GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions: Assumptions Sample

We conclude our 3-part MBA Crystal Ball series on GMAT Critical Reasoning questions on  Assumptions. In this article, the GoGMAT experts share a GMAT Critical Reasoning Sample Question on Assumptions.
Here’s the full mini-series:
Part 1: GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions: Identifying and Checking Assumptions
Part 2: GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions: Common Assumption Types
Part 3: GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions: Assumptions Sample


GMAT Critical Reasoning Questions

Assumption Questions: Part 3 – Sample question

Here’s how a real question might look on the GMAT.

The median age in developed countries is around 42 years, meaning that half the population is below and half the population is above 42 years old. Reports provided by psychologists indicate that 63% of those who seek psychological help in developed countries are below 42 years old. Such evidence clearly indicates that in developed countries psychological problems are more common among people who are younger than 42 years.

The argument above assumes that…

A) The percentage of the population with psychological problems is not significantly higher for developed countries than for other states.   

B) Among those with psychological problems in developed countries, the percentage who seek psychological help is not significantly lower for those older than 42 than it is for those younger than 42. 

C) One of the primary factors contributing to the development of psychological disorders is inability to cope with excessive stress resulting from professional activity.

D) The severity of psychological disorders in developed countries among those who have not yet turned 42 is generally lower than it is among those who are 42 or older.

E) A significant proportion of those 42 or older in developed countries are retired and no longer subject to the stress associated with educational or occupational activities.

This question requires you to notice that the subject of the evidence is those who seek professional psychological help whereas the subject of the conclusion is those with psychological problems. Even though the two categories certainly overlap, it could be quite true that many of those who have problems don’t seek help, and in that case, statistics about those who visit psychologists would not lead to valid conclusions about all those who need help. Look at these answer choices and see which ones help validate the argument.

A) The percentage of the population with psychological problems is not significantly higher for developed countries than for other states. The whole argument deals with developed countries, so there is no need to consider how these statistics relate to those in less developed countries—Irrelevant.     

B) Among those with psychological problems in developed countries, the percentage who seek psychological help is not significantly lower for those older than 42 than it is for those younger than 42. Correct. If a lot more of those who are 42+ and troubled simply don’t go to see a psychologist, then it could be that an equal or higher percentage of 42+ citizens have problems but just don’t seek help. Choice B must be assumed if the conclusion is to be valid.     

C) One of the primary factors contributing to the development of psychological disorders is inability to cope with excessive stress resulting from professional activity. This choice is irrelevant to the conclusion and therefore cannot support its validity.

D) The severity of psychological disorders in developed countries among those who have not yet turned 42 is generally lower than it is among those who are 42 or older. The argument is concerned with psychological disorders in general, so the relative severity of such disorders is out of scope.

E) A significant proportion of those 42 or older in developed countries are retired and no longer subject to the stress associated with educational or occupational activities. Irrelevant—true or not, this assumption does not affect the conclusion of the argument.

The correct answer is B.

This concludes our short tour of the most common types of information that “must be assumed” by GMAT Critical Reasoning assumption problems. Of course, GMAT question writers can get creative and write arguments that assume all sorts of things. The questions you encounter may be straightforward or very complex and confusing. Regardless of what you see, remember this principle: to validate the argument, what “must be assumed” will CONNECT THE EVIDENCE TO THE CONCLUSION.

We hope these three posts on critical reasoning questions that involve assumptions were useful and will help with your GMAT prep!


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Sameer Kamat //
Sameer Kamat
Founder of MBA Crystal Ball. Author of Beyond The MBA Hype & Business Doctors. Here's more about me. Connect with me on Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin

1 Comment

  1. dev says:

    One of the best articles for CR – simple language and succinct bang on the core or CR’s

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