Selecting correct option between option A and C in CAT 2016

Selecting correct option between option A and C in CAT 2016.

Thrill of quickly eliminating three incorrect answer choices on a question always make one feel proud. Problem starts when one sees complete uncertainty between the last two choices. This paralysis is very frustrating, because your progress is halted you are left with two options that both seem to make perfect sense as the correct answer.

This is common problem, particularly on RC and CR questions in the verbal section.

As a simple example, a question could indicate that Ram is taller than sham, and then ask for inferences based on this conclusion. Valid inferences that can be drawn from this situation include “sham is shorter than Ram,” “Ram and sham are not the same height,” and even “Ram is taller than sham.” Indeed the exact same idea could be inferred from the conclusion because it must logically be true. More generally, multiple conclusions can all be inferred from the same statement, from the mundane to the insightful.

The one element that must always be considered is that any statement that can be inferred must be true in all situations. Often times when you are stuck selecting between two choices, one must actually be true whereas the other simply seems to be true. Our brains are trained to complete incomplete data, such as filling in missing letters in words and assuming relevant context. The test takers know this about human nature, so we must be careful not to fall into their clever traps and consider fringe corner situations when selecting between two tempting choices.

Let’s look at an example and see how the test makers exploit subtle differences in the answer choices:

KBD recently remodeled its offices to comply with the India with Disabilities Act (IDA), which requires that certain businesses make their properties accessible to those with disabilities. Contractors built ramps where stairs had been, increased the number of handicapped parking spaces in the parking lot, lowered door knobs and cabinet handles, and installed adaptive computer equipment.

Which of the following is the most likely inference based on the statements above?
(A) KDB is now in compliance with ADA requirements.
(B) KDB has at least one employee or customer who uses a wheelchair.
(C) Prior to the renovation, some doors and cabinets may have been out of reach for some employees.
(D) The costs of renovation were less than what KDB would have been liable for had it been sued for IDA violations.

The situation above describes a recent remodel to the KDB offices in order for them to comply with IDA regulations. The changes are described in some detail, from ramps to parking spots to door knobs. The question then asks us about which statement below is the most likely inference, which really means which of these must be true whereas the other four don’t have to be. Let’s do an initial pass to eliminate obvious filler.

Answer choice A “KDB is now in compliance with IDA requirements“ seems perfect. The changes were made due to IDA standards, so A seems like a great choice. Let’s keep going.

Answer choice B “KDB has at least one employee or customer who uses a wheelchair” makes some semblance of sense, because otherwise why install the ramps? However this clearly doesn’t have to be true, KDB can simply be acting proactively in order to comply with standards. Answer choice B does not have to be true, and can thus be rapidly eliminated.

Answer choice C “Prior to the renovation, some doors and cabinets may have been out of reach for some employees” seems like another great choice. After all, why remodel if everything was already handy. This could easily be correct as well. Let’s keep going.

Answer choice D “The costs of renovation were less than what KDB would have been liable for had it been used for IDA violations” makes a completely unsupported claim. We can quickly eliminate this unconfirmed option as it does not have to be true.

And thus we’re left with two answer choices that both seem reasonable. And yet there can be only one. How do we select between answers A and C? Quite simply, we must look at every possible scenario and see if each option must still hold. This can be an arduous process, but sometimes the evaluation of discarded answer choices helps to guide our approach.

In evaluating answer choice B, the issue of whether or not these changes were exactly aligned with IDA requirements came up. It’s entirely possible that adaptive computer equipment is not required by IDA guidelines; however it’s also possible that it is required. We simply don’t have enough information to make that decision with the information given. That same logic, taken in a broader context, hints that the changes made may or may not align KDB with IDA regulations. Therefore, although answer choice A could be true, it does not necessarily have to be. Perhaps IDA regulations call for other changes that weren’t effectuated for whatever reason.

Comparing with answer choice C, some doors and cabinets may have been out of reach for some employees. The phrase does not even give 100% certainty that the handles were out of reach, it merely states that it was a possibility. If the handles were lowered, it’s likely because some people couldn’t reach them, but it could also have been a practical improvement. No matter the situation, answer choice C must therefore be true.

Often when pitting two choices against each other, students report that they couldn’t find any differences and essentially flipped a coin. There will always be a difference between two answer choices, and the trick is to determine in which situations the two options actually differ. One will always work, whereas the other one will have one or two corner cases in which it doesn’t hold. If you master the art of correctly separating the last two options, your coin flip becomes a much more attractive proposition.

Next post will be finding right choice between Reading Comprehension passages.