Assumptions: GMAT and Otherwise

By - Apr 11, 12:21 PM Comments [0]

By Lucas Weingarten

Sometimes you stumble upon something that is too full of coincidence to pass up.  Inc. recently published an online article that seems written with the GMAT in mind: Have you checked your assumptions lately?

I have concluded that you’ll find this editorial particularly interesting because of two pieces of evidence:

(1) you are reading a GMAT blog, and (2) the GMAT verbal section contains Critical Reasoning questions.  Of course, now I have to ask why, based on those two pieces of evidence, have I come to the conclusion that you will find this Inc. e-snippet interesting?  Well, the only way that this evidence will lead to this conclusion is because of my underlying assumptions.  Can you tease out those assumptions?  If so, then you are looking good for assumption family CR questions come Test Day.  If not, let me help you…

For all Critical Reasoning arguments presented on the GMAT, the author always gives evidence and forms a conclusion based on that evidence (not necessarily in that order but those parts are always there).  However, there is a third portion of an argument’s construction that the author does not give, and that third portion is precisely what test takers must identify in order to get 70% of GMAT CR questions correct: the assumptions.

In order for evidence to lead to a conclusion, an author must fundamentally believe certain things to be true.  We are never explicitly told what those beliefs are, but we can identify them because of the two parts of the argument we are always given.  Assumptions build a bridge between presented evidence and presented conclusion.

For me to conclude that you will like the article mentioned above as a result of the evidence I presented must mean that I assume you (1) reading a GMAT blog signals that you are interested in things I find interesting, at least in regard to the GMAT, and (2) you are at least somewhat familiar with what is on the GMAT itself and that familiarity is deep enough to mean you know about Critical Reasoning questions and the patterns within them—namely, the patterned way Assumption, Strengthen/Weaken, and Flaw questions are constructed and what it takes to deconstruct them.  If I did not believe those two things were true, then I would have to come up with different evidence from which to derive my conclusion about your piqued interest.  Get it?  Great, now onto the article…

In the end, the author, a Harvard management professor by the name Robert S. KAPLAN (no relation, but what a great name), is simply making a case to identify and then weaken assumptions in order to avoid making poor decisions.  Or, on the flip side, ensure that the decision you are making is a good one.

This is a lovely notion and it is one that studying for the GMAT will prepare you to undertake.  It is always nice to be able to link, with support, items tested on the GMAT to real life beyond the admissions test.  That sugar makes the medicine go down a little easier.  See past posts for thoughts on GMAT Validity (here’s another), Sentence Correction, and the new Integrated Reasoning section.  More to come on the usefulness and appropriateness of Data Sufficiency and Reading Comprehension questions.

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