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The ultimate Critical Reasoning Hack

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The ultimate Critical Reasoning Hack [#permalink] New post 06 Sep 2012, 08:04
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Difficulty:

  85% (hard)

Question Stats:

41% (02:48) correct 59% (01:43) wrong based on 91 sessions
Identifying incorrect answers

Critical Reasoning questions have always been a slippery lot in the GMAT. I have seen aspirants spending too much time deciding among answer choices. The more time they spend, the more their chances of answering incorrectly. The choices in the following question illustrate the 5 different types of incorrect answer choices that can confuse the test-taker.


"It is a proven fact that excessive alcohol consumption can result in liver failure because of the inability of the liver to process the alcohol. Hence, chronic alcoholics are under a high risk of liver failures. However, statisticians show that most liver failures happen due to overdoses of certain over-the-counter medications that contain acetaminophen."

Which of the following statements, if true, would most significantly strengthen the hypothesis of the statisticians?

A. Drugs with acetaminophen in them are used to treat acute cases of hangovers from alcohol.
B. Research suggests that chronic alcoholics have a 90% chance of having liver failures.
C. People who have never taken alcohol are those least likely to suffer liver failures.
D. Researchers claim that drugs containing acetaminophen release certain naturally occurring flavonoids and polyphenols in the body that benefit the liver.
E. All the medicines that contain acetaminophen are to be consumed with alcohol.

Premise: It is a proven fact that excessive alcohol consumption can result in liver failure because of the inability of the liver to process the alcohol.

Sub-conclusion: Hence, chronic alcoholics are under a high risk of liver failures.

Counter Conclusion: However, statisticians show that most liver failures happen due to overdoses of certain over-the-counter medications that contain acetaminophen.

Five Types of Choices
Now, let us go through the answer choices.

1. Out of Context Choice
A. Drugs with acetaminophen in them are used to treat acute cases of hangovers from alcohol.
Note the introduction of the term ‘hangover’. We have no idea about the cause of acute cases of hangover from alcohol. Although common knowledge would suggest that too much alcohol consumption causes hangover, we cannot apply that information. This is an example of an Out of Context answer choice.

2. Paraphrasing the premise
B. Research suggests that chronic alcoholics have a 90% chance of having liver failures.
This statement actually corroborates or, in a way, restates the premise. No new information is given here that would help us answer the question. This is an example of a Paraphrasing the Premise answer choice.

3. Shell Game Trap
4. Extreme Choice

C. People who have never taken alcohol are those least likely to suffer liver failures.
Let us study the statement in detail.
Consider two logical statements:
A (People who have never taken alcohol) and
B (least likely to suffer liver failures).
The given statement is represented as A => B.
Deductive logic suggests NOT B => NOT A
i.e. People most likely to suffer liver failures are those who take alcohol.
This implies that alcohol consumption causes liver failures. There is no mention of drug overdose. The idea of such answer choices is to trick the aspirants into deducting some logic (as done above) to somehow make sense of it. This is done by using some key terms in the premise and mentioning an idea that looks similar to the argument but is modified. In this case the mention of alcohol consumption and liver failure combined with a modified relation between the two creates the confusion. This is an example of a Shell-Game Trap answer choice.
Also, mark the words never and least in the statement. Eliminating choices with these ‘extreme’ words is a cardinal rule in the GMAT. Hence, this choice can also be categorized as an example of an Extreme answer choice.

5. Opposite Choice
D. Researchers claim that drugs containing acetaminophen release certain naturally occurring flavonoids and polyphenols in the body that benefit the liver.
The choice states that the drugs containing acetaminophen are beneficial to the liver. This is an example of an Opposite answer choice.

Bingo: Right choice
E. All the medicines that contain acetaminophen are to be consumed with alcohol.
This choice provides a missing link. If all medicines that contain acetaminophen are to be consumed with alcohol, an overdose would also imply an alcohol overdose. Now, premise already states that alcohol overdose causes liver failure. Hence, this statement relates the premise with the conclusion and strengthens the hypothesis of statisticians.
[Reveal] Spoiler: OA

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Last edited by Edvento on 06 Sep 2012, 08:18, edited 1 time in total.
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 [#permalink] New post 06 Sep 2012, 08:13
3 steps to solve assumption questions within 90 seconds!

GMAT Critical Reasoning Assumption questions are very commonly asked. Students typically confuse themselves. Here is a process that breaks down the assumption type question and lets you solve it within 90 seconds with these three steps.

Step 1: Identify the premise and state the conclusion
Step 2: Understand the choices and eliminate the ones that directly conflict with the conclusion
Step 3: Eliminate remaining choices based on deductive logic

Let us understand the process with an example:

"The average cost per employee incurred in manufacturing a certain ‘Y’ mould in Happyland has long been lower than that in neighboring Gloomyland. Since Gloomyland dropped all tariffs on the imports of the Y mould two years ago, the number of moulds sold quarterly in Gloomyland has not changed. However, recent statistics show a drop in the number of Y mould manufacturers in Gloomyland. Hence, updated trade statistics will indicate that the number of Y mould imports quarterly from Happyland into Gloomyland has increased."

