GMAT & The Real World: Practice Critical Reasoning Flaws with Circular Reasoning

By - Dec 14, 07:00 AM Comments [0]

A Study Questioning the GMAT Ironically Proves to be a Great Resource to Practice GMAT Critical Reasoning Flaw Questions...

Maybe you heard about (or read) a recent story in the Washington Post entitled: Are business schools graduating the wrong leaders? If so, the GMAT may be to blame.

I love this piece because the study (at least as it is presented in the article) is jam-packed with critical reasoning flaws you can use to sharpen your GMAT Critical Reasoning skills.

Let's continue our multi-part special...

One of the classic flaws in reasoning is presupposing the truth of what one sets out to prove, also known as circular reasoning.

The story begins by saying:

"Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) results are an important assessment criterion for business-school applications. The higher the GMAT score, the better the odds of gaining admission. A study in the Journal of Business Ethics makes the surprising finding that high GMAT scores MAY be correlated to some of the negative traits of American business: lack of ethical orientation, male domination of executive ranks, uncertainty avoidance, and individualism. What's more, GMAT scores MAY be inversely correlated with entrepreneurship.

They found that female GMAT candidates scored lower than males, and that candidates from nations with the highest levels of ethics had the lowest GMAT scores. And they determined that GMAT scores are negatively related to masculinity and "power distance" and are positively related to uncertainty avoidance (safety-first behavior) and individualism.

Power distance is the extent to which the less powerful members of organizations and institutions accept and expect that power is distributed unequally. This means that people with high GMAT scores are less able to deal with the hierarchy necessary in an organization."

But then the story concludes with recommendations as though the truth of the findings are somehow magically guaranteed:

"First, to the extent possible, the GMAT should be changed to correct these biases. Second, MBA admissions should specifically look for traits that GMAT under-emphasizes. Third, hiring, HR, and promotion policies in business should include as an important criterion performance in areas such as ethical and long-term decision making."

The authors of the study have not even demonstrated that their findings are guaranteed, but see how the recommendations treat the study as though it were absolute truth?

That's a classic flaw in Critical Reasoning, so if you see an argument on GMAT Test Day the presupposes the truth of what it seeks to prove, remember this flawed study about the GMAT. It could help you get that question right, and thus a higher score on the GMAT.

There's still even more to come with this study, so stay tuned!

Questions about the GMAT or Critical Reasoning? Ask me in the comments!

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