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# Reading skills among high school students in Gotham have

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13 Sep 2010, 09:59
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43% (02:18) correct 57% (01:22) wrong based on 564 sessions

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Reading skills among high school students in Gotham have been steadily declining, which can only be the result of overcrowding in the schools.

Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument expressed above?

a) The high school system in Gotham succeeds in giving students a good education at considerably less cost than do most systems.
b) Several cities have found that overcrowding in the schools is not always associated with lower reading scores.
c) Gotham schools have a greater teacher-to-student ratio than most other school systems.
d) Students' reading skills have not declined in other cities where the high schools are just as crowded as those of Gotham.
e) Schools are not overcrowded in many cities where high school reading scores have declined more than they have in Gotham.

Please justify your options. I feel two options (d & e) are correct. Stimulus suggests that overcrowding in the schools (cause) leads to decline in reading skills among high school students in Gotham (Effect).
Option d states effect does not occur even when the cause occurs.
Option e states effect occurs even when cause has not occurred.
How do you justify one option over the other as both seem to weaken the argument.
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA
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13 Sep 2010, 11:02
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My thoughts:

Keyword is ONLY. i.e. Overcrowding is a necessary condition for decline in reading skills. Hence, conclusion is: If Decline, then Overcrowding.

E states: some non-overcrowded schools experience decline reading skills. It effectively means that if Decline then NOT necessarily overcrowding. Hence, weakens conclusion.

D simply says that there is no decline in reading skills for some overcrowded schools. It does nothing to the conclusion because the conclusion does not talk about the scenario when there is no decline in reading skills.
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13 Sep 2010, 11:58
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Cause -> Effect

Overcrowding -> Declining in reading skills

Both options are equally attractive. But this is one slight different. It is the use of the word "crowd" vs "overcrowd". A typical shell game. D is saying that the other cities' high school do not experiene decline in the reading skill even though the schools are as crowded as those of Gotham. "Crowd" does not mean "overcrowd". It could also mean "same population" and the other cities's schools have more teachers.

E is specific about the word "overcrowd". Also, it is saying that schools that are not "overcrowded" are also experiening the same effect (i.e. decline in reading skills)
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14 Sep 2010, 00:11
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the conclusion says the overcrowd in the school is causing the decline in the reading skills.
To weaken this one, we have to show that the overcrowd is not the only reason for the decine in reading skills.

Now in D
Students' reading skills have not declined in other cities where the high schools are just as crowded as those of Gotham.
it says, there are other cities which are as crowded as Gotham, where the reading skills have not declined. But it doesn't give any information regarding the other reasons for the decline.

In E
Schools are not overcrowded in many cities where high school reading scores have declined more than they have in Gotham.
it says in some less crowded cities the reading skills have declined. So there has to some reason for this delcine other than the overcrowd. This one weakens the argument by introducing some other factors.

So E is the ans
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14 Sep 2010, 02:10
+1 for E
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14 Sep 2010, 09:09
Thanks 'ohfred' and 'geturdream'.. +1 kudos to both of you....
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14 Sep 2010, 10:05
danj +1 for the question. may i know the source of the question?
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14 Sep 2010, 19:18
Wonderful explanation geturdream!
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15 Sep 2010, 19:24
Source is Kaplan 800
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16 Sep 2010, 06:39
ya this is nice question
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03 Apr 2011, 22:25
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16 Jun 2011, 19:20
E says !overcrowding => reading decline.
Meaning effect occurs even if cause does not.
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16 Jun 2011, 22:13
danj wrote:
Reading skills among high school students in Gotham have been steadily declining, which can only be the result of overcrowding in the schools.

Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument expressed above?

a) The high school system in Gotham succeeds in giving students a good education at considerably less cost than do most systems.
b) Several cities have found that overcrowding in the schools is not always associated with lower reading scores.
c) Gotham schools have a greater teacher-to-student ratio than most other school systems.
d) Students' reading skills have not declined in other cities where the high schools are just as crowded as those of Gotham.
e) Schools are not overcrowded in many cities where high school reading scores have declined more than they have in Gotham.

Please justify your options. I feel two options (d & e) are correct. Stimulus suggests that overcrowding in the schools (cause) leads to decline in reading skills among high school students in Gotham (Effect).
Option d states effect does not occur even when the cause occurs.
Option e states effect occurs even when cause has not occurred.
How do you justify one option over the other as both seem to weaken the argument.

Though I went with E but didnt like D and E both for the above highlighted portions that have nowhere been mentioned in the argument.
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23 Jun 2011, 14:27
Great question!!!!

Weakening an argument by introducing an "alternate causation"...

D is close -- but subtle differences between schools and high schools, and between reading scores and reading scores among high school students...

E wins!
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05 Oct 2013, 01:46
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01 Dec 2014, 12:16
Hello from the GMAT Club VerbalBot!

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13 Sep 2015, 09:14
Pretty good explanations.

It is a cause + effect situation. To weaken it, you must "prove" otherwise in similar conditions (ex.: A place where the effect is present, i mean, the skills have also been constantly decreasing), but for any reason other than "overcrowded". It could even be a random X reason, as long as it is different than "overcrowded".

D is wrong because the effect was different.
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26 Sep 2015, 15:02
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Here is the difference between D and E:

D is saying that overcrowding did not cause a decrease in reading skills among some schools. If the conclusion was overcrowding ALWAYS causes a decrease in reading skills, then this answer would be correct. However, the conclusion is that overcrowding is the ONLY cause of a decline in reading skills. E states that there must be other causes for a decline in reading skills than overcrowding. This directly addresses the conclusion.

Thus E. It boils down to the difference between ONLY and ALWAYS.
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21 Feb 2016, 06:32
ohfred wrote:
My thoughts:

Keyword is ONLY. i.e. Overcrowding is a necessary condition for decline in reading skills. Hence, conclusion is: If Decline, then Overcrowding.

E states: some non-overcrowded schools experience decline reading skills. It effectively means that if Decline then NOT necessarily overcrowding. Hence, weakens conclusion.

D simply says that there is no decline in reading skills for some overcrowded schools. It does nothing to the conclusion because the conclusion does not talk about the scenario when there is no decline in reading skills.

Dude, could seem that what others cities do is out of scope. Doesn't have the answer to be a subset of the stimulus? In any other question this would be out of scope. ..
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23 Feb 2016, 07:28
Ok. D is not the correct option as it does not mention about overcrowding in other schools.

However, in E there is subtle shift from Reading skills to reading scores. Can we expect this shift in GMAT answers?
Re: Reading skills among high school students in Gotham have   [#permalink] 23 Feb 2016, 07:28

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