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#16 - The owners of Uptown Apartments are leaning toward not

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Complete Question Explanation

Parallel Reasoning. The correct answer choice is (A)

Uptown Apartments’ owners are deciding whether or not to improve their complex, which would
be expensive, but also allow them to charge more rent. Because the improvements would cost more
than the increased income, the owners are tending toward doing nothing. The author of this stimulus
believes the improvements should be made, because those improvements would also increase the
value of other nearby apartments that happen to belong to the same owners.

The stimulus is followed by a Parallel Reasoning question; the conclusion, it is valuable to note,
is that the owners should make the improvements. The correct answer choice will have a similar
conclusion, making answer choices (A) and (C) the strongest contenders based on paralleling the
conclusion (...and possibly (E)).

In the abstract, regarding the decision that is about to be made, the owners are leaning in one
direction, but in consideration of the bigger picture, and the additional benefits to be derived, they
should change direction.

Answer choice (A): This is the correct answer choice. First, this conclusion nicely parallels that
of the stimulus—both authors have advice about a decision that has yet to be made. In this example,
John is leaning toward not repairing his knee with surgery, because it would a painful choice. The
author of this answer choice, much like that of the stimulus, suggests that considering the bigger
picture, John should repair his knee with surgery, based on the additional benefits associated with
that course of action.

Answer choice (B): This answer choice does deal with a decision that might be affected by further
consideration, but this choice is not a perfect parallel. Although the author of this choice does take
the other side of an issue, in this answer the decision has already been made—unlike the stimulus, in
which the decision makers (the apartment owners) were leaning in one direction but had yet to make
a final decision.

Answer choice (C): This choice deals with the possible need for further analysis, which is a bit
different from the stimulus, where the extra information comes from seeing the bigger picture (and
is already known to the stimulus’ author). Another distinction is that, unlike the stimulus, where
the author disagrees with the decision maker, in this choice Max has not specified leaning in one
direction or the other.

Answer choice (D): This choice could be ruled out just by considering the conclusion, which
does not have the word “should” and does not provide the author’s opinion. This choice has some
appeal because it deals with the concept of accepting pain in the name of somehow improving the
situation. In the stimulus, though, the author was taking the other side of a decision that has already
been made. In this example, the decision has been made, with unexpected benefits, and there is no
disagreement about what the right decision was.

Answer choice (E): In the stimulus, the decision makers are leaning in one direction, and the author
would advise against that decision. In this example, the decision makers are enthusiastic about the
idea, and the author does not suggest that they change direction, so this choice fails to parallel the
stimulus’ reasoning and can be ruled out of contention.
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I don't understand how the reasoning in A is similar to the reasoning in the stimulus. I also don't fully understand how C is wrong. I know it has cost and fixing things as a similarity to draw people to the wrong answer, which I was wary of, but I couldn't see A,B,D, or E being the right answer, so I picked C through process of elimination as the best option. Why is A right, and why is C wrong?

Thank you,
Clay Cooper
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Hi Emily,

Thanks for your question.

Answer choice A reaches the conclusion that John should have the surgery by pointing out an added benefit of the surgery - his restored ability to exercise. The argument in the stimulus does the same - it reaches the conclusion that the owners should make the repairs to the apartments because of the added benefit of increased home values.

Answer choice C, though similar in topic, does not reach its conclusion by describing an added benefit. Instead, it describes a potentially unnecessary (as opposed to a necessary but potentially too costly) repair and the possibility of a great problem if the repair is not made. Don't let the similarity of the topic that you mentioned fool you - topic has no value in determining whether two arguments are parallel; instead, their logical structure is all that matters.

I hope that helps!
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Yes, thank you! I see how A fits now.
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Got the correct answer here, but it took me quite a while to translate the reasoning in the stimulus into an abstract form to then be able to parallel & apply it to every answer choice. Any tips on how to quickly yet accurately abstract arguments (for parallel questions in particular) ?? I often find myself skipping over Parallel reasoning questions on PTs because I know how long it take mes to do the abstraction (& not to mention the amount of time it takes to reach each AC argument).

An example of exactly what one would/could say to themselves in their head as the prephrase for this particular question would be really helpful, I think. Or if there are any resources beyond the Bible/Course books, like maybe ones in the OSC or on the blog that you could direct me to that directly addresses argument abstraction would be great !! thanks.
Adam Tyson
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We don't have any more detailed instructions for how to abstract an argument that I know of, Angel, so it's going to have to come down to practice, practice, practice! Strip away the details, reduce the argument to bare bones ideas, a skeleton of the argument that can be reanimated with the flesh of new details from the answer choices. (Man, I wish this analogy had come to mind around Halloween!)

In this case I would probably come up with something like "Someone is hesitating because of no direct benefit, but they get an indirect benefit, so they should do it". I didn't give that much thought, and there was no template that I followed to get there. All I did was remove the details - who the people were and what the particular issue was - and I paid attention to the author's conclusion that they should do something, as opposed to they must do it or they can do it or any other language.

Getting to where that comes quickly and naturally will take some time. Along the way, don't overthink it - keep abstractions simple and free of details. Be sure to keep key language - should, must, may, better, all, none, etc. - in place. If it's conditional, diagram it and use the diagram as the abstraction, with the parallel answer having an identical diagrammatic structure. Beware that last one, though, because positive/negative aspects of the diagram may not matter. For example:

A -> B or C

is parallel to

X -> Y or Z

What matters is that one sufficient condition leads to two necessary conditions connected by "or". The fact that Y is negated is irrelevant for the sake of parallelism!

Like I said, practice, practice, practice!
Adam M. Tyson
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I answered B for this one. I did recognize that the conclusion of B is different from the stimulus (past tense of B vs. “should” in the stimulus), but I didn’t think that was a deal breaker for a reasoning question since the reasoning and the tense of the conclusion aren’t super relevant to each other. Plus, besides that one hesitation, B seemed to fit everything else perfectly: the decision makers decide not to do something for one reason (the investment not paying off), while the author points out another indirect benefit that leads to the opposite decision. This seemed to reflect the stimulus precisely.

Meanwhile, I think what put me off about A was the second sentence - that seemed like such a broad and obvious benefit that it didn’t seem to parallel the stimulus’s very specific indirect benefit. John likely realized that fact before the author pointed it out, whereas the specificity of the benefit in the stimulus makes it possible that the decisionmakers there didn’t realize that one.

Can someone explain where I’m going wrong here? Thanks so much!!
James Finch
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Hi Snowy,

The way I abstracted out the stimulus was as "thing with upfront cost leads to long-term ancillary benefits, thus do the thing," and used that to compare to the answer choices. Clearly (D) and (E) can be eliminated, and (C) deals with something along the lines of "upfront cost with potentially no upside, but not doing thing has huge potential downside," which is also quite different. (B) reads to me as "only use thing half-time, so rent rather than own, but other possible uses, so own is best," while (A) would be "short-term cost leads to longer-term benefit," matching much closer to the abstract Prephrase of the stimulus. The other issue with (B) is that it doesn't tell us whether the fishing company actually would use the boats for "other uses" than fishing, so there is a big assumption being made there that isn't being made in the stimulus, where the benefit of doing the renovations is clear.

Hope this clears things up!