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CAT Critical Reasoning Practice question with Solution 67

In a new program, automobile owners in some neighborhoods whose cars are not normally driven between 1 A.M. and 5 A.M. can display a special decal in the cars' windows and authorize police to stop the cars during those hours to check the drivers' licenses. The theft rate for cars bearing such decals is much lower than had been usual for cars in those neighborhoods.

If it is concluded from the statements above that automobile theft has been reduced by the program, which one of the following would it be most important to answer in evaluating that conclusion?

[A]. Are owners who are cautious enough to join the program taking other special measures to protect their cars against theft?
[B]. In how many neighborhoods is the police program operating?
[C]. Are cars in neighborhoods that are actively participating in the program sometimes stolen during daylight hours?
[D]. Will owners who have placed decals on their cars' windows but who find it necessary to drive between 1 A.M. and 5 A.M. be harassed by police?
[E]. Are the neighborhoods in which the program has been put into effect a representative cross section of neighborhoods with respect to the types of automobiles owned by residents?
Answer: A

The question stem introduces a conclusion that could lead from this stimulus; that automobile theft has been reduced by the program. We’re asked for the choice that asks the question whose answer is most important in evaluating that conclusion—that is, whose answer is most likely to tell us whether or not the conclusion is justified. Since the conclusion in the stem is based on the fact that cars bearing the special decals have a lower theft rate than other cars, we can expect that the correct question will ask if there might not be another reason that these cars aren't being stolen, besides the allegedly successful program (there’s that “alternative explanation” concept popping up again). (A) does this by asking if the car owners that are likely to join the program owners take any other special precautions to prevent theft. If the answer to this question is yes, then perhaps the other measures, not the program, are keeping the number of thefts down, which would signify that the stem’s conclusion that the program has reduced thefts is unwarranted.

(B), (E) How many neighborhoods the program is operating in (A) and whether neighborhoods in which the program took effect were a representative cross-section of all neighborhoods, in terms of car types (E), are both irrelevant. The conclusion only claims that the program was successful in the neighborhoods where it was actually applied.

(C) The program only takes effect between 1 A.M. and 5 A.M., so what happens during the daytime can have nothing to do with the program. Moreover, the issue here is the cars that weren't stolen, and the reasons why they weren't stolen.

(D) While this certainly might be of some concern to the owners, it doesn’t say much about the effectiveness of the program. True, if the answer is yes, it would indicate that the program is indeed functioning, but doesn’t help us to evaluate its effectiveness as well as (A) does, the answer of whih could blow the conclusion out of the water.

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