Critical Reasoning 21: Plagiarizing Students

In a survey of freshmen at University X, two-thirds claimed never to have plagiarized while in high school.  However, the survey may overstate the proportion of freshmen at University X who did not plagiarize in high school because ________.

Which of the following best completes the passage above?

A.  Some people who do not attend University X probably plagiarized in high school.

B.  Some people who plagiarized in high school may not do so in college.

C.  Some people who claimed to have plagiarized once may have done so many times.

D.  At University Z, one half of the freshmen admitted to having plagiarized in high school.

E.  Some freshmen who did plagiarize in high school might have claimed on the survey that they did not do so.

 

Think you know the answer?  The correct answer is

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Critical Reasoning Question 16-Editorials

This editorial cannot be a good argument because it is barely literate.  Run-on sentences, slang, and perfectly dreadful grammar appear regularly throughout.  Anything that poorly written cannot be making very much sense.

Which of the following identifies an assumption in the argument above?

A.  This editorial was written by someone other than the usual editor.

B.  Generally speaking, very few editorials are poor in style or grammar.

C.  The language of an argument is indicative of its validity.

D.  Generally speaking, the majority of editorials are poor in style and grammar.

E.  The author of the editorial purposely uses poor grammar to disguise what he knows is a bad argument.

Think you know the answer?

The correct answer is C.

The author’s claim that the editorial’s argument is no good because it is poorly written depends on the assumption hat an argument’s validity is related to its use of language.  After all, if an argument’s language didn’t indicate its validity, the author’s argument wouldn’t make any sense at all.

(A)’s not assumed because the argument doesn’t concern who’s to blame for the bad editorial.  (B) and (D) fail because the argument addresses this editorial only, so there’s nothing assumed about what happens generally.  And (E) goes too far: The author needn’t assume that the writer deliberately wrote badly to hide a bad argument, just that, as (C) says, the poor writing indicates a poor argument.

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Critical Reasoning Question 14-Packaging Company

World War II had a profound effect on the growth of nascent businesses.  The Acme Packaging Company netted only $10,000 in the year before the war.  By 1948 it was earning almost 10 times that figure.

The argument above depends upon which of the following assumptions?

A.  Acme’s growth rate is representative of other nascent businesses.

B.  An annual profit of $10,000 is not especially high.

C.  Wars inevitably stimulate a nation’s economy.

D.  Rapid growth for nascent businesses is especially desirable.

E.  Acme is not characterized by responsible, far-sighted managers.

Think you know the answer?

The correct answer is A.

The author uses the single case of Acme to conclude that the war profoundly affected “nascent businesses.”  This assumes that Acme’s growth rate is typical, or representative, of such businesses (A); otherwise, why hold it up as an example?

As for (B), the author needn’t assume that $10,000 isn’t much of a profit.  Maybe he thinks it started out high and got even higher.  (C), which brings up other wars, is beyond the scope-the argument concerns World War II, period.  (D)’s tricky, but it’s not assumed.  Notice that the author claims only that World War II had a profound, not salutary, effect on nascent businesses, so we don’t know just how he feels about rapid growth rates.  As for (E), the author needn’t assume Acme’s managers had nothing to do with the company’s success, just that the was also had an effect-and a marked one.

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Critical Reasoning Question 12-Newspaper Articles

The increase in the number of newspaper articles exposed as fabrications serves to bolster the contention that publishers are more interested in boosting circulation than in printing the truth.  Even minor publications have staffs to check such obvious fraud.

The argument above assumes that

A.  Newspaper stories exposed as fabrications are a recent phenomenon.

B.  Everything a newspaper prints must be factually verifiable.

C.  Fact checking is more comprehensive for minor publications than for major ones.

D.  Only recently have newspapers admitted to publishing intentionally fraudulent stories.

E.  The publishers of newspapers are he people who decide what to print in their newspapers.

Think you know the correct answer?

