Test: Critical Reasoning- 2


20 Questions MCQ Test GMAT Mock Test for Practice | Test: Critical Reasoning- 2


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QUESTION: 1

Samuel is obviously a bad fisherman. During the past season, in which he and the five members of his team spent four months on a boat together off Dutch Harbor, AK, he caught fewer fish than any of his teammates.
Q. Which of the following, if true, most weakens the argument above?

Solution:

The conclusion to the argument is that "Samuel is obviously a bad fisherman" while the premise is Samuel's poor fishing performance relative to the peers on his fishing boat this past season.

A. The same logical flaws are at play in this answer (except in reverse). Using one season and a comparison to the fishermen on one boat does not provide a wide enough basis to make a judgment about a fishermen's ability relative to all other fishermen. Comparing this past season with another season still does not help to explain Samuel's poor performance this season (whereas knowing that Samuel used experimental bait this season would provide a justification for why Samuel caught few fish yet was still not a terrible fisherman).
B. Samuel's performance as a pilot does not relate to his ability as a fisherman. This answer is off topic.
C On first glance, this looks like a good answer. However, it does not consider whether Samuel's teammates were sick during the same period. Perhaps one of Samuel's teammates was sick for two weeks.
D. This answer highlights something that made Samuel's fishing performance uniquely different than his teammates. Moreover, Samuel did not make the choice to fish with alternative bait--his captain ordered him to do it. If Samuel made the choice to fish with alternative bait, it would be his poor fishing judgment that would be at fault. Similarly, the answer makes clear that no other fisherman on Samuel's boat faced the same predicament.
E. If anything, this answer strengthens the argument.

QUESTION: 2

Virtually all health experts agree that second-hand smoke poses a serious health risk. After the publication of yet another research paper explicating the link between exposure to second-hand smoke and a shorter life span, some members of the State House of Representatives proposed a ban on smoking in most public places in an attempt to promote quality of life and length of lifespan.
Q. Which of the following, if true, provides the most support for the actions of the State Representatives?

Solution:

The State Representatives' argument for banning smoking is based upon scientific research and the presence of a correlation between second-hand smoke and life expectancy. However, it could be strengthened if data existed to show that other regions that enacted tough anti-smoking reform experienced longer life spans. In other words, although we know there is a relationship between second-hand smoke and life expectancy, we do not know that enacting tough anti-smoking reform will influence second-hand smoke levels and thereby influence life expectancy.

A. The legislators' argument is about protecting people from second-hand smoke, not about taking one action versus another (i.e., the legislators are not comparing sources of toxin, but rather attempting to prevent one source from entering the air).
B. The question at hand does not pertain to the percent of the population that smokes but the ability of the law to extend life expectancy. This answer fails to make a connection between the proposed law and extending life expectancy.
C. Although the percent of the state population that smokes will affect the extent of the impact made by the law, it does not support the merits of the law in and of itself. In other words, the argument is not based upon the number or percent of the population that smokes (and by corollary the number and percent of the population affected by second-hand smoke). Rather, the argument is based upon a connection between removing second-hand smoke inhalation via legislation and lengthening life span. This answer provides no direct evidence to strengthen the link between removing second-hand smoke via legislation and lengthening lifespan.
D. The evidence that passing a similar law reduced cancer rates supports the legislators' case that banning smoking in many places will promote "length of lifespan" (i.e., with people dying of cancer less, they live longer).
E. The number of smokers in a nearby state does not influence whether banning second-hand smoke in the state in question will affect life expectancy. The large number of smokers up-stream will hurt air quality and length of life downstream (weakling the legislators' argument if it effected it at all). Fundamentally, this answer is wrong because it fails to strengthen the connection between removing second-hand smoke via legislation and lengthening life-expectancy.

QUESTION: 3

Net Neutrality stipulates that Internet service providers (ISP) cannot partition their bandwidth such that different types of Internet communications have different maximum bandwidth capacities. For example, an ISP cannot relegate high bandwidth voice-over-IP (VoIP) traffic to a separate tunnel in an attempt to ensure that users of low-bandwidth functions such as plain-text email are not slowed down by the high-bandwidth users. Some individuals support implementing Net Neutrality on the principle that one group (i.e., users of high-bandwidth services) should not be effectively penalized for the actions of another group (i.e., users of slow-bandwidth services, who have a special traffic lane carved out for them, thereby slowing high-bandwidth users).
Q. Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument of the supporters of Net Neutrality mentioned above?

