Is This GMAT Question Suspect?

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomI came across a discussion on one of our questions where the respondents were split over whether it is a strengthen question or weaken! Mind you, both sides had many supporters but the majority was with the incorrect side. You must have read the write up on ‘support’ in your Veritas Prep CR book where we discuss how question stems having the word ‘support’ could indicate either strengthen or inference questions. I realized that we need a write up on the word ‘suspect’ too so here goes.

First let me give you the question stem of that question:

Which of the following, if true, supplies the best reason to suspect that the proposed new course will increase interest in the metropolitan cooking academy?

So do we have to find a reason which indicates that the new course WILL increase interest in the academy or do we have to find a reason that indicates that the new course WILL NOT increase interest in the academy? That is, is this a type of ‘strengthen’ question or the opposite – a ‘weaken’ question?

I would have expected most people to tag it as a strengthen question i.e. we are looking for a reason which indicates that the new course WILL increase interest in the academy but that is not the case. Many people get waylaid by the word ‘suspect’ and incorrectly tag it as a weaken question. Yes, suspect could mean ‘doubtful’ but just because the question stem has it, it doesn’t mean you have a weaken question at hand. Similar to the situation where the word ‘support’ in the question stem doesn’t necessarily imply that you have been given a strengthen question to deal with.

Let’s discuss various meanings of the word ‘suspect’ and how they are used (using merriam-webster.com):

Suspect can be used as a verb, noun or adjective. In our question stem, it is used as a verb and that’s what we will focus most on but let’s take up the other two briefly first.

SUSPECT (- NOUN) – one that is suspected; especially a person suspected of a crime

  1. One suspect has been arrested.
  2. She is a possible suspect in connection with the kidnapping.

SUSPECT (- ADJECTIVE) regarded or deserving to be regarded with suspicion

doubtful, questionable

  1. The room had a suspect odor.
  2. Since she was carrying no cash or credit cards, her claim to the store’s detectives that she had intended to pay for the items was suspect.

SUSPECT ( – VERB) – The verb suspect can be used in 3 different ways:

  1. to imagine (one) to be guilty or culpable on slight evidence or without proof

For Example: He’s suspected in four burglaries.

2.  to have doubts of: distrust

For Example: The fire chief suspects arson. I suspect his intentions.

3. to imagine to exist or be true, likely, or probable

For Example: I suspect it will rain.

Given a construction “I suspect A will happen”, which meaning will it have? In this case, it has the meaning of ‘imagine to be true’ or ‘think to be true’. There is absolutely no ambiguity here. When I ask “Which option supplies the best reason to suspect that the new course will increase interest in the academy?” you are definitely looking for the option that indicates that the new course WILL increase interest. Let me give you the whole question now. I am sure you will be able to solve it easily.

Question: The metropolitan cooking academy surveyed prospective students and found that students wanted a curriculum that focused on today’s healthy dining trends. In order to reverse the trend of declining interest in the school’s programs, administrators propose a series of new courses focused on cooking exotic species of fish, alternative grains such as quinoa, and organically produced vegetables.

Which of the following, if true, supplies the best reason to suspect that the proposed new course will increase interest in the metropolitan cooking academy?

(A) Cooking fish, grains, and vegetables relies on same culinary fundamentals as does the preparation of other ingredients.
(B) In the food and beverage industry, many employers no longer have time to train apprentices and therefore demand basic culinary skills from their new hires.
(C) Local producers in the area near the Metropolitan cooking academy are excellent sources of exotic fish and organic vegetables.
(D) Many other cooking schools have found a decline in the level of interest in their program.
(E) Many advocates of healthy dining stress the importance of including fish, grains and organically produced vegetables in one’s diet.

Solution: Let’s break down the argument:

Premises:

A survey found that students wanted a curriculum that focused on today’s healthy dining trends.

Administrators propose a series of new courses focused on cooking fish, alternative grains and organically produced vegetables

What will indicate that the new course will increase interest in the academy? If fish, grains and organic vegetables are considered ‘today’s healthy dining trends’, then probably the course will become popular. That is what option (E) says. Hence the answer is (E).

I suspect that the word suspect will not waylay any reader of this article anymore.

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

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