Difference Between “Strengthening” and “Assumption” Statement on GMAT CR

In this video, acquaint yourself with the difference between Strengthening Statement and Assumption on Critical Reasoning. This is an important concept in the Verbal Section on GMAT.

Difference Between "Strengthening" and "Assumption" Statement on GMAT CR

In GMAT critical reasoning questions, an argument is presented to you that consists of a premise and a conclusion. Typically, there will be a logical gap between these two, called the missing link and identifying it is critical to solving the CR questions. In this short article, we will cover how strengthening statements and assumptions, two similar but distinct factors that affect the missing link, differ.

Strengthening Statements and Assumptions

A strengthening statement fills in the missing link, providing information to connect the premise and conclusion. Assumptions do the same, but they have an additional criterion of being necessarily true. Thus, assumptions are a subset of strengthening statements, and strengthening questions are easier versions of assumption questions. To summarize, anything that fills in the missing link will be a strengthening statement, and a strengthening statement that must be true for an argument to hold will be an assumption.

Let us further elaborate upon this concept through an example:

Example 1 - Consider the following argument:

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 an important factor in deciding the performance of a political party.

By suggesting that GDP is an important factor in determining how well a political party performed, this statement bridges the missing link, meaning that it is a fine strengthening statement. Furthermore, it is something that must be true for the argument to hold, so it is an assumption as well.

Let us take up another example, with the same passage and the same reasoning but a different answer choice.

Example 2 - GDP growth is the most important factor in determining the performance of a political party.

This answer fills the missing link quite well, but it is not something that must be true for the argument to hold. Even if GDP were the second most, third most, or even merely an important factor, the argument would still make sense. Thus, this answer choice is not an assumption.

This example, succinctly explains the difference between strengthening statements and assumptions. The sooner you understand this distinction, the easier your life on the GMAT critical reasoning will be.

Now let us take up one more example, once again, with the same passage and missing link.

Example 3 - During the tenure of no previous government did the GDP grow by more than 10%.

Example 3 works very well as a strengthening statement, as the 5% gap indicates that this government improved upon the GDP growth. However, it does not function as an assumption because it does not have to be true for the argument to hold.

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