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Finding the assumption in Critical Reasoning questions

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Economist GMAT Tutor Representative
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Joined: 06 Aug 2019
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New post 14 Nov 2019, 07:00
Finding the assumption in Critical Reasoning questions

Originally posted on Economist GMAT Blog

An essential skill to develop for GMAT Critical Reasoning is reading to find the assumption or at least the missing links between the premise and the conclusion.

In order to do this, you need to read actively and identify the premises and conclusion(s). From there, you need identify any missing links or leaps in logic between the two. These are usually subtle and difficult to spot. But with a lot of practice and critical thinking, it will start to come naturally.

Let’s take a look at an example:

A group of college students participated in a sleep study where half of them slept for a full eight hours and the other half were woken up two to three times during the night. The half that slept the full eight hours uninterrupted performed better, on average, on a logical reasoning exam the next day than the other half whose sleep was interrupted. Therefore, people have the best brain function when they sleep for a full eight hours, uninterrupted.

There are actually quite a few missing links here, let’s look at a few:

  • Sample of people: The people who were tested were all college students who, on average, are aged 18-22. However, the conclusion is about people in general, which is a leap on logic.
  • Leap in Logic: A higher score on a logical reasoning test doesn’t necessarily mean a higher brain function.
  • The word best: The study discussed in the argument only tested two different sleep scenarios. Just because one is better than the other, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best.

Being able to spot these missing links will help you with virtually every type of Critical Reasoning question on the GMAT.

How?

  • The correct answer to strengthen or assumption questions is usually something that fills in the hole left by the missing link.
  • For flaw questions, it highlights the missing link.
  • For weaken questions, it exploits that missing link.

Therefore, when reading a critical reasoning passage, you need to:

  • Read actively and identify the premises and conclusion
  • Spot the missing links between the two
  • Use the missing links to identify the correct answer

Good Luck
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Finding the assumption in Critical Reasoning questions   [#permalink] 14 Nov 2019, 07:00
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