One of the most important things to identify when reading the critical reasoning prompt is the assumption, or at least the missing link between the premises and the conclusion. Even though assumption questions make up a fraction of the critical reasoning questions, knowing the assumption will help you with other questions such as strengthen, weaken, flaw and inference questions.
How does it help with other question types?
- The correct answer to a weaken question is usually something that exploits the assumption or missing link.
- The correct answer to a strengthen question is usually something that fills in the missing link between the premises and the conclusion.
- The correct answer to the flaw question is usually something that highlights that missing link.
- The correct answer to inference question is something that doesn’t have a missing link between it and the prompt.
So, how do you read to find the missing links? It takes a lot of active reading and it won’t come easily, but after a lot of practice it will be a natural process. The first step, which most of you will already be practiced in, if you have started studying for the GMAT, is identifying the premises and the conclusion(s). Once you have identified those two elements, you need to look for missing links or holes in between the two. Let’s start with an extremely simple example:
- Jenna is wearing a blue dress therefore it is Monday.
- Premise: Jenna is wearing a blue dress.
- Conclusion: It is Monday.
It is pretty obvious to see here that there is a missing link between the premise and the conclusion. In order for this argument to make sense there needs to be something that links Jenna wearing a blue dress to the fact that it is Monday, for example: Jenna only wears a blue dress if its Monday.