’t worry about the time limit just yet.
- I can’t stress enough the importance of not getting married to an early answer choice that seems correct before reading the others, especially later on in the section when they are really throwing everything they’ve got at you in the way of trick answers. You have an emotional bias: if your original instinct was right and (A) is correct, then you won’t have to spend all that time reevaluating it. You must fight against this emotional bias and honestly give each answer choice its “day in court”, so to speak, even if you already think it’s (A).