Critical Reasoning Question 4-Critics of “Promotional Gates”

Critical Reasoning Question 4

Critics of strict “promotional gates” at the grade school level point to a recent study comparing students forced to repeat a grade with those promoted despite failing scores on an unscheduled, experimental competency test. Since there was no significant difference between the two groups’ scores on a second test administered after completion of the next higher grade level, these critics argue that the retention policy has failed in its expressed purpose of improving students’ basic skills.

Which of the following best expresses the argument made by critics of promotional gates?

A. Anxiety over performance on standardized tests often hinders a student’s ability to master challenging new material.

B. A student’s true intellectual development cannot be gauged by his score on a standardized competency test.

C. The psychological damage a child suffers by repeating a grade outweighs the potential intellectual benefits of a second chance at learning.

D. Strict requirements for promotion do not lead to harder work and greater mastery of fundamentals among students fearful of being held back.

E. Socioeconomic factors as well as test scores influenced whether a given student in the study was promoted or forced to repeat a grade.

Think you know the answer?

 

Correct answer: D

Since the critics claim, based on the study’s results, that the policy of leaving students back doesn’t improve their skills, the best restatement of their view is (D). (A) fails for two reasons: one, the critics never hinted that test anxiety was the reason for poor performance, and two, (A) discusses “challenging new material”, whereas the tests in question assess students’ basic skills. In (B), we’re not interested in students’ “true intellectual development”-again, it’s their mastery of basic skills. Anyway, (B)’s criticism of standardized test scores tends to go against the critics’ argument, which is based on those very scores. The psychological damage of being left back, raised in (C), is well beyond the scope; the critics never hinted at this. Finally, (E) fails because the critics never discussed socioeconomic factors at all-just test scores.

 

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Critical Reasoning Question 2-Doberman attacks

Critical Reasoning Question 2

In recent years, attacks by Dobermans on small children have risen dramatically. Last year saw 35 such attacks in the continental United States alone, an increase of almost 21% over the previous year’s total. Clearly, then, it is unsafe to keep dogs as pets if one has small children in the house.

The argument above depends upon which of the following assumptions?

A. No reasonable justification for these attacks by Dobermans on small children has been discovered.

B. Other household pets, such as cats, don’t display the same violent tendencies that dogs do.

C. The number of attacks by Dobermans on small children will continue to rise in the coming years.

D. A large percentage of the attacks by Dobermans on small children could have been prevented by proper training.

E. The behavior toward small children exhibited by Dobermans is representative of dogs in general.

 

The correct answer is E.

The evidence discusses attacks by Dobermans, but the conclusion is that the dogs-any dogs- are unsafe around little kids. This makes sense only if we assume (E): that Dobermans, in their behavior toward little kids, are generally representative of dogs. A good way of checking assumptions is to see what happens if we take their opposite: if the opposite of a statement weakens the argument, then that statement is assumed; if it doesn’t, it’s not. Here, if Dobermans’ behavior toward small children isn’t typical of dogs, the argument falls apart.

(A), whether the attacks were justified, is beside the point. Even if the kids were pulling the dogs’ tails, the author’s point that the dogs aren’t safe still holds. Other pets are beyond the scope, so (B)’s out. As for (C), the argument doesn’t deal with the future, so the author needn’t assume anything about it. And it certainly wouldn’t weaken the argument if, contrary to (D), many of the attack could not have been prevented, so (D)’s not assumed.

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