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# Mystery stories often feature a brilliant detective and the

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03 Jul 2010, 05:42
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[quote2sarai]But perhaps you could direct me to an inference question in the OG that demonstrates your point-- an inference question for an argument in which no conclusion is given.[/quote2]

Hi Sarai,

Well, for the time being, I'll point out that although there is a conclusion in this passage:

Quote:
Thus, the author’s strategy of including the dull companion gives readers a chance to solve the mystery while also diverting them from the correct solution.

Choice C cannot be inferred from it alone. We also need to know one of the facts--that sufficient clues are provided such that the mystery is solveable.

While I sift through the OG, looking for an example or two, perhaps you can tell us why it is you think an inference HAS to do with a stated conclusion? As far as I know, an inference is an "implied conclusion", in other words an idea that a set of facts proves must be true. Are you working with some different definition of "inference"?

[quote2dwivedys]Wow this turning out to be nerve-wracking discussion here![/quote2]
...not at all! Just a friendly discussion.

EDIT: Question 31 on page 494 of OG12 is an example of a question that asks "which of the following can be properly inferred...?", and the entire passage is one sentence relating factual information. Note that I stopped here since I only need one example to prove my point. I will point out that in LSAT, where inference questions are more common, there are literally TONS of inference questions where the passage cannot be described as an argument at all--just a collection of facts.
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03 Jul 2010, 07:07
Hi Testluv,

Thanks for sending me back to the books. You are quite right, and I quite wrong-- the passages for many inference questions do not contain a conclusion, in which I case I approach them exactly as I would a conclusion questions (i.e., try to essentially repeat what was written). I guess in that process, these inference questions turned into conclusion questions in my head. For the most part, the inferences that I've seen that do address arguments with conclusions tend to restate the concluding sentence, rather than synthesizing all of the information given. Being able to focus on this sentence has saved me a considerable amount of time, but it certainly is not always there.

So I thank you for pointing out where I went wrong!

Best,
Sarai
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03 Jul 2010, 08:17
SaraiGMAXonline wrote:
Hi Testluv,

Thanks for sending me back to the books. You are quite right, and I quite wrong-- the passages for many inference questions do not contain a conclusion, in which I case I approach them exactly as I would a conclusion questions (i.e., try to essentially repeat what was written). I guess in that process, these inference questions turned into conclusion questions in my head. For the most part, the inferences that I've seen that do address arguments with conclusions tend to restate the concluding sentence, rather than synthesizing all of the information given. Being able to focus on this sentence has saved me a considerable amount of time, but it certainly is not always there.

So I thank you for pointing out where I went wrong!

Best,
Sarai

You're most welcome!

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03 Jul 2010, 08:31
Hi Testluv
I opened the Verbal Bible from Jeff Sackmann and I agree with your statement. Please can you shed some light on the following lines - I never really thought about scope when answering Inference questions.

One definition of inference is, "A position arrived at by reasoning from
premises." That's a reasonable summary of what you're doing on a CR in-
ference question. Unlike assumption-based questions, in which the passage
includes evidence and a conclusion, the passages of inference-based questions
may not have a conclusion. Instead, you should treat them as a block of evi-
dence or, in terms of that definition, a series of premises. The correct answer
will be the most logical conclusion drawn from them.

The most important concept in inference questions is that of scope. In a
three-sentence passage, you get very little information. Some of the details
might t together, and others might appear irrelevant. The correct answer
will follow from the limited information you're given, but it won't rely on any
other information. More wrong answer choices in inference questions are wrong
because they are off-topic than any other reason.

Thanks

Testluv wrote:
As far as I know, an inference is an "implied conclusion", in other words an idea that a set of facts proves must be true. Are you working with some different definition of "inference"?

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03 Jul 2010, 09:02
Hi nusmavrik,

thanks for the question. First of all, I will point out that just because something is called a "bible" doesn't mean it's gospel truth.

However, the lines you've quoted from that book are certainly good advice.

The right answer to any inference question is something that the passage proved must be true. Therefore, the four wrong answers are things that could (or must) be false.

The farther from the scope of a passage an answer choice strays, the less likely it is that the passage will have proven that it is necessarily true, and the more likely it is something that coud be false.

For example, let's say a passage states:

"All televisions are blue."

and we have an answer choice that states:

a) All martians are green.

Because the passage never talked about choice A (ie, because choice A is outside the scope), choice A could easily be false, and is therefore incorrect.

