The New Angel Law School allows students to evaluate their law professors. Evaluations are submitted in paper on the last day of school. Some professors at the law school either do not disseminate the evaluation forms or do so selectively and many students do not attend the last day of school. A new system allows students to evaluate their law professors online. Online evaluations can be submitted at any point during the school year. Therefore, evaluations under the online system will accurately reflect the distribution of student opinion about teaching performance.
Which one of the following is an assumption required by the argument?
(A) Law professors who disseminate the evaluation forms selectively, do so only to the students they personally like.
(B) Students can wisely and insightfully asses a professor’s performance before the end of the school year.
(C) The old system of evaluation should not be used in any law school.
(D) Nearly all law professors who do not disseminate the evaluation forms do so because they believe the students will give negative evaluations.
(E) Law students who are unhappy with their professors are not more likely than students who are happy with their professors to submit an online evaluation.
This is an assumption question. We are looking to determine which statement is required by the argument. The author of the argument has made an assumption or skipped over a point in the logic in order to come the the conclusion and this assumption will be our correct answer.
First we should determine the conclusion of the argument. Our conclusion here is the last sentence of the argument: “Therefore, evaluations under the online system will accurately reflect the distribution of student opinion about teaching performance”. Notice that the word “Therefore” signals the start of the conclusion in this case.
Prior to this conclusion the argument proceeds in summary as follows:
– there is an old system of evaluation using paper forms
– these forms are submitted on the last day of classes
– these forms are not submitted to all students due to various biases and problems
– a new system allows all students to submit evaluations online
– the new system allows for evaluations at any point in the year
(A) The fact that professors disseminate the forms only to students they like is not required for our conclusion. It may help discredit the existing system but does not make the new system accurate as our conclusion requires.
(B) Many students choose this answer choice at it would seem to be an assumption that helps our conclusion. However, our conclusion requires only that the new system accurately reflects student opinion, not whether that opinion is wise or insightful. If our students opinion is not wise or insightful as this answer offers, our new system could still accurately reflect the students unwise opinions.
(C) This answer choice is much too strong. Our conclusion does not require nor does it go so far as to say that the old system should not be used at ANY law school. Look out for strong wording such as ALL, ANY, NONE, EVERY etc.
(D) Once again this answer choice has strong working, with ALL professors. However, the real issue with this answer choice is that our conclusion does not depend upon the belief of our professors in choosing not to hand out the forms. Our conclusion relates only to the accuracy of our new system.
(E) This is our correct answer. This assumption is required for our conclusion. If this assumption is not true then our unhappy students would be more likely to submit online evaluations and the online system would be negatively biased making it an inaccurate expression of student opinion and negating our conclusion. Our argument requires this assumption to be effective and so we have our correct answer choice. This technique of reversing our answer choice in assumption questions and testing the effect on our conclusion is a great way to check for correct answers. A required assumption when reversed will destroy your conclusion.