Solution:

The Argument of Net Neutrality Supporters: No Net Neutrality means one group gets penalized for another group's choice (i.e., high-bandwidth users get relegated to another lane that becomes slower due to congestion).
A. This answer does not undermine the fact that one group is being penalized for the actions of another group nor does it show how the argument is flawed. Simply because one group is required to use high-bandwidth services does not mean they (or another group) are being penalized for this requirement.
B. This answer uses the principle that supporters of Net Neutrality used and shows how the principle can also be used to argue against Net Neutrality, thereby seriously weakening the supporters' argument. The cost of purchasing additional and expensive bandwidth will be passed on to low-bandwidth customers, "disproportionately increasing the price of access for low-bandwidth users." In other words, the actions of one group (high bandwidth users benefiting from Net Neutrality) will harm another group (low bandwidth users who carry a disproportionate burden of the cost of Net Neutrality).
C. This answer may strengthen the overall public support for Net Neutrality (i.e., it is opposed by lobbyists paid for by big telecommunications firms). This answer does not weaken the argument mentioned above since that argument is based upon one group suffering for the actions of another.
D. Although this answer weakens the overall argument in support of Net Neutrality, it does not weaken the argument mentioned above since that argument is based upon one group suffering for the actions of another while the argument in this answer choice is based upon satisfaction among Internet users.
E. This answer actually strengthens not weakens the argument in favor of implementing Net Neutrality.

QUESTION: 4

Eating beets significantly lowers the risk of cancer, according to an article in a nutritional magazine. The article refers to a study that found that people who consumed one or more beets per day were half as likely to be diagnosed with the disease as people who did not.
Q. Which of the following, if true, most weakens the argument in the magazine article?

Solution:

The article draws a conclusion on the basis of the findings of a single study. However, the link between eating beets and cancer prevention cannot be verified without ruling out other variables. If the participants who ate beets were also similar in another way that distinguished them from the group that did not, it would become impossible to prove that beets - and not the other factor - were responsible for reducing the risk of cancer on the basis of this study alone.

A. The effectiveness of flax seed oil in reducing the risk of cancer has no bearing on the effectiveness of beets in doing so. This answer is off topic.
B. This answer strengthens, rather than weakens, the argument. If the subjects ate only beets and no other vegetables, there is more evidence for the fact that beets – and no other vegetable – were responsible for reducing the risk of cancer.
C. The study would be more convincing if it had been conducted in more than one city. However, this fact alone does not do the most to weaken the argument.
D. This other experiment is about the role of beets in the recovery rates of cancer patients, rather than in the risk of diagnosis. Therefore, it does not weaken the conclusion of the article, which focuses on cancer prevention, not recovery.
E. Because study participants who ate beets were also more likely to exercise regularly than those who did not eat beets, it is impossible to determine whether beets or regular exercise were more influential in preventing cancer. This is the correct answer.

QUESTION: 5

Wine Company Representative: The corks of red wine bottles pose a threat to the environment because they are treated with chemicals that are especially toxic in landfills. However, the new cork that our company developed, which will be adopted by the entire red wine industry, represents a solution. Since the new cork is natural and not treated with chemicals, when the industry completes its transition to the new cork, there will no longer be any threat to landfills from red wine corks.
Q. Which of the following, if true, most weakens the argument above?

Solution:

The conclusion to the argument is that "when the industry completes its transition to the new cork, there will no longer be any threat to landfills from red wine corks." The conclusion omits an important fact: even after manufacturers stop making the old wine corks, there will still be thousands of old bottles in circulation. Individuals who purchased red wine bottles years ago will consume them and discard the old corks in landfills, thereby continuing to pollute landfills. Consequently, we cannot conclude that "there will no longer be any threat to landfills from red wine corks."
A. The timing of the industry's transition is irrelevant due to the qualifier in the conclusion: "when the industry completes its transition to the new cork."
B. This statement properly identifies a weakness in the conclusion.
C. The time taken to produce a cork does not impact matters of pollution.
D. At first glance, this answer has some appeal. However, the conclusion relates to pollution in a landfill--not fumes omitted into the air during production.
E. The cost to produce the new cork is not pertinent in a consideration of landfill pollution.

QUESTION: 6

Political Commentator: In order for a democracy to flourish, it is essential that political and journalistic freedom of expression exist. Even if commentators voice ideas that do not support the current government, a society is strengthened by the variety of views expressed. Yet, our government continues to exercise a stranglehold on certain forms of speech. It is essential that the government loosen its control on the media. Despite the potential short-term instability this may cause the country, it will strengthen the long-term health of the country.
Q. Which of the following expresses the conclusion of the argument?

Solution:

The conclusion of the commentator's argument is: "It is essential that the government loosen its control on the media."

