Lesson: Strengthen the Argument Questions

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Thank you for designing this amazing preparation tool.
I notice that in weaken/strengthen the argument questions, we analyse which "premise" is weakening or strengthening the argument. is it possible that we have to look for an assumption rather than a premise ?
gmat-admin's picture

Yes, you can look for assumptions too. Remember that an assumption is just an unstated premise that must be true. So, either way, you're looking for a type of premise.
More here: https://www.gmatprepnow.com/module/gmat-critical-reasoning/video/1133

I notice a question stem that seems to be fitting several of the question types. The question stem is "Which of the following most logically completes the argument" - and it's so 'Strengthen The Argument' questions as well as "Assumption' and 'Structure' questions -- what is the best way to differentiate? Thanks!
gmat-admin's picture

It depends on the argument passage ends.

In some cases, the argument is missing a conclusion. So, the question is a Conclusion/Inference question in disguise.

Other times, it can be a Flawed Argument question. For example, "Despite Joe's thoughtful points, his conclusion his incorrect because __"

And so on. In fact, questions that ask "Which of the following most logically completes the argument?" can be pretty much any question type. It all depends on the passage that needs completing.

Hello, thanks for this amazing lecture! I have a question here:
So for the tips: what is the difference between
“supporting or elaborating on an existing premise” as a common way to strengthen an argument
“watch out for answer choices that support a premise but not the conclusion”?

What is the difference in these two ways of "supporting a premise”? Could you give me an example on that?

Thank you so much!
gmat-admin's picture

Good question.

Perhaps I should have elaborated on those seemingly contradictory statements :-)

If a premise already supports the conclusion, then an answer choice that elaborates on or further supports that premise will strengthen the argument.

However, if a premise either weakens the conclusion or has no effect on the conclusion, then an answer choice that elaborates on or further supports that premise will not strengthen the argument.

Here's a very basic example:

Sue's favorite food is pizza. Everyone at Jefferson High School respects Sue. Therefore, Sue will likely be elected school president.

Which of the following best strengthen the argument?

A) Everyone at school likes Sue because she is a great leader.

B) Sue eats pizza for breakfast most mornings, and she often carries a piece of pizza in her pocket.

Yes, it's a silly question!

As you can see, both answer choices elaborate on/support premises in the argument. However, since the pizza premise is already irrelevant, answer choice B does not strengthen the argument (although it does strengthen the premise that Sue really likes pizza!), whereas answer choice A DOES strengthen the argument.

Hi Brent- is this strengthen the argument question? Doesn't sound so from question stem

gmat-admin's picture

Question linK: https://gmatclub.com/forum/which-of-the-following-most-logically-complet...

Yes, it's a strengthen the argument question.

The conclusion is that "planting spring wheat will be more profitable than planting winter wheat."

The question stem asks us to identify information that supports this conclusion.

Hi Brent,

In below question I did shortlist option E but I felt it talks about targeted advertisement where as conclusion refers to targeted individuals. Targeted advertisement can be set to larger set of individuals which are not targeted

Please explain.

gmat-admin's picture

Question link: https://gmatclub.com/forum/advertising-by-mail-has-become-much-less-effe...

I think the test-makers are treating "target individuals" and "targeted advertising" as equivalent. This was my impression as well.

By the way, Mitch (GMATGuruNY) provides a nice analysis of the question here: http://www.beatthegmat.com/2016-og-cr-60-t291151.html

Hi Brent.

Is this a strengthen question? How can I recognize it? Thanks.

gmat-admin's picture

QUESTION STEM: Which of the following, if true, validates the contention that the government's calculation methods must be altered in order to provide statistics that measure true poverty?

In this case, the question stem doesn't clearly state the question type. However, the opening words, "Which of the following, if true...", are typical of either a Strengthen or Weaken the Conclusion question. That said, we won't really know for sure until we read the actual passage:

"The United States government uses only a household's cash income before taxes to determine whether that household falls below the poverty line in a given year; capital gains, non-cash government benefits, and tax credits are not included. HOWEVER, YEARLY CASH INCOME IS NOT A FOOL-PROOF MEASURE OF A GIVEN HOUSEHOLD'S DISPOSABLE INCOME. For example, retirees who live off of capital gains from an extensive portfolio could earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, yet be classified by the government as living in "poverty" because this income is not included in the calculation."

Okay, so the passage has the conclusion: Yearly cash income is NOT a fool-proof measure of a given household's disposable income. This conclusion seems to IMPLY that "the government's calculation methods must be altered in order to provide statistics that measure true poverty" (the quoted words appear in the question stem).

So, yes, we are trying to strengthen the implied conclusion that "the government's calculation methods must be altered in order to provide statistics that measure true poverty"

Does that help?


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