GMAT Reverse Causation Sample Questions and Answers

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    The GMAT exam has been conducted in India since so long and this exam is well recognised by the reputation that it has gained. The GMAT syllabus is quite tough and tricky at the same time. Along with the syllabus, the GMAT eligibility criteria must also be taken care of. And in this article, we will discuss the questions that contain almost 40% of the weightage in the exam. The reverse causation questions in GMAT exam is a very difficult part and it requires a good analysing capacity and critical thinking. Good decision-making and an observant mind is needed to solve these kinds of questions. Also, these questions are composed of difficult questions like critical reasoning question types, assumptions and weaken and strengthen. And it is clear that if a student is able to achieve a good score in this section then he/she can have higher chances to make through the exam as it contains almost half of the quantity in the exam. Before discussing the preparation tips for GMAT, let’s first discuss the questions and their composition.

    So, these questions are also called Assumption-based questions. And a student needs to find the relationship between the two or more than two statements given in the same question. And find the solution accordingly to that. Now the question is what does “causation” stand for?

    The answer is that causation means the cause or the reason behind the situation. And hence, a student needs to find the cause but there are different situations given in the question and the tricky part for the student is to find whether situation A happens after situation B or situation B occurs itself or happens because of situation A. It is clearly about finding the other ways around.

    The question or statement has the possibility of 3 types -

    The Usual Type: A → B
    Reverse Causality: B → A
    Simultaneously: A ↔ B

    We will also provide an elaborated question with the solution to give the students a clear idea.

    Question And Explanation

    When people become concerned about their high risk of having a heart attack because of a family history of heart disease, or chest pain, or being told by their doctor they are at higher risk, they are more likely than the general population to reduce their intake of foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol. So, while these people’s current diets may be lower in saturated fat and cholesterol, they may still be more likely to have a heart attack.

    Clearly, their cutting back on saturated fat and cholesterol-rich foods did not increase their risk of having a heart attack or heart surgery to open blocked coronary arteries. Nevertheless, statistically, these high-risk people may be more likely to have a heart attack or heart surgery despite their now healthier-than-average diets.

    Observational studies (which are studies that ask people what they are eating today and then observe who has a heart attack or gets heart surgery over the next few years) cannot differentiate between subjects who have an increased risk of such cardiac events despite their recent change of diet. In this case, fear of disease caused them to improve their diet rather than their improved diet causing their cardiac event. So reverse causation occurs when a heightened risk of the disease leads people to make diet and/or lifestyle changes in hopes of reducing that risk, but those changes were either too little or came too late. This is one reason observational studies cannot tell us what caused what. 

    Question And Explanation 2

    A researcher discovered that people who have low levels of immune system activity tend to score much lower on tests of mental health than do people with normal or high immune system activity. The researcher concluded from this experiment that the immune system protects against mental illness as well as against physical disease

    The researcher's conclusion depends on which of the following assumptions?

    (C) People with high immune-system activity cannot develop mental illness A.

    (D) Mental illness does not cause people's immune-system activity to decrease.

    Here, the conclusion is that the immune system protects against mental illness.

    On what basis/evidence is this conclusion made? On the observation that people who have low levels of immune system activity tend to score lower on tests of mental health than do people with normal or high immune system activity.

    The problem with option C is that it doesn't talk about people with normal immune system activity! Only about those with high ISA.

    Let's try negating option D: Mental illness causes people's immune system activity to decrease.

    What does this say about the experiment? It is not low ISA that causes poor mental health (as manifested through low scores on the tests); on the other hand, the people already had mental health problems, which, in turn, lowered their immune system activity. This is a case of reverse causation.

    We can see that negation of option D breaks the argument - hence, it is the right answer. Essentially, when you observe some correlation between 2 events X and Y, check for the presence and direction of a cause-effect relationship.

    i.e. X and Y are correlated, but is X causing Y or is Y causing X?

    To conclude one way or the other, you need to assume that the reverse does not exist.

    So, a student may find it difficult to solve these kinds of problems but there are some ways that will make a clear way for the students to look with a different perspective so that a student may know the problem in a better way and focus on finding the best solution possible. 

    • A student can adopt a strategy to solve these questions with “Tool and effect diagram” or some of you might have heard this name as “fishbone diagram”. 
    • The whole diagram should have all the details which could be people, methods, material, equipment and environment. 
    • To make these kinds of the diagram a student should know and read all the effects given in the question or statement and write it on the right side of the paper. 

    Then this diagram will look like a structure as

    GMAT Reverse Causation Sample

    This diagram will make a student not to miss any important information that is provided in the statements. 

    Why is practicing arduously a need?

    So, all the GMAT aspirants should practice more by opting for the practice papers of GMAT. A student will start developing an observing vision while practising continuously day by day. Because if we go through the interviews with the students who have cleared their GMAT examination in the previous years, they have declared this section as the most difficult and time-consuming but they have also added that it can become easy with a very simple tool which is again “practising”. So, follow the possible strategies and solve these kinds of questions daily. Students can also watch the videos of the experts that are available online and follow the tricks that they are adopting to solve these questions.

    Now, the question is from where to get the practice bank then the answer is that a student can easily get the question bank from their respective institutions from where they get the coaching. Or else they can go through the online mode and search for these questions. Try to solve the simpler questions then jump to the harder one as most of the students skip the easier question thinking that it could be easily solvable and this is the reason why they are less likely to develop critical evaluation, thinking with different aspects of vision, observing skills etc.

    Lastly, we are advised to never skip this section and keep practising to clear the GMAT exam with good marks. 

    *The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College


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