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Critical Reasoning

This topic has 1 expert reply and 2 member replies

Critical Reasoning

In a recent study, a building trade group found that there are more fireplaces in the Southeastern portion of the United States than there are in either the Northeast or Upper Midwest. This finding is surprising, given that fireplaces produce heat and that both the Northeast and Upper Midwest are much colder, on average, than the Southeast, where warmer average temperatures mean that the season during which a fireplace could be used is much shorter.
Each of the following, if true, would help to explain the above discrepancy EXCEPT:

A) On average, houses in the Southeast are newer than those in the other two regions and newer houses are more likely to have added amenities, such as fireplaces

B) When outside air temperatures are very cold, fireplaces can actually decrease the temperature in a house by allowing an influx of cold air to come down the chimney when a fire is not lit.

C) Homeowners in colder regions are more likely to have a stove, rather than a fireplace, because a stove produces much more heat while a fireplace is largely aesthetic.

D) Compared with those in the other two regions, many more of the fireplaces in the Southeast use natural gas as a fuel instead of wood, producing very little heat but making them much cheaper and easier to use than wood stoves.

E) Although once an important part of home heating, fireplaces have now largely become status symbols for fashionable homeowners.

I marked B as the answer-I dint understand why it is wrong

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22 Feb 2010
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This question is from the Veritas Prep free question bank (over 7 million questions have been served from the question bank so far!) Here is the link if you want to try the question bank for yourself http://www.veritasprep.com/gmat-question-bank/

The funny thing is that I actually wrote this question a few years ago! I wrote it because I had lived in the Southeastern U.S. near Atlanta, Georgia and noticed that most new homes down there had fireplaces. When I moved to New England near Boston I then saw that very few houses had fireplaces. I then researched the reasons why this is true.

The 4 incorrect answers to this question are all things that DO explain why there are more fireplaces in the Southeastern U.S. (and all 4 came up in my research so they are pretty true as well).

I just looked at the statistics on the question and it is an interesting one. The question does not seem to do a great job of differentiating test-takers. The curve is sort of flat meaning that a high-level test-taker is not much more likely to get this right than is a lower-level test-taker.

Perhaps this one needs a little bit of an edit!

Anyway here is the reason why B is not the correct answer (the Official Answer is E).

B is not the correct answer because it DOES explain why there are not more fireplaces in the colder region - the Northeastern U.S. and the Upper Midwest of the U.S. If fireplaces do allow cold air to sink down the chimney and actually make the house colder, then you would not want to have these installed in your house if you lived somewhere that is very cold!

It is true that the cold air would also be a problem in the warmer Southeastern U.S. but it would be a problem for a much shorter part of the year and any air that came into the room from the fireplace would not be as cold.

The reason that choice E does not explain and is therefore the correct answer is that this could apply anywhere in the country. People in the Northeast and Upper Midwest might want to be fashionable as well. So this one does not explain the paradox.

That is the question and that is my explanation. I know that this one needs an edit in order for it to do a better job of differentiating among the ability levels of test-takers.

If anyone has suggestions for an edit I would be glad to hear them!


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Newbie | Next Rank: 10 Posts Default Avatar
14 Jul 2015
7 messages
Hi David,
Thanks for explanation, and glad to meet the orignial author of the question. Smile
Regarding E), based on the explanations on E), I automatically assumed that there are more houses with fireplaces in Southeast because homeowners in the Southeast are more interested in the fashionable homes. Did I go too far to conlcude this?


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Junior | Next Rank: 30 Posts
10 Sep 2016
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i just answered the question and answered option B
i am not able to understand the reason behind the official option E :if its a fashionable item some will keep it some won't keep it there fore the discrepancy occurs
while option B is point common to both and therefore may not explain the difference and should be correct


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