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# Critical Reasoning Shortcuts and Tips

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Manager
Joined: 06 Feb 2010
Posts: 137
Schools: University of Dhaka - Class of 2010
GPA: 3.63
Critical Reasoning Shortcuts and Tips  [#permalink]

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Updated on: 31 Jan 2013, 02:57
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A. Assumptions
• An assumption is merely an unstated (implied) premise.
• In logically correct arguments which contain an assumption, the premise + assumption = conclusion.
• An assumption bridges the gap between argument’s stated premises and conclusion.

• Remember, since the assumption is an UNSTATED premise, any answer choice that comes from the passage to support your assumption is necessarily incorrect.

• For assumption questions, find the conclusion and determine which answer choice needs to be true for a conclusion to be valid.(It must be a statement that completely supports the conclusion)

• Will be supporter or defender
• Supporters help to link unrelated information presented in the stimulus and fill logical gaps
• Defenders eliminate possibilities of weakness and attack to the stimulus/conclusion.

B. Strengthen the Argument
Identify the conclusion—this is what you are trying to strengthen!
Find the logical gap and fix it with additional information. This is the ONLY type of GMAT question where additional information (outside of the question) can/should be used.

Correct answers to this question type will:
• Connect evidence with conclusion better
• Make conclusion stronger.
• Strengthen the evidence with new information (perhaps an assumption is needed to make the argument work)

C. Weaken The Argument

To solve these questions, you first need to identify the premise and the conclusion. In this question type, we assume an answer choice presented to be true – even if it introduces new information (obviously, the information has to be relevant to the stimulus)

• Should rebuke the conclusion of the stimulus
• Answer choices are taken to be true, even if there is new information provided.
• Will either break down causality or show an obvious error in reasoning in formation of the conclusion

• Will point out an obvious reason for the illogical conclusion
• Enumerate a wrong generalization
• Point out improper comparisons between two scenarios that the author assumed

D. MUST BE TRUE/ INFERENCE/ MAIN POINT/CONCLUSION
Consider the evidence, draw a conclusion.
An inference is an extension of an argument, not a necessary part of it.
A valid inference is a conclusion, but not necessarily the conclusion, of a set of statements.

For inference questions, determine which answer choice must absolutely, positively be true based on what you’ve read.
• Pick the obvious answer choice.
• Avoid extreme answers (too strong or too weak)

• Restatement of the conclusion
• Combination of one or more premises
• Should be the main point of the stimulus, not just a premise (for Main Point questions-Repeat premises are wrong )

To solve this type of question, look for a logically contradictory discrepancy.
• Often the correct answer will take a similar format (in terms of answer length or argument structure).

F. Evaluate the Argument

-The question stem will likely use some form of the word “evaluate,” “determine,” or “useful / important to know.”

-Find the conclusion and identify the main supporting premise. If you can articulate any gaps between the main premise and the conclusion, do so. Think of the conclusion as the author’s hypothesis; your job is to find the answer choice that can test that hypothesis. The answers will provide a “whether or not” type of statement, indicating information that might or might not be so. The correct answer will be able to both slightly strengthen and slightly weaken the hypothesis, depending upon whether the information in that choice is true or is not true.

-Know what you’re not trying to do as well. We’re not trying to strengthen the conclusion or make it more likely that the author’s hypothesis is correct.

PRINCIPLES OF CR
Inference VS Assumption
An inference is a conclusion that can be drawn based on one or more of the statements in the stimulus. An inference must be true based on something that you read.
An assumption is a missing but necessary piece of evidence. An assumption is something that must be true in order for the argument to be complete

Numbers, Percentages
Watch for the distinction between NUMBERS and PERCENTAGES.

Mimic the Reasoning
Eliminate the question stem detail to create a shorthand version of the argument structure.
• Question Stem: If it rains, then I will stay at home today.”
• Shorthand: If A, then B.”
• Answer: “If A, then B.”

7 Principles of CR
1. Understand structure of argument. Identify premise (P), conclusion (C) and any unstated assumptions. Look for structural signpost words which mark P and C.
2. Preview question before reading passage.
3. Paraphrase passage’s point or main idea using one verb “i.e., explain, criticize, compare, contrast”.3
4. Judge argument’s persuasiveness while reading actively.
7. Keep SCOPE in mind. Moderate rather than strong words / qualifiers usually correct.

Paraphrasing and Prephrasing
Paraphrasing
• Actively translate passages into your own words.
• Pretend you are explaining the information in a passage to a 10-year-old kid.
Pre phrasing
• As you do more questions, you will begin to “guess” correctly, as you start to think as the test makers do.

Irrelevant
Watch for irrelevant or overly strong answer choices in CR.
Stay within SCOPE and TONE of passage

Negate (Counterattack)
For assumption questions, negate CR answer choice to see if the conclusion can survive

Statistics
When an argument is based on statistics, it is usually assumed that the people polled are representative of the whole

Questions Involving Surveys
Consider: Does the survey accurately represent the views of the whole group surveyed? Is there a statistics bait and switch?

Scope Shifts
Be wary of scope shifts. Look for test makers’ tricks:
• Sometimes a passage will begin with one group and draw a conclusion about another group. Similarly, a passage might have weak premises and then draw an overbroad conclusion.
• Other times the tone of the passage moves so far that the test taker is left wondering, “How did that conclusion come about?”

