Question


Economist: The price of tap water in our region should be raised drastically. Supplies in local freshwater reservoirs have been declining for years because water is being used faster than it can be replenished. Since the price of tap water has been low, few users have bothered to adopt even easy conservation measures.

The two sections in boldface play which of the following roles in the economist’s argument?

(Because of copyrights, the complete official question is not copied here. You can access the question here: GMAT Club)

Difficulty: Medium

Accuracy: 78%

Based on: 6756 sessions

Solution


The Story

Economist: The price of tap water in our region should be raised drastically
The economist makes a strong claim in this statement. The price of tap water should be raised drastically.
(He’ll probably share reasons for why he believes the price needs an overhaul. Let’s find out.)

Supplies in local freshwater reservoirs have been declining for years because water is being used faster than it can be replenished. 
Right. So this sentence starts with a reason for why the price should be raised. 
The reason: the supply of tap water has been declining for years (I gather that local freshwater reservoirs form the supply to tap water.)

The statement also gives us a reason for why local freshwater reservoirs have been depleting. 
The reason: Water is being used too fast.

Since the price of tap water has been low, few users have bothered to adopt even easy conservation measures.
Now we understand why supplies in reservoirs have been declining.
The reason: Users haven’t bothered to converse water – pretty much at all.

The statement also gives us a reason for why users haven’t bothered.
The reason: Tap water is too cheap.

Gist:

Tap water has been cheap.
(That’s why) users haven’t bothered to conserve water. (BF2)
(That’s why) water is being used faster than it can be replenished.
(That’s why) supplies in local reservoirs have been declining. (BF1)

(To avoid all this,) the price of tap water should be raised drastically. (main point)

The argument is essentially a Jenga tower with one idea stacked on top of another. Where the previous one is the reason for the following one. The main point is that if the first tile is removed (tap water is made expensive), the tower will fall.

Question Stem


The two sections in boldface play which of the following roles in the economist’s argument?
Both the sections in boldface are tiles in the Jenga tower and provide support for the main point.

Answer choice analysis


Answer Choice: A

Incorrect

Selected by: 2%

1. There is no support provided for BF1. The idea that ‘supplies in local freshwater reservoirs have been declining for years’ is a fact. This decline has actually been happening. The author does not indicate any uncertainty about this. Since BF1 is a fact, it cannot be a conclusion, nor can it be supported by another statement. 

Sure, there is a reason given for why it is happening, but that reason doesn’t support the fact that it is happening. 

e.g.
The sun appears round because it is a sphere.

This sentence is made up of two ideas:

  • The sun appears round
  • The sun is a sphere

Both these ideas are facts. The sun does appear round. The sun is a sphere. The second idea is the reason for the first idea. However, it does not provide support for the first idea. We already know that the sun appears round. After learning that the sun is a sphere, my confidence does not increase in the notion that the sun appears round. 

BF1 does support the main conclusion. But because of the above reason, the first half is wrong.

2. BF2 is not the main conclusion. The main conclusion is that the price of tap water should be raised drastically. BF2 supports the main point. The second half is wrong


Answer Choice: B

Incorrect

Selected by: 13%

1. BF2 does provide an explanation for BF1. The first half is correct.
2. BF2 is not a conclusion at all. The second half is wrong.


Answer Choice: C

Correct

Selected by: 78%

1. As discussed in the gist above, BF1 does support the argument’s main conclusion. 
2. BF2 also supports the main conclusion. One way to understand this is that if users had conserved water (negation of BF2), there would be less reason to raise the price of tap water drastically.


Answer Choice: D

Incorrect

Selected by: 3%

1. It is a fact that supplies in local reservoirs have been declining. BF1 is not a conclusion. Moreover, even if it had been a conclusion, it wouldn’t have been the ONLY one. The first statement – the price of tap water should be raised drastically – is the argument’s main point. This half is wrong.
2. BF2 does provide an explanation for BF1. This half is correct.

Answer Choice: E

Incorrect

Selected by: 5%

1. It is a fact that supplies in local reservoirs have been declining. BF1 is not a conclusion. Wrong.
2. BF2 is not a conclusion. It is a fact that users haven’t bothered to conserve water. We are given a reason for why that’s happened. However, there is no support for it. (I have highlighted the difference between ‘reason’ and ‘support’ in the explanation of option A). BF2 does support BF1. Wrong.

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

Anish Passi

GMAT Coach

With over a decade of GMAT training experience, top 1 percentile scores on the CAT and GMAT, and a passion for teaching, I’d like to believe I am quite qualified to be a GMAT coach. GMAT is learnable, and I help students master the GMAT through a process-oriented approach based on logic and common sense. I offer private tutoring and live-online classroom courses. My sessions are often sprinkled with real-world examples, references to movies, and jokes that only I find funny. You’ve been warned 🙂

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