In an inference question, you should treat the passage as your universe. Everything in that universe MUST BE TRUE. Everything outside of that universe could be true or could be false--you have no idea. Because the passage has to prove that the right answer must be true, the farther an answer choice strays from the scope of the passage, the less likely it is that the passage proved that that choice must be true--the more likely it is to be a choice that could be false--a wrong answer.
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03 Jul 2010, 10:05
Testluv

Yes that answered my query. I believe the most difficult questions on gmat are those where the options are pretty close or subtle. For example see this question, B and E are pretty close and yet A and B are gmat traps. Do you have some super efficient way to dissect the argument?

I will call you a Master Jedi ! Pls show me the light

Although most people know that exercise is good
for the body, few realize the extent to which it is
valuable to the mind. The blood circulates more
rapidly after physical exertion, thus allowing all
of the body’s organs to operate more efficiently.
This increased activity enables the brain to
receive more oxygen, thereby creating a higher
capacity for concentration.
The main point in the argument above is that
(A) the greater the amount of oxygen the brain
receives, the better the brain functions.
(B) exercise is a mental, as well as physical,
activity.
(C) exercise helps the brain more than it does
the rest of the body.
(D) people can greatly improve their powers of
concentration by exercising more often.
(E) exercise serves more than one purpose.
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03 Jul 2010, 10:50
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Hi nusmavrik,

in main point questions, we should be partial to contrast keywords ("but"; "yet"; "however"). Beware of conclusion keywords in these question types; they will often signal an intermediate conclusion not the main point (the test-maker, knowing that you will be naturally drawn to conclusion keywords, does this on purpose).

More tips for this question type:
--use the contrast keywords to think about the author's intent in arguing.
--look for a choice that sums up the gist of the passage; stay away from choices that are technical.

The first sentence of this passage begins with the word "although".

Thus, the author's main point is that exercise serves not just the body but also the mind; ie, exercise serves more than one purpose. Choice E matches this prediction, and is the correct answer.

On test-day, because choice E matches our analysis and prediction, we should select it without worrying about choice B (you dont' get rewarded for figuring out why wrong answers are wrong--you only get rewarded for announcing the correct answer--don't overuse POE).

For review purposes, however, let's consider choice B.

We know that he thinks that exercise serves a mental purpose (not just a physical one). Does this mean that he thinks that exercise is a mental activity?...nope. (And even if he did, a) we can't infer that from what he has written, and b) even if we could infer that from what he has written, it is not his main point).
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03 Jul 2010, 11:01
Testluv Kudos !
Thank you so much! This discussion was pretty much awesome.

I think I read too much - so B is too technical. I will take this advice

--look for a choice that sums up the gist of the passage; stay away from choices that are technical.
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15 Sep 2010, 06:15
Very Interesting question...Thanks nusmavrik
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16 Sep 2010, 05:42
Question was really nice
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16 Jan 2013, 07:14
noboru wrote:
Mystery stories often feature a brilliant detective and the detective’s dull companion. Clues are presented in the story, and the companion wrongly infers an inaccurate solution to the mystery using the same clues that the detective uses to deduce the correct solution. Thus, the author’s strategy of including the dull companion gives readers a chance to solve the mystery while also diverting them from the correct solution.
Which one of the following is most strongly supported by the information above?
(A) Most mystery stories feature a brilliant detective who solves the mystery presented in the story.
(B) Mystery readers often solve the mystery in a story simply by spotting the mistakes in the reasoning of the detective’s dull companion in that story.
(C) Some mystery stories give readers enough clues to infer the correct solution to the mystery.
(D) The actions of the brilliant detective in a mystery story rarely divert readers from the actions of the detective’s dull companion.
(E) The detective’s dull companion in a mystery story generally uncovers the misleading clues that divert readers from the mystery’s correct solution.

OA to this is C and here is my reasoning for each choice:

(A) Most mystery stories feature a brilliant detective who solves the mystery presented in the story.
Most is the killer here. We don't know whether most are sure to get solved or author let them be unsolved.

(B) Mystery readers often solve the mystery in a story simply by spotting the mistakes in the reasoning of the detective’s dull companion in that story.
How do we come to know how the people solve these mysteries, its not mentioned.

(C) Some mystery stories give readers enough clues to infer the correct solution to the mystery.
Inclusion of the dull companion gives readers a chance to solve the mystery and how does he do that: by picking on the same clues that detective is picking. So all such stories which have a dull companion will be giving us clues enough to reveal the mystery. Hence, we are safe with "Some" here.

(D) The actions of the brilliant detective in a mystery story rarely divert readers from the actions of the detective’s dull companion.
This choice means the author always succeeds in diverting the attention from the brilliant detective. We are told he intends to, not that he succeeds.

