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Math education in this country does a disservice to our children. In

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Math education in this country does a disservice to our children. In  [#permalink]

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Math education in this country does a disservice to our children. In the lower grades, it should focus on the basic skills that students will need in higher grades to develop the ability to solve complex problems. Learning basic math skills is like learning the scales and chords that one will later use to master complicated concertos and symphonies. However, math educators in this country seem to have it backward, emphasizing in higher grades the same narrow, skills- based approach that students learned in lower grades rather than the analytical tools they will need to solve complex math problems.

Which of the following, if true, would most seriously weaken the conclusion drawn above?


(A) While music is common in elementary school curricula, it is rarely taught in high school.

(B) On international tests of math skills, high-school students in this country performed no worse than did their counterparts from countries where problem-solving is emphasized in higher grades.

(C) When presented with a math problem to solve, students in higher grades are more likely to arrive at different answers than students in lowers grades are.

(D) Older students tend to receive higher grades in math than do younger students.

(E) Universities in this country report a steady increase in the percentage of native first-year students who qualify to take advanced mathematics courses such as calculus.

Originally posted by cool_jonny009 on 18 Feb 2006, 13:12.
Last edited by Bunuel on 04 Feb 2019, 23:45, edited 1 time in total.
Renamed the topic and edited the question.
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Re: Math education in this country does a disservice to our children. In  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Nov 2013, 10:00
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nikhil.jones.s wrote:
Math education in this country does a disservice to our children. In the lower grades, it should focus on the basic skills that students will need in higher grades to develop the ability to solve complex problems. Learning basic math skills is like learning the scales and chords that one will later use to master complicated concertos and symphonies. However, math educators in this country seem to have it backward, emphasizing in higher grades the same narrow, skills- based approach that students learned in lower grades rather than the analytical tools they will need to solve complex math problems.

Which of the following, if true, would most seriously weaken the conclusion drawn above?

(A) While music is common in elementary school curricula, it is rarely taught in high school.
(B) On international tests of math skills, high-school students in this country performed no worse than did their counterparts from countries where problem-solving is emphasized in higher grades.
(C) When presented with a math problem to solve, students in higher grades are more likely to arrive at different answers than students in lowers grades are.
(D) Older students tend to receive higher grades in math than do younger students.
(E) Universities in this country report a steady increase in the percentage of native first-year students who qualify to take advanced mathematics courses such as calculus.

Dear nikhil.jones.s,
I'm happy to help. :-) I'm not sure that I like this question. What is the source? Among other things, the plural of "curriculum" is "curricula", not "curriculums."

Here, the conclusion is the first sentence: "Math education in this country does a disservice to our children." The rest of the argument provide evidence. We would most seriously weaken the conclusion by demonstrating that the educational system serves math students well.

(A) While music is common in elementary school curricula, it is rarely taught in high school.
Pure distractor. Music is mentioned as an analogy, but it's irrelevant to the thrust of the argument. This is incorrect.

(B) On international tests of math skills, high-school students in this country performed no worse than did their counterparts from countries where problem-solving is emphasized in higher grades.
Tempting, but if the other countries are also poorly serving their math students, and everyone is at a low level together, then it could still be that the country discussed in the prompt argument does not serve its students well. This is incorrect.

(C) When presented with a math problem to solve, students in higher grades are more likely to arrive at different answers than students in lowers grades are.
Of course they do. If students of all grades solve the problem the exact same way, that would really show that students were learning nothing. The fact that older students have a different approach and find different solutions could be a bad sign or it could be hopeful --- depending on whether the older students were correct more frequently than the younger students. No clear implication can be drawn. This is incorrect.

(D) Older students tend to receive higher grades in math than do younger students.
This compares apples to oranges. The grades that students receive at different levels are relative to each other, to creates in other subjects at that level, etc. A direct comparison of the letter grades of two different grade levels does not make any sense. This is incorrect.

(E) Universities in this country report a steady increase in the percentage of native first-year students who qualify to take advanced mathematics courses such as calculus.
Aha! A calculus course in college provides a kind of standard or benchmark against which you can compare different cohorts of students. If more first-year college students are qualifying for advanced calculus, that means they absolutely have to be learning some good math! Therefore, the education system is serving them well. This decisively weakens the argument.

Here's a blog on weakening the argument:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/how-to-wea ... reasoning/

Let me know if you have any further questions.
Mike :-)
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New post 27 Nov 2006, 06:30
I will go with E too


(A) While music is common in elementary school curriculums, it is rarely taught in high school.
not relevant
(B) On international tests of math skills, high-school students in this country performed no worse than did their counterparts from countries where problem-solving is emphasized in higher grades.
International test of math skills - don’t know this test is of basic maths skills or complex problems … this para is about learning the skill to solve complex problems

(C) When presented with a math problem to solve, students in higher grades are more likely to arrive at different answers than students in lowers grades are.

