Critical Reasoning Question 25: Teen Pregnancy

In 2001, a local high school implemented a new program designed to reduce the incidence of teenage pregnancy.  The program, however, failed to produce the desired result.  It the program had been successful, the dropout rate for female students would not have increased substantially in 2001.

The argument in the passage depends on which of the following assumptions?

A.       The number of teen pregnancies nationwide increased in 2001.

B.      The number of teen pregnancies in 2001 was greater than the number of teen pregnancies in 1991.

C.      Teenage pregnancy is a leading reason that female students leave school.

D.      The program was mandatory of all female students.

E.       Most 2001 female dropouts were not pregnant at any time during the year.

Think you know the answer?

The correct answer is C.

This stimulus bins with the conclusion that a 2001 school program to reduce teenage pregnancy was a failure.  The evidence is that the female dropout rate increased during 2001.  The assumption must be that pregnancy is an important reason for a female to drop out of school.   (C) says this correctly.

A is out of scope, B is irrelevant, D is out of scope, and E provides a reason to doubt the conclusion.

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Critical Reasoning Question 23: Heart Attack

According to a recent study, a diet that is free of meat and dairy products greatly reduces the risk of suffering a heart attack.  The study cites the fact that only 10% of those who consume such a diet suffer a heart attack at some point in their lives.

Which of the following would  most seriously weaken the argument above?

A.       Diets free of meat and dairy are low in calcium, which can lead to bone density decreases.

B.        Those who consume only dairy but not meat are twice as likely to suffer a heart attack as those who consume neither meat nor dairy.

C.      Some people who consume neither dairy nor meat suffer two or more heart attacks over the course of a lifetime.

D.      Meat and dairy products are high in low-density cholesterol, which is known to harden arteries and cause other heart problems.

E.       7% of those who consume dairy and meat regularly suffer heart attacks over the course of their lifetime.

Think you know the answer?

The correct answer is E.

The conclusion here is that a diet free of meat and dairy products greatly reduces the risk of heart attack, based on the evidence that only 10% of those who omit meat and dairy from their diets suffer heart attacks.  The assumption is that more than ten percent of those who do eat dairy and meat suffer from heart attacks.  If we knew that those who eat meant and dairy are less likely to suffer heart attacks, the assumption would be contradicted and the argument weakened.

(A)   is out of scope.  (B) nearly strengthens the argument.  (C) does little to affect the argument in either direction.  (D) strengthens the argument and (E) matches our prediction exactly.

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Critical Reasoning Question 22: Manufacturing

Smith Products fabricates machine tools that are essentially identical to those produced by Jackson Manufacturing.  For both companies, raw materials represent about two-thirds of the cost of manufacturing the machine tools.  To gain an edge over Jackson Manufacturing, Smith Products should purchase its raw materials from a new supplier advertising much lower prices.

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

A.      Smith Products spends more on employees’ wages than Jackson Manufacturing does.

B.      Smith’s current supplier provides raw materials of exceeding high quality.

C.      The market for machine tools has been declining for several years.

D.      The new supplier’s materials are of low quality and would reduce the lifespan of Smith machine tools by half, causing sales to decline.

E.       The plant manager for Smith Products is planning to increase the plant’s efficiency.

Think you know the answer?

 

The correct answer is D.

The conclusion that Smith Products could gain an advantage by purchasing lower-cost raw materials is based on the evidence that raw materials represent the largest proportion of costs for both Smith and Jackson.  For the conclusion to hold, Smith must assume the new raw materials will not have any other negative effects on its business.  So, to weaken the argument, look for a choice that casts doubt on this assumption.  (D) does so by stating that the low quality of the new materials will cause a drop in sales.  If that occurs, using the new supplier will not create an advantage for Smith Products, and so (D) is the answer.  (A) and (E) indicate other ways that Smith might gain an advantage, but they don’t have any bearing on whether changing suppliers would create an advantage.  (B) is similarly irrelevant; even if true, it doesn’t provide any reason Smith should not use the new supplier.  (C) is out of the scope of the argument.

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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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