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The following is an extract from the section #2, first chapter of the LSAT Prep Course. There are totally three chapters in the LSAT prep course, and each chapter is divided into several sections.

Section 2: Two Styles

There is an endless number of writing techniques that authors use to present their ideas. However, there are only two writing styles used in a LSAT reading passage: presentation and argumentation.

1. Presentation

This technique is to present an idea that the author will agree or at least partially agree. The author strengthens his position by citing relevant evidences, each related to other in a highly structured manner. We call this style of writing as presentation. Sometimes, the author sometime may intentionally contrast his position with an opposing view. But most often the author is just anticipating an objection, he will soon refute it.

Here is a sample passage in presentation.


2. Argumentation

The second writing style is argumentation. This technique has a number of variations, but the most common and direct is to develop two to three ideas and then point out why one is better than the other or just simply refute all of them and developed the author's own idea.

Some common tip-off sentences to this method of analysis are:

l    It was traditionally assumed...

l    It was once believed...

l    It was frequently assumed ..

l    It was universally accepted..

l    Many scientists have argued...

The following passage represents a typical argumentation. At the beginning, the author presented a phenomenon and gave an explanation, but refuted that explanation immediately. Then, the second explanation was introduced, but was denied again in the same paragraph. Finally, a more fruitful one is presented. The author used the remaining passage try to argue that this explanation is the correct one.


Why bother to identify the writing style?

Be familiar with the author's writing techniques can help you diagram the mental road map of a passage, identify the author's intention to cite an evidence, main idea of a passage, and most importantly, pick up the right choice quickly and decisively.

Here is an example:

The fact that superior service can generate a competitive advantage for a company does not mean that every attempt at improving service will create such an advantage. Investments in service, like those in production and distribution, must be balanced against other types of investments on the basis of direct, tangible benefits such as cost reduction and increased revenues. If a company is already effectively on a par with its competitors because it provides service that avoids a damaging reputation and keeps customers from leaving at an unacceptable rate, then investment in higher service levels may be wasted, since service is a deciding factor for customers only in extreme situations.

This truth was not apparent to managers of one regional bank, which failed to improve its competitive position despite its investment in reducing the time a customer had to wait for a teller. The bank managers did not recognize the level of customer inertia in the consumer banking industry that arises from the inconvenience of switching banks. Nor did they analyze their service improvement to determine whether it would attract new customers by producing a new standard of service that would excite customers or by proving difficult for competitors to copy. The only merit of the improvement was that it could easily be described to customers.

In the above passage, the author did not try to present his own position (presentation). If any, the position is that he does not agree with the fact that superior service can generate competitive advantage for a company. In fact, the speaker here argued against a popular point of view by reasoning and examples (argumentation).

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