The correct answer is E.  Evidence: more newspaper articles exposed as fabrications.

Conclusion:  Publishers want to increase circulation, not print the truth.  This makes sense only if we assume (E), that publishers decide what to print.  If (E) weren’t true and this decision were up to someone else, the argument would fall apart.

Since the argument claims only and increase in made-up articles exposed, it’s not necessary that they be a recent phenomenon, so (A)’s not assumed.  (B) goes too far-it’s not necessary that every article be factually verifiable in order for there to have been an increase in fabrications.  As for (C), the author’s claim that “even minor publications” have fact checkers is meant to emphasize that the publications know they’re not printing the truth, not that minor ones are better at fact checking than major ones.  And (D) brings up admission of guilt, which the author never mentions-the articles in question were exposed as frauds, not admitted to be frauds.

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Critical Reasoning Question 13-Architecture Schools

Out architecture schools must be doing something wrong.  Almost monthly we hear of domes and walkways collapsing in public places, causeing great harm to human life.  In their pursuit of some dubious aesthetic, architects design buildings that sway, crumble, and even shed windows into our cities’ streets.  This kind of incompetence will disappear only when the curricula of our architecture schools devote less time to so-called artistic considerations and more time to the basics of good design.

Which of the following, if true, would most seriously weaken the argument above?

A.  All architecture students are given training in basic physics and mechanics.

B.  Most of the problems with modern buildings stem from poor construction rather than poor design.

C.  Less than 50% of the curriculum at most architecture schools is devoted to aesthetics.

D.  Most buildings manage to stay in place well past their projected life expectancies.

E.  Architects study as long and as intensively as most other  professionals.

Think you know the answer?

The correct answer is B.

Since the author concludes from evidence of collapsing buildings that architecture schools should spend more time teaching “the basics of good design,”  she obviously assumes that the buildings are falling down because of poor design, not poor construction.  (B) destroys the argument by demolishing this assumption.

The author claims architecture schools don’t focus enough on basic design, not basic physics and mechanics, so (A)’s no weakener.  As for (C), the author never spells out how much of the curriculum should be spent on design, so more than half may not be enough for her.  (D) distorts the argument-the author never claimed that most buildings are falling down, so the fact that most of them stay up doesn’t matter.  As for (E), other professionals are beyond the scope-the issue is how much architecture schools focus on basic design rather than on more lofty artistic concerns.

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Critical Reasoning Question 11-faculty/student ratios

Time and time gain, it has been shown that students who attend colleges with low faculty/student ratios get the most well-rounded education.  As a result, when my children are ready for college, I’ll be sure they attend a school with a very small student population.

Which of the following, if true, identifies the greatest flaw in the reasoning above?

A.  A low faculty/student ratio is the effect of a well-rounded education, not its source.

B.  Intelligence should be considered the result of childhood environment, not advanced education.

C.  A very small student population does not, by itself, ensure a low faculty/student ratio.

D.  Parental desires and preferences rarely determine a child’s choice of a college or university.

E.  Students must take advantage of the low faculty/student ratio by intentionally choosing small classes.

Think you know the answer?

 

The correct answer is C.

The evidence says that students who attend colleges with low faculty/student ratios get well-rounded educations, but the conclusion is that the author will send his kids to colleges with small student populations.  Since colleges can have the second without necessarily having the first, (C) is correct.

(A) claims that the author confuses cause and effect, but how could getting a well-rounded education cause a low faculty/student ratio?  Anyway, the real problem is the scope shift from faculty/student ratios to student populations.  As for (B),  the author never mentions intelligence at all.  (D) fails because it doesn’t point to a problem in the reasoning, just in implementing it.  And (E) claims students must do something extra to take advantage of the low faculty/student ratio.  Since the author never claimed the benefits would be conferred automatically, this isn’t a flaw; more importantly, (E) misses the real flaw, which we find in (C).

