Method of Reasoning—AP. The correct answer choice is (E)
This editor discusses high school students’ responses to a request that they name a poet contemporaneous with Shakespeare; 60 percent named a poet from the 20th century. The editor is not sure whether this reflects a lack of familiarity with poets of Shakespeare’s time, or a lack of familiarity with the term “contemporaneous,” but either way, the editor concludes, based on these responses, that there is something very wrong with the system of education.
- Premise: 60 percent of high school students chose a 20th century figure when asked to name a poet who was contemporaneous with Shakespeare.
Sub-conclusion: This could mean that the high schools students questioned don’t know much about poets of Shakespeare’s time, or it could mean that they don’t know what contemporaneous means.
Conclusion: Regardless of which of these two interpretations is correct, the results show that there is something seriously wrong with the educational system.
The question that accompanies this stimulus asks for the role played by the fact that most high school students chose a 20th century poet. As discussed, this is a premise upon which the editor bases the conclusion, that there is something seriously wrong with the educational system.
Answer choice (A): The primary function of the referenced statement is to provide support for the conclusion that there is something wrong with the educational system—not that the system creates students who are ignorant of the history of poetry (it could be that the students didn’t know the meaning of the term “contemporaneous,” which the editor also considers reflective of something seriously wrong with the education system.
Answer choice (B): The editor does not believe that the question is ambiguous—the ambiguity surrounds the basis of the incorrect answers that came from the students questioned. The statement that the question stem asks about is presented by the editor as evidence of something deeply wrong with the educational system.
Answer choice (C): The editor does not consider the research results difficult to interpret in this case; the editor considers the student responses to be clearly evidentiary of something deeply wrong with the educational system. Thus, the role described in this answer choice cannot be the role of the editor’s statement.
Answer choice (D): The editor does draw a conclusion based on a premise with some degree of ambiguity, but the statement that most students responded with a 20th century poet functions as a premise on which the author bases the conclusion that something is deeply wrong with the educational system.
Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. As prephrased above, the editor presents this fact about high school students as a premise upon which the editor’s main conclusion is based: There is something very wrong with the educational system.