GMAT Critical Reasoning: Resolve the Argument Questions

Most Critical Reasoning questions you’ve encountered in your online studying have probably been focused on weakening and strengthening the given argument. To diversify your test prep a bit, and keep pushing for better scores, let’s focus on examining a specific CR type that rarely gets enough attention: Resolve the Argument.

  • What are they?

    Resolve the argument questions ask about a specific incongruous aspect of the argument.

  • How to identify?

    Look for some common keywords such as: “explains the results,” “resolve the paradox,” “best explains the discrepancy,” etc. Unlike other CR questions, these don’t ask how to weaken or strengthen the argument itself.

  • How to approach?

    Like any other CR question, you’ll want to identify the conclusion, evidence, and assumptions before even reading the question. Once you realize it’s a “Resolve the Argument” question, you’ll want to rephrase the question in simpler terms, then go back to the passage and find what the “paradox,” “results,” or “discrepancy” is describing. Specifically, pay attention to what is lacking in the details. Usually the author fails to provide enough information. If you were to make the same argument, what would you add to resolve the issue brought up in the question? Write down your prediction(s) then scan the answer choices, eliminating those that do not resemble your prediction.

Strategy Review

1. Identify the conclusion, evidence & assumptions.
2. Read and rephrase the question.
3. Go back to the passage & form a prediction.
4. Eliminate incorrect choices.

Practice Question

Let’s try out a Resolve the Argument question:

The majority of a person’s health care expenditures goes towards curative measures like hospitalizations after injuries and care for existing illnesses. Paula’s employer does not provide health insurance to his part-time employees, including Paula. However, he does reimburse employees for a flu shot each winter.
Paula’s employer’s seemingly inconsistent behavior in regard to health care expenses is best explained by which of the following?
A. Health insurance rarely covers pre-existing illnesses.
B. Part-time employees are usually covered by the insurance of a spouse or parent with full-time employment.
C. Few employers offer health insurance to part-time employees.
D. Flu shots prevent illness that could lead to lost work days.
E. Health insurance premiums are on the rise.

Conclusion: Paula’s employer does NOT provide health insurance to part-timers.
Evidence: Majority of $$ goes towards curative measures (fixing injuries, illnesses); reimburses for flu shots.
We can see the gap in logic here. Why would an employer who doesn’t pay health insurance reimburse employees for a flu shot?
Assumption: The employer sees some $$ benefit in paying the flu shot (a preventative measure), even though he won’t pay health insurance. He doesn’t want his employees to get sick in the first place.
We can see this is a “Resolve the Argument” question because of the phrase in the question stem, “best explained.”  So let’s rephrase the question and predict what the answer choice might involve.
Question Rephrase: What’s the strongest reason why the employer would pay for a flu shot but NOT pay health insurance?
Prediction: Some unknown benefit to the employer in the long-term.
Since we’ve done the work of breaking down the passage, simplifying the question, and predicting an answer, the correct choice (D) is readily apparent.