Helpful for: MBA, Master’s Applicants
Read Time: 8 minutes
- GMAT Critical Reasoning problems might address different topics, but all arguments use the same tricks.
- Chelsey presents the three types of arguments of the section: arguments that explain why something happened, costs and benefits, and predictions of the future. She gives us an example of the third type:
The computer company iTech is known to aggressively recruit engineers from other local technology companies. But even though a number of senior engineers at Microcomp have left their positions for iTech jobs in the six months since the local iTech office opened, it is unlikely that those positions will remain open for long. In the last five years, none of Microcomp’s job listings have gone unfilled for more than a few weeks.”
- Anytime an argument predicts the future, it is based on something. In this case it is on what has happened in the past. But ask yourself: does the reasoning behind the prediction make sense? Perhaps none of the listings were for senior engineers, or the level of unemployment has only recently decreased.
- Two issues with prediction are assuming that nothing will change and using incomplete reasoning.
- When answering prediction arguments, remember that any aspect could change, so think about how those changes would make the prediction false.
- Watch out for arguments that are based on incomplete reasoning. Can you spot the flaw in the second example Chelsey has given?A certain country has historically relied primarily on imported food to feed its populace, since the poor soil quality and low rainfall across almost all regions of the country have made it difficult or impossible to grow food crops. However, due to new irrigation and fertilization technologies, more food crops are being grown domestically each year, and a number of beef cattle farming operations have been successfully established in areas that were not otherwise being used to produce food. Therefore, the country should require less imported food over the coming decade.
- In the example above, it would be difficult to find out from the argument how much food the country will need, since the author is missing how much food the country is using, and is focusing only on how much they are producing. Chelsey explains how to approach similar arguments:
Whenever you see an argument that predicts the future, ask yourself two questions. First, what happens if things change in the future? Second, what exactly is that prediction based on—and does that reasoning actually make sense? Predicting the future is hard, so arguments that try to do so will inevitably have some serious issues—spot these issues, and use them to find the right answer to your GMAT Critical Reasoning problem.
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Source: Manhattan Prep