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Critical analysis and reasoning skills (CARS) practice questions

Video transcript

the purpose of this video is to show you how I approach reading and answering questions on an example critical analysis and reasoning skills passage the name of this passage is living in a rational society I'm going to read through the passage first and when I notice important sentences or signal words I'll let you know that I'm highlighting them the rationalizing of society can be conceptualized as the pursuit of efficiency predictability calculability and control through technology but rational systems inevitably spawn a series of a rationalities that result in the compromising and perhaps even the undermining of their rationality ok so that first sentence seems pretty important because it gives a definition for the term rationalizing of society which is also mentioned in the title of this passage so I'm going to highlight that sentence I'm going to wait and see if the point about irrationalities made in the second sentence seems important after I read some more fast-food restaurants which epitomize the rational model prefer the fastest means of getting from a hungry state to a sated one without surprises at low cost and in a carnival-like setting suggesting that fun awaits the consumer at each visit the wholesomeness of the food seems an insignificant consideration whereas in the past working people were prepared to spend up to an hour preparing dinner they are now impatient if a meal is not on the table within 10 minutes for their part some fast-food restaurants have developed chairs that become uncomfortable after about 20 minutes to ensure that diners do not stay long so here the author signals that fast food restaurants are the epitome or ideal example of a rational system I'm going to highlight that part of the first sentence the and the rest of this section seems to be explaining which features of fast-food restaurants make them such a good example fast-food restaurants have preferentially recruited adolescent help at least until recently because this age group adjusts more easily than adults do to surrendering their autonomy to machines rules and procedures few skills are required on the job so workers are asked to use only a minut portion of their abilities this policy is irrational from the standpoint of the organization since it could obtain much more from its employees for the money however negligible it pays them these minimal skill demands are also irrational from the perspective of the employees who are not allowed to think or to respond creatively to the demands of the work these restrictions lead to high levels of resentment job dissatisfaction alienation absenteeism and turnover among workers in fast-food franchises in fact these businesses have the highest turnover rate of any industry in the US the entire workforce of the fast-food industry turns over three times in a year although the simple repetitive nature of the work makes it easy to replace those who leave the organization would clearly benefit from keeping employees longer the cost of hiring and training are magnified when the turnover rate is extraordinarily high so these two paragraphs tell us more about the features of fast-food restaurants that are consistent with the rationale model but here we also see the theme of irrationality emerge so I'm going to go back and highlight that theme that we saw mentioned in the second sentence I'm also going to highlight where evidence for that theme is mentioned here finally we are told but some negative consequence of the rational model seem to be the first sentence of the fourth paragraph summarizes these negative effects so I'm going to highlight that first sentence now let's continue with the passage the application of the rational model to the house building process in the 1950s and 60s led to suburban communities consisting of nearly identical structures indeed it was possible to wander into the residence of someone else and not to realize immediately that one was not at home the more expensive developments were superficially more diversified but their interior layouts assumed residents who were indistinguishable in their requirements furthermore the planned communities themselves look very similar established trees are bulldozed to facilitate construction in their place a number of saplings held up by posts and wire are planted streets are laid out in symmetrical grid patterns with such uniformity suburbanite swill may well enter the wrong subdivision or become lost in their own so in this section the author turns to a new example house building I'm going to highlight the first sentence to remind me where this new topic starts then the remainder of this section seems to be describing how elements of the rational model can be seen in this new context let's see where the passage goes next many of Steven Spielberg's domes are set in such suburbs Spielberg strategy is to lower the viewer into this highly repetitive world and then to have a completely unexpected event occur for example the film poltergeist takes place in a conventional suburban household in which evil spirits ultimately disrupt the sameness the spirits first manifest themselves through another key element of the homogeneous society the television set the great success of Spielberg's films maybe traceable to a longing for some unpredictability even if it is bizarre and menacing in increasingly routinized lives at first it's unclear what Steven Spielberg's films would have to do with the rest of the passage it seems like a digression or departure from the author's main point but then the last sentence is important because it gives us a reason why the author goes into this example I'm going to highlight that sentence it's used to show how routinized lives as dictated by the rationalized model may not be satisfying for people finally we see the reference for this passage adapted from G Ritzer the mcdonaldization of society copyright 1993 by pine forge press question 1 the author's argument suggests that the primary motive of employers who make humans work with machines is to a improve the quality of their products B reduce the cost of wages and benefits C avoid seeming to be behind the times D increase the uniformity of procedures this question is asking you to summarize or paraphrase what the author suggests is the primary motive of employers who make humans work with machines because it's asking you to summarize a specific phrase or idea from the text this is a foundations of comprehension question since the question is about employers this suggests that the answer to the question is going to be found in the first part of the text about the fast-food industry rather than the second part of the text about house building option a suggests that employers are motivated to improve the quality of their products in paragraph 2 the only part of the text that comes close to discussing quality is the sentence that says the wholesomeness of the food seems an insignificant consideration this suggests that the author believes quality of a product is not motivation thus it doesn't appear that option a is a good answer option B suggests that employers are motivated to reduce the cost of wages and benefits although the author mentions that fast-food restaurants offer products at low cost there's no discussion about trying to reduce the cost of wages and benefits with machines so it doesn't appear that option B is a good response option C says that employers are motivated to keep up with the times but there's nothing in the passage that suggests that employers are trying to stay current or seem innovative or cutting-edge so it