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Critical Reasoning

Categories : Critical Reasoning

GMAT CR Affirming the Consequent FallacyWe have learned how to divide an argument into premises and a conclusion. While splitting the argument, you should watch out for the order in which premises are stated. A common deductive fallacy seen in Critical reasoning question is when the premises and conclusions are true but invalid. The test taker evaluates them separately and finds truth in the statements, thus assuming that truth equals validity. This is not the case, and test creators are using ‘Affirming the Consequent’ fallacy to trap the GMAT test taker.

What is affirming the Consequent?

If ‘A’ & ‘B’ represent the statements, the affirming the consequent fallacy will be structured in the following format:

Premise 1:  If A, then B

Premise 2: B

Conclusion: A

The format is easy to miss since statement B would be true, and Premise 1 follows the logical structure (If A then B). Premise 1 becomes the base of the argument, and test takers often doesn’t consider additional conditions apart from ’ A’ or order of the statement presented in the premise.
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Categories : Critical Reasoning

GMAT Slippery Slope Argument FallacyGMAT Critical reasoning assumption questions depend on arguments that involve Slippery Slope. This type of critical reasoning fallacy might not be mentioned in Official GMAT Guide, but the test creators often use this fallacy in various answer choices. It is easy to spot them if you pay attention to how the conclusions are reached.

What is a Slippery Slope?

Slippery Slope is a critical reasoning fallacy where the speaker concludes that some event is bound to follow another event although there is no evidence of the same. Although logically the GMAT test taker might feel that Event B should Follow Event A, there are several intermediate steps or conditions that should be met before Event B immediately follows Event A.

Example

Free Speech Expert : Govt. has set guidelines on Social Media self-censorship. Soon the govt. will control what we can express and what we cannot.

On first read, this statement might seem obvious. But if you pay attention to two words “guidelines” and “self-censorship”, the govt. is not imposing any rules, but they are providing guidelines - not on censorship but on self-censorship....

Categories : Critical Reasoning

Ad Hominem in GMAT Critical ReasoningOnce you get a feel of the various GMAT Critical Reasoning question types, it is important that you understand the fallacies in arguments that would be part of the answer choices. A common one seen in assumption and conclusion question type is the Fallacies resulting from Ad Hominem.

What is Ad Hominem

Ad Hominem is a Latin Word that translates to “To the Man” or more precisely “Against the man”. Politicians are experts at using Ad Hominem. In this type of fallacy, the author or source of the argument is attacked instead of attacking the argument per se.

If you don’t pay close attention, this fallacy might give you the impression that the argument of the author is targeted. This fallacy is a 2-step attack.

First step involve attacking the author’s character where his virtues and vices are questioned and exposed, then his actions and the circumstances under which those actions were performed are brought to the forefront. The first step acts as proof against any arguments that the author make even if the arguments have strong independent evidences to support it.

Conflict in Words and Action (of Group)

This...

Categories : Critical Reasoning

GMAT CR Strongly SupportSanskrit Scholars are a minority in the Syllabus review committee. Since the committee offers recommendations on syllabus changes, the below par representation of Sanskrit Scholars would lead to fewer years of mandatory Sanskrit classes in schools.

If the statements above are correct, they strongly support which of the following?

a) An increase in the number of years of mandatory Sanskrit classes in schools would lead to higher representation of Sanskrit Scholars in the Syllabus review committee.

b) An equal representation of scholars from all subjects would lead to better review of the syllabus.

c) An increased representation of Sanskrit Scholars in the Syllabus review committee would lead to increase in the number of years of mandatory Sanskrit classes in schools

d) An increase in budget for Sanskrit classes would increase the number of Sanskrit Scholars in the Syllabus review committee.

e) By increasing the number of members in the Syllabus review committee, the number of mandatory Sanskrit Classes in Schools will increase.

Solution

To answer this critical reasoning question, dividing statements, and finding a causal...

Categories : Critical Reasoning

GMAT Critical Reasoning South Pole AssumptionIn 2013, the sea ice in Antarctica reached a record high. 80% of the increase in ice volume can be attributed to the strong westerly winds in the South Pole. The ice level is much higher than the recorded ice level during the 1970s. This proves that Global Warming is a hoax.

The argument above is based on which of the following assumptions?

a) Global warming and sea ice level are correlated.
b) Sea Ice Level in Antarctica has a stronger correlation to Global Warming
c) One of the effects of Global Warming is the melting of sea ice.
d) Increase in Ice Volume is the result of low temperature
e) There was no interruption in collecting data about sea ice level from 1970 to 2013

This is an interesting assumption question. Some of the answer choices look similar and equally relevant. Before we go into answer choices, let us look into the arguments and conclusion.