To see this, consider the points that the author makes:
(1) political and journalistic freedom are essential for democracy
(2) society is strengthened by many views being expressed
(3) our government stifles free speech
(4) government must loosen speech controls
(5) loosening control of the media leads to long-term strength
A. Although this statement is true, it is a premise not a conclusion. It is because the government is exercising too much control that "it is essential that the government loosen its control on the media."
B. This is a paraphrase of the conclusion. Every other sentence or major idea in the argument serves as a premise to this statement, which is the conclusion or main point of the author's argument.
C. This mirrors the first sentence of the paragraph. However, it functions as a premise not as a conclusion. It is because democracy requires a free press that "it is essential that the government loosen its control on the media."
D. Although this is similar to the last sentence of the paragraph, it is not the conclusion. The line of reasoning in the paragraph is:
democracy → long term health → government must open press
The reasoning is NOT:
government must open press → democracy → long term health (it makes no sense to say that since the government must open the press, therefore we will have long term health)
Moreover, the last sentence deals with the health of the country, not the strength of the government.
E. Although this is true, it is not the main thrust of the argument. The author is not trying to make this point. Instead, he is granting that this is true and then trying to argue that the government needs to open the press.

QUESTION: 7

Authors writing detective stories frequently include a brilliant detective and an incompetent investigator who embark on separate paths in an attempt to solve a crime. The separate accounts frequently consist of the incompetent investigator becoming distracted by the criminals' well-planned attempts and the competent detective solving the case after a violent confrontation. Many literary analysts believe authors often choose this storyline in an attempt to provide readers additional complexity and challenge in solving the investigation.
Q. Which of the following most logically follows from the statements above?

Solution:

This question asks you to take the statements and draw a conclusion. One major trap in this type of question is an answer that is logical, but not supported by the statements in the stimulus.

A. The stimulus does not define what constitutes a well written story nor does it speak about what is a poorly written story. Consequently, it is difficult to make a statement like this that will logically follow from the stimulus.
B. Although this statement is probably true, it does not follow from the stimulus. Instead, the stimulus states that authors use an incompetent investigator to add complexity to the storyline (thereby making the reader's attempts to solve the case more challenging) not to show that investigations are complex.
C. While the stimulus states that stories "frequently" include an incompetent investigator who does not solve the case correctly, we cannot conclude an incompetent investigator "never" solves a case correctly.
D. This statement is quite similar to the final sentence of the stimulus and it logically follows from the stimulus. The statement that authors write in the way they do "to provide readers additional complexity and challenge in solving the investigation" provides the basis to conclude that authors write "to make predicting the correct outcome of the investigation more difficult."
E. Although this statement is probably true, there is no evidence of it in the stimulus. Instead, the stimulus indicates that the complexity is added not for its resemblance to real life but for its ability to increase the challenge posed to readers seeking to solve the case correctly.

QUESTION: 8

Years ago, some in the government's intelligence community feared the work of telecommunications researchers at then-emerging private security firms. The government experts concluded that these private firms posed the biggest risk to successful government espionage. As the private security firms began publicly releasing and advertising encryption algorithms and other security products, these government experts saw support for their conclusion when an encryption algorithm that government experts could not break began appearing in countless emails.
Q. Which of the following, if true, most weakens the conclusion of the government experts referred to above?

Solution:

The government experts concluded that "private firms posed the biggest risk to successful government espionage" and they supported this conclusion by assuming that the unbreakable encryption algorithm in emails came from the private security firms, which had just begun selling encryption algorithms. In order to weaken the conclusion of the government experts, you need to find evidence supporting the belief that the unbreakable algorithm did not come from the private security firms but from another source (such as free open-source developers).

A. This answer strengthens the conclusion of the government experts by bolstering the claim that the products developed by the private security firms were very difficult to break→and this was the fear of some government experts.
This answer does not state that the "other members of the private sector and academia" broke the encryption algorithm and we cannot assume this. If this were true, the algorithm would not be as strong as the government experts suspected and it would almost certainly not be "encryption algorithm that government experts could not break."
B. This answer undermines the government experts' conclusion that the private security firms posed "the biggest risk" as ex-government code breakers admitted that a public-sector open-source freely-available product posed the most difficulty in breaking.
C. This answer is not relevant since a foreign government's ability to infiltrate an espionage operation is not related to the conclusion that the difficulty experienced in breaking email encryption occurred because of products released by private telecommunications companies. Further, this answer provides no basis to conclude or even assume that the private security firms were not the source of the unbreakable algorithm.
D. The publication of information about the strength and benefit of the privately-developed encryption algorithms would not disprove that private security firms were behind the difficult to break email encryption algorithm experienced by the government.

