Land Your Score: Critical Reasoning Questions, Part 2

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Use the Kaplan Method for GMAT success.

How can prediction help solve Critical Reasoning questions?

Welcome to “Land Your Score,” a blog series in which Kaplan instructor Jennifer Land shares key insights and strategies for improving your GMAT performance on Test Day. This week, Jennifer discusses predicting the answer to Critical Reasoning problems and then finding it.

A smarter approach to Critical Reasoning

As you’ll recall from the first part of this series from last week, we tackled the following Critical Reasoning prompt from the GMAT:

The Sellmuch Corporation is considering opening a new manufacturing facility in county X, but has requested an exemption from property tax for its first five years in the county to offset the costs of moving to the area. Advocates of the plan argue that the plant will economically benefit the county, despite the exemption, because of the many jobs created and the long-term tax benefits.

An assumption is unstated evidence that must be true for the argument to make sense. Here, the advocates assume that having the Sellmuch facility is worth sacrificing immediate county tax revenue. Now that we know the advocates’ assumption, we are ready to predict an answer.

Let’s turn again to the question:

Each of the following, if true, raises a consideration that argues against the conclusion above, EXCEPT:

Predicting the answer

On the GMAT, anything that argues against a conclusion is something that weakens that conclusion. So we need to find a weakener—something that shows the benefits do not outweigh the risks of the proposal.

Not so fast. Here’s where the format of this question amps up the difficulty level. Each of the answer choices “raises a consideration that argues against the conclusion,” except one. We need to locate the one answer choice that does not weaken the conclusion.

So, we need a strengthener, don’t we? Something that shows the benefits of the facility do in fact outweigh the risks. Many test-takers would at this point start reading the answer choices looking for a strengthener. They are likely wasting precious time, because the correct answer is not necessarily a strengthener. It MIGHT be a strengthener, but it also might have no bearing on the argument.

Eliminate answers first

The Kaplan approach to tackling this GMAT question type is to identify the weakeners and throw them out! Use our predicted weakener from above: something that shows the benefits of having the facility do not outweigh the risks. Because you have a prediction to guide you, eliminating the weakeners should be quick work:

  1. The county will need to build several new roads to provide full access to the area where the plant would be constructed.
  2. The majority of the jobs created by the plant would be filled by employees recruited from elsewhere in the country.
  3. The plant would produce considerable air and water pollution that would require expensive treatment at county facilities.
  4. The costs to the corporation of constructing the facility using local labor would only be partially offset by the tax exemption.
  5. The children of those Sellmuch Corporation employees who move to the area would add a burden to the public school system of county X.

Choices A, C, and E show a negative impact on the county. Choice B implies that local residents will not be hired to fill the newly created jobs. Each of these weakens the argument by showing the benefits do not outweigh the risks.

We are left with Choice D, which is irrelevant to the argument. The advocates are not interested in the “costs to the corporation”; their argument centers around the benefits of having the Sellmuch facility in their county. Choice D is correct.

By reading the question and prompt carefully and then predicting an answer BEFORE you look at the choices, you will find find the correct answer efficiently every time. Check back next week to take apart a Quantitative Reasoning problem.

Want to master the Kaplan Method to Critical Reasoning on the GMAT? Visit Kaptest.com/gmat to explore our course options.

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