GMAT Critical Reasoning: Inference v/s Assumption 

    Sayantani Barman Sayantani Barman
    Study Abroad Expert

    GMAC conducts GMAT every year to select the brightest minds for MBA education. In the GMAT syllabus, out of multiple topics in the Verbal Ability section, GMAT Critical Reasoning is considered as the crucial topic as it is right on top in terms of difficulty level testing the candidate’s argument. While the candidate will find 8 questions from the Critical Reasoning part of the GMAT Verbal Ability section, the questions asked from this part of the Verbal Ability section is often referred to as the make or break component. In this article, we will uncover the basic difference between inference and assumption and how the candidate can identify the difference between both of the concepts.

    What is Inference in GMAT Critical Reasoning?

    It is a logical deduction to a single statement or from a combination of two or more statements. Thus in other terms, an inference is a piece of information that can be logically deduced from the given set of statements. The definition of inferring is to do any of the following:

    • To derive by reasoning; conclude or judge from premises or evidence: e.g., Rohan inferred his friend’s anger from the heated denial to his invitation.
    • To indicate or involve as a conclusion i.e. leading to something.

    While it may look like that inference is about making an educated guess based on any of the reasons. However, “inference” in GMAT is the process of deriving the strict logical consequences of assumed premises.

    Let us take a look at an example.

    Statement: Everyone who reads this article will be more informed about Inference and Assumption. Rohan read this article.

    Inference: Rohan is more informed about Inference and Assumption.

    The above statement in the example is the part of the combination inference where two or more statements are combined to produce the correct answer choice. In this example, the first statement is the general rule which is, If X then Y i.e. if one reads the article, then that person will be more informed about the inference and assumption.

    Whereas the next statement “Rohan read this article” points out that the X of the previous statement is satisfied in the case of Rohan. Thus by combining the above-discussed statements, we can reach the inference that “Rohan is more informed about Inference and Assumption.”

    How to tackle GMAT Inference questions

    In order to solve the GMAT Inference questions, the candidate can follow preparation tips for GMAT like

    • Draw conclusions only from the information that is directly given in the passage.
    • Candidates should be cautious of answer choices that contain words like ‘any,’ ‘best,’ ‘worst,’ ‘only,’ ‘all,’ or ‘none,’ as they are often overly general and can’t be verified by the limited information in the passage.
    • If the candidate is unable to find the correct answer, try to find the incorrect answer choices as these choices are often overly extreme.
    • Choices that make leaps in logic that can’t be verified based on the given info, or contain tangential/unrelated information are also added to mislead the candidate from finding the right answer.
    • Answer choices that are off-topic or address some tangential issue (for instance, if an argument addresses the link between weight and age and an answer choice references the effects of exercise on weight), might be a red flag.

    What is Assumption in GMAT Critical Reasoning?

    Assumption is a process of finding the missing links between the premise and the conclusion. An assumption in GMAT critical reasoning, is a hidden or an unstated premise, being a premise means that the assumption must be true for the conclusion to hold true whereas the term hidden refers to something that cannot be logically derived from existing information and that some new information has to be introduced. Candidate must understand that there is no need to assume a thing, which can be logically derived from existing information. Let us take a look at the example:

    Statement: Everyone who reads this article will be more informed about Inference and Assumption. Rohan received this article in his email. Hence, Rohan is more informed about Inference and Assumption.

    Assumption: Rohan has read every mail that he has received so far.

    If we use the same terminology used in the previous example i.e. we are given “If X, then Y” and that Rohan received this article in his email. Thus, these two statements are considered to conclude that Y holds for Rohan.

    Thus, within the context of the passage, we know that to conclude Y, X must hold, and thus, Rohan must have read the article, even though we are only given that Rohan received this article in his email. Therefore, the underlying assumption is that Rohan has read every mail that he has received so far.

    How to prepare for the GMAT Assumption Question?

    Assumption based questions require the candidates to select the answer choice with the information that must be true (the ‘assumption’) in order for the given argument to be accurate. Thus, in order to figure out the right answer, the candidate must figure out the main thrust of the given argument.

    Candidates can search for various keywords like assumption, because of reliability. However, the correct answer choice will have to be true for the argument to be logical. In case of incorrect answers, the choices might be possibly true, but won’t be absolutely necessary to the argument’s validity.

    Candidates are recommended to practice GMAT Assumption based practice questions, to label the premises, assumptions, and conclusions of each argument. This will help the candidate in isolating each one quickly, which will improve both your timing and performance in critical reasoning questions. Every argument has the following three things:

    • Premise which is the underlying logic of an argument including the support behind a conclusion.
    • One or more assumptions which is the information that must be true in order for the ultimate conclusion to be true on which it’s based.
    • One or more possible conclusions which is the statement that the premise supports.

    Critical Difference between Inference and Assumption in GMAT

    • The Question stem Structure in the Inference based questions checks if the statements above are true, which of the answer choices listed could be true whereas in the Assumption based questions, the question is to find an assumption on which the argument depends.
    • While Inference is a statement that must be true, if the given information is true, Assumption is a statement that must be true, for the given information to be true.
    • An inference can always be logically deduced from the given information whereas an assumption can never be logically deduced from the given information as it contains some new information.
    • Inference questions rarely have a conclusion in the passage. However, the assumption based question necessarily needs to have a conclusion in the passage or the question stem.

    From the above discussion, it can be a conclusion that Inference and Assumptions are completely two different sets therefore a statement cannot be assumed as both inference and assumption from the same passage. Another point that can be made that Inference is always deduced logically whereas assumption is based on intuitions getting from the information. 

    *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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