QUESTION: 9

As a result of implementing an experimental farming system that combined aggressive new fertilization, deep irrigation, and speculative pesticides, the yield on crops at a farm in central California grew consistently and considerably over the past six years. However, yields this year unexpectedly plummeted, causing the farm's owners considerable financial difficulties.
Q. Which of the following statements, if true, best explains the unexpected drop in yield?

Solution:

The yield at a central Californian farm dropped significantly after 6 years of consistent growth. Clearly, something of importance to the yield changed. Some possibilities include: (1) a storm decimated the crop (although this level of storm could have only hit this year, as the crops grew "consistently and considerably over the past six years") (2) the farmer stopped using the technique (3) over a period of six years, the technique overused natural soil nutrients and drained important chemicals that the farm crops needed to grow.

A. The original argument pertains to a decline in the yield of the farm, not a decline in the buyers. The farm's yield has no relationship with the number of buyers as yield simply refers to the ratio of seeds planted to crops available for harvest.
B. Although this confirms that the drop the farm in central California experienced is not unique, it does not explain the drop in yield.
C. Since a drought occurred 9 years ago prior to the experimental system and during the experimental system (3 years ago) without any affect on yields, it is not logical to conclude that the drought caused the decline in yields this year. In other words, since the yield grew "consistently" even during the drought 3 years ago and 6 years ago, it is illogical to conclude that the drought caused the decline in yield this year.
D. The circumstances between the two experimental systems are too different to allow comparisons and a logical deduction that the errors of the Iowa system explain the errors of the central California system. Specifically: (1) the length of time before declines in yields occurred differed considerably (2) the crops the farm produced differed (3) the geographic region of the farm (and climate) differed considerably.
E. The sustained (6 years, "consistently") and significant ("considerably") expansion in productivity ("yield") led to exhaustion of nutrients, meaning crops could not attain the chemical compounds they needed to grow. This answer explains why the crop yield dropped after so many years and why it dropped after years of growth.

QUESTION: 10

On a recent expedition to a remote region of northern Canada, scientists uncovered skeletal remains from about 100,000 years ago. Surprisingly, all the skeletal remains, which included many species from differing biological families and spanned about two thousand years, showed evidence of experiencing temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees Fahrenheit (or 538 degrees Celsius).
Q. Which of the following, if true, best explains the apparent paradox between the cold environment and the evidence of the bones experiencing hot temperatures?

Solution:

The paradox: Northern Canada is quite cold and yet skeletal remains show evidence of experiencing very hot temperatures. This paradox could be explained by finding evidence that fires regularly occurred that would have subjected the bones to excruciatingly hot temperatures. If evidence existed that early humans from this time period hunted animals and started fires (implicitly for the purpose of cooking the animals--thereby creating skeletons of animals that experienced hot temperatures), a large step in explaining the paradox would be taken.

A. Unraveling the paradox depends on providing an explanation of how the skeletal remains experienced such hot temperatures yet this answer only heightens the paradox as it provides evidence that the skeletons' environment was much colder (not warmer) many years ago.
B. Although this provides an explanation of how "exactly one north Canadian species'" skeletons showed evidence of exposure to hot temperatures, it fails to account for why "many species from differing biological families [that] spanned about two thousand years showed" the same evidence of exposure to hot temperatures.
C. This answer provides an explanation for skeletons showing evidence of experiencing hot temperatures. However, this answer does not explain why this evidence appeared among skeletons whose date "spanned about two thousand years." Further, the fire occurred "a little over 103,000 years ago" while the original argument makes clear that some of the skeletons which showed evidence of experiencing hot temperatures dated after this fire (i.e., the skeletons were from 100,000 years ago and "spanned about two thousand years" while the fire occurred "over 103,000 years ago").
D. The paradox exists in skeletons dating back to 100,000 years ago. Consequently, explaining how a fire (and thus hot temperatures) could have existed "as early as 70,000 years ago" does not explain the paradox. In other words, this answer does not explain how the skeletons of animals 100,000 years old experienced hot temperatures (although it would explain how skeletons 70,000 years old experienced hot temperatures).
E. While this answer does not prove what caused the chared skeletal remains, it "best explains" how the skeletons experienced hot temperatures (i.e., the hunters cut wood and, implied in this, they started fires to cook animals).

QUESTION: 11

Most scientists believe that the decay of the ozone layer is a cause of global warming. With a weaker ozone layer, additional wavelengths of light reach the earth. However, the danger posed by ozone decay is not limited to global warming. The decay of the ozone layer, which enables more harmful wavelengths of light to reach the earth's surface, is also believed to cause permanent eye damage in some animals.
Q. Which of the following is most strongly supported by the statements above?

