Lesson: Paradox Questions

Comment on Paradox Questions

going to take GMAT next week!! Thank you for your lessons. Keep on working:D

Hi Brent, below is one of the paradox questions from among those you've recommended:
This question is part of the GMAT Club Critical Reasoning : Paradox Revision Project.

The exchange rate between the currency of Country X and that of Country Y has historically favored the currency of Country Y. Because of this, citizens of Country Y often take their vacations in Country X, where the exchange rate makes hotels and restaurants more affordable. Yet, citizens of Country Y rarely purchase clothing or electronics in Country X, despite the fact that those items are more expensive in their home country, even when sales taxes are taken into account. Which of the following, if true, would best explain the buying habits of the citizens of Country Y?

A. Citizens of Country Y prefer the fashions available in their own country.

B. Stores in Country X receive the latest fashions and technology several months after they are available in Country Y.

C. The citizens of Country X resent the buying power of the currency of Country Y.

D. The government of Country Y imposes tariffs on imported goods.

E. The currencies of Country X and Country Y are both weak compared to the currency of Country Z.


OA is D, and everybody, including me, is confused on the forum between B & D. There are some attempted explanations, but not at all clear.

The major doubt is that both these options are relying on slight assumptions:

B: Assuming that the latest trend in fashion and technology could be important to citizens of Y. So it could alter their purchase decision.

D: The tariffs that are applied, offset the price difference including the tax, such that after accounting for it, the goods turn out to be more expensive, and this price difference could be the reason.


Please provide a suitable explanation as to how we can assume/deduce to reach either of the above.

Thanks a lot!
gmat-admin's picture

PARADOX: If Country Y's citizens love vacationing in Country X because everything is relatively cheap in Country X, why don't Country Y's citizens buy tons of clothing and electronics in Country X?

I think B and D both help to resolve the Paradox.

However, D does a better job (in my opinion), because it addresses the issue of money. Answer choice D tells us that, when we factor in the import tariffs, the clothing/electronics purchased in Country X aren't as cheap as we think.

Answer choice B doesn't address the money discrepancy.

But doesn't D go against the information given in the passage that the concerned products are cheaper in X than in Y?
gmat-admin's picture

The passage tells us that products are cheaper IN Country X than IN Country Y.
So, while Country Y's citizens are IN Country X, they enjoy lower prices.

Answer choice D tells us that, if you want to bring a cheap product from Country X into Country Y, you will be charged a tariff.

So, it COULD be the case that, in Country X, a computer costs only $1. However, if you want to bring that computer into Country Y, you will be charged a $1,000,000 in tariffs. This would explain why the citizens of Country Y don't buy

Does that help?


Hi Brent,

Q : https://gmatclub.com/forum/in-order-to-raise-revenue-the-federal-government-planned-a-131732.html

I thought the above Q was a Paradox Q and followed the "Explain the Paradox" strategy to arrive at the correct answer. However, upon reviewing the Q in GmatClub I saw it was marked as a "Strengthen" Q. Could you please confirm the Q type and explain the logic behind the inference?

Thanks & Regards,
gmat-admin's picture

Question link: https://gmatclub.com/forum/in-order-to-raise-revenue-the-federal-governm...

TRICKY!! The question stem certainly smells like a Paradox question stem.
However, if it were a Paradox question, then there should be some element of surprise.

For example, consider these two passages:

#1) Mosquito-Be-Gone is the world's most effective mosquito repellent. However, when Joe correctly applied the repellent on a recent fishing trip, he received 500 mosquito bites in 1 hour.

#2) While planning a road trip to Dollywood, Joe decided that the fastest route would be to take Highway 8. Joe's wife, Jane, feels that the fastest route would be to take Highway 7.

In passage #1, there's an element of surprise. How is it possible for someone to receive so many mosquito bites after applying the world's most effective mosquito repellent? There is, indeed, a paradox here.

Passage #2, does not share the same level of surprise. In this case, we just have two people with different theories.

The same applies to the linked question above. Here, we just have a difference of opinion (as we do with passage #2).

The linked passage tells us that the federal government thinks their program will help raise revenue. Economists, however, predict that the program will not raise revenue. There really isn't an element of surprise here.

Does that help?


Hi Brent,

1. If we come across a Q such as : "Which of the following, if true, would most contribute to an explanation of XYZ" then the Q might either be a Strengthen or a Paradox Q. Is this correct?

2. Lets consider a modified version of the same paragraph by changing the last line to "However, by the end of the year the Fed Govt. collected far lower percentage of total tax owed by delinquents than did state governments implementing similar programs." and keeping the rest of the paragraph same. Now there is only one viewpoint and that is of the author. Economists are out of the picture. As per the modified argument can I now say that this is a Paradox Q since the author says something about Fed Govt coming up with a scheme to be able to collect good amount of tax and yet ends up collecting lesser than what the state govt collects.
Is this analysis sound?

Thanks & Regards,

gmat-admin's picture

Hi Abhirup,

1) That seems reasonable (although I really can't say with 100% certainty that there aren't other question types that might have a similar question stem.

2) Yes, with the edited wording, we do have a kind of surprise ending that one might expect in a Paradox question.


Thanks Brent!! Helps a lot.

Hey Brent,

A general question, are paradox questions a common CR question type on the GMAT.

gmat-admin's picture

Given the frequency with which Paradox questions appear in the official GMATPrep practice tests and the Official Guides, I'd say Paradox questions are tied for third (with Assumption questions), after Strengthen and Weaken the Argument questions.

Hi Brent,
Can you please explain the answer to this question? I don't understand why C is correct.
gmat-admin's picture

Very tough question!! (35% success rate on GMAT Club)

Here's my full solution: https://gmatclub.com/forum/people-with-a-college-degree-are-more-likely-...

Hi Brent,
Can you please explain this paradox question?
gmat-admin's picture

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