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It seems that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago

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It seems that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago  [#permalink]

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New post 08 May 2017, 11:06
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It seems that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago. Many more Americans are attending college now than in the past, and the typical entry-level job in business now requires a college degree.

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

(A) High school courses are more rigorous now than they were in the past.
(B) Tuition at colleges and universities has more than tripled in the past 25 years.
(C) High school class sizes have gotten smaller, and computers have introduced a more individualized curriculum.
(D) Businesses are not requiring as high a level of writing or math skills as they did in past decades.
(E) Many of the skills and concepts taught in high school 50 years ago are now taught in college.

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Re: It seems that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago  [#permalink]

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New post 09 May 2017, 12:43
Hi Expert,

We are not sure if many people used to complete high school 50 years ago, so even if the level of college is same as it used to be of high school 50 years ago, it does not necessarily weaken the argument.Take the scenario, in which people hardly used to join high school 50 years ago, in that case, choice E does not weaken the argument as many people of today(with skills equivalent to 10th standard of 50 years ago) has more skills than many people(with skills less than 10th standard of the same time) of 50 years of ago..

Please help how E is correct answer choice. Thanks
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Re: It seems that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago  [#permalink]

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New post 22 May 2017, 15:32
rohan2345 wrote:
It seems that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago. Many more Americans are attending college now than in the past, and the typical entry-level job in business now requires a college degree.

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




in a way, I love weaken questions.
Americans are smarter. Why? more people attend colleges. Why? because businesses don't employ people without a college degree.
what if the level of education dropped down? what if the level of work that is required advanced, yet very simple (for ex. usage of PC)? if any of these is true - then we can't know for sure whether Americans are smarter now than they were 50 years ago.

Going through the answer choices, E seems to be the right one.

let's just analyze the other ones and see why they are incorrect:

(A) High school courses are more rigorous now than they were in the past.
it rather strengthens the argument.

(B) Tuition at colleges and universities has more than tripled in the past 25 years.
it rather shows a great level of inflation or smth else that is not related to the argument.

(C) High school class sizes have gotten smaller, and computers have introduced a more individualized curriculum.
this one, as does A, supports the argument.

(D) Businesses are not requiring as high a level of writing or math skills as they did in past decades.
if they not - then why require a college degree? It raises additional questions though...
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Re: It seems that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago  [#permalink]

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New post 23 May 2017, 00:10
(A) High school courses are more rigorous now than they were in the past.
it rather strengthens the argument.
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Re: It seems that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago  [#permalink]

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New post 23 May 2017, 01:25
Dear expert @GMATNinjaTwo,

I did choose (D) and still cannot understand how option (E) is correct. Other people also have this concern. I will appreciate if you make an analysis to solve this question. Thank you!
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Re: It seems that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Nov 2018, 00:30
Hi Expert

Can you please explain why choice E is correct and on what basis we can reject choice D.
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Re: It seems that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Nov 2018, 10:48
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Answer E says that many of skills taught in high school 50 years ago are now taught in college, thus college students today are learning skills which were in the past at a High school level therefore making those students attending college 50 year ago more skilled even before entering college.
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Re: It seems that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago  [#permalink]

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New post 04 Nov 2018, 23:30
IBut to reach college they still have to pass out of the school(unless he is sheldon cooper) ... I dont understand how E is relevant. The conclusion is about " ppl getting SMARTER than before )

IMO D , is right..

If the businesses (though they need a degree) do not have a necessarily need " smart/ talented/nerd" , then most ppl may think that instead of working at random place , because of low smartness , why not get a degree and work in a business as the business is not looking for ONLY brilliant/smart minds...

E says "What was taught in school , now is taught in colleges" ... but still to reach a clge you have to attend school and what school doesnt tach math????

what is the source of this question ?? even if there isnt a suitable tag for the question you could mention the source... I hardly think this is a GMAT Q...
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Re: It seems that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Nov 2018, 16:04
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Hi AdityaHongunti zac123

When we read this question, we can notice that it starts with a very bold conclusion: it seems that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago.

