Question

Shirla: In figure skating competitions that allow amateur and professional skaters to compete against each other, the professionals are bound to have an unfair advantage. After all, most of them became professional only after success on the amateur circuit.

Ron: But that means that it’s been a long time since they’ve had to meet the more rigorous technical standards of the amateur circuit.

Which of the following is most likely a point at issue between Shirla and Ron?

Option A
Option B
Option C
Option D
Option E

(This question is from Official Guide. Therefore, because of copyrights, the complete question cannot be copied here. The question can be accessed at GMAT Club)

Solution

The Story

Shirla: In figure skating competitions that allow amateur and professional skaters to compete against each other, the professionals are bound to have an unfair advantage.

In figure skating competitions that allow amateur as well as professional skaters, Shirla claims that the professionals would have an unfair advantage.

After all, most of them became professional only after success on the amateur circuit.

 She gives her reason for why the professionals would have an unfair advantage. Since most became professionals only after succeeding on the amateur circuit. (Thus, they lack nothing that is needed to succeed on the amateur circuit but also have other skills needed for the professional circuit)

Ron: But that means that it’s been a long time since they’ve had to meet the more rigorous technical standards of the amateur circuit.

(Ron builds his argument using the same basis as Shirla.) He claims that since they became professional after success on the amateur circuit, they have not had to face the more rigorous standards of the amateur circuit for a long time. ‘But’ indicates that he does not agree with Shirla’s claim.

Gist:
Shirla claims that professionals have an unfair advantage in figure skating competitions. Her reason: the pros became pros after succeeding on the amateur circuit. Ron counters Shirla’s claim by saying that since they became pros after their amateur run, they haven’t faced the more rigorous standards of the amateur circuit for a while.

(Ron inherently implies that since it’s been a long time, the professionals do not have an unfair advantage on the amateur circuit.)

The Goal

What’s the point at issue between the two? Both of them use the same fact to support their perspective. Shirla makes an assumption that since they have succeeded on the amateur circuit in the past, the professionals would still likely be successful, and would thus have an unfair advantage. Ron makes an assumption that a significant amount of time has passed between the skaters’ amateur and professional competitions. He implies that since it has been a long time, the professionals would not be able to cope with the rigorous standards of the amateur circuit, and would thus not have an unfair advantage.

The core point at issue appears to be whether the professionals would have an unfair advantage.

The Evaluation

(A) IncorrectShirla claims that in such competitions professionals have an ‘unfair’ advantage. So, we may infer that Shirla is not in favor of such competitions. However, she never opines that these competitions should not be held. Ron does not seem to agree that the professionals have an unfair advantage. He again has no opinion about whether such competitions should be held.

(B) Incorrect Shirla and Ron never discuss scoring and a need for any adjustment in scoring. The two are discussing whether one party has an unfair advantage. How to resolve that advantage, if at all needed, is never discussed.

(C) Incorrect. The ‘most of them’ in Shirla’s last statement indicates that Shirla does not necessarily believe that skaters can become pros only after success on the amateur circuit. Ron anyway does not disagree with any fact that Shirla states. He simply draws a different implication. 

(D) Incorrect. Ron does state that technical standards for pro competitions are lower than for amateur ones.  However, similar to option C, the other person never disagrees with or doubts this fact.

One technicality that might confuse a few test-takers: This option mentions ‘higher’, while Ron actually states that the technical standards for professional figure skating competition are ‘lower’. Let’s understand the following 3 cases:

1. R claims LOWER, S claims HIGHER
        a. In this case, we could say either of the following: 
               i.  The point at issue is “whether the standards are HIGHER” 
               ii. The point at issue is “whether the standards are LOWER”
                   Both communicate the point at issue.

2. R claims LOWER, S claims NOT LOWER
        a. In this case, the point at issue is: “whether the standards are LOWER”. The point at issue cannot be framed as “whether the standards are HIGHER”.

3. R claims LOWER, S does not have an opinion (as is the case in the given dialogue)
       a.In this open-ended case, it would be incorrect to eliminate the option because it uses the opposite comparative form (higher instead of lower).

(E) Correct. As we also discussed above, this is the main point at issue between the two. Ron makes his statement to highlight that the pros do not have an unfair advantage (as opposed to what Shirla believes).

This solution was created by Anish Passi and Chiranjeev Singh.

If you have any doubts regarding any part of this solution, please feel free to ask in the comments section.

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