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How to Paraphrase GMAT Critical Reasoning Question (Explained with Example)

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 $370 billion that White House had earlier estimated. The proposed cuts however will negatively impact 40 percent of Medicare providers by 2019, 45 percent by 2030, and 55 percent by 2050. No wonder liberals are unhappy about the proposal.

Which statement strongly supports the conclusion?

a) The proposed budget cuts will impact Medicare providers, who are the primary care providers for senior citizens

b) According to the proposal a flat premium rate will be charged at hospitals for doctor’s visit which will negatively impact 35% of liberals.

c) Liberals had strongly opposed the move to cut Medicare benefits for senior citizens.

d) According to recent survey, more than 88% of medical providers will be liberals by 2019.

e) Liberals account for just 14% of current medical providers

Solution

As you can see above, the critical reasoning question has put forward two facts that constitute the argument followed by a conclusion. Let us paraphrase the argument and eliminate wrong answer choices.

1) Paraphrasing

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 $370 billion that White House had earlier estimated. The proposed cuts however will negatively impact 40 percent of Medicare providers by 2019, 45 percent by 2030, and 55 percent by 2050. No wonder liberals are unhappy about the proposal.

Paraphrased Statement 1:
President Obama’s Medicare budget proposal will save $364 billion in 10 years

As you can see above, the sentence might look similar to the actual argument but if you notice closely the second fact “an estimate that is close to the $370 billion that White House had earlier estimated” is not required for the argument. Therefore, we ignore it.

Paraphrased Statement 2: Negative impact on Medicare providers

40% by 2019
45 % 2030
55% 2050

When numbers are used in an argument, it is better to write them in a separate line as most of the time the conclusion will depend on the calculation that we have to do on these facts.

Conclusion: Liberals not happy with the proposal

When you paraphrase conclusion, identify the subject that is the focus of the argument. In this case, it is the liberals. The options that you are going to read should address the subject – “liberals.” If it does not do that, eliminate that option. Let us look at each answer.

a) The proposed budget cuts will impact Medicare providers, who are the primary care providers for senior citizens

Liberals who are the subject of the argument is not addressed. Eliminate!

b) According to the proposal, a flat premium rate will be charged at hospitals for doctor’s visit that will negatively impact 35% of liberals.

This answer choice has focused on liberals. So let us look at the numbers and compare it with Paraphrased Statement 2.

“Negatively Impact 35% Liberals”. Keep this option.

Remember the question is which statement strongly supports the conclusion?

Conclusion – Liberals not happy

Does negative impact on 35% liberals support the conclusion. Yes, to a certain extent but let us look at other options.

c) Liberals had strongly opposed the move to cut Medicare benefits for senior citizens.

GMAT test creators use this trick too often. If you had paid attention, option A talks about Senior Citizens as the biggest benefactors of the services offered by Medicare providers. But our paraphrased arguments (1 & 2) do not mention Senior Citizens. The subject is liberals (conclusion) and Medicare providers (arguments).

d) According to recent survey, more than 88% of medical providers will be liberals by 2019.

This argument might seem absurd. You might think about the methods used to predict this number. But the only thing that we have to notice is “recent survey” and “medical providers will be”. So the argument tries to convey the message that the survey is valid and predicts the liberal % with accuracy.

As expected it comes down to math.

88% Medical Providers Liberal in 2019

     Negative Impact: 40% by 2019
    .88 * 40 = 35.2%

     Keep this option

e) Liberals account for just 14% of current medicare providers


This argument weakens the conclusion. If the liberals just account for 14% of the medicare providers then it is unlikely that the proposal would make them unhappy. We might be tempted to assume that liberals are socially aware and might be unhappy with a proposal that will negatively impact the society in general. It might be true but when answering GMAT CR Questions, limit the scope of your assumptions.

When you compare B and D, the latter option gives us evidence that the proposal impacts 35.2% of liberals compared to 35% mentioned in option B.

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