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# In the past the country of Malvernia has relied heavily on

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In the past the country of Malvernia has relied heavily on [#permalink]  26 Oct 2010, 07:51
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In the past the country of Malvernia has relied heavily on imported oil. Malvernia recently implemented a program to convert heating systems from oil to natural gas. Malvernia currently produces more natural gas each year than it uses, and oil production in Malvernian oil fields is increasing at a steady pace. If these trends in fuel production and usage continue, therefore, Malvernian reliance on foreign sources for fuel is likely to decline soon.

Which of the following would it be most useful to establish in evaluating the argument?

(A) When, if ever, will production of oil in Malvernia outstrip production of natural gas?

(B) Is Malvernia among the countries that rely most on imported oil?

(C) What proportion of Malvernia's total energy needs is met by hydroelectric, solar, and nuclear power?

(D) Is the amount of oil used each year in Malvernia for generating electricity and fuel for transportation
increasing?

(E) Have any existing oil-burning heating systems in Malvernia already been converted to natural-gas-burning
heating systems?
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA

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Re: The country of Malvernia [#permalink]  05 Nov 2010, 14:41
12
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Hi guys,

Looks like there's some confusion on this one, so let's give it a closer look. Thabk's emphasis on the conclusion is important (and correct). When a CR question asks what would be most useful to evaluate "the argument", really it is asking you what would help evaluate the conclusion. The conclusion here is clearly marked by the keyword "therefore": "Malvernian reliance on foreign sources for fuel is likely to decline soon."

And what would help evaluate the conclusion? An answer choice that will (depending on what is established) either strengthen or weaken that conclusion. So really, you can treat this kind of question as either Strengthen or Weaken, but in my experience it's usually easiest to treat these "useful to evaluate" questions as Weaken. Think of it this way: The author's argument is missing some information (what it would be useful to establish), and therefore there is a gap between his evidence and his conclusion. The correct answer would expose that gap, just as it would in a standard Weaken question.

To the stimulus. On first reading, it seems like a pretty reasonable argument. The Malvernians have relied on imported oil in the past, but they may be able to turn that around, for two reasons:

1. They're switching from oil to natural gas, of which they have a plentiful supply.
2. Domestic oil production is increasing.

If domestic oil supply is going up and demand is going down, it seems almost inevitable that their reliance on imported oil will decrease. However, note the limited scope of the first premise: they aren't switching ALL oil usage to natural gas, only the fuel used in their heating systems. We actually don't know anything about the overall demand for oil. That is the gap in the author's reasoning. Choice D exploits this gap: if the amount of oil used for non-heating purposes (generating electricity and transportation) is increasing, then the overall demand for oil might still be increasing too fast for domestic oil production to keep pace (even though production is increasing as well).

E seems to be the most popular wrong answer choice, so let's talk about that one too. It references the heating systems mentioned in the stimulus, so it's tempting. However, remember that we need to evaluate the conclusion. Will the fact that some oil-burning systems have already been converted to natural gas affect whether Malvernian reliance on foreign sources for fuel "is likely to decline soon"? Not really. Whether the conversions have already started or not, they will happen, so in effect this answer neither adds to nor takes anything away from the argument. Now, you could get into all sorts of complicated logic to convince yourself that E is the answer -- Like, maybe because the conversions have started, that means that the all the conversions will happen faster, and maybe if the conversions happen faster it's more likely that reliance on foreign oil will decline soon... Maybe, maybe, maybe. This kind of speculative thinking is never required on the GMAT (and in fact can be disastrous). The correct answer on a Strengthen or Weaken question must DIRECTLY affect the conclusion -- not after multiple steps. Don't overthink CR answer choices!

However, as this question shows, it is extremely important to read the stimulus carefully and note the specific wording involved. Better to spend a little extra time up front to understand the stimulus rather than flounder around with the answer choices, not knowing what you're looking for. Ideally on this question you would be able to predict, in vague from, what the answer will look like before reading the answer choices. However, this isn't always possible. As long as you have a good understanding of the stimulus you should be fine.

Hope that sheds some light on this question.

Happy studying...
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Re: The country of Malvernia [#permalink]  26 Oct 2010, 12:34
In the past the country of Malvernia has relied heavily on imported oil. Malvernia recently implemented a program to convert heating systems from oil to natural gas. Malvernia currently produces more natural gas each year than it uses, and oil production in Malvernian oil fields is increasing at a steady pace. If these trends in fuel production and usage continue, therefore, Malvernian reliance on foreign sources for fuel is likely to decline soon.

