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CAT Critical Reasoning Practice question with Solution 15

State researchers have found that since the oil price increases of the 1970s, there has been a decline in home energy consumption. They concluded that almost all of the decline has been achieved through reduced standards of living and changes in the way people spend their time.

Each of the following, if true, would support the conclusion above EXCEPT:

[A]. Sales of portable heaters rose as families concentrated their winter activities in a limited number of rooms.
[B]. During the winter months, more people frequented public places such as libraries and community centers and, on the average, spent considerably longer periods in them than they had previously.
[C]. More than 39 percent of households were able to decrease energy costs substantially by having relatively inexpensive work done to improve the efficiency of their existing heating systems.
[D]. At least 59 percent of households maintained a lower indoor temperature than they had been accustomed to maintain on very cold days.
[E]. Members of at least 60 percent of households showered for shorter periods of time than they had previously.
Answer: C

The test for the choices is simple. Each choice that supports the conclusion must lend credence to at least one of the two factors responsible for declining home energy consumption: reduced standards of living and changes in people’s use of their time. We’re looking for the exception, the choice that doesn’t support the conclusion—that means the choice that doesn’t conform to either of these two factors, and (C) is the one: Having cheap work done to improve home heating systems neither reduces one’s standard of living nor represents a significant change in the use of one’s time. Essentially, (C) provides a different reason for the decline, one that might even call into question the researchers’ conclusion that the factors they cite are responsible for “almost all of the decline.”

(A) represents a change in the families’ use of time; moreover, a restricted use of one’s house may very well also qualify as a reduction in one’s standard of living. The result of such action is that less oil is needed to heat the entire house.

(B) mostly supports the “use of time” factor. During the cold months, more people than before frequent public places, and people tend to spend “longer periods in them.” Obviously, this represents a change in the way people spend their time, and during this “outside the house” time, less oil is needed to heat their houses.

(D) is reduced standard of living. They may be colder, but they’re consuming less energy.

(E) hits on both factors. For those who love long hot showers, cutting back may very well represent a reduction in their standard of living. And in a technical sense, although it may not be by much, such people are slightly altering the way they spend their time.

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