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GMAT Tips – Sample Problem: Critical Reasoning, Bolded Statement Question

Today’s GMAT Tip comes to us from Kaplan. In this article, Kaplan GMAT instructor Bret Ruber explains how to tackle a Critical Reasoning question involving bolded statements:

The practice GMAT problem below is an example of a Critical Reasoning bolded statement question.  On bolded statement questions with two separate bold statements, determine what role the first bolded statement is playing in the argument, then determine what role the second bolded statement is playing in terms of the first.

Problem:

Auto Manufacturer: For the past three years, the Micro has been our best-selling car.  This year, however, sales of the Micro have been down for two consecutive quarters.  Therefore, we are going to make certain features, like leather seats and CD players, standard on the Micro, rather than require buyers to pay extra for them.  This will make the Micro more attractive to buyers, thus stimulating sales.

Auto Dealer: Most people who buy the Micro do so because of its low cost.  Adding new standard features will raise the base price of the Micro, costing us sales.

In the argument above, the two statements in bold play which of the following roles?

(A) The first is a conclusion; the second suggests that this conclusion is based on evidence that is irrelevant to the issue at hand.

(B) The presents a hypothesis; the second casts doubt on the evidence on which that hypothesis on which that hypothesis is based.

(C) The first provides a conclusion; the second weakens the assumption on which that conclusion relies.

(D) The first offers evidence that is disproved by the second.

(E) The first presents a conclusion; the second supports the conclusion but offers a different interpretation of how it will impact the speaker’s business.

Solution:

Let’s start by determining the role played by the first statement in boldface.  In this part of the auto manufacturer’s argument, the manufacturer makes a prediction about sales of the Micro.  As this prediction is also the manufacturer’s main point, it must be the conclusion.

Once we have made this determination, we can look to the second boldface statement.  In it, the auto dealer points out a flaw in the reasoning of the manufacturer.

However, when we assess the answer choices, all but option (E) provide a variation on the first is a conclusion and the second attacks it.  We should eliminate (E), as it claims that the second supports the first, and consider choices (A) – (D) more carefully.

(A), (B) and (D) all discuss an attack on the manufacturer’s evidence.  However, the evidence simply states that sales are down – a fact that the dealer does not question.  Thus, we should eliminate all three of these answer choice.

Option (C) correctly states that the dealer weakens the manufacturer’s assumption, namely that more features will lead to more sales, regardless of other considerations.  Therefore, we can select (C) as the answer of this question.

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