Solution:

Due to the question being asked, the correct answer must follow closely from the statements in the stimulus. An answer that intuitively appears correct yet fails to follow closely from the statements in the stimulus is incorrect.

A. This answer snags a significant number of test takers. However, it is wrong because it draws too broad of a conclusion. The stimulus never indicates that "all" wavelengths that damage the eyes of animals are blocked by a healthy ozone layer. Further, notice the words "which enables more." The word "more" seems to indicate that a healthy ozone enables some wavelengths to pass through.
B. The fact that the decay in the ozone layer is believed to cause permanent eye damage in some animals does not mean other animals do not experience damage. Similarly, a decay of the ozone layer does not mean that wavelengths are entirely unfiltered. It simply means that less filtering of light exists.
C. The location of the animals that are damaged is never discussed and has no relevancy on the issue at hand.
D. Although this statement is true, it is not the main (or even a main) point of the argument. Similarly, the word "severe" is too strong and not supported by the statements in the stimulus.
E. This statement captures the main argument from the stimulus. Further, it is a near rephrase of "which enables some harmful wavelengths of light to reach the earth's surface."

QUESTION: 12

As a result of changes in cultural norms and dynamics, a boutique financial research company is considering implementing flex-time, which enables employees to work during any time of the day from any location as long as they are present at the office from 12:30pm to 3:30pm on weekdays. By comparison, workers currently must be in the office from 8am to 5pm. Firm management believes this change will help meet three key goals: decrease total costs, increase productivity, and improve product quality.
Q. Which of the following, if true, most weakens the argument of firm's management?

Solution:

Firm management believes that flex-time will help meet three goals: (1) decrease total costs (2) increase productivity (3) improve product quality.

If the firm's research work requires considerable in-person collaboration, three hours a day of time together will not be sufficient and the firm's plan will lead to decreases in productivity and product quality. This will weaken the management's argument since its plan will not achieve two of its three goals.

A. The presence of new costs associated with flex-time does not weaken the argument that flex-time will decrease total cost as it may well be the case that cost savings outweigh cost increases. In other words, this answer only deals with one side of the equation (cost increases) and not the other side (cost decreases). Consequently, the answer does not enable us to conclude that the argument is weakened since it is entirely possible that on balance, costs will be reduced.
B. Since the firm abandoned it for "unknown reasons," we cannot make a conclusion about the affect of flex-time on costs, productivity, and product quality. It is entirely possible that the competitor abandoned flex-time for reasons not related to these three reasons and, therefore, for reasons not relevant to the argument of the management of the boutique research firm.
C. Since the firm in question performs work that requires frequent and in-person collaboration, it is reasonable to infer that cutting the time spent together at work down from 9 to 3 hours will have a considerable affect on productivity and quality as workers will have severely restricted access to a crucial component of their work (i.e., co-workers).
D. This answer strengthens the argument instead of weakening it. Further, using one employee's situation as an example is not the best grounds to critique an argument.
E. The duration of the project (in and of itself) has nothing to do with costs, productivity, or product quality. Given the information in the question and in this answer, an argument could be made that flex-time will increase quality (employees enjoy their work more with flex-time and work harder).

QUESTION: 13

Due to significant advances in biotechnology, experts predict that within years, doctors will be able to trace the genetic roots of common medical problems such as depression and bi-polar syndrome. As a result, some physicians predict that these conditions and others like them will be all but eliminated through early identification and genetic therapy.
Q. The argument above is based most heavily upon which of the following assumptions?

Solution:

The argument concludes that "common medical problems such as depression" "will be all but eliminated through early identification and genetic therapy." This is based upon the assumption that the only cause of these common medical problems is a treatable genetic deformity. If this assumption proves false (and problems arise from non-genetic issues), the argument's conclusion is not logical as the genetic therapy would not stop common medical problems that were caused by non-genetic factors.

A. The original argument does not pertain to the number of treatments for common medical problems but rather pertains to the ability of early identification and genetic therapy to eliminate common medical problems. Consequently, whether there is only one method (the one described) or one million methods is irrelevant.
B. This answer points out that if common medical problems arise either in part or in whole for reasons that are not genetic, early genetic detection and therapy will not rectify the problem. The assumption that these common medical problems are based entirely on treatable genetic malformations is an essential part of the argument.
C. This may be a logical result (or consequence) if the original argument proves to be true. However, it is not a necessary assumption for the original argument to be true.
D. The original argument pertains to the ability of doctors to treat "common medical problems" when they exist not whether these "common medical problems" exist in everyone. Further, the original argument hinges on the assumption that these problems are rooted in genetic defects and treatable via genetic therapy.
D. The original argument pertains to common medical problems such as depression and not to "each human defect or sickness." Further, the original argument assumes that genetic therapy alone is sufficient to treat the problem while this answer simply states that all human defects or sickness can be traced in part to (and not necessarily treated by) genetics.

