Executive Assessment: Verbal Strategies – Part 5

by on January 1st, 2018

verbalWelcome to the fifth installment of Verbal Strategies for the EA! If you’re just joining us now, you may want to head back the first part and proceed from there.

It’s got another new type for you this time: Reading Comprehension (RC). These two problems are labeled #1 and #3 in the free CR set on the official EA website, as of December 2017. Give yourself about 5 minutes total to read the passage and answer both questions. We’ll discuss the first one today and the second one next time.

“The following question(s are) based on material written in 1996: The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, signed in 1987 by more than 150 nations, has attained its short-term goals: it has decreased the rate of increase in amounts of most ozone-depleting chemicals reaching the atmosphere and has even reduced the atmospheric levels of some of them. The projection that the ozone layer will substantially recover from ozone depletion by 2050 is based on the assumption that the protocol’s regulations will be strictly followed. Yet there is considerable evidence of violations, particularly in the form of the release of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which are commonly used in the refrigeration, heating, and air-conditioning industries. These violations reflect industry attitudes; for example, in the United States, 48% of respondents in a recent survey of subscribers to Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration News, an industry trade journal, said that they did not believe that CFCs damage the ozone layer. Moreover, some in the industry apparently do not want to pay for CFC substitutes, which can run five times the cost of CFCs. Consequently, a black market in imported illicit CFCs has grown. Estimates of the contraband CFC trade range from 10,000 to 22,000 tons a year, with most of the CFCs originating in India and China, whose agreements under the Protocol still allow them to produce CFCs. In fact, the United States Customs Service reports that CFC-12 is a contraband problem second only to illicit drugs.

“The passage suggests which of the following about the illicit trade in CFCs?

“(A) It would cease if manufacturers in India and China stopped producing CFCs.

“(B) Most people who participate in such trade do not believe that CFCs deplete the ozone layer.

“(C) It will probably surpass illicit drugs as the largest contraband problem faced by the United States Customs Service.

“(D) It is fostered by people who do not want to pay the price of CFC substitutes.

“(E) It has grown primarily because of the expansion of the refrigeration, heating, and air-conditioning industries in foreign countries.”

“According to the passage, which of the following best describes most ozone-depleting chemicals in 1996 as compared to those in 1987?

“(A) The levels of such chemicals in the atmosphere had decreased.

“(B) The number of such chemicals that reached the atmosphere had declined.

“(C) The amounts of such chemicals released had increased but the amounts that reached the atmosphere had decreased.

“(D) The rate of increase in amounts of such chemicals reaching the atmosphere had decreased.

“(E) The rate at which such chemicals were being reduced in the atmosphere had slowed.”

Ready? First, let’s break down that passage.

Wall of Text. I hate it when the passage is just one big paragraph. Look for an opportunity to split this thing into “first half” and “second half” based on some logical or organizational reason (that is, based on the actual content). Let’s go.

Note: DTL is my shorthand for detail—it means “the passage had some detail here that might be important but I didn’t want to figure out how to write down, so I’m noting where it is.”

MP: met ST goal: DTL

Proj: OL recover by 2050

But: some violating, don’t “believe” (US)

black mkt: China India → US

Tell yourself the basic story in simple words. There’s an international protocol to fix the ozone layer, and it has met its short-term goals, but there’s strong reason to believe that it may not meet its long-term goal. Companies don’t want to pay higher costs and this is leading to a black market in the US. Plus lots of detail about exactly how this is playing out.

The first half, roughly, is about the protocol itself and the second half is more about the violations and black market.

The first question asks about the illicit trade, so we know we’re going to be using the second half of the passage to answer this question.

 

Further, that question uses the word suggests, which indicates an Inference question; these can appear on both RC and CR.

An Inference question asks you to deduce or conclude something from evidence presented in the passage. This deduction has to be scientifically sound—it must be able to be concluded. Something that just might be true is not a good enough answer on an Inference question (though it is a tempting trap answer!).

 

Once you’ve identified the question type, go to the evidence—the passage. What does it say about the illicit trade? Re-read that part of the passage (the second half) and remind yourself of the basic facts given.

  • lots of violations, especially of  CFCs
  • about half of people in affected US industries “don’t believe” that CFCs damage OL
  • black market to import CFCs is growing; products come from India and China (who are allowed to make these)
  • the CFC black market in the US is second only to illegal drugs!

 

Step 3 asks you to predict an answer. On an Inference question, you may not be able to outright predict the answer, but you can say that you are looking for an answer that must be true given the facts in the passage. Keep coming back to those facts.

 

“(A) It would cease if manufacturers in India and China stopped producing CFCs.”

The passage definitely indicates that India and China are currently producing products for the black market, but it says only that these countries produce most of the products, not all of them. (And even if they did produce all of them, you can’t say conclusively that some other country wouldn’t start if India and China stopped.) Eliminate choice (A); it does not have to be true.

“(B) Most people who participate in such trade do not believe that CFCs deplete the ozone layer.”

The passage indicates that just under 50% of people who responded to a certain survey don’t believe this, but the passage does not indicate what percentage of those people also engage in illicit trade. (And, in any event, 48% does not qualify as most people.) Eliminate choice (B).

“(C) It will probably surpass illicit drugs as the largest contraband problem faced by the United States Customs Service.”

This is possible, but not certain. The passage provides no information as to how the illicit drug trade and the illicit CFC trade are growing relative to each other. Eliminate choice (C).

“(D) It is fostered by people who do not want to pay the price of CFC substitutes.”

Hmmm … the passage did say something about people not wanting to pay for something … re-read that again. Here it is:

“Moreover, some in the industry apparently do not want to pay for CFC substitutes, which can run five times the cost of CFCs. Consequently, a black market in imported illicit CFCs has grown.”

Ah! The key word here is consequently. Some don’t want to pay … consequently a black market has grown. The passage is saying that these specific people are one of the main causes of the development of the black market—so, yes, according to the passage, this has to be true. (You are supposed to accept that what the passage tells you is true.)

Let’s check the final answer, just to be sure.

“(E) It has grown primarily because of the expansion of the refrigeration, heating, and air-conditioning industries in foreign countries.”

The example given is about these three industries, true—but who are the foreign countries referenced in this choice? The market is growing in the US—and that’s the only country mentioned in which there is an illicit market for CFCs (remember, it’s still legal to produce these appliances in India and China). At the very least, the answer choice would need to say foreign country singular, not foreign countries plural. (And it’s questionable whether it would be appropriate to refer to the passage’s primary example, the US, as a foreign country. If the information is primarily US-oriented, then other countries would be foreign countries relative to the US.)

The correct answer is (D).

Key Takeaways for EA Reading Comprehension:

(1) RC is similar to CR: Identify the question first. Then dive back into the passage to find the particular sentence or sentences you need to help you predict your own answer. Finally, start eliminating bad answers and looking for an answer that matches your prediction.

(2) On Inference questions, the EA is holding you to a high standard. A proper inference is something that can be definitively concluded from the evidence presented in the passage. (Do accept the information given in the passage as true.)

(3) Turn that knowledge into Know the Code flash cards:

* Executive Assessment questions courtesy of the Graduate Management Admissions Council. Usage of this question does not imply endorsement by GMAC.

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