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Critical Reasoning Question 10-Increasing productivity

Techniques to increase productivity in the performance of discrete tasks, by requiring less human labor in each step of the production process, are widely utilized.  consultant on productivity enhancement point out, however, that although these techniques achieve their specific goal, they are not without drawbacks.  They often instill enough resentment in the workforce eventually to lead to a slowdown in the production process as a whole.

Which of the following can be reasonably inferred from the statements above?

A. Productivity enhancement techniques do not attain their intended purpose and should not be employed in the workplace.

B.  The fact that productivity enhancement techniques are so widely employed has led to a decline in the ability of American businesses to compete abroad.

C.  If productivity enhancement consultants continue to utilize these techniques, complete work stoppages will eventually result.

D.  Ironically, an increase in the productivity of discrete tasks may result in a decrease in the productivity of the whole production process.

E.  Production managers are dissatisfied with the efforts that productivity enhancement consultants have made to increase productivity.

Think you know the answer?

 

The correct answer is D.

Here the author presents the consultants’ ideas.  Notice the paragraph uses words like often and slowdown.  The correct response should not go beyond such terminology.  Consultants’ conclusion:  Techniques to increase productivity of discrete tasks have drawbacks, even though they accomplish their specific goals.  Consultants’ evidence:  They often instill enough resentment to lead to a slowdown in the production process as a whole.

(A) is too sweeping a generalization, an unwarranted inference about productivity enhancement techniques.  Do these techniques never work?  (B) is even further out.  Nowhere does the information imply that America is less competitive abroad than before.  Since no geographic location is mentioned, this data could have originated in Europe.  (C) projects into the future, to an extreme result.  All we’re told is that sometimes these techniques lead to a slowdown in the production process.  (D) uses similar language (and tone) to the original paragraph and remains in scope without bringing in additional information.  It is an accurate summary of the text.  (E) can almost be disqualified after the first few words.  Though it picks up on the negative aspects of productivity enhancement, we can infer nothing about production managers since they are never mentioned.  In fact, many production managers may be ecstatic about the efforts that did pay off.

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Critical Reasoning Question 9-After WWII

The education offered by junior colleges just after World War II had a tremendous practical effect on family-run businesses throughout the country.  After learning new methods of marketing, finance, and accounting, the sons and daughters of merchants returned home, often to increase significantly the size of the family’s enterprise or to maximize profits in other ways.

Which of the following statements is best supported bu the information above?

A.  The junior colleges principally emphasized methods of increasing the size of small businesses.

B.  The business methods taught in the junior colleges were already widespread before World War II.

C.  The business curricula at junior colleges did not include theoretical principles of management.

D.  Without the influence of junior colleges, many family-run businesses would have been abandoned as unprofitable.

E.  Business methods in many postwar family-run businesses changed significantly as a result of the junior colleges.

Think you know the answer?

The correct answer is E.

This question asks, “Which of the following is best supported by the information above?”  In other words, what can be inferred from the stated material?  The author in this question discusses the impact of junior colleges on family-run businesses.  Evidence.  These colleges introduced people to new methods that were often successfully applied to family-run businesses.  Conclusion:  These colleges had a tremendous effect on family-run businesses.

A good inference will not go beyond this scope or read too much into particular detail.  We go through the choices on Inference questions, because it’s hard to predict what the correct answer will be.

In (A) the disqualifying word is principally.  The information presented does not specify what the junior colleges emphasized.  This choice reads too much into the fact that often family businesses increased in size because of the newly acquired knowledge.  (B) is wrong because we really can’t infer how popular or widespread these methods were before the war.  For all we know these could have been revolutionary techniques or well-kept secrets. In (C), we know junior colleges taught new methods of marketing and finance and stuff like that; we do not know how much management theory was or was not presented.  This choice relies on data we aren’t given, a sure sign of an incorrect or unwarranted inference.  In (D), all we are really told is that many family-run businesses became more profitable.  It is possible that many family-run businesses could have been abandoned as unprofitable had it not been for the junior colleges, but nothing suggests that there necessarily would have been a significant number of business failures without colleges.

