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#11 - After examining the options, the budget committee

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Complete Question Explanation

Parallel Reasoning. The correct answer choice is (E)

This question is quite easy but provides a good opportunity to discuss some of the basics in approaching
Parallel Reasoning questions. In this question, there are four key characteristics of the stimulus that must
be paralleled in the correct answer choice. First, there must be an established threshold and two items
given (in the stimulus, the threshold is the cost limit and the two phone-systems are the items). Second,
the threshold and both items must be defined by the same characteristic (all three are defined with regard
to expense). Third, with regards to this characteristic, the items must have the same relationship to each
other as one of the items has to the threshold (QI is less expensive than the cost limit and Corelink is less
expensive than OI). Fourth, the conclusion must validly prove that each item has the same relationship to
the threshold (therefore, Corelink’s system must also be inexpensive enough to be within the limit). Only
answer choice (E) matches the stimulus in each of these four aspects and is therefore correct.

Answer choice (A): This answer choice has a threshold (being able to touch the ceiling) and two items
(Marissa and Jeff). However, Marissa’s relationship to the threshold (able to touch the ceiling when she
jumps as high as she can) is not defined by the same characteristic as Marissa’s relationship to Jeff (Jeff
is taller than Marissa). Since jumping ability and height are different and independent characteristics,
this answer choice does not parallel the stimulus.

Answer choice (B): This answer choice commits the same fallacy as answer choice (A), though
in a more obvious fashion. The threshold is “able to run five miles,” which Kate is able to do. The
relationship between Kate and Lana is “Lana smokes fewer cigarettes per day than Kate now does.” This
is clearly not the same as establishing that Lana is able to run further than Kate, which would parallel the
reasoning in the stimulus.

Answer choice (C): This is the first answer choice that defines both items and the threshold by the same
characteristic (i.e. blood-alcohol level). But it is wrong for two reasons. First, the relationship between
John’s blood-alcohol level and Paul’s blood-alcohol level is unknown. This does not match the stimulus.
Second, whereas the conclusion in the stimulus is logically valid, the conclusion in answer choice (C)
is not logically valid since Paul’s blood-alcohol level could be significantly lower than John’s and thus
be below the threshold. Note that the conclusion of the correct answer choice in a parallel reasoning
question will always have the same validity as the conclusion in the stimulus (known as the Validity

Some test takers will ask if this answer choice can be eliminated because both items here are above this
threshold while both items in the stimulus are below the threshold there. The answer is no. Logically, it
does not matter in which direction the two items vary from the threshold; it is only important that they
vary in the same way. In other words, if this answer choice said that Paul’s blood-alcohol level must be
above the legal limit since his blood-alcohol level was higher than John’s, it would logically parallel the
stimulus and could be correct.

Answer choice (D): The threshold here is “dark enough…to be the kind that Luis really likes.” “This
chocolate” is “not quite dark enough” and fails to meet the threshold. Is this characteristic sufficient to
eliminate this answer choice? No. It could still be correct if the second item had the same relationship
to the first as the first item has to the threshold. If “that chocolate over there” were lighter than “this
chocolate,” one could logically conclude that “that chocolate over there” is also not dark enough to be
the kind that Luis really likes. However, since that is not the case in this answer choice, it does parallel
the stimulus and is incorrect.

Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. Most test takers who read all five answer
choices correctly selected this answer choice. Health Dairy’s sharp cheddar cheese is lower in fat than
the threshold for the “low-fat” labeling standard. Health Dairy’s mild cheddar cheese is lower in fat than
its sharp cheddar cheese and is therefore lower in fat than the threshold. This answer choice parallels the
stimulus in all of its critical logical elements.
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I had a quick clarification question regarding this parallel question. I correctly chose E but was torn between B and E.

My general abstraction of the stimulus was this:
Something meets a general criteria and something similar also meets the said criteria based on a comparison to the first thing.

Is B incorrect because it isn't referencing any "criteria" while E discusses standards for cheese labeling? If you could clarify the issue with B that would be greatly appreciated.

Dave Killoran
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Hi Erin,

Yes, exactly. Both the stimulus and answer choice (E) have a limit or parameter that is used as the first point of comparison, whereas answer choice (B) doesn't have that.

Good eye on seeing that difference!
Dave Killoran
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Okay, great! Thanks!