Higher grades and lower grades students are solving the same basic mathematics

(D) Older students tend to receive higher grades in math than do younger students.
Irrelevant , cann’t say if higher grades are solving complex problems

(E) Universities in this country report a steady increase in the percentage of native first-year students who qualify to take advanced mathematics courses such as calculus.
Now students are qualifying for advanced mathematics courses … so the students are aware of complex mathematical skills.
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New post 05 Sep 2013, 03:03
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OFFICIAL EXPLANATION:



The correct answer is E. The conclusion of the argument is that "math education in this country does a disservice to our children." Why? Because math teachers emphasize "in higher grades the same narrow, skills-based approach that students learned in lower grades rather than the analytical tools they will need to solve complex math problems." In order to weaken the conclusion, we need to show that this approach has not had a negative effect on children's math skills.

Choice E states that an increasing percentage of native first-year students qualify to take advanced math courses in college. This would seem to suggest that more children are prepared for advanced math than had previously been the case, thus weakening the conclusion of the argument.
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New post 26 Nov 2013, 10:41
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Agree with the OA and nice explanation by mikemcgarry.

B is a trap answer. If international tests do not test complex problem solving skills, then performance of students in this country in complex math skills cannot be compared with that of their counterparts in other countries is illogical.

Choice E avoids such confusion.

Universities in this country report a steady increase in the percentage of native first-year students who qualify to take advanced mathematics courses such as calculus.
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New post 17 Jul 2015, 22:30
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I was confused between B & E for quite some time, but eventually chose the right answer, E. So let me pen down my thoughts on why E.

(B) On international tests of math skills, high-school students in this country performed no worse than did their counterparts from countries where problem-solving is emphasized in higher grades. - Even if they did perform on par with foreign students, does that mean we are NOT doing disservice to our students? Of course we are. Because we are focused on improving "our" students.

(E) Universities in this country report a steady increase in the percentage of native first-year students who qualify to take advanced mathematics courses such as calculus. - If there is an increase in students from high school to universities, and who also qualify to take advanced courses, then it proves that whatever they studied in the last school has definitely helped them make this transition and "qualify" for it.
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Re: Math education in this country does a disservice to our children. In  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Feb 2017, 15:35
mikemcgarry wrote:
nikhil.jones.s wrote:
Math education in this country does a disservice to our children. In the lower grades, it should focus on the basic skills that students will need in higher grades to develop the ability to solve complex problems. Learning basic math skills is like learning the scales and chords that one will later use to master complicated concertos and symphonies. However, math educators in this country seem to have it backward, emphasizing in higher grades the same narrow, skills- based approach that students learned in lower grades rather than the analytical tools they will need to solve complex math problems.

Which of the following, if true, would most seriously weaken the conclusion drawn above?

(A) While music is common in elementary school curricula, it is rarely taught in high school.
(B) On international tests of math skills, high-school students in this country performed no worse than did their counterparts from countries where problem-solving is emphasized in higher grades.
(C) When presented with a math problem to solve, students in higher grades are more likely to arrive at different answers than students in lowers grades are.
(D) Older students tend to receive higher grades in math than do younger students.
(E) Universities in this country report a steady increase in the percentage of native first-year students who qualify to take advanced mathematics courses such as calculus.

Dear nikhil.jones.s,
I'm happy to help. :-) I'm not sure that I like this question. What is the source? Among other things, the plural of "curriculum" is "curricula", not "curriculums."

Here, the conclusion is the first sentence: "Math education in this country does a disservice to our children." The rest of the argument provide evidence. We would most seriously weaken the conclusion by demonstrating that the educational system serves math students well.

(A) While music is common in elementary school curricula, it is rarely taught in high school.
Pure distractor. Music is mentioned as an analogy, but it's irrelevant to the thrust of the argument. This is incorrect.

(B) On international tests of math skills, high-school students in this country performed no worse than did their counterparts from countries where problem-solving is emphasized in higher grades.
Tempting, but if the other countries are also poorly serving their math students, and everyone is at a low level together, then it could still be that the country discussed in the prompt argument does not serve its students well. This is incorrect.

(C) When presented with a math problem to solve, students in higher grades are more likely to arrive at different answers than students in lowers grades are.
Of course they do. If students of all grades solve the problem the exact same way, that would really show that students were learning nothing. The fact that older students have a different approach and find different solutions could be a bad sign or it could be hopeful --- depending on whether the older students were correct more frequently than the younger students. No clear implication can be drawn. This is incorrect.

(D) Older students tend to receive higher grades in math than do younger students.
This compares apples to oranges. The grades that students receive at different levels are relative to each other, to creates in other subjects at that level, etc. A direct comparison of the letter grades of two different grade levels does not make any sense. This is incorrect.

