GMAT Critical Reasoning – Weakening Questions vs. Strengthening Questions

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Weakening Questions


Save-a-Tot Corporation is a manufacturer of safety seats for bicycles and automobiles.  Children often die unnecessarily in collisions because they were not properly fastened into seats that conform to their fragile bodies.  Save-a-Tot has recently designed a new type of safety seat that is able to conform more closely than ever to cures in the spines and necks of small children.  This new design also cushions the head in a better way.  Save-a-Tot claims that the usage of these safety seats will decrease child mortality rates in serious collisions by up to 60 percent.

Which of the following, if true, represent the strongest challenge to Save-a-Tot’s claim?

(A) The child safety seats that Save-a-Tot has designed are made of a lighter plastic compound that turns brittle when it is exposed to cold temperatures over a relatively short period of time.

(B) The government demands that Save-a-Tot produce these child safety seats to very strict specifications.

(C) By providing Save-a-Tot seats free with new cars, automobile sales will increase.

(D) The proposed child safety seats will add too much weight to bicycles.

(E) As production costs increase, Save-a-Tot will have to raise the price of its safety seats.

*(A) is the correct answer. We’re looking for something that undermines the Save-a-Tot corporation claims. (D) is the most tempting wrong answer because it suggests that the seats won’t work on bicycles.


Passengers must exit airplanes swiftly after accidents, since gases released following accidents are toxic to humans and often explode soon after being release. In order to prevent passenger deaths from gas inhalation,, safety officials recommend that passengers be provided with smoke hoods that prevent inhalation of the gases.

Which of the following, if true, constitutes the strongest reason not to require implementation of the safety officials’ recommendation?

(A) Test evacuations showed that putting on the smoke hoods added considerably to the overall time it takes passengers to leave the cabin.

(B)  Some airlines are unwilling to buy the smoke hoods b/c they consider them to be prohibitively expensive.

(C)  Although the smoke hoods protect passengers from the toxic gases, they can do nothing to prevent thee gases form igniting.

(D) Some experience flyers fail to pay attention to the safety instructions given on every commercial flight before takeoff.

(E)  In many airplane accidents, passengers who were able to reach emergency exits were overcome by toxic gases before they could exit the airplane.

*This is a weakener question. It is a proposal as well. We are looking for something that contradicts the proposal. What is the desired effect: to prevent passenger death from gas inhalation.  The correct answer is (A) because it weakens the proposal and states that the proposal will not work. (B) does not tell us that the plan will not work. (E) is a strengthener and supports the proposal. (D) is not in the scope of the argument.

 Strengthening Questions


Finance Minister: last year was disastrous for our manufacturing section, which has traditionally contributed about 75% of our national budget.  It is therefore encouraging that there is evidence that the IT sector is growing stronger.  Taxes from the IT sector accounted for 15% of our national budge-up from 8% last year.

On the basis of the statement above, what best supports the above conclusion?

(A) The increase in taxes from the IT sector could have merely been the result of new laws imposed on the IT sector.

(B) The profits of the IT sector remained at a steady level despite the fact that it paid more taxes to the national government.

(C) The rise in the percentage of taxes that the IT sector contributed to the national government was insignificant in actual dollar terms.

(D) It is difficult to determine whether the jump from 8-15% tax contribution by the IT sector will be ongoing.

(E) The information given above does not fairly compare the contribution of taxes paid by different industries to the nation government.

*The keywords here that indicate that it’s a strengthening question is “ best supports.”  The key issue is to read the question stem carefully. We need to think about what the conclusion is of the argument: there is evidence that the IT sector is growing stronger; so we’re looking for something that supports this argument. Answer (E) is wrong because it talks about other industries. The correct answer is (B). (D) is wrong because it is a weakener that contradicts the conclusion. (D) is a classic trap answer because it’s not a strengthener at all but a weakener.  (C) and (A) are weakener and contradict the conclusion.

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