Question about Wilson's Dep. Store (I don't think I'm allowed to post it here).
I'm just beginning to (re)study LSAT stuff for the June test, and am gonna follow Pithypike's guide pretty closely. I'm only on day 3 of my studying and so far I've reviewed Assumption Qs in the LRB (which I found only marginally helpful) and just finished completing the first 30 Assumption Qs in the Big Orange Book (while timing myself  took me 3435 mins to complete these 30 Qs).
I got 2 wrong in this section, but the one I particularly don't understand is from PT 12, Sec. 1, #22. I've read the explanation in the back of the book and even Googled the question but none of the explanations I've read have helped me. Can anyone clarify for me?
For example, the answer says that the criterion for giving awards has remained the same (top 1/3), and the premises state that the # of award winners, in addition to the number of losers, have both decreased over the last decade & a half.
But why can't this be true:
Today:
Top 1/3 = 10 people (win)
Middle 1/3 = 10 people (lose)
Bottom 1/3 = 10 people (lose) (20 people total lose)
Fifteen Years Ago: Say, the criteria to win an award was being in the top half, not the top third, of the salesmen (this would contradict the correct answer). For example:
Top 1/2 = 50 people (win)
Bottom 1/2 = 50 people (lose)
In this situation, the criteria for distributing awards changed, but the premises still hold, that both the number of winners declined (from 50 to 10), and the number of those "passed over" declined as well (from 50 to 20).
I try to think in my head of what the correct answer will be before I read the choices, and I was looking for an answer that said "the total number of salespeople declined", but it wasn't there.
Can anyone let me know where I've gone wrong! / Why the correct answer is (C) ? Thanks!
PT 12  Sec 1  #22

 Posts: 746
 Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:43 am
Re: PT 12  Sec 1  #22
Here's my writeup of the problem  I'll reread your post to see if your issue is addressed:
To summarize this argument: the conclusion is that the number of salespeople who are not receiving an award has declined over the last 15 years. Why? Because the number of salespeople receiving it has decreased and the criterion that is now used is to simply bestow the award on the top third of the sales force.
With this argument, there is a fishy jump in time: the data is from over the last 15 years but the president mentions only the present award criterion. What if the criterion mentioned has been used only for the past year and it used to be that the top half of the sales force would receive the award? Let's work it out to see if we can disprove the company president's conclusion: if there were 100 salespeople 15 years ago, and half won the award, then that would be 50 receiving, 50 not. If the sales force increases to 120 and this year the top third won an award, only 40 people would win it. The number of winners decreases but the number of nonwinners would increase.
So, if the criteria changes, we cannot be sure if the president's argument is valid. (C) is an assumption that would allow the president to draw the conclusion she did as it establishes that the criterion remained stable. If it's always been that only a third receives the prize, if that amount drops then it must be that the total number of employees has dropped, and the twothirds not receiving would also decrease.
(A) is out of scope  we're not interested in hiring.
(B) would disrupt the president's line of reasoning, as we saw above
(D) is out of scope
(E) is tempting, but regardless of how the sales figures are calculated, there will still be a third (or half) who receive the award. We're not interested in who receives the award but in how many do.
To summarize this argument: the conclusion is that the number of salespeople who are not receiving an award has declined over the last 15 years. Why? Because the number of salespeople receiving it has decreased and the criterion that is now used is to simply bestow the award on the top third of the sales force.
With this argument, there is a fishy jump in time: the data is from over the last 15 years but the president mentions only the present award criterion. What if the criterion mentioned has been used only for the past year and it used to be that the top half of the sales force would receive the award? Let's work it out to see if we can disprove the company president's conclusion: if there were 100 salespeople 15 years ago, and half won the award, then that would be 50 receiving, 50 not. If the sales force increases to 120 and this year the top third won an award, only 40 people would win it. The number of winners decreases but the number of nonwinners would increase.
So, if the criteria changes, we cannot be sure if the president's argument is valid. (C) is an assumption that would allow the president to draw the conclusion she did as it establishes that the criterion remained stable. If it's always been that only a third receives the prize, if that amount drops then it must be that the total number of employees has dropped, and the twothirds not receiving would also decrease.
(A) is out of scope  we're not interested in hiring.
(B) would disrupt the president's line of reasoning, as we saw above
(D) is out of scope
(E) is tempting, but regardless of how the sales figures are calculated, there will still be a third (or half) who receive the award. We're not interested in who receives the award but in how many do.

 Posts: 746
 Joined: Tue Oct 12, 2010 8:43 am
Re: PT 12  Sec 1  #22
I reread your post, and it's interesting how we both negated the correct answer, but the difference is that you worked out a situation in which it doesn't invalidate the argument, but you needed to use it to see if it could destroy it.
I added in the idea that the salesforce increased, but even without doing that, you could have come up with this:
Today: (top third) 10 recieve, 20 don't
15 years ago: (top fifth win) 6 win, 24 don't
Here, we see the premise (the number of winners decreased), but the number of nonreceivers doesn't.
Your goal in negating the answer, with a problem with so many numbers, is to see if you can make it an argumentdestroyer (and thus a necessary assumption).
Make sense?
I added in the idea that the salesforce increased, but even without doing that, you could have come up with this:
Today: (top third) 10 recieve, 20 don't
15 years ago: (top fifth win) 6 win, 24 don't
Here, we see the premise (the number of winners decreased), but the number of nonreceivers doesn't.
Your goal in negating the answer, with a problem with so many numbers, is to see if you can make it an argumentdestroyer (and thus a necessary assumption).
Make sense?