Strengthen the Argument Questions
These questions will ask you to make the argument stronger by adding a relevant piece of information.
These questions will ask you the following:
Which one of the following, if true, would most strengthen the argument?
Which one of the following, if true, would most bolster the argument above?
Which one of the following, if true, would provide the most support for the conclusion in the argument above?
Which additional pieces of evidence would best support the conclusion above?
The argument above would be more persuasive if which one of the following was true?
The best way to strengthen the argument is to strengthen its conclusion or the evidence on which this conclusion depends. Usually arguments used on Strengthen questions are not perfect, they have a flaw, and your job is to find a piece of information that eliminates that flaw. The best way is to try answer choices and to see whether adding this information strengthens the argument or does not really affect it.
External vs. Internal Information
Unlike the correct answer in Inference/Conclusion questions, the correct answer in Strengthen questions will provide “outside” information which cannot be inferred from the argument. You cannot strengthen an argument by using something already stated in the argument, so eliminate all answer choices that repeat or restate information which was mentioned in the argument. However, pay attention to make sure the information you use to strengthen the argument is within the scope of the argument; you cannot strengthen the conclusion about elderly people by introducing information about children.
“Extreme” words in Strengthen questions
The use of “extreme” words in these questions is somewhat different from their use in question types discussed before. If an argument uses “extreme” words, make sure the correct STRENGTHEN answer choice does the same. For example, if the argument concludes that ALL animals need air, you cannot strengthen this conclusion with information about only SOME animals:
High blood pressure always results in heart diseases.
Strengthen: All people with high blood pressure sooner or later develop heart diseases.
As you can see the argument uses the “extreme” word “always”. Thus to strengthen it we need information about “all” cases of high blood pressure. If we had a statement like: “some people with high blood pressure develop heart diseases” it would not be sufficient to prove the statement about “all” cases of high blood pressure.
Treat information stated in answer choices as factual information. Usually the question stem will start with words “which of the following, if true…”. Therefore, if your life experience or knowledge of the issue at hand tells you that information stated in the answer choice is not true, keep your experience to yourself, at least while taking the GMAT, and treat all information in answer choices as if it is true. Critical Reasoning questions do not test your life or business experience, they test your ability to logically approach arguments.
Answer choices which strengthen GMAT argument usually do it in one of the following ways:
1. State an assumption on which the argument depends. See example 1.
2.Provide evidence which proves cause and effect relations stated in the argument, either by supporting the ones which were stated or by eliminating alternative possibilities. See example 2.
3.Provide the validity of presented evidence or provide additional evidence in support of the conclusion. See example 3.
Companies which invested their funds in coffee production are likely to incur significant losses this year because the weather in all coffee-growing regions was so hot, that most of the coffee-plants have not produced any crops and have barely survived the summer. Obviously, Bevicom, a large European company, will have serious financial difficulties and will suffer losses.
Strengthen: This year Bevicom has invested all its funds in coffee production. This statement strengthens the argument by stating the key assumption of the argument, that Bevicom is one of those companies who invested in coffee production.
Five years ago, Bevicom hired a new marketing manager who has changed the company’s marketing strategy and the company’s profits have increased by 20 percent. Obviously, this increase can be credited solely to the outstanding performance of the new marketing manager and the effectiveness of his strategy.
Strengthen: The new marketing strategy helped to decrease expenditures at the same as time increasing revenues of Bevicom. This statement strengthens the argument by providing evidence which proves the cause and effect relation stated in the argument.
Strengthen: This increase in profits was not due to the new and more effective equipment purchased by Bevicom. This statement strengthens the argument by eliminating the alternative explanation of the increased profits. If this was not due to the new equipment, then it is likely that the increase can be credited to the new marketing manager and his new marketing strategy.
Nine out of ten dentists who have studied several new brands of toothpaste recommended toothpaste X as the one which is the most effective against dental diseases. Obviously, of all the toothpastes studied, toothpaste X is the best one.
Strengthen: All ten dentists who conducted the research are well-experienced dentists who have enough knowledge and experience to make the correct decision. This statement strengthens the conclusion by proving the validity of the evidence in the argument.
For Strengthen Questions:
1. Look at the argument critically. Try to find a flaw. Then find the option that improves it.
2. Find the central assumption of the argument. Then try to find a statement among the answer choices which states or supports this assumption.
3. If you have a cause-effect argument, prove that the stated cause produces the stated effect or eliminate other possible cause(s) of the effect.
4. Correct answer choices can introduce additional evidence relevant to the argument.
5. Correct answer choices can use extreme language. Extreme words: all, every, each, only, must, will, always.
6. Be careful not to weaken the argument. Pay attention to what the question asks.
7. Read all answer choices. If choice A seems correct, still read the remaining answer choices, there can be a better answer.
Note that a correct answer in Strengthen questions does not necessarily prove that the argument is 100 percent logical. In some cases it does, but in many it only slightly increases the chances of the argument being logical. As long as the answer removes at least one flaw and there is no better choice, the answer is correct.