QUESTION: 14

A political party considered by many citizens extreme and incompetent is working hard at overcoming what it perceives as an unfair and prejudiced public image. The group believes it is stereotyped simply because it opposes any preemptive military action, which is unpopular, and calls for a 50% reduction in carbon emissions, a cut far more severe than most citizens want.
Q. Which of the following, if true, would most weaken the party's belief about the source of its poor public image?

Solution:

If the political party's belief about the source of its public image is correct (i.e., "it is stereotyped simply because" [i.e., only because] of its position on military action and carbon emissions), any other political party that holds these two views (or more extreme versions of them) will have the same public image (or worse). If it can be shown that another political party hold these same two views (or views citizens consider more extreme) and yet this other party is popular, the argument is weakened. Note that the citizens do not consider the 50% carbon reduction extreme because they view it as too small but because they view it as too large (i.e., "a cut far more severe than most citizens want").

A. In order to undermine the original argument, we must show that a popular party supports both preemptive war and 50+% reductions in carbon emissions. It could be that the electorate will tolerate preemptive war, unless it is accompanied by large carbon cuts—in which case the public cannot tolerate the political party anymore.
B. This answer provides information that is not relevant to the country in question. Although we might be tempted to believe that the attack on the neighboring country changed the attitudes toward preemptive war among citizens of the country in question, we cannot make this assumption, especially since the original question explicitly states that preemptive war "is unpopular" among the despised party's constituents. Further, this does not directly address the carbon reduction issue.
C. This answer shows that a party that is even more extreme on the two issues in question is popular. Consequently, it cannot "simply" be the unpopular party's stance on these two issues that causes the poor public image. Note as well that "unilateral attacks to defend the homeland" include preemptive attacks.
D. The original question implies that the party with a bad public image is unpopular because of its stance against preemptive military action and for environmentalism. If anything, this answer strengthens the original argument instead of weakening it since it provides some evidence that the party's positions on these two issues are a source of unpopularity.
E. This answer only deals with the "preemptive military action" and not the reduction in carbon emissions. Since the original argument depends "simply" (i.e., only) on these two issues and yet this answer only addresses one (and it addresses the one issue by referring back to 20 years ago, when the electorate and country no doubt were much different), this answer does not seriously weaken the original argument.

QUESTION: 15

After studying a random sample of 1024 individuals who had smoked daily for at least three years and comparing the results of this study with the results of a study of 1024 individuals who had never smoked, a group of researchers concluded that habitual smoking causes increased difficulties in concentrating.
Q. Which of the following, if true, most severely weakens the researchers' conclusion?

Solution:

The researchers' conclusion is: "habitual smoking causes increased difficulties in concentrating"

The group of researchers confuses correlation with causation. In other words, the group concludes that a correlation between smoking and an inability to concentrate implies that smoking causes an inability to concentrate. Perhaps it is the other way around and an inability to concentrate causes individuals to become distracted and take up smoking. Evidence to support this counter theory would weaken the researchers' conclusion.

A. This answer strengthens (not weakens) the original argument as it provides an explanation for how habitual smoking increases difficulties in concentrating after becoming hooked.
B. The answer deals only with some ADD non-smokers and some smokers so it does not provide any solid evidence and justification to weaken or reject the original argument. Further, it is not logical to compare the concentration ability of individuals with an attention deficit condition to other individuals who do not have an attention deficit condition.
C. The incarceration rate is irrelevant in determining the relationship between concentration and smoking. Whether smokers are incarcerated at higher or lower rates does not enable us to strengthen or weaken the causal relationship between smoking and concentration proposed in the original argument.
D. This strengthens (not weakens) the original argument as it intensifies the causal relationship between smoking and subsequent difficulties concentrating.
E. This additional study pinpoints that individuals with preexisting (or already established) concentration difficulties subsequently became addicted to smoking. This pinpoints that the smoking could not have caused the attention and concentration difficulties (as these difficulties already existed prior to becoming addicted).

QUESTION: 16

Political Commentator: During the previous presidential administration, members of congress approved large tax cuts and yet the economy today stands in shambles. During the current economic crisis, those who espouse large tax cuts as an economic stimulus should consider the failure of tax cuts during the past eight years to prevent the current economic recession as conclusive evidence that tax cuts will not help the country escape from its current economic troubles.
Q. Which of the following, if true, most weakens the argument above?