(E) is certainly true.  Business methods did change because of the education.  Notice how non biased this statement is,coming directly from the information given.  Often, people find the correct choice to be too obvious in Critical Reasoning questions; often it’s just that straightforward.

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Critical Reasoning Question 8-Violent Crime

The rate of violent crime in this state is up 30% from last year.  The fault lies entirely in our court system: Recently our judges’ sentences have been so lenient that criminals can now do almost anything without fear of a long prison term.

The argument above would be weakened if it were true that

A.  85% of the other states in the nation have lower crime rates than does this state

B.  White-collar crime in this state has also increased by over 25% in the last year

C.  35% of the police in this state have been laid off in the last year due to budget cuts

D.  Polls show that 65% of the population in this state oppose capital punishment

E.  The state has hired 25 new judges in the last year to compensate for deaths and retirements

Think you know the answer?

The correct answer is C.

If we can show that something besides the court system may explain the increase in crime (if we can show a different cause for the same effect) we would weaken the argument.  The author, after all, assumes that there is no other cause ( a common GMAT assumption).  Tackle the choices, looking for another cause besides the allegedly lenient court sentences.

(A) is a classic faulty comparison.  The argument does not compare one state to another.  The argument’s scope is the crime rate increase in this state only.  In (B), the fact that white-collar crime is also on the rise is more of a strengthener than a weakener-maybe it is the leniency in the courtroom that is responsible for an overall crime surge.  (C) presents an alternative explanation for the increase in crime.  Maybe it is not the judges at all but the fact that there are fewer cops on the street.  As for (D), what if 65% of people in the state oppose capital punishment?  what if 100% of people in this state oppose capital punishment?  This provides little insight into why crime has gone up since last year.  (E) tells us that numerous judges have been replaced in the last year.  It is possible that the new judges are more lenient, but this would only strengthen the author’s conclusion.

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Critical Reasoning Question 7-High School Curriculum

The local high school students have been clamoring for the freedom to design their own curricula.  Allowing this would be as disastrous as allowing 3-year-olds to choose their own diets.  These students have neither the maturity nor the experience to equal that of the professional educators now doing the job.

Which of the following statements, if true, would most strengthen the above argument?

A.  High school students have less formal education than those who currently design the curricula.

B.  3-year-olds do not, if left to their own devices, choose healthful diets.

C.  The local high school students are less intelligent than the average teenager.

D.  Individualized curricula are more beneficial to high school students than are the standard curricula, which are rigid and unresponsive to their particular strengths and weaknesses.

E.  The ability to design good curricula develops only after years of familiarity with educational life.

Think you know the answer?

The correct answer is E.

first, we need to understand the structure of the argument.  Here the statement, “Allowing this would be as disastrous as…” clues us into the author’s opinion.  Assumption:  One needs maturity and experience to design curricula.  If the assumption were true, the argument would be strengthened.  Check the answer choices, and look for one that affirms the assumption.  (A) is just a restatement of the evidence; this choice adds no new information.

In (B) the argument made an analogy:  “Allowing students to make their own curricula is as disastrous as letting 3-year-olds choose their own diets.”  If an argument uses an analogy to make a point, it had  better do so effectively.  The better the analogy, the stronger the argument.  This choice does strengthen the argument by showing the analogy to be true.  But the question asks for the best strengthener and a more relevant strengthener may be present.

(C) is a classic faulty comparison choice; it is also out of scope.  The author doesn’t distinguish between local high school students and average teenagers.  Moreover, the focus is on experience and maturity, not intelligence.  (D) shifts the focus of the argument from “who should or should not design curricula” to “what kind of curricula is best.”  Notice the scope change in this choice.  It’s tempting, especially since it brings up an intelligent point about tailoring to individuals, but that’s topic for a different discussion.  The best strengthener is (E), citing the experience needed to design curricula.

 

 

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