Oh really!? What evidence does the author have to back this up?

Quote:
Many more Americans are attending college now than in the past, and the typical entry-level job in business now requires a college degree.


Hmm ... so the author makes a conclusion about people being smarter, and backs that up with statistics that only have to do with attending college or having a college degree. So the author is confusing more people in college with more intelligent people. Our author is assuming that attending college makes a person smarter.

Our correct answer choice will make it clear that this connection doesn't really exist, that college does not equal smarter. (And that more people in college is not the same thing as more intelligent people)
Before you read the answer choices, you should have this in your mind so you can "shop" for an answer choice that meets your needs.

E stands out in that it gives us a reason to believe that college today is actually more comparable to high school in the past ... and that all these additional people in college are gaining an education that is more comparable to high school 50 years ago. So more people in college today does not equal smarter people than 50 years ago ... they are just learning similar skills in a different institution than their counterparts in the past.

D seems to have trapped many people. However, D does not attack the primary assumption here => that more people in college equals more smart people. Our best weaken the argument answer will attack the primary assumption.
D mentions that businesses do not require as high a level of writing or math skills as they did in the past. But are writing and math skills a proxy (way to measure) intelligence? What about critical thinking (irony intended), strategic analysis, persuasion ... we could go on with other skills related to intelligence. D is too narrow.

Does this help? Let me know.
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Re: It seems that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Feb 2019, 01:18
rohan2345 wrote:
It seems that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago. Many more Americans are attending college now than in the past, and the typical entry-level job in business now requires a college degree.

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

(A) High school courses are more rigorous now than they were in the past.
(B) Tuition at colleges and universities has more than tripled in the past 25 years.
(C) High school class sizes have gotten smaller, and computers have introduced a more individualized curriculum.
(D) Businesses are not requiring as high a level of writing or math skills as they did in past decades.
(E) Many of the skills and concepts taught in high school 50 years ago are now taught in college.


OFFICIAL EXPLANATION:



E. Read the question first so you know what to focus on in the passage. Because this question asks you to weaken the argument, you know you need to figure out what the conclusion is and what kind of reasoning the author uses in moving from the premises to the conclusion.

When you examine the argument, you may notice that the conclusion actually comes first. The author concludes that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago and does so by contrasting current college participation and entry-level job requirements with those of the past. The method of reasoning is similar to analogy, except instead of showing similarities between Americans now and 50 years ago, the author shows the differences. To weaken the conclusion that Americans are smarter today, you need to find the answer choice that shows that things really aren’t all that different today than they were 50 years ago.

First, eliminate answer choices with irrelevant information. Neither college tuition rates nor class size and curriculum have anything to do with levels of intelligence, so Choices (B) and (C) are wrong. Plus, you’re looking for an answer that shows that things aren’t much different between now and yesterday, and Choices (B) and (C) accentuate the difference.

Then, get rid of any answer that tends to strengthen rather than weaken the conclusion that Americans are smarter. More-difficult high-school courses seem to indicate that Americans may indeed be smarter, so disregard Choice (A). This leaves you with Choices (D) and (E), and your job is to choose the one that shows that now and then aren’t all that different. Not only does Choice (D) demonstrate a difference between the eras, but it also refutes the premise that businesses are looking for the higher skill levels of a college education.

The correct answer must be Choice (E). If skills that were part of the high-school curriculum 50 years ago are now offered in college, actual education hasn’t changed all that much from then to now. Americans must now attend college to acquire the high-school skills of earlier times, and businesses need to require college degrees to make sure their employees have the same skills that high-school students had in the past. If the skill levels are the same, Americans aren’t really any smarter than they were 50 years ago.

You must know precisely what point a paragraph is arguing before you can strengthen or weaken that argument. Take the time to understand the premises, conclusion, and method of reasoning so you can quickly eliminate answer choices and accurately select the best answer. When you really understand the argument, attacking or defending it is fairly easy.
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Re: It seems that Americans are smarter than they were 50 years ago   [#permalink] 14 Feb 2019, 01:18
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