doesn't seem that option C is a good response option D suggests that the employer is motivated to increase uniformity the opening sentence mentions control through technology in the second paragraph the author cites the desire to avoid surprises for the consumer in the third paragraph the author cites employer preference to hire employees that are comfortable with surrendering their autonomy to machines rules and procedures all these examples are consistent with the claim that the employer has control and uniformity of procedures as the main goal in using machines thus there are some evidence in the passage to support option D and it seems like the best answer question - a common thread in the discussion of fast-food and the discussion of suburban housing is that people today a are increasingly resistant to the regimentation of life B expect their needs to be met at the lowest possible cost C allow themselves to be treated as interchangeable D are unable to discriminate among products that differ in quality this question is asking you to identify a central theme or idea from the passage this means it's a foundations of comprehension question option A says that people are becoming increasingly resistant regimentation skimming through both the fast food and housing sections there's nothing suggesting that individuals are resisting regimentation of life nor that they are increasingly resistant so it doesn't appear that this is a good response option B says that people expect their needs to be met at the lowest possible cost although the discussion of the fast food industry suggests that consumers expect their fast food at low cost there's no discussion of people expecting low costs in suburban housing so it doesn't appear that option B is a common thread across the two situations option C says that people allow themselves to be treated interchangeably there does seem to be evidence for this being true of the fast-food industry in paragraph three it describes fast-food employees as being willing to surrender their autonomy to machines rules and procedures and to work in jobs where they are not allowed to think or respond creatively in paragraph four it says the simple repetitive nature of the work makes it easy to replace those who leave then in paragraph five the passage details a number of ways that people allow themselves to be interchangeable in terms of suburban housing people lived in nearly identical structures and builders assume residents are indistinguishable so option C seems to be a good answer however before selecting it we should examine whether option D is better option D suggests that people are unable to discriminate quality in the fast-food portion of the passage the author suggests that wholesomeness of food seems an insignificant consideration however just because people do not consider the quality of their fast-food it doesn't mean they cannot discriminate it further as we read through the suburban housing portion of the passage we see there's no discussion about quality in home construction so it doesn't appear that option D is a common thread an option C seems to be the best answer question three information in the passage suggest that a rationalized travel agency would emphasize a planned tours to popular attractions with accommodations at large hotels be computerized systems to provide low-cost customized itineraries C personnel trained to make reservations but with little experiences travelers D procedures that encourage problem-solving initiatives by managers this question introduces a new idea that was not mentioned in the passage it asks you to imagine a rationalized travel agency because you're being asked about a new context this is a reasoning beyond the text question which means it wants you to either apply or extrapolate the ideas in the passage to the new situation returning to the definition of a rationalized system that we highlighted in the first sentence we would expect a rationalized travel agency to emphasize the pursuit of efficiency predictability calculability and control to technology we would expect standardization for a large group of consumers option a offers planned tours at popular destinations and accommodation in large hotels this fits well with the rationalized approach so option a would seem to be a good answer option B suggest the use of computerized systems to produce low-cost customized itineraries the use of computers is obviously a form of technology which is mentioned as an aspect of a rational model however customised itineraries would represent the opposite of the rational model because they would offer individual variations rather than predict and sameness so option B does not appear to be a good response option C suggests that employees might be trained to make reservations but have little travel experience the passage does not discuss using employee background including prior experiences or lack of prior experiences as part of personnel decisions under the rationale model so it doesn't appear that option C is a good response option D says that the rationalized travel agency would emphasize problem-solving among managers however passage says that under the rationalized model employees are not allowed to think or respond creatively to the demands of work it does not discuss different practices for senior level employees such as managers thus there's no support in the passage for option D option a is the answer that has the most support from the passage question for suppose that the employee responses to working conditions in fast-food franchises paragraph four also apply to entry-level assembly line workers in light of this information the author's main point in mentioning these responses is a weakened since the fast-food industry is not unique in suppressing creativity be weakened since the monotony of work is not necessarily related to employee dissatisfaction C strengthened since predictability and employee turnover are associated in another context D strengthened since low wages and job dissatisfaction are associated in another context this question starts with the word suppose that is a good clue that this is a reasoning beyond the text question which means that it wants you to apply or extrapolate the ideas in the passage to a new situation or to think about how new information would effect the ideas in the passage the passage uses the fast-food industry an example the author describes employee responses to working conditions in the fast-food industry in the sentence we highlighted at the start of paragraph four these restrictions lead to high levels of resentment job dissatisfaction alienation absenteeism and turnover among workers and fast-food franchises the term restrictions in this sentence refers to the previous sentence where it says that employees are not allowed to think or respond creatively if this pattern is also seen in another context such as entry-level assembly line workers then the author's main point would be strengthened not weakened as proposed in options a and B so those do not seem like good answers both options C and D do state that the author's main point would be strengthened option C describes the author's main point as being a connection between predictability and turnover this is consistent with the ideas in the highlighted sentence suggesting that turnover is related to being restricted to only using a standard set of routines so there is support for option C option D describes the author's main point as being a connection between low wages and dissatisfaction however the passage does not discuss low wages as one of the reasons why employees may may be dissatisfied thus option D does not seem like a good answer an option C is a better answer