Solution:

The political commentator's argument is: "tax cuts will not help the country escape from its current economic troubles." The commentator's evidence for this is the failure of the past administration's tax cuts to prevent the economic recession.

A. This answer identifies that the argument illogically compares apples and oranges (i.e., it compares entirely different types of tax cuts). It is not reasonable to assume that capital gains tax cuts for the ultra-rich will have the same effect as cuts on salary taxes.
B. This answer does not weaken the political commentator's argument since the tax cuts referred to occurred under such radically different circumstances. Further, this answer simply states that tax cuts "helped stem" a recession while the commentator states that tax cuts will "help the country escape" from a recession. Simply helping stem (or slow down) a recession is considerably different (and less impressive) than actually turning around an entire economy in recession.
C. This answer notes that a piece of legislation is widely considered essential to escaping the current recession. However, it does not break down what in the legislation is considered essential (is it tax cuts alone, in which case the commentator's argument is undermined—or is it government spending alone, in which case the commentator's argument is strengthened—or is it both). Without more information, it is impossible to ascertain whether the economists feel the tax cuts currently being proposed will be simulative, anti-simulative, or neither.
D. The political commentator's argument pertains to the tax cuts ability to "help the country escape from its current economic troubles" not the tax cut's effect on the government deficit. Consequently, the effect on the deficit has no bearing on the argument about tax cuts and economic recovery.
E. This answer explicitly states that the campaign contained "many deceptive" political attacks and arguments. Consequently, the credibility of the governor's claim is severely questioned. Further, even if the governor's comments were true, we cannot conclude that the correlation between his state's prosperity and his tax proposals also has a causal relationship (i.e., we cannot conclude that the governor's philosophy of tax cuts caused the state to be prosperous). In other words, correlation does not imply causation. Further, the macroeconomic dynamics of a state are different than the macroeconomic dynamics of a country.

QUESTION: 17

A recent article in one of the nation's leading newspapers noted that despite the government's warning about peanut butter likely being contaminated by salmonella and the government's subsequent recall of a limited amount of peanut butter, 90% of grocery store shoppers surveyed said that they did not plan to change their peanut butter purchasing habits. Nevertheless, roughly two months after the limited recall and one month after the leading newspaper published its article, the country's peanut butter manufacturers reported that same-store sales to grocery store shoppers fell 75% year-over-year.
Q. Which of the following, if true, best explains the apparent paradox above?

Solution:

The paradox: After a government recall of some peanut butter, shoppers indicated that they would not change their peanut butter purchasing habits. However, same-store-sales of peanut butter subsequently fell dramatically.
A.This answer heightens the paradox by making the subsequent fall in sales of peanut butter even more unexplainable since a price cut would have stimulated sales (not provided an explanation for their decline).
B. This answer identifies a correct explanation for the paradox. With stores fearful about lawsuits, they removed peanut butter and consequently "same-store sales to customers fell."
C. Although a tabloid is a much less respected source than a leading newspaper, the fact still remains that the article appeared in a leading newspaper. Further, the source of the news does not explain the discrepancy between individuals' stated intent to continue purchasing peanut butter and the subsequent poor sales figures. If the tabloid as a source were a problem, it would only further increase the paradox over why sales declined (why would consumers seemingly base their decisions upon a tabloid).
D. When the individuals took the survey where they stated their intent to continue purchasing peanut butter, they knew about the op-ed piece as it appeared "days before the newspaper conducted its survey." Consequently, the op-ed cannot explain individuals' switch in behavior (i.e., intending to purchase peanut butter but then deciding not to).
E. The original argument notes that "the country's peanut butter manufacturers" (i.e., every manufacturer accounted for—not limited to the specific type of peanut butter recalled) reported a drop in sales. Although consumers' intention to change the type of jelly and bread they purchased could imply that consumers would change the type of peanut butter they purchased, it does not explain why sales would virtually stop altogether. There is a difference between changing the type of jelly purchased (and by correlation, the type of peanut butter purchased) and stopping purchasing jelly altogether (and by correlation, stopping purchasing peanut butter altogether).

QUESTION: 18

An advertisement for E-News, a subscription-only online newspaper with no ads accompanying its content, argued that individuals should subscribe to E-News so as to eliminate wasted time that results from seeing and ignoring advertisements while attempting to read newspapers that feature ads.
Q. Which of the following, if true, most severely weakens E-News' argument?

Solution:

E-News argues that its subscription service will eliminate the presence of all ads for individuals attempting to read the news. The advertisement implies that this is appealing to news readers since it saves them time. However, there are possible problems with this argument. For example, if E-News partnered with other online content providers, who themselves served up ads, the user would not truly avoid advertisements and would still waste time "seeing and ignoring advertisements while attempting to read."