Which of the following is an assumption on which the argument depends?

A. The number of Y mould manufacturers in Happyland has increased by at least as much as the number of Y mould manufacturers in Gloomyland has decreased.

B. Y moulds manufactured in Happyland have features that Y moulds manufactured in Gloomyland do not have.

C. The average number of hours it takes a Y mould manufacturer to manufacture a Y mould in Gloomyland has not decreased significantly during the past two years.

D. The number of Y moulds manufactured quarterly in Happyland has increased significantly in the past two years.

E. The difference between the average cost per employee of Y mould manufacturers in Happyland and the average cost per employee of Y mould manufacturers in Gloomyland is likely to decrease in the next few years.

Step 1: Identify the premise and state the conclusion

Let us just note the salient points in the question stimulus.

Premise:
Fact Happyland Gloomyland
Average cost per employee Low High
Sales despite no tariff Same
Number of Y mould manufacturers Reduce

Conclusion: The number of quarterly Y mould imports from Happyland into Gloomyland has increased.

Step 2: Understand the choices and eliminate the ones that directly conflict with the conclusion

Now once we have registered these pieces of information, let’s jump directly to the options. Make sure to spend time in understanding the choice well. But do not spend too much time in a choice. Sometimes, the more time we spend the more confusing it gets and we lose time. If we find that the choice can be a correct one, just mark it and move forward. That way, with practice, we will end up spending not more than 5 seconds on a choice. Here, I’m marking may-be for doubtful choices or a definite no if I can exclude it.

A. The number of Y mould manufacturers in Happyland has increased by at least as much as the number of Y mould manufacturers in Gloomyland has decreased.
May-be.

B. Y moulds manufactured in Happyland have features that Y moulds manufactured in Gloomyland do not have.
No. There is no mention of ‘features’ in the entire stimulus. This is an Out of Context answer choice.

C. The average number of hours it takes a Y mould manufacturer to manufacture a Y mould in Gloomyland has not decreased significantly during the past two years.
May-be

D. The number of Y moulds manufactured quarterly in Happyland has increased significantly in the past two years.
May-be

E. The difference between the average cost per employee of Y mould manufacturers in Happyland and the average cost per employee of Y mould manufacturers in Gloomyland is likely to decrease in the next few years.
No. What happens in the ‘next few years’ is of no importance here. This choice is again Out of Context.

Now we are left with A, C and D.

Step 3: Eliminate remaining choices based on deductive logic

Let us refresh ourselves with some basic deductive logic.
If X => Y, then NOT Y => NOT X.
That would mean,
If Assumption => Conclusion, then (NOT)Conclusion => (NOT)Assumption.

Now, we are left with choices A, C and D.
What we need to do now is to just negate both the conclusion and the choices to see which choice is the closest.
So, (NOT)Conclusion =>
The number of Y mould imports quarterly from Happyland into Gloomyland has NOT increased.
Or
The number of Y mould imports quarterly from Happyland into Gloomyland has stayed the same.

NOT A =>
The number of Y mould manufacturers in Happyland has NOT increased by at least as much as the number of Y mould manufacturers in Gloomyland has decreased.
We need to note that we have to track the imports of moulds. Hence, we need information on moulds not on the Y mould manufacturers.
Hence, this is not a correct choice.

NOT C =>
The average number of hours it takes a Y mould manufacturer to manufacture a Y mould in Gloomyland has decreased significantly during the past two years.
This means that even if the number of Y mould manufacturers in Gloomyland has decreased, the number of Y moulds manufactured might not have decreased because of the significant decrease in the average number of hours it takes to produce a mould.
This seems to make sense.

NOT D=>
The number of Y moulds manufactured quarterly in Happyland has NOT increased significantly in the past two years.
The premise already states that the cost per employee is lower in Happyland. Hence, the production of Y moulds might be already high. With a lower production in Gloomyland, the imports might still be increased.
Hence, this is not a correct choice.
C is the correct answer.

With practice, you can really reduce the time spent on these questions. Just to summarize:
Step 1: Identify the premise and state the conclusion
Step 2: Understand the choices and eliminate the ones that directly conflict with the conclusion
Step 3: Eliminate remaining choices based on deductive logic
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Re: The ultimate Critical Reasoning Hack [#permalink] New post 22 Mar 2013, 05:26
Woooow this is really great . Why did you stop? Thank you for this effort and waiting for more if you can afford time
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Re: The ultimate Critical Reasoning Hack [#permalink] New post 24 Jun 2014, 02:06
Hello from the GMAT Club VerbalBot!

Thanks to another GMAT Club member, I have just discovered this valuable topic, yet it had no discussion for over a year. I am now bumping it up - doing my job. I think you may find it valuable (esp those replies with Kudos).

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Re: The ultimate Critical Reasoning Hack   [#permalink] 24 Jun 2014, 02:06
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