The SBC GMAT Files

Critical Reasoning General Strategy: Which Critical Reasoner Are You? — Part II: The White Rabbit

In the last article on this topic, we presented the first of the Critical Reasoners, the Airhead. Each one of these “types” of verbal test-takers hasn’t quite nailed down one of the key principles of solving Critical Reasoning questions. As a result, this Critical Reasoner is likely to make the same mistake over and over again. The good news is that once identified, these misconceptions are relatively easy to root out. Good luck in figuring out which Critical Reasoner you are (may be more than one!).

In this post, we introduce a new CR profile. Say hello to…

The White Rabbit
White Rabbits are named after the hyperventilating, time-constricted character from Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland. White Rabbits are haunted by the time pressure exerted by the GMAT – they rush through the the question as fast as they possibly can, either because they know they have time-management problems or simply because the timer makes them edgy. White rabbits usually know that they can’t avoid reading (the argument, the question stem, or the answer choice), so they try to save time by rushing directly from the argument to the answer choices. In doing so, they skip (knowingly or unknowingly) the most crucial step of the Critical reasoning Work Order: Step 3 – try to predict what the right answer should do.  In other words, in their “I’m late! I’m late!” mad rush to find the answer, the White Rabbit neglects to do the one thing that can help him in his mission: keep your brain switched on, and THINK.

Missing Principle: “takes time” and “saves time” are not mutually exclusive. In other words, some Work Order steps that take time to perform can actually also save time later on in the process.

Diagnosis: it’s easy to diagnose White Rabbits, first, because most stressed-out students are White Rabbits and, second, because White Rabbits fail to perform a very specific action. If you do not STOP AND THINK after reading the question stem and argument and before moving on to read the answer choices – you are a White Rabbit. Not taking time to process the argument and coming up with your own version of the answer often results in answer choices looking the same (all seem correct or all seem incorrect).

Treatment: don’t just rush from the argument to the answer choices. Stop and think about the argument you’ve just read. Not only will you not save time by skipping this crucial step, but you will also lose time by rushing, as you will have to read the argument, question stem, and answer choice again (and again).

The process should be as follows: once you read the question stem and break down the argument, pause and try to think of your own answer(s). When you have a clue of what could be the correct answer, you turn to the answer choices and read them, looking for an answer choice similar to what you thought of. The correct answer choice may not be exactly what you had in mind, but this essential phase gives you a better chance of recognizing an answer that goes in the right direction and ditching the less obvious traps.

Try it out: take 2 minutes to answer the question below. Post your answer choice and explanation in the comment section below. Remember – they key to CR questions is to keep your brain switched on.

Bamboo is slowly being recognized by a growing number of industries as a versatile and remarkable material. With sources of wood becoming scarcer by the day, bamboo provides an ecological and sustainable substitute, especially since it is the fastest growing plant on earth. Used in Asian countries for thousands of years, bamboo can provide structural solutions for the production of tools, buildings, home utensils, furniture, and lighting. It can be said, therefore, that if bamboo replaced the wood used in the manufacturing of these products, deforestation would no longer be an ecological threat.
Which of the following is a necessary assumption underlying the  argument’s conclusion?
A) Replacing wood with bamboo to manufacture tools, buildings, home utensils, furniture and lighting would be an uncomplicated procedure.ӬB) Using forest wood for the manufacturing of the products mentioned is the cause behind the rapid reduction of forest acreage.ӬC) Bamboo is not more expensive than wood.ӬD) A manufacturing process that uses one material will differ to one that uses another.ӬE) Deforestation is a disastrous ecological threat that must be averted at all costs in order to prevent disaster in the not-so-distant future.

The correct answer choice here is the second (B). The author’s conclusion is almost like a suggested solution to the deforestation threat. For this solution to be logical, however, he must assume that making the products mentioned is what caused deforestation in the first place. If there are other reasons, or other products, which lead to deforestation, then the conclusion is invalid.


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