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            GMAT Sample Questions & Answers

            GMAT sample questions and answers written by our admissions experts

            (E) Obtaining an investment-grade rating, keeping the county's borrowing costs low, would be protecting

            Answer:

            This is a classic parallelism question. What makes this one slightly more complex is the fact that it tests your ability to see which parts of the sentences need to be parallel.

            Parallelism makes sentences easier to read by making clear how the different parts relate to one another. Items in a list or sequence need to be in the same form. In this case, this sentence contains a list of what will happen if the country obtains an investment grade rating. This investment-grade rating will do three things 1) KEEP the country’s future borrowing costs low 2) PROTECT its already-tattered image and 3) INCREASE its ability to buy bond insurance.

            The list should be keep protect and increase, or keeping protecting and increasing.

            As the word increase is not underlined (and cannot be changed in the answer choices), keep and protect are the right form of these words to match it.

            The only answer choices consistent with this are A and B.

            B is probably the most common wrong answer to this question. It is tempting to change Obtaining to Obtain to match increase, keep and protect, but actually obtaining is not part of the list (of what the investment-grade rating would do).

            In fact, in A Obtaining is a gerund – a part of speech that may look like a verb at first glance due to its -ing structure, but is actually a noun. It is correct to have a noun as the subject of the sentence rather than to have an infinitive verb ‘To Obtain’ as the subject. A verb cannot be the subject of a sentence.

            Note also that the additional and in B breaks up the parallel structure. The structure of a list should be ‘A, B and C’ and not ‘A and B and C’.


            Read more: How To Create The Perfect GMAT Study Plan


            Critical reasoning: Assumptions


            Question:

            Farmer: Worldwide, just three grain crops—rice, wheat, and corn—account for most human caloric intake. To maintain this level of caloric intake and also keep pace with global population growth, yields per acre from each of these crops will have to increase at least 1.5 percent every year, given that the supply of cultivated land is diminishing. Therefore, the government should increase funding for research into new ways to improve yields.

            Which of the following is an assumption on which the farmer's argument depends?

            A. It is solely the government's responsibility to ensure that the amount of rice, wheat, and corn produced worldwide keeps pace with global population growth.

            B. Increasing government funding for research into new ways to improve the yields per acre of rice, wheat, and corn crops would help to increase total worldwide annual production of food from these crops.

            C. Increasing the yields per acre of rice, wheat, and corn is more important than increasing the yields per acre of other crops.

            D. Current levels of funding for research into ways of improving grain crop yields per acre have enabled grain crop yields per acre to increase by more than 1.5 percent per year worldwide.

            E. In coming decades, rice, wheat, and corn will become a minor part of human caloric intake, unless there is government-funded research to increase their yields per acre.

            Answer: 

            In this question we are looking for an assumption on which the argument DEPENDS. Remember, there can be hundreds of unspoken assumptions in an argument, but the assumption we are looking for here, is one that HAS to be true, for the argument to stand.

            Let’s consider the logic of the argument. The argument is saying that yields for these three crops (that make up for most of human caloric intake) have to increase (by at least 1.5% per year) because a) population growth is increasing and b) cultivated land is diminishing. Therefore, the government should increase funding into new ways to improve yields.

            One way to go about answering this question is to look at whether or not each answer choice has to be 100% true for the argument to be true. If it doesn’t really matter either way, then you can eliminate the answer choice.  In other words: Does it matter to the argument whether or not this statement is exactly true? If the argument could stand either way, then that’s not the assumption you are looking for. If the argument would collapse if the statement was not true – that’s the one you’re looking for.

            A. It is solely the government's responsibility to ensure that the amount of rice, wheat, and corn produced worldwide keeps pace with global population growth.

            Answer choice A is a good example of a statement that does not affect the logic of the argument. Whether or not it is the government’s sole responsibility, or a shared responsibility does not matter to the argument. The argument could still be true either way. In other words, the argument does not DEPEND on this assumption.

            B. Increasing government funding for research into new ways to improve the yields per acre of rice, wheat, and corn crops would help to increase total worldwide annual production of food from these crops.

            Answer choice B speaks directly to the logic of the argument. If it is not true that government funding into new ways to improve yields would help increase food production from these crops, then it can’t be true that government should increase funding into new ways to improve yields.

            Let’s hang on to B for now but take a look at the other answer choices.

            C. Increasing the yields per acre of rice, wheat, and corn is more important than increasing the yields per acre of other crops.

            Answer choice C is tempting. It seems like it would bolster the argument to say that funding research related to these crops specifically are important. But that is not what the question wants you to consider. The question is asking for an assumption that must be true for the argument to be true. Whether these crops are as important, slightly more important or slightly less important than other crops are not the difference between a good argument, and one that falls apart.

            D. Current levels of funding for research into ways of improving grain crop yields per acre have enabled grain crop yields per acre to increase by more than 1.5 percent per year worldwide.

            Answer choice D is a common wrong answer. If the question was asking you to weaken the argument it would be spot on. But the question is asking for something that must be true for the argument to be true. It doesn’t matter if current levels of research are increasing yields by 1%, or 1.5% or 0.7341%, or making no difference. None of these options (including 1.5%) must be true for the argument to make sense.  

            E. In coming decades, rice, wheat, and corn will become a minor part of human caloric intake, unless there is government-funded research to increase their yields per acre.

            If there was no government-funded research, its plausible that these crops could become a minor part of human caloric intake. It’s equally plausible that they would remain the major part of human caloric intake and a bunch of smaller, more obscure plants would fill the gap. It doesn’t matter either way.

            Based on the above, B would be the correct answer choice. Remember to find 4 wrong answers along with your right one. You should be able to think through the logic of what the question is asking and why the incorrect answers are incorrect. While it’s not always helpful to dwell on the question type – for assumption questions in particular, make sure you not getting the right answer to the wrong question.  


            Read More: 5 GMAT Vocabulary Tips For Non-Native English Speakers


            Critical reasoning: Strengthening


            Question:

            A company has developed a new sensing device that, according to the company's claims, detects weak, ultralow-frequency electromagnetic signals associated with a beating heart. These signals, which pass through almost any physical obstruction, are purportedly detected by the device even at significant distances. Therefore, if the company's claims are true, their device will radically improve emergency teams' ability to locate quickly people who are trapped within the wreckage of collapsed buildings.

             Which of the following, if true, most strengthens the argument?

            A. People trapped within the wreckage of collapsed buildings usually have serious injuries that require prompt medical treatment.

            B. The device gives a distinctive reading when the signals it detects come from human beings rather than from any other living beings.

            C. Most people who have survived after being trapped in collapsed buildings were rescued within two hours of the building's collapse.

            D. Ultralow-frequency signals are not the only electromagnetic signals that can pass through almost any physical obstruction.

            E. Extensive training is required in order to operate the device effectively.

            This does not strengthen the argument. It does not increase the likelihood of the argument’s conclusion: that the device will speed up rescues.

            Answer: