This article titled ‘How to solve questions related to Weakening the statement: Tricks and Practice Questions’ is written by Aditya Kumar and discusses the tips and tricks to solve weakening statements. I. What do you mean by a weakening question? Weaken Questions, as the name suggests, will require you to weaken or raise doubts about whatever it is… Read More »

This article titled ‘How to solve questions related to Weakening the statement: Tricks and Practice Questions’ is written by Aditya Kumar and discusses the tips and tricks to solve weakening statements.

I. What do you mean by a weakening question?

Weaken Questions, as the name suggests, will require you to weaken or raise doubts about whatever it is that an argument is stating. In that sense, these are the exact opposite of Strengthen questions. Do keep in mind that to weaken does not mean to negate an argument. Even if an option can raise a small doubt in your mind about the validity of the argument, it is weakening the argument.

Similarly, if an option removes a strengthener from an argument, it is again weakening the argument. Notice that to weaken a stimulus, it is imperative that the stimulus have a conclusion. So weaken questions will always contain a stimulus that is in the form of an argument

Example

Of all the laptops available for sale in Ireland, laptops manufactured by Ivy Infotech must have the fastest processors. Over the last six months, Ivy Infotech has sold three times as many laptops as its closest competitor. Additionally, Ivy Infotech’s order books are full for the next 12 months.

Which of the following options, if true, most weakens the argument?

(A) Ivy Infotech was severely criticised last year for manufacturing laptops with slow processors.

(B) Apart from laptops, Ivy Infotech also manufactures desktops and tablets, sales of which have declined drastically in the last six months.

(C) At the same time last year, Ivy Infotech had sold 60% more laptops than it has this year.

(D) Due to production bottlenecks, the production of laptops by Ivy Infotech’s rival companies fell by more than 60% in the last six months

D is the correct answer: This option gives you an alternative reason why Ivy Infotech has sold more laptops than its rivals. It was not because of demand-side pull but because of supply-side constraints.

Because of the production bottlenecks at Ivy Infotech’s rival companies’ plants, Ivy Infotech’s laptops were probably available in the market in much larger numbers than those of its rivals, which is why they sold more. Hence, this option weakens the argument by providing you with an alternative explanation to the one mentioned in the stimulus

II. How to Approach Weaken Questions

  1. Read the argument and be clear on the evidence and the conclusion.
  2. Try to predict the assumption because the weakened will, in some way, try to convince you that this assumption may not be valid
  3. Go through the options and eliminate those that strengthen the argument or are otherwise outside the scope of the argument.
  4. Remember to take into consideration the evidence as well—don’t just weaken the conclusion in isolation.
  5. The weakened will make it less likely for the conclusion to be arrived at from the evidence

III. Tips to solve weakening Questions

  1. Remember that weakening a statement does not imply that it is proven. It’s all about determining which argument is most likely to weaken a given statement
  2. Focus on those arguments that are neutral. There may be options that don’t help to strengthen the statement but are only there to confuse you. Keep an eye out for such a situation.
  3. Do not use your own knowledge while solving the passage. There may be some arguments in the passage which may be factually true or not. Answer the questions only on the basis of facts and arguments mentioned in the passage

IV. Practice questions

1. The excessive paperwork used to process claims at Brakeland Insurance Company, not the increase in accident claims involving privately owned cars, is responsible for the declining profits at Brakeland since the appointment of its new CEO. Sterling Auto Insurance Company has seen a similar increase in accidents among its insured vehicles, but while Brakeland’s profits have decreased, Sterling’s have increased in the same time period.

Which of the following, if true, would most weaken the argument above?

  1. Brakeland is experiencing a decrease in corporate insurance claims that have to be paid.
  2. Sterling’s customer-service approval ratings have always been higher than Brakeland’s.
  3. Both Brakeland and Sterling have experienced an overall rise in claims.
  4. Individual policies traditionally account for the majority of Brakeland’s profits, while corporate policies have accounted for the majority of Sterling’s
    .

2. The lobbyist accused of offering a large cash bribe to the senator defended himself: “When I left the house that day, I was carrying no money with me, so I could not possibly have had anything to offer to the senator. Moreover, immediately before I met with the senator, I spent all my cash on lunch with a colleague at an upscale restaurant, which also explains why I was not in a position to offer the senator a bribe.”

This argument is most vulnerable to what criticism?

  1. It offers a conclusion that is no more than a paraphrase of one piece of the pieces of information provided in its support.
  2. It presents as evidence in support of a claim information that is inconsistent with other evidence presented in support of the same claim.
  3. It does not preserve the proper time relationship between cause and effect.
  4. It presents two pieces of evidence that do not support the same conclusion.

3. During the month of May, crabs arrive on Delaware’s beaches to lay eggs. Certain shorebirds depend on these eggs for food during their annual spring migration to their northern breeding grounds. Delaware’s crab population has declined recently. This decline, however, poses no serious threat to the migrating shorebird populations: by remaining longer in Delaware, the birds will be able to eat enough crab eggs to allow them to complete their migration.

Which of the following, if true, most seriously weakens the argument?

  1. No other food available to the birds on Delaware’s beaches is as nutritious and accessible as are crab eggs.
  2. The decline in the number of crabs on Delaware’s beaches is due to the harvesting of crabs by humans.
  3. There are more crabs on Delaware’s beaches than in any other area that the migrating birds pass through.
  4. The earlier in the season the shorebirds complete their migration, the more likely they are to breed successfully.

V. Solutions

  1. Option D is correct The conclusion that this argument draws is that too much paperwork, rather than an increase in accidents, has caused declining profits at Brakeland. The evidence is based on another company, Sterling. To weaken this argument, we need to find an answer that shows either why an increase in accidents is responsible for declining profits, OR show that Sterling is not a relevant comparison to Brakeland. (D) does the latter. If Sterling is insuring cars for corporations, then most of those cars would be corporately owned, not privately owned—in other words, a situation that would not apply to Brakeland, which primarily ensures privately owned cars. We don’t know how insurance claims on corporately owned cars might differ from those on privately owned cars, but the very fact that it’s an entirely different sector of the economy indicates that it’s not a particularly good comparison.
  2. Option B is correct The lobbyist presents a self-contradictory argument. He says I. he left the house with no money II. he spent all his cash on lunch Two pieces of evidence contradict each other. That’s precisely the problem with this argument.
  3. Option D is correct The length of time does matter in how successful their breeding is. If the birds stay longer than normal, then the migrating shorebird populations could be affected. Thus, the cause of “remaining longer in Delaware” occurs, but the effect of “shorebird populations” does not occur.

References

1. Gmat forum site

2. Gmat Wiley book


  1. Law Library: Notes and Study Material for LLB, LLM, Judiciary and Entrance Exams
  2. Legal Bites Academy – Ultimate Test Prep Destination
Updated On 2021-12-09T07:46:02+05:30
Aditya Kumar

Aditya Kumar

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