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Veritas CAT Question Doubt

This topic has 2 expert replies and 0 member replies

Veritas CAT Question Doubt

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On average, schools that provide an extra recess period each day during which children are allowed unstructured play score higher on state aptitude tests than schools that do not provide such a recess period. Therefore, the test scores at Malthus Elementary would likely improve if the school adds a recess period of unstructured play.

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

A. Nearly all of the schools providing the extra unstructured recess period provided it to reward students for their performance on the aptitude tests.
B.Schools that add an extra period of recess perform better than schools that merely switch from structured to unstructured recess.
C.Malthus already enjoys above average scores on the aptitude tests in question.
D.An extra recess period allows students less time to study for their aptitude tests.
E.Malthus formerly had an extra period of recess.

The correct answer is A. Can anyone please explain? Urgent

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Whenever we're asked to WEAKEN an argument, we must first find the logical flaw: what's the missing piece between the premises and the conclusion?

Premises: On average, schools that provide an extra recess period each day during which children are allowed unstructured play score higher on state aptitude tests than schools that do not provide such a recess period.

Conclusion: the test scores at Malthus Elementary would likely improve if the school adds a recess period of unstructured play.

Missing information: we're told that there's a CORRELATION between unstructured play and test scores, but do we know that it's CAUSAL? There might be some other reason that unstructured play and high test scores tend to be found together, but that increasing structured play won't increase test scores.

Analogous argument: on average, people with larger shoe sizes are more likely to become professional basketball players than people with smaller shoes. Therefore, if you want to increase your chances of becoming a professional basketball player, just buy larger shoes.
This clearly doesn't make sense. Shoe size and likelihood of playing professional basketball are correlated, but not causal. There is an outside factor linking them: height! Buying bigger shoes won't make you taller, so it won't make you more likely to play professional basketball.

Any time you see a CORRELATION in an argument, ask yourself - are these causal? Will changing one factor directly impact the other? Or is there some outside factor? Is it a coincidence? Etc.

Our goal:
Look for an answer choice that suggests that unstructured play is NOT the cause of high test scores - that there is some other cause, or that the correlation can be explained in some other way.

A. Nearly all of the schools providing the extra unstructured recess period provided it to reward students for their performance on the aptitude tests.
Bingo! This suggests that high test scores cause unstructured play, not the other way around. This explains why we see a correlation, but suggests that increasing unstructured play will NOT have an impact on test scores.

B. Schools that add an extra period of recess perform better than schools that merely switch from structured to unstructured recess.
Irrelevant. Our argument was specifically about whether adding unstructured play would increase test scores.

C. Malthus already enjoys above average scores on the aptitude tests in question.
It doesn't matter whether our starting point was high or low to begin with. The argument was about whether it would improve, period.

D. An extra recess period allows students less time to study for their aptitude tests.
This seems to go against the premises given, and we don't want to do that. We are already told that unstructured play and test scores are correlated - don't choose any answer that seems to contradict the facts given.

E. Malthus formerly had an extra period of recess.
What happened in the past is not relevant. They used to have extra recess - when? Was it structured or unstructured? What were the test scores like back then? Without knowing any of these things, we have no idea how it relates to the present case.

The answer is A - the only answer that acknowledged the CORRELATION, but gave us a different explanation for CAUSATION.

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Ceilidh Erickson
Manhattan Prep GMAT & GRE instructor
EdM in Mind, Brain, and Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education


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CORRELATION v. CAUSATION is a very common theme in CR arguments. If you notice this type of argument on Find Assumption, Strengthen, Weaken, or Evaluate questions, the right answer will almost certainly address the causation, so you want to recognize these right away.

For more examples, see:
https://www.beatthegmat.com/climate-v-s-human-t163641.html#559011
https://www.beatthegmat.com/men-and-women-that-those-who-marry-as-young-adults-live-long-t295341.html
https://www.beatthegmat.com/operating-room-temperature-t173262.html#577452
https://www.beatthegmat.com/smoking-teenagers-t275209.html#714761
https://www.beatthegmat.com/gmat-prep-question-pack-1-cr-when-a-city-experiences-a-sharp-t295121.html#792926

_________________


Ceilidh Erickson
Manhattan Prep GMAT & GRE instructor
EdM in Mind, Brain, and Education
Harvard Graduate School of Education


Manhattan Prep instructors all have 99th+ percentile scores and expert teaching experience.
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