Of all Critical Reasoning Question Types on the GMAT® , the conclusion question is probably the easiest of the lot. The only thing that one needs to remember is that the conclusion should not be a possibility but a certainty based on the information given.
Test-takers sometimes tend become adventurous and choose options that are not fully supported by the information since the correct option seems too obvious. But on the GMAT® it is the most straightforward option that turns out to be the conclusion.
Let us look at a sample conclusion question.
A computer equipped with signature-recognition software, which restricts access to a computer to those people whose signatures are on file, identifies a person’s signature by analyzing not only the form of the signature but also such characteristics as pen pressure and signing speed. Even the most adept forgers cannot duplicate all of the characteristics the program analyzes.
Which of the following can be logically concluded from the passage above?
(A) The time it takes to record and analyze a signature makes the software impractical for everyday use.
(B) Computers equipped with the software will soon be installed in most banks.
(C) Nobody can gain access to a computer equipped with the software solely by virtue of skill at forging signatures.
(D) Signature-recognition software has taken many years to develop and perfect.
(E) In many cases even authorized users are denied legitimate access to computers equipped with the software.
The most logical conclusion that can be drawn is (C) since it is the only one that is supported by the premise which states that the software uses not only form of the signature but also pen pressure and signing speed. This means that being able to forge a signature will not be sufficient to break the software.
Option E is the trap option, which test-takers fall for. They assume that the pen pressure and speed for signing might vary from time to time and hence even authorized users might be denied access. But this involves bringing in an additional premise — the pen pressure and speed for signing vary from time to time — that is not mentioned in the passage.
On the GMAT® you will get only one or two conclusion questions, so ensure that you get this easy question-type right by not asking just one question when faced with an option — is there data for me to conclude this. You will find that more often than not it will be the safest option that is more or less a summary of the passage.
Apart form the summary there is only one other type of logic tested on the conclusion question; we will take that up in the next Critical Reasoning post.