GMAT Critical Reasoning Weaken Questions follows a familiar pattern. The argument is constructed in such a way that there are enough gaps between the premises and the conclusion. The new information included in the answer choice either weakens the conclusion directly or negates the premise, and in effect weakens the conclusion.
Let us see if you are naturally good at weakening arguments with the Wason 4-card trick. If you are familiar with the problem, ignore this exercise.
Wason 4-Card Trick: You are shown four cards from the same deck. Each card has a letter (A, B, C, D, E…Z.) on one side and a number on the other side. You have to test the rule “If there is a vowel on one side, there must be an even number on the other side” by turning the minimum number of cards from four cards.
Here are the Cards
A 7 4 L
Which cards would you turn to make sure that there is a relationship between even numbers and vowels in the set?
Most readers pick A & 4, the two cards that fit the condition.
Why is this approach wrong?
If we turn A & 4, and both follows the Vowel – Even number relationship, does that mean that we can say for sure that the other two cards 7 & L follow the same rule?
We have to turn a third card to make sure that the rule is universal for the set.
If you have turned A & 7 or 4 & L, you are naturally good at weakening arguments.
The question is, you have to test the rule “If there is a vowel on one side, there must be an even number on the other side” by turning the minimum number of cards from four cards.
By turning A, we get either an even number or an odd number. The rule is followed or broken.
By turning 7, a number not mentioned in the condition (If there is a vowel on one side, there must be an even number on the other side”) or a contradicting rule, we are fool proofing whether the condition is universal for the set.
In GMAT Critical Reasoning, look at the answer choices that directly weaken the conclusion. The easiest way to find out such answer choices are by eliminating the ones that do the opposite. Test creators use at least one answer choice in a cleverly worded format that strengthens the argument and another answer choice that is irrelevant. Eliminate them.
Let us try one GMAT critical reasoning question:
Q) The Chorus from Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" has an eerie resemblance to Tom Petty's 1989 song - “I Won’t Back Down. Mr. Petty and Jeff Lynne, the Songwriters, filed a copyright violation case and settled out of court. Modern song creation has evolved away from the standard process - starting with the lyrics, the sheet music, and finally the tune. For new song creators, it would be impossible to fight cases where some parts of the song had similar sheet music as the songs in the 70s and 80s.
Which one of the following statements weakens the argument?
a) According to Muzic82 - an aggregated opinion database from Music Experts, 98% of the experts felt that Sam Smith's song had a more traditional choir gospel theme than Tom Petty's Chorus.
b) Sam Smith chose to settle the case out of court, to avoid any disruption in his promotional tours.
c) In a similar case, Marvin Gayle's family was awarded $7.3 million as compensation when Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams - the songwriter-producer of the 2013 hit "Blurred Lines", infringed on the copyright of the 1977 Marvin Gaye Song "Got to Give It Up" without any due credit.
d) In modern songwriting - tone, intensity, and feel are equally important to identify the uniqueness of the song
e) In another instance, 2013's #1 Song “Thrift Shop", by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, and Le1f’s “Wut” had a similar patterns with identical synthesized sax, but Le1f has limited option left for a legal claim.
Let us look at each answer choices
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They fail to look at critical reasoning as a scoring opportunity. GMAT Critical Reasoning is not a puzzle. There is no extra point in getting to the answer without using Process of Elimination. You are wasting your time overanalyzing the answer choices or posting your findings in GMAT Forums. The so-called Critical Reasoning experts know the answer. Justifying an answer choice is much easier.
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