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GMAT Question of the Day – 23/12/2020


Over the last three years, the city of Las Vegas has grown in population at a rate of 6 percent per year. Over the same period of time, however, water usage inside the city of Las Vegas is down almost 15 percent.

Each of the following, if true, could help to explain the simultaneous decline in water usage and increase in population in Las Vegas, EXCEPT:


(D) Three years ago, a mining company that consumed vast amounts of water operated within the city limits; now that company is out of business.


This is an Explain EXCEPT question. Expect there to be a paradox or apparent contradiction in the stimulus and for the four wrong choices to explain how both parts of the apparent contradiction can be true at the same time. The correct answer will not explain it and may even deepen the mystery.

The two parts of the apparent contradiction in an Explain question are often separated by a contrast word, such as “but,” “yet,” or, in this case, “however.” On the one hand, the population of Las Vegas has grown at a rate of 6 percent per year. On the other hand, water usage is down almost 15 percent.

Explain questions are often not predictable. Typically, there is just no way to know what the GMAT will come up with to explain the situation. Just be clear on what the two parts of the apparent contradiction are and expect to find four choices (in this EXCEPT question) that explain how both parts can be true at the same time. Here, the four wrong choices will explain how Las Vegas water usage could be down almost 15 percent even though the population has grown.

(C) refers to a plan that might help to save water in the future by blocking the construction of new golf courses. However, this plan would have had no effect on the last three years, so it cannot help to explain the paradox. Thus, (C) is correct.

(A) would be able to explain the whole situation by itself. The lowering of water consumption per person by such a dramatic amount would allow for a 15 percent drop in water usage, despite the fact that more people now live in the city.

(B), if true, could also explain a lower amount of water used in the last two years. If lawns consume significant amounts of water and there are now fewer of them, then one would expect a decline in water use.

(D) and (E) also refer to other significant uses of water that have been eliminated in the three-year period discussed in the stimulus – in the first case, the closing of a water-consuming mine and, in the second case, the shutting off of hundreds of municipal fountains.

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