Attitude questions—you know, those pesky problems that pretty much ask you how the author feels about something—may be the trickiest questions on the Reading Comp section of the LSAT. If only those authors would just come out and say how they felt about the topic (for ex, I think that Yeats’ poetry is crap)! Luckily for us, these attitudes can come across loud and clear, as long as you know what types of language to look for.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Eliminate any answer choice with the words indifferent or neutral—if the author didn’t have an opinion about the subject, the LSAT writers wouldn’t be asking the question.
- Check out the adjectives and adverbs that describe the topic: Are these mostly positive (comprehensive, enlightening, insightful, etc) or negative (disappointing, inadequate, unsatisfactory)?
- Check out the verbs that are associated with the topic: Does the author say that it attempts, succeeds, or fails at anything?
- Unless your findings are OVERWHELMINGLY positive or STAGGERINGLY negative, eliminate extreme answer choices (outright disdain, ardent admiration, unmitigated criticism, unconditional acceptance, etc).
Let’s take a look at this excerpt and see if we can figure out what the author’s attitude toward Hoffman’s study is:
Hoffman’s study provides one of the more illuminating accounts of the Great Migration. Unfortunately, it fails to fully address the reaction of Northern whites to this sudden influx of African Americans.
Okay, so the author describes the study as one of the more illuminating accounts. That sounds pretty positive! However, the author then throws in a negative qualification: it unfortunately fails to fully address something. So, the author has a somewhat positive attitude toward Hoffman’s study.
We need to keep this in mind as we look over the answer choices:
A. Enthusiastic reverence
This is an extreme answer choice. We know that the author feels positively about Hoffman’s study, but we also know that he has certain reservations about it. So this option is out.
B. Complete indifference
This choice tells us that the author has no opinion on Hoffman’s study—we can eliminate it right off the bat.
C. Qualified rejection
This choice implies that the author’s attitude toward Hoffman’s study is mostly negative, but we know the author’s feelings are primarily positive.
D. Reserved admiration
Here’s our correct answer! The author has admiration for Hoffman’s study (it is one of the more illuminating accounts.) We also know this admiration is reserved, because the author points out one of the study’s unfortunate shortcomings (it fails to fully address…).
E. Pointed skepticism
Here’s another extreme answer choice. Plus, it’s entirely negative, while we know the author has somewhat positive feelings about Hoffman’s study.
Now, go solve those attitude problems!
Emily Holleman is a Content Developer at Knewton, helping students with their LSAT preparation.
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