Critical Reasoning Evaluating the Argument

an evaluation question typically presents a plan or an argument and then the answer choices provide information that may or may not be relevant to evaluating the plan your job is to figure out which piece of information is relevant to the plan to see if a piece of information is relevant or helpful in evaluating the plan you simply want to imagine a situation where the information is true and then imagine a situation where the information is false if the information is relevant making the statement true or false will directly impact the effectiveness of the plan for example a very simple plan might be that we are going to see a movie after work and the question may ask is it important to know whether the forecast says it will rain so I'm going to imagine two situations one where it will rain and one where it it will not rain if it's raining I can go see a movie and if it's not raining I can still go see a movie so my plans to see a movie do not change so I can save the forecasts is irrelevant but when the question asks whether it's important to know if we have enough money and I imagine a situation when we don't have enough money I can see that my plans might change if I have enough money I can go if I don't have enough money I can't go that's how I know that understanding whether we have enough money to buy tickets that is relevant to evaluating my plan now obviously the questions in your exam will not be this simple however the steps we use to test whether something is relevant in evaluating a plan those are going to stay the same so let's try this again with a problem that's a bit more complicated as always our first step is to identify the conclusion or the ultimate goal of the plan identify the reasons and then simplify the argument in this case the City Council's goal is to minimize the city's expenditure on traffic signal lights their plan is to switch to LED bulbs which consume less energy cost no more to purchase and the costs of conversion would be minimal now we can dramatically simplify the argument we want to minimize our expenditures and we already know the cost with conversions would be minimal now let's check to see if each answer choice would be relevant to achieving the plans objective answer choice B asks us whether we need to know if any other city has switched to materials other than LEDs so we imagine a situation where another city used LEDs and a situation where other cities used something different than LED in either case we know nothing about the costs that these cities incurred so it gives us zero information about whether we will minimize our costs so answer choice B is irrelevant answer choice C is about whether we can buy our incandescent bulbs and our LED arrays from the same company and if we buy our equipment at one store or two stores that doesn't tell us anything about our costs so C is definitely irrelevant answer choice D is tempting because if we increase the number of traffic signals then that might affect our costs if we have more traffic signals than you could imagine we would have more energy and more equipment costs if we don't increase our traffic signals then many of our costs will stay flat but the question is about whether we should switch from incandescent to LED arrays and if we increase the number of traffic signals you could imagine that both costs whether it be incandescent bulbs or LED rays will go up unfortunately D doesn't give us any information about which plan which bulb or array would be better answer choice D is about whether the crews that replace our bulbs whether they know how to convert the existing features to accept LED arrays now this one could be interesting because if the crews do not know how to install the LED arrays then you could imagine there could be more education costs our workers would be less efficient and they in turn might log more billable hours and all of that is true and in the real world it would be a very real concern however we have to remember these questions are testing critical reasoning not creative reasoning so we can't let our mind wander too far into all of the possibilities of how our cost could increase additionally the questions Tim already told us that the costs associated with the conversion would be minimal so even if there are additional education costs they shouldn't be that big of a deal now we go to answer choice a which brings up whether the expected service life of the LED arrays is as long as the incandescent bulbs now it's imagine a situation where that statement is true and a situation where that statement is false if it is true that LED arrays last just as long as incandescent bulbs then the city should save money because we already know the equipment costs the same but they used less energy but if we imagine a situation where the expected service life of LED arrays is not as long as incandescent bulbs then it's possible that we could save on energy costs and the cost of one LED array would be the same as the cost of an incandescent bulb but because we have to buy more LED arrays each year we would not save the money we thought we would so this information becomes relevant you

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