Fact 1: In 2013, the sea ice in Antarctica reached a record high.

Fact 2: 80% of the increase in ice volume can be attributed to the strong westerly winds in the South Pole

Fact 3: The ice level is much higher than the recorded ice level during the...


During GMAT Preparation, Critical Reasoning and Data Sufficiency sections require a great deal of adjustment compared to GMAT Reading Comprehension and Sentence correction, as the later follows a format that you have seen in Computer Adaptive Tests, undergraduate level tests, and other job interview evaluation. The linear thinking that involve variables, data substitution, rules, and logical thinking might not completely work for 700+ GMAT CR and DS sections.

Let us look at a simple example that will show how our logical minds work, and the assumptions that come into play while solving a problem. Let us look at an L-Shaped object with a 4cm and 2 cm side.


GMAT Assumption Mistakes - Figure 1
How do you divide this L-Shaped object equally? Immediately our mind will parse towards vertices that can divide this object. And as you might have guessed it, a line from Point A to the opposite vertex divides the L-Shaped object equally.

Dividing the Object into Two Equal Parts

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GMAT CR ParaphrasingParaphrasing an argument is a long debated topic. The bottom line is that you would have one minute and fifty seconds to solve each critical reasoning question. Is it wise to paraphrase the argument? It depends.  A 3 to 5 line argument might be stated in a complex way. The goal of paraphrasing should be to simplify the argument with concise statements.

Putting the argument in your own words
can help you break down the arguments to its parts. So in order to paraphrase argument, identify the type of critical reasoning question and its structure. The critical reasoning questions can start with a conclusion followed by arguments or start with arguments followed by the conclusion. In most cases, the transition will be clear but in instances when the transition is blurred it would be wise to paraphrase the argument. Try paraphrasing several GMAT Critical Reasoning questions before adopting it as a strategy for your GMAT test.

Let us look at a question about the Medicare program introduced by President Obama:

Q) According to Congressional Budget Office, President Obama’s Medicare budget proposal is expected to save $364 billion over the next 10 years, an estimate that is close to the...


GMAT Critical Reasoning InferenceYou’re having lunch with your friend Jane, and you suggest getting hot fudge sundaes for dessert; Jane tells you that she doesn’t eat hot fudge sundaes.  In real life, you could draw several valid inferences from this: she’s lactose intolerant, she has sensitive teeth and so can’t eat frozen desserts, she’s on a diet and trying to avoid sweets, or maybe she just doesn’t like ice cream or hot fudge. 

In real life, those would all be acceptable inferences, because the real-world definition of infer is to do any of the following:

1. to derive by reasoning; conclude or judge from premises or evidence: e.g., They inferred his anger from his heated denial.
2. (of facts, circumstances, statements, etc.) to indicate or involve as a conclusion; lead to.
3. to guess; speculate; surmise.
4. to hint; imply; suggest.

“Infer” is, as you can see, a word with fairly flexible meaning.  We most often use it in day-to-day life to mean “make an educated guess.”  If your friend Jane says she doesn’t eat hot fudge sundaes, you apply your existing knowledge about the possible reasons someone could have for...


Flawed Thinking in GMAT Critical Reasoning
Critical Reasoning is a skill that you cannot develop in a couple of days. But GMAT Critical reasoning can be mastered if you understand some of the common pitfalls in our logical deduction. The most common mistakes are made in Syllogism.



What is Syllogism?


A Syllogism is a type of argument where you have a conclusion based on one or more premises. Let’s look at an example

Premise 1: All roses are flowers

Premise 2: Some flowers have thorn

Conclusion: Therefore Some roses have thorn


Most GMAT test taker would agree with the conclusion or naturally make such conclusions when they are presented with similar critical reasoning questions. The CONCLUSION is wrong! We are intuitive creatures. Even when our logical mind asks us to think before making any conclusion, the lazy intuitive mind will force us to make the obvious wrong conclusion. Another factor that contributes to the wrong conclusion is the use of our knowledge about roses (that it has thorns) to make the conclusion.

Remember, GMAT Critical reasoning requires you to...

