Critical Reasoning | 5 Questions
1. A factory was trying out a new process for producing one of its products, with the goal of reducing production costs. A trial production run using the new process showed a fifteen percent reduction in costs compared with past performance using the standard process. The production managers therefore concluded that the new process did produce a cost savings.
Question: Which of the following, if true, casts most doubt on the production managers' conclusion?
A. In the cost reduction project that eventually led to the trial of the new process, production managers had initially been seeking cost reductions of fifty percent.
B. Analysis of the trial of the new process showed that the cost reduction during the trial was entirely attributable to a reduction in the number of finished products rejected by quality control.
C. While the trial was being conducted, production costs at the factory for a similar product, produced without benefit of the new process, also showed a fifteen percent reduction.
D. Although some of the factory's managers have been arguing that the product is outdated and ought to be redesigned, the use of the new production process does not involve any changes in the finished product.
E. Since the new process differs from the standard process only in the way in which the stages of production are organized and ordered, the cost of the materials used in the product is the same in both processes.
Answer Explanation: The managers concluded that the new process produced a cost savings on the basis of a trial run of the process in which costs were 15 percent lower than they had been previously. You are asked to identify something that casts doubt on their conclusion.
Choice C is the best answer. If production costs at the factory fell for a similar product that was produced without using the new process, it is more doubtful that the observed production cost reductions achieved during the trial run were actually produced by the new process.
Choice A is incorrect; the fact that the managers had hoped for cost reduction of fifty percent does not cast any doubt on their conclusion that the new process had produced at least some savings. Choice B is incorrect since finding the source of the cost savings in the trial shows that the savings were no mere accident and so reinforces the managers' conclusion. Choices D and E are incorrect since by emphasizing that certain aspects of the product — its design and raw materials — were the same in the standard process and the new process, these two answer choices support, rather than cast doubt on, the conclusion that the process itself produced the savings.
2. Passengers must exit airplanes swiftly after accidents, since gases released following accidents are toxic to humans and often explode soon after being released. In order to prevent passenger deaths from gas inhalation, safety officials recommend that passengers be provided with smoke hoods that prevent inhalation of the gases.
Which of the following, if true, constitutes the strongest reason not to require implementation of the safety officials' recommendation?
A. Test evacuations showed that putting on the smoke hoods added considerably to the overall time it took passengers to leave the cabin.
B. Some airlines are unwilling to buy the smoke hoods because they consider them to be prohibitively expensive.
C. Although the smoke hoods protect passengers from the toxic gases, they can do nothing to prevent the gases from igniting.
D. Some experienced flyers fail to pay attention to the safety instructions given on every commercial flight before takeoff.
E. In many airplane accidents, passengers who were able to reach emergency exits were overcome by toxic gases before they could exit the airplane.
A strong reason for rejecting the recommendation would be that the hoods endanger passengers. Passengers delayed in exiting the plane are more exposed to the risk of a gas explosion. Choice A says that the hoods would delay passengers and is thus the best answer.
If some airlines are unwilling to buy the hoods, it might be necessary to require them to, so B is incorrect. That the hoods protect from only one major risk is no reason in itself for rejection, so C is not correct. That some passengers ignore safety instructions is also no reason for rejection, so D is incorrect. Choice E is not a good answer; it supports the recommendation by indication that the hoods might enable more passengers to exit a plane.
3. The program to control the entry of illegal drugs into the country was a failure in 1987. If the program had been successful, the wholesale price of most illegal drugs would not have dropped substantially in 1987.
Question: The argument in the passage depends on which of the following assumptions?
A. The supply of illegal drugs dropped substantially in 1987.
B. The price paid for most illegal drugs by the average consumer did not drop substantially in 1987.
C. Domestic production of illegal drugs increased at a higher rate than did the entry of such drugs into the country.
D. The wholesale price of a few illegal drugs increased substantially in 1987.
E. A drop in demand for most illegal drugs in 1987 was not the sole cause of the drop in their wholesale price.
Answer Explanation: The only choice that must be true in order to conclude legitimately from the drop in wholesale price of illegal drugs that the program was a failure is choice E, the best answer. If the drop in price was caused by a drop in demand, there is no reason to suspect that there has been any increase in supply caused by drugs entering the country.
The other choices can be false without affecting the argument. The supply of illegal drugs need not have dropped (choice A), and the retail price could have dropped (choice B). The entry of illegal drugs could have risen at a higher rate than domestic production (choice C), and no illegal drug need have undergone a substantial price rise (choice D).
4. Property taxes are typically set at a flat rate per $1,000 of officially assessed value. Reassessments should be frequent in order to remove distortions that arise when property values change at differential rates. In practice, however, reassessments typically occur when they benefit the government—that is, when their effect is to increase total tax revenue.
Question: If the statements above are true, which of the following describes a situation in which a reassessment should occur but is unlikely to do so?
a) Property values have risen sharply and uniformly.
b) Property values have all risen—some very sharply, some less so.
c) Property values have for the most part risen sharply; yet some have dropped slightly.
d) Property values have for the most part dropped significantly; yet some have risen slightly.
e) Property values have dropped significantly and uniformly.
Answer Explanation: If most property values have dropped significantly, but some have risen slightly, a reassessment should occur (since values have changed at different rates) but is unlikely (since it will not benefit the government). Thus choice D describes the required situation and is the best answer.
According to the passage, choices A and E describe the situations in which there is no need for a reassessment, since change has occurred uniformly. Similarly, choices B and C both describe situations in which a reassessment should occur, and is likely to, since the government will benefit.
5. To persuade consumers to buy its personal computers for home use, SuperComp has enlisted computer dealers in shopping centers to carry its product and launched a major advertising campaign that has already increased public awareness of the SuperComp brand. Despite the fact that these dealers achieved dramatically increased sales of computers last month, however, analysts doubt that SuperComp’s products accounted for much of that increase.
Which of the following, if true, best supports the claim that the analysts’ doubt is well founded?
A. In market surveys, few respondents who had been exposed to SuperComp’s advertising campaign said they thought there was no point in owning a home computer.
B. People who own a home computer often buy a second such computer, but only rarely do people buy a third computer.
C. SuperComp’s dealers also sell other brands of computers that are very similar to SuperComp’s but less expensive and that afford the dealers a significantly higher markup.
D. The dealers who were chosen to sell SuperComp’s computers were selected in part because their stores are located in shopping centers that attract relatively wealthy shoppers.
E. Computer-industry analysts believed before the SuperComp campaign began that most consumers who already owned home computers were not yet ready to replace them.
The passage states that the stores through which SuperComp is selling its computers are experiencing dramatically increased sales. Analysts doubt, however, that SuperComp's plan for selling tis computers for home use is really working. The question asks you to identify a fact that justifies the analysts' doubt.
Choice C is the best answer. If consumers who are drawn to a SuperComp dealer find less expensive alternatives that the dealer has a strong incentive to sell to them, the analysts' doubt is justified, since it is likely that the increase in the dealer's sales is due not to sales of SuperComp's computers, but rather to sales of these other brands.