(E) The detective’s dull companion in a mystery story generally uncovers the misleading clues that divert readers from the mystery’s correct solution.
Dull guy does not pick wrong clues, he is just too bad with inferences.
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18 Jan 2013, 18:50
The penny just dropped in my head: I think that this is an LSAT question. First of all, it walks like one and quacks like one. Second, I am almost certain that I have seen it before. It cannot be a real GMAT question, because GMAC doesn’t allow Powerscore, Kaplan or anyone to reprint their questions. That means it has to be either a question created by Powerscore, or a reprinted LSAT question. I’ve never even picked up a Powerscore book, so if I have indeed seen it before, then it can only be an LSAT question.

As my fellow Kaplan instructor testluv said, the stimulus (paragraph) for an Inference question does not need to have a conclusion. Some of them do, but a great many do not. The important principles for analyzing these questions are (1) we must assume that every statement in the stimulus is true; (2) the correct answer is a statement that is FORCED to be true if the stimulus is true, not a statement that is likely or possible if the stimulus is true; and (3) the reasoning that forces the correct answer to be true does NOT have to use all the information in the stimulus.

In this question, the stimulus tells us that for some subset of mystery stories (the word “often” tells us that we are looking at a subset which consists of anywhere from one to 100% of mystery stories), “clues are presented in the story”; both the detective and the companion infer solutions from these clues; and readers have “a chance to solve the mystery”. The fact that readers have “a chance” means that finding the correct solution must be possible, based on the clues provided. That is answer (C).

None of the other answers are forced to be true by the information in the stimulus, although some are possible or likely. (A) is based on some specific word definitions that the LSAT uses (some might say “abuses”) to an extreme degree. For LSAT purposes, the word “often” in the stimulus means the same as “some”, “many” or “a few”. That is, it means “one or more”, all the way up to 100% of whatever it is. But (again for LSAT purposes) the word “most” in (A) very specifically means AT LEAST 50% + 1 – that is, at least a majority. So the statement in the stimulus saying that a brilliant detective “often” solves the mystery absolutely fails to prove that this happens in a MAJORITY of mystery stories – which is what (A) says.

There is simply no evidence about (B), one way or the other. Nothing in the paragraph gives any information about HOW readers solve the mystery. Certainly they COULD do it by recognizing the companion’s mistakes, but they could also do it by other means, such as duplicating the detective’s reasoning.

There is also no evidence at all about (D). Nothing in the paragraph says that the detective’s actions “divert” readers from anything. In fact, nothing in the paragraph says anything about how the detective’s actions affect readers in any way. This is a “bait” question: It simply throws in the word “divert” so that you recognize the same word from the paragraph, swallow the bait and the hook, get thrown into the icebox, and end up pan-fried in olive oil with a squeeze of lemon.

(E) actually contradicts part of the stimulus. The stimulus says that both the detective and the companion use the SAME clues. Because the detective gets the right solution, we know that the clues THEMSELVES cannot be “misleading”, as (E) claims some of them are.

One of the biggest difficulties that students have with Inference questions is trying to be too intelligent. Inferences in the GMAT and LSAT are absolutely NOT like inferences in an episode of House or an Inspector Morse mystery: They are not brilliant leaps of intuition that go far beyond the known facts and eventually turn out to be true – as long as the end of the show is less than 10 minutes away, that is. Inferences in the GMAT and LSAT are things that are FORCED to be true by the known facts, which means that they are almost always boring, and sometimes VERY boring.

To illustrate the difference between what we usually think of as “inferences” and what these tests mean by “inferences”, I use the following short exercise with my students. First, I write these two sentences on the board:

Madame LaPouffe has a pet named Fifi.
Fifi is not a cat.

Then I ask who has a picture of Fifi in his/her head, right now. I ask what Fifi looks like. As you would expect, Fifi usually looks like a fluffy white French poodle, probably wearing pink bows or ribbons. Now I point out that this picture of Fifi is what we would call an inference in NORMAL life: It’s a pretty reasonable guess about what Fifi is likely to be. But on the GMAT or LSAT, what can we infer about Fifi? Absolutely nothing. All we know is that Fifi is a pet, but not a cat.
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18 Jan 2013, 21:39
grumpyoldman wrote:

To illustrate the difference between what we usually think of as “inferences” and what these tests mean by “inferences”, I use the following short exercise with my students. First, I write these two sentences on the board:

Madame LaPouffe has a pet named Fifi.
Fifi is not a cat.

Then I ask who has a picture of Fifi in his/her head, right now. I ask what Fifi looks like. As you would expect, Fifi usually looks like a fluffy white French poodle, probably wearing pink bows or ribbons. Now I point out that this picture of Fifi is what we would call an inference in NORMAL life: It’s a pretty reasonable guess about what Fifi is likely to be. But on the GMAT or LSAT, what can we infer about Fifi? Absolutely nothing. All we know is that Fifi is a pet, but not a cat.

