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#18 - In the United States proven oil reserves -- the amount

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Complete Question Explanation

Resolve the Paradox. The correct answer choice is (E)

In this stimulus two seemingly contradictory facts are presented: One, “proven oil reserves—the amount of oil considered ‘extractable’” are at the same level as ten years ago; Two, no new fields “of any consequence” have been discovered and consumption of “domestically produced oil has increased.” Pay close attention to the “extractable” definition in the dashes; the LSAT writers include this peripheral information for a reason. It is the key to the answer. Basically, there are the same fields that have the same amount of oil, but consumption has increased over ten years. We need to find an answer that explains how both of these facts can be true.

Answer Choice (A): This answer choice introduces the idea of “imported oil,” and may sound true and apropos to the current economy. However, it does not reconcile the apparent paradox, which deals exclusively with domestic oil. This answer is not relevant.

Answer Choice (B): This answer choice deals with the second statement in the stimulus and qualifies it somewhat, but does not change it significantly. Even if “conservation measures” have “lowered the rate of growth,” there is still growth and the paradox of the stimulus still is not resolved.

Answer Choice (C): This answer choice is entirely unrelated. It may explain why no new fields have been discovered, but it does not address the paradox in any way. This is a politically correct answer because it introduces “environmental concerns;” do not be tempted.

Answer Choice (D): This answer choice introduces the idea of the price of oil. If we assume this to be true, it does not explain the paradox. This may explain why consumption has increased, but not how the reserves have remained the same over ten years.

Answer Choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. It demonstrates the importance of a single word, “extractable,” in the stimulus. Although no new fields have been discovered, the old fields have been made to produce more oil. This explains how the oil reserves can match the level from ten years ago despite the consumption increase.
biskam
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I struggled with the wording of E. The stimulus to me says in the first sentence that amount considered extractable (the definition of proven oil reserves) has been the same since 10 years ago. Yet E says the exact opposite. So I felt less comfortable choosing it

Thank you!
biskam
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Although no new fields have been discovered, the old fields have been made to produce more oil. This explains how the oil reserves can match the level from ten years ago despite the consumption increase.

Ah wait, I might understand this better now. If the amount considered extractable increased in ten years, then the increased consumption might have used up all that "newly discovered extractable oil" to the point that the levels are equal to what the were ten years ago... we just can't see the record of that in the reserves because the levels are the same.
nicholaspavic
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Hi biskam,

You have definitely keyed in on the right concept here with Answer (E). I think that you have it! Well done! Keep it up!