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CAT Critical Reasoning Practice question with Solution 38

The mayor boasts that the average ambulance turnaround time, the time from summons to delivery of the patient, has been reduced this year for top-priority emergencies. This is a serious misrepresentation. This “reduction” was produced simply by redefining “top priority.” Such emergencies used to include gunshot wounds and electrocutions, the most time-consuming cases. Now they are limited strictly to heart attacks and strokes.

Which one of the following would strengthen the author’s conclusion that it was the redefinition of “top priority” that produced the reduction in turnaround time?

[A]. The number of heart attacks and strokes declined this year.
[B]. The mayor redefined the city’s financial priorities this year.
[C]. Experts disagree with the mayor’s definition of “top-priority emergency.”
[D]. Other cities include gunshot wound cases in their category o top-priority emergencies.
[E]. One half of all of last year’s top-priority emergencies were gunshot wounds and electrocution cases.
Answer: E

Here’s another question in which milking the question stem really pays off. It tells us not only that we should strengthen the argument, it also tells us exactly what that argument is. OK, so what would show that changing the requirements for “top priority” cases was responsible for the better response time? We know from the stimulus that the old definition of “top priority” used to include the cases that took the longest time, so what’s missing? We don’t know whether those time-consuming cases were a significant proportion of last year’s “top priority” emergencies, but (E) fills in that gap. If the time consuming cases that are no longer part of “top priority” were fully half of last year’s “top priority emergencies,” then we would expect better response times simply from the redefinition alone.

(A) is too vague to be relevant. How long is the turnaround time for these emergencies? What relation does this decrease have to the redefinition of the top priority category? We don’t know these things, so this decrease by itself cannot strengthen the author’s conclusion.

(B) is also irrelevant. The issue of financial priorities is unrelated to the evidence and unrelated to the conclusion as well.

(C) is out of the scope. The question is whether the redefinition in fact made a difference, and not whether “experts” thought it was a good idea.

(D) is also out of the scope. The issue is this city, not other ones.

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