Saturday, November 16, 2013

GMAT Critical Reasoning Section Preparation – Part 3

Inference based Questions

The critical reasoning questions on the GMAT invariably have implicit reasoning/conclusion. Many of the elements will not be expressly or explicitly stated, but will be implied. You can see these implied shades/nuances only when you read between the lines. Inference questions ask you to find these hidden meanings. An inference question asks you to find something that is known to be true from the information presented in the argument. An inference is true if the given argument is true.

Inference questions could be worded in several ways, as under: 1. Which of the following inferences is best supported by the argument above? 2. If the statements above are true, which of the following must also be true? 3. Which of the following conclusions can most properly be drawn from the statements above?

Some of the questions may be based on direct inference; some others need not even use the word.

Difference between a conclusion and an inference:

Sometimes there is no difference. When the conclusion is not explicitly stated in the passage, it is something you could infer. In other cases, inferences have nothing to do with the main point of an argument. You can make inferences from the facts that are stated as premises.

Difference between an inference and assumption:

Inference Assumption
Question stem Structure-If the statements above are true, which of the following must be true ? Which of the following is an assumption on which the argument depends?
Inference is a statement which must be true,if the given information is true. Assumption is a statement which must be true, for the given information to be true; in other words, for the conclusion to be hold true.
An inference can always be logically deducted from the given information An assumption can never be logically deducted from the given information - It contains some new information
It's very rare for an inference question to have a conclusion in the passage or the question stem An assumption question necessarily needs to have a conclusion in the passage or question stem

Assumption is something that has to be valid for the given argument to be true. If the assumption is denied, the conclusion will become invalid.

Hence, eliminate any answer choice that “could be false’. Here is an example:

The investigative journalists and the public at large believe that the bombings in Wrekville were politically inspired. However, the government report on the same day called it a racially motivated heinous act. During the last 5 years, all the terrorist strikes conducted by Dukhara, the world’s largest terrorist outfit, had a racial background. It is, therefore, certain that the attack on Wreckville was wrongly ascribed to the government agencies and the investigative reports were inspired by extraneous considerations. Q. If the argument above is true, which of the following must also be true? (A) Dukhara is racially motivated. (B) Investigative journalists are more painstaking than government agencies are. (C) The government agencies investigated the Wreckville bombings independently. (D) The bombings in Wrekville were definitely conducted by Dukhara. (E) The population of Wreckville is made up of population from different nationalities.

Here’s how to crack it: The conclusion is that the government agencies are not responsible for the bombings in Wreckville. Let us try to arrive at the answer, using POE: (A) All the terrorist strikes conducted by Dukhara over the past 5 years have been ascribed to racist background. So we might conclude that Dukhara is indeed racially motivated. But let us check out the other answers. (B) What if investigative journalists had not been as painstaking. The conclusion will rather be strengthened. (C) Whether the investigation by the government departments was independent or not doesnot materially affect the outcome. There could at best be a doubt, but the conclusion is not altogether negated. (D) It is by no means certain that the bombings were carried out by Dukhara, though there are pointers to this. (E) ‘Different nationalities’ is not the same thing as different races.

Thus we can see that the conclusion becomes true only if Dukhara is racially motivated. This is probably the best inference you can make.

The answer is (A).

In the next issue we will discuss some questions on Inference Based GMAT CR questions.

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