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Complete Question Explanation

Parallel Reasoning. The correct answer choice is (B)

This radio producer discusses the choice with which the radio station is faced: either devote some of
their air time to more popular kinds of music, or continue with the approach that the station has had
in place, playing classical music to appeal to a small but loyal following. Since the old approach was
not effective, and the small audience did not generate sufficient ad revenue, the producer says that
merely appealing to that audience would put the station at risk of going out of business, concluding
that the station should indeed make the change and devote some air time to newer music styles. The
radio producer’s argument can be broken down as follows:

..... Premise: ..... The station must decide to stick with classical music, which appeals to a small
..... ..... ..... ..... but loyal audience, or to start playing other types of music to appeal to new
..... ..... ..... ..... listeners.

..... Premise: ..... The small, loyal audience of classical music fans did not raise sufficient
..... ..... ..... ..... advertising revenue.

..... Sub-conclusion: Thus, continuing to appeal to that limited audience puts the company at risk.

..... Conclusion: ..... Therefore, they should start playing other popular styles of music.

The question that follows asks for the answer choice that most closely parallels the reasoning in the
stimulus. In the abstract, the radio producer’s argument is basically as follows:
We have two choices. The first option is not effective, so we should decide on the other different

Answer choice (A): This answer begins on the right track: the author presents a decision between
two options: either blinds or curtains. The blinds would be expensive. Thus, this choice concludes, if
cost is the main issue, they should decide on curtains. This is different from the argument presented
in the stimulus, because in that case, one of the options, it seems, simply will not work, whereas
in this case, the conclusion is simply to go with the cheaper choice if cost is the main concern: We
have two options: The first option is more expensive, so if cost is important we should decide on the
second option.

Answer choice (B): This is the correct answer choice. This choice, like the author of the stimulus,
presents two options: either curtains or blinds. Blinds would have to be special ordered, and the
author says there is not sufficient time to wait, so curtains are the right decision. Again, much like
the argument presented in the stimulus, the abstract version of this choice would be something along
these lines: We have two options. The first option will not work, so we should decide on the other

Answer choice (C): The choice presented in this answer is different from the start: They can make
curtains, or valances, or both. Since this is different from the choice presented in the stimulus, it
cannot be the correct answer to this Parallel Reasoning question.

Answer choice (D): This answer deals with decisions, but they are very different from the one
presented in the stimulus. In this case, the first choice is to make curtains, which would necessitate
buying more fabric, or to make valances instead, which would necessitate buying blinds. Since
finding matching fabric would be difficult, this choice concludes that they should buy blinds. Since
this argument is very different from the one presented in the stimulus, it should be ruled out of

Answer choice (E): This answer choice begins on the right track, with the presentation of a simple
choice: either to buy blinds or to make curtains for the windows. Blinds without valances will make
the windows look bare, which the author does not want. The conclusion: if they decide not to make
curtains, and to make blinds instead, they should also make valances. This qualified conclusion
is different from the absolute conclusion presented in the stimulus, in which the author makes the
decision very clear.
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I'm having trouble seeing the parallel between the stimulus and Answer Choice B. Can someone help me see it in terms of the premise/conclusion structure?

 Laura Carrier
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Hi lday4,

You are right that this is a challenging parallel to see, and your wish to understand the argument parts and their relationships is exactly how you should be thinking about this sort of question!

Looking at the basic structure of the argument, we find the following:
  • Premise 1: We need to make a binary choice between playing more popular genres and sticking to solely classical music, which can attract only a small (though loyal) audience.

    Premise 2: The classical audience (however loyal) cannot generate enough advertising to pay our bills.

    Intermediate conclusion (and premise 3): Thus, if we stick solely to classical (option 2 from the first premise), we risk going out of business.

    Premise 4: But we shouldn’t take that risk.

    Conclusion: Therefore we should play some more popular genres (option1 from premise 1).
Since this argument contains conditional reasoning, it is essential in a parallel reasoning question to analyze it closely and find an answer choice that precisely matches its logical structure. Making it more abstract, the structure of the conditional reasoning portion of the stimulus looks like this:
  • Premise: If we choose option 2, then we risk going out of business
    Premise: We shouldn’t risk going out of business
    Conclusion: We shouldn’t choose option 2 (though cleverly concealed by indicating that we should choose the other option, which also effectively means that we shouldn’t choose option 2)
If you think of this even more abstractly in the form of a diagram, you will recognize that it takes the classic LSAT argument form of a conditional statement followed by its contrapositive, first giving us the conditional relationship, A :arrow: B; then telling us B; and finally concluding that therefore A.

After this analysis, we can form the prephrase that we are looking for an answer choice that (1) sets us a binary choice, (2) makes one of the two binary options a sufficient condition in a conditional relationship, (3) tells us that the necessary condition is missing, and (4) concludes that therefore we can’t have the sufficient condition.

Answer choice (B) does exactly what we need it to, and even includes the same potentially misleading conclusion (telling us that we should choose the alternative option, rather than directly stating that the sufficient condition shouldn't happen). Think about what it says:
  • Premise 1: We need to make a binary choice between making curtains and buying blinds.

    Premise 2: The windows are not standard sizes.

    Intermediate conclusion (and premise 3): Thus, if we buy blinds (option 2 from the first premise), we will have to special order them.

    Premise 4: But we don’t have time to wait for special orders.

    Conclusion: Therefore we should make the curtains (option 1 from premise 1).
Looking this closely, you can see that the logical structure here matches the stimulus exactly! Most importantly, the conditional reasoning in answer choice (B) takes the same form of a conditional statement and its contrapositive (spread out over a premise that tells us B, and a conclusion that effectively tells us therefore A).

I hope this makes the parallel easier to see!

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Hi, I just wanted to make sure I have the right reasons for eliminating the wrong answers.

For A: There is no binary choice here because it's not established that cost is the greatest concern
C: There are three options instead of two.
D: It mentions that "it would be hard" to chose choice A (buying more fabric) but doesn't mention that it is impossible. Also, it introduces a third term C (buying blinds) which is not in the original stimulus
E: The conclusion only address the situation in which one of the options (making curtains) does not occur, so there is no binary decision made here either (i.e. having to choose between A and B)

If anything is off, could someone correct me? Thank you!
 Kristina Moen
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Hi bli,

Yes, I'd also add that for answer choice (A), the conclusion starts out as "if cost is our greatest concern..." You want to Parallel the Conclusion. The stimulus' conclusion does not include that "hedging" language. There's no "if," only what the station should do.
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Hello! I'm having difficulty understanding how c is incorrect here. To me, it seems that C is providing the same number of choices as the stimulus (even if unstated), as isn't "both" the same thing as "devoting some airtime to other, more popular genres of music"? I feel like the key word is "some", as that implies they could either devote all airtime to the new stuff, some (both), or just stick to the old stuff.
 Adam Tyson
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The stimulus isn't presenting three options, Agent00729, but only two: either we change the programming (to include other stuff) or we do not change it. There isn't a third choice of doing both, because either you change or you don't change. It's binary by its very nature.

You may be thinking about the range of options within the choice of "change things", which might include a complete change, or a 50/50 split, or just a little bit of other programming, etc., but the initial choice is still binary.: We either change, or we stay the same. The author has said staying the same is risky, so changing is the way to go. One option is bad, so the other option should be selected.

Answer C presents a third option, and then concludes by ignoring the third option. Why not do both? That different structure, and the flaw inherent in it, is why it is not parallel to the stimulus.
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That makes sense, thanks!

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