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CAT Critical Reasoning Practice question with Solution 37

A government agency publishes ratings of airlines, ranking highest the airlines that have the smallest proportion of late flights. The agency’s purpose is to establish an objective measure of the relative efficiency of different airlines' personnel in meeting published flight schedules.

Which one of the following, if true, would tend to invalidate use of the ratings for the agency's purpose?

[A]. Travelers sometimes have no choice of airlines for a given trip at a given time.
[B]. Flights are often made late by bad weather conditions that affect some airlines more than others.
[C]. The flight schedules of all airlines allow extra time for flights that go into or out of very busy airports.
[D]. Airline personnel are aware that the government agency is monitoring all airline flights for lateness.
[E]. Flights are defined as 'late' only if they arrive more that fifteen minutes past their scheduled arrival time, and a record is made of how much alter than fifteen minutes they are.
Answer: B

This question asks us which choice, if true, would challenge the validity of the agency’s rating system. In challenging the validity of the ratings, you need to keep in mind what the ratings are intended to do. This is another way of saying that you need to keep your focus on the scope of the argument. The ratings are designed to measure the airlines’ relative efficiency, and they do this by calculating each airline’s number of late flights as compared to their total number of flights. Does this sound like it would be a fair measure of efficiency? Maybe not, since some factors that cause late flights are not under the airlines’ control. If one of those factors, like bad weather (choice (B)), affected some airlines more than others, then the rating system wouldn’t be so fair after all.

(A) is irrelevant. If travellers have no choice, then the rating system may not help them, but that is a different issue from the question of whether the ratings measure what they are intended to measure.

(C) and (E) cite scheduling details that apply to all airlines but don’t give us any reason to suspect that some airlines would be unfairly slighted.

(D) is also irrelevant. It is hard to believe that making the airlines aware of the monitoring would cause the results to be skewed in some way, especially since the airlines presumably have some incentive to do a good job already.

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