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You’ve been engaged in GMAT study for a while, maybe taken a course, maybe just done a lot of studying on your own, done lots of OG questions, taken several practice tests, and your score just seems stuck. You feel like you know a lot more than you used to, and when you look at the answer explanations they make sense, but your score just won’t go up. You look at your assessment reports from your practice exams and practice more questions in the areas of weakness, but your score still stays stuck. Sound familiar? Read more
I ran across the GMAT problem below when I was reviewing a GMATPrep® test that I took a while back, and as soon as I saw it, I knew I needed to share it with you. There are some really intriguing aspects to this one. Read more
In the first part of this series, we talked about how to analyze your strengths and weaknesses and in which categories of “low hanging fruit” to concentrate your studies.
We left off talking about timing; let’s talk about how to make better decisions as you take the test. Read more
A student of mine once emailed me after he took the GMAT. Instead of telling me his score, he wrote, “let’s just say that 4 times my score is a multiple of 88, and 5 times my score is a multiple of 35.”
Can you tell what he got? If not…you may need to work on your GMAT translation skills! Read more
Recently, we took a look at a story problem dealing with ratios, and I finished up by giving you a second problem to test your skills. How did you do?
If you haven’t already, try the GMATPrep® problem below and then we’ll talk about it. Give yourself about 2 minutes. Go! Read more
My last article discussed the difference between inductive and deductive arguments. Today’s article will focus mostly on the rules of deductive arguments. I promise to nerd out on inductive reasoning in later articles.
Here’s a quick quiz on the difference between inductive and deductive logic: //www.thatquiz.org/tq/previewtest?F/Z/J/V/O3UL1355243858
To review: In a deductively “valid” argument, if all the premises are true, the conclusion must also be true, with 100% certainty. Luckily, on the GMAT, we should usually act as if the premises of an argument are true, especially when the question specifies, “the statements above are true.”
Deductive reasoning shows up most often on inference (aka “draw a conclusion”) questions and “mimic the reasoning” questions, but it often appears on other types of questions, and even on reading comprehension!
On inference questions, the correct answer will usually be deductively valid (or very very strong, inductively). An incorrect answer will be deductively invalid, with some significant probability that it could be false.
What follows are most of the formal rules of deductive reasoning (from a stack of logic textbooks I have on my shelf), with examples from the GMAT. For shorthand, I’ll label the arguments with a “P” for premise and a “C” for conclusion:
Remember: these are not the same kind of conclusions (opinions) you’ll see on strengthen and weaken questions. Deductive conclusions are deductively “valid” facts that you can derive with 100% certainty from given premises.
EASY STUFF: Simplification/conjunction (“and” statements)
This is kind of a “duh” conclusion, but here goes: If two things are linked with an “and,” then you know each of them exist. Conversely, if two things exist, you can link them with an “and.”
P) A and B
C) Therefore, A
C) Therefore, A and B
P) Bill is tall and was born in Texas.
P) Bill rides a motorcycle.
C) Therefore, Bill was born in Texas (simplification).
C) Therefore, at least one tall person named Bill was born in Texas and rides a motorcycle (conjunction).
CAUTION: Fallacies ahead!!
Don’t confuse “and” with “or.” (More about this later.) More importantly, don’t confuse “and” with causality, condition, or representativeness. Bill’s tallness probably has nothing to do with Texas, so keep an eye out for wrong answers that say, “Bill is tall because he was born in Texas” or “Most people from Texas ride motorcycles.”
MEDIUM STUFF: Disjunctive syllogism (“or” statements)
With “or” statements, if one thing is missing, the other must be true.
P) A or B
P) not B (shorthand: ~B)
C) Therefore, A
P) We will go to the truck rally or to a Shakespeare play
P) We won’t go to the Shakespeare play.
C) Therefore, we will go to the truck rally.
CAUTION: Fallacies ahead!!
Unlike in the real world, “or” statements do not always imply mutual exclusivity, unless the argument explicitly says so. For example, in the above arguments, A and B might both be true; we might go to a play and go to the movies. Yes, really. A wrong answer might say “We went to a play, so we won’t go to the movies.” This error is called “affirming the disjunct.”
P) A or B
C) Not A
To see this in action, check out your The Official Guide for GMAT Review 13th Edition, by GMAC®*, question 41. This argument opens with an implied “or” statement:
“Installing scrubbers in smokestacks and switching to cleaner-burning fuel are the two methods available to Northern Power…”
The author here incorrectly assumes that by using one method, Northern Power can’t use both methods at the same time. Question 51 does the same thing; discuss it in the comments below?
TOUGH STUFF: Fun with conditional statements
This is important! Keep a sharp eye out for statements that can be expressed conditionally and practice diagramming them. Look for key words such as “if,” “when,” “only,” and “require.”
I use the symbol “–>” to express an if/then relationship, and a “~” to express the word “not.” Use single letters or abbreviations to stand in for your elements.
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