Characteristics of a Weakening Statement on GMAT Critical Reasoning

This video explains the characteristics of a Weakening Statement on GMAT Critical Reasoning. The concepts in this video will prove valuable in solving question in the verbal section on GMAT.

Characteristics of a Weakening Statement on GMAT Critical Reasoning

In GMAT critical reasoning questions, you will be provided with a passage that will have a premise and conclusion; between this premise and conclusion, there will be a logical gap that is known as the missing link. Identifying the missing link is very important, as working upon it is the core of most critical reasoning questions. In this short article, we will cover the characteristics of weakening statements, one of the functions that act upon the missing link.

The Weakening Statement

A correct weakening statement needs to attack the inherent weakness of the argument and invalidate the argument or provide additional relevant information that weakens the argument.

Weakening Vs Strengthening

On the GMAT weakening and strengthening are similar in concept but opposite in objective. As criticizing conclusions is generally easier than bolstering them, weakening questions can be seen as an easier version of the strengthening questions. Let us cover this concept, in more detail, through a few examples.

Example 1 - Which of the following statements, if true, would most significantly strengthen the statement?

The GDP of Xitora has grown by 15% during the tenure of the current political party. Hence the political party has done a good job and deserves a second term.

The missing link in this passage is the link between the 15% GDP growth and the performance of the political party, and the conclusion is that the party has done a good job and should stay in power.

Now, take a look at this answer choice:

- GDP growth is not an important factor in deciding the performance of a political party.

By suggesting that GDP growth is not an important factor in determining the quality of a political party's performance, this answer choice weakens the conclusion because the conclusion hinges on the idea that the GDP growth has been good.

Let us take up a few more examples, using the same passage and missing link:

Example 2 - During the tenure of no previous government, the GDP grew by less than 18%.

By suggesting that all previous governments achieved a GDP growth that was at least 3% higher than the one achieved by the current one, this answer choice introduces relevant information that weakens the conclusion. Thus, it is a fine weakening statement,

Example 3 - The government did not play an important role in achieving the GDP.

This answer choice is attacking the inherent weakness of a lack of a causal relationship here and, therefore, is a fine weakening statement.

Example 4 - None of the other economies witnessed a growth of less than 20% in GDP, during the same tenure.

This answer choice first draws an analogy by suggesting similar economies. Without such an analogy, answer choices like this are typically considered incorrect on the GMAT. However, creating an analogy by suggesting that other economies are similar and then stating that every other economy's GDP has grown by at least 5% more is an excellent way of introducing new information to weaken the conclusion.

Example 5 - 15% GDP growth is the lowest in 100 years for Xitora.

This answer choice also brings in additional relevant information that weakens the argument.

In the same way, there can be any number of potential answer choices for a weakening question. As mentioned earlier, it is easier to weaken an argument than to strengthen it.

Now, we will take up one final example, once again with the same passage and missing link.

Example 6 - The GDP did not grow by 15%.

Example 6 is a bad answer choice, as it directly contradicts information presented in the passage, itself. Remember, any answer choice must only affect the logical reasoning presented in the passage, not the information. A passage must be weakened by attacking the connection between the premise and the conclusion; trying to refute the facts presented in not the correct way.

This article has deliberately been kept brief; for a more elaborate explanation, please refer to Experts' Global's Stage One Critical Reasoning videos.

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