Have you ever pondered over a common question like, “What is an Assumption?”. If not, you have to if you are a GMAT aspirant. Because the test checks your critical thinking skills. Before we start our discussion on Assumption, let’s revisit whatever we have discussed Critical Reasoning: Argument in our previous Article.
A premise is explained as a proposition upon which an argument is based or from which a conclusion is derived. A premise is that part of an argument in which the author puts forth the facts (at times his opinions/judgements or someone else’s opinions/judgements) to argue in favour of a particular conclusion that he has reached. A conclusion is a deduction achieved by the author by the premises that he had put forth. In simple words, a conclusion is a final thing an author says in his argument.
In between the Premise and the conclusion there lies an invisible part of the argument which is known as the Assumption. An assumption acts as a missing link between the Premise and the Conclusion. Here, please note that I have utilised two different words to define an Assumption. The first thing it’s a link between the premise and the conclusion. Therefore, it serves to bring the premise and the conclusion near to each other. The second thing is it’s missing. You can’t find it in the argument because it remains unstated. Therefore, In a GMAT Assumption question, if, at any point of time you find that a few lines of the argument have been paraphrased or presented as such as an Answer choice, you can knock that option off without thinking twice about it because the assumption of the argument is not stated in the argument.
Now, you may be wondering about how to unearth the assumption of a given argument. For doing so, You should be able to identify the gap between the premise and the conclusion. If you read the argument carefully you will invariably find that the subject matter of the conclusion is somewhat different from the purpose of the premise. In some arguments, an air of definiteness creeps into the conclusion whereas the premise of that argument is nothing else but a statement of facts. The air of definiteness which was present in the conclusion but was absent from the premise can be identified as a gap between the premise and the conclusion and hence can be utilised to state the assumption. Let me make this clear to you all with the help of an example. The curator of the cricket stadium in Hyderabad made the following statement at the beginning of the second week of August 2016.
“It has been raining in Hyderabad since the beginning of this month. Therefore, the Test Match which is scheduled to take place in the last week of this month in Hyderabad is bound to get disrupted by rain if not abandoned.”
The first statement as you can see for yourself is just a statement of fact. But if you read the conclusion the author presumes that inclement weather conditions will continue to prevail in the last week of that month. So the assumption of the argument can be stated as, “There will be no change in the weather condition of Hyderabad in the last week of August 2016.”
At times the subject matter of the conclusion is considerably different from the subject matter of the premise. In such kind of Arguments, you will invariably find some new words being introduced into the conclusion, words that are missing from the premise. The presence of these words in the conclusion and their absence from the premise creates a gap which can be fulfilled by making the assumption explicit.
Assumption – New Word Approach
This point that we have discussed just now gives rise to the New Word Approach of identifying the Assumption. The New Word Approach states that if there is a New Word present in the conclusion but is absent from the premise that New word has to be present in the Assumption of the Argument. I would like to sound a word of caution here before you go ahead and start applying this approach to GMAT Arguments. When I say a new word, I am not referring to every new word that is present in the conclusion because invariably the words utilized for stating the conclusion will be different from those used to state the premise, but I am referring to those new words which add real value to the conclusion or gives another dimension to it. Let’s discuss this with the help of an example:
“A doughnut with cream cheese contains less fat than a doughnut with butter on it. Therefore, a doughnut with cream cheese is healthier than a doughnut with butter.”
In this argument, you can find that the premise is comparing the fat content of doughnut with different toppings. Whereas, the conclusion is discussing about which one of the two options is more healthful. The word health/ healthier is totally absent from the premise. Therefore this word should be present in the assumption. Thus, the assumption of this argument can be stated as, “Lesser the fat content of an eatable the more healthier it is”.
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