The maximum parsimony method is used to construct a phylogenetic tree for a set of sequences. Which one of the following statements about the method is $\text{CORRECT}?$

1. It predicts the tree that minimizes the steps required to generate the observed variations
2. It predicts the tree that maximizes the steps required to generate the observed variations
3. It predicts the tree with the least number of branch points
4. It employs probability calculations to identify the tree