Parallel Reasoning—SN. The correct answer choice is (B)
This question is difficult for many students, because sorting among the similarly-worded answer choices requires close attention to the detail of the language in the stimulus. The stimulus itself, however, is fairly straightforward, other than its order of presentation, which begins with the conclusion in the first sentence. There are three parts to this argument: a conditional rule; a fact that invokes the rule’s sufficient condition; and the conclusion, which satisfies the necessary condition.
Although the stimulus begins with the conclusion in the first sentence, we begin our analysis by looking at the last sentence, which provides the conditional rule: any item on display at Furniture Labyrinth is well crafted.
- display at Furniture Labyrinthitem well crafteditem
Next, you are told that halogen lamps from most major manufacturers are on display at Furniture Labyrinth. This fact invokes the sufficient condition of our rule. Because we used “item” as a subscript when we diagrammed the rule above, we can simply replace “item” with “halogen lamps from most major manufacturers,” abbreviated as “HL”:
- display at Furniture LabyrinthHL
The stimulus author applies the conditional rule to this information about halogen lamps to reach the conclusion that we can be sure that at least some halogen lamps are well crafted, truncated as “some HL”
- display at Furniture LabyrinthHL well craftedsome HL
Your prephrase in this Parallel Reasoning question is that the stimulus argument applied a conditional rule to a single statement of fact to derive a valid, limited conclusion about “some” of a type of item (i.e., at least some halogen lamps are well crafted).
Answer choice (A): The most efficient way to eliminate this answer choice is to recognize that its predictive conclusion, that “the temperature will drop abruptly on at least one day this week,” does not match the conclusion, which had to do with a current state of affairs, i.e., at least some halogen lamps are well crafted.
Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice. This answer choice presents a conditional rule, presents evidence that invokes the sufficient condition of that rule, and then concludes that since the sufficient condition has been satisfied, then the necessary condition must have been satisfied as well. In the argument breakdown provided below, the subscript “it” is used to replace the indefinite pronoun “everything.” Reordered for clarity, the argument proceeds:
- Premise: everything Melinda writes is disturbing
Melinda writesit disturbingit
Premise: Melinda has written several different kinds of sonnets
Conclusion: we can be positive that there are at least a few disturbing sonnets
disturbingat least a few sonnets
Answer choice (C): As with answer choice (A), the conclusion to this answer choice is a prediction regarding the future, rather than a description of present conditions.
Answer choice (D): This answer choice is incorrect, because the evidence presented does not satisfy the sufficient condition of the rule applied to reach the conclusion. The sufficient condition was “every lake nearby,” meaning that if it is a lake nearby, then it is teaming with healthy fish. This rule does not imply that every fish in every nearby lake is healthy. The conclusion to this answer choice, that at least some minnows are healthy, results from the application of a rule, not actually provided, that would state: if it is a fish in a nearby lake, then it is a healthy fish.
Answer choice (E): This is an attractive, incorrect answer choice that relies on a very subtle distinction between the conclusion in the stimulus and the conclusion in the answer choice. In the stimulus, the conclusion was that “at least some” halogen lamps are well crafted. Similarly, in answer choice (B), the conclusion was that there are “at least a few” disturbing sonnets. In this answer choice, however, the conclusion is that the cornmeal used is healthful and organic. In order to match the stimulus, this answer choice should have stated something like “at least some of the cornmeal used at Matteo’s Trattoria is healthful and organic.” Such language would better match the language in the stimulus, in which the conclusion was that at least some of one possible type of thing had the relevant characteristic (i.e., at least some of one type of item on display at the Furniture Labyrinth were well crafted).