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            GMAT Sample Questions & Answers

            GMAT sample questions and answers written by our admissions experts

            Let’s jump in by taking a look at the argument. The argument’s conclusion is that the device will radically improve emergency teams’ ability to locate quickly people who are trapped within the wreckage of collapsed buildings. The device can enable this, according to the argument because it detects the signals associated with a beating heart- even at distances or behind physical barriers.

            For critical reasoning questions, the conclusions are very specific. This one is focused on the emergency teams’ ability to locate people quickly. Before getting to the answer choices, its helpful to remind yourself about that specific conclusion, and that other aspects about the device – eg cost, are beside the point.

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

            This answer choice speaks to the device’s usefulness and importance. But it does not strengthen the argument – that emergency teams can locate people more quickly.

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

            This may be relevant. The device would certainly help pull humans out faster if it was not picking up frequencies from other living beings. It very slightly strengthens. Let’s keep this one.

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

            This does not strengthen the argument. We don’t get extra information on whether or not the device will improve this time or not.

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

            We don’t really care. There may be hundreds of technologies that can contribute to lessening rescue times. The argument is about this one device, and its ability to do so.

            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.

            Given the answer choices we have, B is the correct answer. It is the only one that speaks to the conclusion and gives extra evidence to support the conclusion. Remember, the GMAT is asking for an answer choice that MOST strengthens the argument. B is not an outstanding answer, but by using a process of elimination we are able to narrow it down. B only slightly strengthens the argument, but its still the answer choice that strengthens it the most.


            Critical reasoning: Paradox


            Question:

            Beginning in 1966 all new cars sold in Morodia were required to have safety belts and power steering. Previously, most cars in Morodia were without these features. Safety belts help to prevent injuries in collisions, and power steering helps to avoid collisions in the first place. But even though in 1966 one-seventh of the cars in Morodia were replaced with new cars, the number of car collisions and collision-related injuries did not decline.

            Which of the following, if true about Morodia, most helps to explain why the number of collisions and collision-related injuries in Morodia failed to decline in 1966?

            A. Because of a driver-education campaign, most drivers and passengers in cars that did have safety belts used them in 1966.

            B. Most of the new cars bought in 1966 were bought in the months of January and February.

            C. In 1965, substantially more than one-seventh of the cars in Morodia were replaced with new cars.

            D. An excessive reliance on the new safety features led many owners of new cars to drive less cautiously in 1966 than before.

            E. The seat belts and power steering put into new cars sold in 1966 had to undergo strict quality-control inspections by manufacturers, whether the cars were manufactured in Morodia or not.

            Answer:

            The key to answering this question is knowing what the question is asking. The argument gives you two pieces of information that appear to conflict – the fact that new safety features were introduced but that the number of collisions and collision-related injuries did not decline as you might expect. This question is asking for an answer choice that helps to explain this apparent paradox. The correct answer will provide some information explaining how these seemingly contradictory statements can both be true.

            A. Because of a driver-education campaign, most drivers and passengers in cars that did have safety belts used them in 1966.

            This answer choice does not explain why the number of collisions and collision-related injuries did not decline. In fact, it gives us more reason to question how it could be possible that the new safety features did not lead to fewer collisions and related injuries.

            B. Most of the new cars bought in 1966 were bought in the months of January and February.

            The earlier in the year the new cars were bought the more of a decline we would expect to see over the year. This answer choice does not resolve the paradox

            C. In 1965, substantially more than one-seventh of the cars in Morodia were replaced with new cars.

            The number of new cars purchased in 1965 is beyond the scope of the argument. These cars would have the same safety standards as any older car bought before 1966. This would not explain the limited impact the cars that were purchased in 1966 had on the number of collisions and collision-related injuries

            D. An excessive reliance on the new safety features led many owners of new cars to drive less cautiously in 1966 than before.

            This answer choice does provide an explanation of how the new safety features in cars would not result in fewer collisions and related injuries. The effect of drivers driving less cautiously would counteract the benefit of the new features. This answer choice helps to explain why there was no drop in collisions, despite the new features. This is the correct answer choice.

            E. The seat belts and power steering put into new cars sold in 1966 had to undergo strict quality-control inspections by manufacturers, whether the cars were manufactured in Morodia or not.

            This does not help us explain why the number of collisions did not decline as expected. If anything, this eliminates any doubt that the safety features were in every car and of good quality. 

            Answer choice D is the only one that resolves the paradox, by explaining statements that at first glance, do not appear to be consistent.


            Critical reasoning: Bold, Roles


            Question:

            Chaco Canyon, a settlement of the ancient Anasazi culture in North America, had massive buildings. It must have been a major Anasazi center. Analysis of wood samples shows that some of the timber for the buildings came from the Chuska and San Mateo mountains, 50 miles from Chaco Canyon. Only a major cultural center would have the organizational power to import timber from 50 miles away.

            In the argument given, the two portions in boldface play which of the following roles?

            A. The first is a premise used to support the argument's main conclusion; the second is the argument's main conclusion.

            B. The first is the argument's main conclusion; the second is a premise used to support that conclusion.

            C. The first is one of two premises used to support the argument's main conclusion; the second is the other of those two premises.

            D. The first is a premise used to support the argument's main conclusion; the second is a premise used to support another conclusion drawn in the argument.

            E. The first is inferred from another statement in the argument; the second is inferred from the first.

            Answer:

            This type of question typically takes a little longer on average to complete. The question is asking how the two portions in boldface relate to the argument overall, and what roles they play in the argument.

            The best place to start with this type of question is to read the argument and find the main conclusion. This will help you to see how the different parts in bold relate to it. In this case the first statement is the conclusion of the argument. It is the main claim that the author is making, and the rest of the argument supports it. One way to check that you have found the correct conclusion is to ask yourself if there is evidence or reasons to support it. Unsupported statements cannot be conclusions. The second statement in bold is giving a reason why the Chaco Canyon must have been a cultural centre.

            The best way to approach these questions is to eliminate the answer choices that are obviously wrong, and then to take a closer look at the remaining choices.