# Practice GMAT Critical Reasoning Question

For years, a considerable number of students on West County High School's track team complained about shin splints (medial tibial syndrome). However, during the most recent season, the number of students who complained about shin splints dropped significantly. School officials assert that this reduction in complaints occurred entirely as a result of the school's decision to build a new running track that provided a softer running surface, which absorbed much of the shock on the knees and shins that occurs when running and causes shin splints.
Which of the following, if true, most severely weakens the school officials' explanation for the decrease in complaints about shin splints?
 A) As a result of West County High School's adoption of better medical staff and new medical scanning devices, many students whose complaints would have been diagnosed in years past as an instance of shin splints are now diagnosed with a different condition. B) West County High School built its track after a number of neighboring schools with similar track teams built new tracks and each school saw the number of complaints about shin splints drop. C) This past season, members of West County High School's track team received and wore new and highly acclaimed shoes designed to soften the impact of running on the shin and knee. D) This past season, the total number of students who complained of pain while running rose. E) The maker of the new track claims that on average, complaints about shin splints fall 25% when its tracks are implemented.

The school authorities argue that the new track "entirely" caused the reduction in "complaints" about shin splints. There are two important points about this argument.

(1) The argument of the school administrators is based upon a reduction in the number of complaints about shin splints, which is not the same as a reduction in the number of actual instances. It is entirely possible that students complain about shin splints and yet actually have other problems.

(2) The argument of the school administrators established a causal relationship (i.e., the new track caused the reduction). This is a much more assertive and broad claim than simply noticing that the two are correlated (i.e., occurred together).

1. The argument made by West County High School officials is based upon the fact that "the number of students who complained about shin splints dropped significantly." This answer would weaken an argument that dealt with the number of diagnosed instances of shin splints. However, the school administrators make their argument only because of a reduction in the number of "claims."
2. This answer significantly strengthens the argument of the high school administrators by noting that other schools experienced a link between a new track and a decrease in claims about shin splints.
3. This answer calls into question the school's assertion that the new track was "entirely" responsible for the reduction in claims of shin splints. The answer does this through providing an alternative and viable (but not necessarily competing) explanation of the reduction in claims of shin splints.
4. The original argument pertains to complaints about shin splints in particular (not the number of students who "complained of pain while running"). This answer confuses complaints in general with complaints about shin splints in particular.
5. This answer strengthens the school officials' claim instead of weakening it as it provides more evidence that the new track helped decrease complaints of shin splints.