Generalization on GMAT Critical Reasoning

Generalization on CR

In GMAT critical reasoning, there are several different types of questions that you will encounter. In this short article, we will cover the characteristics of questions involving generalization and how to solve them.


One type of fallacy found in GMAT CR questions is generalization. Generalization occurs when a claim is made on evidence that is just too small; in other words, generalization means making a claim that does not have enough evidence to support it. Generalization is also sometimes referred to as “extrapolation”, but since “extrapolation” is technically a numeric or mathematic term, we shall stick with “generalization”.

Let’s now take a GMAT-like example to understand this concept better.

Example 1: At 90, Warren Buffet drinks sweetened soda every day and yet, maintains good health. The elderly can, therefore, have sweetened soda every day and, yet, maintain good health.

Can you identify what the flaw in this reasoning is?

The flaw is that a conclusion for an entire group (“the elderly”) has been drawn on the basis of just one person (“Warren Buffet”). So, this is a classic case of extrapolation.

Let us now take a look at a GMAT-like example.

Example 2: When Zilik, an electronics conglomerate, was suffering losses and struggling with growing its revenues, it fired its senior management and poached the CEO of its biggest business rival. Over the next two years, Zilik’s revenue grew by 40 %, and its bottom line turned green. Thus, firing its senior management and poaching the CEO of its biggest business rival is a recommended strategy for any company struggling to make profits and grow.

A serious flaw in the author’s reasoning is that he…?

Here, you have an argument followed by a question stem.

Step 1 – Read the question stem.
Step 2 – Read the argument.
Step 3 – Come up with a broad expectation from the correct answer choice.

Try this before reading further.

The flaw here is, clearly, that the conclusion is for “any company struggling to make profits and grow”, but the evidence is only for one company, “Zilik”. Take a look at the correct answer choice, below:

Option 1: Bases his conclusion on just one example, which may not be typical.

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

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