A. This answer pertains to enjoying reading a news website while the original argument centers on avoiding the "wasted time" that comes from seeing and ignoring advertisements.
B. The original argument centers around "wasted time" not volume of content. Consequently, this answer weakens a point (volume of content) that serves as no support or justification for the original argument (which is based upon "wasted time").
C. Since users of E-News will not be able to entirely (or perhaps even considerably) "eliminate wasted time that results from seeing and ignoring advertisements" since these ads will be part of the online newspaper reading experience through the content network, the argument that users should sign up in order "to eliminate" ads is weakened.
D. This answer does not weaken the crux of the original argument (i.e., avoiding ads eliminates "wasted time"). The original argument is not weakened, it is simply deemed irrelevant to a certain portion of the country.
E. This does not weaken the argument about the user's experience and ability to save time with E-News. The original argument pertains to signing up with E-News in order to save time and this answer does not pertain to signing up with E-News.

QUESTION: 19

In an attempt to abate the pernicious decline in MicroChip's revenue brought about by shrinking demand that is accompanying an economic recession, MicroChip is offering customers a 50% discount for the next three months on all purchases fully paid for within 15 days.
Q. Which of the following assumptions most underlies the chip maker's offer of a discount?

Solution:

In answering this question, we must keep separate revenue and profit. Further, we must separate revenue from all other aspects of the business. It is important to keep in mind that MicroChip's efforts are aimed at increasing revenue so any assumption that does not pertain to revenue is almost certainly unnecessary.

A. This answer addresses "enabling the firm to survive in the long-term." However, the original argument deals with "an attempt to abate the pernicious decline in MicroChip's revenue." In other words, this answer deals with the ability of the firm to survive in the long-term and retain customers instead of addressing how the company will increase its revenue (which is different from the number of customers or the level of profitability). It is not necessary to make an assumption about long-term survival in order to make a conclusion about increasing revenue.
B. Even if there were other companies with lower prices, as long as the other companies do not further lower their prices, it will not affect MicroChip's ability to increase its demand and revenue. Further, the original argument only deals with MicroChip's attempt to increase its revenue. In other words, the original argument deals with MicroChip's ability to raise its revenue on absolute terms→not its ability to raise revenue more than rivals. It is not necessary to make an assumption about other firms' prices in order to make a conclusion about increasing MicroChip's revenue.
C. Although this would improve MicroChip's revenue, it is not a necessary assumption underlying MicroChip's strategy of offering a discount as the company did not need to offer a discount to increase revenue if it assumed the government would stimulate demand on its own. In other words, if MicroChip assumed the government would stimulate demand, MicroChip would not have offered a discount for the discount would not have been necessary.
D. This answer does not address an assumption that underlies increasing revenue, but rather legality. Further, the answer does not state that MicroChip's actions violate a law. Finally, even if the government pursued charges, this would not necessarily decrease revenue (although it would certainly decrease profit as MicroChip would incur legal fees etc.).
E. This answer contains the assumption that directly relates to MicroChip's attempt to increase its revenue. In order for the decrease in price to increase total revenue, the volume of sales must increase as total revenue equals price multiplied by volume.

QUESTION: 20

Based on the results of a recent study, the net value of assets held by young adults or for the benefit of young adults exceeds the net value of assets held by middle-age working professionals with children. The common notion that young adults or so-called "twenty-somethings" are bigger spenders and smaller savers than middle-aged adults is, therefore, false.
Q. The argument is primarily flawed for which of the following reasons?

Solution:

The fundamental flaw in the argument is that it is comparing unlike parts. Specifically, the argument is comparing the net value of assets held by or in the name of a group with the net value of assets held by (and not in the name of) another group. It is quite possible that the large value of assets held for children or beneficiaries (e.g., trusts and estates) comprise large amounts of money.

A. The argument notes that the study considered "the net value of assets" (i.e., assets minus liabilities). Consequently, the study did adequately account for the role of debt in acquiring assets.
B. Eliminating one's debt via bankruptcy would not be unique to the twenty something demographic nor would debt spending change the value of net assets held in one's name.
C. The information about the tax code does not undermine the conclusion of the study. Instead, it simply provides an explanation for why the value of assets (not necessarily net assets) is larger than expected among twenty somethings (i.e., tax incentives fueled it).
D. The argument is not based upon the exact amount of spending between age groups. Rather, the argument is based upon relative spending and saving between age groups.
E. The argument compares the assets held by and for the benefit of someone with the assets held by (and not for) a different type of person. This unlike comparison is not sufficient logical grounds to make an argument comparing the two groups.

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