Which of the following would it be most useful to establish in evaluating the argument?

(A) When, if ever, will production of oil in Malvernia outstrip production of natural gas? - evaluating this is irrelevant. this does not test if the replacing natural gas with oil, and with oil production increasing foreign dependency will stop.

(B) Is Malvernia among the countries that rely most on imported oil? - out of scope

(C) What proportion of Malvernia's total energy needs is met by hydroelectric, solar, and nuclear power? - again, introducing new elements. out of scope

(D) Is the amount of oil used each year in Malvernia for generating electricity and fuel for transportation
increasing? - same as C, introducing new elements. If the question was evaluating the conclusion THEN this would be the best to evaluate "indeed if reliance on foreign countries on oil will decrease"

(E) Have any existing oil-burning heating systems in Malvernia already been converted to natural-gas-burning
heating systems? - this helps to evaluate the argument as per stated in the argument "Malvernia recently implemented a program to convert heating systems from oil to natural gas - and required to evaluate the argument

E it is
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Re: The country of Malvernia [#permalink]  30 Oct 2010, 15:08
I will go with E.
My reason to counter D is 'why does one need to know the usage of oil in producing electricity each year'?
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Re: The country of Malvernia [#permalink]  31 Oct 2010, 00:51
Sure of the OA? Its OG question right?
Yep Q 74 Og 12 Ans is D.What if the country’s need for oil was going to rise drastically in the coming years?
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Re: The country of Malvernia [#permalink]  31 Oct 2010, 07:14
metallicafan wrote:
In the past the country of Malvernia has relied heavily on imported oil. Malvernia recently implemented a program to convert heating systems from oil to natural gas. Malvernia currently produces more natural gas each year than it uses, and oil production in Malvernian oil fields is increasing at a steady pace. If these trends in fuel production and usage continue, therefore, Malvernian reliance on foreign sources for fuel is likely to decline soon. --Conclusion.

Which of the following would it be most useful to establish in evaluating the argument?

(A) When, if ever, will production of oil in Malvernia outstrip production of natural gas? - doesnt address the conclusion

(B) Is Malvernia among the countries that rely most on imported oil? - OOS-

(C) What proportion of Malvernia's total energy needs is met by hydroelectric, solar, and nuclear power? - Irrelevant-

(D) Is the amount of oil used each year in Malvernia for generating electricity and fuel for transportation increasing? [color=#FF0000]correct. If it increased and the rate of increase is more than the rate of production then the country will continue to depend externally for oil[/color]

(E) Have any existing oil-burning heating systems in Malvernia already been converted to natural-gas-burning heating systems - Doesnt address the conclusion.
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Re: The country of Malvernia [#permalink]  06 Nov 2010, 08:58
Ans = D

argument :
1.)shifting items 4m oil to natural gas ---> to decrease oil use as more natural gas available
2.) Oil production increasing

1.) + 2.) ----> reduce dependence on imported oil.

But this will be possible as supply >= demand. So, we need to throw some light on the demand side. i.e. D
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Re: In the past the country of Malvernia has relied heavily on [#permalink]  21 Sep 2012, 03:34
Really admire and appreciate Mark's response! I got stuck in E and his explanation is the most thorough and persuasive one I've found now. All my doubts between D and E can be perfectly swiped off.
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Re: The country of Malvernia [#permalink]  03 Dec 2012, 02:58
VeritasPrepMark wrote:
Hi guys,

Looks like there's some confusion on this one, so let's give it a closer look. Thabk's emphasis on the conclusion is important (and correct). When a CR question asks what would be most useful to evaluate "the argument", really it is asking you what would help evaluate the conclusion. The conclusion here is clearly marked by the keyword "therefore": "Malvernian reliance on foreign sources for fuel is likely to decline soon."

And what would help evaluate the conclusion? An answer choice that will (depending on what is established) either strengthen or weaken that conclusion. So really, you can treat this kind of question as either Strengthen or Weaken, but in my experience it's usually easiest to treat these "useful to evaluate" questions as Weaken. Think of it this way: The author's argument is missing some information (what it would be useful to establish), and therefore there is a gap between his evidence and his conclusion. The correct answer would expose that gap, just as it would in a standard Weaken question.

