In Conclusion…

(This is one of a series of GMAT tips that we offer on our blog.)

Many GMAT Critical Reasoning questions ask you to select answer choices that impact an argument’s conclusion. Therefore, you should learn to recognize clues that designate that a statement is the conclusion. Or, to rephrase that: Because the ability to recognize the conclusion of an argument is important, you will need to look for clues to help you determine where in each argument you can find the conclusion.

Now, consider the statements above. The latter two sentences are each conclusions, but which clues give that knowledge away? Quite naturally, the word “therefore” in the first statement should be a tip-off, but if the statement omitted that transition, would it not still be a conclusion? To better identify conclusions on test day, there are three important clues for which you can look:

1) Transition language: Words and phrases like “therefore”, “thus”, “consquently”, and “in conclusion” should immediately indicate to you that a statement is a conclusion. Many questions will include these, but others will not. That is when you need to look for…

2) A call for action: In the GMAT context, any calls for action (“we should…”, “they must…”, etc.) will be based on facts (insert your own men/women/Congress doesn’t act that way joke here), and therefore is the concluding statement to that logic.

3) The effect of a cause-and-effect relationship: Conclusions are dependent on facts, and the effect of a statement is dependent on its cause, which is usually taken as a fact. In a statement such as “because it is expected to rain tomorrow, the parade will be likely canceled”, the likely cancellation of the parade is the conclusion, and the expectation of rain will be taken as a premise on which the conclusion rests.

Because 1/3 of the verbal section of the GMAT consists of Critical Reasoning questions, you should become adept at recognizing conclusions (like this one here).

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