Categories : Critical Reasoning

GMAT CR Logical FallaciesCritical reasoning, like its name, is a critical component of the GMAT exam. It is part of the Verbal Section, with 41 questions that need to be completed in 75 minutes. This section also has questions on Sentence Correction and Reading Comprehension. The Critical Reasoning component is comprised of 14 to 16 questions. They are designed to test reasoning abilities, and how well the test taker can judge the flaws, assumptions and conclusions in a given statement. What makes these questions important for GMAT participants is that it is an immense scoring opportunity. A well-prepared candidate can answer the questions quickly, and dedicate more time to Reading Comprehension questions, or the tricky Sentence Correction section.

In GMAT Critical Reasoning, a statement is followed by a Question, which can be broadly categorized under:

1) Finding assumption in a statement
2) Finding argument that strengthens or weakens the statement
3) Drawing an inference or conclusion
4) Picking the flaw in an argument
5) Identifying the argument structure
6) Choosing the right conclusion.

The answer should be picked from five choices....

Categories : Critical Reasoning

Now that we have understood how to identify parts of an argument, let us focus on the keywords used to recognize the components of an argument.

Keywords for Conclusion

The keywords to identify conclusion are as follows:


This shows that...

So...

We can infer that...

Therefore...

Hence...


Consequently...


It follows that...


This indicates that...
...


Start solving the GMAT Critical Reasoning weaken question by reading the question first. Why? This would help you determine the task before you go into the argument.

For example:

Healica, a new drug that can cure a common disease that until now has been fatal for 50% of those infected, is made from the root of the New Zealand banananut tree.  The banananut tree is rare in New Zealand, and large quantities of the root are necessary in order to make Healica.  Therefore, if Healica remains in production, the banananut tree will eventually become extinct.

If true, which of the following most calls into question the conclusion above?

a) The company that holds the patent to Healica has exclusive rights to produce the drug for another 10 years.
b) Healica is expensive, and is not currently covered by most major insurance plans.
c) Banananut leaves are considered a gourmet delicacy in many parts of the world.
d) The banananut tree, although native to New Zealand, can easily be grown in other parts of the world.
e) Producing Healica is time-consuming and expensive for the drug manufacturer.
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GMAT CR Strengthen ArgumentOne common mistake that GMAT candidates make is that they don't stay close to the text provided in the passage.

Let’s look at an example:

Q) Company X has instituted an Employee Wellness Program that will provide employees with free access to smoking cessation programs, nutritional counseling, and personal training services at a local gym.  Similar programs at other companies have been shown to improve workplace attendance and performance, and reduce the employer’s costs for employee health insurance.  Thus, the Employee Wellness Program will be good for both the employees and the company.

If true, which of the following would best support the conclusion of the argument above?

a) Many employees take advantage of free nutritional counseling when it is offered by employers.
b) Smoking cessation programs are only effective for 20% of those smokers who use them.
c) Personal training services at a local gym will make it easier for employees to improve their cardiovascular health and reduce the incidence of serious illness.
d) Exercising without personal training services can often lead to injury due to incorrect use of weight-training equipment.
e...


GMAT Critical reasoning application questions go one step further than Inference questions, asking you to apply what you have learned from the passage to a different or hypothetical situation. For these questions, it’s important to ignore the answer choices until you’ve effectively broken down the passage. Understand the author’s argument. Some application questions will focus on the author’s point of view. Just like you would for a critical reasoning passage, identify the author’s conclusion and the evidence provided. Put yourself in the author’s shoes and ask yourself questions. What is my argument? What would make my argument stronger? What might weaken it?

1) Focus on process

2) Pay attention to how a particular process is performed
For example, if the passage focuses on describing an experiment, you must clarify step-by-step how the experiment is carried out, before you can apply that same method to a different situation.

3)
Go back through the passage and list the verbs on your scratch pad. This will help you to understand the steps of the process and not confuse the sequence.

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Categories : Critical Reasoning

Another trap that test writers create for each argument is generating the "junk" wrong answer choices. How do they do this? By creating opposite answer choice, the sentence construction and words used would look identical.

What are the types of critical reasoning questions that create opposites?

1. "All of the following may be inferred from the passage EXCEPT,"

Someone who reads the question in a hurry might miss the “EXCEPT” part of the question.

2. Assumption questions with the summary of the passage as an answer choice.

This is another trick used by test creators. We subconsciously look for words that are similar to the passage. It is likely that you might select the summary instead of the assumption. Be very careful with this trap.

3. "Which of the following statements weakens the argument”

Students are more prepared for this common trap. The answer choice would have a strengthen argument instead of weaken argument. Eliminate the opposite traps as fast as you can.

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