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Complete Question Explanation

Main Point, FIB. The correct answer choice is (E)

The editorial presented in this stimulus compares painting to education, in that painting involves
applying layer upon layer, each depending on the proper application of the foundational layer
below. The editorialist goes on to say that the most important steps in the process of painting are the
preparation and application of the base primer coat, so it makes sense to suppose that...

Since the stimulus closes with a space to fill in the blank, you should certainly try to prephrase
the answer. The author begins by pointing out the comparability between painting and education.
Thus, if the most important part of painting is creating the proper foundation, it makes sense to
suppose that the most important part of a student's education is the foundation—the students early
educational base.

Answer choice (A): This answer choice has an appealing reference to initial contact, but the stimulus
does not deal with being undemanding; rather, the editorial's point is that each layer depends upon
the strength of the foundational layers below.

Answer choice (B): The editorial's point is that each layer depends upon the layers below. This
choice provides that a strong foundational grasp will make progress likely—this is a different
direction from the focus of the editorial, which is that a strong education depends upon a strong

Answer choice (C): Since this choice has nothing to do with education's reliance on a strong
foundation, it cannot be the correct answer to this fill in the blank question.

Answer choice (D): This choice introduces several factors that are not present in the editorial, which
does not touch on the concepts of how rewarding the process is. This choice does not follow the flow
of the editorialist's thought process, so it cannot properly fill in the blank in this example.

Answer choice (E): This is the correct answer choice. As prephrased, much like painting, which
depends on the initial preparation and base, a student's educational success depends upon that
student's initial, foundational educational experiences.
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I'm chose E, but I'm struggling to see why B doesn't also logically complete the argument. Doesn't it make sense to assume that if the fundamentals (the underlying layers) are properly applied, the student will likely make progress in the subject?

 Adam Tyson
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Good question, Rita, and a close call on that one. E is definitely superior, so that's the one you must pick, and since we are all about picking the "best" answer, that should be the end of it. No matter how good B may be, it's not better than E.

That said, let's take a closer look at B and see why it isn't the best answer.

Our analogy is something like "the first stage in painting is the most important stage". There's no guarantee that a good first stage (prep the canvas and apply primer) will lead to a good finished product, is there? No, but without it you certainly cannot get good results. We could look at this conditionally:

SP (successful painting) -> GF (good foundation)

I'm not sure I would go there, especially because we really aren't given that sufficient condition, but it can still help to look at it this way.

To carry that idea over to education, we need something like this:

SE (successful education) -> GF (good fundamentals, or maybe good foundation again)

You can now probably see that answer B is a Mistaken Reversal:

GF -> SE

E is a much better match for our original conditional analysis.

I hope that helps clear things up for you! Keep at it!
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Makes sense, thank you!
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I have trouble understanding the explanation for why B is inferior than E, and what is the difference. Can anyone please help me out?
I just think for choice B, isn't "underlying layer" and "preparation"(from the argument) for learning a subject refers to the "fundamentals"(from answer choice B) of that subject? For answer choice E, what stopped me from choosing it is that in the argument there is no mention about "success of overall experience" (from answer choice E)? It only states what is important to achieve the "satisfactory". Not sure if these make sense, but I cannot properly link the information given, to the correct answer choice.
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Hi Vasilia!

The big difference between answer choices (B) and (D) is the concept of those preceding experiences being necessary to the success of subsequent experiences. The analogy that the author uses in the stimulus is that when painting, each layer "adheres satisfactorily only if the underlying layer has been properly applied." "Only if" is a necessary condition indicator. This means that the relationship in the analogy is a very specific one in which the proper application of the underlying layers is necessary for the subsequent layers to adhere satisfactorily. Since the author is using this analogy as the premise for their conclusion, then we are looking for a conclusion about education that matches the example regarding painting. In that case, it needs to be a similar relationship in which the success of a previous condition is necessary for the success of subsequent conditions.

Answer choice (E) matches the analogy well: "the success of a student's overall educational experience depends above all upon that student's initial educational experience." The word "depends" tells us that something is necessary. So in this answer choice, the relationship between previous educational experience and subsequent educational experience is similar to the relationship between previous paint layers and subsequent paint layers: the success of the previous condition is necessary for the success of subsequent conditions. "Overall educational experience" more or less matches the idea of subsequent layers being satisfactorily applied (think of it as the overall outcome of the paint job). And, really, the more important consideration here is to capture the correct relationship between conditions.

Answer choice (B) states that "students who have a secure grasp of the fundamentals of a subject are likely to make progress in that subject." But this does not retain the same relationship that is in our analogy because this does not say that a grasp of the fundamentals is necessary for later success. Instead, it just tells us that having a grasp of the fundamentals makes a student more likely to progress. That's not as specific as the relationship between paint layers that we are looking to match. Also, just saying that a student is likely to progress doesn't actually tell us much about how successful the student will be. You can keep adding paint layers even if the previous layers aren't so great--the point is that whether those subsequent layers will be satisfactorily applied depends on how satisfactorily applied those previous layers were.

So focus on the relationships between terms and look out for conditional indicators which signal a very specific type of relationship between conditions!

Hope this helps!


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