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 Post subject: GMAT Verbal
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:50 am 
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At Siemans University, 30 percent of varsity athletes receive full scholarships. But their high school GPAs are, on average, a full point below those of non-varsity athletes at this school. Siemans University should be forced to stop giving unfair advantages to athletes.

Which of the following, if true, would most weaken the author’s conclusion in the passage above?
A. Varsity athletes account for only 4 percent of the student body.
B. Admissions policies cannot be revised unless it can be proven that the university is acting unfairly.
C. Approximately 90 percent of the musicians in the university orchestra, members of the university debate team and students working on the university newspaper receive full scholarships.
D. Historically, Siemans University has done poorly in sports and is trying to attract better athletic talent.
E. Varsity athletes’ standardized test scores are lower than the school’s averages.


(C) This question asks you to weaken the author’s conclusion. The author’s underlying assumption is that athletes have an unfair advantage; his conclusion is that this practice should be stopped. Any statement that shows the assumption to be false, or at least not necessarily true, or that the conclusion does not follow logically, will necessarily weaken the conclusion. Of course, the logical bridge between the assumption and the conclusion is that it is inappropriate — “unfair” — to prefer athletes over non-athletes simply because of their athletic talent. We have to accept that viewpoint (whether we personally agree with it or not) or the question cannot be answered.

Choice (A) is irrelevant; the number of varsity athletes at the school doesn’t impact the argument in any way.

Choice (B) is a bit misleading: though it might suggest that Siemans University will be unable to stop the practice, it does not weaken the conclusion that Siemans University should stop the practice.

It may be very understandable that Siemans University would want to attract better athletes to bolster its sports results (choice (D)), but that doesn’t prevent the wholesale offering of scholarships to athletes from constituting an unfair advantage over the student body as a whole.

Proof that athletes are less academically competent than non-athletes (choice (E)) doesn’t weaken the conclusion if it is the case that the athletes receive, proportionately, more scholarships than non-athletes.

Choice (C) does the most to undermine the assumption by suggesting that Siemans University, in its allocation of scholarships, may prefer students who excel in music and journalism MORE than athletes (because 90 percent get scholarships versus 30 percent for athletes). So the alleged preferences for athletes are secondary to the preferences for other areas.
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But what if the musicians and debate team students all have high GPAs so they are not comparable to the athletes?


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 Post subject: Re: GMAT Verbal
PostPosted: Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:52 am 
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Joined: Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:55 am
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But what if the musicians and debate team students all have high GPAs so they are not comparable to the athletes?
Even if musicians and debate team students have high GPAs, choice (C) still does the most to weaken the author's argument. The author's main point is that athletes receive an unfair advantage. So the key component to choice (C) is the high percentage of non-athlete students who are receiving scholarships, not the specific qualifications of those non-athletes. Choice (C) could interchangeably say "90% of students with high GPAs receive full scholarships" or "90% of students in group X receive full scholarships" and it would equally weaken the argument that athletes are receiving an unfair advantage.


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