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GMAT Tips – Sample Problem: Critical Reasoning Weaken Question

Today’s GMAT Tip comes to us from Kaplan. In this article, Kaplan GMAT instructor Bret Ruber provides helpful advice about answering Critical Reasoning questions that require test-takers to weaken an argument:

Today’s GMAT practice problem is a Critical Reasoning weaken question.  Weaken questions are more common than any other question type in the critical reasoning section, so it is essential to be prepared for them.  On these problems, identify the conclusion, evidence and assumption and then look for the answer choice that refutes the central assumption.

Problem:

Increasingly, American businesses requiring customer service phone lines have been utilizing overseas companies that can provide these services at extremely reduced rates.  Toll-free calls are routed to countries like India, where low-paid workers have been trained to deal with most of the typical problems consumers have with their credit cards, online services, and computer equipment.  Since the companies using these overseas call centers are saving so much money, they will undoubtedly show higher profits than companies that do not.

Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument?

(A) There is strong competition among overseas call centers to provide the most comprehensive services at the lowest rates.

(B) Consumers opposed to exporting American jobs are willing to pay more for goods and services from companies that don’t engage in this practice.

(C) Certain banking services cannot be outsourced, since this would require the release of customer financial data.

(D) Because offshore telephone customer service companies provide only these services, they can train their employees more thoroughly than American companies could.

(E) Some American companies send their own employees overseas to train the call center personnel in their particular business.

Solution:

On weaken questions, such as the problem here, start by following the same steps as an assumption question.  This means we must first identify the author’s conclusion.  Here the author concludes that companies that move their call centers overseas will have higher profits than companies that do not.

Next, we must find the evidence that supports the conclusion.  In this argument we see the evidence keyword “since.”  Thus, our evidence is that companies save money by moving their call centers overseas.

Third, look for the assumption, or unstated link between the conclusion and evidence.  The assumption of this argument is that moving a call center overseas has no negative impact on gross revenues.

Finally, because this is a weaken question, we must look for an answer choice that refutes the assumption.  In this case, option (B) does so.  If companies that use American labor can charge more for their products, saving money by moving call centers overseas may not be more profitable than keeping call centers in the United States and increasing the price of products.

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Posted in: GMAT - Verbal, GMAT Tips

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