I think we can also infer that Madame LaPouffe has a pet other than cat. You might say obvious but that's what one of those options could be.
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18 Jan 2013, 22:30
noboru wrote:
Mystery stories often feature a brilliant detective and the detective’s dull companion. Clues are presented in the story, and the companion wrongly infers an inaccurate solution to the mystery using the same clues that the detective uses to deduce the correct solution. Thus, the author’s strategy of including the dull companion gives readers a chance to solve the mystery while also diverting them from the correct solution.
Which one of the following is most strongly supported by the information above?
(A) Most mystery stories feature a brilliant detective who solves the mystery presented in the story.
(B) Mystery readers often solve the mystery in a story simply by spotting the mistakes in the reasoning of the detective’s dull companion in that story.
(C) Some mystery stories give readers enough clues to infer the correct solution to the mystery.
(D) The actions of the brilliant detective in a mystery story rarely divert readers from the actions of the detective’s dull companion.
(E) The detective’s dull companion in a mystery story generally uncovers the misleading clues that divert readers from the mystery’s correct solution.

IMO: C

(A) Most mystery stories feature a brilliant detective who solves the mystery presented in the story. It is not mentioned anywhere specifically in the argument.
(B) Mystery readers often solve the mystery in a story simply by spotting the mistakes in the reasoning of the detective’s dull companion in that story. Mystery can also be solved by reasoning of brilliant detective. Unsure of this specific argument.
(C) Some mystery stories give readers enough clues to infer the correct solution to the mystery. It is the generic argument and can not be false.
(D) The actions of the brilliant detective in a mystery story rarely divert readers from the actions of the detective’s dull companion. It can be true, but such fact is not mentioned in the argument.
(E) The detective’s dull companion in a mystery story generally uncovers the misleading clues that divert readers from the mystery’s correct solution. It may not be always true.
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18 Jan 2013, 23:24
Correction to my long post: (D) is a bait ANSWER, not a bait question. (obviously)
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21 Jan 2013, 20:11
It turns out that this IS an LSAT question. PrepTest 38 (from October 2002), Section 1, question 15. Many LSAT "logical reasoning" questions can serve as good GMAT "critical reasoning" practice, because the fundamental concepts of argument structure are the same in both tests. Unfortunately, I don't think this question was a good choice. There are a few concepts that the LSAT uses heavily, but the GMAT uses very rarely or not at all. The difference between "most/a majority" and "some/many/often", which is critical for eliminating choice (A), is one of these concepts.
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10 Jul 2013, 12:38
what is the OA my ans is E, i am not convinced with B or A , plz explain the correct ans
What does the ans choice look for when it is asking to 'support the information above'
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10 Jul 2013, 14:41
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ruchikaarya41 wrote:
what is the OA my ans is E, i am not convinced with B or A , plz explain the correct ans
What does the ans choice look for when it is asking to 'support the information above'

Hi ruchikaarya41.

I'm glad to help. OA is C. The question is "inferred question". You must use information from the stimulus to infer a correct answer. So be aware that No new info accepted.

ANALYZE THE STIMULUS:

Fact 1: Mystery stories often feature a brilliant detective and the detective’s dull companion
Fact 2: Clues are presented in the story, and the companion wrongly infers an inaccurate solution to the mystery using the same clues that the detective uses to deduce the correct solution.
Conclusion: the author’s strategy of including the dull companion gives readers a chance to solve the mystery while also diverting them from the correct solution.

(A) Most mystery stories feature a brilliant detective who solves the mystery presented in the story.
Wrong.The stimulus does say “most”.

(B) Mystery readers often solve the mystery in a story simply by spotting the mistakes in the reasoning of the detective’s dull companion in that story.
Wrong. The stimulus does not say “readers often solve….”. The stimulus only says there is a chance for readers to solve the mystery.

(C) Some mystery stories give readers enough clues to infer the correct solution to the mystery.
Correct. The conclusion says: “the author’s strategy gives readers a chance to solve the mystery” ==> C is a paraphrase of the conclusion.

(D) The actions of the brilliant detective in a mystery story rarely divert readers from the actions of the detective’s dull companion.
Wrong. Nothing about “detective rarely divert readers from the action of the dull companion” ==> Wrong.

(E) The detective’s dull companion in a mystery story generally uncovers the misleading clues that divert readers from the mystery’s correct solution.
Wrong. SHELL GAME. This is a reverse answer. The stimulus says: the dull companion generally explores the clues that may help readers to get the correct solution. But E says: the dull companion generally explores the clues that divert readers from the correct solution ==> E means: the clues avoid readers from getting the correct solutions ==> Wrong.

Hope it helps.
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10 Jul 2013, 20:07
OA is C by the way. checked through MGMAT Forum
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16 Oct 2013, 06:01
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