LSAT 90 – Section 4 – Question 10

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Type Tags Answer
Curve Question
PT90 S4 Q10
Main conclusion or main point +MC
+Medium 148.293 +SubsectionMedium

This is a Main Conclusion question.

I think a little bit of economics knowledge is helpful for this question. The stimulus says railroads rely increasingly on automation. And since fewer railroad workers are needed (premise), operating costs have been reduced (conclusion). When an industry increasingly relies on automation, it means it needs fewer workers, right? And as a result, operating costs have been reduced. It is cheaper to operate railroads now. Let’s read on to see if this is the main conclusion or a sub-conclusion.

The stimulus then says this means that we can expect the volume of freight shipped by rail to grow, with “this” referring to the fact that it is cheaper to operate railroads. “Operating costs have been reduced” now sounds like a sub-conclusion. Why should I believe that railway shipping volume will grow? Because railway is cheaper. People are now going to use more of it. This is not an airtight argument. There are multiple assumptions at play. One is that because operating costs are reduced, price will be reduced. Another is that because price is reduced, demand will increase. Noted, but we're just looking for the main conclusion here.

Now the last sentence says that the chief competitor of railway shipping is shipping by truck, and no reduction in operating costs is predicted for the trucking industry. If we make the same two assumptions again here, that means prices for trucking are not going to change. And because trucks are railway’s competitors, that means relative to trucks, railway's price is cheaper. If we assume that relative costs affect demand, then that's also support for the conclusion that the volume of freight shipped by rail will grow. So that's the main conclusion.

If this were a Weaken or Strengthen question, then we would definitely latch onto any of those assumptions. But this is just an MC question.

Correct Answer Choice (A) is the correct paraphrasing. The volume of freight shipped by rail can be expected to increase.

Answer Choice (B) could be correct in “inference from the author's perspective” questions in Reading Comprehension that ask for the claim the author would most likely agree with. (B) says increasing reliance on automation means that fewer railroad workers are needed. While this is definitely implied in the first two sentences of the stimulus, it is not the main conclusion.

Answer Choices (C) and (E) say no reduction in operating cost is predicted for the trucking industry, and that the chief competitor for railway shipping is shipping by truck. Both of these are true claims, but neither is the conclusion.

We can confirm this because neither is supported in any way. For (E), what if I believed that the chief competitor of railroads is cargo donkeys? The author does not try to convince me that I am wrong. (E) is just a take it or leave it, a premise. Conclusions are not take it or leave it. They give us reasons why we should believe.

The same goes for (C). Maybe I believe that there will be a reduction in operating costs for the trucking industry. Have you not heard of Tesla trucks? They are supposed to be way cheaper. Again, the author would not try to convince me otherwise, and that is not the characteristic of a conclusion.

Answer Choice (D) says operating costs for railroads have been reduced as a result of increased reliance on automation. This is just the argument that produces the sub-conclusion/major premise, which then in turn supports the main conclusion.

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