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This article titled ‘How to Solve Assumption based Questions in Critical Reasoning?’ is written by Aditya Kumar and discusses how to solve assumption based questions, how to approach them and provides practice questions based on assumptions.
I. What is an assumption?
An assumption is something that is assumed, supposed taken for granted. When somebody says something he does not put everything, every aspect of his idea into words. There is a lot which he leaves unsaid, which he takes for granted, may be defined as an assumption.
The Assumption Questions in the Critical Reasoning section tell you what the conclusion is and then ask you to go back in the argument and see what must have been true for the argument to be true.
Premise (P) + Assumption (A) = Conclusion (C).
Some examples of assumption-based questions are:
Statement: The book is intended to guide laymen to study yoga in the absence of a teacher.
- Teachers of yoga are not available to everyone.
- Yoga can be learnt with the help of a book.
Explanation: Both assumptions are correct. The book is intended to teach yoga in the absence of the teacher. This means that the absence of a teacher is a possibility: hence I is valid. That the book intends to teach yoga implies that II is also valid.
Statement: The boy is too honest not to speak the truth.
- Very honest boys also tell lies.
- Dishonest boys also speak the truth.
Explanation: None of them is implicit. The statement only implies that if a boy is very honest, it would not be possible for him to lie. But I is just the opposite of it. Assumption II is not implicit because the statement does not talk about “dishonest” boys.
II. How to Approach Assumption Questions?
- Read the argument and be clear on the evidence and the conclusion.
- Know that, since this is an assumption question, there has to be some piece of evidence missing from the argument.
- Try to predict this missing piece of evidence. In a Find the Assumption question, you must try to have an answer in mind before you look at the options.
- Eliminate two or three options that look definitely incorrect. Possible wrong answer choices can be those that are outside the scope of the argument, that repeat what is stated in the argument, or that can be inferred from the argument.
- If stuck between two or more options, try the denial or negation rule.
III. Tips to tackle assumption-based questions
- On assumption questions, it always helps if you already have a rough answer in mind before you look at the options as this can prevent you from getting confused between or among very close choices.
- Read the argument properly and try to find out that what the author wants to convey.
- The starting point of the author is the Premise and The author wants you to believe by the end of the argument, is the conclusion.
- The assumption is the missing link between the premise and conclusion Think of it like the linchpin holding the whole thing together. You can strengthen an argument by validating its assumption or weaken the argument by denying the assumption.
- On Assumption Questions, in case you are confused between two or more answer choices, and effective way to eliminate incorrect choices is by applying the Negation Rule to the answer choices. The Negation or Denial rule is based on the principle that the assumption has to be true for the argument’s conclusion to be true. As a corollary to this, if the assumption is denied or negated, then the argument must fall apart. Hence, under the Negation rule, all you do is try to deny or negate each answer choice and check whether the argument’s conclusion can still be true. If it can be true, then this option is not the assumption. Likewise, if denying an answer choice makes the conclusion fall apart then this option has to be the assumption.
IV. Practice questions based on the assumption
- A local television station is considering a plan to create a panel of child psychologists to review programs in advance of their airing and rate the level of violence. A program that portrays a high level of violence would be listed in newspapers with four guns after the title. On the other hand, if a show has little violence, one gun would appear after its listing. The station believes that this remedy would forewarn parents about the level of violence in any given program.
Which one of the following must the television station assume in order to conclude that the plan will meet its stated purpose?
- Parents would read and pay attention to the ratings listed in the newspapers.
- There would be fewer shows rated with one gun than with four guns.
- The rating system described in the passage is the most effective system available.
- The local television station has an obligation to forewarn parents of the level of violence in television shows.
- The development of new inventions is promoted by the granting of patent rights, which restrict the right of anyone but the patent holders to profit from these inventions for a specified period. Without patent rights, anyone could simply copy another’s invention; consequently, inventors would have no financial incentive for investing the time and energy required to develop new products. Thus, it is important to continue to grant patent rights, or else no one will engage in the original development and consequently, no new inventions will be forthcoming.
Which one of the following is an assumption on which the argument depends?
- Financial reward is the only incentive that will be effective in motivating people to develop new inventions.
- When an inventor sells patent rights to a manufacturer, the manufacturer makes a less total profit on the invention than the inventor does.
- Any costs incurred by a typical inventor in applying for patent rights are insignificant in comparison to the financial benefit of holding the patent rights.
- Patent rights should be granted only if an inventor’s product is not similar to another invention already covered by patent rights.
- The average hourly wage of television assemblers in Vernland has long been significantly lower than that in neighbouring Borodia. Since Borodia dropped all tariffs on Vernlandian televisions three years ago, the number of televisions sold annually in Borodia has not changed. However, recent statistics show a drop in the number of television assemblers in Borodia. Therefore, updated trade statistics will probably indicate that the number of televisions Borodia imports annually from Vernland has increased.
Which of the following is an assumption on which the argument depends?
- The number of television assemblers in Vernland has increased by at least as much as the number of television assemblers in Borodia has decreased.
- Televisions assembled in Vernland have features that televisions assembled in Borodia do not have.
- The average number of hours it takes a Borodian television assembler to assemble a television has not decreased significantly during the past three years.
- The number of televisions assembled annually in Vernland has increased significantly during the past three years.
- OPTION A The argument talks about having a plan to create a panel of child psychologists to review programs in advance of their airing (on the rate of the level of violence) After reviewing these programs, the ratings will be published in the newspapers. This will warn the parents and give them an idea about the level of violence (in the program)
- OPTION A Proponents of intellectual property rights, such as the right to patent new inventions, argue that the best way to ensure continued innovation is to maximize the property holders’ (patent holders’) right to benefit financially from their developments. The stimulus takes this argument one step further and makes the extreme claim that original development will cease altogether if there is no financial incentive for inventing new products. For this conclusion to be possible, it must be assumed that nothing other than financial incentives could motivate original development and invention. A is correct because it shows that financial incentive is singularly necessary.
- OPTION C The author’s argument is based on the idea that Borodia’s television supply has decreased because the number of Borodian assemblers has decreased. But what if the Borodian assemblers have simply become more efficient? What if there are new methods or technologies that allow Borodian assemblers to make televisions twice as quickly as they did three years ago? In that case, Borodia would need half as many assemblers to meet the existing demand. In order for the author’s supply-demand argument to hold, we have to assume that the productivity of Borodian assemblers has not significantly improved. Otherwise, the supply of televisions could remain the same despite a decrease in the number of assemblers.