I hope this will help to understand the CR concepts & strategies. I will not ask for a KUDOS
Attachments

Critical reasoning Shortcuts Tips.doc [46.5 KiB]

Originally posted by monirjewel on 10 Mar 2010, 08:27.
Last edited by monirjewel on 31 Jan 2013, 02:57, edited 16 times in total.
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Re: Best Critical Reasoning shortcuts, notes, tips  [#permalink]

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27 May 2010, 05:27
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This post would be more useful if particularly Assumption, Inference tips can be applied to an Example.

What do u mean by Premise? Can anyone explain in layman terms. I read online explanation but felt its complicated.
Mass Media decides outcome of elections, no independent or third party candidate has won any important elections in recent years, 2 major parties raised and spent more money than others -- are note points premise.

For Example in the below passage

We have heard a good deal in recent years about the declining importance of the two major political parties. It is the mass media, we are told, that decide the outcome of elections, not the power of the parties. But it is worth noting that no independent or third-party candidate has won any important election in recent years, and in the last nationwide campaign, the two major parties raised and spent more money than ever before in support of their candidates and platforms. It seems clear that reports of the imminent demise of the two-party system are premature at best.

Which of the following is an assumption made in the argument above?
(A) The amount of money raised and spent by a political party is one valid criterion for judging the influence of the party.
(B) A significant increase in the number of third-party candidates would be evidence of a decline in the importance of the two major parties.
(C) The two-party system has contributed significantly to the stability of the American political structure.
(D) The mass media tend to favor an independent or third-party candidate over a candidate from one of the two major parties.
(E) The mass media are relatively unimportant in deciding the outcome of most elections.

Based on the major tips given

Find Conclusion and see which of the answer choices must be true for the Conclusion to hold true.
Assumption is not stated, it needs to be implied.
Use Denial

So the conclusion of the above passage is "the reports that the 2 party system will fall are FALSE".
When will the conclusion be true, i.e. if the reports have are to be false and the 2 parties wont fall, what should be taken into consideration?

That in recent years no third party has won the elections and that the 2 parties spend more money than any other party.

(A) The amount of money raised and spent by a political party is one valid criterion for judging the influence of the party.

Does it support the conclusion yes it supports it because the 2 parties spent lot of money. So this can be a criteria that can be taken into consideration in arriving at the conclusion

(B) A significant increase in the number of third-party candidates would be evidence of a decline in the importance of the two major parties.

This does not support the conclusion. So leave it.

(C) The two-party system has contributed significantly to the stability of the American political structure.

This is way out of scope. So leave it.

(D) The mass media tend to favor an independent or third-party candidate over a candidate from one of the two major parties.

If this is to be assumed then this would actually contradict the conclusion, so this wont help.

(E) The mass media are relatively unimportant in deciding the outcome of most elections.

If the mass media is unimportant then their reports that "a third party would win in this election" wont be true, so could this be assumed in stating the conclusion?

Kudos.
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Schools: Chicago Booth, Harvard, LBS, INSEAD, Columbia
Re: Best Critical Reasoning shortcuts, notes, tips  [#permalink]

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25 Nov 2010, 00:53
3
monirjewel wrote:
Best Critical reasoning shortcuts, tips, and notes

Strengthen the Argument
Find the logical gap and fix it with additional information. This is the ONLY type of GMAT question where additional information (outside of the question) can/should be used.
• Correct answers to this question type will:
• Connect evidence with conclusion better.
• Make conclusion stronger.
• Strengthen the evidence with new information (perhaps an assumption is needed to make the argument work

Strengthen/Weaken
Strengthen/Weaken questions are the most common Critical Reasoning (CR) question type on the GMAT.
• Break down piece of evidence.
• Attack validity of an assumption.
• Don’t try to prove or disprove conclusion.
• Tip the scales.

Strengthen/Weaken
Don’t be careless! Wrong answer choices often have exactly opposite of desired effect.
• Double-check that your answer satisfies the ques¬tion stem, not the opposite of the question stem.
• When you compare two items, you must be sure that the two items are indeed comparable.

I have a question regarding the method to use while solving a strengthen/weaken type qs.
What I do is...
2. Classify as Weaken/Strengthen, etc...
3. Find conclusion.
4. Identify premises.
5. Figure out the assumption that links the conclusion and the premises (i.e. what the author must have assumed, but has not mentioned in para, to get to the conclusion).
6. Look for answer choice that either invalidates/negates the assumption (on weaken qs.) or mentions the assumption/gives evidence that proves the assumption right (strengthen qs.)

Someone on another forum told me I don't need to find the assumption in weaken/strengthen type qs. Is that true? How else do you solve it then?
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Re: Critical Reasoning Shortcuts and Tips  [#permalink]

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20 Mar 2018, 02:37
• Remember, since the assumption is an UNSTATED premise, any answer choice that comes from the passage to support your assumption is necessarily incorrect.
I have not understood this. Would you please clarify?
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Re: Critical Reasoning Shortcuts and Tips  [#permalink]

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18 Apr 2018, 19:04
2
Sazu Haque wrote:
• Remember, since the assumption is an UNSTATED premise, any answer choice that comes from the passage to support your assumption is necessarily incorrect.
I have not understood this. Would you please clarify?

Fairly simple, if it is written, then it is not an assumption by definition.
Assumptions must be unstated or otherwise, they are no longer assumptions, but something else.
_________________
Re: Critical Reasoning Shortcuts and Tips   [#permalink] 18 Apr 2018, 19:04
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