(E) Universities in this country report a steady increase in the percentage of native first-year students who qualify to take advanced mathematics courses such as calculus.
Aha! A calculus course in college provides a kind of standard or benchmark against which you can compare different cohorts of students. If more first-year college students are qualifying for advanced calculus, that means they absolutely have to be learning some good math! Therefore, the education system is serving them well. This decisively weakens the argument.

Here's a blog on weakening the argument:
http://magoosh.com/gmat/2012/how-to-wea ... reasoning/

Let me know if you have any further questions.
Mike :-)


@Mike- In Option E, the steady increase could mean a 0.5 percentage point increase every year in the past 5 years with a base of say 10 students taking those courses out of 10,000 students in the entire country. It can be any random number. Now, these 10 students might be taking help from other sources than the math faculty of the country.
Hence it is difficult to deduce that it's the work done by math faculty of the country mentioned and to discard external factors. Option E as well looks flawed to me.
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New post 04 Feb 2017, 13:59
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RK84 wrote:
@Mike- In Option E, the steady increase could mean a 0.5 percentage point increase every year in the past 5 years with a base of say 10 students taking those courses out of 10,000 students in the entire country. It can be any random number. Now, these 10 students might be taking help from other sources than the math faculty of the country.
Hence it is difficult to deduce that it's the work done by math faculty of the country mentioned and to discard external factors. Option E as well looks flawed to me.

Dear RK84,

My friend, I'm happy to respond. :-) You have put your finger on central issue about the GMAT CR that most students ignore.

The GMAT says: "no outside knowledge is needed" for the CR arguments. In other words, to answer this question, you shouldn't have to be an expert in the topic. It's not necessary, for example, to have read a book about math education in the USA or to have taken an education class about math skills. You don't need any of that expert knowledge. Any question that demands expert knowledge is not a true GMAT CR.

But, the deep mistake that students make is they assume that all outside knowledge is irrelevant, that the GMAT CR existed in some magically sealed fantasy world in which anything can be true. That is a profound mistake that hurts students' performance on the CR.

Think about why the GMAT asks Critical Reasoning. Folks in the business world need to hear real-world arguments all the time, and they need to be able to evaluate those arguments in context. Business people need to have a gut sense of what is sensible or practical and what is not.

It is very helpful for GMAT CR to have what I would call the "background knowledge" of a business person. What motivate people in the real world? What drives particular markets? What kinds of people are likely to be for or against a particular issue? Having a general knowledge of the ambiance of the real business world would be enormously helpful on the GMAT CR.

In this problem, technically we don't know the country, but it certainly "feels" like the USA to me (these are debates that often rage in the US). I can't think of another major economic nation that has debates about why are math skills in our country so poor. To my knowledge, that's not a debate in India, in the Far East, or in most European nations. That's part of the background knowledge you should have. Thus, the idea of only 10,000 student is not realistic. I don't know whether it's 10^5 or 10^6 or 10^7, but clearly a large number of US students take calculus. Furthermore, more people take calculus now and, in fact, more people go to college now, than did fifty years ago. That's also an important real world fact to have in mind.

Here's a very important point. When someone in business or government in the real world publicly "reports a steady increase," this means an increase big enough that other dispassionate observers would say, "yes, that's an increase." Real world institutions don't publicly announce something such as a "steady increase," if it's only dribs and drabs of increase each year, such that any observer would laugh at calling this an increase! Institutions don't like to be embarrassed, so they are exceedingly careful and conservative about the claims they put forth in the world. All of these are real-world dynamics of which you should be aware.

You see, if you treat the GMAT CR as if it's taking place in a la-la fantasy land in which any bizarre or unreasonable thing could be true, then you will get them wrong time and time again. Among other things, the GMAT CR is a tool designed to assess how grounded your thought is in the real push and pull of the modern business world.

You can see more here:
GMAT Critical Reasoning and Outside Knowledge

Does all this make sense, my friend? This is a subtle point, and many GMAT students are confused about this point. If you can master this, it will put you way ahead of so many others!!

Mike :-)
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New post 04 Feb 2019, 23:25
The conclusion of the argument is that "math education in this country does a disservice to our children."
Why?
Because math teachers emphasize "in higher grades the same narrow, skills-based approach that students learned in lower grades rather than the analytical tools they will need to solve complex math problems." In order to weaken the conclusion, we need to show that this approach has not had a negative effect on children's math skills.

Choice E states that an increasing percentage of native first-year students qualify to take advanced math courses in college. This would seem to suggest that more children are prepared for advanced math than had previously been the case, thus weakening the conclusion of the argument.

The correct answer is E.
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Re: Math education in this country does a disservice to our children. In   [#permalink] 04 Feb 2019, 23:25
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