When demand for a factory's products is high, more money is spent at the factory for safety precautions and machinery maintenance than when demand is low. Thus the average number of on-the-job accidents per employee each month should be lower during periods when demand is high than when demand is low and less money is available for safety precautions and machinery maintenance.
Which of the following, if true about a factory when demand for its products is high, casts the most serious doubt on the conclusion drawn above?
(A) Its employees ask for higher wages than they do at other times.
(B) Its management hires new workers but lacks the time to train them properly.
(C) Its employees are less likely to lose their jobs than they are at other times.
(D) Its management sponsors a monthly safety award for each division in the factory.
(E) Its old machinery is replaced with modern, automated models.
Good problem. Let's take a look at it step-by-step:Identify the Question Type.
We want to "cast ... doubt on the conclusion drawn," so this is definitely a Weaken the Conclusion
question.Deconstruct the Argument.
Since it's Weaken
, be on the lookout for unstated Assumptions
and think about how we could use those to poke holes in the argument.
Here's the basic structure:Conclusion:
High demand should lead to a decrease in on-the-job accidents.Premises:
High demand means more money for safety and machine maintenance.
Ok, so what's the Assumption
here? We're assuming that "more money spent on safety" = "fewer accidents". How can we pick this apart? Could other factors
have an impact on the number of accidents? Absolutely!! We won't be able to predict what "other factors" might pop up in the correct answer, but at least we have a pretty good idea of what to look for.Restate the Goal.
We're trying to Weaken the Conclusion
, which for this problem means we want to identify another factor that could actually lead to more accidents
even during times of higher demand
. Notice how we've basically reframed the question so that it applies to the specifics of this problem. This is something I always try to do on CR before looking at the answer choices.Work through the Answers, moving from Wrong to Right.
Let's take a look:(A) Its employees ask for higher wages than they do at other times.
This has no impact on safety. Eliminate.(B) Its management hires new workers but lacks the time to train them properly.
This could definitely be bad for safety! If we have high demand and spend more on safety, but then hire new workers and don't properly train them, this could provide another factor that leads to more accidents. Leave it in, try to eliminate other choices.(C) Its employees are less likely to lose their jobs than they are at other times.
This has no impact on safety. Eliminate.(D) Its management sponsors a monthly safety award for each division in the factory.
This is probably relevant, but makes the factory more
safe. It actually Strengthens
. Eliminate.(E) Its old machinery is replaced with modern, automated models.
Same problem as (D). If it is relavent at all, it Strengthens
So indeed, we're left with (B)!Major Takeaways:
(1) Stick to your process.
(2) Look for Assumptions
on Strengthen/Weaken questions.
(3) Beware "opposite" trap answers (relavent, but strengthens when it should weaken, or vice versa).
(4) State the goal in simple terms that are specific to the question before looking at the answers.
(5) Stick to your process.
Mark Sullivan | Manhattan GMAT Instructor | Seattle, WA
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