PSAT Critical Reading : Interpreting Graphs

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Interpreting Graphs

The chart below  maps how scientists view others' work (left) and how they suspect others will view their own work (right) if the researcher (the scientist or another, depending on the focus) admitted to engaging in questionable research practices.

Adapted from Fetterman & Sassenberg, "The Reputational Consequences of Failed Replications and Wrongness Admission among Scientists." December 9, 2015, PLOS One. 

According to the graph, when the focus of the question was on their own actions, scientists

Possible Answers:

were more likely to admit that a study was wrong if they were more suspicious of other work.

incorrectly assumed that admitting that a study was wrong would lead others to be more suspicious of their work.

correctly assumed that admitting that a study was wrong would not lead to an increase in suspicion of their work.

were less likely to admit that a study was wrong if they were more suspicious of other work.

Correct answer:
incorrectly assumed that admitting that a study was wrong would lead others to be more suspicious of their work.
Explanation:

The key to any graph-based question is to make sure to look not just at the graph itself, but also at any additional information that is presented with the graph. In this case, you are told that the bars on the left represent how the scientists would view others' future work if the other person admitted to wrongdoing. Notice that if the other person admitted that they had been wrong that the people surveyed would be less likely to suspect them than if they didn't admit to wrongdoing. In contrast, the bars on the right show how they would anticipate others to react if they admitted to wrongdoing. In this case, they said that others would be more suspicious of their work if they did admit to wrongdoing than if they didn't. The answer that matches this is "incorrectly assumed that admitting that a study was wrong would lead others to be more suspicious of their work". While they assumed that others would be more suspicious of their work if they admitted to wrongdoing, scientists in general were less suspicious of individuals who admitted to wrongdoing.

Example Question #2 : Interpreting Graphs

The chart below  maps how scientists view others' work (left) and how they suspect others will view their own work (right) if the researcher (the scientist or another, depending on the focus) admitted to engaging in questionable research practices.

Adapted from Fetterman & Sassenberg, "The Reputational Consequences of Failed Replications and Wrongness Admission among Scientists." December 9, 2015, PLOS One. 

Which of the following is best supported by the graph?

Possible Answers:

Scientists were slightly more likely to view others as honest if they did admit to wrongness.

Scientists were slightly less likely to view others as honest if they did not admit to wrongness.

Scientists were much more likely to view others as honest if they admitted to wrongness.

Scientists believed that others would view them as much less honest if they admitted to wrongness.

Correct answer:

Scientists believed that others would view them as much less honest if they admitted to wrongness.

Explanation:

Scientists viewed others who admitted to wrongdoing with less suspicion than they viewed people who did not admit to wrongdoing. However, scientists believed that others would view them as less trustworthy if they admitted to wrongdoing. This matches "scientists believed that others would view them as much less honest if they admitted to wrongness."

The other choices can all be eliminated because they make the claim that there is some sort of relationship that can be drawn between scientists in one group and the other. Because you don't have scientist- by-scientist data, however, you can't make any conclusions linking individual scientists in each survey group.

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