To the stimulus. On first reading, it seems like a pretty reasonable argument. The Malvernians have relied on imported oil in the past, but they may be able to turn that around, for two reasons:

1. They're switching from oil to natural gas, of which they have a plentiful supply.
2. Domestic oil production is increasing.

If domestic oil supply is going up and demand is going down, it seems almost inevitable that their reliance on imported oil will decrease. However, note the limited scope of the first premise: they aren't switching ALL oil usage to natural gas, only the fuel used in their heating systems. We actually don't know anything about the overall demand for oil. That is the gap in the author's reasoning. Choice D exploits this gap: if the amount of oil used for non-heating purposes (generating electricity and transportation) is increasing, then the overall demand for oil might still be increasing too fast for domestic oil production to keep pace (even though production is increasing as well).

E seems to be the most popular wrong answer choice, so let's talk about that one too. It references the heating systems mentioned in the stimulus, so it's tempting. However, remember that we need to evaluate the conclusion. Will the fact that some oil-burning systems have already been converted to natural gas affect whether Malvernian reliance on foreign sources for fuel "is likely to decline soon"? Not really. Whether the conversions have already started or not, they will happen, so in effect this answer neither adds to nor takes anything away from the argument. Now, you could get into all sorts of complicated logic to convince yourself that E is the answer -- Like, maybe because the conversions have started, that means that the all the conversions will happen faster, and maybe if the conversions happen faster it's more likely that reliance on foreign oil will decline soon... Maybe, maybe, maybe. This kind of speculative thinking is never required on the GMAT (and in fact can be disastrous). The correct answer on a Strengthen or Weaken question must DIRECTLY affect the conclusion -- not after multiple steps. Don't overthink CR answer choices!

However, as this question shows, it is extremely important to read the stimulus carefully and note the specific wording involved. Better to spend a little extra time up front to understand the stimulus rather than flounder around with the answer choices, not knowing what you're looking for. Ideally on this question you would be able to predict, in vague from, what the answer will look like before reading the answer choices. However, this isn't always possible. As long as you have a good understanding of the stimulus you should be fine.

Hope that sheds some light on this question.

Happy studying...

Thank you experts,
you said that we should predict what to look for in the answer choices . I do not understand this point, pls explain more. we predict what and how we predict. when do you do this predicting? for what kind of question we do this predicting. How do the predicting help? do veritas write any book on this point, pls explain,share.
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Re: In the past the country of Malvernia has relied heavily on [#permalink]  26 Feb 2014, 06:54
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Re: In the past the country of Malvernia has relied heavily on [#permalink]  26 Feb 2014, 07:27
Got D!
If the amt. of oil consumed increases then the claim of decline in reliance on imported oil may be weakened.Even the increased domestic production might not be sufficient.

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Re: In the past the country of Malvernia has relied heavily on [#permalink]  05 Mar 2014, 14:32
Hi,
I know the answer is (d), but just wanted a proper reasoning for option (a).
Its asking when the production of oil outstrip the production of Natural Gas. Now, we know that for an ideal scenario, if the production of any product increases or atleast matches the consumption, then we can say there is no need to import that product and we can just be satisfied.
We know that the production of Natural Gas is more than it is consumed. If I answer, say, 2 years for the question asked in option (a), it means that after 2 years production of oil will outstrip that of natural gas. Hence, we will be certain that production of oil in the country is more than its consumption as it is so for natural gas. Thus, we can ascertained that there will be no need of any foreign dependency for oil. However, if we answer that it is not possible ever (as the question asks if ever), we can be sure that the production of oil can never match its Consumption. Thus, there will always remain some foreign dependency. Thus, answers to option (a) aptly target both production and consumption of oil.
However, in option (d), we are just considering the consumption of oil, that may increase in other sectors such as electricity and transportation. We are not talking about the production. There may be a case in which the local production (as its been stated that Malvernia has started its own oil production) of oil may not be able to reach the demands or the local production might exceed the demand. Nothing is talked about the production. So, I thought this option might not be the answer.
I will be really obliged if some expert could criticize my reasoning and tell me where I am wrong.
Re: In the past the country of Malvernia has relied heavily on   [#permalink] 05 Mar 2014, 14:32
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