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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