A “point of agreement/disagreement” question is one that asks you look at a brief dialogue between two individuals and identify a way in which the individuals either agree or disagree. (These questions are also called “disagreement questions,” “identify the disagreement questions,” and “point at issue questions.”) The question stem for a point of agreement/disagreement question might read:
- _____ and _____ agree about the truth of which of the following?
- The statements above provide the most support for holding that the authors would disagree about which of the following?
- _____ and _____ disagree about which of the following?
Most of the time the test asks about disagreement. We solve these questions by following three steps:
- Identify scope of the first argument.
- Identify the scope of the second argument.
- Choose the answer that matches the scopes of both arguments and that authors of the arguments agree/disagree about.
Let’s take a look at each step.
Identify Scope of First Argument
What is the first speaker claiming? How does he support his main point? These arguments are rarely complex, so you shouldn’t struggle too much to identify what the first speaker is asserting and why.
Identify Scope of Second Argument
This step is key. How exactly does the second speaker respond to the first? And what part of the first speaker’s argument does the second respond to? A common trick for the disagreement version of this question type is to have the second speaker critique a premise of the first argument without ever stating an opinion about the main point of the first argument. So be especially on the lookout for responses that critique an argument’s reasoning without ever addressing the main point.
Choose the Answer
The correct answer will meet two criteria:
- Both speaker express an opinion about the content of the answer choice (or the opinion of both speakers can be easily inferred).
- The speakers’ opinions are in agreement/disagreement with one another (depending on what is being asked for).
If an answer choice fails to meet either criterion, it must be eliminated.