GMAT Verbal Reasoning: Critical Reasoning Questions
The Critical Reasoning part of the Verbal section is designed to test your ability to evaluate an assumption, inference, or argument and to find missing premises or conclusions. Each critical reasoning passage consists of a short statement containing several sentences. Occasionally, there are longer passages, and these tend to be more difficult. Each question or assumption has five answer choices. Your task is to evaluate each of the five possible choices and to select the best one.
Types of Critical Reasoning Questions
Inference or Assumption
Statements of Fact
Weakening an Argument
Supporting an Argument
The college tenure system provides long-term job security for established professors, but at the same time prevents younger instructors from entering the system. But instructors are familiar with current teaching material and therefore may provide students with a better education. Thus, it is a shame that many students are unable to be taught by instructors who cannot find employment because of the tenure system.
Which of the following is an assumption made in the argument above?
(A) Most tenured professors do not make an effort to provide quality education.
(B) Most instructors are against the tenure system.
(C) University students generally prefer to be taught by instructors.
(D) Instructors have received their graduate degrees more recently than professors.
(E) Tenured professors are not familiar with current teaching material.
In this type of question, the assumption is usually one of the answer choices rather than part of the text. In any case, let us see how you can readily eliminate several choices. Alternative (B) cannot be assumed; simply no evidence points in this direction. Likewise, no evidence is given for choice (C). Choice (D) is true by definition. However, it is not even remotely part of the text and therefore is not an assumption. By the process of elimination, choices (A) and (E) remain.
Choice (A), if true, would certainly buttress the claim that it is a shame that students cannot be taught by new instructors rather than by tenured professors. However this assumes that instructors are better teachers than professors. Instructors would be better either if professors did not make an effort to provide quality education (A) or if professors were unfamiliar with up-to-date teaching materials (E). So both alternatives are plausible. If we have to guess, we have a 50-50 chance of answering correctly. However, choice (E) claims that instructors are 'familiar' with teaching materials but that professors are not as familiar with them.
So (E) is the assumption. The argument runs like this:
New instructors are familiar with teaching materials and can thus provide students with a better education than professors.
The college tenure system prevents instructors from entering the system.
Professors are not as familiar with current teaching materials.
It is a shame for students that they cannot be taught by instructors.
The conclusion 'it is a shame that many students are unable to be taught by instructors' is buttressed by the addition of the premise (choice E) that professors are not familiar with current teaching materials.